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Take a Stress-Free London Theatre Break with a Coach Trip
London is one of the most exciting cities in the world, and it’s no surprise that it’s a popular destination for theatre breaks. Whether you’re looking for a romantic weekend away or a fun family trip, London offers something for everyone. But with all the hustle and bustle of the city, it can be hard to relax and enjoy your time away. That’s why taking a coach trip to London is the perfect way to take a stress-free theatre break. Here’s why:
Taking a coach trip to London is incredibly convenient. You don’t have to worry about navigating busy roads or finding parking in the city centre. All you have to do is sit back and relax as your coach takes you directly to your destination. Plus, many coaches offer onboard entertainment such as movies and music, so you can make the most of your journey.
Coach trips are also much more affordable than other forms of transport. You can often find great deals on coach tickets, making them an ideal option for budget-conscious travellers. And with all the money you save on transport, you can splurge on tickets to some of London’s top shows.
Finally, taking a coach trip to London can save you time. With direct routes from many cities around the UK, you won’t have to worry about making multiple connections or waiting in long lines at airports or train stations. This means that you can spend less time travelling and more time enjoying all that London has to offer.
So if you’re looking for an easy and stress-free way to take a theatre break in London, consider taking a coach trip. With its convenience, affordability and time savings, it’s the perfect way to make the most of your time away from home.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
MORE FROM ASK.COM
The ultimate guide to visiting London with kids
Aug 28, 2023 • 8 min read
Make the most of your family holiday with this guide to travel in London with kids © JohnnyGreig / Getty Images
London is an expensive city to visit and one that’s large and sometimes difficult to navigate. But, it's also packed with fascinating historic sights, bags of culture, world-class museums, parks and wide-open spaces with excellent playgrounds, and plenty of things to occupy kids of all ages.
The permanent collections at many museums and art galleries are free to enter (donations welcome) and they generally offer some kind of audio guide or experience aimed specifically at families. For older children, London’s Harry Potter connections tend to be popular, and with so many different exhibitions and theater performances, there is something to align with the passions of every tween and teen.
Here's everything you need to know about visiting the English capital with tots in tow.
Choose 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 top London attractions and enjoy great savings with Go City’s Explorer Pass. Discover London at your own pace with 60 days to access experiences including the Tower of London, Thames River Cruise, The View from the Shard, Westminster Abbey, and more.
Getting around London with kids isn't always easy
As with any large city, dragging small kids around in London can be exhausting for everyone. Staying realistic about how much you can see in a day and being flexible with your schedule is the key to keeping everyone happy.
Unfortunately, London is not particularly easy to navigate with a stroller or for anyone with accessibility needs. Even Tube stations with step-free access often have a big gap between the train and the platform, and you can walk a long way through the underground network before reaching the platform you need.
The buses are likely to be better options for getting around central London . Better still, divide your visit into neighborhoods and walk between sites to minimize your time fighting the often frustrating transport system. Children under 11 travel for free with a fare-paying adult; ask about free and discounted Visitor Oyster cards for children aged up to 16. Children aged 16 and over pay the adult rate.
There's action for all ages on the South Bank
London’s South Bank offers endless family entertainment. The London Eye provides high-up views over the river to Big Ben and beyond, and the Sea Life London Aquarium , with a shark tunnel and penguin area, is particularly popular with younger kids. Shrek’s Adventure is a 90-minute theme park experience centered around the fairy tales in the Shrek movies. If you have teens who enjoy being scared, they will get a kick out of the creative presentation of gory historical events at the London Dungeon .
Learn about the role HMS Belfast played in WWII while climbing down below the river’s water level and shuffling along tiny corridors (not easily done with toddlers or babies in prams). In the summer months bring a change of clothes, as your kids are likely to make a beeline for Southbank Centre 's fountains. When you get hungry, head to Borough Market to discover a wealth of food options from kid-friendly fish 'n' chips and ice cream to paella and oysters.
Have a hands-on experience in the Science Museum's best galleries
The Science Museum in Kensington brings themes such as space, flight and climate change to life with a series of hands-on exhibits and virtual displays. Get close to a space module, track the history of aviation, and learn about the importance of ice in the Antarctic. For younger children aged three to six, head to The Garden in the basement. This free interactive gallery allows for construction with blocks and cranes, and sensory exploration with sound, touch, and water play.
Those aged six and above will be enthralled by the liquids, magnets, smoke and light that they can play with in the different zones of Wonderlab on the top floor. Science Museum "Explainers" will merrily chat with youngsters about anything from how a bubble is formed to how planets move around in the solar system, as well as running live demos and experiments showing science in action.
Tour London's top parks and playgrounds
London is a surprisingly green city, with a lot of large open spaces . Regent’s Park is the biggest and most elaborate of central London’s many Royal Parks. Among its many attractions are London Zoo, Regent’s Canal , an ornamental lake, and grass pitches where locals meet to play sports. Rent a pedal boat on the Serpentine in Hyde Park , and run free in one of London’s best playgrounds , Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground, in nearby Kensington Gardens .
Here kids will be delighted by the large pirate ship, waterplay, and sandpits. A wander through St James’s Park is worthwhile for its lovely gardens and great views of London icons, such as the London Eye and Buckingham Palace . Teens and older children may enjoy the thrill of abseiling or sliding down the ArcelorMittal Orbit , a 115m-high sculpture in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park .
Take a boat ride along the Thames
Be sure to take a ride along the Thames to spot some of London’s icons. If you’re looking for thrills, Thames Rockets has rigid inflatable boats that zip along the river and back from the London Eye Pier. For a more leisurely approach to sightseeing, take the Thames Clipper , a riverboat commuter service stopping at piers throughout the city.
Admire the Houses of Parliament , speed under the Millennium Bridge (destroyed by Death Eaters in the opening scenes of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ) and catch a glimpse of St Paul’s Cathedral . As you pass the Tower of London , look for the Traitors’ Gate at river level where prisoners entered the Tower, before whizzing underneath the impressive Victorian Tower Bridge .
See wax creations of your fave celebs at Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds , packed with waxwork likenesses of all kinds of famous people – from royals to sports personalities – may be kitschy and pricey, but it makes for a fun-filled day. Music-loving teens can grab photo ops with top current singers, including Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran, Rihanna, and One Direction, and even legends such as Bob Marley and Freddie Mercury. Young movie fans may want to visit the heroes and villains of Star Wars , stand with Katniss Everdeen, or see E.T. up close. Book online in advance for the best rates, and then look out for your favorite celebrity.
Follow the family trails to treasure in the British Museum
The displays at the British Museum spark the imaginations of visitors of all ages, with displays of Egyptian mummies, buried treasures from Anglo-Saxon times, and Samurai armor. There are various worksheets, activities and trails designed specifically for young visitors covering different themes within the museum. Follow the "Twelve objects to see with Children" trail for a whistle-stop tour of the key exhibits.
Come face-to-face with a dino at the Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is a colossal and magnificent building housing 80 million specimens from the natural world, with displays on everything from the human body to rare fossils and gems. Hintze Hall, at the center of the museum, is home to an awe-inspiring blue whale skeleton that hangs from the ceiling. This is also where pre-schoolers seek out Andy's Clock, the magical time-traveling device from CBeebies TV show Andy's Prehistoric Adventures .
The Dinosaur Gallery is packed with info and skeletons of many different dinosaurs and is a big hit with kids. The absolute highlight here is the animatronic T-rex that swings its colossal tail and flexes its jaws while roaring at the gathered crowd (beware: it can be genuinely frightening for little people). The museum is also home to the ever-popular Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit, showcasing the fragile natural beauty of our planet through 100 photos.
Learn about conservation at London Zoo
Regent’s Park is home to the oldest zoo in the world , dating from 1828. The emphasis nowadays is firmly on conservation, breeding and education, with fewer animals and bigger enclosures. Highlights include Land of the Lions, Gorilla Kingdom, Night Life, Penguin Beach and the walk-through In with the Lemurs. There are regular feeding sessions and talks, various experiences are available, such as Keeper for a Day, and you can even spend the night in one of nine Gir Lion Lodge cabins.
Go to family-friendly theater shows
Big productions aimed at families include Matilda the Musical at Cambridge Theatre, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace Theatre, and Disney’s The Lion King at Lyceum Theatre. Tickets need to be booked well in advance, especially if you're on a budget .
It’s often easier to get tickets to smaller productions at theaters away from the West End. Consider Unicorn Theatre near the South Bank or Little Angel Theatre in Islington, where all performances are aimed at youngsters. The Southbank Centre also runs family performances, particularly during local school holidays.
Greenwich is a good neighborhood for family activities
Greenwich in southeast London is a small area with good options for kids of all ages. It can be reached by train or the DLR, but it’s much more fun to take the Thames Clipper from central London to Greenwich Pier. Younger kids are likely to love the massive adventure playground in Greenwich Park, with sand, water play, and plenty to climb on.
Learn what life was like on board a 19th-century tea clipper at the Cutty Sark . For even more naval experiences, head to the National Maritime Museum (there’s a great gallery aimed at children aged seven and under called Ahoy!). The Royal Observatory on the hill offers a chance for older kids to explore space and time. Grab lunch at a stall in the food market , or head for one of the many chain restaurants.
The V&A Museum of Childhood is a toy-filled wonderland
Housed in a purpose-built Victorian-era building, this branch of the Victoria & Albert Museum is aimed at both kids (with play areas, interactive exhibits and dressing-up boxes) and nostalgic grown-ups who come to admire the antique toys. From teddies, doll’s houses and dolls to Meccano, Lego and computer games, it’s a wonderful toy-cupboard trip down memory lane. It's free to enter and has recently undergone a major refurbishment to make it an even more exciting location that's focused entirely on fun for young adventurers.
This article was first published March 2015 and updated August 2023
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London With Kids (2023)
By: Author Alyson Long
Posted on Last updated: 19/10/2023
This post may contain affiliate links.
Visiting London with kids is a great idea, as London UK has so many incredible and unique things to do for your kids and for your family. London, among all the cities in the world, is probably the best city to visit with kids. It is my top-pick travel destination for children because of the wealth of child-friendly, fun, cultural, historic, educational, and family-oriented things to do in the UK’s capital city. Thankfully, many of the things to do in London with kids are free.
This post is about the practicalities of visiting London with kids, as well as the very best things to do in London with kids. I’m a London mum, my kids were born in London and we’ve spent years exploring this city, from birth to older teens, to make this family guide for you.
There are a lot of free things to do in London, but London can be expensive too, be ready for that.
However, the devalued pound and good exchange rates could help overseas visitors a lot.
Flights to London have also become more affordable lately. Some ideas, tips, reviews, and guides on London with children, 2023 updated.
Some of these London attractions for kids are my own childhood favourites, and some are things and places my kids and our family loved to do in London.
Visiting London with children by a Londoner, a local mum, a returned ex-pat, and a full-time professional traveller.
We include things to do in London, things to do near London, the practicalities of visiting London with kids, and the best family experiences we can find.
In our post, we cover the following things to do and attractions for London with kids and for families.
- London Full Day Tours
- The British Museum
- The Science Museum
- The London Natural History Museum
- The Museum of Childhood and Grant Zoology Museum (Both smaller museums, great for kids)
- Harry Potter Tours and Experiences in and Near London
- The V&A
- The Tate Modern (Kids Tours)
- The London Museum of Art (Kids Tours and Special Events)
The Changing of The Guard
Trafalgar square and nelson’s column.
- Hop on Hop Off London Bus Tours For Kids and Tootbus
- Combined London Attraction Tours and Discounted City Passes For Families
- Greenwich, Includes Greenwich Market, The Greenwich Meridian, Cutty Sark, Maritime Museum etc.
- Famous Shops and Stores for kids, Hamley’s (The Greatest Toy Store in the World), Harrods, Borough Market, Camden Market, Covent Garden Markets, etc.
- Parks, Gardens and Playgrounds in London for Kids, include Diana Memorial Playground and Fountains. One of the best playgrounds we’ve seen in the whole world.
- London Sea Life Aquarium
- The Tower of London
- The London Eye
- The Terrible Thames (From Horrible Histories, Cruise, and Child-Friendly Performance)
- Madame Tussauds and The Planetarium
- Shrek’s Adventures (Grab tickets here, they sell out fast)
- Theme Parks Near London
The London Dungeon
The tower bridge experience and london tombs.
- The Clink Prison Museum
- Theatres and Shows
- Finding Family-Friendly Accommodation and The Best Hotel Deals
- How To Get Around London as a Family
- Where and What to Eat in London
- Safety and Security in London
- Hobbledown Heath (Adventure outdoor play and sports)
- Day Trips From London, Stonehenge, The Cotswolds, etc.
Where we have added links to our index list, above, clicking them will take you straight to that section. Just to make life easier for you. This post has a considerable amount of information!
This post may contain affiliate links from which we earn a commission. This costs you nothing extra and doesn’t affect our honest recommendations.
London With Kids
There is so much to do that is child-friendly, educational, and fun in London. There are parks and free museums, historical landmarks, and entertainment, enough to keep your family busy for months, maybe years!
I’ll stick to my family’s favourites, the things we always enjoyed when we lived in London and visited London. If you are visiting London with children I hope you will enjoy them, too.
I think the key to children getting the most out of travel is preparing them. Show them pictures, tell them stories, watch videos, read books.
When they arrive in London they will be excited to see what the city has to offer and know a bit about the landmarks. We have a few suggested London for kids books below.
- Horrible Histories Gruesome Guides, London
- City Trails London
- Not For Parents London City Guide
- Katy in London (for younger children, a bedtime reader exploring London landmarks- my boys’ favourite when they were small children)
What’s Open in London for Kids Right Now
Many places in London were closed from 2020-2021. Thankfully, London in 2023 is pretty much back to normal, we were there this year, and some new London attractions are ready for you and your kids to enjoy.
London with Kids Video
Our London with Kids video has been temporarily removed to better serve our readers, you can find it on our YouTube channel here.
Things To Do In London With Kids
There are so many things to do in London with kids that you could stay a month and not do them all.
Throughout 2021 to 2023 we’re adding information on what’s open, and what’s closed. We’ll keep this post as fresh as we can but things change constantly.
We start our list below with free things to do and move on to paid attractions and sightseeing.
Fun London Activities and Outings You Can Book Right Now
We know it’s difficult right now to keep kids entertained, so many places are operating differently until the Covid crisis is fully over. We’ve scoured the internet to find you the places that are open.
These outings should keep your kids, and you, happy over the school holidays. Most places now need you to book a slot in advance. London Zoo has been open and you can book your visit here .
London Zoo is a must-see for kids, it’s a superb zoo situated on the edge of Regent’s Park.
London Full-Day Tours With Kids
There are several options for full-day tours of London that are perfect if you are short of time and want to get as much out of your trip as possible. In one day in London, you can see and do a lot, even with a family.
This tour will take you to St Paul’s, Westminster Abbey, The Changing of The Guard, and Buckingham Palace, a Thames Cruise, plus either cream tea at Harrods or a flight on the London Eye. That’s a very full day and an immensely good use of time.
If you were to do all these things without a guide and an air-conditioned bus, you’d be hot, tired, and very unlikely to fit it all in. Even if, like me, you could use London transport and read those tube maps with ease!
Book this one well in advance, these trips sell out and places for tea at Harrods and for The Tower of London and London Eye are very limited. This one comes with a price guarantee and free cancellation pledge from the company if you book here You can even reserve now and pay later.
Free London Museums for Kids
Most museums in London are free, which is brilliant! More and more you will see suggested donations, but these were not compulsory at the time of writing.
As we visit these museums often, I may give a donation sometimes, others not. Sometimes we’ll pop into a museum for 10 minutes, sometimes half a day.
London’s museums are one of the main things I miss about living in London, particularly as we are home educators or homeschoolers. London has a huge home education community.
Expect queues and bag searches at most of the most popular museums. You may need to check if they are still free, the government was pushing for admission to become paid.
Our favourite London museums for kids of all ages are below.
The Natural History Museum
According to The National History Museum’s website, the NHM is open currently. The Fantastic Beast exhibition was great for kids but the new exhibition is Titanosaur, Life as the Biggest Dinosaur. You do have to pay and book for these special events. Make bookings and find out more here.
The Natural History opens at 10 am and the last entry is at 5.30 am. Tickets are free but bookings are required at busy times and you are likely to have to book some time in advance. You can book here.
We visited the London Natural History Museum with a group of kids during school holidays in 2023. It was so busy that only people with booking were being allowed in.
You can easily make a booking, for free, by visiting the Natural History Museum website. Another way to guarantee admission to this museum is to take out family membership here. This gives you priviledges, access to a members’ lounge and a jump-the-queue ticket. It’s perfect for kids with special needs.
You could spend days at this museum, one of the “big 3” in South Kensington, and still not see everything. It is one of the most incredible places on Earth.
The building itself, with its magnificent Victorian architecture, is impressive and then you step through the main doors and come face to face with a whale, or a dinosaur.
Dippy, the iconic replica Diplodocus goes on tour sometimes.
To your left is the dinosaur exhibit. For years this has featured an animatronic T Rex, huge skeletons, and a number of interactive displays.
