I never tire of exploring my home city, but there’s no question it can be expensive for families looking to tick off the big attractions and main tourist sites – so if you’re wondering how to save money on London with kids, I’ve rounded up a few ways to cut the costs.
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For starters, there are some fantastic free things to do in London with kids to mix in with the paid days out. And between discount websites, ongoing deals, city passes and other offers, there are a string of clever ways for families to explore on a budget too.
By their very nature, deals are often time-limited so while all the information in this post was correct at the time of writing, it’s worth checking any terms and conditions directly, as well as any dates excluded from the discount (which may include school holidays).
Save money on days out in London with kids
If there’s a particular attraction you want to visit, it’s well worth signing up to their newsletter to hear about any sales, as well as to websites specialising in discounts on days out in London with kids.
Discount ticket websites
While some discounts change from month to month and week to week, there are some websites which it’s always worth checking out.
Tiqets is another great place to find discounts on London attractions with kids – there’s 6% off museums using the code TIQETSMUSEUMS, for example, as well as reductions on attraction bundles, city passes and other deals.
Piqniq also has regular deals on family attractions in London, including big name attractions – recent deals included 50% off the London Bridge Experience and 44% off at Kidzania.
Kelloggs – grown-ups go free
With deals on cereal and snack packs, you can get one adult ticket free for Merlin attractions if you buy another adult or child ticket full price as part of Kelloggs grown-ups go free deal.
You get a code to use to claim the discount, and tickets must be prebooked. Do hold on to the promotional pack – anecdotally, people have talked of using codes passed on by family and friends, but the terms and conditions are clear that you might be asked to show it. And if you don’t have your pack, you’ll need to buy another ticket.
Keep an eye out for similar promotions from other brands – Cadbury had a similar offer for Merlin attractions in 2021 (now ended)
National Rail 2 for 1
You need a valid train ticket for each person with one person paying the full adult price and the second person going free – if you’re visiting with kids under five who travel free on the train but would pay for entry to the attraction (such as the zoo), it might be worth buying a train ticket to qualify.
If you have a one-way ticket, you must use it for the discount on that day, but for a return ticket the discount covers any day between the two parts of your journey. Oyster cards and tube tickets do not qualify but the Gatwick/Stanstead Express and local rail journeys do, so buying a cheap ticket to London could pay for itself on higher-priced attractions.
You may need to show a printed voucher as well as both train tickets, but some attractions allow booking online, so make sure you check in advance.
The National Lottery Days out deal ran a similar offer (now ended), using a lottery ticket so it’s worth keeping an eye out for any new 2 for 1 deals on London days out with kids
Blue Peter badges
Blue Peter badge holders can visit 200 places in the UK for free, including London Zoo, the Tower of London and HMS Belfast, among others.
There are eight different badges to earn, and it’s open to kids aged six to 15 – if you’re hoping to earn one before your trip, do allow plenty of time as the TV show receives thousands of letters.
With up to 57% off on days out and attractions, as well as deals on some restaurants, the Kids Pass could save a bundle while you’re in London.
As well as monthly and annual membership options, you can also trial the Kids Pass for a bargain £1 for 30 days, which gives access to all the deals on the app – anything from the Changing The Guard tour to entry to Battersea Park Children’s Zoo.
Depending on the attraction you’re hoping to visit, there may be limited Kids Pass tickets available, especially during school holidays, so simply having the pass doesn’t necessarily guarantee you the discount, but for a relatively small monthly fee, you could easily make your money back.
Days out with the Kids + is another similar membership option, with a choice to pay monthly or annually and deals for days out across the UK
Merlin combination tickets
With five major attractions in central London, you can save money by booking one of the combination tickets if you’re planning to visit more than one of the following – Madame Tussauds, Shrek’s Adventure, the Sealife London aquarium, the London Dungeon and the London Eye.
There’s usually a discount even if you’re only planning to visit a single attraction, but as much as 45% off if you visit several. Similar deals may also be available on some of the discount ticket websites listed above too.
Pirates are coming to SeaLife London aquarium this summer, with a special Pirate treasure hunt from July 23 to September 4. Grab your pirate map, and take on the challenge to help Captain Careless find his booty as you discover the other treasures of the deep. Parrot optional
Discounts on London theatre tickets with kids
There are some amazing shows at the theatre in London for kids, but whether you’re hoping to see one of the big name West End productions or a smaller family-friendly performance, there are ways to find discounts on these too.
Some theatres have their own daily lottery, so if you’ve got a particular show in mind, it’s worth checking out their deals, then sign up or get ready to pounce on the day – there’s only ever a limited number and usually a limited time to book.
If you’re already in central London, the TKTS ticket booth in Leicester Square is open daily (Monday-Saturday from 10.30am to 6pm, Sundays 12-4.30pm) – the only Official London Theatre ticket booth, it should always have the best deals of the day.
When the tickets are gone, they’re gone though. There’s also the chance to see all the deals on the TKTS website if you’re not near Leicester Square.
Todaytix was set up to share great deals on theatre in cities around the world, and London is one of those – despite the name, you can buy tickets in advance as well.
