9 Free things to do with kids in London

London can indeed be pricey, and like anywhere especially so if kids are involved! Even so, what I love about the city is not least the free access to many of our main museums, but that there are many affordable indoor options for little kids in London too. If you’re looking for free/cheap things to do with kids in London, read on! (**For full transparency, some of the below may require a small donation if possible).

Here’s ideas that cover a variety of museums, stay and play sessions, farms and iconic London buildings.

(Updated May 2023)

1.Squish Space. Barbican. Free.

The spaces for Squish Space go super quickly, so you have to get on quick! Tickets are released a week in advance, every Wednesday at 10am, and although their website does say although not guaranteed, they do have some capacity for walk ins. It’s simple, but effective, and the theme changes periodically. We didn’t get the greatest photos as were trying to avoid other kids in them and also #toddlers! The drawbacks would be that the doors are open, so if you have a bolter, or twins, you may spend a good deal of your time chasing them in the (rather pleasant anyway) carpeted seating area outside. So it could be worse! There’s also a lovely cafe on site nearby too. We love that Squish Space is a staple when it comes to free things to do with kids in London.

Website: https://www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/2023/event/squish-space

2. Pattern Pod at the Science Museum, South Ken. Free.

This is a sensory delight, and describes itself as a multisensory activity for under 8’s. We went on a week day and a non holiday day, where it was fairly quiet which was great: I’d say weekends would be rather horrendous and best avoided (obvious statement), unless going super off peak hours. There is also the popular Science Museum Garden in the basement- we weren’t a fan of the space when we went but definitely check it out as so many love it. Check it out and book your free timed ticket at:

Website: https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/

3. Coram Fields Stay and Play, Kings Cross– Pay what you can.

The lovely and historic setting of Coram Fields is so enjoyable to visit. Firstly, it has an expansive outdoor space for the kids with the sand pit you see below and other playgrounds area that you can spend all day in, totally enclosed if case of runners! Then the Monday-Friday morning drop in also has its own outdoor space, a ball pit, and lots of lovely books and role play toys. Coram Fields is a charity, so it’s free for the Stay and Play drop in, but note, they rely on donations. Next door is the Foundling Museum, (though we haven’t visited this yet to give feedback on how it would be for a small one).

Website: https://www.coramsfields.org/under-5s/

4. Uniqlo Tate Modern sessions, Blackfriars

The area of the Tate Modern is just so beautiful, so we love getting off the overground at Blackfriars and walking along, always some form of entertainment on the Southbank, and the beautiful Paul’s Cathedral across the waters is just joy in itself. Their Wednesday sessions are specifically for under 5’s which I find helpful, but they also have Saturday and Sunday sessions available. You just book a normal entry ticket and pop along to the room at the back left of the Turbine Hall. Free things to do with kids in London: sorted!

Website: https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/uniqlo-tate-play/make-studio-celebrate

5. Old School Rooms, Clapton. Pay what you can.

We really liked it here! And we’ve been twice now. Super lovely staff, free tea/coffee and snacks for the children (how kind is that), an enclosed space mostly, apart from the entrance which meant we were running out to their toilets a fair bit, but luckily there was enough enticement in the main hall to pull LM back in! It’s on every Wednesday, 9.30-11.30am, tickets released via Eventbrite every Monday. Act quickly as they go quickly! Check out for further details:

Website: https://theroundchapel.org.uk/projects/playgroup/

6. Vauxhall City Farm, Vauxhall. Entry by donation.

Yes it’s super small, but so much of the animals/pets are at the child’s height and view point and therefore more interesting perhaps for this younger age group (I’m thinking around LM age, nearly 2- went when he was a lot smaller and therefore less engaged). They have horses across the road, but within the main tiny farm are animals like chicken, alpacas, goats, guinea pigs and chinchillas! Entry is drop in Tues-Sunday.

Website: https://www.vauxhallcityfarm.org/

7. Sky Garden. Fenchurch St: Free.

LM’s been here 4 times already, and all were a hit! The last time, we spent most of it going up and down the stairs, but loved sitting down in various areas and people watching! It’s a really lovely atmosphere and one of my favourite London places. If you’re going solo though, the only thing is, there isn’t a cloakroom to store prams. Luckily our Ergobaby Metro is light enough for me to lug it up and down, whilst holding onto LM (on repeat!) but do bare that in mind. Additionally, teas/coffees etc are all really reasonable, and we didn’t check out food for kids, but if you need a highchair the very nice staff will bring one from the restaurants for you.

Website: https://skygarden.london/

8. Make Play Do- St Mary’s, Hornsey Rise. Free but reliant on donations (and currently crowdfunding to be able to continue regular, every other Thursday sessions- see specific dates on their website).

The idea of doing this at home with LM makes me feel rather queasy I’ll be honest (paints/messy play combos) so letting him be at one in mud and nature and enjoy all the simple materials gathered and carefully thought of to entice and inspire the kids was so lovely for us both. You see parents playing and making things really carefully and closely with their children and it’s beautiful! We highly recommend!

Website: make-do-play.weebly.com

9. Live at Lunch at the Royal Opera House

One of the loveliest free London events I have been to! Whilst LM was not with me, I did see other kids, and thought depending upon your child and their age, this would be a perfect addition to my free things to do with kids in London list. The performances are fairly concise at 45 minutes long, to get a seat and a good view you should be there at least 20 minutes before, and hopefully you’ll get a glorious ballet recital like we did!

Website: https://www.roh.org.uk/tickets-and-events/live-at-lunch-details

So so many wonderful cheap and affordable play options here on our free things to do with kids in London list! Have you been to any of these with your toddler/baby? We love getting about and making it as affordable as we can and really value how much London offers: hope this list gives you some further inspo for planning your days for what to do with kids in London!

Let us know, and join us over on Instagram @lovinglivinglondon where we share many more ideas!

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