Tip: The museum can be busy in term time, when many school groups visit, it has sometimes been quieter for us in school holidays, avoid weekends and go early or late. School holidays also bring huge crowds of course. You may have to queue outside.
The mammal hall is spectacular, the life-sized blue whale suspended from the ceiling is a memory from my childhood that still impresses me forty years later.
There are cafes, excellent washrooms and cloakrooms. The food is extremely good quality, but more expensive than elsewhere.
If you visit London at Christmas time you should find an outdoor ice rink and carousel in front of the museum. These photos were taken in November, the weather was beautiful and we didn’t need warm coats at all. We were lucky, you have to prepare for anything weather-wise.
I must also mention the Rothschild Collection out in Tring, north of London. It is now owned by the Natural History Museum, and is free. Again, it requires an online booking currently.
It is a compact yet extensive collection put together by Walter Rothschild, a notable eccentric, famous for having a stable of zebras to pull his carriage. They have the most enormous stuffed seal I have ever seen on the top floor, it’s well worth a visit.
There is also The Horniman Museum at Dulwich or Forest Hill officially, again, a collection of stuffed animals from a private collection along with a small aquarium and butterfly exhibit.
The 2010 BBC TV documentary series, The Museum of Life, is one of our family favourites. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the work the London Natural History Museum does, it would be great to watch before you go if you can.
I would allow at least half a day of your itinerary in London with kids to visit the museum, however, if you’re short of time, an hour or two is fine. There are good bathrooms and an excellent restaurant inside the museum. You will probably have your bags searched on arrival at the Cromwell Road door at the front of the museum.
London Natural History Museum Information
Natural History Museum Address: Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD Nearest Tube Station: South Kensington on the District Line and Circle Line. Where is the Natural History Museum London on a map, here
The British Museum, London
According to The British Museum website, the museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, with last entry 4 pm, with late night opening on Fridays to 8.30 pm, last entry 7.30 pm. See full opening hours here.
At the British Museum admission is free but visitors would be sensible to book an admission slot online in advance, in case the museum is very busy.
We did book in 2023 but didn’t need to show our reservations, if you get to any of these museums early you should be OK.
Virtual tours and their online shop are also available. Check the latest news from the museum and make bookings here. You can even book a private family tour of London’s British Museum with a professional historian and kid-friendly guide . These tours aren’t cheap, a cheaper option is a British Museum treasure hunt for kids. See that one here.
At the British Museum, the Egyptian artifacts are amazing, not as good as Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, and, arguably, some of the exhibits should be sent back there, but if you are into Egyptology, mummies, and hieroglyphs you will be in museum heaven.
They have the Rosetta stone, how cool is that?
Just about every culture is represented, from Ancient Greece to Asian civilizations, Egypt is our family favorite. We’re always on the lookout for educational things to do in London and the British Museum’s kids audio guides are superb.
It’s an incredible building with good facilities, food is great but pricey. Washrooms are good but they can get very busy.
I really like the gift shop at the British Museum too, with products from the arty and unique to kids’ books and toys. There’s so much to admire about this museum, and its close proximity to so many perfectly-furnished short term lets in London is also a huge bonus. Read our full post on the British Museum with children here.
Again, you should probably allow half a day of your itinerary to visit the British Museum, but an hour or two will suffice for a flying visit. There are good food outlets and washrooms at the museum. Try to have a plan for what you and your kids want to see at the museum and consider taking one of the museum’s free tours, or a kids audio tour.
London’s British Museum Visitors’ Information
British Museum Address: Great Russell Street London WC1B 3DG Nearest Tube Station: Russel Square, Holborn and Tottenham Court Rd are also nearby. See it on a map here.
The London Science Museum
London’s Science Museum is right next door to the Natural History Museum and was also free to enter (other than by donation). It’s a superb museum for kids.
The Science Museum website states that they are open and that visitors can book free admission tickets online. Check here for opening times and reservations.
There are two hands-on kids’ science areas, one for toddlers, preschoolers and young school-aged kids on the bottom floor and one for older kids ( shown above).
Launchpad was on the top floor and has plenty to keep kids busy including science shows and demonstrations throughout the day. Read more on London Science Museum with children here.
London’s Science Museum has a nice restaurant and gift shop too.
The Science Museum is often less crowded, so if you can’t face the Natural History Museum queues you can try here instead, or even the Victoria and Albert Museum which is just over the road.
The big three are in South Kensington, you need South Kensington Tube Station then take the underground walkway to the museums.
If you’re very quick, you can visit all 3 South Kensington museums in one day, but you won’t do them justice. If you need to pick just one London museum to visit with your kids, my choice would be the Natural History Museum. My kids might pick The London Science Museum.
We’ve also visited the New York Natural History Museum. It’s a very good museum, and it’s certainly worth visiting both, but I think the London Natural History Museum is better.
London Science Museum Information
London Science Museum Address: Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD, UK Nearest tube station: South Kensington on the Piccadilly, District and Circle Lines or Gloucester Rd, same 3 tube lines.
The V&A (London Victoria and Albert Museum)
The Victoria and Albert Museum is open according to their website. (check their website ). The V&A, the Victoria and Albert Museum of Art and Design is my kids’ least favourite of the big 3 London Museums at South Kensington
Most of it is usually free, some parts have an admission fee. They had a special Alice in Wonderland exhibition running this summer.
I really like the display of theatrical and celebrity musicians’ costumes on the top floor. There is also an area to play dress up but the clothes tend towards adult size.
On a lower floor, there are interesting exhibits on art and design around the world and religious art styles.
There are audio guides available and my kids have used these.
The cafe in the V&A is pretty spectacular. You should at least take a look at the decor and architecture.
In this area of London lookout for WW2 damage to the stonework, it’s everywhere. If the Natural History and Science Museums are looking way too busy, the V & A is usually quieter.
The Victoria and Albert opens later, at 10 am usually. Last admission 4.45 pm is normal.
The Tate Modern Museum of Modern Art, London
The Tate Modern with children worked well for us. They offer kids audio guides as well as an impressive “Wall of Art” computer feature making this museum very kid-friendly.
Our favourite artist is Salvadore Dali, we’ve seen several of his works at London’s Tate Modern museum over the years along with Picasso. Check which pieces are currently on display.
The Tate Modern is on the South Bank. Keep walking on east past the London Eye and you’ll get there.
“Death Eater’s Bridge” from Harry Potter crosses the Thames almost directly outside this museum. If you use it you can cross The River Thames to St Paul’s.
The Tate Modern is open, but timed admissions seem to be required. Most of this museum is free to enter and doors usually open at 10 am Monday to Sunday.
The National Gallery of Art.
London National Gallery with children was also good. Here we enjoyed a free tour, aimed at adults but good for my kids, along with audio guides.
This museum hosts special kids events and classes during school holidays.
This is where we got to see Van Gogh after a long-held interest thanks to Doctor Who. This museum is directly behind Trafalgar Square.
The National Gallery of Art is open and free other than special exhibitions. Doors open at 10 am normally.
This one closes for a few days over Christmas and on New Year’s Day. It has advertised late-night opening Fridays. You must check all this at their website, link above.
Unusual Museums for Children in London
We have a complete blog post on The Museum of Childhood which features the toys I used to play with as a kid and those your grandparents would have enjoyed.
The Grant Zoology Museum is wonderful for budding scientists with plenty of bones and skeletons to interest small ones. It may be a little gruesome for some.
If you’re on the South Bank the Clink Prison Museum is worth a look. It’s on the site of the original Clink Prison in Southwark (South Bank) and gives you history, education, and gory details. All of these 3 are small museums and won’t take much of your time.
You could also visit the Imperial War Museum or the Transport for London Museum on Covent Garden. Then of course there is Shakespeare’s Globe (on the south bank) to visit.
The Bank of England Museum
We visited the Bank of England Museum recently with older kids and we didn’t find it terribly interesting. It’s free and we didn’t have to book. Our favourite exhibit was a gold bar, to feel the weight. This is a very small museum near Bank tube station.
The London Transport Museum
The London Transport Museum is quite a good place to take kids with London if they are interested in vintage vehicles. This museum is located in Covent Garden but it is not one of London’s free museums.
Admission to The London Transport Museum is fairly expensive for adults, free for kids under 17 years, but the cost can be lowered by buying a London Pass or an annual pass. The London Transport Museum is open 10am to 6pm daily according to their website.
You will need to book a time slot via their website for free admission.
There are 2 changing of the guard ceremonies that attract tourists, the bigger one at Buckingham Palace and the smaller at Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall. Both are, in theory, daily and at 11 am.
The Buckingham Palace Ceremony starts at 10.30am when the new guard forms at Wellington Barracks (opposite St James’s Park). They then march to Buckingham Palace and “change” at 11 am.
The old guard then marches back to the barracks with the accompanying band. They are back at the barracks at 11.30 am.
You need to check timetables as they are seasonal, with weather, and security variations. Try here . It is at Whitehall (near Downing St.) that you can get a photo with a mounted guardsman and stroke a horse, if you’re lucky.
Do not touch the reins or get in the way. The guards are working soldiers and they don’t mess about with clueless tourists.
The Queens Guard at Whitehall changes at 10 am on Sundays, but do check and double-check these times. If tourists get in the way of the guards, and they do, you’ll likely hear “Make way for the Queen’s Guard!”
Their website states if the changing of the guard is currently taking place at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle due to COVID restrictions. However, the UK is set to drop restrictions in mid-July 2021, so keep an eye on that at the website above.
Trafalgar Square commemorates the battle of Trafalgar from the Napoleonic wars and as such, holds a statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson who died in the conflict.
It is in the heart of London and the entrance to The Mall. The Royal Mile, the road that leads to Buckingham Palace, is right opposite.
Nelson’s statue is guarded by four noble bronze lions by Landseer. Famously their back halves were modelled on dogs, not felines because the lions used as models became too decomposed to use. If you look, you can see this.
Trafalgar Square is an open public space and great for a run-around. I grew up feeding the pigeons here, but those days are gone.
My kids were able to climb on Nelson’s plinth and have their photos taken sitting with the lions when we last visited.
In summer, visitors used to cool off in the fountains, but I don’t think that’s allowed today.
Look out for contemporary art pieces on the back left plinth, outside the National Gallery. Charing Cross Station is nearby.
London Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours With Kids
I’ve taken a hop-on hop-off bus tour with my kids and despite being Londoners, we loved it. They’re a great way to see the sights at your own pace, with a fun and informative commentary.
Get off the bus and back on another any time you please, they circulate the city’s biggest sites constantly.
The Tootbus is a similar London bus tour, but with a commentary aimed at kids, if you have small children this is the one for you. Check out Tootbus here and reserve your spot. Free cancellation is still possible and you don’t need to pay now.
Most of these buses have open tops, so plenty of fresh air up there to enjoy and a perfect activity for summer or winter vacation.
Of course, an open-top bus puts you at the mercy of the elements but despite popular belief, it actually doesn’t rain all that much in London.
When we took this tour there was some light drizzle and the company gave us rain ponchos. These buses are double-deckers so you can always go downstairs.
You can normally book flexible tickets that will take you all over London. It’s the commentary that makes these tours and if you get a good host you should have a lot of fun with this type of London tours.
Keeping small children happy could be challenging on a regular bus tour, for little ones I’d go for Tootbus, here.
Look out for special night tours and these Christmas lights specials by bus . The open-top deck should keep those germs at bay!
This flexible hop on hop off bus ticket even includes a cruise on The Thames. See all the sites, from on high. A perfect day exploring London. Book here with a best price guarantee .
Combined London Attraction Tickets and Heritage Passes
Many variations on these tickets exist. They’re designed to save you money but, maybe, spend more money in total because with these tickets you will visit more attractions than you might otherwise.
I usually list the ones currently available below, but unfortunately, this industry is very confusing right now. I won’t share too many until everything is open as normal.
Take a look at this pass , it may suit you. Alternatively look into GoCity London pass , this is an international company with similar passes for most major cities around the world. These passes are designed to save you cash.
Explore Greenwich With Kids
Greenwich isn’t far away at all but because it’s a stand-alone area, reached by the Docklands Light Rail. we’ll keep it separate. There is plenty to fill a day or two in Greenwich and it’s one of our favourite parts of London.
We often stay on this side of town when we visit London.
Greenwich is dominated by the magnificent The Cutty Sark , a paid attraction, but there are free museums, the Greenwich Meridian and wonderful markets, traditional pie mash and jellied eels, and modern street food to explore.
See our post on things to do in Greenwich with children . This post includes information on how to get to Greenwich and on visiting the Royal Observatory at Greenwich.
Greenwich Hill, in the photo above, is right next to the Greenwich Observatory and the photo-op for the Greenwich Meridian line. It’s a great place for a walk or run-around for kids. My children like to roll down the hill.
Treasure Hunts in London with Kids
There are a lot of treasure hunt experiences in London that you can participate in as a family with kids. For instance, you can book a kid-friendly treasure hunt at The British Museum ( book here.) Alternatively, tour the city solving riddles inspired by Charles Dickens. These interactive, self-guided games are great for families, see the Secret London tour here.
Shops and Markets for Kids in London
Harrods is worth a visit with your kids because it’s such a London icon and for the food hall. You’ll find an amazing array of the unusual and the expensive, and plenty of eating opportunities here too, at a price.
My kids always enjoyed a quick outing to the Harrods store.
There is a dress code for entry to Harrods, they don’t admit scruffs.
Hamleys Toy Store
Maybe the greatest toy shop in the world, Hamleys, London, is a fantastic place to take your kids. Hamleys is on Regent St. just a short walk from Oxford Circus.
There are five floors of awesomenes featuring every toy you can imagine, with lifts (elevators) and escalators for easy access for parents with kids in strollers or prams.
A cafe, restrooms, and baby changing facilities were always on the top floor along with the Dr. Who toys.
The Lego department of Hamley’s is pretty spectacular, featuring life-sized Lego constructions. Kids also love the incredible array of cuddly tows and Harry Potter toys.
Staff stationed all over the shop keep kids entertained with toy demonstrations.
The window displays at Christmas make things extra magical. This is one of the must-see London shop window displays at Christmas.
At opening time there is often a rope-drop ceremony that can be quite fun with kids.
Covent Garden Markets
The Covent Garden tube station is strange, it’s the only station I remember where the access is via elevators.
As you come out and walk right towards Covent Garden you are surrounded by buskers, mostly performance artists standing still pretending to be statues, waiting for you to throw them coins. They are extremely good, most kids love them.
This makes London’s Covent Garden a great place to take kids.
In Covent Garden proper you will find more buskers, these are more likely to put on shows, gathering a crowd around them, again, they are excellent, magic, fire tricks, uni-cyclists, jugglers, or, my favourite, the guy that puts on the Charlie Chaplin show.
My son got involved with him last year, it was amazing. They usually pass a hat around for donations at the end.
In the central part of the market are the market stalls, surrounding this are regular high street shops housed in the old market buildings.
I LOVE Covent Garden. Look out for the Christmas fairs and food fairs, there are often special events.
Borough market is another Harry Potter filming location (The Leaky Cauldron is here) and is a foodie destination above all others. Beware, it can get very crowded on weekends and during holidays, particularly Christmas.
The Borough Market website states that it is open, now 6 days per week, although their opening hours show 7 days.
Borough Market dates back to 1041 and is open Monday to Saturday although Monday and Tuesday are smaller market days, not all traders open then. It is likely to be closed on public (bank) holidays. Sundays have now been added, they say 10am to 2 pm.
It is on the South Bank, beneath London Bridge, near The Shard and London Bridge Experience / London Tombs. Around Christmas Borough Market is sometimes open for more days or hours.
Parks, Gardens and Playgrounds in London for Kids
London is absolutely crammed with parks, lakes and playgrounds, the wild squirrel population is a big hit with those that aren’t used to them. My husband and I used to laugh at tourists taking photos of the squirrels, now my children chase them around with cameras too.
You will find them wherever there is grass and trees. You’re quite likely to see wild red foxes in parts of London too.
The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Gardens
This playground has remained open, but with reduced capacity, maximum 150 children at a time, because of this you may have to queue to get in.
You need to bring your own hand sanitiser (according to their website) .
The Princess Diana playground is a magical place, a lovely reminder of a special lady. It is only open to children under 12, and features a huge central pirate ship.
You can find it near her old home in Kensington Gardens. The Diana memorial fountain is in Hyde Park, the two parks are side by side.
The fountain is another lovely spot, children and adults like to paddle on hot days. The fountain opened on the 1st of July 2021, post-COVID. These attractions normally open at 10 am. Find the best up-to-date information at the link above.
The Regent’s Park
You can see some of the zoo animals for free from Regents park, certainly the camels (they may have moved them now!) in the old, listed, elephant building and the farmyard animals in the petting zoo.
It’s an enormous area of grass and gardens, take the kids for a runaround, to feed the ducks, or for a rowing boat ride on the lake.
It is beautiful in autumn when the leaves are turning. There are a number of cafes serving ice creams, cakes and hot snacks along with rest room facilities.
At the Baker St end, there is a really great kids’ playground near the London mosque. This mosque is spectacular from the outside but I’ve never been inside.
St James’s Park
St James’s Park is the park you’ll walk through between Horse Guards’ Parade and Buckingham Palace. It has a lake, plenty of ducks and swans and a really nice kids’ playground just steps from Buckingham Palace.
