Entertaining your children during the school holidays, or travelling as a family to the UK, can be difficult. You might have work commitments, or the cost of an outing with kids could be expensive. But that could change, with this guide to visiting London with Kids on a budget.
We took our nephews to London for a day trip, to do something different with them, while they were on school holidays. Normally we’d take them swimming, since they love this, but felt this really wouldn’t be memorable for them. So, what better way to spend time with our nephews than taking them to London.
Sightseeing in London doesn’t come cheap and since we are budget travelers, we researched what we could do in London with kids on a budget. Now our nephews were 5 at the time, so had to do something that would entertain them but was appropriate for their age. And this is what we got up to.
Visiting London with kids on a budget
We share with you some tips, advice and things you can do with kids on a budget in London:
Is London safe for families?
Of course, London is safe for families.
London is a great place to take your family on holiday, or for a day trip.
While London might be a safe place to visit with children, it doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Ensure you keep your eye on them, just in case they wander off and get lost.
With any holiday, you will always need to ensure that you stay safe especially with kids. To help you to stay safe while travelling, check out our blog post. We offer our tips and advice on staying safe. Many of the points we share can be used in everyday life, even in your own city, town or small village.
Things to do in London with kids on a budget
There are a number of places to take young children in London and here are a few of our suggestions:
Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain
Opening times: November – February 10am-4pm, March and October 10am-6pm, September 10am-7pm and May-August 10am-8pm
Location: Hyde Park, London
Located in Hyde Park in London and dedicated to the late Princess Diana who sadly died in a car crash in Paris, France in 1997. The fountain is shaped in a circle, with the water flowing around the fountain.
We have been here before, but during the colder months when children are not paddling and wading in the water. So, when we researched what we could do in London on a budget with Kids, we came across Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. Other families commented to say that children can wade and paddle in the waters of the fountain.
Well, that sold it for us and knew that the boys would love to play in the waters on a nice hot sunny day, plus it was free. So, what better way to stay on a budget.
During the summer months, Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain can be very busy, with children and families, enjoying the hot summers having a picnic while the kids are entertained for the entire day.
It didn’t take long before the boys were in and out of that fountain with their clothes on splashing around. It was a day well spent, as we spent the whole day here and the boys had endless fun without tiring.
There are some deeper sections, so watch for small children, while the shallow sections are little trickles of water sliding down the fountain.
The Park is perfectly safe to allow your children to go into the water, as long as you keep a good eye on them and that you’re within a close proximity to the fountain.
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Opening times: Monday to Sunday 5am-12am all year round
Location: Hyde Park
Hyde Park is the largest of the four royal parks in London.
If your children tire of the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, then check out the many things that you could do. Such as: Picnic in the park, brave a swim in the waters of the Serpentine, what wildlife can your little one’s spot, play tennis, or take them to the playground.
If you are visiting during the winter months, make a point of visiting Winter Wonderland on the build up to Christmas, with ice skating, funfair rides, plenty of food and drinks and more to entertain you. It is free to enter, but tickets for the rides are available to pre order, or at the box office inside the Christmas Market.
Hyde Park is a great spot for family picnics, and going out onto the lake with a pedal boat. On our way home, we made a point of taking a short stroll through the park, for new places for the boys to explore and see.
Diana Memorial Playground
Opening times: 10am-5pm
Location: Kensington Gardens
The Memorial Playground, has a giant pirate ship, which would be great for our 5-year-old nephews to run around and have fun with. It opened on 30th June 2000 in memory of Princess Diana and built next to her home at Kensington Palace.
What makes it one of the best playgrounds, is the giant pirate ship, that entertains children of any age. There’s also a sensory trail of teepees, a beach around the pirate ship, toys and play sculpture.
Our initial plans were to visit both the Memorial Fountain and the playgrounds in the same day, but both the boys were having too much fun. We also had to consider that at the age of 5, walking the children from one end of the park to the other, would have been too much on their little legs. So, we will plan to do this on our next budget adventure to London with kids.
Museums are a great way for kids to learn without them even knowing about it and the bonus, most of them are free to visit.
The top picks would have to be the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, with interactive display and the ever-popular Dinasaur skeleton hanging from the rafters of the Natural History Museum.
Both these museums could keep the kids entertained for the entire day.
There’re some stunning pieces of art displayed in the many free art galleries dotted around London.
This would suit the older child who appreciates art displays and galleries, but still needs to be included in this guide to visiting London with kids on a budget.
What to pack when visiting London with Kids?
Whether you are day tripping to London, or staying in London for a few days, depending on what the activity you have planned, you may require a spare set of clothes.
As many of us know, children are likely to get dirty or wet or both, so a spare set of clothing is a must. On our trip to London with kids, we knew that they would be getting wet and possibly dirty, so we packed a spare set of clothes and towel, so they could change before making our way home.
If your children are going into water, you may wish to pack swimwear and towel for them to change into.
Getting to and from London
London has a good transport links to and from the city, running on a frequent timetable. Here are a few methods of getting to and from London.
Cost: £40.00 for two adults and two Children. We took the Southeastern train along the Hastings line. Costs will change depending on your departure point and the train line.
