Isn’t London amazing? Whether you live nearby like me, or it’s a weekend/school holiday destination, there’s SO MUCH TO DO. Aside from my favourite activities of eating breakfast and meeting friends for coffee, London is a brilliant place to have fun with kids. Cities are often overlooked, in favour of the countryside, for family fun. Rolling hills get the thumbs up over endless pavements and I understand why that’s the case. But look beyond the Tarmac’d roads, and you’ll see cultural treats, educational opportunities, history and so much fun for families.
One of my most popular posts is this one on 50 things to do in London before you’re 5. Now that my daughter is six (and she still loves doing loads of things on that post by the way) I thought it was time to do a new list, but this one, is of all the FREE things you can do in London with kids.
1. Museums! Let’s do the obvious one first. Obvious, yes, but boring? No! The beauty of museums in London is that you will find one to suit your kids, whatever they’re into. We personally love the play area in the National Maritime Museum and the interactive water feature in The Garden area of the Science Museum (see A Baby On Board’s post on it here). The Horniman Museum is another favourite, and although the aquarium isn’t free, it’s inexpensive and a great size for little ones.
2. Do a walking sightseeing tour. You don’t need to buy a bus tour ticket or book onto a walking tour – just do your own. I love this route suggestion from Joanne at Kids Days Out Reviews, starting at Piccadilly Circus and ending up at the London Eye. Pack some sandwiches and head to Jubilee Gardens for a picnic lunch and a play afterwards.
3. Watch the Changing Of The Guard at Buckingham Palace. Entry into the Palace is pricey but you can watch the guard change for free. Crowds can build up, so either get there early (pack some cards or colouring books to keep kiddos from getting bored) or be prepared to carry your children so that they can see the action.
4. Play in the Diana Memorial Playground in Regent’s Park. Hands down, one of our favourite things to do in London – it’s a brilliantly designed play park with a giant pirate ship in the middle and loads of areas to explore around it. Adults are only allowed access if they have a child with them and when it gets busy, they operate a one in/one out policy which means it never gets too jam-packed with people. Coram’s Fields is another brilliant – free – city centre park.
5. Art galleries. Lots of the London galleries have fun family activities – check their websites to find out times and details. The National Gallery on Trafalgar Square runs a totally free hands-on art workshop for kids every Sunday but you need to pre-book over on their website as they fill up in advance.
6. The Ceremony of the Keys at The Tower of London. One for older kids, because it happens at 9.30pm every evening, but this one comes recommended by Sarah Ebner from Family Travel Times. She says: “It lasts about 40 minutes and is essentially the formal locking of the gates at the Tower by the Chief Yeoman Warder and his accompanying guards. The same wording is used each night, starting with “Halt, who comes there?” Not to be missed!”
7. In the summer, a bunch of urban beaches pop up in London – from the Southbank to Stratford and even at Brent Cross. Who needs to head to the coast to feel sand between your toes?
8. Another one for summer months – running through fountains in the city centre! Our favourite is the Appearing Rooms at the Southbank Centre but there are also good ones at Granary Square and Clissold Park in Stoke Newington. Just remember to take a towel or two!
9. Spend the afternoon in Covent Garden, watching the street performers and acrobats – the London Transport Museum is here too and kids are free with a full paying adult (so not a totally free activity but good value!)
10. See the WHOLE of London (well almost). Book tickets for the Sky Garden – they’re free but need to be booked in advance – and you can get a 360 degree view of London, wandering through London’s highest public gardens.
Do you have any other favourite free things to do with kids in London? Comment below and tell me if you do! For more fun things to do on a budget, check out my ideas over on the Tesco Bank site– they’ve got a whole bunch of posts dedicated to thrifty family fun!
This post has been sponsored by Tesco Bank and as always, all views are my own. For details of how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page.