One of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, there is something in London for everyone. The weather is stubbornly unpredictable but the sights and people are predictably engaging. Where history lurks in every nook and corner, but so does modern, everyday life, and the two mingle in an understated way not found anywhere else.
If this is a family trip, you might be wondering what to do in London with kids? I reached out to Travel Bloggers, many of them who have been to London with their families to put together the best attractions in this city with kids. There is also an interesting idea on a day trip outside London at the end of this post. Immerse into history, culture, iconic sights and entertainment with these 8 attractions in London with your kids.
One of the best day trips from London is to experience the old world charm of Windsor Castle, if British Royalty fascinates you. There are also some quirky and unusual things to do in London, if you are leaving your kids behind one evening. If you are looking to spend a few days outside London, do check out things to do in Dorset.
What to do in London with kids
Do a Bike Tour of the city
I highly recommend taking a Fat Tyre Bike Tour in London with kids. The sites we saw during the 4-hour Royal London Bike Tour would have easily taken us over a day of walking around on our own. We visited Buckingham Palace (conveniently timed for the changing of the guard), Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace, Trafalgar Square and more, and our guide was very knowledgeable and entertaining.
Biking through such a big city, I was initially worried for both safety, and whether we old folks could keep up. However, the route of Royal Tour took traveled largely through the Royal Parks, and on pedestrian and less traveled roads. When we had to cross a busy road, our guide was great about keeping us together and getting us across safely. Plus, while there was a good deal of biking, the pace was easy and the route was flat. There were also plenty of breaks while our guide told us the great stories of the sights we were seeing. It’s still a favorite London memory for our kids!
My tips for this tour: One, take water, you’ll want it. Two, for the Royal London tour you are on your own to eat lunch in the Trafalgar Square area. I highly recommend the Rooftop restaurant in The Trafalgar St. James hotel, overlooking the square. It’s a little pricey, but an unforgettable view. For the more budget conscious, the ubiquitous Pret is also right there and perfect for taking a quick something over to Trafalgar to dine al fresco on the steps.
Read more on The Fat Tyre Bike Tour.
Contributed by Megan| Wandertoes| Follow her on Instagram
Explore the Harry Potter locations
I am a huge Harry Potter fan. One of my favorite things to do in London is to find film locations from the Potter films. The biggest and arguably the best Potter experience in London is the Warner Bros Studio Tour – a collection of props, sets and costumes from all the movies, complete with the real Hogwarts Great Hall.
This is a magical experience, especially if you are traveling to London with your kids. You’ll need to catch a train from London Euston to Watford (just outside of London) and book your tickets in advance.
If you are short on time in London, head over to Kings Cross. This is a popular and central area of London and is home to a few film locations. Head to Platform 9 to find the 9 and 3/4 sign; the infamous entrance to the Hogwarts Express platform. Next door to Kings Cross is St Pancras International Station; the location used during the Chamber of Secrets film when Harry and Ron are trying to decide how to get to school after they miss the train.
The films made use of some of the most iconic landmarks in London, so don’t forget to check out St Pauls Cathedral (seen in the Half-Blood Prince), London Zoo (seen in The Philosopher’s Stone), Piccadilly Circus (seen in the Deathly Hallows) and Charing Cross Road (home of the Leaky Cauldron).
Europe’s largest Ferris wheel, anyone?
London Eye is Europe’s largest Ferris wheel and was the world’s tallest when it was built. It is the UK’s most popular paid-for attraction. You can see for up to 25 kilometers in all directions – from the top of the London Eye – which encompasses the entirety of the city and more. Kids will love ascending up in the London Eye and trying to see how many other famous London attractions they can view from the birds-eye vantage point.
It takes about 30 minutes to ascend to the top of the eye, which is just enough time to keep children entertained with landmark watching out of the window! You won’t be restrained to a seat – large pods transport groups up to the top of the wheel, which accommodates up to 25 people who are free to walk around at their own leisure and enjoy the panoramic vista of the London skyline.
Tickets for the London Eye can be bought in advance or on the day. Buying in advance will save time queueing (there are always queues to get on the London Eye!) but it will constrain you to a particular time slot – so be sure to check the weather before you buy tickets. The London Eye is located near Big Ben and Southbank – an easy walk from London Waterloo station.
How about the rich history at the Tower of London?
While we were in London with our kids, we really enjoyed our visit to the Tower of London. The Tower of London is so rich in history, which I love. Built by William the Conqueror, this Tower has hosted Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, a prisoner from the American Revolution, and Nazi spies among many others.
Even better, my kids had a great time during our visit. The Yeoman Warders, who give the tours in their traditional beefeater uniforms, must be incredibly knowledgeable to hold the job. Ours was very funny, a little sarcastic, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy his job. It kept our girls listening and interested, and they barely noticed how educational it was.
A good portion of the central White Tower is set up so you can explore on your own, and the spiral stone staircase, the huge dragon made of armor pieces, and the king’s privy chamber were particularly popular. Another area of the complex housed some torture devices, always popular with the kiddie set (or many just mine!).
Two tips for you: If you have an animal lover, keep an eye out for the Tower ravens. Legend says that if they ever leave the Tower, the building as well as the monarchy will fall. So, there are a number of them kept well fed, and we have many kid-taken pictures of the Ravens. Also, if you walk through the rooms within the outer wall of the Tower, on the Thames side, keep watching out the windows. One of the best photos I took of the London Bridge I took from the window of the Tower of London.
