London is an incredible and vibrant city with a rich history that is a gem to share with kids of all ages. When the boys and I visited there last fall, we were simply overwhelmed with he amount of things to do and see. That’s why we found it hard to narrow down what to do in London. Luckily, we were able to fit a lot into our 6 nights there, and I thought I would share our top 15 things to do in London with kids here on the site for anyone who might be planning a trip of their own soon.
1. Tour the Tower of London
The Tower of London has one of the most diverse histories of any place in London. It has housed a myriad of jobs, rulers and even prisoners since being erected by William the Conqueror in the early 1080’s. Just walking its stone streets and marveling at the live action history retellings going on throughout the day are a treat. See some of the Queen’s Guard at their posts and even take a gander at the Crown Jewels. Children will enjoy seeing the armor of past rulers and standing up on the battlements to get a view of Tower Bridge and the rest of the city. We took a Tower of London Family Tour with Context Travel, but you could certainly explore on your own. Tickets are 25 pounds for adults and 12 pounds for children 5-15.
2. Have a Traditional English Afternoon Tea
Having a traditional English Afternoon Tea experience was high on our list of things to do in London. My oldest especially loved the idea of getting all dressed up to go to a fancy high tea. However, there are casual coffee shops that serve up this traditional experience as well. Kids are sure to enjoy the tasty treats available at these daily affairs, and they can even serve as a light lunch as they did in our case. We particularly enjoyed the kid-friendly Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Tea at the Chesterfield Mayfair.
3. See Big Ben
Big Ben, is the name affectionately given to the large clock at the top of the Elizabeth Tower. Right next to Westminster Abbey, it is a truly iconic London site that should not be missed. Although tours have been temporarily suspended due to refurbishment needed over the next three years, you can still get a magnificent view and even pick up a crepe on the corner of the bridge just across the street.
4. Tour Westminster Abbey
Although we only had time to tour the outside of Westminster Abbey when we visited London, I have heard nothing but rave reviews of actually visiting and touring the inside. It is an absolutely gorgeous piece of architecture with a rich history all its own. Tickets are 20 pounds for adults and 9 for children, with family passes starting at 40 pounds.
5. Ride the Double Decker Buses
With the exception of our feet and a few metro/train rides, we almost exclusively used the iconic red double decker buses as our mode of transportation during our visit to London. There is virtually no learning curve involved, and you can see exactly what stops to get on and off at by quickly using Google to view public transportation travel directions to any destination in the city. No to mention, you can get a 7 day Travelcard for one low price that covers your travel on most forms of public transportation within the different zones of the city for one low price.
6. Stroll the Riverside
This is one of our favorite things to do in London with kids whether it is the night or day. During the day, the banks of the River Thames is lined with carousels, street performers and ice cream vendors. There is an incredible park right by the riverside near the London Eye, and many of the city’s top sights can be seen while strolling the river’s banks. At night, the city comes alive with twinkling lights, river cruises and a magical glow. We love the green space right next to Westminster Abbey for an evening picnic and there is a small play park there as well.
7. .Lunch at Borough Market
London is full of bustling markets, but one of our favorites for families is the ever busy Borough Market. Right in the heart of the city, it is a twisting maze of deliciousness. From fresh baked breads, pastries, homemade cheeses and ready to eat menu items, you can do your grocery shopping and stop for lunch at the Borough Market. Kids will get a kick out of trying Turkish Delight if they have never tried it, and there is a wide range of food available, making it a perfect stop for lunch. No tables? Follow the outside of the building until you come to the side alley, there is a stoop along the building there where you can people watch and enjoy your meal.
8. Stop to See the Queen
No trip to London would be complete without a trip to Buckingham Palace to see the queen. Okay, so you are not likely to see the queen, but seeing the palace is a joy all its own. Don’t miss the Queen Victoria Monument right outside the gates of the palace, and try not to miss the changing of the guards which happens at 11:30am sharp. You can tour some state rooms in Buckingham Palace starting at 23 pounds for adults and 13 pounds for children under 17, but we felt it was a bit spendy for our family, so just toured the outside.
9. Visit Tower Bridge
While the most notable bridge in London is likely the London Bridge, that bridge in and of itself is pretty unremarkable. Tower Bridge on the other hand is a fun family friendly attraction in London. Kids will love everything about going up into Tower Bridge, downloading the fun family app, walking along the glass walkways high above the streets below, taking in the city views and even seeing how the drawbridge operates. Tickets are 8 pounds for adults and 3.50 pounds for children 5-15.
10. Explore the British Museum
Perhaps the best free museum we have ever visited, the British Museum founded in 1753 has been opening its doors to exploration for centuries. We took a family tour of the British Museum with Context Travel, and while you can tour the museum for free on your own, the tour we took was not only super fun, but invaluable in what it taught the boys. If you are not able to book a tour, plan a full day to take in as much of this history packed museum as possible. From ancient Egyptian mummies to Easter Island statues and the Rosetta Stone itself, there are few places you will learn so much for such an incredible value.
11. Go Under the Sea
The Sea Life Aquarium in London is a great place to let the kids roam and explore without the worry of getting lost or getting board. There are a wide range of exhibits and you could easily spend a half day wandering the ocean life presented here. Tickets start at 20.40 pounds for adults and 16.30 pounds for children, but discount tickets bundled with other London attractions are available to help you save.
12. Ride the London Eye
By far one of our most favorite things to do in London, the London Eye provides spectacular views. I highly recommend purchasing the fast track tickets if you are planning to visit on a weekend or during the summer, they will help you skip the huge lines. One revolution of this slow moving wheel takes 30 minutes and allows you to take in views of the city from every angle. Don’t forget to take advantage of the 4D experience included in your ticket price as well. Tickets start at 22.45 for adults and 17.95 pounds for children, but bundled tickets for other area attractions are available to help you save.
13. See a London West End Show
Another one of our favorite London experiences was seeing a show on London’s West End. We went to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was incredibly well done. Buses were not a problem for transportation and the boys stayed engrossed during the whole show. I only paid 17.50 pounds for each ticket on a last minute ticket booking site, and it was well worth the cost.
14. Take the Harry Potter Tour
The Warner Brothers Studio Tour London is an absolute must when visiting London with kids, particularly if they are huge fans of the Harry Potter series. Kids can try their hand at riding a broomstick, casting spells with a wand and sipping butter beer at this popular attraction. It is a self guided tour, so you can spend as little or as much time as you want wandering around. Getting there is just a short 20 minute train ride to Watford Junction, and for 2.50 pounds round trip, a tour bus will pick you up at the station and take you back when you are done. The tour is 39 pounds for adults and 31 pounds for children, with family passes available.
15. Enjoy the Many Parks
Sometimes the thing that can be most exciting for a child is a new park to play in. London has plenty of them nestled in and around popular tourist spots, and there are the perfect place to let the kids blow off some pent up energy in the middle of the day.
If you are planning a trip, and have been wondering what to do in London? The ideas above can give you a great idea of things to do in London with kids. Above all else, try not to get overwhelmed, don’t try to cram too much in and just enjoy your visit to this incredible city.
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