There are so many trendy things to do in London with kids, but they will leave your wallet empty. A holiday to London is already expensive as accommodation, restaurants and transportation are all quite pricey in the capital city. Not to mention all the famous attractions that charge a fortune for a few hours of entertainment.
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London off or on a Budget
Luckily, all these expensive places, have a free or cheap alternatives, which will provide a similar experience and will guarantee to put smiles on your children’s face. The alternatives are often off the beaten path places in London, so you won’t need to stand in long queues and listen to moaning children. It is a win-win situation for all! This guide will give you some ideas about things to do with kids and it will help you organize a more budget-friendly holiday!
Spend a day at Thorpe Park
Thorpe Park is a great theme park in London. There are over 30 rides, so small children, teens and adults will all find something suitable for them. They have lots of roller coasters, 4D experiences, live events, dodgems aka bumper cars, spinning rides, boat rides, water slides and a pool as well. You can easily spend a whole day here. This is not only thanks to the number of rides they have but also because there are long queues for all of them.
Ticket prices: Starts from £33.00 online per visitor or £55.00 if you buy it on the spot.
Free alternative: Princess Diana of Wales Memorial Playground
The playground is in Hyde Park, which offers a lovely day on its own! You can go cycling, hire a boat on the pond or have a picnic. The playground is huge, but it is still a safe place for children, as it is all surrounded by a fence. There is a guard at the gate, who makes sure no children leave unattended. Children love this playground for a good reason. There are so many things to do, that you can spend a whole day there. Swings, slides, musical elements, teepee tents, climbing frames, giant sand pit with several water pumps all provide a lovely entertainment for the kids. However, I think all of them agree, that the highlight of a visit to the playground is the huge pirate ship.
Ticket prices: Visiting the playground is free, but there are opening hours, so check ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Boat and bike rental in Hyde Park comes at a small fee.
Learn about the making of Harry Potter at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour
Any Harry Potter fan’s dream is to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour. The tour is indeed great and you will be amazed to see how much work went into the creation of these movies. You will see Dumbledor’s office, the Philosopher’s Stone, the Gryffindor common room, the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets and a lot more. Don’t miss the chance to try Bertie Bott’s every flavor jelly beans and the butter beer. The tour is mostly self-guided. You can expect to spend about 3 hours there.
Ticket prices: You will need to book tickets months ahead, as they sell out really quickly! So if this place is something you definitely want to visit, plan ahead! Family ticket for two adults and two children is £140.00.
A free alternative that doesn’t require booking ahead: Visit Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station
Did you know that you can visit platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross station? There is an assistant who will give you your chosen house scarf and wand for a photo opportunity. Then off you go, jump in the air with the trolley and a professional photographer will snap a picture! You can purchase this photo, but you can also take your own photo for free.
Ticket prices: No entrance fee and you can take your own photo for free as well!
Ride a Speed Boat on the Thames River
If you want to experience a truly exciting sightseeing trip, you should go on a jet boat ride on the river Thames. For safety reasons the minimum height requirement to travel on Thamesjet is 1.35 meters (Four foot four inches). It is guaranteed you and the kids will get a real adrenaline rush and you will see the most famous London landmarks as well on your journey. Can you imagine a better way to go sightseeing than this?
Ticket prices: Family ticket for two adults and two children cost £129.00 online for a 50-minute ride.
A cheap alternative: Go Sightseeing on a River Cruise
TFL has river boats, that you can use with contactless or Oyster card. This is a cheap way to see London from another angle. Children enjoy boat rides. You will go under bridges, see kayakers and other boats and you can have fun racing who can point out London’s famous landmarks quicker as you pass them.
Ticket prices:Children under five years old travel free and children between the age of 5 and 15 receive a 50% discount.
An adult ticket for central cost £7.00.
This is also available in a London Pass.
See a West End Show
It is on many people’s bucket list to see a West End show. There are so many fantastic shows to choose from: musicals, comedies, magic shows and so much more. All of them are fantastic and in my opinion worth the money. The performances are exceptional. They put a lot of effort into creating the setting, costumes and choreography. You will be amazed by the smart ideas they come up with for this huge production.
Ticket prices: Unfortunately going to see a West End play is very expensive. Ticket prices vary typically they cost £40 – £160 per ticket, but you can grab some for cheaper in the TKTS office on the day of the show.
A free alternative: Watch street artists at Covent Garden
While watching street performers in Covent Garden is not exactly up to the standers of a West End show, but it will definitely put a smile on your face. The artists often interact with the audience and you can often even get involved. Children, especially enjoy this. So if you want some free entertainment head to Covent Garden. There are always performers there, so you can easily spend a few hours, just watching them. Magicians, stand up comedians, street dancers, bike stunt artists and many more fun productions awaits you.
Ticket price: You can just watch the artists for free, however, it is advised you give them some money at the end of the performance in the hat they provide.
Enjoy the Views From the London Eye
The London Eye is one of the symbols for London. Everyone knows this attraction and eager to get on there. This, of course, means long queues and expensive ticket prices. The views from the London Eye are lovely, and the children enjoy the ride.
Ticket prices: Children under 3 are free. Tickets for children aged 3-15 cost £20.00 and for adults cost £26.00 per ticket if bought online.
A free alternative: Enjoy the Views From Sky Garden
You can enjoy stunning 360-degree views across London from the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street. You will also find a cafe and restaurant at the top, but you can just visit the observation deck, without paying anything.
Ticket prices: It is free to visit Skygarden, but you will need to book tickets ahead of time. It is a popular attraction, so book ahead. Free spaces go live every two weeks on Mondays.
Visit London Zoo
Children love animals. A visit to the zoo is always a great success. It is especially fun to watch the monkeys having fun. You can see lions, get up close to lemurs, see animals in action at the bird show and watch how the giraffes are fed. It is a fun day out for the whole family.
Ticket prices: Children under 3 are free. Tickets for children aged 3-15 cost £15.95 and for adults cost £24.54 per ticket if booked online.
A free alternative: See the Deer in Richmond Park
Visiting Richmond Park is a great adventure. You can see deer in the wild and part of the fun is having to find them. Richmond Park is really big, but there are lots of deer around, so don’t worry about missing out! You will not only be able to see the deer, but lots of other animals as well. The park is home to ducks, swans, parrots, squirrels, rabbits, herons and foxes. You can even rent bikes or go horse-riding.
Ticket prices: Visiting the park is free, but be aware of opening hours. Renting a bike and horse riding comes at a small fee.
Guest post: Eniko is a 25-year old Hungarian girl, who lived in 5 countries. She is now based in London and works as a full-time nanny. She spends her weekends exploring the UK, but also has a few bigger trips every year, mainly in Europe. She loves the outdoors and encourages people to have an active holiday.
Her blog https://www.travelhackergirl.com/ is mainly focused on bucket list experiences and outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, kayaking and camping. She travels with her boyfriend Tom, who is great at landscape photography
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