This would be a good place to take a kid-friendly breather before or after the changing of the guard. There is a café near the lake.
Hyde Park lies between Mayfair, Knightsbridge, and Kensington and is contiguous with Kensington Park and Gardens, but is considered a separate park.
Park Lane runs along its eastern side and Marble Arch is at its northeast corner. Hyde Park is home to Speaker’s Corner and The Serpentine.
It is where London’s Christmas Winter Wonderland is usually held and of course, is great for kids.
We particularly like a couple of statues that are actually on Park Lane, adjacent to Hyde Park. They commemorate animals in war and women in war. Your kids might like to take a look.
The Southbank Centre
On hot summer days London kids can be found splashing in the fountains at The Southbank Centre. Take a towel.
Coram’s Fields is another good park with kids playgrounds and water play facilities ideal for hot summer days in the city. It is located in Bloomsbury, not far from The British Museum.
London Zoo is open after lockdown but it looks like you need to book a time to visit to comply with new social distancing regulations. Certain parts of the zoo remained closed longer, outdoor parts opened a while ago.
Gradually the zoo is fully re-opening, you can book your timeslot here .
London Zoo is a big day out, a must-do if you are visiting London with children. I used to take my preschoolers almost every week on our local’s annual pass. Unfortunately, it is a little expensive for one-off visitors.
You can see my post on London Zoo here, I’m a zoologist and passionate about animal welfare, the work they do is vital for conservation and London is a shining example of this.
Check out the old elephant house, a listed building, the elephants have now been relocated to Whipsnade Zoo and Safari Park, along with the other larger mammals.(Whipsnade is also excellent) The elephant house was housing camels and pygmy hippos last time I was there.
The cafe at London Zoo was always great and had a good selection of hot food and healthy snacks, they do great coffee and cake too.
According to the zoo’s own website, only takeaway food and drinks can now be served. The cafe used to get very busy, try to avoid peak times.
Check out the area in front of the cafe for carousels, occasional face painting, and a lovely children’s playground.
The giraffe house is another favourite I love the smell of giraffe and hay as you go into the enclosed area. We used to take a packed lunch and eat it in the giraffe house, sometimes.
I’ve been visiting London Zoo all my life, things have changed, there are new attractions, (such as the excellent indoor rain forest exhibit) but the old buildings and history remain.
The reptile house is another old building, if you know your Harry Potter films you’ll recognize the enclosure at the front, on the left, as the place where Harry first started talking to snakes. Check their site here for latest zoo news.
If you’re looking for a birthday treat for a child, London Zoo offers special experiences such as “Meet the Meerkats” and “Keeper for a Day”. We have taken the meet the meerkats experience and my kids adored it.
London Sea Life Aquarium
This London Sealife is a great aquarium, the huge shark tank stretched over 2 or 3 stories and housed some unusual types of shark, not just the usual grey nurse sharks.
You can read our review of London Aquarium here. It’s just south of the river near the London Eye (one of the very best attractions in London), you could do both in one day and save money by buying a discounted Combi Ticket.
There is a great kids’ playground near The Eye on the South Bank too.
Alternatively, go directly to the London Sealife Aquarium website to book a discounted ticket. Compare prices on the two ticket links we give you here, see which offers you the best deal. This website also offers combination tickets with other London family attractions.
The Tower of London With Kids
The Tower of London has been closed but plans to reopen after lockdown soon, they don’t mention May as far as I can see, but that would be my guess.
The Tower is another big day out, highlights include King Henry VIII’s suit of amour and the crown jewels.
When I was visiting last year they had a special exhibition, Royal Beasts, showcasing the tower’s history as a zoo, complete with wandering actors re-enacting the roles of the beast keepers.
We think it’s still running. It was a big hit with the kids, as were the ghostly tales of the Beefeaters. These guys are all ex-army, are great with the kids, and tell fantastic tales.
If you can’t make it to the tower, check out this book The Tower Menagerie: The Amazing 600-Year History of the Royal Collection of Wild and Ferocious Beasts Kept at the Tower of London .
You can read all about the first polar bear in London, he was kept chained on the banks of the Thames, or the elephant that didn’t last long on his diet of beer and bread. (My animal enthusiasm may give away my zoologist roots!)
Tower Bridge is almost directly outside The Tower of London, the striking, tall blue bridge which lefts to allow boats through. A lot of people think this bridge is London Bridge, its not, that one is quite boring looking.
The London Eye With Kids
This is one of my favourites activities with kids in London and is where you see just how small London is, you can see everything from up there.
I’ve have taken the children since as babies, toddlers and teens and each time they loved the ride. I have a feeling some children may find it a little dull, it’s not a thrill ride.
The London Eye does seem to be open, with reduced capacity for social distancing. This attraction is always one to book online, I’ve seen horrendous queues here for tickets. Book your London Eye visit here .
If you like views from high places also consider The View From The Shard in London.
NEW for kids Summer – The Terrible Thames
Do your kids love the Horrible Histories TV shows, books , and audiobooks? My boys adored them.
Now you can combine live theatrical horridness with a river cruise exploring the horrible history of dear old London.
This is an absolute must-do for me. As soon as I can I’ll be on a plane back home to do this. It departs Tower Bridge Quay. Book your tickets for the Terrible Thames cruise and show here .
London’s Shard with Kids
The Shard is a building on London’s South Bank, not far from London Bridge and Borough Market. It has 95 floors and is 310 m tall.
Visitors can go to the upper viewing decks to take in the incredible views as part of a ” View From the Shard” package. Kids are welcome.
I’ve been up there with my kids, they loved it. I’m scared of heights so I was fairly terrified but the view was immense. This would probably be a good alternative to The London Eye.
We have our full post on going up The Shard. Doctor Who fans might get a particular buzz out of this one as Matt Smith’s Doctor once went up the Shard on a motorbike.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not
The London Ripley’s Believe it or Not is (was) housed in a building overlooking Piccadilly Circus and yes, for a fun half-day, it was well worth going.
My kids adored this place just as they loved the New York Ripley’s , the two are quite different. They particularly enjoyed the laser maze, which you could pay to enter in isolation.
A full post on London Ripley’s Believe it or Not here. UPDATE – This Ripley’s I believe, has now gone, I’m trying to find out more.
Madame Tussauds and The Planetarium for Kids
I haven’t been to the London Tussauds since I was a child and have never taken my kids. But, and it’s a big but, I recently took my teenager to Tussauds in Bangkok and we absolutely loved it. So maybe Madame Tussauds is a great thing to do with teens.
My small children wouldn’t have known who most of the celebrities were as we were not TV watchers so I didn’t see the point. My brother and I loved it when we were kids, particularly the horrible Chamber of Horrors.
Sorry, I don’t know what it’s like now. It’s next to Baker St Tube station which is where you’ll come for the Sherlock Holmes museum.
Last time I was here the gift shop next door to the tube station had a full-sized TARDIS just inside, handy for photo ops!
You can book a Madame Tussauds combo ticket with the London Eye and SeaLife Aquarium. It’s a great deal for families and if I just had one or two days in London with kids I’d certainly try to fit in these three attractions. See the pass here , it saves you cash.
Is The London Dungeon suitable for kids? That depends on the child. This attraction is frightening, horrible and nasty in a good way. It has all the gruesome gory bits from London’s history. Small boys and my husband love this stuff but sensitive children could be scared. You can book discounted tickets at the London Dungeon Sales Page , or by clicking the image.
I’m not such a fan, I really don’t need to hear about medieval torture methods, thanks very much. They did a great job of making me feel quite ill with stories of red-hot tongue clamps.
The actor-led tours are superb, some new rides have opened since my last visit and this is another place we will visit next time. You could call it educational, its history, Jack the Ripper, the plague and the great fire should be part of every child’s education.
If your kids like their history horrible, they’ll love this. If you enjoy this sort of thing you could also check out the tour at The Clink prison. One of the oldest prisons in London, it gave its name to all others. It’s on the South Bank.
My husband and I found it interesting, but I think for the older children, the London Dungeon would be more fun. London Tombs is similar, but the London Dungeon is better in our opinion. Book London Dungeon tickets 10% off here , you need to book to guarantee a spot.
Another scare-fest built beneath London Bridge. Partly educational, partly a straight-up scare attraction, it’s fun for kids if they don’t scare easily.
Maybe wait until they are 10-11 years old because it’s a little freaky.
We enjoyed it but see the note below about ticket prices.
Theme Parks in or Near London for Kids
We have Chessington World of Adventure , Legoland Windsor and Thorpe Park in or near London and these are great places to take your kids. I should also mention Go Ape , they have one of their zip line and ropes courses at Chessington.
Chessington World of Adventure is southwest of central London, in Surrey on the A243. It’s about a 38 minute drive from Central London if you have your own vehicle. The park has thrill rides, a zoo/safari park and aquarium. I’ve been to the Chessington Park and it’s definately worth going. Allow a full day of your London itinerary to visit Chessington. The park opens at 10am. You can book youir Chessington admission ticket here, and we do advise you to book in advance, particularly in the summer or Easter school holidays.
Thorpe Park is also southwest of London, a little further north, about a 43 minute drive along the M4 and then south. You can book your entrance ticket here. Thorpe Park farm used to have animals for visitors to enjoy, but today Thorpe Park is a very large theme park with thrill rides. It is the second biggest theme park in the UK after Alton Towers, the latter being too far from London for most visitors.
Legoland UK is at Windsor and is easy to get to by train. The rides at Legoland parks are generally better for younger children, and you can book your ticket here. Combine this Legoland park with taking a look at Royal Windsor and Windsor castle.
If you’re planning a fun summer vacation in London with kids we strongly recommend that you take them to one of these 3 British theme parks, the child’s age should determine which theme park to choose, with Thorpe Park being more for older kids. At other times of year the weather may cause you difficulties with these outdoor parks.
London Urban Farms With Kids
2 petting zoos, Vauxhall City Farm and Mudchute Farm and Park are great things to do in London with kids and they are free or have suggested donations only.
A donation is in the region of 3 UK pounds, these donations support the farm’s work in bringing animals into the lives of local kids.
Vauxhall City Farm is a short walk from Vauxhall underground, train or bus stations, a 10 minute walk from Oval underground station and 20 minutes walk from Waterloo. It is near the Vauxhall pleasure gardens, south of the Thames at Westminster. It is about a 25 minute walk south from the London Eye and Houses of Parliament.
You do not have to book Vauxhall City Gardens, Opening Times are 10:30am – 4:00pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Entry is free, no booking required but a donation is suggested. Check their website for further information. Thee kids can meet Santa here at Christmas!
Mudchute Farm and Gardens is free to enter and is in East London, on the Isle of Dogs. It is London’s biggest urban farm in London and is great for kids. It
Mudchutte Farm is in Cubitt Town on the Isle of Dogs in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, just south of Canary Wharf. The nearest underground station is Canary Wharf. The nearest DLR station is Island Gardens. If you’re visiting Canary Warf, the Museum of London is near, and is also free. You could ride horses at Mudchute Farm, but this had to be booked in advance, but according to their website their
equestrian centre has now closed. Donkey rides are available here on Sundays in summer. See their website for more information.
Theatres and Shows in London with Children
I have taken the children to The London Palladium to see The Wizard of Oz and to the Lyceum to see The Lion King.
After much online research, we found that the cheapest way to buy tickets was to actually go along to the theatre’s box office and be very nice to the man behind the desk. We got tickets for that night at the Palladium and a free ticket for my youngest.
Their Granny got her ticket half price as an OAP. Both were evening shows, finishing late at night, we had no issues with tiredness and fidgeting because they were so mesmerized by the performances and the theatrical wizardry going on (indoor snow and a witch flying above the audience).
If you want to see the Harry Potter Show- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre in the West End- (it’s actually 2 shows), book well in advance, months, and it would be helpful to win the lottery. It’s insanely expensive.
For the 4 of us we were looking at almost $1000 for both shows last summer. So we saw The Lion King instead. To find out what’s on in London Theatres for families, look at London Theatre updates here
Money-Saving Tip for London Attractions with Kids
Last week I took my son to the London Tombs and Tower Bridge Experience for his birthday. Before we went we found a price of around 15 pounds on a ticket and tour booking site.
The cost of the same ticket on the attraction’s own website was 19 pounds something. We couldn’t believe that the tour website had a better price than the attraction itself so we turned up thinking we’d pay on the door.
The price there was a huge 27 pounds! Almost double what we’d pay for our family using this tour booking company . Click through, check the prices. See if you can save yourself time and money by booking smart, in advance.
They have tickets for just about every attraction in London as well as a whole bunch of tours and experiences. In London it’s usually best to book everything in advance, lines can be super-long and waste your valuable vacation time. That’s an honest tip, from one mum to you.
Finding the Best Deals on Family Hotels, Hostels, B&Bs, and More in London
Whichever way you look at it, London is going to cost you a fair bit for accommodation. A cheap stay would be something in the region of £50 -£100 per night and you’d have to be very smart and have small children to find anything at the £50 end.
You will probably pay a lot more. We recommend you start your search with Booking.com , this online comparison site checks multiple online accommodation options simultaneously to find the best deal for your dates. Agoda are the Asia specialists, but we do sometimes use them successfully in Europe.
Booking.com is a typical booking agent for the UK and Europe, they’re excellent for fully refundable deals.
It’s also worth checking AirBnb for London, big European cities are one of the few places we have success with using this method of booking. Watch out for hidden cleaning charges on this platform, we usually prefer to use Booking dot com, which also lists apartments and so on.
There are a few hotels in London that specialise in kids and families. Check out Brown’s in Mayfair . Here you can find interconnecting suites with adorable kid-friendly features.
High budget guests may also like The Taj at Buckingham Gate . The kids@Taj program offers special treats for kids.
St James’s Hotel and Club is somewhat less expensive and has boasted its own kids’ concierge and afternoon teas.
The Royal Garden Hotel Hyde Park is potentially the lowest cost option here and can offer scooters to bomb around Hyde Park and dedicated children’s entertainment.
London is awash with child-friendly and very special hotel options. Please check which offers apply at the time of your booking.
Getting Around London With Children
Using the London Underground With Kids
The tube system is fantastic, people love to hate it but it makes getting around so easy.
Trains are regular, frequent and the city is well covered. Avoid peak hours, it can get very crowded and little people can get frightened in the crush.
Probably the easiest way to use the tube for visiors is to simply swipe your phone or credit card at the entrances and exits to train stations. Doing this will automatically calculate your underground fare. This could be hard for families as each person (over 12) needs a separate credit or debit card.
If you can’t come up with the necessary number of cards, you can buy regular tickets or invest in an Oyster card.
You can get on the tube at Heathrow and be in Central London in about an hour. The fare will be roughly 10 GBP if you avoid peak hour (after 9.30am usually).
Take advantage of day passes which allow you to switch between buses and tube trains. A ride on the top of a London double-decker or a bendy bus is fun for the children.
Children may enjoy seeing the occasional mouse on the tube track, Oxford Circus and Leicester Square are good stations for spotting subterranean wildlife. There is a children’s book about the mice Underneath the Underground – by celebrity Anthea Turner and her sister, Wendy. It’s worth looking at this kids’ book about London .
If you are a single Mum or Dad with children in strollers or buggies, there are a couple of tube stations with steep stairs, no escalators or lifts. Strangers will almost always help you carry your buggy, plus child, up the steps. Londoners may not smile or chat much, but they like to help.
Walking Around London With Kids
The city is actually pretty small, you are often better off walking than taking the tube. I used to walk for miles in London when my children were small enough to push or carry.
It’s easier and cheaper than taking the tube to simply walk, and if you are visiting London with children you may well get more out of wandering the streets than being crammed into a tube train.
For example, Covent Garden, along Regent St to Oxford Circus, isn’t far at all.
We find our Google Maps and Pokemon Go apps are good ways to navigate London’s streets on foot.
London Taxis With Kids
London black taxis (hackney carriages) are everywhere, they aren’t cheap, just flag one down, they are metered.
You’ll probably find the Uber app useful, but maybe not in heavy traffic in Central London. Have it ready on your phone.
We recently used Uber to travel from London Luton Airport to London Heathrow, the cost was about 80 GBP, cheaper than taking the bus or Thameslink/tube combination, and certainly easier and faster.
London Bikes and Rickshaws With Kids
Bicycle Rickshaws are a new phenomenon in London. I’ve taken one all the way from Covent Garden to the London Palladium. I didn’t realise it was so far, or that we’d be in heavy traffic on the Tottenham Court Rd.
It was scary, but great fun.
There were 2 adults and 2 children in our party and it cost about $20. I would stick to using them in areas with light traffic, they are popular around Soho.
They have been criticised for being dangerous and uninsured. Maybe it’s a risk, but it was fun as a one-off.
Boris Bikes as they’re called by the locals is an initiative to get Londoners cycling. You’ll see stands of chunky-looking silver and blue bikes all over the capital.
Cycle helmets are not a legal requirement in the UK (at time of writing-check), but take on the London traffic at your risk. I wouldn’t do it.
These bikes can be great for exploring the parks, particularly Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, which interconnect. For 10 pounds (at time of writing-this could change) you can use the Boris Bikes as many times as you like for a week. (half an hour each time).
