THE BEST FREE THINGS TO DO IN LONDON THIS AUTUMN…
Our exclusive guide to london for free this autumn- shying away from all the ordinary tourist malarky and serving up some local knowledge!
Day Trip To Richmond Park
London’s answer to Yosemite, Richmond park has earned a much deserved place in many a Londoner’s heart. It’s the perfect way to escape London without actually leaving, and Autumn is our all-time favourite season to visit. Starting from Richmond station, take a lovely walk along the canal, passing the early morning coffee sippers, people watchers and numerous dog walkers. From there, cross the field towards Richmond Park, stopping by the now renowned Petersham Nurseries on the way to see all the gorgeous decorations. Exploring Petersham Nurseries’ many greenhouses is like taking a trip into a gothic fairytale, and in Autumn is made perfect by the addition of home grown pumpkins and other wonderfully colourful autumnal veggies on display. They also have a selection of delicious and very fresh home-cooked meals on offer, although they are a little on the pricey side- so best to avoid if you’re strapped for cash! It’s become a bit less of a secret over the past few years but it’s still a lovely place to stop if only for a quick nosey! Pick up where you left off outside of the nurseries and continue along the path for a couple of minutes, arriving at the entrance to Richmond Park. The autumn leaves make Richmond park an instagram lovers paradise this time of year. There are lots of lovely little gardens and sanctuaries to discover in this gargantuan park, and you’ll end up feeling more like you’re in some vast forgotten wilderness than a comfy 15 minute train journey from Waterloo. Be sure to seek out the many statuesque deer that inhabit Richmond park all year round- catching a sighting of them grazing at dusk is one of those truly magical moments. If money permits, a cold brew in one of Richmond’s many cosy pubs is the perfect end to a day of old fashioned exploring.
insider tip: Save yourself the extra cash by packing a picnic to eat by one of Richmond park’s lakes, or even up a tree for the true ‘childhood revisited’ experience!
2. Drop-in Drawing at The National Portrait Gallery
Fancy getting in touch with your inner Van Gogh (minus the whole ear debacle)? As part of their ‘Friday Lates’ series, The NPG offer free drop-in drawing classes hosted by a changing bill of talented artists. All materials are provided and you can stay as long as you like! The perfect way to spend a Friday evening before pay day. Yippee!
3. Walk The Regents Canal Path from Victoria Park to Camden
This is a lovely thing to do in the summer but is not to be underestimated on a lovely sunny Autumn day! Start off the day at Victoria park- take in the views of the pagoda and the array of birds that call the boating lake their home. Pavilion cafe is a great place to grab some brekkie or you can wander off of the canal path a little later on to grab a coffee and a snack from Climpson and Sons in the wonderfully village-esque Broadway Market. You can follow the canal all the way to Camden, stopping in Islington around lunchtime for a rest! This walk takes several hours at a leisurely pace, but you’ll go past all sorts of street art, canal boats, strangely decorated back gardens, barge cafés even a boat-turned-library/record store! The canal ways are by far our favourite way to see London. Finish up in Camden for a wander around the market and a bite to eat!
insider tip: The Towpath Cafe (near De Beauvoir Town) is a tiny canal-side stop popular with locals- it’s got tons of character and is the perfect spot for people watching and a nice warm cuppa before setting off on route again!
4. Dalston Curve Garden
A true hidden gem, this charming community garden is the perfect place to while away an afternoon. With a cosy fireplace, a wood fire pizza offering (until mid sept) and a supply of hot water bottles and blankets that are free to use, you will feel right at home! Dogs are also allowed- providing they are on leads :) Check their website for various events, including free halloween pumpkin carving!
5. A Trip to Greenwich
Open 7 days a week from 10am- 7 30pm, the food market at Greenwich is the best place to start the day. Afterwards, take a trip up Greenwich hill to the Greenwich Observatory for a lovely panoramic view, great photo ops of the park and to see the home of Greenwich Mean Time! Afterwards, take a trip to The Queens House gallery- it’s free to get in and home to lots of beautiful historic art if that’s your thing!
6. Pumpkin Picking at Foxes Farm!
It’s a bit of mission to get to, but well worth the trip! Get into the Halloween spirit and pick your own pumpkins from their vast pumpkin patch! Entry is free and the pumpkins start from £2.50, so it won’t break the bank! Alternatively, simply go for the awesome instagram opportunity. Find out more here.
7. Weekly Yoga at Lululemon
Fancy a bit of a stretch without stretching the purse strings too? LuLuLemon stores offer weekly free yoga sessions- and they’re awesome! Often we find the problem with free yoga sessions is that the instructors aren’t always completely knowledgable about what they are teaching, but with the Lululemon seal of approval, you’re guaranteed a great instructor every time.
Available to all levels. Visit their website to find out more!
8. Columbia Road
Although Columbia Road Flower Market is no secret to culture savvy tourists, Autumn can be the best time to visit- when the summer madness is over and just before the crazy Christmas tree rush begins. Spend a morning perusing the numerous flower stalls and one of a kind shops of Columbia Road, get style inspo from vintage store Mason and Painter, and then take a pew on the kerb to listen to the street performers.
insider tip: Time your visit just as the market is closing for the best deals! Autumn can be a great time to pick up some country mix- beautiful dried flowers (having a moment right now) that last up to 3 months without water.
9. Explore Hampstead Heath For The Day
Arriving in Hampstead Heath, it feels almost as if you’ve left the urban landscape of London completely and wound up in some rural countryside village. It’s an awesome way to while away a sunny Sunday. If you’re feeling brave, start the day with a dip in the swimming ponds- or instead opt to stay dry and go for a coffee in Hampstead village. Go for a stroll around the heath and seek out the Pergola garden- like something out of Narnia- it’s a little tricky to find but so worth the effort. It’s still a well kept secret and you’ll most likely have the place to yourself. Instagram opportunities galore here folks! After lunch, amble on to Kenwood House- an awesome stately home that’s free to look around, and also a filming location for the classic rom-com, Notting Hill. Finish up in Hampstead village again for a well earned pint in one of it’s cosy olde-world pubs!
insider tip: Pack a picnic to eat amongst the rose bushes in the Pergola Gardens- it makes for an idyllic and peaceful lunch setting!
10. Explore The Canals Around Hackney Wick or The Lea Valley River Path from Clapton
Start off your day on Clapton’s Chatsworth Road, with a cuppa at Jim’s Cafe- an awesome little retro spot that feels like a cross between a laundrette and a classic diner, with heaps of character. Afterwards, make your way down to the canal. Opt to explore the canal towards Hackney Wick for cool breweries, urban art, the cutest riverside garden centre and an almost ghostly olympic village park- or head in the opposite direction towards Upper Clapton, following the Lea River path. On this route it’s easy to feel as if you’ve found your way out of London again- with the abundance of wildlife and the peaceful Hackney Marshes.