Iconic London is always alive and buzzing with plenty of activities and things to do for all ages. But, all the attraction costs add up and can mean an expensive day out or longer trip. You’ll be pleased to know there are budget options and plenty of free things to do in London with kids, which still give you a taste of everything London has to offer for families, including many famous landmarks and museums. Whenever you decide to visit London, there is always something to do!
Free Things to Do in London & Cheaper Family Attractions
Most museums are free to enter, but some venues although entry is free sometimes they charge for additional services and special exhibitions. Do check first!
- The Sky Garden offers free fantastic views of London. Pre booking is essential and you will need to provide identification. You will be issues a time slot of 1 hour and one adult may bring a maximum of three children with them.
- Bridges – Any of the London Bridges will give you a lovely view of the River Thames. Bridges with views of the best landmarks are Westminster, Millennium, Tower, and Blackfriars (Blackfriars Bridge is a railway platform so you will need a rail ticket).
- Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace SW1 and Horse Guards SW1. Check the dates of the changing of the guard before attending as it on every day.
- The Supreme Court, Parliament Square – is open to the public from 9.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday and any member of the public can enter the building during these hours without booking in advance. A self-guided tour booklet is available for a small charge (£1). Please note that external tour groups (where a tour operator is charging to guide a group around the building) are charged at £3 per head, in order to regulate the number of such parties and to help reduce the Court’s demands on public resources.
- The Royal Courts of Justice, Aldwich is a fascinating working High Court in an historic building.
- Head to Canary Wharf and see whats on, from free art trails and more!
- Vauxhall City Farm. Vauxhall. Free entry to this city farm where you can pet and feed goats – donations welcome.
- Gun Salutes – www.royalparks.org.uk for special occasions such as the King’s Birthday etc
- Trooping the Colour May and June – There is a charge to attend the event but you can watch the procession from anywhere along the Mall free of charge.
Best Free Museums in London for Kids
- Science Museum Discover the past, present & Future. Exhibition Road, South Kensington
- Victoria and Albert Museum The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. It was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Address: Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL.
- Maritime Museum – Greenwich. The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, is the leading maritime museum of the United Kingdom and may be the largest museum of its kind in the world. Address: Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF
- Royal Observatory – Greenwich. The Royal Observatory, Greenwich is an observatory situated on a hill in Greenwich Park, overlooking the River Thames. It played a major role in the history of astronomy and navigation, and is best known as the location of the prime meridian. Address: Blackheath Ave, London SE10 8XJ
- The Royal Air Force Museum Hendon, London, commonly called the RAF Museum, is located on the former Hendon Aerodrome, with five major buildings and hangars dedicated to the history of aviation and the Royal Air Force. Address: Grahame Park Way, London NW9 5LL
- Imperial War Museums London, is a British national museum organisation with branches at five locations in England, three of which are in London. .Address: Lambeth Rd, London SE1 6HZ
- The Natural History Museum, South Kensington, is a museum of natural history that exhibits a vast range of specimens from various segments of natural history. Address: Cromwell Rd, London SW7 5BD
- The Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green is currently closed but is being revamped!
- British Museum, Great Russell street, London WC1B 3DG.
- Museum of London, Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN
- Museum of London Docklands, Museum of London Docklands, No.1 Warehouse, West India Quay, London E14 4AL
Best Gardens & Parks in London for kids
- Diana Memorial Playground, Kensington Gardens
- Crystal Palace Park See dinosaurs, a maze, a boating lake, The Concert Bowl, Italian Terraces and much more!
- Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park – The ideal time to go is late April and early to mid May. 40 acre woodland garden with azaleas, rhododendrons, ponds and streams. Home to many birds and bats.
- Kyoto Japanese Garden is one of the unusual London attractions.
Best Art Galleries in London for kids
TATE Modern is free to enter, although there is a fee for some exhibtions. Check out the free events for families though! Take advantage of the Kids Pick and Mix lunch offer which includes a sandwich, fruit and a snack. High chairs are available.
Tate Britain – Entry to the gallery remains free for everyone, with a charge for some exhibitions. Booking is needed for exhibitions, but tickets are available on the door.
Members enjoy free entry to exhibitions – no need to book, just turn up with your card. Members can also bring up to 6 children for free to any exhibition. Take advantage of the Kids Pick and Mix lunch offer which includes a sandwich, fruit and a snack. High chairs are available.
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square often has free events on for families.
CHEAP EATS IN LONDON
- Kowloon Bakery in Chinatown for flavoursome stuffed buns such as BBQ pork for under £2.
- Din Tai Fung in Covent Garden is so popular for the dim sum but you can walk up and queue.
