London Challenge: Family Day Out For £50

Can a family enjoy a day out in London for £50? I accepted this challenge and set out with a friend and our daughters for a day out. We only spent money on travel and food, as all the attractions we visited were free.

Morning: Mudchute Farm and Discover Greenwich
Mudchute Farm is one of London’s largest city farms and easy to reach on the DLR. From Crossharbour station, it’s a short walk to the farm where we said hello to the animals, watched horse-riding lessons and then exited at Millwall Park for the playground.

From here it’s a five-minute walk to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel under The Thames to reach Greenwich. (Do note, if you have younger children the lifts don’t always work, so be prepared for stairs.) It was a scorching day, so we all appreciated how cool it was in the tunnel. Within minutes, we were in Greenwich. Discover Greenwich, the visitor centre, has lots for children to do. We enjoyed dressing up, building towers and playing games. You can pick up a free map from the Tourist Information Office here and we grabbed ours and then went to the park.

Lunch: Greenwich Park
We were spoilt for choice for great picnic locations at Greenwich Park but we chose to climb the hill to the Royal Observatory, and eat our packed lunches admiring those magnificent views. We then watched the 1pm ball drop at Flamsteed House.

It’s possible to get photos of the Prime Meridian Line outside the Observatory courtyard as the line continues across the path outside. Just look for the “kissing gate” to the right of the courtyard to see it. We walked down the hill and found the Prime Meridian is also marked on Park Vista – a road near the boating lake. This called for more photo opportunities and, again, there was no-one else there.

Afternoon: Free Museums
The National Maritime Museum is a fabulous family-friendly museum and we played on the large floor map for some time before heading up to the All Hands! children’s gallery. On the hour, there are free family events to meet historic characters and we met Alice Leghorn – a female pirate who is well worth seeing.

We all wanted an ice-cream as it was such a hot day but ice-creams from a van in the park were £2.50 each; instead, we nipped to the supermarket nearby and bought a pack of four ice-creams for less than £3.

A short ride on the DLR and we got to Museum of London Docklands with another excellent children’s play/learning area. The girls had an hour in Mudlarks damming a stream, loading cargo on a ship, weighing and building before we visited the galleries.

We played in the sunshine in Canary Wharf before heading to Spitalfields for dinner. The area is well-known for excellent street art so we made sure we had time to explore and take photos.

Dinner: Fish and Chips
Poppies of Spitalfields has 1950s style decor with the friendliest service. There are kids’ meals on the menu and we all perked up when dinner arrived. We all enjoyed our day and I’m glad we proved that a family day out does not have to be expensive in London.

Budget

  • Two adult one-day travelcards (top-up on Oyster cards): 2 x £7.30 = £14.60
  • Pack of 4 ice-creams from supermarket: £2.69
  • Dinner at Poppies, including drinks: £31.80
  • Total: £49.09

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and is also a VisitBritain Super Blogger. She’s @AboutLondon on twitter and fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen’s.

More ideas for enjoying London on a budget

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  1. Michelle says:

    London is my hometown and there are SO many things you can do for free in the city! Travelcards are such a bargain considering how much and how far you can travel on them, and as long as little legs can keep up, I’m not surprised you had such a fab day in London for under fifty quid!

  2. Lulu says:

    Very useful article. Another resource for parents trying to keep costs down over the summer can be found on our treasure hunt site as above, with days out all over London from £14.99 for unlimited players. Educational too!

  3. Jo says:

    With the summer holidays looming, I feel inspired to get out and about whilst knowing I won’t need another mortgage. Thanks Laura!

  4. Laura says:

    Thanks for the kind comments. And you’re all right – it’s hard to spend £50 on a day out in London as there are so many great free things to do here!

  5. Bob says:

    £32 for a chippie tea for 2 people? No thanks.

    • Laura says:

      Hi Bob, I think you’ve totally misunderstood the challenge. As you can see from the photos – particularly the one in the restaurant – there were four of us and not 2 people. Yes, we could have had a cheaper takeaway but we were proving you can still eat out and stay on budget. The rough breakdown of the restaurant bill was 2 x £5 for kid’s meals, 1 x £11 fish supper, 1 x £3 chips and 4 x £2 for drinks. All are perfectly normal and perfectly reasonable prices for dining in.

  6. Lou says:

    Ok so a chippie tea for 3 people really then, not 4?

    • Laura says:

      No, four of us ate out with drinks. I don’t eat fish but love chips so had a large portion. If we had all chosen just chips would that not be dining out? Of course not. We all had what we wanted and the portions were large.

  7. Kate says:

    Interesting article and nice to see that you can do a day out in London relatively inexpensively. Definitely helped by all the great museums we have that don’t charge an entry fee.

    I’ve written an article on how to save money on days out here that you might find interesting (hope you don’t mind me sharing) http://www.daytripfinder.co.uk/blog/cheaper-family-days-out-guide

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