Yes, it’s actually a massive amount of free things to do in London with kids. As a London family used to shamelessly trawling the city for free entrances, bargains and freebies, we’ve become experts in finding family-friendly activities that won’t cost a penny.
From historic landmarks to hidden gems nestled within the bustling cityscape, London offers an array of delightful options to keep both little ones and grown-ups thoroughly entertained. So, join us on this jolly jaunt as we explore the best free bits of London town, and make sure your wallet’s none the wiser!
Money-saving hacks for families visiting London
Before we start on our long list of free things to do in London with kids, we’ll go through a list of hacks to make sure you don’t pay more than you need for things like transportation, accommodation and restaurants when staying in London.
- Free Public Transportation: Kids under the age of 11 travel for free on the tube and on buses, making public transportation the preferred way to travel for families moving around London. Intimidated by travelling with kids on the Tube? Check out our 15 tips for travelling on the Underground with kids.
- Trains: Book any rail journeys in advance if you can. Although shorter trips often benefit little from pre-payment, buying tickets to travel on trains ahead of departure can save significant cash.
- Railcard: If you’re planning on taking a few train rides in and out of London during your visit, getting a family & friends railcard is probably worth it.
- Cabs: Avoid travelling by taxi in London as it is expensive and slow. Note that even if Uber can be slightly cheaper, you’ll have more room for luggage in a Black Cab and usually get faster to your destination.
- Airport Transfer: Taking a taxi to the airport from central London is much slower than going by train. If taking a taxi is your only option, minicabs are usually cheaper than Black Cabs or Uber. When landing at Heathrow you can take the tube directly to central London.
- Take the bike: Up to 30 minutes on a Santander cycle (Boris bike) costs around the same as a single bus ticket. You get exercise, transportation and sightseeing for less than £2.
Check our tips for riding the underground with kids.
- Free attractions: The best things in life are free! Check our extensive list of free museums and other attractions in London listed in this article.
- National Lottery Days Out: Buy a lottery ticket (from 50p) and get £25 off on over 500 different attractions, such as Legoland, London Theatre shows, Cadbury World, Madame Tussauds and so much more. Only valid through September 2023.
- Tesco vouchers: If you collect Tesco Clubcard points, spending them on vouchers for premium attractions such as London Dungeon and London Eye can be a good option.
- 2-for-1 National Rail: Use your train ticket to get a second ticket for free when visiting famous attractions such as The London Dungeon, Kew Gardens and Shrek’s Adventure.
- Multi-attraction Tickets: If you’re planning on visiting several paid attractions such as the London Eye, Sea Life and Madame Tussaud, check for combined tickets that can give you a good discount.
- River taxi: Instead of booking the more expensive river cruises, hop on the Thames Clippers river taxi which is a lot cheaper.
- Book in advance: Booking online and well in advance is usually cheaper than walking up to the ticket booth on the day. Booking in advance is particularly important for Sky Garden and Horizon 22 which are both free (if you can get hold of a ticket).
- The London Pass: Getting a London Pass might save you some money if you plan to cover several expensive attractions in a short time. As a family of 5 however, we need flexibility and usually focus on one big attraction per day. Also, many of the best attractions for families are free anyway (see list below), so we have never used really the London Pass to get discounts.
Check our latest tips on discount tickets to London attractions.
- Kids Eat Free Deals: Quite a few restaurants in London offer free meals for kids (with paying adults), such as Yo Sushi, Bill’s and Bella Italia. This is usually limited to holidays or special days of the week, so research in advance.
- Foodhalls: For better value than restaurants, go to a M&S Foodhall to load up on delicious warm and fresh food.
- Cheap hotel breakfasts: Some hotel chains like Travelodge let up to 2 children eat breakfast free per paying adult
- Free Water: You can refill your bottle at more than 5,000 cafes, shops and businesses in London in addition to a number of free drinking water fountains
- Look for BYOB: Go to restaurants where you can bring your own bottle (BYOB).
- Picnic in the Park: Instead of expensive lunches in restaurants, try family picnics in London’s beautiful parks.
- Picnic in the Museums: Big free museums such as the National History Museum and Science Museum have areas where you can sit and enjoy your own packed lunch.
- Consider the outskirts: Before rushing off to book an expensive hotel in central London, consider towns outside of London – a 30-minute train out of London will give you a lot more budget-friendly options.
