I have been living and loving London since 2013! One of the most requested posts for the blog is how to visit London with children especially after posting my detailed local guide to London with a four day itinerary. I have been putting off this post since I don’t have children myself, but every time my sister visits me with her kids, I go and find out more details and I am finally ready to share my findings with you all to make your trips to London with children as smooth as possible. I even got contributions from other bloggers with kids in this post.
Tips to visiting London with kids
Best times to visit London with children
The UK in general is tricky when it comes to the weather and one day it’s rainy and another it’s all sunshine. The summer is a fun time to visit because there are so many outdoor activities the kids can enjoy. It’s mostly warm and it’s either really dry or rainy. You would have to pack a rain jacket in case and check the weather daily. That’s what I do here. Christmas is also a fun time to visit because again SO many activities, but it does get really cold if you want to do outdoor activities. Spring and Fall are more quiet, but with less activities.
Location in London
London is a BIG city and I am not exaggerating. Sometimes it takes me an hour and a half from one point of the city to another and when you are travelling with kids you don’t want to spend that long on the road. Unless the kids love it… So, choose your location wisely and make it based on the London activities you want to see. It is the best to just walk to places or take one bus or one tube.
Transportation in London
As I said, London is a very big place, so unless everything is a walking distance, you will need to use the transportation system, which can make life easy or difficult. First, if your child is really young and you need a pram then you have to either have a slim and light city pram or always choose the step-free-access option even if it makes it a longer journey. Honestly you don’t want to be carrying your kid, the pram and your stuff on staircase. This is to be avoided!! Second, you don’t need an oyster card for yourself, all you need is a contactless bank card for the journeys. Kids under 5 travel for free, but kids over 5 will need their own oyster cards.
Note: Just in case you or the kids need the bathroom during the commute, there are public toilets in main stations. Some are free and some you have to pay 50p to get in, so keep some change with you. Map of tube station toilets (pdf)
London is a very busy city and I would highly advice that you book most of your activities in advance especially if you want to see a musical or go for a themed afternoon tea. Everything can be booked online from their websites.
10 Fun Things to do in London with Kids
Natural History Museum in London with children
Contribution from Laura from Travelers Universe
Visiting a museum might not be every kid’s idea of a fun day out in London, but the UK’s capital has some absolutely amazing and educational institutions. Last summer I took my nice to the National History Museum, one of the top places to visit in London, and we both had a blast. We went in the morning since this is usually the quietest time and we figured we’d rather avoid the crowds.
The museum is huge and I wanted to avoid us getting lost and also keep the frustration levels to a minimum so I printed the map of the museum prior to our visit (you can get the PDF from the National History Museum’s website). This proved to be a very smart move.
As I predicted, she loved the dinosaurs best. We also had a good laugh in the earthquake simulator and stopped by the Investigate Center where she could look at fossils through a magnifying glass. This made her so happy! Next time we want to do a dinosaur sleepover. It sounds like tons of fun!
Tate Modern with kids
Contribution from Sima from The Curious Pixie
One of my favourite pastimes is wandering around gallery. I’ve always loved getting lost in someone else’s perception of the world and how that fits in with my own. It’s part of my kids DNA too, or perhaps let’s say ingrained since a very early age.
The Tate Modern is often a popular choice and it makes for the perfect day out for inquisitive mini explorers. Kids get access to some of the greatest and freshest art here, with pieces that educate and engage. Apart from a select few exhibits, much of the gallery is free to visitors but if you do fancy an exhibition under 12s go free.
Ten floors of art is finally finished off with some of the best views of London from the viewing platform at the top of the Switch House. A great spot to stop enjoy a refreshment at the café and admire 360-degree art in London.
London Transport Museum
Contribution from Julie from Girl On The Move Blog
Located in London’s Covent Garden, the London Transport Museum is a wonderful option for both children and adults. Kids, and grown-ups, have the opportunity to learn about the past, present, and future of transportation in London through a variety of hands-on and interactive exhibits. As you follow the free stamper trail through the history of transportation in London, kids receive a stamp at each stop as they learn about trains, busses, the Underground and other modes of transportation. The All Aboard play zone is a can’t miss area in the museum where kids can drive a bus, dress up in various transportation uniforms, repair a train and more fun activities.
In addition to the kid-friendly exhibitions and displays which make this the perfect family outing, this museum is free to kids so it’s very easy on the budget. For adults, your one-day ticket to the museum is actually good for 365 days so you can go back as many times as you’d like for one low price (less than £20!) After your visit to the London Transport Museum, be sure to stop by Milk Train Cafe for an ice cream with candy floss treat!
