Cheap family days out in London


You may be spoilt for choice for days out in London but it can be trickier if you want to come home with change from £100. Here are some cheap, cheerful child-friendly ways to see the capital for free (or not much more).

Kew Gardens, Richmond

“Walk along the Thames to Ham House for a picnic. Take a boat trip on the river to Kew, Kingston or Hampton. Visit Richmond Museum and/or the theatre (Celebration and Angelina Ballerina being two family-oriented summer holiday options). Or why not cross over the bridge and marvel at Richmond from the Twickenham side, walking along to Marble Hill House and Marble Hill Playground?”

Battersea Park, Wandsworth

“There are cycles to hire, as well as rowing boats and pedalos to take out on the lake, an amazing outdoor adventure playground, Battersea Park Zoo, the Pump House Gallery with its family-friendly Sunday Socials and not forgetting, for the animal-lovers among us, nearby Battersea Dogs' and Cats' Home.”

Natural History Museum, Kensington

“Great if your kids are into dinosaurs and there's lots of interactive stuff. It has a picnic area where you can have a packed lunch if you don't want to buy food. Free entry and many of the exhibitions are free, too.”

Top tip: “You can pre-book a time slot for free on the museum's website. When we went last week, the queue to get into the museum was 20 minutes and then there would have been a separate 30-minute queue for the dinosaurs had we not been able to just jump it.”

Natural history museum

Wellcome Collection, Bloomsbury

“A variety of small exhibitions and frequent activities – check and see what's on at any particular time. All free, right opposite Euston station. Wellcome is one of the Big Museums, but provides an hour or two's interest for science/arts curious people.”

Little Angel Puppet Theatre, Islington

“We had one of our best ever afternoons at the Little Angel Puppet Theatre in Islington, N1. For most of the shows you have to be over four, others are recommended for three to four years and the odd one for age two to five – be aware that they enforce this rigidly. You also have to book in advance for shows. But it's a really magical place.”

Southbank Centre, Lambeth

“I love walking around the South Bank; it feels like classic London to me. Fab views of the Thames and many iconic buildings to spot.”

“Take in some of the free summertime activities going on at The Southbank Centre and have lunch in one of the many family-friendly restaurants.”

Mudchute Farm, Tower Hamlets

“Mudchute farm is great and the cafe is fab. My son loves the DLR so we often go all the way to the end of the line just to make sure we get a front seat, and then hop off at the farm for a bit. For a change we sometimes just go to Greenwich and the observatory – the Planetarium shows are great and not too expensive.”


Emirates Air Line, Greenwich

“Get off the tube at North Greenwich and take the cable car across the river. No need to book, far cheaper than the London eye, much more exciting and great views of London. You could eat around there or in the O2 which is nearby and has loads of kid-friendly restaurants. Mine have always just been impressed by the sheer size of the O2.”

Kensington Gardens, Kensington

“Try the Princess Diana memorial playground in Kensington Gardens. It's fabulous and is themed around Peter Pan with lots of different zones. Take a change of clothes though – DS always ends up soaking wet and covered in sand!”

More top tips

“Children under 11 travel free on buses and trams at any time. They can also travel free on the Tube, DLR and London Overground services at any time as long as they are accompanied by an adult using a valid Visitor Oyster card or ticket. Children under five travel free on the Emirates Air Line when accompanied by a fare-paying adult. Children aged five to 15 pay child-rate fares on the Emirates Air Line.”