- Low-cost hotels: Premier Inn and Travelodge are the two main budget hotel chains used by UK families. Book directly at their websites for the best prices and get a family room for less than £50 per night at a hotel close to London (if you book early enough).
- Airport hotels: Hotels around the airports are usually cheaper than in central London. If you arrive very late (or depart very early), consider an airport hotel to save money on the first/last night.
With a bit of planning, you’ll be able to enjoy a long list of activities completely free of charge. From world-class museums to amazing playgrounds and city farms, here are some of the best attractions in London to enjoy on a low budget.
The Best Free Things to Do in London with Kids
Now, onto the best free attractions for families visiting London.
Before planning your day out in London, there is one significant consideration to make: The British Weather.
When the weather is hot, you want to maximize your time outdoors by planning free activities like visiting parks, playgrounds, and farms for glorious hot days. For rainy and cold days on the other side, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to all the free museums in London.
So we decided to divide this post into free things to do indoors and outdoors.
Free Indoor Things to Do in London with Kids
London is undoubtedly one of the most culturally diverse cities globally, home to an impressive range of world-class museums, art galleries, historic homes, and other cultural attractions. These are not just boring old relics from Victorian times – great efforts have been made to create interactive and engaging exhibitions suitable for all ages. So let’s dive into the best free museums for kids in London!
Not only are many of the leading museums completely free of charge, but they also offer picnic areas great for families bringing packed lunches. We particularly like the big picnic area in the Science Museum (next to Wonderlab) and the outside space at the Natural History Museum. So what are you waiting for?! Here we have compiled a list of the top free museums in London, perfect for cheap days out with the kids.
Natural History Museum – An All-Time Kids Favourite
Check out: Roaring dinosaurs, mammals and rare gems
The Natural History Museum (NHM) is a great institution. For generations of visitors to London, NHM represents a source of knowledge and inspiration for the natural world. While the roaring t-rex is the biggest hit in our book, we enjoy the mammals section as well as the gemstone exhibition. There’s also a lovely garden and picnic area available for families needing a break bringing packed lunch. The NHM is on top of our list of great free museums for kids in London. Read more.
Science Museum – Everything Technical
Check out: Space Gallery, Wonderlab, Earthquakes
The free part of the Science Museum in London takes you through some of humankind’s most outstanding technical achievements with real-life copies of the Wright brothers’ plane to the Apollo program’s Eagle lander. There’s a big picnic area as well as interactive galleries for toddlers on the lower ground floor. But if you want the best interactive learning gallery in town, head to the paid Wonderlab gallery located on the 4th floor. Read more.
Horniman Museum – Old-School Museum in South East
Great for: Old-school Victorian-age museum with a large collection of taxidermied animals
London’s most enormous walrus and a funny-looking dodo are among the kids’ favourites in the Horniman Museum. Located in Forrest Hill, this free museum in South East London is a family favourite with several things to do. The museum is surrounded by a lovely garden with a great view towards Central London and even a small petting zoo with animals like rabbits and llamas. Read more.
National Maritime Museum – A Greenwich Classic
Great for: Young explorers interested in ships, pirates and cannon fire
The Maritime Museum is beautifully located right next to the main entrance of Greenwich Park. With several interactive and hands-on displays for toddlers and older school-children, it’s a museum where parents can relax and let the kids play. And when the kids have enough, you can exit right into the park and have a picnic in beautiful surroundings. One of the best free museums for kids in London! Read more.
British Museum – Admire a Real Mummy
Bloomsbury, Central London
Great for: School children learning about the ancient civilisations
The British Museum is a great institution and should be on your bucket list if you’re visiting London with school-age children. With bucketloads of ancient Persian, Greek, Egyptian and Roman artefacts, the British Museum is one of the best places to get a sense of how human civilisation evolved through the centuries. Unfortunately for toddlers, there’s not too much going on when it comes to interactive displays and play areas. Read more.
See London from a Double Decker Bus
Great for: Amazing views of the city
London’s transport network is fascinating for kids to explore. Get a front seat at the top of a double-decker bus going through Central London and you’ll be guaranteed to cover several attractions. Kids under 11 travel free with an adult (up to four children travel free with one adult), which is much cheaper than the expensive open-top bus tours.
Popular bus routes for sightseeing in Central London include numbers 11, 73 and 24.
See London From the Skies
Great for: Panoramic views of the city
The Shard is impressive, but it costs an arm and a leg for a family. If you book early in advance, you can get completely free of charge tickets to Sky Garden and Horizon 22 in the City of London and enjoy the amazing views of London.