London has great train connections, to many areas of the country. This makes London an excellent city to visit on a day trip, or a base while on holiday in the UK.
We took the Southeastern train up to London which took about 45 minutes.
Children can get bored very quickly and with no entertainment systems on board, you will need to bring something that will keep the children entertained for the journey. We packed a couple of children’s magazines with a toy attached, costing a couple of pounds.
This kept them entertained throughout the journey and luckily it kept the kids bottoms in their seats, with no running around. Bonus!
On your way into London, get the children to look out for the big tourist attractions and get them to tell you what they are and how many they spot, this is a great distraction technique and will keep them entertained.
Cost: Children under 11 travels for free. Adults can purchase the tube ticket with the train ticket. If you have an oyster card, it will charge you about £8.40 per person for a day.
There’re 11 tube lines in London, covering central London and the outskirts of the city. This is one of the best ways to connect you from place to place in London at a quick pace. At peak time, you could catch a train every 2-3 minutes. But be prepared many lines will be busy with commuters.
Best time to take the tube is during off peak (between 9:30am and 3:30pm), when the lines are at their quietest.
On entering and exiting the tube stations, use the large gates, that’s specific for disabled and children. The staff may open the gates for you, or present your card at the machine for the gates to open.
We would highly recommend planning your route before you leave, so you know where you are going, what tube station to take the tube from and make a note of the line and which station to exit. You may find you need to change lines, to get to your destination.
Most train lines are connected underground and easy to take one line to another.
Many of the tube lines are found deep underground and the escalators and stairs can be steep. Keep an eye on the children to ensure they don’t get lost or fall.
A tube can be a scary place for young children, it is possible your children could get scared on the tube just as our nephews did, take this into account when travelling by tube.
Try distraction techniques such as, counting the number of stations until we had to get off, or played games. It really took their mind off what made them scared of the tube.
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Cost: Metered, so depending on the distance, depends on the fair.
No car seats required! When travelling in a black cab, kids don’t require a car seat, but must wear a seatbelt.
The black cab or taxi has its advantages, they take you from A to B, with ease, apart from the London traffic. Black cabs are an icon of London, so travelling in one could be on your bucket list and kids may enjoy it.
But they are one of the most expensive methods to travel, so consider this if you’re travelling on a budget.
It is possible to drive to London, and through London, however the roads can get congested and parking is limited and expensive. Our advice would be, to avoid driving in or through London.
Parking in London can be expensive and limited. We would recommend leaving the car at home.
Buses are aplenty, connecting London with other areas of the city and the country.
If you intend to take the bus, do your research before you leave to plan you route and which buses, you’ll need to take to get you from one place to another.
Places to eat in London on a budget
Around every corner, there’s always a café, restaurant, pub or something to eat and drink, but will they be budget friendly?
If you are staying on a tight budget, then our pro tip is to make your own picnic or pack lunch. By purchasing food from the local grocery store and making the picnic, not only will the food go further, but you’ll spend half the price of eating out.
For example, if you purchase a loaf of bread at about £1.00 per loaf, plus the filling such as 12 pack of eggs for about £1.00 or tinned tuna 4x cans for £1.00. Total £3.00. You now have enough bread and filling to make sandwiches for the family and some food left over for the following day. If you were to purchase a sandwich from the local grocery store already made up, you are looking at about £2-£3.00 for 1. Just by making your own food, your saving money.
If you want to buy a meal from a café or restaurant, then here are some suggestions:
Colicci Serpentine Lido
Just a short distance from Princess Diana Memorial fountain, is this small café offering a small selection of refreshments, from wraps, burgers, kids’ pizza, breakfasts and cakes, to hot and cold drinks.
The price is a little expensive if you are on a budget, with prices starting at £10.00 per dish. But this is the standard price you’ll pay for a meal out.
There’s indoor and outdoor seating available, plus takeaways. Making it easy to picnic by the memorial fountain.
Serpentine Bar & Kitchen
A more expensive option with dishes costing over £10.00 and offering a very small selection of dishes. Breakfasts are available until 11:30am, the mains are the classic fish and chips, burger and chips, salads and pizza. There is a very small selection of vegetarian dishes.
Take away and dine in options are available. On a hot summer’s day, why not get a table outside and eat, while watching the city pass by.
Is there anywhere else you could recommend us for places to eat in London with kids?
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Visiting London with Kids that can be done on a budget has just been made easier. You can plan where to visit and you can do multiple day trips to London with the kids without breaking the bank. We had so much fun on our visit to London with our nephews and we just want you to have the same adventure with your children. It’s about making precious memories with your children, that neither of them will forget.
We can’t wait to take them to London again.
We hope you have as much fun as we did, when you take your kids to London on a budget.
Did you visit London with children? Where did you go? Did you stay on budget? Is there somewhere you would recommend that’s budget friendly and great to take children? Then let us know, by leaving a comment below.
Afternoon tea in England is very popular and can’t be missed when visiting England. But there aren’t many that are appropriate or kids friendly. Although this can change if you still want to have afternoon tea with children, with these Best Afternoon Tea in London for kids.
We intend to take our nephews on further adventures, so more content in this area will be added.
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