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Free Things to Do in London With Kids

Readers have been asking me for London itineraries for kids, some sort of plan to make best use of limited time in my home city. I can’t really do that, the amount of time you’ll want to spend at each attraction will vary enormously and the ages of your children may limit the amount of pavement pounding you can do. What I can do is give you a few suggestions, let’s start with free things to do in London with kids, ideas for the most mind-blowing and London-y places you can take your young family.

Free Things To Do in London With Kids Guide Harry Potter Station

Hopefully, all these amazing free things to do will compensate for your hotel expenses.Ouch!

We’ve been travelling full-time with our kids since 2012, London really hurts our wallet, but we can give you a few tips on finding bargains on London accommodation and food, in another post, find then at the end of the page.

Let’s go with the free stuff! All of these things were free when we visited, please check as the government did want to change this.

Free things to do in London with kids
You can spend weeks in London and only visit free attractions, let’s take a look at some of our favourites!

Free Things To Do in London For Kids

There are plenty of free things to do in London for kids that are child-friendly, fun, educational, cultural or family pleasing. Start with London’s amazing free outdoor spaces then look for free museums, attractions and historical sites.

Everything in this post was FREE for us. There is also a book on this topic if you’d like to dig even deeper. Click on the link here to investigate. There is a crazy amount of stuff you can get in this city for free, from transport to haircuts.

London Museums For Free With Kids

South Kensington tube station is always insanely busy because this is the jumping off point for the big 3 South Ken museums.

The Natural History Museum and The Science Museum are next door to each other, the V&A is over the road.

I haven’t been to the V&A in years, only to its spin-off The Museum of Childhood ( on the far side of London at Bethnal Green, too far to include in a short visit) because these two suit my children best.

UPDATE: We spent most of yesterday in the V&A it’s sensational! Post coming.

You could spend days exploring these museums, we go back time after time. But for those of you on a short visit, here are some suggested highlights.

These museums were free last time we visited. Voluntary donations applied.

The Natural History Museum

Natural history museum interior

Get here before opening time or late in the day. Queues build up for entry, you don’t want to waste your day standing in line. Avoid summer and Christmas school holidays if at all possible. The side entrance ( next to the Science Museum) is sometimes less busy than the front.

Opening time is normally 10 am, check their website.

Do Not Miss: The building itself, it’s stunning inside and out, the kids won’t be interested but the grown-ups can be impressed.

The entrance hall as you go in houses the iconic dinosaur (now a whale) and the statue of Darwin on the steps at the back of the hall. Most children will want to see the free dinosaur exhibit on your left as you go in. It can get incredibly busy. If you have to visit on school holiday weekends, consider booking timed dinosaur exhibit entrance tickets in advance.

When you’re done with dinosaurs, head to the back of the museum for the mammal hall and the life-sized blue whale.

Natural History Museum for kids

My boys are into arthropods so we head to the right of the main entrance for creepy crawlies. If time is short you can stop there and leave.

Upstairs the earthquake mock-up is popular with kids, as is the giant escalator through planet earth.

The Science Museum

London Science Museum. Free. London on the Cheap

Your problem here will be getting your kids to leave. For that reason, I’d be careful about visiting if you’re on a tight schedule. I’ve dedicated a whole post to the Science Museum and its children’s facilities, click-through to have a read.

The Science Museum is next door to the Natural History Museum and is always way less busy. They have an IMAX cinema here ( not free), kids workshops and all manner of special exhibits.

Other Museums and Galleries

London is absolutely stuffed full of museums, most of them free.

The British Museum

British Museum for kids
We spend a LOT of time at The British Museum, it’s stunning.

This is where you need to come for the Rosetta Stone, mummies and artifacts ancient and modern from all over the world.

The kids’ audio guides are sensational, but unfortunately not free,  my boys (8 and 10) lasted 2 hours and covered ancient Egypt, the Americas, Africa, and Asia. We’ll be going back for the rest of the tour soon. You can see our post on visiting the British Museum with kids here.

