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14 Best Things to Do in London with Kids

During my over 20 years of travel, I’ve visited London many times, including trips with kids in tow. One of my favorite cities, it offers plenty of adults and children alike, from the chance to discover haunting history at the eerily fascinating Tower of London to entering the world of Harry Potter and playing in beautiful parks. There is simply so much fun to be had that no list of things to do with kids in London could possibly include every attraction and activity, but you’ll definitely want to put at least some of these options on your itinerary.

London Eye London Eye
Credit: London Eye by The Official London Eye

London Eye

What Is It? Located along the South Bank of the River Thames, the London Eye is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe at 443 feet high, built as part of the city’s millennium celebrations. It’s not your ordinary Ferris wheel, with 32 large capsules, each holding up to 25 passengers while slowly spinning to provide a panoramic view of the city’s most famous landmarks during the 30-minute ride.

Why Do It? It’s sure to thrill the kids who can compete to see how many of the iconic sites they can spot along the way.

Good to Know: Purchasing same-day tickets is more expensive – buy yours online at least a week in advance.

Thames River Cruise cruising the River Thames, London
Credit: cruising the River Thames, London by © Giancarlo Liguori Pinto Da Silva | Dreamstime.com

Thames River Cruise

What Is It? Hop-on, hop-off cruises are a great way to explore London via the Thames River and can be joined at any of the four piers at Westminster, Greenwich, the London Eye of the Tower of London, making it easy to take in multiple attractions in one day.

Why Do It? It’s a great value, and the kids will enjoy feeling the wind in their hair on the open-air upper deck while taking in the views in a more relaxed way. If the weather isn’t cooperating, there’s a covered saloon too.

Good to Know: Book the river pass, which provides unlimited access to the hop-on, hop-off cruises for 24 hours.

Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus London double decker hop-on, hop-off bus tour
Credit: London double decker hop-on, hop-off bus tour by © Superbo - Dreamstime.com

Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus

What Is It? If you want to see the sights by land, London hop-on, hop-off bus tours are a great way to jump on and off any of the London buses at any of the designated stops, as many times as you wish.

Why Do It? You can save your energy and your feet while making it easier on the kids and enjoying the flexibility to plan your own itinerary. Plus, you’ll be riding in an iconic double-decker bus.

Good to Know: After exploring a destination, you’ll simply wait for the next bus to come along and rejoin the tour.

Maltby Street Market Maltby Street Market, London
Credit: Maltby Street Market, London by © Elenachaykina - Dreamstime.com

Maltby Street Market

What Is It? Maltby Street Market is a popular market beneath the railway arches close to London Bridge Station.

Why Do It? A foodie’s delight, it’s a great way to sample a variety of impressive street foods from the wide range of artisan food stalls lined up along the Ropewalk.

Good to Know: The market is only open on the weekend. Not-to-be-missed spots include famously delicious custard cream-filled doughnuts at St. John Bakery and the sandwiches at Monty’s Deli, ideal for a picnic in the park.

Tower of London Tower of London
Credit: Tower of London by © Mistervlad | Dreamstime.com

Tower of London

What Is It: A historic castle on the River Thames dating back to the 11th century, the Tower of London has had many incarnations. It’s been a castle in wartime, a monarch’s residence during times of peace, and a prison/executioner’s site for rebels. 

Why Do It? It offers a fascinating albeit somewhat creepy look at London’s past, with artifacts like the original ax and block used during executions and a notable haunted history.

Good to Know: You can take a self-guided tour or choose from various guided options like the humorous Beefeater tour and the chilling ghost tour.

Buckingham Palace Buckingham Palace
Credit: Buckingham Palace by © Luckydoor | Dreamstime.com

Buckingham Palace

What Is It? The Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch.

Why Do It? The kids will love getting a close-up look at royalty. Even if you don’t explore further, you can watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony, with the New Guard taking over from the Old Guard. It’s one of the most iconic free things to do in London.

Good to Know: The magnificent State Rooms are open to visitors on selected dates during the winter and spring and for 10 weeks each summer.

Harry Potter Studio Tour Harry Potter Studio Tour
Credit: Harry Potter Studio Tour by Harry Potter Studio Tour

Harry Potter Studio Tour

What Is It? The Harry Potter Studio Tour can be joined in Watford, just outside the city limits of London, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the magical world of Harry Potter.