My 10-year-old is big enough to ride them, my 8-year-old isn’t. There were no children’s bikes available the last time we visited.
Where and What to Eat in London with Children
There is a full post here on eating in London on vacation and another on London Street Food in Greenwich . There are many and diverse places to eat in London but it really pays to have some insider knowledge and not fall for the over-priced, low-quality tourist trap restaurants.
We highly recommend Borough Market for tasty treats, also the Christmas food fairs, Camden Market and South Bank food fair. There’s a link to our Christmas in London post further up the page.
Poppy’s in Camden is famous for British fish and chips. Quality in fish and chip shops varies enormously. Don’t expect all fish and chip shops in London to be good.
There is street food in London. You’re likely to see roasting chestnuts, hotdogs, pizza slices and pies. Be very wary of food hygiene. The sickest my kids have ever been was in London, and we’ve spent months in the countries most people consider risky for food safety.
Visiting London with Kids – Is it Safe?
I have always felt completely safe in the city. We’ve had a few unfortunate incidents in London lately but they were confined to gangs and fighting within those gangs, it seems.
I am more cautious today about theft in the city and I wouldn’t wander around with my phone in my hand since scooter theft has become more and more common, but otherwise, yes, I usually feel very safe here. I have no issues with taking my kids into London.
However, things are getting worse it seems, so take care. Take a look at our anti theft techniques, bags and devices here . There are pickpockets, but it’s never happened to us.
I worked in the city every day for 5 years, I took my kids in every weekend, nothing bad ever happened. These days, I’m glad I’m not raising my teenaged boys there. Violence seems to be increasing.
New Attractions in London for Kids – Summer Ideas
Escape Rooms and VR – Virtual Reality Experiences continue to open in London and would be great fun with older kids, teens and young adults. Check out these, be sure to check age limits, many won’t allow younger kids, some are specifically for kids.
- DNA VR Caledonian Rd.
- Omescape Kings Cross and Alsgate
- Space Descent VR at the Science Museum South Kensington
- Hollywood Bowl VR Greenwich
- Limitless VR East Croydon
- Kidz Escape
- HintHunt London
Kidzania fans will be glad to know that there is a branch of the kids’ indoor city, run by kids, in London, it’s at Westfield and is aimed at kids from 4 – 14. You need to reserve a spot for your child to attend, do that here. Check them out Kidzania .
Day Trips From London That Would Be Great For Kids
A reader asked for ideas, ideally lower-cost ideas, for tours you can take from London with kids. So I started looking.
The Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tours from London For Kids
The Harry Potter Studios are about 30 miles from central London. This is an absolute must-do for any Potter fan. I actually cried tears of motherly joy as my boys opened the doors to the Harry Potter Great Hall . It was a birthday treat for one of them.
My kids are teens now and still ask to go back. We will, soon. You can self-drive out to the Warner Bros Studios or book a tour that departs London here.
Places are always limited at the Harry Potter Studios and we had to reserve a time slot, reserve your place now, above.
Other great options for Potter fans are walking, and bus, Harry Potter sights (in London) tours. You can see the sites featured in the movies. My children loved these tours. The walking tour is here , the bus tour is here.
Stonehenge from London
Stonehenge is 87 miles, 140 Km southwest from London. At Stonehenge today you will find a modern visitor’s centre with exhibions, a shop, café, neolithic houses and the stones themselves nearby.
I’ve now been to the new Stonehenge visitors’ centre, it’s expensive. I’d previously only ever seen Stonehenge from the road, but there are many and varied tours that will take you from London to Stonehenge and back in a day.
These tours can also include other destinations such as Bath, Windsor and Oxford. Check these tours to Stonehenge from London.
Oxford from London
Oxford is 83Km (52 miles) from London and can be reached by train, bus, coach, road or tour. This historic city is a popular destination for lovers of history, architecture, Downton Abbey, and Harry Potter.
If you don’t have your own vehicle consider booking a tour to Oxford from London. Investigate your options here .
These tours include Harry Potter tours. If you’re very short of time you can even see Oxford, The Cotswolds and Stratford – Upon – Avon ( Shakespeare’s Birthplace) in one day .
The Cotswolds from London
The Cotswolds are around 90 miles from London, beyond Oxford to the northwest. You can book tours from London to the picturesque Cotswold villages.
Most tours will include London or Stratford. I don’t think this sort of sightseeing would be particularly great with kids. They may find these boring.
See tours here . But if you’re heading to the Cotswolds we can recommend a couple of places for them.
What To Pack For London With Kids
Unless you’re visiting in December, January or February it shouldn’t be too cold in London. The city rarely sees snow.
You are quite likely to see rain, so if you plan to be outside in the wet, take a waterproof jacket and shoes that can cope with rain.
An umbrella is optional but I’ll tell you that walking on a busy London street with an open umbrella is not easy. They’re also difficult to fold down and take on the tube or bus. I personally don’t use one, but a lot of Londoners do.
You can dress casually, jeans are fine. Take layers, a light fleece may be necessary at any time of the year.
Kids can wear shorts, nobody will think that’s strange, shorts are less common on adults, but you will see some in warm weather.
What’s The Best Time To Visit London With Kids?
The best time to visit London with kids is generally March to October. However, if you can, avoid school holidays.
Christmas is also a very good time to visit London to experience Christmas markets, lights and giant Christmas trees. The holiday period is, of course, very busy in London.
The city fills up with Christmas shoppers, and there is a two week school holiday over Christmas and New Year. Schools go back around the 8th of January usually.
The long summer holidays for UK school kids is in July, August and the first few days of September. At this time London will be packed, it can also get very hot on the tubes and buses as these old systems have very little air conditioning.
Air conditioning is rare in old buildings too.
Easter is usually a pleasant time in the city, as is early fall (autumn). Rain is unpredictable and seems to mostly fall on weekends, but London really isn’t as wet as people make out.
Is London good to visit with kids?
London is very good to visit with kids. It is one of the most child and family-friendly cities in the world, bursting with fun things to do for kids, both free and paid. London is a city filled with families and as such, has facilities for local families and the millions of family travellers who visit during school holidays, and at other times of year.
London’s climate is good for kids, with no weather that is too extreme, and the local food is extremely kid-friendly. There are plenty of accommodation and transport options to suit families.
Enjoy your day, weekend or vacation in London with kids
We return often to live in London for months on end as part of our full-time nomadic travel lifestyle and we spend most summers there.
Our children lived in London as babies, toddlers, teens, and tweens. We always love being back home and London is a child’s paradise. It’s one of a handful of destinations that the kids always ask to return to. We’re back in London early in 2023, so watch this space!
We know London like the back of our hands so if we don’t cover anything here please feel free to ask in the comments. Other travel blogs pull second-hand information from the internet, we don’t. We hope we can help.
There are endless options when you are visiting London with children, just take a walk along the river, better still, take a cruise, get out of London, visit Richmond and Richmond Deer Park and see the herds of wild deer, or visit the Botanical Gardens at Kew. Their indoor soft-play area was always brilliant. If you are heading to London and need any help, drop me a comment, I’d be happy to help you out with anything child-related, both my children were born there. I had a lot of fun there being a London mum. Back to our main London Family Travel Blog page. or maybe back to our main UK Travel Blog page.
If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal! We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance. Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!
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Wednesday 6th of April 2022
Thank you, thank you for this amazing post! I'm spending a month and a half with my 7 and 5 year olds and this is the best guide ever! We're trying to find an area that allows my husband to commute to work (Holborn) but is also centric enough for me and the children to walk to parks or visit attractions. We live in NY so we're used to walking and taking public transportation, that's not a problem, but it would be nice to have some coffee shops and parks close to where we stay. Any chance you have some recommendations? We're looking to spend around 220-250 GBP a night. Thank you so much again!
Alyson for World Travel Family
My husband used to work in Holborn. He used to communt in from Richmond Upon Thames, which is a lovely area with plenty for the kids, and gorgeous Richmond Park with the deer, but a long commute. I'd guess about 40 mins to an hour. Holborn is very central, so if you want to be in the city and have easy access to everything, stay there. The British Museum is nearby and Covent Garden. There are parks everywhere and it's a really walkable city. I'd put Holborn into a hotel booking site and see what pops up nearby. You're also near the shopping there, Tottenham Court Road To Oxford Street, easy walk to Regent street. Depends how much you like walking! And you could even walk through Regent's Park (great playgrounds) to the zoo. I can absolutely vouch for this one, she's a stunner. May just about be within your budget. Honestly, THE place to stay. I've stayed a couple of times.
SITI MASRIFAH BINTI MOHD HALIM
Sunday 13th of March 2022
Hi. I am a Malaysian teacher. Soon I am going there. Is it possible for me to have a site visit at any school there? . Can you tell me the suitable and correct way to do this site visit? . Anything you can email me. I am very appreciated your reply. Thank you.
Monday 14th of March 2022
Sorry, I don't know. I'd email them.
Tuesday 22nd of February 2022
Wow such a great blog, thanks. We’re heading home to Ireland from Aus after 3 years away and hoping to do a small trip to either Paris or London but I think this has sold London for me ☺️ Would you recommend the underground from London to Paris or have you ever done it?
Hi Tess, same! We'll be home soon too. Yes, we've taken the train from London to France and on into Belgium. It's all very easy and comfortable although it was crowded last time we did it. We've also taken the ferry from Dover and driven to Paris. While we're not massive Paris fans, it's an easy trip. Taking a car into Paris can be hard because of the traffic. If the train stops somewhere central in Paris that might be an easier option. And if you don't have a car in London its got to be easier than driving out to Stanstead or Luton, or any of the airports! Heathrow has a train connection but it's still a fair way.
Monday 6th of September 2021
Wow this by far the best guide to London that I have seen! I’m planning on a trip to London with my 2 sons, ones 5 and the other is 9. I just can’t decide to go between Christmas and new year or in the spring. We plan to do Harry Potter studios and LEGOLAND and museums etc. Just wondering when, in your opinion would be a better time to go?? I’m so very indecisive and any helpful advice would be appreciated!
Wednesday 8th of September 2021
Christmas for me. So much going on in London then, but prices will likely be higher. Outdoor places like Legoland are likely to be pretty cold maybe wet. I'm not certain if they'd be fully open even.
Tuesday 8th of June 2021
This is a really fantastic and comprehensive summary of London activities with children - I've lived here 15 years and you are totally spot on!
Wednesday 9th of June 2021
Thank you Sarah, appreciated. As a travel blogger getting my favourite places and homes covered well is important for me. So London with children is a bit of a passion project.
First Timer’s Guide to London with Kids (+ 17 Things to Do for Families)
By: Author Leslie Harvey
Posted on Published: October 31, 2022
After a long break from international travel, our family recently hopped across the pond for the kids’ first trip to Europe. We spent a full week of a two week vacation exploring London, England. We were in town just weeks before Queen Elizabeth passed away, so were able to experience some of the final days of her Jubilee Celebration as well as the many offerings the city always has to offer.
My sister lived just outside London with her family the last couple of years so we had a bit of the inside scoop in planning our own trip thanks to her experience (and also thanks to a neighbor of ours who lives part-time in London). But even without the help of locals, we found the city supremely easy to navigate with kids. We found London had a wealth of family-friendly activities as well.
As with all cities, there’s a learning curve. My husband and I had both been to London several times before, but we were seeing the city anew this trip visiting it with kids for the first time. Here are all the basics that other first time visitors to London with kids need to know, from transportation tips to the very best things to do in London with kids.
(Trips With Tykes uses affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase through links in this post. See our full disclosure policy linked in the menu at the bottom of this site.)
Getting to London with Kids: Airports & Trains
First things first – if you are a first timer to London, what are the best options for getting there?
Many Americans arrive by air, as London has multiple airport choices and is often used as a gateway city for travelers ultimately planning to visit multiple places in Europe. There are 6 total airports in the London area but the two that North American travelers are most likely to arrive into are:
- London Heathrow (LHR) : The largest international airport in London, Heathrow has non-stop flights to and from nearly every major city all around the world. The airport is served by nearly all major airlines.
- London Gatwick (LGW) : Located south of the city, London’s second largest airport has non-stop flights to several larger North American cities, mostly on JetBlue and British Airways, as well as lots of low cost carriers offering intra-Europe flights.
Related : Tips for Flying EasyJet
If you are coming from elsewhere in Europe, your family may be arriving by train instead of by plane. Most trains from more distant destinations arrive into San Pancras Station (we took the Eurostar out of Saint Pancras station ourselves leaving London to head to Paris next). But trains from many destinations within the United Kingdom come into a number of different stations in the central part of the city.
No matter what station you arrive into, it’s usually a pretty easy connection on the London Tube at that station to get where you need to go (more on local transportation below). The most important thing to note for train arrivals if you are coming from outside the United Kingdom is that Brexit has complicated train travel a bit. You’ll have to clear international borders and likely will need to plan for more time at your departing station than ever before.
Where to Stay in London with Kids
We did an enormous amount of research on where to stay in London with kids, trying to find a perfect combination of location and amenities at the right price ( Related : find out how much a trip to London costs ). The choices in a city so large are likely to be pretty overwhelming to other first time travelers as well.
London is of course quite expensive and many Americans should expect some sticker shock. We live in San Francisco so are pretty accustomed to high hotel prices. We were actually pleasantly surprised to find prices not entirely out of the stratosphere. Even in the high summer season, finding 4+ star accommodations for a family of four in the city center is entirely possible for under $500 a night.
Of course, prices fluctuate quite a bit with the changing exchange rate. Prices have gotten even better for Americans since our visit, as the British pound has reached rough parity with the American dollar as of the date this post is published.
Like elsewhere in Europe, hotel rooms are smaller than might be customary in the United States, and the slate of amenities and furnishings aren’t going to be quite the same. We found that these features were the ones most important to scrutinize in comparing London hotels and lodging:
- Bed types : Many rooms that sleep 4 in London have just two double beds. Can you and your partner share a double? If you have more than one child, can your kids? Look out for family suites or deals for families to get 2 rooms with the second at a discount rate if you need more beds (see, for example, Marriott’s 50% off a 2nd room offer for select London hotels ).
- Air conditioning : England is usually pretty chilly, but if you are visiting during peak summer months like many tourists, you may experience some pretty hot and humid days. Not all hotels and accommodations have AC, so if you need that to be comfortable, check carefully.
- Elevators : Some historic buildings in London do not have “lifts.” We found that some apartment style accommodations would mean dragging suitcases up several flights of stairs. This might not be a great choices for families with younger kids – especially travelers with kids of stroller age.
- Breakfast : A lot of London hotels have excellent breakfasts as an optional add on to your room rate – often at a very reasonable price. Price compare carefully!
We ultimately ended up staying in a one bedroom flat in Mayfair at 9 Hertford Street , which ended up being ideal for our family of four for a week. It had some of the amenities of a hotel, including top notch warm and personable service, with a lot of the conveniences of a larger vacation rental. We ordered grocery delivery from Sainsbury’s to fill our fridge with breakfast foods and snacks and made much use of the washing machine in the flat as well. The property is located within a 7 minute walk of the Green Park tube station. The location was exceptionally convenient, putting us on three Tube lines (Jubilee, Piccadilly, and Victoria).
Other hotels and flats we seriously considered and researched extensively:
- Clermont Hotel, Charing Cross : Located near Charing Cross station, this hotel is also very centrally located. We initially booked and held a Deluxe Family Room, but a Studio Suite would have fit our family as well. Be sure to become a member on the site which entitles you to 10% discounts right away.
- The Cavendish Hotel, London : Idea for families of 3, this hotel makes sofa beds available in its larger rooms to accommodate a third person and also has cribs available. The hotel is close to Mayfair and Piccadilly. Breakfast for kids under 12 is free with a paying adult.
- St. James Hotel & Club : This luxury hotel specializes in interconnecting rooms for families, offering discounts on the second room. We found the Deluxe suite with living area and king bed that interconnected to a superior room with queen size bed was the best fit for our family of 4.
- 10 Curzon Street by Mansley : these serviced apartments are similar to the ones we ultimately chose at 9 Hertford Street. The two bedroom apartments sleep up to four people, but note that the building does not have an elevator.
- Athenaeum London : The priciest option we considered, this luxury hotel in Mayfair has residence style rooms ideal for families (including a California king bed and pop up bunk beds) as well as a children’s concierge.
Getting Around in London with Kids
London has one of the best public transit systems in the world and that’s a major reason it’s an ideal destination for family travelers. Tourists really can easily get anywhere they need to go with minimal time at a cheap fare.
Figuring out the rules and fares is a little tricky (my husband did the deep dive and found this post amazingly helpful). Kids under age 11 travel for free with a paying adult. There are discounts available for older kids and teens as well.
We found that a Travelcard that covered all public transit in Zones 1-2 (£38 for 7 days) covered us for every destination we wanted to visit except Heathrow Airport and a Premier League game in a stadium located outside of the city center. Load the Travelcard as well as additional funds for pay-as-you-go fares onto an Oyster card and the computers apply the best fare for you. We bought a pay-as-you-go Oyster card for my 13 year old daughter, because the Young Person’s discount for ages 11-15 was the cheaper option for her even if we used public transit extensively.
