London with kids, tips and things to do
Have you thought about what to do in London with the kids during your vacation? Don't miss all these ideas and tips to make your trip go smoothly!
If you are planning to travel to London with your family soon, you will surely want to plan some activities during your stay so that the children can also have fun and make the most of this experience.
The leisure offer in the British capital is huge and there are many things to see and do there. To help you choose, in this post you will find several suggestions and tips to enjoy London with the kids to the fullest. We are sure that when you return home you will have lots of fantastic anecdotes and memories to tell!
1. Ride the tour bus with the kids to explore London
London is one of the largest cities in Europe and between its different tourist attractions there is usually a long distance.
Walking up and down the city sightseeing to get to each of them can be a very appetizing plan for adults with an explorer soul but for children it can be tremendously exhausting. Especially for the little ones.
So that they can also enjoy the most touristy side of London without tiring quickly and can reserve their energy to make visits to the various museums and monuments of the city, I recommend you get tickets for the tourist bus in London.
It will allow you to discover the main sights of the British capital while traveling comfortably seated during the route, being able to get on and off at the stop you want to visit a particular area.
Also the kids will love to ride on a huge red double-decker bus! It will be like a little adventure for them. If you would like to use this transport during your trip to London, I advise you to read the post The best tourist buses where you will find all the details about this activity.
2. Book in advance your tickets to the West End musicals
Attending one of the West End musicals is an essential plan to do in London with children one afternoon during a vacation in the city. After spending the whole day among museums, monuments and stores, the kids also need some time to have fun during the trip.
The best end to a day of sightseeing with parents is to immerse for a few hours in the fantasy worlds that musicals transport them to with their fabulous stories, staging and musical numbers full of lights, magic and color.
West End musicals are some of the best in the world (with permission of Broadway!) so many people want to attend a performance during their stay in London. If you plan to do the same to give the kids a surprise, my advice is to get your tickets in advance to secure your seats at a particular show on the date you want.
And how can you do that? The best way is to buy tickets online as it will allow you to book them from home before traveling. This way you will avoid standing in line with the children at the theater box office and spend time making other plans with them around London.
Don't be afraid if you don't speak English. Many of the musicals on the billboard have their film version (Mary Poppins, The Lion King, Cinderella, The Prince of Egypt, etc.) so that even if you do not speak the language you can easily follow the plot. It will be an experience that the kids will not forget!
3. Experience the magic of Harry Potter at the Warner Bros. Studios
During the vacations in London, the kids will be thrilled to visit the Harry Potter Studios Park, the place where all the movies of the saga were filmed. It's a magical place!
They will have a great time touring the original sets of the movies (the Gryffindor Common Room, the Great Dining Room, the corridors of Hogwarts, etc.), learning how the movies were made and the special effects that were used to recreate this fantasy world. For a moment you will feel part of the story as if you were a student of the famous school of wizardry.
In fact, you do not have to visit the Harry Potter Studios Park dressed as Muggles, but you can dress up as witches and wizards to immerse yourself in this special atmosphere even more. Surely the kids will find it a fun idea and you will also get some great photos.
Of course, plan this tour well in advance because it is one of the most popular attractions in London and tickets fly. If you want to know how and where you can buy them, do not miss the post Harry Potter Studios London Park Tickets.
4. Take them to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham to learn about local culture
I'm sure at some point, the kids have seen a picture in a book or brochure about the Foot Guards and asked you who are those people in red coats and big black furry hats.
If these soldiers catch their attention, take them to meet them at Buckingham Palace during the famous Changing of the Guard- they'll be amazed!
What is the experience like?
It is a very colorful military parade of about 45 minutes that takes place at the main entrance of Buckingham Palace to relieve the Queen's Guards who are in charge of the security of the residence of Queen Elizabeth II.
During the ceremony you will see regiments of guards on horseback and on foot who are accompanied by a military orchestra that plays the most curious music to liven up the exhibition (The Lion King, The Beatles, Star Wars, etc.). It's super fun! And free, since no ticket is needed for the Changing of the Guard.
For the kids, this will be a very original and entertaining way to get closer to British culture. They are sure to love the experience.
5. Visit Hamleys, London's oldest toy store
Surely the kids will be very excited if you buy them a souvenir of your trip to London, but where to find the ideal souvenir for children? If you want to get the gift right, I advise you to go to Hamleys, one of the oldest toy stores in London with more than 250 years old. That's nothing!
If you've ever been to New York, Hamleys probably reminds you of the famous FAO Schwarz but in a British way. It is a store with several floors divided by areas: outdoor toys, teddy bears, video games, board games, candy and much more.
