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London is right up there as far as family friendly travel destinations go, with so many things to do in London with kids. It’s actually pretty tough narrowing it down to just a shortlist. But like any great city, there are a few attractions that have that extra special appeal for younger travellers. The kind that have them talking about it well after you return home.
Our visit to London was unfortunately less than a week, so we sure did our best to fit in as many great London attractions in that short time.
10 THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH KIDS
1. Ride the Red Bus
The red hop on hop off double story buses are iconic for London and a great way to see the city. While kids can sometimes get a little bored with typical sightseeing tours, they will be delighted by the extra special views offered from the top level.
While the traditional red buses have mostly been replaced with modern versions, they still hold great appeal for travellers of all ages. Several bus companies offer the services throughout London, stopping at many of the popular attractions and districts in town.
Tip: Grab yourself an Oyster Card for use on London public transport, or a 24 hour bus pass for unlimited hop on hop off travel.
2. Discovering Natural History
If free and educational fun is your style, the Natural History Museum is the perfect way to spend a couple of hours with kids in London. From the familiar dinosaur skeleton to the blue whale, the museum is full of interesting displays. There are seasonal displays to keep it exciting, as well as permanent favourites.
A good option with kids is to do the self-guided tour rather than a formal tour, so you can enjoy at your own pace and have fun as a family discovering new things and impressing each other with your new knowledge. Find out more on the website.
3. Mingle With Celebrities
As a kid, one of the coolest things to do in London would be to meet the current popular teen idol or favourite movie star. Lucky there is Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, which is almost as good as the real thing.
Have the chance to take photos with your favourite celebrities, or take a few moments to imagine life as part of the British Royal Family. Although chances are, it’s the superheroes and Star Wars wax figures that will really appeal to the kids during their visit to this well known museum. There is also a ride and a 4D movie experience.
If you are travelling with big kids (brave ones), The London Dungeons is up there on the things to do in London with kids. It is a unique experience that tells of London’s darker history through theatrics, special effects and carefully designed sets. You will feel like you have stepped back in time as you become part of the experience.
The Dungeons experience is recommended for 8 years and up, but depending on your child, you may want to wait until they are a little older if you are worried they may become frightened. Think lots of darkness and some loud noises, but also plenty of humour and entertainment. The big kids will love it.
More details can be found on the website, along with their seasonal events.
If your kids are old enough to have enjoyed either the books or films from the popular Harry Potter series, chances are they will be delighted to experience a little bit of Harry’s world while in London.
London Walks offers several Harry Potter Film Locations Tours, taking you deeper into London to see locations that may already be familiar from the films, hidden not so far from major tourist attractions.
The added bonus is that some of the tours actually take you by many of London’s biggest icons, such as Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, which means appeal for the non-fans as well, and a great way to keep the traditional sightseeing tour fun for kids.
And if this isn’t enough Harry excitement, you can always head to the Warner Bros Studio in Leavesden, only 20 miles outside of London and immerse yourself in complete Harry Potter joy, enjoying memorabilia and sets from the films and enjoying the novelty tourist experiences, such as drinking Butterbeer or eating Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Jelly Beans.
6. A Play in the Park
There are many wonderful parks throughout London, some of which are huge. Kids love the opportunity to run free for a bit, especially if they have spent a lot of time indoors seeing famous sites like museums and palaces. Chances are some fresh air may be just what they need.
Kensington Gardens, located next to Kensington Palace, is home to the Diana Memorial Playground. The playground boasts a massive wooden pirate ship, a makeshift beach and teepees, along with plenty more to amuse kids.
The Diana Memorial Playground can be quite popular at times and queue control can be put in place, however it’s a great place for kids to have some fun outdoors. There is also plenty of seating for parents and a cafe for food and refreshments.
7. Explore the Towers
The Tower of London visit allows you to explore deep within one of the world’s most well known fortresses, famous for a variety of purposes over time. This popular London attraction is a huge part of London’s history, and the tour offers something for all ages.
Designed to entertain kids and adults alike, there are many interactive experiences throughout the Tower of London aimed at young children, including children’s trails to discover fun and exciting areas, while learning along the way.
The Tower does get very busy, so go early before the crowds are too large so you can avoid some of the lining up that goes with such a popular attraction.
8. Spark their Curiosity
The Science Museum in London is one of the most popular free attractions, and the most visited Science centre in Europe, with interactive and educational displays to entertain kids and adults alike.
You will find the Apollo 10 command capsule on display, much to the delight of young space fans. There is also the option to experience 3D or 4D simulators, or watch a film on the massive 3D IMAX screen for a cost.
9. Hang With Shrek
The latest tourist attraction aimed at little tourists is Shek’s Adventure! London. Having opened only July 2015, we haven’t had the chance to visit as yet, but our little Shrek fan would be delighted.
Launched as a collaborative attraction by Merlin Entertainment and Dreamworks Animation, kids can meet all their favourite Shrek characters.
The experience brings live-action Shrek shows, a mirror maze and a 4D adventure ride, with special effects created By Dreamworks. A super fun entertainment experience for young kids and Shrek fans.
London’s West End is well known for world famous theatre and musical extravaganzas, with many appealing to family travel as well.
Book tickets to a West End show aimed at kids and families. We saw The Lion King on our last visit and it was amazing!
There are many other great shows featuring long term or for a limited time, well worth seeing, so consider introducing them to a classic story, or find something full of laughs that will surely be a memorable experience for them.
Tips for Finding Things to do in London With Kids:
Book ahead to reduce your time spent waiting in lines and buying tickets
Balance out your sightseeing activities to be an equal mix of fun and history
Get your kids involved in planning where to go and what to see
Explain the history before you visit certain places to boost their excitement
Pack a jacket – it’s London… the weather is rarely warm no matter the season ;)
Consider purchasing a London Pass to cut your sightseeing costs as it includes entry into many major attractions and places of interest
Although great for the views, the London Eye is one attraction you may want to skip if travelling with kids to London, despite the amazing views. The long wait in line and the relatively slow rotation is boring for most younger kids, or at least bring something to entertain me during the rotation.
Some of the palace tours can be a little the same, unless your child has an appreciation for royal residences (which will hopefully be the case with older kids).
Overall, there are so many things to do in London with kids and it is a perfect destination for your next family travel adventure. We have covered only a sprinkling of the potential activities ideal for travelling with kids.