London Underground (the Tube)
London has a massive and extensive subway system (referred to as the Tube) that reaches almost everywhere in the city that tourists are likely to want to go. Trains come every few minutes and are comfortable and safe, albeit crowded during commute hours, as you might expect.
If you are using the Tube with a child 10 and under who travels for free, enter and exit via the handicapped turnstiles which open slowly enough for two people to walk through together. Like a number of places in older cities of Europe, some of the Tube isn’t entirely accessible. If you have babies and toddlers in strollers (especially more than 1), it’s going to be harder to navigate. But I did notice how kind and helpful Londoners were when they saw a parent struggling with a little one on the Tube – multiple people stepped up to assist which was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a major US city.
London’s famed double decker buses are another easy and convenient public transportation option all over the city. We were blown away by how frequently they ran. We used them mostly as more direct routes between some places when traveling on the Tube would have involved a change to another line or a little bit of a walk to a station. My kids loved going up to the second deck and sitting in the very front row where the windows above the driver give great views of the city streets below. Oyster cards and Travelcards can be used to pay fares on buses just like the Tube – scan is upon entry only.
Hop on, Hop off Bus
Many tourists opt to take a different kind of bus to travel around London – a hop on, hop off. While touristy and not official public transportation, definitely don’t dismiss this as a potential form of transportation. These buses hit a lot of the city’s highlights and offer multiple routes, plus they offer audio commentary to help you learn about the city and get your bearings. Bus companies to consider include Big Bus Tours, City Sightseeing London, and the Tootbus.
Cabs in London aren’t as ubiquitous as they used to be, but there are still plenty of taxis to be had if you prefer a private ride around town. All London black cabs now offer contactless payment options in addition to accepting cash, so they are more flexible than ever.
Uber & Ridesharing
Ridesharing is alive and well in London. There are a couple of companies that Americans may not be familiar with that some locals use, but Uber is truly everywhere as well. We used Uber on several occasions (especially when transporting luggage) and were able to get cars of varying sizes and had fast response times even at off hours.
Best Times to Visit & How Long to Stay in London with Kids
When should you go to London and how long should you stay with kids? The right answer of course first depends on your family’s schedule.
Summer is peak season for family travelers as that is when most kids have substantial time off of school. Of course that means larger crowds and higher prices. But the warm weather is more pleasant than much of the rest of the year, when London can be pretty cold and dreary.
If your family has a more flexible schedule, shoulder season in May and September often has the the right combination of good weather and lower crowds. Spring break is another solid possibility for American visitors. But it can still be quite chilly in March and April, so pack accordingly!
We visited during the first week of August (when English schools are on a break between terms). The weather can be very hot and humid in August some days, which is a down side to this time of year. Because of the school break, however, traffic in the city was more reasonable and most activities were open 7 days a week so it was easy to schedule all the things we wanted to do. Plus, because a lot of US schools go back for the year in early to mid-August, we also found the crush of American tourists had dropped off a lot by the time we visited, which helped with crowds at tourist attractions.
As for how long you need in London, the longer the better! I’d recommend a bare minimum of 3 days in London with kids, but a visit of 5-7 days or more is ideal. Even with our full week in town going pretty much non-stop, we just scratched the surface.
Top 17 Things to Do in London with Kids
So now that the logistics are out of the way, let’s get to the good part. What should you plan to DO while in London with kids?
Few cities in the world have as many iconic attractions and must-dos as London. And so many of these things to do are family-friendly, so you are going to have a hard time picking and choosing.
Start by gathering the family and making a list of everything that interests you. Your list is likely going to be very long. We put all of our family’s choices into Trip Advisor so we could easily see on the map which ones were close to one another and possible to do together in a single day.
Here are 17 of the best things to do in London with kids (with a map to all of them to assist in your navigation and planning).
Some of course will be better for younger kids and some will be better for older kids and teens, so I’ve indicated age recommendations for many of them. Whenever available, I’ve also linked below to standalone articles from bloggers I personally know and trust for more details on each of these attractions if you want to do a deeper dive.
Tower of London
Both of my kids named the Tower of London as one of their favorite stops in London. Built by William the Conquerer over 1000 years ago, the Tower has played a central part in many major events in English history. Must-sees include the Crown Jewels, the Yeoman Warders (elite guards responsible for the Tower’s safekeeping who give engaging must-do tours too!), the ravens, and the Royal Armouries. History comes alive here in engaging ways for kids with tales of battles, torture, and execution among the ancient buildings.
The Tower of London is a very popular attraction that gets crowded, so I highly recommend getting tickets for the earliest entry time to beat the crowds. Plan for a visit of at least 2-3 hours with kids to be able to see the highlights. More details in this family-friendly guide to the Tower of London .
As the site of the coronation of many monarchs and the final resting place for many of them as well, Westminster Abbey plays an important role in both the religious and political history of England and Great Britain. Entry into the church includes an audio guide, and there is a version available for children that explains the stories in a more accessible format in about an hour – just the right length for younger attention spans. (More tips for families in this article from my friend Allison about what to expect at Westminster Abbey .)
While most visitors explore the church only, we went a little out of the way to sit in the College Garden as well, which is a lovely and peaceful green space for toddlers and younger kids to explore with amazing views of the Palace of Westminster for parents. Westminster Abbey is within easy walking distance of both Parliament and the Churchill War Rooms (both listed below), so it’s possible to do two or even three of these attractions in a single day if you plan the timing carefully, which is what we did.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s is the famed cathedral featured in the “Feed the Birds” scene of Mary Poppins that is also the site where Princess Diana and Prince Charles were wed. It is the people’s church in London and turned out to be even more popular with my kids than Westminster Abbey. Take one of the shorter free guided tours to learn a little of the history (or use the included audio guide). And definitely make time to climb to the top of the dome for magnificent views of the city on clear days – not for the faint of heart but well worth it!
Churchill War Rooms (Imperial War Museum)
Kids can learn about one of Great Britain’s most famous prime ministers as well as a lot about World War II history in a visit to the Churchill War Rooms. This museum is located in the underground bunkers where Churchill and his cabinet rode out the bombings of London during the Blitz, ultimately directing the Allies on to victory. An audio guide (including a “family” setting with descriptions more understandable for kids) is included in the price of admission.
I was worried that the Churchill War Rooms would be too much boring history for my younger child (who was 8 years old and about to enter 3rd grade at the time of our trip). Its underground location, the walk-through layout of the museum, and its many multimedia exhibits turned out to be surprisingly engaging. My son especially enjoyed the interactive screen where visitors can listen to Churchill’s most famous quotes and quips. Plan on at least 2 hours to visit – more with teens who may be more deeply in to the history.
Parliament (Palace of Westminster)
The Palace of Westminster is home to Great Britain’s House of Commons and House of Lords, and it may come as a surprise that tours are offered here! Tours with a live guide as well as self-guided audio tours (both about 90 minutes) are available. We opted for the guided tour, which was a little more expensive but worthwhile to mix things up, as many London tourist attractions have audio guides.
Parliament was one of the favorite stops for my 13 year old. Seeing the room she had previously viewed only on TV and YouTube while watching the famous Prime Minister’s questions was especially meaningful to her. But the tour was probably a little too dry or at least too long for my 8 year old, so this is one attraction I might save for older kids who have a deeper understanding and appreciation of government and politics.
London Bike Tour
I have never thought of London as much of a biking city, but the government has installed a massive amount of biking infrastructure in recent years which has drastically changed the landscape. And that means that it’s incredibly easy to explore a number of city highlights on two wheels.
We took a private family tour with BrakeAway Bike Tours to get our bearings on the first morning of our stay in London. Our tour guide was knowledgable and upbeat while also giving us practical tips along the way and taking all the necessary measures to keep us safe. Everyone in the family ranked it one of our absolute favorite activities.
There are multiple quality bike tour companies (we investigated them all!), including Tally Ho! , the London Bicycle Tour Company , and Fat Tire Tours London . Many of the tour guides are actors and entertainers and have the skills to keep kids engaged. Most tour companies offer trail-along bikes and even trailer attachments so it’s possible for families even with toddlers and younger kids to enjoy this activity. Families with younger kids (under 10 or 12 years old) usually are required to book a private tour.
For amazing views of London, head to the city’s most visited attraction: the London Eye. This giant ferris wheel towers over the southern banks of the Thames River, rotating slowly one revolution each half hour so riders can take in the views. Because of its popularity, it’s essential to book tickets well in advance. This is one of the most expensive attractions in London and queues can be brutal. If you plan to do it, especially with impatient younger kids or if you are on a tight schedule, I’d highly recommend paying even more for the Fast Track tickets to skip the queue.
The same company that owns the London Eye also operates nearby Sea Life Aquarium, Madam Tussauds, the London Dungeon, and Shrek’s Adventure. As several of these attractions are replicated in a lot of cities around the world and are pretty touristy, we skipped them, but many families enjoy them. Combination tickets can save you some money if you plan to do more than one.
Many of the luxury hotels in London offer decadent afternoon teas, and we highly recommend partaking in at least one during a family vacation. Most of these teas welcome children with special theming and kid-friendly food selections, so it’s very hard to pick among the many excellent choices.
We decided to go with a classic experience at the Savoy Hotel’s Thames Foyer for our family of four (my husband and I also took tea at the Ritz London as an adults-only date night). Also recommended for families is tea at St. Ermin’s , the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych , and the Original Sweetshop Afternoon Tea at The Chesterfield Mayfair . (See more family-friendly London tea recommendations.)
While we are on the subject of food, one other must-do meal is a traditional Sunday Roast. Compared to many European countries, England isn’t exactly known for its amazing cuisine, but we had heard from friends and family that the Sunday meal is one worth experiencing. They were so right.
Sunday roast consists of a hearty plate with a roasted meat (usually chicken, beef, or lamb) covered in gravy with side items like potatoes, vegetables, and a Yorkshire pudding. Any local pub will likely do the job in spades. We ate our Sunday Roast at the Chesterfield Arms in Mayfair near our hotel and the meal was one of the very best of our trip. Some pubs serve this dish all weekend long, so you may have more than one night a week to get your fill.
Borough Market is one of the largest public markets in London with a history of over 1000 years. Today, it is full of sights and smells that capture kids’ attentions. There are a number of food stalls to grab a quick meal or snack on the go or table service restaurants surrounding the market itself for a more leisurely meal.
Hamleys Toy Shop
Hamleys Toy Shop is a child’s dream come to life – seven floors of every toy from around the globe at its main location on Regent Street. There are play stations throughout the shop where kids can see some of the toys in action and even play with a few themselves.
You’ll find a wide selection of toys that may not be available back home, including lots of Peppa Pig, Paddington, and Harry Potter as well as Hamleys’ own label of toys that includes an iconic red London bus and a teddy bear (with a new design each year). There’s even a Build-a-Bear station that includes outfits unique to London like a Beefeater costume. It was hard getting my kids to leave, so consider yourself warned!
London is full of beautiful parks to explore with kids, but Hyde Park is one of the largest with multiple offerings that families will enjoy. On the east side, families can rent paddleboats on the Serpentine Lake or hire a lawn chair to sit and people watch or enjoy an ice cream.
On the west side, the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground is one of the top things to do with younger kids. The play structure is shaped like a pirate ship. Kensington Palace is also located adjacent to the park. This Royal Palace is open to the public, with viewings of the King’s and Queen’s State Apartments as well as Kensington Gardens. It’s one of the most popular attractions for visitors wanting to explore Britain’s royal history.
Buckingham Palace & Changing of the Guard
Speaking of palaces, Buckingham Palace nearby is another must-see with kids. The famous Changing of the Guard there usually happens daily in June and July, but only 4 days a week the rest of the year (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays), so plan carefully and prepare for large crowds.
For limited periods (usually in late summer and early fall), the palace opens to the public for tours. The tours are quite expensive and not necessarily a must-do on shorter trips (particularly if you plan to visit other royal sites), but worth considering. The children’s audio guide is hosted by Rex the Corgi – a cute touch.
The British Museum has one of the largest and most magnificent collections from historical sites around the world, from Egyptian mummies to the Rosetta Stone to the Parthenon’s Elgin marbles. It is an engaging place to introduce kids to history and archeology. You can really customize your experience and the time you spend there to match the ages an interests of your children, so it is one of the best things to do in London for all ages. And it’s free!
The enormous size of the museum is pretty overwhelming so I’d recommend looking at the offerings in advance and having a plan to navigate it. Check out this guide to the British Museum with kids for the top things to see.
All Things Harry Potter
Harry Potter fans will find a wealth of activities to do all over London. For the superfans with plenty of time to spare, the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour is an experience farther outside of the city center (more like a day trip) that requires something approaching a full day to see. There are also plenty of walking tours and bus tours of the sights of the Harry Potter films as well. More casual fans should at least consider popping by Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station for a photo opp and to visit the gift shop selling Potter merchandise.
See more offerings in this post with 9 Harry Potter things to do in London .
Premier League Match
Thanks to Ted Lasso, English Premier League football is hotter than ever among Americans right now. Attending a Premier League match is an amazing opportunity to have a much more local experience in London… if you can get tickets. We had to join the club for Tottenham Hotspur to even have the right to purchase tickets direct. Then we had get up in the middle of the night twice and refresh the website frantically to get the seats we did. But it was well worth it! Premier League matches run roughly from August to May.
One mistake we made when attending that other families of young kids should know about – Premier League games are loud – louder than any other sporting event I’ve ever attended. Consider bringing ear protection for younger and more sensitive kids if you do manage to score seats.
West End Show
London has a thriving theater district on the West End that rivals New York’s Broadway for the number and quality of shows it offers. There are always a number of kid-friend shows available. Some have age minimums or recommendations, so check carefully to make sure the show you choose is suitable for everyone in the family.
We watched Back to the Future: The Musical on our visit, which debuted in London and will soon also be showing in New York. It was a massive hit with everyone in the family, but most especially my husband who has surely watched the movie a few hundred times. Other family-friendly shows running in 2022 include: The Lion King, Matilda, Disney’s Newsies, Frozen, Mary Poppins, and Wicked.
Tips for Booking & Saving Money on Attractions in London with Kids
While it’s hard enough to narrow down what you want to see in London, figuring out how best to book tickets and not spend too much money can be even trickier. A few London travel tips to consider when it comes to the logistics of booking and visiting attractions (plus see even more in this list of helpful European travel tips ):
- Book Direct! : If you just want tickets to most attractions, book direct, unless you are booking a combination ticket that bundles multiple attractions at a discount. A number of travel websites and blogs will direct you to ticket middlemen like Viator and Get Your Guide for tickets (I won’t do that just to get an affiliate commission). While these sites do offer a number of in-depth tours worth considering, many listings on these sites are merely glorified marked-up admission tickets.
- Book in Advance : While there are some attractions in London where you can walk up and purchase tickets, everything is much more planned in advance these days. To avoid long lines or being shut out of an attraction entirely during peak tourist season, purchase tickets in advance (timed entry is required at many places).
- Check for Closure Days : A lot of London attractions are open 7 days a week (more than any other city in Europe we experienced), especially in peak summer months. But not all of them. Be sure to keep track of any days that activities are closed when planning out your travel itinerary so you don’t miss out.
Here are a few ways we discovered families can get a discount on multiple attractions in London:
- Family Ticket Bundles : A number of London attractions offer family tickets directly on their website that can help you save money on admission (most often these for adult/child combinations of 3-5 people). Be sure to read all the ticket options offered to find which one adds up to be the best deal for your family. Look for “concession” rates for discounts – this is a term that Americans may not immediately know the meaning of!
- National Rail 2-for-1 Discounts : If you are traveling to London by rail, you are eligible with your train ticket for a number of 2-for-1 discounts for many activities. Details on how to book and claim are on the National Rail website .
- London Pass by Go City: The London Pass by Go City is a discount pass that allows you to bundle multiple attractions and save. It includes Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London, a hop on hop off bus tour, and many others. If you plan to do 2-3 attractions per day that are offered under its umbrella, you’ll likely come out ahead, but you have to do the math.
Final Thoughts on London with Kids
Our family had an amazing time in London. It is just the right place to start European travels with kids . The city is so easy to navigate without wasting any time, and London has a wealth of family-friendly things to do. Even though it’s an enormous city, the neighborhoods feel compact, welcoming and friendly. It’s a city we can see ourselves returning to many times, so we highly recommend other families give it a visit as well!
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A family guide to london: 20 things to do in london with kids.
Are you heading to London with kids? I always recommend London as one of your first international trips as a family. It’s kid-friendly, easy to get around, there’s plenty to do and see for kids and adults, and there’s no language barrier. Here’s what I recommend doing in London with kids for your first trip.
Have you been to London with kids? It is such a great family-friendly destination! It’s my personal favorite city and there’s a lot to do even especially if you’re searching for day trips in London ! There is so much history and culture in one place and children are really valued.
I’ve had the opportunity to return to London dozens of times. We even got to live in the countryside outside of London for several months, taking so many day trips into London. And now that I run The British Book Club Tour , I’m lucky enough to return to London several times each year to show my groups the incredible literary sites in London and beyond.
Don’t have time to read a bunch of reviews and blog posts? Here are our top picks for visiting London:
Wanderlust london guide.