Tottenham Court Road, Holborn or Russel Square are the nearest tube stations, it’s a bit of a walk.

Coram’s Fields playground is nearby and is a great place for the kids to play outside, it also houses a few small animals.

National Gallery for kids london
Doctor Who fans will know that the “real” sunflowers is inscribed “For Amy” not “Vincent”.

The National Gallery sits at the back of Trafalgar Square and its steps give you the best vantage point for photos of the square. Again, this is free to enter, but a donation is suggested ( no pressure).

You could quickly pop in and out just to see a favourite painting ( we recommend Van Gogh for kids, thanks to his Doctor Who appearance) or you could take a free 1 hour tour starting at 11.30 every day. There are also free drawing groups and family activities on some days.

Kids’ audio guides are available for a very moderate cost. The guided tours are free. We have a post on The National Gallery with kids here.

The Tate Modern

Is on the South Bank, again, it’s free and fabulous. See our post on the Tate Modern here.

Other Free Museums Worth Visiting

London Museums for kids
The Grant Museum of Zoology is a small but fascinating collection of historical artifacts including a dissection of a real Tasmanian tiger and the infamous jar of moles.

The Grant Zoology Museum and its jar of moles, and the Museum of Childhood, as mentioned above. I’ll add more free museums as I discover them.

The Museum of London at Canary Wharf is excellent. Housed in an old warehouse building, it’s really atmospheric

London Passes Save You Money

If you want a hassle-free trip to London, with “free” admission to most top attractions, consider investing in a London pass of some sort. There are many different cards and passes to choose from. Pay in advance for your choice of the capital’s prime attractions to help you budget your trip, save time and cut stress. This website details various passes and what they include.

London’s Free Parks and Playgrounds For Kids

London for kids parks and playgrounds
No snakes, scorpions, stinging plants or aggressive ants to worry about. London’s parks are abundant, green and fabulous.

London is an incredibly green city with endless green spaces, gardens, boating lakes, tame squirrels, ducks, swans and playgrounds. Our personal top recommendations would be:

  • The Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. this one is stunning.
  • Regents Park, for a walk, a play and a glimpse of some of the animals in the zoo.
  • Hyde Park for Speaker’s Corner, The Serpentine and ultra tame squirrels.

I’ll have to produce a separate post on London’s parks and playgrounds, there are just too many to include here.

Covent Garden Entertainment is Free

London for kids Covent Garden
There is always something going on in Covent Garden, take a wander and enjoy the market, buskers, street performers and classical musicians.

Street performers and buskers are always fun for the kids, particularly if they haven’t seen moving statues and levitating Yodas before. The walk from Covent Garden Station down to the actual Covent Garden is always lined by street artists, you’ll find full-on performances in and around the market. If you stop to watch a show it’s polite to pay, this is how these guys make a living.

You’ll also find more highbrow singers and musicians performing here most days and the market and shops can be fun for the kids.

There was a Disney store on Covent Garden.

Soldiers, Horses and Palaces in London to See for Free

You can walk right past the front of Buckingham Palace. If you’re there at the right time on the right day, you’ll catch the changing of the guard ceremony here. Check this website for times and dates.

Green Park tube station is your best stop for Buckingham Palace, you can walk down through the park to the main gates. Alternatively use St James’s Park, there is a great kids’ playground there.

You can walk down The Mall or through St James’s Park to Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade to see the soldiers on horseback. You’ll catch the changing of the guard here at 10am on weekdays, 11am on Sundays. You’re half way between Trafalgar Square and Westminster here.

Free Things to Do For Harry Potter Fans in London

Platform 9 and three quarters harry potter mug

Platform 9 and 3/4 is at Kings Cross Station. There is a photo opportunity and a shop selling 9 3/4 merchandise. Click through to our post for more details. Right next door is a very special Harry Potter shop, it was the first in the world, has unique merchandise and great theming. Of course, it’s free to look and enjoy.