Free Outdoor Things to Do in London with Kids
Step into the open-air tapestry of London, where a world of cost-free adventures awaits to be explored. From tranquil parks to captivating urban vistas, London graciously offers a plethora of al fresco experiences that are as enchanting as they are budget-friendly. Whether you’re a local Londoner seeking new horizons or a traveller eager to soak in the city’s charm, join me as we set forth on a delightful escapade, discovering the very best free outdoor activities that London has to offer.
Diana Memorial Playground – Play Like Royalty
Kensington, Central London
Great for: Kids taking a break to play while sightseeing in Central London
Inspired by Peter Pan, one of Princess Diana’s favourite children’s stories, the Diana Playground is a great free place to take kids visiting London. Not only is it great fun for the kids, but it’s also gated with staff on-site in case of emergencies. So expect to queue up if visiting during weekends and school holidays. Read more.
See a Street Performance
Westminster, Central London
Great for: A performance for your change
Covent Garden is known for its vibrant street performers, who put on shows throughout the day. From magicians to musicians, acrobats to clowns, there’s always something entertaining to see. Kids will love watching the performers do their tricks and interact with the audience. And the best part is, it’s all free! Just make sure to bring some change to toss into the performers’ hats. Read more.
Changing of the Guards – The Show Goes On
Westminster, Central London
Great for: Classic London experience, great for first-time visitors in particular
Admired by generations of visitors to London, the Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place outside Buckingham Palace at 10.45 am every day (except in bad weather). The handover takes place at 11 am and the whole ceremony takes about 45 minutes. The Old Guard (the soldiers currently on duty) form up in front of the palace and are relieved by the New Guard which arrives from Wellington Barracks. The New Guard is accompanied by a Band.
Greenwich Park Playground – Fun and Interactive
Greenwich, South East London
Great for: Toddlers enjoying sand and water play areas.
Surrounded by several supercool kids-friendly activities, Greenwich Park Playground is a great place to chill out. Make sure to bring change for the kids to take full advantage of the water and play area, great for younger kids during the summer months. Read more.
Holland Park Playground – A West London Gem
Kensington, West London
Great for: Adventurous children enjoying climbing challenges
Holland Park Playground is designed sustainably with natural materials using wood, rope and metal. Placed beautifully in the terrain, this is an excellent park for younger and older children who like to challenge themselves. Read more.
Crystal Palace Dinosaurs – Explore the Jurassic times
Bromley, South East London
Great for: Dinosaur-loving kids
The vintage dinosaur statues in Crystal Palace Park might not be 100% accurate, but they are just as fascinating for kids. And as a bonus, there’s an accessible dinosaur-themed free playground close by. Crystal Palace is definitely one of the best free places to take kids into roaring beasts from Jurassic times! Read more.
Cycling in London – An awesome way to see the city
Great for: Active days out exploring London
London is not just about congested streets. We’ve mapped out several traffic-free cycle routes in London great for families cycling with young children. This is a terrific way to see the capital, plus you get some exercise at the same time. Read more.
Woodland Walks – Active and free family days out
Great for: Experiencing wildlife just a few tube-stops away
Wildlife might not be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about things to do in London, but you’ll find a surprisingly large amount of green space in the capital. So if you’re into wild deer and ancient woodland, you should check our woodland routes across London. Read more.
Scooting in London – Race through the capital in no time
Great for: Kids that love their scooters
Kids get quickly tired of walking but give them a scooter, and they will cover mile after mile. Just make sure to find a safe scooting path, avoiding dangerous traffic. Check out our traffic-free scooting routes in London for the whole family to enjoy! Read more.
Farms in London – Visit London’s adorable farm animals
Great for: Kids that love animals
You’ll find free city farms dotted around London full of lovely farm animals from pigs and sheep to rabbits and guinea pigs. These are usually small community farms, free for everyone to enjoy. So get your kids off the screens and take them to one of these fantastic pieces of countryside in the city. Visiting a city farm is one of our favourite free things to do in London with kids! Read more.
Water fountains – Cool down on hot days
Great for: Kids that love to cool off splashing about on hot summer days
You’ll find water jets, fountains, splashing pools and water parks all over London. Sometimes they’re a bit hidden away, so it makes sense to plan your route. Also, don’t forget to bring a towel and a change of clothes – you’re guaranteed to need them! Read more.
