London has just been voted as the most expensive place to stay in Europe overtaking Paris but it doesn’t have to be. At the moment you can get some great prices on the trains for off peak travel to London and many hotels are offering rooms from as little as £70 per room per night. However for a family it is the days out that tend to eat up the budget but they don’t have to.
Here are some suggestions for some cheap things to do in London this summer:
The National History Museum is free to enter and explore. There is an indoor picnic area so you can bring your own food and has lots of activities aimed at all ages. If you have very small children some areas can be dark and quite frightening so please bear that in mind. This summer they have a temporary exhibition called Animals Inside Out which costs £27 for a family ticket and shows the anatomy of creatures from a tiny frog up to a full sized elephant. The exhibits have all been plastinated which means they were once living beings and after death all fluids and fatty tissues have been removed and replaced with polymers in a vacuum. This may sound slightly gory but it gives you a real insight into how muscles and blood flow have evolved to accommodate the lifestyle of the animals. The museum also has a Dinosaur’s gallery which features a full sized animatronic T. Rex as well as the skeleton of the Diplodocus featured in the children’s classic film ‘Our Dinosaurs Gone Missing’. You can easily fill an afternoon or even a full day here there is so much to see and experience. Download their Parents Guide for hints and tips for getting the most out of your visit.
If you and your children have been hit by Harry Potter mania then why not call into the British Library. This often forgotten resource has an exhibition on Writing Britain which includes the first handwritten draft of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’. The exhibition features videos, sound clips, song lyrics as well as drafts and art work of many iconic books. See the original artwork for The Hobbit, beautifully illustrated manuscripts from medieval times right up to Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day.It costs £9 for adults and children are free. Or visit the stamp collection in the Entrance celebrating stamps commorating previous Olympic games. This is free and will easily use up 30 mins to an hour- great way of avoiding a shower.
If you have a budding fashion designer in the family then the Victoria and Albert Museum has a ball gown exhibition featuring wonderful dresses worn from 1950s onwards. There is also an extensive range of Beatrix Potter material featuring drawings, manuscripts, photographs telling her life story and how she found the inspiration for her heart warming characters. The Museum features iconic design pieces of furniture, art, ceramics, clothing and jewellery from Roman times to the present day. Children under 12 enter the museum for free and an adult ticket on the day is £13.80.
If you have had enough learning for one day then why not head down to Convent Garden and watch the street entertainers. There are circus acts, stunt men and mime artists all available to watch for free although the hat does come round for donations if you liked what you saw. If it’s a fine day why not buy your picnic from the market there is plenty of fresh fruit and produce and then have a stroll to one of London’s parks.
There is so much to see and do in London and it doesn’t have to cost lots of money with a bit of planning and a bit of knowledge you can enjoy a couple of days exploring the capital and still come back with change.