On A Budget? Cheap Family-Friendly London Alternatives

By Zoe Craig Last edited 20 months ago
On A Budget? Cheap Family-Friendly London Alternatives

London's expensive. If you're a family of four (or God forbid, five), enjoying some of London's top attractions can be a pretty costly pastime. But it doesn't have to be that way. If you look at some of London's 'family tickets' and baulk at the price, we're here to help.

We're not saying these alternatives are the same: they're not. (We can all agree that riding the Eye is a pretty unique experience, right?)

We just want to let under-pressure mums and dads (and grandmas and grandpas) know that there are other options. Not everyone can drop £100 on an afternoon's activity. And you don't have to.

London Eye £94 / Cable Car £27

The London Eye by Andy Teo; View from the Cable Car by Davide.

So the Eye costs more than £90 for a family of four. Before you've even considered getting into the hopelessly alliterative options of something called a 'Fully Flexi Fast Track Ticket' so you can choose to not queue forever during that unseasonal downpour (that'll be £130+).

For two adults and two kids (all with Oyster cards) to take a trip over the Thames with some pretty impressive views and get change from 30 quid, we suggest trying the Air Line instead.

Tower of London £70 / Severndroog Castle £8

The White Tower by DB-Photography; Severndroog Castle by martinbaker76

Book ahead, and five of you (two adults, three kids in this case) can get into the Tower for less, 'just' £59: it's certainly not London's most expensive family day out. And, with the ravens, the architecture, the unique history, the (frankly gobsmacking) Crown Jewels, we'd argue it's definitely worth doing once.

But if your budget just doesn't stretch to that hefty price tag, you can get your London castle fix over in Shooters Hill for less than a tenner.

View From The Shard £79.95 / Sky Garden £0

On the day, going up 72 floors above London's streets will set two adults and two children back £79.95, or £74.95 if you book ahead.

Sure, the Sky Garden's not as high (just 34 storeys), and you'll need to be organised and book ahead, but at least it's free.

London Zoo £84.60 / Battersea Park Zoo £31

A meerkat from London Zoo by David Holt; and a Kune Kune pig at Battersea Park Zoo by Duncan Harris.

Again, there are savings to be made if you book ahead for London Zoo. And it makes for a pretty spectacular family day out.

But if you've got younger kids, we totally recommend trying Battersea Park Zoo instead: you can see lemurs, donkeys, goats, emus, squirrel monkeys, meerkats, otters and more. Smaller zoo, smaller animals, smaller price tag; happy families.

London Aquarium £85.10 / Horniman Aquarium £9

Sharks at the London Aquarium by JBS; Horniman Starfish by Mark Walton1.

While there are online discounts, a standard family ticket for London's aquarium is more than £80.

As with London's zoos, if you've got younger kids, it's well worth trying the Horniman Aquarium instead. Fifteen exhibits show off an incredible variety of marine life, from the British coastline to Fijian coral reefs. And when you're done, there's 16 acres of gorgeous gardens to run around in.

KidZania £114 / Discover £22

Entry to Westfield's attraction doesn't come cheap. (They even charge a tenner for under 3s.) KidZania, according to the website, is 'a unique role-play experience where kids learn financial, literacy, careers, teamwork, independence and real-life skills'. But for two adults and two kids, that comes to more than £100.

If you're counting the pennies (as well as the kidZos), why not try Children's Story Centre Discover instead? There you can role-play tea parties, sail away in a pirate ship, play giant musical instruments and more.

Thames RIB Experience £146 / Thames Clipper £32.60

RIB on the Thames by Martin Carey; Walkie Talkie and Clipper by Matt Brown

Taking two adults and two under 15s on a speed boat on the Thames for just 50 minutes will set you back £146. Yes, the guides are fun and they play the James Bond theme, but that's still nearly a lot. Sometimes you might just want to take things a bit slower (for the sake of saving a ton).

For a £32.60 Family River Roamer ticket, a family of five (yes, five!) can get on and off a Thames Clipper all day, from nine in the morning until well past bedtime.

The Lion King £354 / Little Angel Theatre £20

There's no escaping it: West End theatre prices are eye-wateringly high. If you're not able to take advantage of TKTS, or Kids Week, or other promotions, a seat in row W of the stalls in the Lyceum to see The Lion King costs £88.50. It's the same upstairs in the circle. For a family of four, that's more than £354 for a night out, before you've bought a programme and some interval snacks.

Instead, why not head to the 100-seater Little Angel Theatre where you'll also get incredible puppets, gorgeous music, and fab stories, all for a fiver (on Fridays).

Where no family tickets are on offer, these prices have been calculated by adding the cost for two adult tickets and two children's tickets.

Last Updated 12 May 2017