Family fun comes free in London

FROM a warship on the Thames to boating on Battersea Park, a short break in London is perfect for families looking for fun things to do this summer.

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HMS Belfast is a popular London attraction, featuring nine decks to explore .. and kids go free Pic courtesy of the Imperial War Museum
HMS Belfast is a popular London attraction, featuring nine decks to explore .. and kids go free Pic courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

Super speedy new train services (you can get from Glasgow to Euston in just over four and a half fours with Virgin) make it much easier to head south for a few days.

And while some of the most popular things to see and do - catching a West End show, enjoying the spectacular views from the London Eye or spending a day having the best fun ever at Legoland Windsor - will eat into your budget, there are plenty of free attractions too.

Most London museums are free, for example, including the Bank of England Museum, where you can look at gold bars dating from ancient times - and test your strength by trying to lift one - hear unexpected tales about the Bank's ghostly nun, and find out how the pound sign was developed.

Entry is also free at the Museum of London, where you can journey into the city's past, from a time when lions roamed Trafalgar Square, through the city under Roman rule, to the 21st century capital.

The London Transport Museum is worth a visit too - it's home to 80 vehicles, including a red London bus and the world's first Underground train. The galleries are full of exhibits for children to play on and entry is free to under-17s.

Kids go free on board HMS Belfast, and while adult tickets cost £15.50, it's worth it for a whole day of activities on board the historic warship.

It's an impressive sight from the bridges over the Thames, and IWM (Imperial War Museums, who run the attraction) have worked hard to make the on-board experience as interactive and as fun as possible.

There are nine decks to explore, where you can imagine what it was like to sleep in one of the tightly packed hammocks during duties in Arctic waters, or being stationed deep in the bowels of the ship when she opened fire in support of Allied troops on D-Day.

From sunbathing and refreshing walks to picnics and play areas, there is always something happening in London's many parks.

Throughout the summer months, you can usually find sports events, open-air theatre and concerts on the go too.

At Battersea Park, for example, you can visit the Children's Zoo, take a stroll along the grand riverside promenade or work a bit harder and take a boat out on the lake.

Greenwich Park is the oldest of the Royal Parks and offers spectacular views over the river Thames, plus it's close to the rest of the area's great attractions. And Hyde Park remains one of the city's best loved and most popular for just relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of London in the summertime.

Travel facts

SINGLE advance standard fares on the Virgin Glasgow to London service start at £21 (£51 for advance first). To book tickets call 08719 774 222 or visit www.virgintrains.com.

Glasgow is part of the PlusBus scheme so bus travel around the city can be added to a train ticket at the time of booking.

Admission to HMS Belfast costs £15.50 for adults, including a voluntary donation, and is free to under-16s.

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