London is a vibrant exciting city but it can prove costly, especially when you have a family to keep entertained.
However, if you know where to look there is a wealth of free things to do. Whatever your interest, we’re sure you’ll find something to your liking.
The Science Museum
If you’re a science buff, you’ll absolutely love this place. Admission is free but of course, donations are most welcome. Stroll at leisure around this huge building and marvel at incredible medical and technological advances from all over the world.
Natural History Museum
Located close by the Science Museum, London’s Natural History Museum is an absolute must for visitors to the capital. Again, entry is free of charge but donations are welcomed.
This stunning building is a sight to behold of itself but once inside you could easily spend the whole day wandering through its galleries. The ever-popular dinosaur exhibition is loved by adults and children alike and there is a wealth of interactive activities throughout the building.
Victoria and Albert Museum
In the vicinity of both the Science and Natural History Museums, this is the place to go for those of us with a creative streak. Another beautiful edifice, the building is home to all manner of art and design paraphernalia, from permanent features to temporary exhibitions, the history or art and design is all here.
Museum of London
This place is simply fascinating. If history is your thing, then this is where you need to be headed. The extensive history of the capital is laid out before you, with exhibits from London’s earliest settlers on display up to curiosities of modern day London. Take a walk through Roman London and marvel at the remnants of the wall they built here, the Middle ages, the Black Death, Great Fire of London, Victorian shops and much, much more. Donations are once again welcomed.
Another gem, this lesser known but wonderful museum is housed in a 200-year-old warehouse and takes you through London’s trading, commerce, slavery and migration history from a time when the ports were teaming with tall ships and commodities, to more recent wartime London. Often referred to as liquid history, the River Thames features heavily.
Other free museums:
- Bank of England Museum
- Tate Britain
- Tate Modern
- National Portrait Gallery
- Sir John Soane’s Museum
- William Morris Gallery
- Queen’s House
- National Maritime Museum
- Imperial War Museum
- Ragged School Museum
- British Museum
- Hunterian Museum
- The Anaesthesia Museum
- London Sewing Machine Museum
- Grant Museum of Zoology
- Welcome Collection
Discover London’s largest Royal Park, home to some of the capitals most picturesque woodland and some 650 deer. Playgrounds for the children, butterflies, plants and beautiful walks are among other free attractions. A lovely place to enjoy a family picnic.
Situated at: Richmond, Greater London
Another large Royal Park, you may well forget you are in the heart of London in Hyde Park, with its 150 acres of lush greenery, 4000 trees, ponds and ornamental flower gardens, it’s the perfect place to round off a day’s shopping in nearby Oxford Street.
Boating, swimming, children’s play areas, skating, picnicking, tennis courts, cycling, or simply lazing in a deckchair (for some of which there is a small charge) are just some of the activates you might wish to consider on your visit here. You may also wish to visit the beautiful Kensington Gardens with its round pond, which is connected to the park.
Situated at: London’s Bayswater Road
St James’s Park
A visit to Buckingham Palace could well be nicely rounded off with a visit to St James’s. If timed right, you could also take in another London spectacle, the Changing of the Queen’s Guard, as well as other colourful displays and parades, dependent upon when you visit.
From here you will see the vibrancy of the Mall decked out in flags. This smaller Royal Park, covering some 58 aches, is also home to several species of birdlife, and you can see the pelicans being fed at 2:30pm daily.
A children’s playground is on site as well as numerous eateries, ice cream and coffee huts. So, hire a deckchair and take in the sights at your leisure.
Situated at: Westminster, London SW1A 2BJ
Other London Parks:
- Wimbledon Common
- Greenwich Park
- Holland Park
- Regents Park
- Green Park
- Bushy Park
- Victoria Park
- Lee valley Park
- Hampstead Heath
- Battersea Park
- Crystal Palace Park
Vauxhall City Farm
Meet this little gem’s small collection of animals in the heart of the city. Pigs, Horses, goats, alpacas and many more of our furry friends are waiting to meet your children at this free attraction, where your little ones will be able to pet them. You could even take a picnic to enjoy on the surrounding greens afterwards.
Situated at: 165 Tyers St, London SE11 5HS
V&A Museum of Childhood
Home to toys and childhood objects from the 1600s onward, this museum is wonderful. There are objects for your little ones to get their mitts on, as well as permanent and temporary exhibitions. Your children will gain a real insight into how their contemporaries lived and played in times past.
Situated at: Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9PA
Comb the Thames’ foreshore at St Gabriel’s Wharf in search of clay pipes and other fascinating objects form London’s long history. Please ensure you check the Tidal timetable ahead of your visit. Additionally, every August the Tower of London foreshore is opened to the public for the same purpose. Check their website for when this will be.
Well known for its assortment of street entertainment, the children may well enjoy a trip to Covent Garden too. The London Transport Museum is also situated here and although there is an admission charge, the ticket remains valid all year, so you can visit as many times as you like within that period without paying any more.
If your little ones are fascinated with skateboarding, take them along to witness skaters young and old performing their daring stunts beneath the Southbank Centre, alongside a variety of street entertainment such as dancers and well-loved characters. In the summer months there is also a manmade beach along this stretch of the Southbank, as well as sand artists building incredible structures at low tide on the Thame’s foreshore below, until the tide washes their works away. In December a small Christmas fair occupies the site too.
There are many fascinating guided walking tours around London, from ghost and historical tours, to Jack the Ripper tours. Although many do charge a small fee, there are other walks on offer at a price you deem appropriate or even free.
Check out www.freetoursbyfoot.com/london-tours/ for details.
Other must-see sights
Take a few selfies while you’re visiting London at these key sites too. Although entry fees apply to some of them, it costs nothing to take a look around outside.
- Trafalgar Square
- Lambeth Palace (limited public admittance to the building)
- St James’s Palace (no public admittance to the building)
- Tower Bridge
- Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
- Buckingham Palace
- Millennium Bridge
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
- St Pauls Cathedral
- Westminster Abbey
- Westminster Cathedral
Lastly, there are also a number of beautiful little churches dotted in and around the City of London that are steeped in history such as All Hallows by the Tower, London’s oldest church, St Brides, where you can visit the crypt and the remnants of a Roman pavement. Or St Magnus the Martyr, which houses a large model of the world-famous medieval London Bridge and where the bridge entrance once stood. Check online for visiting times, as these are still places of worship and therefore visiting times may be restricted.