If you’re traveling to London, you’ll want to have a solid itinerary that will help you organize your time in the best way possible and maximize your time and money. I’ve created this 5-day London itinerary that will help you see the best sites in London along with some hidden gems. It contains open-and-go day-by-day schedules and expert advice from me!
Our favorite Hotels in London
- Marriott County Hall
- Georgian House Hotel (Harry Potter Chambers)
- The Mad Hatter Hotel
- H10 Waterloo
Must Have: London Pass
Our Favorite London Activities
- Hop On Hop Off Bus
- Tower of London
- Harry Potter Studio Tour
The Weather in London
One thing to address before I get started is the weather. I always tell people when visiting London to do it ANY time of the year because you can have bad weather ANY time of the year! Ha!
We were there in December & January and again in June. Some days it felt about the same! Just be prepared and pack a rain jacket, good waterproof walking shoes, and layers!
I’ve compiled our favorite things when we visited London. Some of them are pretty obvious, but you might find a few surprises. Here are the top 20 things to do in London with Kids!
1. Ride Public Transportation
Sometimes transportation in big cities can be kind of a drag, but in London it’s all so iconic, clean and easy that it makes traveling around London a real treat! You can read my full guide to getting around London here . But here’s a quick guide on how you can make it go smoothly:
- Download Google Maps App and use it! Even if you have to look up directions before you leave free wifi. I recommend using google maps public transit guide while in London . These have almost never failed me!
They are also some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and most of them absolutely love their job! We rode in one cab and asked to go to Kensington Palace. He asked if we were going to visit or if we were guests! Haha! I guess the week before he had taken the Duke of something or other there to meet with a member of the Royal Family! You just never know who you’ll pick up in a cab!
- UBER: UBER has a good presence in London, but I’ve found the cost of taking a cab to be about the same, unlike other cities where UBER can be significantly cheaper. But if you can’t hail a cab, then it’s a nice backup!
- Walk: Check distances on Google Maps. Sometimes things are closer than you might think and London is a fun city to walk around. You never know what you might see along the way!
2. The London Eye
The London Eye is one of London attractions that are worth a visit. Beware that it is expensive and the lines are long and slow! You do get a great view of the city. I recommend getting tickets at least several days in advance and getting the priority tickets if you can afford them. The lines are worse than Disneyland!
The Eye goes slow and some of my kids found it boring, but some of mine wanted to go again! I’m 50/50 on this one. Also, that hotel behind the Eye is called the Marriott County Hall and it’s my favorite hotel in London ever! We’ve stayed there a few times and it’s just the best!
If you’re lucky enough to be in London during Christmas or wintertime, you can include “eye-skating” in your London Eye ticket. It’s a tiny rink and crowded and you can only skate for 45 minutes, but it was just right for our novice skaters (my kids, not my husband, who thinks he’s Wayne Gretzky). Plenty of little push/ride seals for the little ones (and maybe for me).
Another obvious one, but you have to see Big Ben! “Big Ben” is actually the name of the bell inside the tower and the tower is called the Elizabeth Tower. It is one of the most iconic London landmarks!
Everyone lovingly refers to this part of the Houses of Parliament as “Big Ben” and it’s one of those iconic pieces of architecture that does not disappoint in real life. The best views are found on Westminster Bridge. Watch out for selfie sticks!
4. Westminster Abbey
So much history is found at Westminster Abbey. If you are interested in British history or literature at all, your must visit. Tickets can be pricey, but we purchased a Family Ticket which was about 40 pounds. I was a little nervous about taking the kids here, but they did pretty well. They have a “Children’s Trail” which you will find at most historical places in London. It is like a little worksheet/map for the kids.
They also have a children’s Audio Tour. The volunteers here were just incredible with the kids. Most of them are senior citizens with a love for the place that shows. We actually had a priest come and take our kids up to sit in the quire (yes that’s how they spell it) and show them where the choir boys sat and sang when the Queen was crowned and when William and Kate were married. It was pretty memorable!
I highly recommend this place to include it in your London itinerary !
5. Buckingham Palace
Referred to as “the office” by Her Majesty the Queen, Buckingham Palace is a must-see when you go to Central London. While the changing of the guards is really interesting to see, it is extremely crowded and unless you put them on your shoulders, your kids will see none of it!
6. Tower of London
This is such great place for kids and if yours have the attention span, be sure to take the free Beefeater tour. Beefeaters are the guards at the Tower. I originally thought they were just tour guides in costume, but they are all decorated military veterans. Learn more about the Beefeaters here. We had Billy the Beefeater for our tour (you can follow him on instagram @billybeefeater ).
Not only was he a decorated vet, but he also had a degree in medieval military defense so he really knew what he was talking about. What an amazing job for this guy! The beefeaters live on-site at the Tower and it is a very sought-after and respected position for retired military. So don’t treat them like just tour guides!
After the tour you can see the crowned jewels, learn about the old zoo at the tower and the interesting stories that went along with that (kids love this part), see how prisoners were tortured, and look at the collection of thousands of antique weapons inside the white tower.
There are usually characters in costume roaming around and acting out little scenes. Several gift shops and restrooms are also dispersed throughout. Be sure to check out the ravens that guard the tower. Legend has it that if they leave the Tower then England will fall!
Check out these tips for visiting the Tower of London with Kids
While you’re at the Tower, be sure to take a picture with Tower Bridge, or what the children’s songs refer to as the “London Bridge”, and check times to watch it open here.
Book a Photoshoot
We always love to book a photoshoot when we’re traveling. As a mom, it’s tough to get in the photos since I’m always behind the camera. We love using Flytographer to capture our memories. You can get $25 off your shoot by booking with this link or using code WANDERLUST.
7. Kensington Palace
Probably our favorite historical things to do in London is Kensington Palace! It has such wonderful feel to it, is small enough that you can explore the whole thing in a few hours, and is very interactive! The self guided tour covers several hundreds years of British history from William and Mary to William and Kate!
There is a sweet little children’s room where kids can play with toys and see artifacts from Queen Victoria’s children. In another area you can play table games and try on period clothing! It’s just so much fun! And my favorite section is fashion where they have dresses from queens and princesses past. So much fun! I recommend watching Young Victoria before going.
*NOTE: If you plan to visit The Tower of London AND Kensington Palace or Hampton Court Palace, Kew Palace, Hillsborough Castle, or Banqueting House and you have a large family, then I highly recommend you get a Historic Royal Palaces annual pass . Even if you go to each location once, it might be cheaper.
8. London Parks
London is full of great parks for kids to burn off steam and be kids! Almost any area you walk down in London will have a hidden little gem of a playground in it, but here are our favorites:
- Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens: Our favorite playground in London, this is a great place to go after touring Kensington Palace. Whatever you do, do not miss this park! Your kids will remember it forever. It has an adorable Peter Pan theme with a pirate ship, tee-pees, beach and lost boys’ fort. It is pure magic! The park is gated, but entrance is free. There is also carousel outside the gates and a snack bar. Also, bathrooms located inside the gates…always good to know!
- Battersea Park: A great park on the Thames with a playground, row boat and bike rental, and train.
- St. James Park: Great Playground
- Regents Park: Where the London Zoo is located
- Hyde Park: This is within the Serpentine Lake
9. Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea is just a MUST if you are in London or even the United Kingdom for that matter! There are many versions and price ranges for afternoon tea. We’ve done some high end teas and mom and pop shop teas. They have all been great.
Here are some of our favorites:
The Orangery at Kensington
A great place to go for tea after you’ve toured Kensington Palace. Very fancy, but not as fancy as the Ritz so don’t feel like you have to dress up. I went in jeans and a flannel and they didn’t kick me out. The food was good, the tea lovely and the service great! You can order other food besides afternoon tea as well. Also home of my favorite china!
If money is no object, we love tea at the Ritz. Book several weeks or months in advance. It will cost you about 50 pounds or $75! But they bring out unlimited delicious food and tea and have excellent service. If you want to do a fancy tea and have the pounds to burn, I think it’s totally worth it.
Pick a later time so it can count for dinner. You will be full to the brim! This is generally a fancier dress up occasion and we did see lots of other kids there!
Fortnum & Mason
A classic afternoon tea. As much as I love the store, this is not my favorite afternoon tea spot, but what I do love is that they have a children’s tea which is about half the cost! Full afternoon tea is about 40 pounds and 20 pounds for the children’s tea
London is NOT a cheap city, especially being an American with a crummy exchange rate, but it’s fun to at least do some window shopping.
Liberty has fun products and adorable fabrics.
Fortnum & Mason is my absolute favorite and is full of gourmet food, teas, sweets and beautiful tea sets and other kitchen accessories that you won’t be able to live without once you see them! DO NOT MISS the bottom floor which is the gourmet grocery store.
They almost always have samples out! Grab some fancy cheese and crackers and something from the chocolate counter and have a little picnic! Be sure to catch the clock outside the shop on the hour and half hour when Mr. Fortnum and Mr. Mason come out to bow to each other.
Portabello Road You could actually spend days here (we did) just wandering up and down Portabello Road. The song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks really is true! Have the kids watch it before you visit. “Portobello road, Portobello road Street where the riches of ages are stowed. Anything and everything a chap can unload Is sold off the barrow in Portobello road.” Serious antiques, retro fashion, diverse food, street performers…it’s just incredible. It’s a bit of a trek from the city center, but totally worth it. I recommend going on a Friday. All the shops are up, but it’s not as crazy as Saturday!
Harrods is hard to describe. It’s like a giant department store on steroids. They have an entire floor dedicated to toys! They always have toys out for kids to try so my kids have a blast there, I just have to prep them that we aren’t buying anything!
Selfridges Like Harrods, a massive department store. If you’ve watched the BBC show Mr. Selfridge it’s worth a visit. At Christmas time Santa walks around and you can get free polaroid pictures with him.
Borough Market is a fun outdoor market with trinkets and food Brick Lane is full of fun clothing. Some vintage, some…not! Interesting people too!
Stanford’s Travel is the cutest little travel shop! Full of maps and globes and other travel related items, it is a must see!
11. Eat Well
There are so many amazing places to eat in London. I wish I had the time and appetite to try them all. There is literally something for everyone. It’s not just “British food,” you can really find food from all over the world…just follow your nose. Indian food has a big presence here as well as Asian food of all types.
Not specifically a London fare, but we love Wagamama , a healthy Asian-fusion restaurant with great options for kids. There is one right by Kensington Palace.
If you are a Jamie Oliver fan, this is the place to be. He’s got a retro diner, Italian restaurant and more all around town! We love his food!
Pubs If you’re from the U.S., this probably isn’t the first place you would think to take your family to eat, but the pub food in London was mostly fantastic and the atmosphere was great for kids, as long as they weren’t too busy. Most pubs also have more formal dining areas usually upstairs.
Some of our pub favorites include steak and ale pies, chicken pies, lamb with mint mash, fish ‘n’ chips with mushy peas (just try them, they are my 10 year old’s favorite), toffee pudding , and if it’s around Christmas time, you MUST try Figgy Pudding , which is our family’s new favorite dessert…EVER!
Figgy Pudding…it tastes so much better than it looks or sounds!
Chicken & Leek Pie…pub helpings are always HUGE!
Steak & Ale Pie…he was mad that I was taking a picture before he could tuck in!
Fish ‘n’ Chips with Mushy Peas. Dump salt, malt vinegar, lemon and tartar sauce ALL over that bad boy and thank me later! Street Food We couldn’t always afford to sit down and eat and sometimes we were in a hurry.
Our favorite grab and go foods are Sausage Rolls and Cornish Pasties . These can be found at almost all the train stations. Most days we would grab one before hopping on the train towards home.
Lamb and mint pasties are my fav, but the sausage rolls are just amazing! Delicious sausage wrapped in puff pastry. I finally learned how to make these myself before we moved. Worth every calorie! There are also Pauls and Pret-a-Mangers all over the city that are always a safe and healthy bet for a quick bite.
Sausage Roll at the train station! An honorable mention must be made to Brick Lane Beigel Bake which has been open since 1977 and, I kid you not, will provide you with THE BEST BAGEL YOU’VE EVER HAD IN YOUR LIFE! I went with my niece and we still talk about it every time we see each other…I can’t really explain what it is (maybe crack) but I still dream about that bagel.
We took a bite as we walked down the street, then looked at each other, and wordlessly turned around and walked back in to buy some more! It was just a plain bagel with cream cheese, not even warmed! I hear they do fancier stuff, but you can’t go wrong here. It looks like the biggest hole in the wall, but you won’t be disappointed! Also, just a few shops down is the Cereal Killer Cafe . This is so much fun for the kids. I recommend going for dessert rather than a meal, because it’s all sugar!!!
It has an entire American section full of cereals I’ve never heard of before. haha!
12. Harry Potter Studio Tour
London is a sweet haven for Harry Potter fans. If you’ve watched Harry Potter movies, they have a Harry Potter tour you can visit with the kids!
As we drove all over Europe, we listened to ALL of the Harry Potter Books on Audible, then watched all of the movies. So we are huge fans!
The Harry Potter Studios Tour was a huge highlight of our time in London. In fact, my older kids went twice! It was in December, so we got to see “Hogwarts in the Snow.” Amazing! Tickets must be purchased in advance and you can arrange transportation through the website here. It took us about an hour to drive to the studio at rush hour. Tickets are timed. Do NOT miss the Butterbeer or Butterbeer Ice-cream (these can also be purchased in advance to avoid the lines).
If you’re looking for more Harry Potter-filled activities, you can check out our Harry Potter London Vacation blog!
13. Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station
Harry Potter again, I know! If you visit King’s Cross Station you can find Platform 9 3/4 and take a picture going through the wall. There is usually a long line and a pro photographer there to take your picture. My sister did a better job though, so I didn’t have to buy one! There is also a Harry Potter shop just to my left (oh how I wish I was JK Rowling)!
14. Street Performers
There are so many fun and talented street performers all over London. Our favorite place for this is Covent Garden . Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square are also great! Also a great place for the kids to get their wiggles out before a show! Piccadilly Circus is like the Times’ Square of London! Full of lights, screens, traffic, noise, and street performers (minus the naked people). Go at night…it’s fantastic!
15. See a West EndShow
One of the reasons why we love to visit London is that there is so much amazing theater geared toward young kids. Not only the main-stream shows like Matilda (amazing!) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (fun!), but also smaller theaters that cater specifically to children.
Before Christmas, we saw The Snowman which is a classic British Christmas Story, and A Christmas Carol performed by High School students at the Rose Theater (spectacular)! The Tiger Who Came To Tea is also a British classic. Other family-friendly shows playing are The Lion King, The Railway Children, Aladdin, Wicked, and School of Rock. If you have to see one show in London, I recommend Matilda. It made me laugh and cry all at the same time. We read the book before going, which made it even more special!
16. Visit Tons of Museums
There are tons of British museums in London and most of them are free. The Natural History Museum, London Transport Museum, and the London Science Museum are some of our favorites. The kids’ favorite was learning how a toilet flushes your poop at the Science Museum. Great! Can we go now?!
Great to do on a rainy day.
17. Dickens Museum
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the Dickens Museum, which is housed in his original London townhouse, but it was really fun and interactive for the kids.
This is a great site to learn about his life and writings before visiting. Don’t miss the nursery upstairs with the original bars from Marshalsea Prison where his father was sent to work off his debts. Note: Charles Dickens did leave his wife for another woman…my children seemed fixated and disturbed by this fact, so just a warning for you!
18. The Globe Theater
After visiting Shakespeare’s Birthplace a few weeks before, we couldn’t miss seeing the Globe Theater. You can’t just show up and see it, you have to go on a timed tour. The tour guides are mostly intellectuals so just be prepared for that. It’s not really a “fun” tour, but worth it to see the inside of the reconstruction.
19. Cruise the Thames
You can use your Oyster Card to cruise the Thames. It’s around 7-10 pounds depending on how far you are going. There is a stop at the Tower of London, Globe Theater, Big Ben, and other landmarks. Remember: kids under 11 are free, so it may be worth it if you have a large crew vs. taking a river cruise or tour.
If you want to book a Thames River Cruise, this can also be a great way to see the city, especially for tired little legs! You get some commentary and the route is really great. We love this river cruise when we need a break from walking. My kids are all older now, so 3 out of 4 are not free on the underground anymore, sadly.
We really love this part of London when we are staying in the Marriott County Hall. It’s right by the London Eye and has such a fun nightlife. There is a roller rink called BUMP, a skate park (seen on Sherlock), and a hot chocolate stand called Beltane & Pop (they do “adult” hot chocolates too). You also get the lovely view of the London Eye and Big Ben across Westminster Bridge all lit up at night!
Best Tours for Kids in London
Before we get to the best tours for kids in London, let me just say that the city is a great place to explore with young ones. From the awe-inspiring architecture to the centuries-old culture and history, London really is a captivating place.
With that in mind, here are my picks for the best tours in London for kids.
London: Private Family-Friendly Walking Tour with a Guide
The London: Private Family-Friendly Walking Tour with a Guide is a family-friendly guide is one of the most popular and best tours for kids in London. It includes a two-hour guided walk around some of London’s iconic landmarks, including the Changing of Guard ceremony, Royal Mews, and the famous London Eye.
