Our 50 Favourite Free Things To Do With Kids In London

London is such a fascinating city with its rich history and culture but it does have a reputation for being an expensive city to visit.

If you were to visit just a few of London’s top attractions such as the Tower of London, the London Eye, the London Dungeon etc, your London budget could easily be blown. And you won’t want to know how much these London afternoon teas for kids cost (but they are soooo worth it!).

But we’re here to tell you that for all of the expensive attractions in London, there are just as many if not more free attractions in London.

We are from London and have visited almost all of London’s main attractions so now we’re all about finding the free things to do with kids in London.

Lots of our friends ask ‘what can I do in London with kids on a budget?’

There’s so much! I’m so enthusiastic about this topic. London doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t have to spend a fortune in London to have a fun time.

There may be free seasonal activities that we will add in here from time to time but these are our absolute favourite free things to do in London with kids.

And not that I think you’ll ever get tired of London but if you’re looking for ideas of where to go near London, here are our favourite day trips from London with kids.

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View of the London skyline from the Sky Garden including the Shard, Tower Bridge and the River Thames.

Visiting London with kids – money saving tips

Before we list our favourite free London activities with kids, here are a few quick money saving tips for visiting London with kids.

  • Grab a cheap hotel like a Premier Inn (you’re not going to spend much time in the hotel). There are loads of them around London. The one at County Hall is in a great location and kids stay and eat free there. You’re not going to be able to explore all of London in one trip so it makes sense to try to group your activities by location and pick a hotel nearby. This way, you can walk between locations instead of taking the underground. Which leads to our second tip…
  • Don’t rely on the underground too much. Sometimes it can take longer to get down to the platform and wait for your tube than it takes to walk between stops. For example, the walk from Farringdon to Barbican stations is 8 minutes. It is also quite expensive. In fact, the London underground has the highest fares of all metro services in the world.

The best way to get around London is by walking or taking a bus. The buses are a cheaper way to get around than the tube and if you sit on the top deck, you can get great views of London while you travel.

Two boys sightseeing from the top deck of a London bus.

Children under 11 travel free with a paying adult. Some of our favourite bus routes in London for views or just generally good routes for passing lots of great attractions are:

Number 11
This route starts in Waterloo and takes you across Waterloo Bridge with views of the London Eye, Houses of Parliament/Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. From there you stop at St James’s Park before passing Victoria Station, Chelsea and on to Fulham.

Number 24
The route starts in Hampstead Heath in North London and takes you via Camden, Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square (for the Houses of Parliament/Big Ben and Westminster Abbey) and ends in Pimlico.

This is a good route for stopping off at Regent’s Park, the British Library, The British Museum, Covent Garden and Big Ben.

Number 9
The route takes you from Kensington via Hyde Park (close to the Natural History Museum, The Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum), Green Park, Picadilly, Trafalgar Square and along to Aldwych.

Number 15
This is my personal favourite as I used to take this route to work every day for years. It starts in East London at Blackwall Station and cuts straight through the City of London – passing the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Royal Courts of Justice, close to Covent Garden and ending at Charing Cross.

Red London buses passing St Paul's Cathedral

Finally, although this is a post about free activities in London for kids, we also have a post on great days out in London for families. It includes a lot of paid activities but there are also money saving tips in it.

If you want to combine visiting the free sights in London with the paid ones, I would recomend looking at the GoCity Pass. It has saved us so much money in London.

With their Explorer Pass you can include from 2 to 7 attractions and there is a decent saving versus buying individual tickets – sometimes up to 50%.

With their All-Inclusive Pass you can visit as many attractions as you can during the length of your pass. You can buy a 1 day pass, 2 day pass etc up to 10 days.

We have used it for the Tower of London, London Eye, Climbing the O2 and loads more.

There are over 100 activities included. If you buy your pass in advance, it’s nice to know that it’s all paid for and you won’t have the additional sightseeing costs during your trip.

