Seeing London’s Sights Without Breaking The Bank

The summer holidays are just around the corner and if you’re one of the many families planning a series of days out rather than a long holiday, it’s worth starting to research what you can get for your money.

London provides a hugely popular day trip destination that’s packed with things to do for all ages. But trips to the theatre, Madame Tussauds or the London Eye don’t come cheap – unless you plan ahead. Advance booking can help to stretch your budget, plus there are plenty of free things to do if you know where to look.

Five free things to do in London

1. The British Museum is famous for its collections from just about every civilisation and of course, as the home of the Elgin Marbles. Family-friend Ancient Rome comes under the spotlight this summer, with events and exhibitions dedicated to Pompeii and life in Roman Britain.

2. Galleries are great for teenagers or older kids with a keen interest in art, and in London you’re spoiled for choice. The Tate Modern shows art from 1900 onwards and has a programme of events including films and talks over the summer. The National Gallery is home to the iconic Sunflowers painting by Van Gogh and offers free tours and talks.

3. Skateboarding fans will enjoy a trip to the skate park below Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank, where you can also watch graffiti artists practising their craft quite legally.

4. Free films, music and events are on offer through the summer months at The Scoop, an outdoor hollow with seats for 800 people, which is near City Hall. City Hall itself contains a giant map of London that’s worth a look.

5. Brixton Windmill has weekend open days throughout the summer plus a calendar of events and tours at the restored landmark and gardens.

These are just a taster of the freebies on offer if you’re looking to visit London on a shoestring. The Londonist website produces a weekly updated round-up of things to do in the capital for less than £5 and has an online map of free venues.

Booking ahead

You don’t have to turn your back on some of the big – and expensive – attractions just because you’re watching the pennies. It’s worth signing up to Groupon London to watch out for daily deals, and LondonNet has a list of discounted tickets ranging from the London Eye to packages pulling in a number of venues. Discount London also lists deals on tickets from the Tower of London to London Zoo.

But as the capital’s official visitor guide Visit London points out, many of the city’s most popular tourist attractions offer free entry. The top 10 is:

1. British Museum (free entry)

2. National Gallery (free entry)

3. Tate Modern (free entry)

4. Natural History Museum (free entry)

5. The EDF Energy London Eye (paid)

6. Science Museum (free entry)

7. The Tower of London (paid)

8. National Maritime Museum (free entry)

9. Victoria & Albert Museum (free entry)

10. Madame Tussauds (paid).