Here are some of what you can look forward in this tour:
- Private Family-Friendly Tour of London Highlights with the Changing of the Guard ceremony, Royal Mews and London Eye
- 5-Star Guide with Official London License speaking fluently in a chosen language
- Entrance ticket to Royal Mews (in 3, 4-hour options)
- Skip-the-line ticket for London Eye ride (in 4-hour option)
- Special tour program adapted to the kids
High-Speed Thames River RIB Cruise in London
Are you searching for an exciting and different tour experience with your family? The High-Speed Thames River RIB Cruise in London is the perfect way to have an adventure as you soar past iconic landmarks like Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the London Eye.
On this tour, you’ll have a professional skipper and an expert guide to help you explore London’s history and the River Thames itself. Here is what you can expect on this tour:
- Glide past premier sights such as Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in a modern RIB
- Listen to your guide’s entertaining commentary and iconic British songs as you cruise
- Choose the departure time most suited to your schedule
- Numbers are limited to 12 people, ensuring a small-group experience
London Eye Fast-Track Ticket
If you’re not for the extreme speed of the High-Speed Thames River RIB Cruise in London, another popular tour for kids is the London Eye Fast-Track Ticket . Make your own way to the Lastminute.com London Eye near the Thames River, and gaze up at the massive wheel. Standing 443 feet (135 meters) high!
You’ll get to experience:
- Fast track access on the Lastminute.com London Eye
- Experience a panoramic flight on the world’s highest observation wheel
- See Big Ben towering above the Houses of Parliament, St. James Park, and Buckingham Palace
- Ticket includes admission to the London Eye 4D Experience
Original Harry Potter Locations Tour – London
There are so many great Harry Potter sites in London! In fact, I took an entire Harry Potter London vacation with my daughter when she was 11. We had such a blast! Want a complete Harry Potter tour that will keep the attention of your kids? The Original Harry Potter Locations Tour – London is one of the must do in London for children and adults alike.
Go on an Original Harry Potter Locations tour of London. Follow a guide along through Soho to see the Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square, and hear movie trivia as you go. You’ll also take a fun quiz to test your own movie knowledge at the end of the tour!
Here’s everything you can expect from this tour:
- Explore London’s filming sites during this live, virtual tour
- Choose from morning or afternoon times to suit your schedule
- See some of London’s top sights on screen, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral and London Bridge
Kid-Friendly Private Tower of London Tour with Blue Badge Guide
The Kid-Friendly Private Tower of London Tour with Blue Badge Guide is specifically designed for families. It’s the perfect tour if you’re visiting London with toddlers and young children.
It’s a great start if you’re still planning your London itinerary with kids as you’ll get to visit some of the most iconic and historical spots in London. Here is what you can expect from this tour:
- A private, half-day tour of the Tower of London with pre-booked admission tickets
- Save previous vacation time with guaranteed on-the-spot entry after the security check
- Enjoy special kid-friendly commentary, with a mix of facts, legends, and stories
- Marvel at iconic sights, like the Crown Jewels, White Tower, and Medieval Palace
As you can see, there is so much to do in London! Have you been to London? What have we missed? We can’t wait to go back and we’d love to try some new things when we go! For more on London, read Ten Things to do in London with Kids from Go Live Young or Top Ten Things to do in London with Kids from The Abbotts If you would like to follow along with us day by day you can follow @wanderlust.crew on Instagram or on Facebook or on Twitter or sign up for our newsletter! We would love to hear from you!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Families often want to know about the top attractions that cater to children’s interests, such as the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Tower of London, the London Eye, and the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.
Parents want to know about the ease of navigating the city with their children. Strollers are generally allowed on London’s public transportation, including buses, trains, and the London Underground (Tube). Some stations may have lifts or ramps for stroller accessibility.
Families seek recommendations for dining options suitable for kids. There are numerous child-friendly restaurants and cafes in London, including chains like Giraffe, PizzaExpress, and Wahaca, as well as themed eateries like Rainforest Cafe and Hard Rock Cafe.
Visitors with children often inquire about outdoor activities. London offers various options, such as exploring the parks and gardens like Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, taking a boat trip on the River Thames, or visiting city farms like Mudchute Park and Farm.
Families want to know if there are any special events or festivals that cater to children. London hosts several kid-friendly events throughout the year, including the Imagine Children’s Festival, Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, and the Notting Hill Carnival Children’s Day.
23 thoughts on “ a family guide to london: 20 things to do in london with kids ”.
Such a great review! Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge. I’ve been to London many times but this time will be the first with kids, so your post has come at the perfect time. I just wished we had more time there to see everything! Will have to plan anothe trip!
One thing that a friend of mine said was her kids favorite place is the Victoria and Albert Museum – they have backpacks apparently that her kids loved to explore the museum with.
I’m going to have to include that tip in here.Thank you! We never made it to the V&A! Even after being there several months. Just so much to see and do! Have so much fun with your kids! Please let me know if you do anything that I missed here!
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Guide to London for Families: Travel Guide
- United Kingdom (UK)
Guide to London for Families
by Ching L , London, United Kingdom
Exclusively commissioned by Tripadvisor
About Ching L
Lives in London, United Kingdom
Since Jul 2008
Hi, I’m Ching, a personal holiday planner from London. I love to travel like a local whenever I can. Of course, you have to see the main sights, but it’s discovering the places where locals go and doing like locals do that makes a trip extra special.
Recommendations for a family-friendly London.
4 City Tips
Hop-On Hop-Off Tours, Boat Tours, Boat Rentals, Sightseeing Tours, Speed Boats Tours
London Transport Museum
History Museums, Specialty Museums
The Lion King
St. James's Park
One new change.
Ching L's City Tips
- For using public transport, get a Child's One Day Travelcard for children. Adults should use Oystercards.
- There’s an unwritten etiquette for travelling on escalators in London. If you want to ride the escalator, stand to the right and keep the left side free for people who like to walk up.
- Certain attractions have 2FOR1 offers if adults can show a Travelcard (issued by a Rail Station, NOT by an Underground station), so it may be worth exploring (www.daysoutguide.co.uk)
- If you've been happy with the service, a tip of 10% is about right. Some restaurants add 'optional 12.5%' service charge to the bill - but it really is optional!
Many of London’s attractions can be seen from the River Thames and a circular cruise is a great and easy way for all the family to get accustomed with the city. Starting from Westminster Bridge (Embankment Pier), you get to see the Houses of Parliament/Big Ben, London Eye, County Hall, Tate Modern, Globe Theatre and Tower of London - to name a few! City Cruises has a 45 min Thames Circular Cruise that has commentary. They also offer Red Rover tickets that allow you to hop-on/hop-off the piers along the way.
- History Buff
- Thrifty Traveler
- Nature Lover
- Check the 2FOR1 offers with daysoutguide.co.uk as City Cruises are often included.
- Don’t hesitate to book. Highly recommended. 11/05/2023
- Nice tour 10/17/2023
In the heart of Covent Garden, the London Transport Museum is a lovely museum for children of all ages and parents too. Learn about the history of London and its transport through the ages. You can sit in lots of the exhibits and children seem to love this very interactive museum. See a London red bus and world’s first Underground train.
- The museum is free for children and adults can take advantage of 2FOR1 from daysoutguide.co.uk when the offer is available.
- Crowded and Outrageously Expensive 10/26/2023
- Disappointing visit - younger children. 10/25/2023
The Science Musuem does ‘family friendly’ really well. There are galleries for under 5s, the Pattern Pod for 5-8-year-olds and older children will love the hands-on Launchpad.
- Free entry to the museum is ideal for a quick visit when attention spans are short.
- Great ! 11/05/2023
- Brilliant day out 11/05/2023
A visit to a West End theatre in London is a must and there are lots of family friendly shows – The Lion King, Wicked and Matilda are favourites. With stunning costumes and memorable songs, The Lion King has something for everyone in the family.
- Like a Local
- If you’re planning a visit to London in August look out for Kidsweek, which is actually a month long (the whole of August)! Kids go free with a paying adult, which means the family gets to see West End Shows at huge discounted prices. Bookings for Kidsweek open in June/July. Look out also for special family tickets for certain shows.
- Greed!! 11/04/2023
- Amazing show! A must see 11/02/2023
With so many Royal Parks and green spaces in London, it means there’s always a place to go with children to let off steam. St James’ Park has the advantage of being close to The Mall and Buckingham Palace so families can mix some sightseeing with some relax time.
- There’s a children’s playground at the Buckingham Palace end of the park and you see the Pelicans being fed every day at 2.30pm.
- Great park ruined by rewilding trends 10/11/2023
- Lovely trees, attentive ducks, unmissable. 10/03/2023
A shopping centre may be a strange recommendation for a family friendly break, but it’s a great distraction after a visit to St Paul’s, or even as an attraction on its own. That’s because the shopping centre has a glass lift/elevator that the children will love to ride. It’s cleverly designed to be in line with St Paul’s Cathedral so there are plenty of photo opportunities as you go up and down. There’s a free public roof terrace at the top and the view of St Paul’s Cathedral and panoramic London is breathtaking.
- Shopping Fanatic
- In the summer, they have outdoor screenings of events such as Wimbledon tennis!
- Fancy Shops 07/25/2023
- Great family trip 07/17/2023
Family travel in London
From interactive museums to jumping on broomsticks with Harry Potter, scenic pony rides and more - London has something to offer for the entire family (including mum and dad).
Traveling can be stressful when you are on the go with kids, but careful planning and ideal destinations can simplify things. Perhaps the most appealing thing about London is that - despite its vast size and 24-hour lifestyle - it was built with families in mind. The grand townhouses of the city prove it, and with a soiree of world-famous museums, attractions and an excellent transport network, London couldn’t be a better destination for nomadic families on the go.
Explore more articles
Is london a child-friendly city.
The short answer – yes. While any big city is a challenge to navigate with children by your side, London is one of the few places in the world that actually make it a joy to explore with the family. The cobbled lanes in some parts of the city might prove a slight challenge on stroller wheels, but with easy-access lifts, child-friendly ride-share services, and plenty of attractions for your whole family to enjoy – there are far more pros than cons in this city.
Where to Go and What to Do as a Family in London
There’s so much on offer in London that the possibilities for families are almost infinite. Museums, the aquarium, royal palaces, countless landmarks, theatre productions and beautiful parks help make planning a family-friendly itinerary to London even easier. To make the task of putting your plans together, we’ve put together a selection of some of the most popular and under-the-radar things to do in the city, from exciting events to top-notch attractions.
London Transport Museum, Covent Garden
This is easily one of the most interactive and fun museums in the whole of London. You’ll learn about the evolution of some of the city’s most iconic transportation systems. Spot the world’s first underground steam train or set sail on the Thames Nipper, a recreation of the Thames Clipper riverboat service. For kids who love nothing more than to sing, there are even make-believe busker spots so they can belt out tunes all day long.
Richmond Park, Surrey
If you are traveling with young children, take them down south to Richmond Park to teach them how to ride a horse. Hidden away in the rather cutesy Stag Lodge Stables, the riding school offers horse rides for tykes of all ages and abilities. Horses range from big to small and ultra-adorable Shetland ponies.
Kew Gardens, Kew
London can get super busy in peak seasons, so if you are traveling with babies and toddlers, keep this in mind as the trip of a lifetime could possibly turn into an exhaustive nightmare.
Kew Gardens is an absolute joy in the summer. Despite being a magnet for the green-fingered folk of the world, it’s perhaps one of the best places in the city to spend a day frolicking in the rose bushes with the kids. There are plenty of interactive things to discover, from scaling the Giant Pagoda to crisscrossing the Treetop Walk and more. If you visit during the winter months, don’t miss Christmas at Kew when the botanical gardens transform into a glowing light show paradise.
Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes
There is no better family pastime than a good old game of bowling. The Bloomsbury Bowling lanes are a throwback to 1960s British retro. The bar often attracts loads of students and locals – but before 8 pm, it’s the kids who reign supreme. The Lanes can be booked for family takeovers, and once you are finished, you can all enjoy a slap-up meal in one of the American diner-style booths.
Sea Life London Aquarium, Westminster
If you are looking for two hours of entertainment or simply to shield yourself from the rain, there’s no better place to visit than London’s great big Sea Life aquarium . Housed just underneath The London Eye , the major highlight comes courtesy of the glass ocean tunnel filled with all sorts of massive fish, from sharks to tuna. Other must-sees include the crocodiles on the Rainforest Walk – along with penguins, clown fish, rays, jellyfish and more.
Kidzania, Shepherd’s Bush
The city can sometimes get a little too overwhelming for kids, which is the perfect time to jump on the tube straight to London’s Westfield Mall for all kinds of fun at Kidzania . Designed for kids aged 4 to 14, the interactive experience is a kid-centric fictional city designed to let your little ones explore a career of their choice for the day. From pilot to DJ, weather forecaster to Hollywood actor – kids will work, play and earn as you shop around the mall’s high-flying boutiques.
The Harry Potter Studio Tour, Watford
Take a 40-minute journey outside of London and you will arrive at Hogwarts – yes, really. To keep the spellbinding magic of the Harry Potter franchise alive, Warner Bros transformed the real movie sets from the series into an immersive ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ experience. Visit everything from Gringotts to Diagon Alley and the Forbidden Forest – along with testing your skills in a potions class with Professor Snape.
Thamesjet Ride, Central London
If you are a family of thrill-seekers, an adrenaline-fueled ride along the River Thames is just the ticket . Speed past iconic London landmarks from Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) to the London Eye and more on a military-grade speedboat that twists and turns at high speeds. A piece of advice – pack a raincoat, as you will get very wet.
The London Dungeon, South Bank
This one’s for the teens of your clan. The dark side of London is explored in this interactive gem of an attraction filled with rides, shows and scary (but fun) live acting. Enter the worlds of Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd – plus learn all about secret plots, detective dramas and the shocking stories of crime that London has become famous for over the years.
ZSL London Zoo, The Regent’s Park
More than 750 animals call London’s historic zoo their home. It hosts tons of seasonal events and special shows, so make sure you check out what’s going on before you visit. Highlights include feeding time with the penguins and giraffes, plus all the interactive meet and greets with the zoo’s creepy crawlies – including some massive spiders.
How to Get Around the City with Kids
It’s best to stick with London’s public transport network for getting around. Most attractions can be reached by tube or overground services. Anything within central London is within walking distance, and should your little ones get tired throughout the day, it’s easy to hail a cab or ride-share virtually anywhere in the capital.
About the author
12+ Very Best Things To Do in London with Kids (Must-Sees!)
By Author Jurga
Posted on Last updated: October 12, 2023
It took me a long time to decide whether I could name this post the best things to do in London with kids . There is simply so much to do in London with children that no list could possibly ever include all of them!
Also, who has the time to see and do everything that London has to offer for families… Most tourists won’t have the time even for all the main attractions… So if you are also visiting London with kids for the first time and just want to see the very best of the city with your children, this list will give you more ideas than you’ll probably be able to do! In this article, we feature only the very best of London for kids!
What you will choose to see and do in London with your family will depend on the age of your kids, your interests (and those of your kids), your budget, time of the year, duration of your visit, queues at the major attractions, and even the weather…
We visited London for three full days in spring and had amazing weather all the time. Therefore, we limited our time indoors to the hottest hours of the day and only visited indoor attractions that were very high on our list.
This list shows what we chose to do in London with our three boys (age 6-8). I hope it will be a good source of inspiration for your family trip to London.
At the bottom of this article, you can find even more inspiration and suggestions for all those other things we wish we had more time to see and do in London with kids.
I asked my kids to sort this list of London attractions, landmarks, and family-friendly activities based on what they enjoyed the most. It wasn’t easy to do as we visited so many places, one more impressive than the other. My boys really couldn’t say what they liked best or second best, and there wasn’t one single activity they didn’t enjoy.
So – in random order – this is our selection of the best things to see and do in London with kids . For a different perspective, I also included a short kids’ commentary for each of the attractions.
Disclosure: We were guests of some of the tours and experiences mentioned in this list. However, we chose all of these activities ourselves, based on our interests and what we thought would be the best things to do in London for our family. We think that this is a great selection of things to do when visiting London with kids for the first time. Find out!
READ ALSO: London Travel Tips
These are the best things to do in London with kids:
1. London Eye
The London Eye is one of the absolute musts in London, with or without kids. The views are amazing, especially around sunset when the light is really beautiful. Kids will definitely love riding Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel!
They also have a 4D movie that is included with your ticket. It’s short, but really nicely done. I don’t want to spoil the experience, but you can expect some snow and other fun effects as well!
In the past known as Coca-Cola London Eye, it’s now called lastminute.com London Eye . It is probably one of the most popular attractions in London, so expect long queues. I strongly recommend buying your tickets online in advance (it’s so much faster and it’s cheaper).
TIP: If you can afford it, fast-track tickets are really worth it (you can book them for a specific time slot or – at a slightly higher cost – with a flexible entry during a chosen day). With fast-track tickets, we passed a 2-3 hour queue in just a minute. It saved us so much time and frustration because the kids were already tired after the whole day of sightseeing so it was great to be able to go up right away.
For the best rates and availability, book regular and fast-track London Eye tickets on the official site .
