Affordable family day outs in London!

London can be expensive, especially with kids, and as the summer approaches the demand for entertainment, trips and ice cream increases ten-fold. We are very conscious of the need to ensure your children are getting the most out of the city, while you aren’t feeling the pinch paying for it. So we’ve put together some handy ideas for fun yet affordable family day outs. (We’ve generally tried to price everything on the basis that it’ll be 2 adults and 2 kids taking part, but we’ll offer breakdowns where given)

1. Cruising down the river with the Family

On a sunny day there’s no better way to escape the hot and crowded streets than to cruise down Britain’s most iconic waterway. It is one of the best ways to give your family a fun tour of London. A trip down the river covers significant buildings like the Tower of London, City Hall, The Tate Modern and the Houses of Parliament.

Some of the private tour operators will offer single trips, but at a significant cost that increases with the distance. For these we see a minimum standard price of £10 per adult and £5 for children, which leaves a family of 4 with a hefty £30 bill. Thankfully Transport for London (TFL) also offer a public transport service, Thames Clippers, at significantly reduced rates. Tickets are only £21.60 for a family of four and even cheaper at £16.40 if you all have TFL travel cards. You could also check out the 24-hour hop on-hop off river pass by CityCruises, which allow 3 kids to go free with 2 parent tickets!

Total savings: Between £8.40 and £13.60

family cruises

Thames Cruises

2. Museums

While locals are normally well versed with the museum culture of London, many visitors to the city underestimate quite how many free services are provided. There is a vast array of museums that offer free entry (meaning more money in the pocket for tea and cakes in the vastly improved museum café’s available now!).

The following museums offer free services and are certainly worth a visit: The Natural History Museum; The Science Museum; The Imperial War Museum; The Museum of London: London Wall; The National Army Museum; The British Museum; The Victoria and Albert Museum and the V and A Museum of Childhood.

Total Savings: Up to £40

museum and family

Natural History Museum; V&A Museum of Childhood

3. Galleries

London has a plethora of galleries with some stunning and historically significant pieces. Galleries are great: they provide inspiration to adults and children alike, and are mostly free to visit. The National Gallery, with Van Gogh Sunflowers and the Tate Modern playing host to some of the most cutting edge modern art  from Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Al Weiwei, are absolute must sees.  You can also check out Camden Arts Centre, which runs family courses and activity days for free.

Total Savings, £30

art and family

AI Weiwei at Tate; Damien Hirst at Tate; Van Gogh at National Gallery

4. Sport

Sport can often be one of the most expensive family days out, with football topping the charts. The best way to save money when bringing your family to football in London is to look for membership deals. Most clubs have a family enclosure, which includes concession tickets for children and if you plan on attending more than one game a season, family membership fees will quickly see you saving money.

It is important to always check a club’s website for pricing guidelines; as online resellers often have large mark-ups. Top teams like Arsenal and West Ham separate their fixtures into category A, B and C, depending on demand, so while one of the major ticket sites may look for £60 a ticket, you could well see yourself purchasing tickets for the Emirates stadium at £26 per adult and £15 per child, which is a massive saving. Alternatively, if you choose to go to lower league teams, you’ll usually be able to see Brentford, Leyton Orient or Charlton for £20 a ticket (with concessions for children) and Fulham even have a neutral section of their stadium if you’re not yet ready to become a fanatic.

As well as the admittedly expensive football, have a look for minority sports also. London has a thriving basketball scene, with the Lions recently having moved in from Milton Keynes. Hosted in the CopperBox, a dedicated arena built for the 2012 Olympics, the games are put on a very slick environment, but the players are still happy to hang around to sign autographs and pose for photos with kids afterwards.

Total Savings: Often in excess of £100

sports and family

5. Theatre

Even the smallest members of the family enjoy the odd stage show. But plays in London can be a tab bit of expensive. The best advice here is to pick a number of shows you’d like to see and then wait for last minute availability. Discount websites like Time Out Tickets & Offers and lastminute.com are a good start for finding substantial discounts to shows in the West End proper and a few larger theatres elsewhere. Also try the reliable ticket booth located at Leicester Square’s Clocktower Building. Run by the Society of London Theatre, it is several cuts above other, unofficial touts in the vicinity.

Outside of the traditional musicals, our recommendation is attending Shakespeare’s globe in Southwark. The best way for kids to “get” Shakespeare is to see it live, and the historical setting is ideal as well as cheap (£10 for pit tickets, which is a snip for London live shows)

Total Savings: (Fingers crossed )£40

theatre and family

Billy Elliot the Musical; Matilda the Musiical; Lion King the Musical

6. Fun and Food

Key advice here: Avoid tourist traps. London is buzzing with loads of fantastic independent places, and through apps like EET and sites like Opentable you can match availability, suitability and affordability at the touch of a button. With 50% off deals being regularly offered, a little online research will get you a long way. Check out our main search page to find a kid-friendly restaurant now at www.encyclokidia.com

Also, check out weekend food markets at Borough, Southwark and Marleybone. These food havens are bustling with stalls serving a variety of local and international food at different pricepoints- Happiness for all!

Total Saving: Average £50

food and family

Borough Food Market; Southbank Food Market

Hope these tips help you plan fun family days this summer and do let me know any other cool ways you have planned budget day outs!

Related:

1. Baby Wardrobe Tips from Baby Mori
2. A Parenting Guide for Non Parents- Food
3. Kid Friendly Restaurants

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About Shweta

Shweta runs the data team at EncycloKidia so her brain is a massive repository of all kid's services out there. After some persuasion, we were able to get her to look up from her spreadsheets and share some of her priceless knowledge with us.
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