Free Sherlock Holmes Things To Do in London

Baker St Station has Sherlock Holmes themed tiles and outside, on the street, you will find a statue of the great detective. If you walk around the corner along Baker St ( towards Regent’s Park) you’ll pass the Sherlock Holmes museum where a police officer in period costume poses for photos.

Get a Photo in a TARDIS for Doctor Who Fan Kids

Tardis London for kids

A souvenir shop outside and to the left ( towards Tussauds) of Baker St Station had a life-sized TARDIS. The real Doctor Who exhibition was based in Cardiff and was well worth a visit. There is another TARDIS looking thing directly outside Earl’s Court train station.

Paddington Bear for Free in London

Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear took his name from London’s Paddington Station. It’s worth popping along to see the cute statue of the little bear and his suitcase. There is a Paddington Bear shop too.

Hamley’s Toy Shop London – It’s Free

 Hamleys fun for kids and grown ups in London
Hamleys is fun for everyone, not just the kids, I’ve never been in another shop, anywhere, that’s quite as much fun. Don’t miss the life size Lego royal family.

You totally MUST take your children to Hamley’s, arguably the finest toy shop in the world. It’s on Regent St a short walk from Oxford circus and has 5 floors of the best toys in the world brought to life by lively and fun demonstrators. It’s a very hands-on kind of shop.

Hamleys can get very busy towards Christmas when the window displays put on a fantastic show beneath the Regent St. lights. Arriving for opening time is a fun experience, they put on a bit of a show with a Disney-esque “rope drop”.

If you carry on walking along Regent St you come to Piccadilly circus and can walk on to Leicester Square and Covent Garden.

To Visit Harrods is Free

Harrods for kids chocolates

My kids were totally unimpressed with Harrods, other than the confectionary department. Harrods has the most impressive selection of chocolate and sweets you will ever see, the cakes are pretty splendid too. We had a few free tasters but ended up spending a lot on knock-out chocolate.

The M&Ms Store is Free

London’s M&Ms store was on Leicester Square. I think it’s bigger than the New York one, it’s certainly newer. They’re not so free and easy with handing out the free chocolates in London but visiting the M&Ms store on Leicester Square is free.

London’s South Bank – A Lovely Place to Walk for Free

London for kids South Bank

The South Bank of the Thames is a lovely spot for a walk with views of the river, the Houses of Parliament and London’s most famous bridges. If you can walk all the way from Tower Bridge to Big Ben’s tower with the kids, you’re doing well.

Along the way you’ll pass some great spots to play. There is a cool adventure playground right behind The London Eye (one of our favourite attractions, but far from free). Looking up at this awesome construction is pretty cool too. For Doctor Who fans, it was a giant transmitter in Rose Tyler’s first episode, they’ll be pleased to see it in real life.

The Shard, featured in a Matt Smith episode, is on this side of the river too, but best viewed from the other bank. Sadly, they charge for admission.

There is a sand play area near London’s “beach” down towards Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. There is usually a guy down there making sand sculptures, low tide only of course! You’ll also walk past The Clink Prison Museum, The Golden Hind and maybe end up at foodie favourite, Borough Market, a great place to grab some lunch.

Look out for the RSPB stand outside the Tate Modern, they were there all last summer helping us to spot the Peregrine Falcons through super powered telescopes.

Things to Do in Camden London For Free

Camden Collage 500

There is a lot of crazyness in Camden, it’s great for grown ups but small children may find the crowds and bustle overwhelming. If you can get to Camden on a quiet day it’s lovely down by the canal, a great spot to watch the narrowboats navigating the lock. See our post “one day in London” for more on this area.

London’s Richmond Park For Free With Kids

London for Kids Richmond Park

Richmond Park is a fair way out of central London, around 45 mins on the District Line from the middle of town.

I include it because your kids will probably never get a better chance to get up close and personal with red and fallow deer. We live out here, we go for a walk in the park most weeks.

Richmond itself is a stunning spot on the Thames, it’s well worth making the trip and strolling along the Thames. You’ll be bumping into celebrities constantly.

