1. CHANGING OF THE GUARD

Fans of royal pomp and splendour will be surprised at how much there is to do and see, without dipping into your own coffers. One key bit of pageantry that takes place regularly is the Changing of the Guard. Watch this traditional ceremony outside Buckingham Palace, where guards swap places wearing red tunics and bearskin hats. 11am outside Buckingham Palace, but check beforehand as it only takes place on certain days, www.royal.gov.uk

2. CEREMONY OF THE KEYS

Entry to the Tower of London usually costs £17 for an adult, £9.50 for a child, but there is a way to get inside for free. The Ceremony of the Keys takes place every evening at the Tower of London, home to the Crown Jewels. Dressed in his red tunic, the Chief Yeoman locks the gates - important when you know what treasure lies within - before delivering them to the Resident Governor of the Tower, a ritual that has gone on for 700 years. Tickets are free, but need to be booked two months in advance by written application. More details: www.hrp.org.uk

3. CLIMB BIG BEN

With the elections over, keep your MP busy with the task of helping organise your free tour of St Stephen's Tower, home to the Big Ben bell. Said to be the most accurate clock in the world, the tour guide will outline the history of the tower and bell and how it all works. Space is limited and so early booking is advised (usually three to six months in advance). Further information at www.parliament.co.uk

4. VISIT THE OLYMPICS

Anyone interested in the 2012 Olympics can tour the Stratford Olympic stadium for free - just book in advance and take photographic ID (over eight-year-olds only). Tours take place on Saturdays and Sundays, last an hour and go by bus from Stratford station. www.walthamforest.gov.uk or call 0300 2012 001.

5. HOP ON A BUS

Before you jump on an expensive organised sightseeing tour, consider a DIY tour which comes with an added bonus. Some of the buses are vintage Routemaster models and go past some of London's most iconic landmarks. There are two key routes: the number 9, which takes in neon-clad Piccadilly, Hyde Park, the Albert Hall and Kensington Palace. Number 15 includes Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London and St Paul's Cathedral. The routes will take you through the West End, West London and the City to the East End. Using an Oystercard would cost an adult £3.90 to travel all day by bus. More information: www.tfl.gov.uk

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6. GO CYCLING

The new Barclays Cycle Hire scheme means you can see the capital for under a fiver - a day's hire, plus the activation key comes to £4. As long as you ensure that no journey lasts more than 30 minutes, the bicycles won't cost you anything. www.tfl.gov.uk/BarclaysCycleHire

7. SEE SOME ART

London's major museums - including the British Museum, the V&A and the Tate Modern - are free, but for something a bit more unusual, head to the Gagosian Gallery in Kings Cross. Currently, it has an exhibition of some rarely-seen Picassos and looking at them won't cost you a penny. More details: www.gagosian.com

8. FESTIVALS

The Mayor's Thames Festival takes place from 11-12 September and is one of the best free events in the capital. This year there will be performances as well as archaelogical walks along the foreshore, while the weekend will be rounded off with a huge firework display. Following the current fashion for all things vintage, classic sailing boats will be on show at St Katherine's Dock. For further information: www.thamesfestival.org

9. THE THEATRE FOR LESS

Enjoy some of the West End's biggest hits during Kids Week, when children go free if accompanied by adults. This promotion, which includes Mamma Mia!, Oliver! and the Railway Children lasts until 3 September.

More information: www.kidsweek.co.uk, but you can also buy half-price theatre tickets year-round from the Tkts booth in Leicester Square. See www.tkts.co.uk

10. OPEN HOUSE WEEKEND

See inside buildings never usually open to the public over the weekend of September 18-19. The Open House event includes tours of the Bank of England, the BT Tower and City Hall, as well as private houses and historic buildings. And all tours are free. See www.londonopenhouse.org

mirror.co.uk

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