Planning a trip to London with Kids? This list of things to do in London with kids (on a budget) will help make sure you have heaps of fun whilst not breaking the bank
If you’re planning a trip to London and are wondering what to do with kids in London on a budget then this post is for you.
I took my children on a 3-night trip to the bright city lights of London earlier this year. I was on a tight budget, but I wasn’t about to let that stop us from having the best time ever!
My budget was up to £50 per day, which probably doesn’t sound like much for 4 people in London, but we had an amazing time.
London is known to be expensive but with some clever planning, you can easily enjoy a family trip there with your little ones for cheap. Below you’ll find out just what we got up to with our limited funds.
Top ten things to do in London with children (on a budget):
1. Piccadilly Circus
Children will love to see the illuminated signs on the buildings in Piccadilly Circus.
Take a picnic and eat in on the steps of the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain.
Enjoy watching the street performers and be sure to have your picture taken with them!
2. Leicester Square
Full of bars, restaurants, shops and entertainment, the buzzing atmosphere of Leicester Square is sure to keep kids entertained.
Make sure to check out the Lego store, where everything is made from Lego and, our personal favourite, The Rainforest shop and café where you will see realistic and life size animals! Note: The actual Café isn’t very budget friendly BUT it’s definitely worth going in if you can. We just went for a drink and some chips and the kids had a fantastic experience!
3. Buckingham Palace
Another free thing to do is go and see the Queens palace.
Try and time it when they are changing the guards, so the kids get to see the guards marching and shouting, it’s all very exciting!
If your children are younger then I wouldn’t worry about trying to get right to the front, where the crowds are huge.
We stood quite far back and could only see the top of the guard’s bear-skin hats, but we still enjoyed the buzzing atmosphere.
Be sure to let the little ones play in St. James Gardens afterwards, which is very close to Buckingham palace. There is a playground, tables and benches where you can enjoy a picnic and a stand where you can buy hot tea and coffee. There are also children-only toilets. Your kids will be delighted to see all the little furry squirrels running around, who will happily eat food from your hand! This was one of my children’s favourite parks and when it was time to move on they begged to stay longer!
4. Covent Garden
Situated in the West End, Covent garden is full of theatres, an opera house, fashion boutiques and great dining experiences.
I’d highly recommend taking the kids to watch a West End show if your budget allows it, but if not, just do what we did and watch the street performers entertain the crowds- lot’s of fun!
We visited the Wild Food Café in Covent Garden to taste some of their raw vegan food. I enjoyed it but unfortunately it wasn’t suited to my kids taste buds!
5. The Natural History Museum
This huge museum is so vast that you’d probably need a full day to take in all it’s ancient artefacts and displays. We went there mainly to see the dinosaurs, which the kids loved but after an hour they’d had enough.
I wanted to go to the science museum too but one museum in a day was enough for my 3!
(Museums in London are free to visit too!)
6. Hyde Park
Hyde park is a must-visit to let the kids run around and burn off some steam! We had fun playing Hyde and seek (see what I did there?) in the playground and feeding the ever-so-friendly squirrels!
Take a picnic blanket, food and drinks and spend the best part of a day there.
7. Big Ben
Avoid paying high prices for the open-top sightseeing buses and either take the tube to get to Big Ben or find out what number buses take you by there and get a good view of it from the window. Some buses pass many of the famous London landmarks and it’s much cheaper than paying for a tour.
Children under 11 are free on buses, as on the underground.
8. Sky Garden
Get a breath-taking view across the whole of London for free at the Sky Garden. Although visiting is free, you need to book in. You can grab a bite to eat or drink eat in the restaurant there (still works out cheaper than seeing London from the London Eye or the Shard though!)
9. Tower Bridge
Take a walk across the Tower Bridge and watch the bridge open and close when the boats pass underneath. You can walk across the bridge at road level but to walk on the upper level (with the glass floor) or to go inside the tower itself you will need to purchase a ticket.
10. Science Museum
Located in South Kensington and within walking distance from the Natural History Museum and The Victoria and Albert Museum is the science museum where children can have fun learning about all thing’s science-related. Free entry.
My top tips for visiting London with kids on a budget:
- Always buy food and drinks from a local convenience shop (NOT in central London) and pack it up in a picnic bag to take with you.
- If appropriate, give children their own daily pocket money so they can buy something for themselves. Not only does this teach independence but I found it saved me money- my kids were more selective with what they spent their money on and, because they had their own spend, it stopped them asking me for things every time we entered a shop!
- Kids 11 and under go free on the London underground and on buses which meant, for us, travelling around London was so cheap!
- Avoid the underground at all costs during peak times when travelling with your kids. We only used the tube out of peak hours and it was a pleasant experience for us all.
- Be prepared to do lots of walking! We were averaging 5-6 miles per day walking through central London. Of course, if your children have little legs then it will be best to hop on the tube.
- Book a hotel or Airbnb outside of the centre of London to save money. Be sure it’s close to a bus stop or tube station with good links to the centre of London.
We stayed in Finsbury Park which was a fantastic location, just a bus and a tube away from central London.