Six ways to enjoy London on a budget

The Tower of London, England

The Tower of London, EnglandExciting, energetic…expensive. A visit to London is all these things. But there are savvy ways that you can enjoy the best of the city without paying too much. We give you six great options for cheap days out in the capital.


Tower of London

At first glance, tickets aren’t cheap (£55 for a family ticket). But unlike many other big London attractions, The Tower earns its admission price – with enough to keep everyone entertained for a whole day.

Your ticket includes yeoman warder tours, entry to the White Tower and Medieval Palace, and a trip through 500 years of royal armour, including a set worn by Henry VIII.

The highlight, though, is the ultimate bling, the Crown Jewels, viewed from a moving walkway.

Boat trip on the Thames

Buying boat trip tickets along the Thames can be pricey – opt instead for an all-day Red Rover ticket from City Cruises (£33.50 for a family ticket).

The route runs between Westminster and Greenwich, passing the Tower, St Paul’s and the London Eye.

Or hop on a commuter boat – routes offer much of the same scenery on the cheap. Tate Modern to Tate Britain costs from £5.50 (adult), £2.80 (child).

Big galleries and museums

In an admirable cultural decision, most of the capital’s biggest museums and galleries are free (donation recommended).

The Natural History, V&A and Science museums at South Kensington offer superlative permanent and temporary exhibits, and interactive elements to engage younger minds.

Also worth visiting is the National Gallery, with free art workshops and storytelling sessions for children every Sunday.

Go off the beaten track

Some of London’s most interesting museums are off the beaten track, including the Horniman Museum, in south London.

It’s free and worth the trek, with imaginative exhibitions of the natural and cultural worlds, an aquarium and great family activities.

Another free gem is the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood. Adults will enjoy spotting their childhood toys, while their children are entranced by displays of puppets, rocking horses and dollhouses.

Chill in a Royal Park

London’s Royal Parks are the perfect antidote to city energy. Visit Hyde Park on weekday mornings and you might see the Horseguards exercising their mounts along the bridleways.

Otherwise, head for the Serpentine boating lake, and set sail on rowing boats (£20 for four for 1/2 hour).

Down the road, in Kensington Gardens, is a bronze statue of Peter Pan – in The Little White Bird, Peter flies out of his nursery and lands beside the Long Water Lake – on the spot where the statue now stands at the request of author J M Barrie.

Where there’s brass there’s fun

In Trafalagar Square’s east corner, the church of St Martin in the Fields has a great café, free lunchtime concerts and a Brass Rubbing Centre.

Children can get to grips with historical characters, from St George and the dragon to medieval knights, with replica brasses to rub.

Brass rubbing starts from £4.50, including tuition, paper and metallic waxes to create their own masterpiece.