Things to Do in Greenwich London For Free With Kids

Free London for kids Greenwich

Again, Greenwich is a bit of a trek to get to, but it really deserves a look for its maritime history.

The Maritime Museum is free, as is the walk up to the observatory to see the marker for the prime meridian. You can also walk under the Thames in a pedestrian tunnel here.

The Cutty Sark is magnificent and an amazing interactive exploration for the kids, but there is a charge. You can see it from outside, for free. It’s imposing and magnificent.

I’ve given Greenwich attractions their own post. Don’t miss the craft and food market, it’s mouthwatering.

Trafalgar Square is Free!

free things to do in london with kids

You can’t feed the pigeons these days, but you can climb on the lions, my boys love that.

If your children have the book, Katy in London, or the new Katie’s London Christmas, they’ll know all about the lions’ magic powers.

I believe you can still splash in the fountains on hot summer days, but you’d better check that one with the local constabulary.

You can also see this large blue chicken or one of his art installation friends on one of the plinths at the back of Trafalgar Square. The art displays here change fairly regularly.

blue chicken london for kids

Other Free Events and Attractions for Kids in London

You’ll need to check current events at the time of your visit, there is always something going on in London and events are extremely well done. I’m working on a list of websites for you. Enjoy all of these free things to do in London with kids, these our how we, the London Mums, raise our kids in the city without spending a fortune. London has so much that’s free to do, I’m sure you’ll have fun!

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Saturday 4th of April 2020

I was in London for the first time this year and started exploring the city with free attractions. It turned out that there are so many of them that I didn't even have time to visit them all. I would gladly return to London as soon as possible.

Bansari Dedhia

Tuesday 16th of April 2019

Hi... I just loved your blog and am superexcited to visit London this May with my 8 year old daughter and staying near Paddington station..

We have 3 full days and 2 half days from afternoon to night

Out of 3 full days - 1day we would go to windsor legoland but could you help me how is it as have not come across very good reviews and i wanted to include 1 theme park in my trip.

The other full day was planing to see change of guards ceremony, hyde park,(or which other good park can i take her) natural history museum and science museum.

The 3rd full day we have a friend staying in Greenwich area so would spend a day there( need ideas what best can i see there in a day)

And remainder 2 half days may be see tower bridge ,may be some park that u can advice is good for her again and what else can we see in this time ??

Alyson Long

Tuesday 16th of April 2019

Legoland Windsor is good but big and sprawling. It also gives you opportunity to see Windsor Castle. Of the 3 Legoland Parks we've been to it was the oldest, but still enjoyable. It's quite difficult to get to, we took the train plus, I believe bus and that cuts into your time. Go to our Legoland Windsor post, I'm sure I must say plenty there! We also have a full post on Greenwich. I love Greenwich and there's loads to do, go to that post. The Changing of the Guard is at the top of St James's Park. So if you walk from Buckingham Palace to Horseguards or vice versa, you're walking through St Jamess Park. But I think the Princess Diana Memorial Playground, Fountain and Kensington Palace itself ( Where William and Kate now live, also the Albert Memorial is here) in Kensington Park is worth a look. Kensington Park merges with Hyde Park. You haven't got much time though, it will be a rush! Best of luck and I hope the queues aren't too bad at the museums, they can be horrendous sometimes. other favourite part of London, the South Bank, there's a nice playground behind the London Eye. And you must go to Covent Garden! ( can you make it 2 weeks ? )


Wednesday 26th of September 2018

Natural history museum is a must go. Highly recommended.

Ali Boss

Thursday 20th of August 2015

We are finishing up our five week stay in London. I have to add that the Olympic park was free and fun for the kids. There are different play grounds. We did one amusement ride. Swim time can be booked as well as an adventure swim obstacle course.


Saturday 6th of June 2015

We have just finished three weeks in London with our four kids (and have been twice previously) and have been to most of those places. We found the parks, and Science museum were probably our top free things to do.

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