London: an iconic city flourishing with ancient history and modern cosmopolitism. A flourishing metropolis renowned for Big Ben, the River Thames, The Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace. London is also known for its reputation as a rather pricey tourist destination. Fortunately, there are countless free things to do while you’re in the city, and many of these attractions are located in West London.
Museum of London
Each day, there are free guided tours around the museum, which showcases the history of London from pre-Roman times to the present. It’s hard to believe that such a great attraction could be free, but it is.
The Museum of London has the distinction of having the largest urban history collection in of any museum in the world. As an aside, the Museum of London is a short three minute walk to St. Paul’s Cathedral and overlooks the remains of the ancient Roman city wall that once surrounding the British capital.
Hillingdon and Uxbridge lido
This outdoor swimming pool has a long and storied history amongst Londoners. Built in the 1930s, the pool has wondrous cascades at each end as well as an art deco pavilion.
Although the summer is the most popular time for taking a dip, brave swimmers take to these waters year-round. The Christmas day polar bear plunge is a time-honoured tradition where local swimmers take to the pool’s frigid waters.
Brunel’s Three Bridges
This isn’t your average tourist attraction. At this spot in West London are three bridges that overlap one another. They were designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. In fact, these pieces of Victorian architecture were completed just before Brunel passed away.
It’s set up like this: first, there’s a road named Windmill Lane which is on top of a canal called Junction Canal which itself is on top of the Great Western and Brentford Railway. It sounds complicated but is nonetheless an interesting thing to see while you’re in West London.
Okay, so walking through rows of long-deceased folks is probably not on every tourist’s list of things to do, but if you’re interested in local history, it’s worth doing a cemetery tour. Throughout London, there are as you might have already guessed seven Victorian ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries. Two of these – Kensal and Green and Brompton – can be found in the West End.
Some of the most famous Londoners who lived during the Victorian period are buried in these cemeteries, including Charles Blondin, a tightrope walker who crossed Niagara Falls over 300 times, and Princess Sophia, daughter of King George III.
Kyoto Gardens and Holland Park
You get two West London gems in one area – both for free! Perhaps you’d like to take in a sunny afternoon cricket match or participate in a chess match or pickup game of football. Holland Park is the place for that. There’s also an ecology center as well as hiking and running trails.
If peace and tranquility are what you seek, then head over to Kyoto Gardens. This is like a small slice of Japan in the heart of a very British city. Kyoto Gardens opened in 1991 as a gift from the Japanese government to Great Britain. You’ll see some genuine Japanese culture here including stone lanterns, tiered waterfalls and little pools where goldfish swim.
The Library and Museum of Freemasonry
If you’ve ever been intrigued by the secrecy surrounding Freemasonry, come over to this museum on Queen Street for a tree tour. As you look around the exhibits, you’ll get acquainted with the history of this movement, masonic badges, jewels, and other paraphernalia.
In the library, you’ll bear witness to thousands of documents, books, and articles written over the past two centuries by prominent Freemasons including the father of Freemasonry, Anthony Sayer, who founded the first Masonic lodge in the city in 1717.
Your London tourist experience need not be all about taking in the major flashy sights. Sometimes enjoying a peaceful stroll through a green space can be just as appealing. West London has plenty of these, including Ealing Common, a 47-acre recreational area that is far from the bustle of downtown London yet close enough to get there by train.
In addition to being a nice city landmark to visit, Phoenix Garden, a local community garden in West London, is of great historical significance to the city. To explain, the park, established in 1984, is built on a World War II bomb site. There are old brick homes here and even a pub where you can enjoy a pint or fish and chips. Phoenix Garden is snuggled amongst the Soho and Covent Garden areas. Overall, it’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon that doesn’t cost anything.