10 Free things to do in London with Teens

London with teenagers needn’t be expensive, discover my top 10 free things to do in London with teens.  All of these have been road tested with my own teens in tow, places deemed to be boring have not been included.

Bubbles St Pauls

Free things to do in London with Teens

London is awash with free things to do and see.  Outings that cover parts of the KS3, GCSE or A level curriculums can be educational for everyone, I learnt loads from my teens when we visited the Army Museum. Here are my top 10 free things to do in London with teenagers.

Discover Roman London

It was the Roman’s that first made London the capital and even today you can walk along the roads they made.  Watling Street provides fantastic views of St Pauls and has been a thoroughfare for getting on for 1,000 years. The City of London is awash all things Roman.  You can explore the both the London Roman Amphitheatre and the London Mithraeum for free.  Take a look at my Roman London post for more walking Roman London inspiration.

National Army Museum

Everything you wanted to know about the British Army and lots more.   The stand-out fact for me was that there was no British Army as such until the Civil War.  We have visited often and found it helpful with the ‘War through time’ module of GCSE History syllabus.  Absolute highlight for the teens was the skeleton of Marengo, Napoleon’s horse.

Wellcome Collection

Napoleon’s toothbrush, mummified babies, used guillotine blades and this handy model showing acupuncture points are just some of this things on display in this fabulously quirky collection. Sir Henry Wellcome founded the eponymous pharmaceutical company and used some of his money to amass this medically-related stash of things.  It is the perfect place for the incurably curious.  It has a great café too.

Maths Gallery at the Science Museum


The whole of the Science Museum is just brilliant, I first visited when I was a teenager on a school trip and it has never lost its magic, but the Maths Gallery is especially excellent. Maths: just lines of dull numbers or the most beautiful thing imaginable?  The Maths Gallery at the Science Museum will convince you of the magic and possibility of numerical mastery.  Even the most reluctant teen museum visitor will be smitten by the computers. 

  • Science Museum, Exhibition Road, SW7 2DD
  • Open: Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm

Museum of London Docklands

Tall tower blocks make London’s Docklands feel more like America than Britain.  The Museum of London Docklands tells the tale of the area from being the commercial heart of Empire to global financial centre.  Even better, the journey to the museum is best made on the DLR with its driverless trains, my teens no longer enjoy sitting at the front and pretending to drive the train but I have great fun doing so (whilst they skulk at the back disowning me). 

Stroll along the Southbank

Great views and more silver men standing still than you can shake a stick at are to be had as you stroll along the Southbank of the Thames.  Get off the train at Blackfriars, walk along the north bank for a little way before heading over the Millenium Bridge (aka the Wobbly Bridge) toward Tate Modern.  Maybe pop inside (also free) and ascend the Switch House for panoramic views over London.  Then head east toward the Royal Festival Hall: on your way you will past skateboarders perfecting their skills under the Queen Elizabeth Hall.  My teens love selecting lunch from the street food market behind the Royal Festival Hall.

Sandcastle with bunting on the banks of the Thames London
Sandcastle on Thames

Wallace Collection

Teens of both genders may like coming face to face with the Laughing Cavalier but it will probably be the boys that appreciate the world class collection of armour.  Whole suits of horse armour and intricately chased suits designed to be admired in rather than actually worn into battle as well as more workmanlike examples are on display.  Elsewhere you can see Marie Antoinette’s desk and many, many fine pictures.  

Discover Royal Greenwich

Greenwich, to the south of London, was a favourite residence of the Royal family for many years.  Henry VIII was born here.  Only a fragment of the basement of Henry’s palace can be seen under the Painted Hall but the buildings his Jacobean successors built are spectacular and some are free.  The Queen’s House was the first to be constructed, now it is home to a collection of paintings and one of the finest spiral staircases in London.  Next door to the Queen’s House is the National Maritime Museum with everything you need to know about our maritime past.  Climb up to top of the hill by the Observatory for one of the very finest views across London.  Elsewhere in Greenwich you will find the Cutty Sark, the Royal Observatory and the Painted Hall all of which are excellent but do need paying for. 

Museum of the Home

Over the years we have enjoyed many visits to the Museum of the Home with the teens and the Godparents.  The museum is housed in a range of Tudor almshouses and has a series of room sets devoted to London living rooms down the ages.  It is fascinating stuff and focuses on the domestic, how lives were lived rather than big historical facts.  At Christmas the rooms are dressed to show how are Yuletide celebrations have changed over the years PLUS it has a great cafe. 

Design Museum

Jeans, jugs and an Olivetti typewriter are just a few of the things on display at the Design Museum in its swanky new home on High Street Kensington. The permament collection is located in the top right hand corner of the building. Take time to walk up and round walkways rather than catch the lift to take in the full grandeur of the space.

  • Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street W8 6AG
  • Open: Daily 9.30am -6pm (on Friday until 9pm)

Sightseeing on London Public Transport

Transport, unless you walk or bring your own bikes, will not be free, but you can see the sights as you travel.  Oyster cards are your friends, if you live in London it is worth getting a Zip Oyster for your teens if they are below 16.  Failing that tap you can use regular tappable bank cards, just make sure that you have one card per person and that everyone uses the same card throughout the day.  

Sightseeing by Bus

One of the great joys of London is watching the world go by from the top deck of a London bus.  The top deck of a bus is a great place to see the sights, my favourite sightseeing route is the number 15.  It runs from  the Tower of London to Trafalgar Square will not only get you those two iconic sights but also St Paul’s Cathedral, the Royal Courts of Justice and the Eleanor Cross. 