Kids looking at a mural of the London skyline.

Free things to do with kids in London

From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, there are so many free attractions in London for kids of all ages.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore 50 exciting free activities for families to enjoy in London and have given a few more suggestions for cheap family days out in London.

They are in no particular order but I’ve started with museums because they are just the best free day out in London with kids.

Free museums in London for kids

London has to be one of the best cities in the world when it comes to museums. And the great thing is that most of them are just perfect for kids.

Some of them have child-friendly activities during the school holidays. Others have family-friendly exhibitions. There are so many to choose from but here are our favourite and free museums in London for families.

Please bear in mind that although these museums are free to visit, they do rely on donations from the public to help with the running costs.

They are such a great resource that it would be an incredible shame to lose any of them.

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum in London has to be one of the best museums in the world. We have been going for years and there is always something new to see.

Embark on a journey through the natural world at the Natural History Museum. From dinosaur skeletons to meteorites, the museum offers endless wonders for curious young minds.

Once a year they also host the young wildlife photographer of the year exhibition. There is an additional charge for this but it well worth seeing.

The Blue Whale skeleton hanging in the Hintze Hall is pretty epic, although it will never compare to Dippy the Dinosaur for me! Their dinosaur section is still pretty epic though and one of the best dinosaur days out for dino lovers.

We have always tried to get there early to beat the crowds but one time we were staying in a hotel nearby and went closer to closing time and found it much less busy. We were among the last people there. It was great.

You really can’t beat this for free activities in London for kids.

Illuminated skeleton of the Blue Whale hanging from the ceiling of the Hintze Hall in the Natural History Museum in London.

British Museum

Delve into history and culture at the British Museum, home to a vast collection of artifacts spanning centuries and civilizations.

Kids will be fascinated by the mummies, ancient sculptures, and interactive exhibits.

We love the Egyptian section and were blown away by the Rosetta Stone.

They have kids activities relating to certain areas of the museum. Just head to the family information desk in the main hall and grab some leaflets.

During the school holidays there are lots of fun and free activities for kids to enjoy.

Kids in the main hall of the British Museum in London.

Science Museum

Ignite a passion for science at the Science Museum, where interactive exhibits and hands-on activities make learning fun for kids of all ages.

From space exploration to robotics, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

You can spend a good few hours here and it is a great place to visit on a rainy day in London.

We would, however, strongly recommend visiting the WonderLab within the museum. It is brilliant! It is a completely interactive area for kids where they can get hands on with science. There is an additional charge to do this and it is advisable to book ahead in the school holidays.

As the Science Museum is right next door to the Natural History Museum, you can easily combine a visit to the two with a break in Hyde Park in between if needed.

Remember to book your free admission ticket.

Kids looking at a science experiment at the Science Museum in London.

Young V&A 

Step into a world of nostalgia at the Young V&A (formerly the V&A Museum of Childhood), where toys, games, and childhood memorabilia from centuries past are on display.

Kids can learn about the history of play while enjoying hands-on activities and interactive exhibits.

Combine that with a visit to the beautiful Victoria Park in Bethnal Green and a visit to the famous Columbia Road Flower Market (if you’re there on a Sunday).

Horniman Museum and Gardens

At the Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill in South East London you can immerse yourself in art, natural history, and cultural exhibits, set amidst beautiful gardens and green spaces.

Kids can interact with musical instruments from around the world, marvel at taxidermy animals, and explore outdoor trails.

We have also enjoyed:

Kids in red jackets pushing a large toy cargo ship around on a giant atlas at the National Maritime Museum in London.

Enjoy the green spaces in London for free

London may seem like one big urban sprawl but there is a surprising amount of green space. The Royal London parks are a great escape for families if you are visiting London during the summer months.

Let the kids run off steam or play in the play areas or grab some food from one of the many gorgeous food markets (see below) and have a picnic.

This is a great way to cut down on your food bill while visiting London.