V&A Museum of Childhood
As you can see London museums and galleries are perfect for kids and adults especially that you can spend hours looking at the art. One of the highly recommended museums is the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood. Not to be confused with the main Victoria and Albert Museum. It is located in East London in Bethnal Green, which is the other end of the main museum. There are dressing up activities and lots of fun things for children and for adults.
The area of the Museum is very Muslim friendly and has halal restaurants and if you go on the weekend you will catch the Broadway Market.
Themed afternoon teas
Looking for a themed afternoon tea started when my cousin and her two daughters said they will visit London and we would all love a good tea experience. Rather than having just an ordinary high tea I suggested we try a themed one because that will be more fun! They are 6 and 10, so I knew they would appreciate it. This is happening next week though, but I am looking forward to trying my first themed afternoon tea in London. Here are few options that I read about during all my online searches that you might like:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Tea – One Aldwych | Info & Booking
Mary Poppins Tea – Aqua Shard | Info & Booking
Science Tea – The Drawing Rooms at Ampersand Hotel | Info & Booking
Mad Hatters Tea – The Sanderson | Info & Booking
Tale as Old as Time Tea – Town House at The Kensington | Info & Booking
Please note these themed afternoon teas are expensive and prices are from £35-£55 per person. All of them offer vegetarian options, some will even have halal choices, but you need to inform them 48 hours in advance.
If you want a nice afternoon tea experience and you are not fussed about the theme or the fancy level of the place, you can try Browns or Patisserie Valerie. Also, make sure to check their timings and book in advance.
Children Musicals in London
I have to admit, I went to this as an adult without a child and LOVED IT! I went to see the Lion King and the whole theatre was full of children and it was just epic! It was SO GOOD! I know recommend it to anyone who is coming to London with a kid.
There are a few that are suitable for kids as well like:
Most of the musicals will tell you the proper age, so check each of them individually before booking.
I would book a show as early as you can because they are not cheap! Prices are from £40-80 for decent seats. I usually try to find cheaper deals on Love Theatre (clickable image below), but sometimes they are always expensive. I have never tried buying a ticket from offices around London and I wouldn’t recommend that.
For Children Who Love Animals
In some of the parks in London, you will see deer, squirrels and lots of birds, ducks and swans, but if your child is into animals then you should checkout The London Zoo and the London Aquarium. I don’t support animals in captivities, so I haven’t been, but I heard good things from parents who have visited. These two activities are slightly expensive, so only consider them if you have a high budget of activities.
The London Zoo is within Regent Park, which is a very central location and if you are Muslims, you can stop in the mosque nearby for prayer as well during the day. Check Zoo Tickets.
The London aquarium is located in central London near the London dungeons and the London eye. Check aquarium Tickets.
Sometimes you can find joint tickets of the main attractions and that should help with the price. Keep in mind that these two place get really busy especially during bank holidays and half term school holiday.
Introduce your children to Street Art and Graffiti
If your kids like street art and graffiti then London is a perfect introduction. You can sign up to a group street tour if the kids are a little older, but if they are young and will get bored from waiting on others or lots of explanation then walk around Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel under waterloo train and tube station or the Nomadic Community Garden near the Shoreditch High Street station.
Ps. a lot of the artists/writers smoke, so you might smell funky things, so keep that in mind before heading there. It’s usually safe and has a nice vibe though.
Active things to do in London for children
Skate Boarding in South Bank or House of vans
Rock Climbing for children
If you are done with all the free park activities, rock climbing might be the next best thing if you have active kids. I started doing it myself as an adult and when I go on a weekend a lot of kids are doing it too and they are so fearless! Depending on the location you are in, you will get few options. The one I personally use and enjoy is The Reach climbing wall, but it is in South London. If you are around West London, there is the climbing wall in Chelsea Gambado Centre and it looks like a lot of fun with all the colourful installations.
Children play centres in London
I am all about getting all the energy out of your children. It works wonders for my nephews and nieces! If the kids aren’t big on rock climbing or skate boarding, you can take them into children play centres and you have a few good options like Zap Space and Kidzania.
Spend time at London Parks
London has a big selection of parks and a quick Google Maps search will show you the closest park to you. I don’t recommending travelling far for a park. They are all pretty and here is a list of the nice ones I personally enjoy:
Regent Park. If you happen to be visiting in the summer, check the activities in the park because sometimes they have movies and theatre shows.
Green Park is a small one, but if you are heading to see Buckingham Palace then you will walk through it and it’s a nice little one to relax.
Greenwich Park might be out of your way if you are staying in West or North London, but if you happen to be coming to South London then this will be perfect for you.
Richmond Park is on the other end in West London and it’s one of the parks that have deer roaming inside.
Holland Park is also a West London park and it has a lovely Japanese garden with peacocks and other cute animals.
Hyde park is so overrated and busy and I never recommend it to anyone, but if it’s on your way then by all means go chill out there.