London’s Parks – Free and very family-friendly
Great for: Enjoying free and active days out with the kids all year round
London has more green space than any other major capital, and wherever you are in London, you’re never far away from a park. From perfectly manicured Royal Parks to ancient wildlife, you’re almost sure to find a favourite park to enjoy. We’ve mapped out more than 20 great parks for kids in London. Read more.
Watch Tower Bridge Open and Close
Great for: Watch the Victorian mechanics in full swing
Tower Bridge is a world-famous London landmark (and not to be confused with London Bridge as many people do). At prescheduled times of the day, the bridge opens and closes. You can check the lift times to see when this happens. You can also pay to climb up the bridge and walk over it, stopping for photos in the glass-floored gallery. Read more.
Free Public Events in London Great for Families
London is a city that offers many free events throughout the year, from cultural festivals to sporting spectacles. Why not plan your next visit to coincide with one of them? Here are some of the biggest and most popular ones along with the month they are usually celebrated:
- St Patrick’s Day – March: Celebrate Ireland’s patron saint with a special free event in March, in central London. Follow the parade through the West End, plus Irish food music and more at the free St Patrick’s Day festival in Trafalgar Square, on or around 17 March each year.
- Vaisakhi Festival – April: Celebrate the start of the Sikh New Year at a free April event, the Vaisakhi Festival, on Trafalgar Square. Enjoy dance and music performances plus food and family fun, as the central London landmark is transformed into a colourful celebration.
- Open Garden Squares Weekend – June: One of the top free summer events for garden lovers, Open Garden Squares Weekend opens up hundreds of green spaces during a whole weekend each June. Seek out hidden squares, iconic gardens and contemporary landscapes.
- Trooping the Colour – June: This is a traditional ceremony that marks the official birthday of the British monarch, usually held on a Saturday in June. It involves a parade of soldiers, horses and bands along The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where the Queen salutes them and watches a flypast by the Royal Air Force. (June)
- Kids Week – August: If you visit London in August, you can take advantage of Kids Week, where a child 17 and under goes free to select theatre shows when accompanied by an adult paying full price. Plus, you can enjoy some activities and restaurant deals along with your tickets.
- Notting Hill Carnival – August: This is Europe’s largest street festival, celebrating Caribbean culture and heritage. It takes place on the last weekend of August, attracting millions of visitors who enjoy music, dance, food and costumes. The carnival features a grand parade, sound systems, live stages and family fun zones.
- Open House Festival – September: This is a two-week celebration of London’s homes, architecture and neighbourhoods. You can get inside some of London’s best-known buildings, as well as some of its best-kept secrets. Open House Festival celebrates our curiosity about what happens inside the buildings that we walk past every day; a festival that works to give all Londoners the chance to learn from the city’s best architecture and the people behind it.
- New Year’s Eve Parade – December: This is a festive procession that showcases London’s diversity and creativity. It starts at 12 noon on 31 December and goes from Piccadilly to Parliament Square, passing iconic landmarks such as Trafalgar Square and Big Ben. The parade features more than 10,000 performers from around the world, including marching bands, cheerleaders, dancers and acrobats. (December)
Top Free things to do with Toddlers in London
Places like the British Museum, Tate and Museum of London are great for school-age children interested in historical subjects like the Great Fire and the Vikings. For toddlers, on the other hand, these places can get quite dull. Here are some of the things our toddlers have enjoyed the most on our numerous excursions around London:
Free places to take toddlers in London:
- Museum of Docklands: The Mudlark Gallery,
- National Maritime Musuem: The Ahoy! Gallery
- Natural History Museum: The Blue Zone,
- Science Museum: The Garden,
- Elephant Springs: Water Play Area
- Greenwich Park Playground: Water and sand play area
- Diana Memorial Playground: Climbing Frames
- Mudchute Park & Farm: Adorable animals
- Crystal Palace Park: Vintage Dinosaur Statues
- The Queen’s Life Guard: Horse Guards Parade
There you have it, the best free things to do in London with kids. Whether you want to explore museums, parks, markets, or landmarks, there is something for everyone in this amazing city. You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a memorable and fun-filled family trip.
London is full of surprises and adventures that will delight your children and make you feel like a kid again. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next visit to London today and enjoy all the free attractions it has to offer!
Did we miss your favourite free thing to do in London? Do you have a hack for how to save money when visiting London? Let us know in the comments.