The curious thing about Hamleys is that in addition to being able to admire thousands of toys on their shelves, store employees also perform live demonstrations and even organize games with children. This is something you don't see very often and the kids will surely love the idea of being able to have fun with so many toys - they won't want to leave!
If you want to take a tour of the toy store, you'll find it at 188-196 Regent Street, one of the most commercial streets in central London.
And if you like interactive games I propose for you and your children this other experience of virtual exploration game with which you can explore the Mayfair neighborhood discovering its mysteries and legends. Just download the application and you will be able to discover the most hidden places in London following the hidden clues.
6. Avoid night cruises with the kids
Night cruises on the Thames are ideal for enjoying London's illuminated landmarks and seeing the city from a different perspective. There are even dinner cruises with live music but they are designed for a romantic and intimate evening (an anniversary, Valentine's Day or birthday) rather than a family activity.
In fact, they usually take place late in the day when children are already more tired after an exhaustive day of sightseeing and also some of these night cruises do not allow access to children under 12 years old so they are not the best choice when you go with children.
Which cruises are best suited for children?
For that there are daytime cruises on the Thames, where there are special prices or rates on children's tickets and whose duration is less than that of night cruises.
In this way, children can feel the thrill of riding a boat and navigate the waters of the river while having fun seeing the monuments posted on the banks and imagining that they are intrepid explorers.
If you are interested in doing a cruise in London with the kids, I recommend you to take a look at the post The best cruises on the Thames where you will find some very cool proposals to do with the family.
7. Go and play in the playgrounds of London
London is a city that has a dizzying pace and where there are always a thousand plans to do, even if you decide to visit the British capital with your family. But in the midst of so many activities, it is always nice to take a break and find a moment to disconnect from all the tourist hustle and bustle.
One place I love to enjoy a quiet atmosphere are the parks of London. If it's a sunny day and the temperatures are warm enough, a very fun plan to do with the family is to go for a picnic in one of the many gardens and parks that exist in the city.
Besides having a snack on the grass or sunbathing, you can also enjoy the views of the landscape and vegetation while listening to the chirping of birds. And, of course, you can have a great time playing with the kids. They will love to have some free time between sightseeing to jump, run and play at their own pace.
Here are some of the coolest playgrounds you can take the kids to:
- Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens.
- Coram's Fields in Camden.
- Timber Lodge and Tumbling Bay Playground in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
- Kilburn Grange Adventure Park in Kilburn Grange Park.
- St James's Park Playground in St James Park.
8. Be amazed by the wax figures at Madame Tussauds
If after touring some of the museums in London making cultural visits you feel like spending a different time in a museum, you can not miss the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city since it opened back in the nineteenth century.
This is an experience where children will have a great time and will always remember because, unlike other museums, at Madame Tussauds all visitors can interact with the wax figures that are part of the exhibits. There they will find their favorite artists and fictional characters such as Taylor Swift, Little Mix, One Direction, Spiderman, Captain America or Hulk, among many others, with whom they can take all the pictures they want in the museum's sets.
And not only that! Inside Madame Tussauds there are also several "interactive experiences" that will make your visit much more fun. On the one hand, in Alien Escape you can climb aboard the Covenant ship to face the fearsome Alien and in 'Kong: The Skull Island' you will come face to face with the giant King Kong.
On the other hand, if they like superheroes, children will be amazed with the 'Marvel 4-D Cinema Experience', a film with amazing special effects that will make you feel as if you were fighting side by side with these characters in a battle.
9. Stroll among the sharks at the Sea Life Aquarium.
All children love animals and spending some time with them is sure to be a plan that they will really enjoy. That's why one attraction you can't miss during your trip to London is the Sea Life Aquarium, the largest aquarium in England.
It is located in the heart of the city and is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with the family enjoying the underwater nature. There live more than 500 different species of animals, including sharks, seahorses, octopuses, penguins and manta rays, to name a few.
They are divided into themed areas where you can learn a lot of interesting facts about their habitat and way of life, although, in my opinion, the most impressive part of the visit is the glass tunnel of the Sea Life Aquarium, a corridor submerged in the water where you can walk while accompanied by fierce sharks and other aquatic creatures. It's an amazing experience!
10. Step inside the HMS Belfast
If you decide to take a cruise on the Thames with the kids, in one part of the river tour you will see anchored on one of the banks the HMS Belfast, a huge destroyer ship that during World War II and the Korean War participated in numerous naval operations. If the kids like ships, this will be a visit they will really enjoy so don't hesitate to add it to your agenda
The outside of the ship is impressive and the inside is really cool! The trip to London is a great opportunity to see an attraction as different as this one.