It is not just London, but UK that is full of rich history. So do look up UK Bucket list ideas if you are planning a longer trip.
Read more on The Tower of London.
Contributed by Megan| Wandertoes| Follow her on Instagram
Interested in museums with kids?
London museums definitely are among the top things to do with kids. The Natural History Museum with its imposing terracotta façade is a hop and skip from the South Kensington station on the District, Piccadilly and Circle lines or a short walk from Hyde Park. The art and architecture of the museum are as fascinating as are the exhibits. It is rightly called a “Cathedral of Nature”.
The entry to this museum is free and it does get pretty crowded, so make the most of your trip by following the museum trails. We entered through the Hintze Hall, taking in the giant blue whale skeleton that replaced Dippy the diplodocus in 2017 and the imposing statue of Charles Darwin at the foot of the stairs. A lot of specimens collected by Darwin on his voyages are on display here.
The Blue Zone had the kids thrilled to bits with the dinosaur exhibits including a moving roaring model of T-Rex. The Green Zone covered birds, marine fossils and minerals. The Red Zone explored how the earth is constantly being reshaped through film footage, exhibits and interactive games. There are specimens of rocks and minerals and exhibits on the science behind volcanoes and earthquakes. An earthquake simulator recreates strong seismic activity inside a Japanese supermarket.
The Science Museum, right next door, is also free (with some paid exhibits like the IMAX experience and the Wonder Land). There are 4 levels with interactive exhibits on energy, modern inventions, space and mathematics. The kids enjoyed the exhibits on space and modern inventions on the ground floor. The Pattern Pod is great, especially for younger kids, as an explorative space, combining lights, sounds and patterns. Plus the bubbles show in the basement was, as usual, a great hit.
The Science Museum has a number of restaurants – we really enjoyed the pizzas and wraps at the aptly-named Energy Café.
Contributed by Shweta Markandeya
Street Art in London
Heading to London and looking for things to do with your teenagers? I bet a free street art walking tour will catch their interest! After all, which teen doesn’t like a little rebellion in their lives? We’re pretty sure that you’ll enjoy it as well.
Lead by actual street artists, you’ll wander through some of London’s best street art neighborhoods, like Brick Lane and Whitechapel on the search of the elusive Banksy and other famous and up and coming artists from around the world. You’ll learn about the history of street art, the significance of tagging, and why so many artists take the risk of painting a wall.
Do come prepared! Bring a water bottle and wear good walking shoes. The tours last between 2-3 hours and are probably not the best for those with really young children. Also, don’t forget your camera. After all, street art is continually evolving, so what you see the day of your tour, might not be there the next day. And you’ll need a little cash for tipping your guide at the end. We recommend about 10 £ per person!
On a budget? Don’t worry about it! That’s the advantage of free walking tours – they only cost what you can afford to pay, or you think the trip is worth. Hey, who knows, you might even find that you have an up and coming street artist in the family!
Read more on the Hunt for Street Art in London.
Contributed by Heidi & David| FlyAwayU| Follow them on Instagram
Take in iconic sights from The Shard
Perched upon the southern bank of the river Thames, The Shard building is named for its resemblance to a piece of glass. It is a unique part of London’s skyline, visible from all parts of the city.
A visit to the top of the Shard is a terrific addition to any list of things to do in London, especially for families traveling to the city. Older children are best suited for this activity, and they will love seeing London’s iconic sights from up above. Getting a bird’s eye view of London will help kids see where all of London’s sights are located relative to one another. For added fun, bring a list of the places you’ve already visited in London, and see who can find them the fastest!
You can look through the observatory deck’s telescopes to get a unique view of Big Ben, the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower of London. You will also be able to watch boats coast down the river Thames, and if the timing is right, you can watch Tower Bridge open its gates to accommodate larger ships going in and out of London.
If you want to visit the observatory at The Shard with your family, plan on buying your tickets online ahead of time. You’ll be able to skip any queues and head directly to the viewing platform, leaving you with plenty of time to explore the rest of London.
Contributed by Jessica| The Belle Voyage| Follow her on Instagram
Visit the Warwick Castle: A day trip from London
If you’re interested in visiting an authentic castle while in London, and you’re traveling with kids, I would recommend visiting Warwick Castle. This is an authentic castle that has been turned into a tourist attraction and is perfect for families. It is laid back, picturesque, and had lots of exciting things going on when we visited. We went with our 4 and 7-year-olds, and they were the perfect ages to enjoy Warwick Castle.
There are tons of activities for youth such as trying archery and playing medieval games. There are also things little kids will be able to enjoy like an amazing bird show with many kinds of raptors, peacocks wandering the grounds, or watching the launch of a flaming cannonball. There are suits of armor, arrow slits, stained glass windows, English gardens, and more.
Different tours and shows are available, based on the interests and ages of your children, such as the Dungeon tour for a more gruesome experience with older kids and teens, or the Dragon Slayer show for family entertainment.
Travel tip: Take the train from Paddington station in central London. The train journey is under 2 hours, goes through beautiful English countryside, and Warwick Station is a fun 1-mile walk from the castle, through the town. The town itself is quaint if you want to see old England.
Read more: Things to Do in London with kids
Contributed by David & Jamie| PhotoJeepers| Follow them on Instagram
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Which is your favorite experience in London? Share with us in the comments below.
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