But one of the great bonuses is being able to get same-day tickets through the app, both London theatre lottery tickets from £10, and rush tickets – same day options from £20.
You can apply for a week’s worth of lottery tickets at once for performances the following week: great if you have a trip planned and are happy to go any night. Or rush tickets go on sale at 10am the same day.
Disney Magical Mondays
Disney runs its own lottery for shows like The Lion King and Frozen via the DisneyTickets website – there are tickets available for that week’s performances every Monday at noon, priced £25.
Sign up in advance as they sell out quickly!
Although it’s not a year-round deal, you can find some fantastic discounts as part of Kids Week – no longer merely a week-long offer, it runs for the whole month of August.
One child aged 17 and under goes free with a paying adult as part of the promotion, plus two more children can attend half-price. Tickets usually go on sale in mid June, and you’ll need to be quick to snap up the best offers.
There’s often a virtual queue, so have your plan ready and be prepared to join as soon as booking opens, although extra tickets and shows do sometimes get added, and there’s often less demand for the smaller shows.
Check out my post with more details on Kids Week
If you don’t want the risk of a same day lottery, check out Seatplan which has deals from three different retailers – there’s a mix of shows each day, so not all will be family-friendly but it’s worth a look.
London city passes with kids
Like most major cities, London has its own city pass deals – not one, but two different options, including different attractions.
And as with most city passes, it’s worth sitting down and working out just how much you’re going to use it in the time available: they can be fantastic at helping you save money in London with kids, but there’s little point having a one day pass if you have to rush from place to place without enjoying anywhere properly.
Kids under 11 also travel free on Tfl services, including the tube and on buses in London, when accompanied by an adult – check here for more tips on using the Underground with kids
The London Pass
The London Pass includes entry to over 80 attractions, including some of London’s major family attractions.
The pass is valid for consecutive days, between one and seven days, plus a 10-day option – unlike some other cities, it starts in the morning rather than when you visit the first attraction, so it’s worth using it on full days.
Each number of days is worth a particular number of credits: these are used as you visit each attraction and you can’t exceed the value of the credits. As a single day pass has 270 credits, the equivalent of £270, you’d be hard pushed to spend that much on visitor attractions in the day!
Some attractions need prebooking
London: Go City Explorer Pass
The London Explorer Pass also gives access to over 70 attractions, including some of the major sites.
This works slightly differently as you add a credits package to your pass, of between two and seven credits, and after visiting your first attraction and activating the pass, you have to use the rest within 60 days.
One visit to an attraction equals one credit, so it’s worth using this on the higher-priced entry options. It’s also a good option if you have a few days out planned over the summer holidays, or a couple of weekend breaks rather than one long trip.
The potential downside is that you can’t cram your days full of as many attractions as possible to get the full value – realistically if you’re looking to save money on days out in London with kids, you may not be doing that anyway.
Some attractions need prebooking
Annual family membership for London days out
If you live in or close to London, or visit the capital regularly, it’s worth checking out some of the membership schemes available for families.
Historic Royal Palaces
Giving you unlimited access to the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace (though you may still need to prebook), the Historic Royal Palaces annual membership can save the average family nearly £100.
There are different family options available, but if a family of four visited each of the three main London sites once in a year, you’d save almost £87, plus it includes a discount on Kew Palace and entry to Banqueting Hall (currently closed).
Most of London’s National Trust properties are on the edges of the city, so it’s not the best deal if you’re concentrating on locations in the centre, but if you have National Trust membership, you can discover everything from Roman baths to a Tudor house and more.
Like the National Trust, some of the English Heritage properties in London are a little way out, although the Wellington arch could hardly be much more central, and entry is free if you’re an English Heritage member.
Merlin Annual Pass
There are five major Merlin attractions in central London – Madame Tussauds, Shrek’s Adventure, the Sealife London aquarium, the London Dungeon and the London Eye – not to mention Legoland Windsor, Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures nearby.
There are other discounts in London for Merlin Annual Pass holders as well, and different types of pass including options to pay monthly, or cheaper passes for those travelling outside peak times – helpfully, there’s also a quiz to work out which option is best for your family.
If you don’t want annual membership, you’ll also find savings if you buy combination tickets to visit two or more of Merlin’s London attractions.
National Art Pass – Art Fund
Another great option if your family loves visiting exhibitions at London’s museums, the National Art Pass has discounts at Tate Modern, the V&A, the National Gallery, the Design Museum and the British Museum, to name just a few.
It also gives you discounts off other London attractions with kids, including free entry to Kensington Palace, 50% off entry to St Paul’s cathedral, the Postal Museum, the Churchill War Rooms, the Cutty Sark, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich…
There are currently three month trial options available and you can add kids to an adult pass.
Natural History Museum
While entrance to the main museum is free, if your family loves visiting the exhibitions at the Natural History Museum, it’s worth looking at membership, which includes some exclusive access and extras.
Wonderlab at the Science Museum
With its shows, interactive exhibits, slides and countless chances to get hands on, Wonderlab at the Science Museum is one of the best parts of the museum for kids – annual passes only cost slightly more than a single ticket, so if you plan to visit more than once, it’s well worth signing up. The main museum remains free.
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