The ultimate list of best things to do in London with kids. Enjoy free and paid attractions. Educational and whimsy. See the best London has to offer.
Traveling to London with kids is often easier than other parts of Europe namely because the kids can understand and read the language.
I can honestly say I don’t travel like I used to. Before my daughter was born, if I was visiting a new city, especially in Europe, I would be gone from morning until night. Times have changed and I realize the importance of keeping her to a schedule.
It is also important to leave time for fun. Instead of wandering museums all day, show your kids a different side of the city.
Visit these top sites when traveling to London with kids:
Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard
The palace itself is a wonder to see. So much history right in front of you. It is the official London residence of the Queen.
Due to this, palace tours are only offered when the Queen is on summer holiday, usually between July and September.
The changing of the guards is a daily event (the times change, so be sure to check the website for the most up to date information). It encompasses royal pomp and circumstance, a band and precision drill that excites both kids and adults.
This event can be extremely busy. Once you have a viewing area, you don’t want to move because you won’t be able to get this same place again. Bring water and snacks to keep the little ones occupied until the ceremony starts. You may want to sit the littlest ones on your shoulder so they can see better.
Admission to watching the Changing of the Guard is free.
Buckingham Palace tours, when available, are $31 for adults and $17 for children 5-16 (under 5 is free). There is also a family pass for 2 adults and up to 3 children for $71.
Ranked as the number one most visited museum in London, it’s not hard to see why. This museum is dedicated for the people. Ninety-three galleries showcase artifacts up to two million years old. Popular attractions are the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies, and Parthenon sculptures.
The museum has special activities for those visiting London with kids. They created 8 different ‘trails’ to explore. In addition, there are family challenges around the museum. Visit the British Museum’s family page for details or the Families Desk in the Great Court (on weekends and school holiday) or the Information Desk in the Great Court during other times.
Oh, and admission is free!
The London Eye
My frugal self cringes at the price tag. However, my husband talked me into it and I’m glad he did! The London Eye is a new-age ferris wheel. They call it ‘a cantilevered observation wheel’. It is in the heart of London at the edge of the River Thames.
You sit in one of 32 high tech glass capsules. The Eye takes 30 minutes for a full rotation. On a clear day, the view is spectacular. You can see as far out as 24 miles. Looking closer at the city, Parliament is right in front of you as are sweeping views up and down the river.
An adult ticket is $31 and a child ticket (under age 16) is $25. Children 3 and under are free, but they still need a ticket, so be sure to mention this at the ticket window. You can also order tickets online.
Little TFT absolutely loved this attraction. There were iPads in each capsule that explained what you were looking at from different viewpoints. This was fun and very educational. I would definitely do this again!
Hyde Park and Princess Diana Memorial Playground
What a beautiful way to spend an afternoon. Start by walking through Hyde Park toward Kensington Palace. Enjoy the beautiful park which eventually leads you to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. This playground opened in 2000 in tribute to the princess and her love of children.
A huge wooden pirate ship surrounded by sand is the centerpiece of the playground. Take time for the children to play and see their incredibly happy smiles as they are having fun. There is a sensory trail, teepee’s, swings and play sculptures.
Honestly, little TFT didn’t want to leave. Why should she? This is how she enjoys spending time. We stayed here awhile to let her play with other kids her age. After all, this is her vacation, too. Seeing her huge smile while on the swings was one of the things I remember most when I think back to this vacation.
Admission is free.
Take a boat ride
What kid doesn’t enjoy a cruise along the lake? It doesn’t even need to be a fancy boat. We took a ‘river bus cruise’. Basically, instead of hopping on a city bus, you take a river bus to get you to your destination. Pretty cool!
We used this to get from our hotel in Canary Wharf to the London Eye. Both had stops on the Thames Clipper river bus. We had a fantastic view of the river and the sites surrounding it.
Price depends on your origin and destination. Oyster cards can be used for a small discount. Children 5 and under are free.
Tower of London
One of the most popular tourist attractions is The Tower of London, officially called Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London.
You could really spend 3-6 hours touring this mammoth attraction. It’s not actually just one building, but rather a conglomeration of many.
Visit the White Tower and its armory, the Bloody Tower, see the famous ravens that guard this fortress and see the Tower Green. The Royal Mint has hands-on exhibitions and coins that reflect the life of the monarch’s that ruled. View a reproduction of the lodging of two kings at the Medieval Palace.
But, the highlight for many will be The Crown Jewels. A collection of 23,538 gemstones is on display. Some of these pieces are still used in important ceremonies today.
As of this writing, walk up admission to the Tower of London is approximately $35 for adults and $16 for children. Those 4 and under are free. In addition, there are family saver passes so check that out before you go. Purchase online and get a 15% discount.
While some may confuse it with ‘London Bridge’, the Tower Bridge is an iconic symbol of London. It is open to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The bridge’s two towers are connected by a walkway at the top.
Part of that walkway is clear glass! Yep, you can view passing traffic right below you on a section of the platform.
Both towers have (different) museums within them telling you about the history of Tower Bridge as well as its architecture.
We only walked up to the bridge and did not venture upstairs across the enclosed platform, although it does look like a fun thing to do on clear days. I have this on my list of things to do next time we are in London!
If you time it right, you can even see the bridge below you opening for special barges or steamboats. Check the Tower Bridge Lift Times.
Admission to the towers and walkway is $13 for adults and $4 for children. There are also family saver passes and discounts online if you reserve more than 24 hours in advance.
Big Ben is the iconic clock tower at the British Parliament. It is 315 feet tall and would take 334 steps to climb to the belfry and 399 steps to climb to the light at the top.
Only UK residents are able to tour the tower by writing to the House of Commons. Visitors are not allowed entry but can tour Parliament next door.
Big Ben is currently undergoing renovation. Scaffolding went up late 2017 and is expected to last until some time in 2021. During this time, one of the four clock faces will remain working throughout the project, however, the chimes have stopped for now.
Families traveling with children in London can tour Parliament on a special family tour. They last 90 minutes and can fill up so advance reservations are recommended. Ticket prices are $24 per adult. Children up to 15 are free but still require a ticket.
Harrod’s Food Halls
Yes, Harrod’s. Now, this isn’t a typical food court you see in just any shopping mall. After all, this is Harrod’s. The beauty and opulence of it are just as enticing as the food. And the desserts! Walk down row after row of breathtaking decadent desserts. I don’t suggest going when you are hungry.
Buy something for a picnic in the park. Pack something to go. What kid doesn’t enjoy a great cupcake for dessert! This place is truly a sight worth seeing while you are in London.
Admission is free, but food prices vary.
Eat at a British Pub
Yes, it may be touristy, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun! We ate at the Goat Tavern near Kensington Palace, but you can find pubs everywhere. Of course, we had to try the fish and chips!
London. So many wonderful places to see. You can find plenty of other museums mentioned in guidebooks. But, remember your children want to enjoy themselves as well.
Don’t forget to take time out for them to enjoy the sites, the parks and the overall London vibe.
We even visited The Disney Store and picked up a Disney re-usable tote because it had Big Ben and the English flag on it.
It may not be as educational as going to the British Museum, but you can do both.
Incorporate something fun your kids would like to do with a museum trip. You may be surprised at what you remember most. A win-win for the entire family.
Interested in flying to London at a discount? Check out these step by step directions on getting there on the cheap.
Want more fun places to vacation with your children? See the following posts for great information:
Have you taken your children to London? What have been your favorite kid-friendly things to do?