Although Hyde Park is vast and probably the most well known park in London, it is not our favourite park.

We much prefer these ones:

In addition to the Royal London Parks, we also love:

  • Battersea Park  – with it’s many different garden sections including a sub-tropical garden and even a Peace Pagoda and play areas. You’ll also find Battersea Park Children’s Zoo here. Pop into the newly developed nearby Battersea Power Station.
  • Victoria Park – known affectionately as Vicky Park or the People’s Park was opened in 1845 for the people of London’s East End. Make sur eto check out their food market held every Sunday. A great place to go after visiting the Young V&A.

Visit the farm animals at Mudchute Farm

In the middle of the Isle of Dogs in London’s East End, you can visit Mudchute Farm, a charity run city farm and the largest inner city farm in Europe.

Among the 100 or so animals at Mudchute Farm you’ll find British rare breeds.

It is free to visit.

Kids in sunglasses reading the Pagoda Island information board in front of the Pagoda in Victoria Park in London.

Browse the wonderful food markets in London

While the food from the markets is not free – it doesn’t cost to look. But seriously, grabbing street food is cheaper than a sit down meal. Get a selection of tasty foods and head to the nearest green space for a picnic (weather permitting!).

Borough Market

Take a sensory journey through Borough Market, where vibrant stalls offer an array of delicious treats to sample. Kids can discover new flavours and ingredients while soaking in the lively atmosphere.

We’re not saying that this is a given, but there are often lots of free samples to try!

Other food markets to check out are:

A view of Borough Market in London.

Free Harry Potter activities in London

We are big Harry Potter fans and have done many of the main Harry Potter themed activities. Make sure you read our post on UK Harry Potter experiences for more ideas.

Harry Potter walking tour in London

London is a great city for Harry Potter fans to explore! You can create your own walking trail of the film locations if you do your own research. This is, of course, totally free.

But if you prefer to take a tour, we recommend these ones:

Free Tours By Foot (Free but you are encouraged to pay what you think it is worth)

Harry Potter Movie & Book Locations Walking Tour

Harry Potter Locations Walking Tour

And if you are a Harry Potter fan visiting London and have a visit to the Harry Potter studios on your wishlist but haven’t managed to book tickets for the day you want to visit, here’s a top tip.

Book a tour from London with GetYourGuide as they offer more dates. Yes it will be more expensive but it includes transfers from London.

Platform 9 3/4

As a Harry Potter fan you will also no doubt want to visit Platform 9 3/4. It is located in Kings Cross Station and is free to visit. Be prepared to queue to have your photo taken with the trolley.

Alternatively, you can visit out of hours and have the trolley to yourselves. You just won’t have a professional photographer on hand to take your photo with the scarf flying in the wind to make it look more authentic.

Kids trying to push the trolley through the wall at Platform 9 3-4 at Kings Cross Station.

Free summertime fun in London for kids

Despite numerous depictions of London as a grey and gloomy city, it can get hot in London in the summer.

In our experience, kids + sightseeing in a hot city does not equal a pleasant experience.

The best way we have found to keep kids cool in the city is to head to one of the many splash parks.

You won’t be missing out on valuable sightseeing time because our favourite play fountains are close to some fabulous sights.

  • Somerset House – a beautiful building with the splash pad in the courtyard.
  • Southbank Centre – Jeppe Hein’s appearing rooms.
  • City Hall (with views of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London).
  • Granary Square – not so much about the views but we love Coal Drops Yard, a fairly newly regenerated area of London near Kings Cross. Make sure you check out Camley Street Natural Park for a lovely nature setting in amongst the urban sprawl.

Remember to pack a pair of swimmers and a towel. We use these Dock & Bay towels that pack down into a small bag and are easy to carry around.

Kids playing in the splash fountains at Somerset House in London - one of our favourite free things to do with kids in London in the summer.

