The summer holidays are getting ever closer and you’re probably starting to plan family days out. Maybe you’re having a staycation this year or visiting England from another country? Whatever reason you’re thinking of heading to the capital, there’s no need to spend a fortune as there are lots of free things to do in London with kids.
I’ve put together a handy list for you, to give you lots of ideas for free fun family days out in London…
Free museums in London
Some of the best free activities in London are the museums. You can spend a whole day in just one of them, and there’s something to keep every child entertained. There are so many to choose from but our top picks are…
Our favourite is the Natural History Museum. I used to love going as a child and Little H has really enjoyed it both times we’ve visited. There are some special exhibitions that you have to pay for, but the majority is free and definitely enough to keep you busy for a whole day. The dinosaurs and the Blue Whale are obvious favourites, and Little H also loved the human body section. You can also feel an earthquake, journey to the centre of the earth and learn all about bugs.
The Science Museum is another favourite and ideal for kids who like to be hands-on and interact with the exhibits. There are interactive galleries, sensory areas, simulators and you can even see exhibits such as the Apollo 10 command capsule.
If your child is interested in Ancient Egypt then you must head to the British Museum. We haven’t visited with Little H, but I used to love this place when I was younger – the pharaohs and mummies fascinated me as well as all the artefacts from China. There are also lots of free activities and workshops worth checking out.
Other museums to put on the list include the Tate Modern, the V&A Museum of Childhood, the Museum of London and the National Army Museum.
Sightseeing in London
You absolutely have to be a tourist in London at some point, even if you’ve been before or live nearby. It’s so much fun for kids to see all of the landmarks in real life, and of course, it’s all really educational which is a bonus. Sightseeing is definitely one of the best things to do in London for free!
Obviously, all of these landmarks have entrance fees but you don’t need to go inside. Take a walk through London, hop on and off buses and take a tour of the most famous London sights.
The must-see landmark when everyone visits London is Buckingham Palace. There are tours of the palace at certain times of the year but just seeing it from outside is great fun and children will love to see the Changing of the Guards – which happens at 10:45am every day. Remember, if the Royal Standard flag is flying it means the Queen is at home!
Big Ben is a must, and you have to get a selfie with it behind you! At the moment (Summer 2018) it’s undergoing construction work but is still definitely worth a visit as you’ll also get to see the Houses of Parliament and can cross the river to the London Eye.
A great London landmark to visit with children is the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. There are boat tours, walking tours and pedalos but you don’t have to spend any money to take a look around. There are also free trails that you can follow including the London 2012 trail which lets you relive the Olympics as well as the Explorer’s Guide to Adventures with secret missions. If it’s a hot day you can also cool off in the fountains by the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
Any child learning about Kings & Queens at school will want to see the Tower of London, especially if they’re interested in its gruesome history. It’s quite pricey to get in, but you can take a walk around the outside and along the river.
You can always rely on Covent Garden for street entertainment for the kids, especially in the school holidays. You can sit with a drink or an ice cream and watch magic shows, mime artists, puppet shows and lots more.
Trafalgar Square is fun to explore, kids will love the lion statues and the fountains. It’s also right next to the National Gallery.
And if you have a Harry Potter fan, you have to head to Kings Cross to see Platform 9 ¾ and pose for a photo with the luggage trolley!
If it’s a sunny day you might not want to be in a hot stuffy museum, and might rather be outside enjoying the open spaces.
Despite being a very busy city, London does have a lot of large parks perfect for running around and exploring – there are 8 royal parks to check out.
St James Park next to Buckingham Palace is probably one of the most famous parks in London. After sightseeing at the palace you can take a stroll to the park and try to spot some pelicans at the lake. The park is also home to the 7-mile Diana Princess of Wales memorial walk which takes you past three palaces, two mansions, lots of sculptures and to the memorial playground in Kensington Gardens.
Regents Park is home to London Zoo, four playgrounds, a boating lake, an open-air theatre and London’s largest outdoor sports area. You can also take a walk up to Primrose Hill to an amazing view over London.
At Camley Street Natural Park in King’s Cross you can go bug hunting, pond dipping and have a picnic by the canal.
If you go to Crystal Palace Park you can even meet life-size dinosaurs built by the Victorians. There is also a children’s farm, maze and playground.
There are lots of other London parks to explore and you can find all of the Royal Parks listed here.
What are you looking forward to the most on your next visit to London? Hopefully, this post has given you plenty of ideas for free things to do with kids.