The HMS Belfast is currently a ship-museum of the British Royal Navy that opens its doors to show what life was like at sea on a ship of this kind in the past.
The tour is more entertaining than it seems at first because in addition to learning the history of the ship you can also enter the rooms where soldiers and sailors spent much of the time during the missions as the control room, cabins, the infirmary, the kitchen or the cellar, among others. You will not have seen anything like it!
Other fun activities to do with children
This is not the end of London's endless fun for kids. Here is a selection of other plans to enjoy with the family:
- The London Zoo has more than 750 species where you can also walk through the gardens of what is considered the oldest animal park in the world. You will love to meet the family of silverback gorillas!
- Your children can't miss the incredible experience of the interactive city of Kidzania in London, where they can enjoy endless activities to imagine what they will be when they grow up: they can dress up as their favorite professions.
- Shrek's Adventure is a great theme park where you will meet the most popular characters of the magical world of Dreamworks.
- Culture is not incompatible with fun either. That's why the National Gallery has a guided tour exclusively for children, in which they will show the impressive works of the collection in an educational but very entertaining way.
Take advantage of reduced prices for children on tours and tickets
London is not exactly a cheap city. So, if you are traveling there with your family, you probably want to know how you can save a little money during your vacation.
A good way is to take advantage of the reduced rates on children's tickets to the different tourist attractions. Normally babies up to 3 years old get free admission but it depends on the activity and age range. In any case you can find very interesting prices for children. Here are some examples:
- London Eye: From 35 € for children's reduced rate tickets (between 3 and 15 years).
- Sea Life Aquarium: From 28 € for tickets with reduced child rate (between 3 and 15 years).
- Madame Tussauds Museum: From £32 for children's reduced price tickets (between 3 and 15 years old).
- Harry Potter Studios Park: From £46 for children's reduced price tickets (between 5 and 15 years old).
- HMSBelfast: From £14 for children's reduced price tickets (between 5 and 15 years old).
For example, when booking your tickets online and in advance on pages like Hellotickets, you have the possibility to select the age range of the children, so that the reduced rate that you will have to pay for each of them is calculated instantly.
As for babies, although they can access a multitude of activities for free, it is advisable that you also select their free admission, as this will avoid confusion in access to monuments, museums or other sites of interest.
Get the London tourist passes to get the most out of your trip
If during your vacation in the British capital you plan to visit a lot of places, London tourist cards can help you to fulfill your plans without ruining your plans.
They will give you access to many attractions while allowing you to save money by not having to pay each entry separately and having a reduced price for children's passes.
- London Pass: From 48 € the child pass.
- London Explorer Pass: From 22 € the child pass.
- Merlin's Magical London Pass: From 47 € the child pass.
It is also a great option to consider when traveling with children because they have special offers in many theaters, restaurants, stores and other entertainment venues, something that always comes in handy. In addition, with these tourist cards you can avoid the queues that form at the entrance gates. As you can see, they are all advantages!
If you visit London with children I recommend choosing the London Explorer Pass, the Merlin's Magical London Pass or the Magic London Pass, although if you want to know in detail about these tourist passes do not miss the post The best tourist card in London where all of them are analyzed in depth.
Schedule the visits better in the morning and give them time to play
When it comes to sightseeing as a family, the best time of day to schedule the outing is early in the morning as children are usually up early and wake up with a lot of energy. This way they will be more awake and active to go on excursions or cultural visits.
In addition, early in the morning there are usually not so many visitors or large groups at the tourist attractions in London so you will avoid the crowds that usually form at peak times and that can test the patience of the kids when they have to wait in line.
Finally, I suggest that in the afternoons, when they are more tired, plan some activity where the children can have fun before you go to the hotel to rest to regain strength for the next day. For example, go for a trip to the toy shops in London, Madame Tussauds Museum or the Sea Life Aquarium.
Plan your meals in plenty of time
If during your vacation in London you plan to spend the whole day out sightseeing, it is advisable to plan ahead for the kids' meals.
It is not a trivial matter because although the city has a great gastronomic offer it is also a very touristy place and in the central hours of the day (especially on holidays or in high season) it is not easy to find a free table in certain areas if you do not have a reservation.
This could be a problem if you don't know much about London and at the end of an activity you have to walk around the center looking for an available place because everything is full. The children could end up losing patience and have a tantrum if they are very hungry!
So it is always a good idea to carry several snacks in your bag and, of course, know in advance some good restaurants where to eat near some tourist attractions like the London Eye, The Shard or the Tower of London. It will help you a lot when the time comes!