Free outdoor activities in London for kids

Visit a beach in London

OK so there aren’t any beaches as such in London (although there is a sandy stretch called Ernie’s Beach near the Southbank) but the River Thames is tidal and at certain times of the day, the banks of the river are exposed.

The history of London is mind boggling and with the River Thames once being a thriving thoroughfare through the city, many historical artifacts have been discovered.

However, …. you need to have a permit to do any form of beachcombing here so you can’t actively search for buried treasure. And at the time of writing, the issuing of permits has been suspended.

It is still a nice walk on a sunny day though.

To access the river bank, there are steps by the Founder’s Arms near the Tate Modern called the Falcon Stairs.

Young boy walking alongn the banks of the River Thames in London at low tide.

Take a Walk along the Thames

Enjoy a scenic walk along the River Thames, taking in iconic landmarks such as the London Eye, Tower Bridge, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Kids will love spotting boats and barges as they explore the bustling waterfront.

We like the walk on the south side of the River Thames from Tower Bridge to Westminster Bridge.

You will see the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast, The Golden Hinde, Shakespeare’s Globe, The Tate Modern, the Southbank Centre and the London Eye.

Watch the Tower Bridge raise

If you are doing this walk mentioned above, then make sure you check the times of when Tower Bridge will open to let a boat pass through.

See here for opening times.

Young boy in a yellow tshirt looking across the River Thames at the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

Discover street art in London

There is so much great street art in London. We loved watching artists at work in the Leake Street Arches. We’ve also wandered around Brick Lane admiring the art while looking for a great curry.

The thing about street art is that it is forever changing so you can visit these spots more than once. Our kids love discovering street art because it is so colourful and vibrant.

There are a couple of great street art spots as you walk along the south side of the River Thames from Tower Bridge to the London Eye. We loved this Shakespeare one near Southwark Bridge and there’s a cool map of London to a little further along.

Street art images in London.

Watch the Changing of the Guard

Witness the iconic Changing of the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace. The elaborate spectacle of soldiers in ceremonial attire is sure to captivate children and adults alike.

Every day at 11am you can watch the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace. Ideally you need to get there a little earlier as there will be crowds.

The ceremony lasts about 45 minutes. Be aware that in very wet weather, it can be cancelled, even at the very last minute.

For a paid activity, did you know you can visit Buckingham Palace?

Explore the Southbank Centre

Stroll along the Southbank and explore the various attractions, including street performers, pop-up installations, and outdoor markets.

Kids can take part in free workshops and activities offered throughout the year.

Make sure to check out What’s On at the Southbank Centre and maybe combine your wander with an exhibition or a show.

At Christmas there is a Christmas market which is fun to wander round.

Sticking with Christmas for just a minute, there are some lovely places to see Santa in London, some of which are free.

Also just wandering around the Christmas lights in London is a lovely free activity for kids in London.

Our favourite areas in London to see the Christmas lights are:

  • Regent Street
  • Oxford Street
  • Bond Street

See also our guide to what to do in London with kids at Christmas.

Illuminated angels at dusk on London's Regent Street.

Enjoy Street Performances in Covent Garden

Experience the vibrant energy of Covent Garden’s street performers as they entertain crowds with magic tricks, juggling acts, and musical performances. Kids can join in the fun or simply watch in awe.

The main performances take place outside of St Paul’s Church Covent Garden.

We either sit and grab a drink at VyTA on their terrace and enjoy from afar or take a ringside position and join in the fun.

We love that there are free london activities for kids like this.

As with the museums, however, we think it is great to give something to the performers. Some of them really are excellent.

Street performer in Covent Garden standing on a table juggling fire.

Enjoy free immersive experiences in London

Immersive experiences have become a big thing in London. There are some really great ones to try out. We absolutely loved the Van Gogh Exhibit, Frameless London and Bubble Planet.

But there are some great free ones for you to experience too.