TIP: If you are planning to visit several London attractions from Merlin Entertainments Group (Shrek’s Adventure! London, Madame Tussaud’s London, Sealife London Aquarium, The London Eye, and The London Dungeon), it’s best to buy a combination ticket that includes several sights . It will save you A LOT OF money.
These multi-attraction tickets only include standard entry (so no fast-track) and you also have to prebook timed entry slots at most places, so it’s a bit more hassle and you’ll need more time. But they offer a really good value. Depending on the size of your family and the places you opt to visit, it can save you several hundred pounds.
Let’s hear from the kids: The London Eye is the tallest Ferris wheel we have ever been on, almost like being on top of Burj Khalifa in Dubai. From the highest point, people looked like ants. Just wonder why we had to get off after only one ride.
READ ALSO: Where to Find the Best Views in London
2. London Bus Tours for Kids
A nice family-friendly way to explore London is with this Tootbus Kids Tour .
This open-top bus tour of London’s highlights is specifically designed for families with children , with engaging commentary and fascinating stories, and the duration of this tour is perfect for kids. It’s also very correctly priced for London. Check it out!
In the past, we recommended London Duck Tours (see below). However, they were obliged to sell the land that was used to enter/exit the Thames River, so they cannot do the splashdown in the river anymore. They still operate, but only as land-based bus tours…
London Duck Tours was one of the most unique ways to see London with kids. You step aboard a distinctive yellow amphibious WWII vehicle (made by GM Motors for the D-Day landing) and set on a true adventure through the streets of London.
We did the Classic Sightseeing Tour that brings you past all the main landmarks of central London, coupled with live commentary. We were a bit concerned about whether the kids wouldn’t get bored on this ride, since they don’t speak or understand English, but we translated some of the stories for them and they didn’t seem to be bored for a second.
The best part of the tour was of course the splashdown onto the Thames. We spent more time on the water than I had expected and went all the way from MI6 to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben Tower.
What makes the Duck Tours even more fun for kids is that you have to quack loud every time you see another yellow bus.
Let’s hear from the kids: The Duck bus was really fun. Especially going in the water, so cool! We also won the ‘quacking’ game against the other buses twice! When I told the kids at school about a bus that is also a boat they all wanted to go to London!
3. Madame Tussauds
I have to admit that visiting Madame Tussauds was an adults’ choice rather than the kids’. Our boys are rather young and they are not familiar with famous Hollywood actors, singers, or the British Royal Family.
At first, the kids were not very excited about the wax figures. However, it quickly changed when they recognized a couple of people, like Donald Trump or Barack Obama. And when we came across their football hero Ronaldo, their day could not go wrong anymore.
From then on it got better and better. We saw Shrek, King Kong, and the boys could even take a picture on a bike with E.T.! We then hopped into a famous English black cab for the Spirit of London Ride, learning about the darker chapters of London’s history, and the recovery after the Great Fire.
But the best was yet to come. I don’t think I can find the right words to describe how much the kids enjoyed the 4D Marvel Super Heroes movie.
And the Star Wars experience was like the cherry on the cake at the end of our visit. You could co-pilot a spaceship with Chewbacca, fight against Darth Vader with a real lightsaber of Luke Skywalker, or take a picture with BB8 (or Princess Leia for the dads ;)). The kids wouldn’t stop talking about our visit to Madame Tussauds for the rest of the day!
So, based on our experience, I would definitely recommend Madame Tussauds as one of the nice things to do with kids in London. It’s also a great place to visit with children in London if the weather is bad.
TIP: Madame Tussauds is an extremely popular attraction, so it’s best to book in advance. It will save you lots of waiting time as well. You can check availability and book your tickets on the official website . Also here, a fast-track ticket is available and – despite a higher price tag – we found it really worth it. The queues can be very long, especially during the high season and bank holiday weekends.
If you want to make the most out of your visit to London with kids without them getting exhausted and grumpy, fast-track tickets are a real life-saver.
Let’s hear from the kids: Seeing Ronaldo was top, as well as James Bond. Sitting in a London cab was fun too. And… The wind and the water made the 4D experience so special. And… I wish I could have taken that sword home with me.
4. The Royal Mews
I first heard about the Royal Mews when researching things to do in London with kids. Since Buckingham Palace is closed for visits during the biggest part of the year (open in summer) and Windsor Castle requires a whole day trip from London, I thought that visiting the Royal Mews might be a good way to introduce the kids to the Royal side of England.
We visited the Royal Mews without knowing what to expect, and we were really glad we did. We all loved it!
It’s a rather short visit, so perfect with kids. Also, it’s very affordable by London standards (you can find the prices and book the tickets here ).
We saw the stables and a couple of horses, but the most impressive were of course the Royal carriages. Especially the eight-horse-drawn Gold State Coach that has been used at every coronation of British monarchs since the late 18th century. You can also see the Glass Coach, one of the principal and most used coaches of the British monarch. The most recent addition – the Diamond Jubilee State Coach – dates from 2014.
Royal Mews is a great attraction for any family looking to show the Royal side of London to their kids.
Let’s hear from the kids: That golden carriage was really impressive. And… The queen’s Rolls-Royce is huge!
TIP: If you are visiting London between late July and the end of September, don’t miss the chance to see the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace from the inside. You can reserve your tickets here (only available for bookings in the summer season). Make sure to book in advance!
5. SEA LIFE London Aquarium
SEA LIFE London Aquarium is located just next to the London Eye, in the County Hall building. In the same building, you can also find Shrek’s Adventure and the London Dungeon .
We were looking for a kid-friendly experience and chose SEA LIFE as it looked like the best choice for our family at that time. From what I read, the London Dungeon is really not suitable for young kids. And Shrek’s Adventure looks really fun but is not ideal if your kids don’t understand English (which our kids didn’t at that time).
So we decided to visit SEA LIFE and it was a good choice! Kids loved the aquariums, especially the one with the sharks, interesting exhibits, and interactive games.
SEA LIFE London is not very big, so you’ll only need an hour – an hour and a half to visit, and it also means that kids don’t get bored for a second. It’s a really nice place to visit with young children, one they will truly enjoy.
To be honest, I find the regular SEA LIFE ticket a bit too expensive compared to other family attractions in London. But in combination with the London Eye and other attractions from the same group, it’s a great deal and definitely worth visiting with kids.
TIP: On the official website , you can see all the tickets and multi-attraction deals that include SEA LIFE.
Let’s hear from the kids: The best part was the sharks and the ‘pancake fish’ (stingrays) that has an ‘electric tail’. And…Remember where we could put our heads between the penguins?! And.. Also that game where you could make your own jellyfish was really fun, I had over 40 of them in the water at one time!
6. Hop-on Hop-off Bus
Hop-on hop-off busses are probably the best way to see a big city with kids. First, it saves you (and the kids) a lot of walking. On top of that, you learn a lot about the landmarks and the less known places along the way. You can hop off at the places you like to explore more, and then hop back on again.
In London, we chose the Tootbus hop-on hop-off buses (previously, Original Tour). They have five different routes that cover all the major highlights of central London. Some buses have live commentary which was entertaining and really good. The others are equipped with an audio guide that is available in 10 languages, and also offers a special ‘Kids Club’ commentary (only in English).
Talking about kids, they also offer a free Kids’ London activity pack that was handed to us by the driver of the first bus we stopped on. I don’t know if all buses have these though. Otherwise, you might want to pick one up from their Visitor Centre.
We also took a river cruise (included in the 24hr ticket) and seeing London from the water was another highlight of the trip. If you have more time, you can also join one of the walking tours that are offered by the Original Tour.
My only regret was that we didn’t get the 48hr ticket. It would have given us more time to explore London and to really take advantage of this very convenient hop-on hop-off system. Longer-duration tickets also include a river cruise to Greenwich , which is another really nice place to visit with kids.
TIP: Save time and book your hop-on bus tickets online in advance . They now also have a special family-oriented kids tour (it’s just 45 minutes, so not comparable to the traditional hop-on/hop-off system).
Let’s hear from the kids: It was fun that we could sit on top of the bus, you could see everything! The guide on the river cruise was really funny, he said not to forget your favorite kids when leaving the boat, because he was left behind and has been on that boat since he was 8.
7. Kid-friendly Afternoon Tea
Having a traditional English afternoon tea was a really nice experience for the whole family. There are countless places where you can have afternoon tea in London ( see here for some of the most popular options ).
We opted for a kid-friendly afternoon tea at St. Ermin’s Hotel . They did it all right: from stylish and delicious treats for adults to special menus for kids, accompanied by a visit to see the hotel’s bees. Here you can read all about our afternoon tea experience in London with kids .
TIP: Nowadays, there is a very nice new offering – Paddington Afternoon Tea Bus Tour . It’s perfect for families visiting London with kids. It’s a nice way to combine sightseeing, riding a traditional double-decker bus, and a family-friendly Paddington-themed afternoon tea experience in just 2 hours!
For Harry Potter fans, check out this highly-rated walking tour with Magical Afternoon Tea .
No matter which one you choose, these family-friendly afternoon tea experiences will make your visit to London even more memorable for the entire family! It’s well worth it.
Let’s hear from the kids: I wish I had a double portion of the sweets (he never would have been able to eat it all, we already had to ask for a doggy bag for some scones ;)). And… I couldn’t believe how they got so many bees in this place, it’s in the middle of the city center.
8. The Main Landmarks of London with kids
No guide to London for families would be complete without its most famous places. Of course, you also have to see the main landmarks when visiting London with kids!
Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Tower of London, the Royal Guards… Below are our kids’ favorites.
Our boys were super excited to see the Big Ben Tower for the first time. However, it was Tower Bridge that left the biggest impression on them.
They also enjoyed watching the Royal Guards . When one of them started to march, our boys would march next to him. I don’t how the guard managed not to laugh (I guess they are trained for that), but everyone else found it hilarious.
Let’s hear from the kids: I’m glad I finally saw my tower (Ben)! And… I can’t believe we couldn’t make those guards laugh, not even a smile. And… I wish they had those red phone booths here in Belgium – I just picked up the receiver and someone was talking to me on the other side of the line.
LEARN MORE: Top London Attractions (The VERY BEST Things to Do in London)
9. Toy Stores of London
London has so many stores that are an attraction in itself. You really should try and visit a couple of these shops with kids! Our kids loved the LEGO store and the M&M’s store (both on Leicester Square); they could spend hours there!
Another favorite was the toy department at Harrods. However, all of us were just as much impressed with the Harrods’ fish and fruit departments, Egyptian escalator, and their luxury elevators.
Even I found all of these London shops really worth visiting; needless to say, our kids were beyond excited! There is so much action there, especially in the toy departments, that it’s really something you should do when visiting London with kids!
Let’s hear from the kids: There were way too many toys, could never choose what to buy ( luckily for mom and dad! ). In the Lego store, we could build our own Lego and then have a Star Wars fight using swords made of Lego blocks. Oh, and that colorful m&m’s wall – never seen so many sweets in my life! They said it was the world’s biggest candy wall.
10. London Parks and Playgrounds
London has many parks and playgrounds that offer perfect opportunities to relax for the whole family. Our kids’ favorite was the Jubilee Gardens playground at the foot of the London Eye (and close to our fantastically located hotel ).
Another great park in central London is St James’s Park , close to Buckingham Palace.
The nicest area of Hyde Park is probably the area around Serpentine; you can even go boating there.
Let’s hear from the kids: The parks were great, as it was too hot in the city. And… Remember that squirrel that ran away with a piece of my cake!!! And… There were so many ducks everywhere, we also saw seven baby swans. And… That playground at London Eye had so many spider webs to climb, some parts were really challenging.
11. Family-friendly Musicals
Going to see at least one musical is a must in London, with or without kids. We always enjoy it a lot!
Some of the best family-friendly musicals running in London at the moment are Lion King, Aladdin, and Matilda.
TIP: Book your London musical tickets in advance, that way you can choose seats and show times that suit your family best. Via this link, you can also see up-to-date information on which musicals are running during your visit.
12. Harry Potter Filming Locations & Studio Tour
This is one thing we didn’t get to do in London with kids because they were simply too young for Harry Potter at the time of our visit. Also, they didn’t speak English yet…
However, if you are in London with somewhat older kids, I really think that visiting at least some of the Harry Potter filming locations would be the highlight of their trip!
There are Harry Potter filming locations walking tours in the city and also bus tours that cover all the main Harry Potter sights in London .
However, if you have a day to spare, by far the best thing you can do is take The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour near London . The studios are located just outside the city, but most tours include bus transfers.
This highly-rated Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour departs from Victoria Coach Station in the city center. There is also a tour departing from King’s Cross .
Now that our kids are older and have seen all the Harry Potter movies endless times, this is the first thing on our list when we go back to London with kids next time!
Everyone I know who’s done this Harry Potter studio tour in London said that it was an amazing experience for the whole family, and is well worth the time and the money.
12+. More ideas for things to do in London with kids
As I said, London has so much more to offer for families with kids than we included in this list. You could stay here for a month and still not see everything that you want to…
Here are some more ideas for the things we really wanted to see and do in London with kids but didn’t have the time for. Take a look – maybe you’ll find some additional inspiration for your family trip to London!
- Views from the Shard
- Tower of London & top of Tower Bridge
- Speedboat ride on the Thames (there are age/height limits though)
- Boat ride on the canals (this one is really family-friendly)
- Natural History Museum (free entry)
- HMS Belfast
- Covent Garden
- Portobello Road flea market
But also the other London attractions that are away from the city center (but rather easy to get to):
- The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – kids’ favorite!
- Thorpe Park – one of the best theme parks in the UK (tickets are often much cheaper if booked online!).
- Windsor Castle – visit the residence of the UK’s monarchs. This is the most popular day trip destination from London.
- LEGOLAND Windsor – miniature landmarks from all over the world + fun rides (tickets are often much cheaper if booked online!).
READ ALSO: How to See the Best of London in 2 Days
Where to stay in London with kids
In order to get the most of your family vacation in London, it’s best to stay in the city center, within walking distance to the main attractions.
We recommend Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London for families visiting London with kids. This hotel has an excellent location close to the London Eye and Westminster Bridge which is perfect for exploring London with kids. It also has really spacious family rooms for up to 4 people (some with views of Big Ben) and even an indoor pool. Also, the price is usually very reasonable for London, definitely for the location and the quality that you get in a 4-person family room.
Other good choices in this location are:
- Park Plaza County Hall London – family rooms for up to 4 people available.
- Marlin Waterloo – a (bit) lower budget hotel, great location, family rooms for 3-4 people.
READ ALSO: Where to Stay in London
TIP: Using the map below, you can compare various accommodation options all over London. Simply insert your travel dates and family size, and you’ll quickly see what’s available for your travel dates and budget. Check it out!
So, this is our guide to the best of London for kids and families. Hope you found it useful! Make sure to also read our guide to London off the beaten path (incredible hidden gems!) and tips for visiting London for the first time .
More travel tips and inspiration for all over the UK:
- Must-see in London: Top London Attractions
- London from above : Best Views in London
- Nearby: Best Day Trips from London
- Best Cities to Visit in the UK
- Best Things to Do in Manchester
- Best Things to Do in Liverpool
- 1 Day in Manchester
- The Beatles in Liverpool (top sights)
- Best Places to Visit in Cornwall
- Where to Stay in Cornwall
- Seaside: Best Things to Do in Blackpool (a great place for a family vacation in the UK!)
- Yorkshire: Yorkshire Day Trips
- Isle of Skye Itinerary
- Best Things to Do in Edinburgh
- One Day in Edinburgh
- Tips for Visiting Edinburgh
- One Day in Glasgow
READ ALSO: Best Traditional British Food . You definitely have to try some local dishes when visiting London with kids!
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Wednesday 20th of September 2023
My family and I just came back from London and I wanted to say thanks for this guide. We did the TootBus tour, went up on the London Eye, the river cruise, and also took a day trip to the Harry Potter studios. It was brilliant!
Thursday 21st of September 2023
Sounds like you had a great time in London, Kate. Happy travels!
Tuesday 7th of June 2022
What a fabulous article....thanks for making it easy for parents doing their research 👏
I'm born and bred in London but moved to LA in 2013 where my now 8 year old was born....this is perfect for us all to enjoy 'home' again.
Wednesday 8th of June 2022
Thank you for your kind feedback, Ins. Have a wonderful time visiting London with your family!
Thursday 11th of November 2021
Thank you so much for sharing your experience about London with kids ❤️
Friday 12th of November 2021
Have a great time in London, Xanthi!
Friday 24th of April 2020
I've always wanted to visit London with my children, but was afraid that the city would be too much for them. We went last summer and had a great time and I'm hoping to go back again soon. We have to see some of those musicals!
Tuesday 28th of April 2020
We also don't often visit big cities with kids, but London is one of the few exceptions. I agree with you - it's great for families. We're also planning to revisit again - so much more to see still.
Friday 17th of January 2020
Hi There, This blog is awesome and i am planning a travel in the month of april with my kids age 4 girl and 9 boy. i am looking out for this vacation with my family.
Thankyou for sharing this.
Monday 20th of January 2020
Glad to hear this, Shailja. Enjoy your trip. London is great for families!