Cruise along the Thames on Public Transport

The Thames Clipper network is part of Transport for London, you can tap in and out just as you do for the rest of the network.  It costs a little more than using the tube, train or bus but a lot less then a tour boat and the views are stunning.

Fly above London on public transport

Well not fly but certainly a birds eye view.  The Emirates Air Line to give its proper name, or the cable car in regular speak runs from North Greenwich by the O2 arena and the ExCel centre.  The views are stunning in one direction the Thames Barrier glimmers and in the other central London is laid out in front of you.  You can see the Thames snaking around just like the opening titles of Eastenders.  Flights are £8 for adults and £4 for children.  Both ends of the cable car are connected either to the tube, DLR or riverboat network.  

These are my top ten things to do with teens in London. Do you have favourite free places to take your teenagers in London?

10 Free Things to do in London with Teens

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31 Comments

  1. May 29, 2017 / 7:53 pm

    What wonderful ideas….When I think of London I always think of how expensive it it. I didn’t realise there was so many free days out x #MMBC

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 29, 2017 / 8:05 pm

      Even better if you take a picnic with you!

  2. May 30, 2017 / 8:43 am

    Haven’t been a teen for a while but there are plenty of these I’d love to visit! The Wallace Collection has been on my ‘must visit’ list for a while, the Amphitheatre and the Wellcome Collection I hadn’t heard of but am definitely noting for the future! Great recommendations. 🙂 #citytripping

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 30, 2017 / 8:47 am

      The Amphitheatre is so hidden that visiting feels like entering a secret world!

  3. May 30, 2017 / 8:52 am

    great ideas! #citytripping

  4. May 30, 2017 / 12:59 pm

    M favourite place for kids of any age has to be the science museum #citytripping

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 30, 2017 / 3:19 pm

      It is easy to disappear for a whole day into the Science Museum and still need more time!

  5. May 30, 2017 / 4:35 pm

    I lived in London for a few years and have only done a few of those things. I didn’t even know that there was a maths museum! Although, it’s probably not my thing, I’m fascinated by the number of quality free museums in London! #CityTripping

  6. May 30, 2017 / 9:36 pm

    Lovely ideas! I’m hoping to make it to Greenwich next time, and the design museum looks great!

  7. May 31, 2017 / 8:29 am

    Great ideas in this list! I hope to visit the Museum of London Docklands and the National Army Museum this summer – and the Roman amphitheatre sounds very interesting. Thanks for sharing! #CityTripping

  8. June 1, 2017 / 7:22 pm

    There are some old favourites – the Wallace Collection especially – and some new ideas here for me. I havent been to the Design Museum in this location. I think it used to be on the Southbank? Love your work as always. Thanks for joining #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 1, 2017 / 7:57 pm

      If I could choose just one it would be the Wallace Collection

  9. jphowze
    June 2, 2017 / 11:16 am

    Oooh that maths exhibit at the Science Museum looks ace. We have a couple of teens in our household — great suggestions for when they’re taking a break from studying! #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 2, 2017 / 12:00 pm

      The breaks seem to be longer than he study in our house!

  10. June 7, 2017 / 11:05 pm

    The Design Museum is free? Screw the teens – I’m going! Ha. Just kidding. Maybe? Great list. I can’t believe I missed the Winston Churchill mosaic at the National Gallery. I think my teens would dig the Army museum and the Southbank stroll. Then we’d probably be required to try to spend lots of money at the sneaker shops. Ah gotta love teens. Great list Catherine – thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 8, 2017 / 7:32 am

      At least you’ll have not spent the sneaker money on entertainment!

  11. June 8, 2017 / 7:36 am

    Exactly and that might be just the motivation my teens need to see some culture first! 😉

  12. June 2, 2018 / 10:32 am

    Great tips! My last time in London is soooo long ago: 2012. I have to visit it soon. Sunny Greetings from Germany Sabine

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 2, 2018 / 11:06 am

      An amazing city with or without teens

  13. June 2, 2018 / 4:12 pm

    I didn’t know there was anything free to do in London, lol.

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 2, 2018 / 4:13 pm

      Lots if you look 😉

  14. rhiydwi
    June 2, 2018 / 4:27 pm

    This post could not have come at a better time for me! <3 My little sister (she's just turned 16!) has asked me to take her to London for the weekend this summer, as she's never been and "all of her friends have" (said in a stroppy 16-year old voice!). But London is EXPENSIVE and I was hesitant to commit, as the only free thing I knew of was the National Museum! She'd love the design museum, as a budding artist-type person.

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 2, 2018 / 4:30 pm

      Exciting …. if she likes all things creative try the V&A which is also free!

  15. mccaullme
    June 2, 2018 / 4:50 pm

    Nice! I love free options while traveling so I can have delicious food and beverage afterwards. Thanks for sharing!

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 2, 2018 / 4:52 pm

      Good food and important part of any jaunt

  16. June 3, 2018 / 4:12 am

    The amphitheater would be interesting to see. The Maths museum could be interesting. I was always intrigued by formulas and how to get an answer but I was also sooooo bad at getting the answer.

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 3, 2018 / 3:26 pm

      The amphitheatre is amazing, it is so hidden beneath theatre gallery that you feel like a time explorer

  17. June 3, 2018 / 5:20 am

    Great list of places and some different museums and galleries to the ones that people normally pic and most definitely great for teens. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  18. August 25, 2018 / 1:18 pm

    Wow, these are such cool things to do. not only with teens but for us “grown-up” as well… I will be in London soon and will try to do a few of the things.

    • Catherine
      Author
      August 26, 2018 / 11:35 am

      This grown up enjoys them all!

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