- Pizza Union has 6 restaurants in London including Kings Cross, Spitalfields and Algate and offers fairly tasty but cheap pizza.
Free walks and cycle routes in London for families
- Green Chain Walk
- Jubilee Greenway
- Regent’s Canal Towpath –
- Riverside Thames Walk
- Ruislip Woods –
- Thames Path –
- Free walking tours of London are available here:
Cheap things to do in London with kids
- Not free, but Treasure Trails are from £9.99 for a map, these offer a great way to see London.
- Ceremony of Keys at The Tower of London a great way to visit the Tower of London. There is a fee of £5 and pre booking is essentail. Tickets can be booked a month in advance. This is the ceremonial locking up of the Tower of London and occurs daily at dusk.
- The Monument. Monument costs £5.80 and was built a few years after the 1666 Great Fire of London. Climb up the spiral staircase.
- Horniman Museum Aquarium. Forest Hill Overground. Museum entry free but the aquarium is £5, £2.50 children.
Cheaper theatre tickets
- The Globe Theatre offers standing only tickets at £5 each (plus a £1.50 booking fee). Check out the shows here.
- Harry Potter – the Cursed Child tickets has 40 tickets for every performance, released every Friday. Tickets are located in great seats throughout the theatre, and priced at £40 (£20 per part), for the following week. To enter the lottery you need to download the TodayTix app. You can enter the lottery at any time between 12.01am to 1.00pm every Friday via the TodayTix app, valid for performances the following week. At 1pm every Friday the lottery will close, and the winners will be notified between 1.00pm and 5.00pm the same day. See here for the details.
- During August, Kids week is a great way to save on Theatre tickets. Kids Week at the theatre – 1 to 31 August where kids go Free to selected shows. Do book as early as possible. Tickets go on sale in June for performances from 1 to 31 August. You can book on www.kidsweek.co.uk or via the dedicated ticket hotline on 0844 995 9662 (calls cost 7p/min plus your telephone company’s network access charge).
Cheap and Free Ways to see London.
Some journeys between Trafalgar Square and Tower of London use heritage Routemaster buses (09.30 – 18.30 daily).
No. 22 Bus – Is a cheap way of seeing the sights from Piccadilly Circus to Putney Common via; Hyde Park Corner, Green Park, Knightsbridge, Sloane Square, Chelsea, Parsons Green and Putney Bridge. The Citymapper App is great for getting around in a city you don’t know.
Getting around London With Kids
To travel around London, Oyster cards are great. You can use a debit card, or buy an oyster card for a £5 refundable deposit.
Children under 11 travel free on most public transport services in London when accompanied by a fare-paying adult, or with a 5-10 Zip Oyster photocard.
On Uber Boat by Thames Clippers river bus services, kids aged four and under travel free. Children under five also travel free on the IFS Cloud Cable Car when accompanied by a fare-paying adult.
SEASONAL Cheap and Free Things to Do in London With Kids Month by Month
- January: New Year’s Day Parade; Chinese New Year
- February: The Guards’ Chapel Recital; Flipping Marvelous Pancake Race
- March: St Patrick’s Day Parade; Head of the River Race
- April: The Boat Race; London Marathon
- May: Canalway Cavalcade; Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival
- June: Trooping the Colour (King’s birthday); Greenwich Festival (runs into July)
- July: Royal Opera House BP Big Screens; Pride Festival
- August: Canary Wharf Jazz Festival; Notting Hill Carnival, Kids Theatre Week
- September: Thames Festival; Open House London
- October: Africa on the Square; Diwali on the Square; October Plenty
- November: Bonfire Weekend; Winter Wonderland (runs into Dec)
- December: Southbank Winter Festival (runs into Jan); New Year’s Eve Fireworks
NOT CHEAP DAYS OUT – but ways to save money for some of the popular attractions!
Big City Saver Pass is valid for 90 days, costs from £50 for two attractions and has varying packages if you want to see all of the London attractions listed below.
Examples of attractions included are:
- Shrek Adventure London
- London Eye
- Madame Tussauds
- London Dungeon
- London SeaLife Aquarium
- Big Bus Tour
Also check out GroupOn for deals on things to do in London.
Bargain places to stay in London
Accommodation in London can get expensive. These are the very places to search if you are on a tight budget.
University accommodation is available cheaply from Mid March until late April, late June until September, and mid December until mid January. You can pick up some great bargains if you look at these websites:
Easy Hotels has rooms from £20.
University Rooms London has rooms from £35 out of term time.
Imperial College London offers affordable summer accommodation.
Hub by Premier Inn smaller rooms means smaller prices.
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