The Outernet have an amazing space at Tottenham Court Road which you can just wander into free of charge.

Most recently we have loved the Butterfly Trail but take a look at their website to see what they have going on at the time of your London visit.

It was absolutely mesmerising and kept the kids entertained for a good 45 minutes.

Information about the Butterfly Trail immersive experience by the Outernet in London.

Enjoy free literature in London

The British Library

We only recently visited the British Museum for the first time with the kids. Whilst there isn’t a huge amount there to keep little ones entertained, we thought it would be quite cool for our 11 year old.

We bought tickets to an exhibition and while we were there, we took a look around the Rare Book room and managed to see a very rare copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio. You can also see a copy of the Magna Carta.

You can also book a tour of the Treasures of the British Library.

Family looking at a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio in the British Library in London.

Storytime at Foyles Bookshop

Immerse children in the joy of reading with free storytime sessions at Foyles Bookshop. Professional storytellers bring tales to life, captivating young imaginations and instilling a love of literature.

Here is an example of what was on offer this Easter at Foyles.

Word on the Water

If your kids love literature, why not pop in to an alternative bookshop – Word on the Water.

Word on the Water is a canal boat turned bookshop near Kings Cross on the canal. Well worth popping in for a browse.

While you’re at it, why not take a walk or a cycle along the Regent’s Canal Tow Path. There’s so much to see as it passes through Camden, Regent’s Park and Kings Cross.

Boy reading a book on the Word on the Water canal barge in London.

Discover the arts for free in London

Visit the Tate Modern

Introduce children to the world of contemporary art at the Tate Modern. The museum’s vast collection features works by renowned artists such as Picasso, Warhol, and Hockney.

During the school holidays there is usually a family-friendly activity for the kids to enjoy. Over the years our kids have scribbled freely on floors (yes it was an actual exhibit) and gone skating in their socks across the turbine hall on a slippery as ice floor exhibit.

While there, don’t miss the spectacular free view of London from the balcony of the 10th Floor of the Blatvnik building.

Kids drawing on the floor of the Tate Modern in London.

Visit the National Gallery

Introduce children to the world of art at the National Gallery, home to a vast collection of paintings spanning centuries and styles.

Kids can participate in free family trails and workshops designed to ignite their creativity.

Check what’s on during the school holidays as there are usually free workshops for kids to participate in.

Walk a sculpture trail

Look out for sculpture trails running during your visit. They can be a fun way of getting the kids to sightsee. In the past there have been colourful cows, Snowmen and Paddington Bears.

See here for the Paddington Public Art Trail map.

Visit the Serpentine Galleries

Explore contemporary art and architecture at the Serpentine Galleries in Hyde Park, which showcase innovative works by leading artists from around the world.

Kids can participate in free family workshops and art activities inspired by the exhibitions.

Discover the Barbican Conservatory

Escape to a tropical paradise at the Barbican Conservatory, where lush greenery and exotic plants provide a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city. Kids can explore winding pathways and discover hidden corners teeming with life.

Tropical oasis at the Barbican Conservatory at the Barbican Centre in London.

Enjoy the free views of London

Take in a free view at one of the many free viewpoints in London.

Some of our favourite places to visit for a free view of London are:

Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath is one of the highest points in London at 98 metres above sea level.

Primrose Hill offers a fantastic view of London being 63 metres above sea level.

Greenwich Park – see below photo for the view. Also nearby is the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory.

Sky Garden – it is free to visit but make sure you book tickets in advance.

Tate Modern – head to the viewing balcony on Floor 10 of the Blavatnik Building.

The Garden at 120

And whilst it is not free, it is actually surprisingly cheap to walk up The Monument to the Great Fire of London.

Two kids in red coats looking at one of the best free views of the London skyline from Greenwich Park.

We hope you enjoyed our list of free things for children to do in London.

We are always adding more ideas so keep checking back. And if you have any other suggestions for free things to do in London with children, let us know!