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A family trip to London does not need to be as expensive as you think – read our tricks to save money

Find the free attractions

There are plenty of museums in London which don’t charge an entry fee. The dinosaurs and whales of the Natural History Museum and the next door rockets in the Science Museum are great for children.

There are also the historical artefacts in the British Museum and there’s the chance to walk the streets of Victorian London at the Museum of London.

If you want to take a step back into your own younger days, the V&A Museum of Childhood has toys, teddy bears and dolls through the decades as well as hands-on fun.

One area per day

Be sensible and tackle one part of London at a time where you can walk between attractions and save money on transport.

Try to do one section a day otherwise costs rise and children’s feet start to hurt.

This was our recent three day itinerary:

Day 1 – Westminster, London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace.

Day 2 – Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Hyde Park.

Day 3 – Tower Bridge, Tower of London.

The Tower of London and boats on the river Thames

The area around the Tower of London is one to explore

Mix your transport

It is expensive to get around in London.

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If you stay centrally you can walk to lots of attractions, so pick a well-located hotel.

The Tube is the quickest option for longer trips but can be expensive, although an Oyster card makes it cheaper and children up to aged 10 are free with paying adults. You can also use contactless credit or debit cards now to pay as you go on London’s public transport, which makes life much easier, see the Transport for London website for more.

However, the London Underground can be difficult with a pram or buggy as most don’t have lifts. The wheelchair symbol on the Tube map shows stair-free stations.

If you have to go further, then the bus is the cheapest option and you can see the sights from the top deck, which can be great fun for children.

A taxi or Uber can work out relatively cheap too if you’re a large family but children’s car seats are not readily available. 

Some taxi companies have children’s car seats, but they have to be booked in advance. It is legal for babies and children to travel in a taxi in London without a child safety restraint if one isn’t available. But a proper car seat is by far the safest option for your little ones.

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Eat for less

It can be very expensive to eat out in London.

If you are on a budget and staying in a hotel, enjoy a big breakfast allowing you a smaller lunch.

Then think about making a picnic, we often buy a loaf of bread and cheese and make up our sandwiches to take out.

If you want to eat out, check for voucher codes and offers in advance. Read through the small print though because some chain restaurants exclude prime locations from voucher offers.

Don’t forget, London has amazing street food. We love the street food market at Camden for delicious lunches.

The Changing of the Guard

The Changing of the Guard is a great free show but can be a long and busy wait. One tip with toddlers is watch the band warm up at Wellington Barracks instead of battling the crowds outside Buckingham Palace.

Then you can go into St James’s Park when the soldiers are at the palace and watch them marching away afterwards.

Fewer crowds and less waiting around. Check the dates of the event here Changing the Guard.

Buckingham Palace on a sunny day

Buckingham Palace hosts Changing the Guard but we watch elsewhere

For a full list of free child friendly attractions see this link Visit London with kids.

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Do you have any tips to share for doing London on a budget?

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(Pictures in this article are courtesy of VisitLondon.com)

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