Is the thought of entertaining the kids for an entire summer giving you cause for concern? There is plenty to do all over London for free, or at a low cost if you are prepared to do your research. The great thing about finding fun for free is that you can leave room in the budget for some added extras – such as ice creams and taxi rides there and back. Here are some ideas to get you started.
From big hitters such as the British Museum and Natural History Museum to lesser known places like the Museum of London Docklands or Whitechapel Gallery, many of the UK capital’s museums are completely free to enter (donations welcome). Not only do they contain some amazing artefacts and priceless cultural gems, they offer a full and enriching day out at a very low price. Even lower if you pack a picnic and avoid the gift shop!
London is home to some of the finest musicians in the world. Keep an eye out online for details of free concerts, often featuring internationally renowned artists. The church of St Martin in the Fields near Charing Cross often gives free concerts, as does the Royal Academy of Music on Marylebone Road. Or if you prefer a spot of street theatre, head over to Covent Garden, where you can watch amazing juggling displays, enjoy family-friendly puppet shows and listen to awe-inspiring opera, all free of charge, or in return for a modest donation.
Take your pick of London’s beautiful Royal Parks to enjoy a relaxed afternoon eating a picnic, playing games and identifying the local wildlife. London has 3,000 parks of varying sizes that have been officially designated ‘public open spaces’ so there is plenty of choices. Don’t forget to explore the many canals and riverside walks around the capital for some peaceful hours away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Many of Britain’s traditional displays can be enjoyed free of charge in London, including the Changing of the guard, a long-standing tradition that takes place outside Buckingham Palace on selected summer mornings – check online for exact dates and timings. Or visit King’s Cross and queue up to have your photo taken at Platform 9 and ¾, just like Harry Potter! Or take a look round one of London’s most famous shops – Harrods or Fortnum and Mason: there is so much to admire that you don’t have to spend a penny if you don’t want to – thought you will be seriously tempted!
In amidst the impressive historical architecture and heritage, there is plenty of evidence of the modern world to enjoy for free in London. Visit the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to relive the glories of the 2012 London Olympics or admire some modern art at the Tate Modern art gallery on Bankside. Find the most famous zebra crossing in Britain by the Abbey Road recording studios and recreate that iconic Beatles album cover photograph.