Why Do It? Harry Potter fans will be thrilled to walk along the famous cobblestone street of Dragon Valley, cast spells with a magic wand, fly your own broomstick, peek into Hagrid’s Hut, or even hop onto Sirius Black’s motorbike.

Good to Know: There’s something for everyone of all ages here, children and adults alike. There’s so much to see – you’ll want at least a half-day to enjoy it.

Sherlock Holmes Museum Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

What Is It? Baker Street was the famous home of the world’s most famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes. Today, it serves as the Sherlock Holmes Museum, the first dedicated to the literary character.

Why Do It? The three-story building that houses the museum is where the two fictional detectives “lived” from 1881 until 1904. It’s decorated in the same style that was described in the novels, complete with decorative objects and furniture from the era. It’s also filled with personal items the characters would have used.

Good to Know: The museum sells items like Holmes’ famous Deerstalker hat and traditional pipes.

Hyde Park Autumn in Hyde Park, London
Credit: Autumn in Hyde Park, London by © Irishka777 | Dreamstime.com

Hyde Park

What Is It? Located next to Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens, 350-acre Hyde Park is one of the world’s greatest city parks.

Why Do It? There’s lots to keep kids entertained, including opportunities for swimming, boating, or just burning off energy by running around. The Princess Diana Memorial Playground is the closest thing to Neverland you’ll find in the city, with a Peter Pan-themed playground that includes a pirate ship. There’s also a cafe serving organic ice cream next to it.

Good to Know: Other notable features include a large lake, meadow, over 4,000 trees, and ornamental flower gardens. There are several interesting buildings and monuments, such as the famous Achilles statue, the Joy of Life fountain, The Serpentine Bridge, and the Diana Memorial Fountain too.

Natural History Museum Natural History Museum, London
Credit: Natural History Museum, London by Natural History Museum, London

Natural History Museum

What Is It? The Natural History Museum is an enormous museum that sits within a neo-Romanesque Victorian building. It includes a vast collection of 50 million different specimens.

Why Do It? There are hundreds of fascinating interactive exhibits, including the dinosaurs with a roaring T. rex and a remarkable model of a blue whale. The iconic Diplodocus skeleton in the Central Hall is always a hit, while the self-guided tour of the Cocoon is a must which includes a glimpse into the laboratories to watch scientists work.

Good to Know: Pick up a map of the museum’s self-guided walking trail. Geared for families, it features the most impressive sights.

British Museum British Museum
Credit: British Museum by British Museum

British Museum

What Is It? One of the world’s top museums and one of the city’s best free attractions, the British Museum displays some of the most notable antiquities on Earth.

Why Do It? While some kids get bored at museums, the British Museum has plenty to keep younger visitors entertained, including a world-famous Egyptian Collection with Egyptian mummies. They’ll probably be quite intrigued with the Lindow “Bog Man” and the Roman Empire artifacts too.

Good to Know: The massive collection includes works of man from prehistoric to modern times from across the globe. Plan to visit earlier in the day before everyone gets worn out and the big crowds arrive.

SEA LIFE Centre London Aquarium SEA LIFE London Aquarium™
Credit: SEA LIFE London Aquarium™ by SEA LIFE London Aquarium™

SEA LIFE Centre London Aquarium

What Is It? An aquarium where you can come face-to-face with more than 10,000 sea creatures, located in the County Hall on the South Bank of the River Thames.

Why Do It? Boredom is a word seldom heard at SEA LIFE Centre London Aquarium, starting with the Shark Walk, where just below a glass floor you’ll see sharks swimming along with sand eels, octopus, and other creatures. By strolling through the Ocean tunnel, green sea turtles and hammerhead sharks will be swimming above you. There’s a colony of Gentoo penguins waiting to welcome you on land too.

Good to Know: Check the aquarium’s schedule for feeding times and animal talks.

Shrek's Adventure London Shrek's Adventure London
Credit: Shrek's Adventure London by Shrek's Adventure London

Shrek's Adventure London

What Is It? Shrek’s Adventure London is a unique walk and ride inspired by the hit DreamWorks Shrek films series providing an interactive experience where kids can meet Shrek, Fiona, Donkey and many other characters.

Why Do It? There are 10 hilarious shows that include classic sets from the Shrek films, a 4D ride with special effects and fantastic DreamWorks animation, and a tour where kids can help crack the code and save Shrek so he gets back to his beloved Swamp safely.

Good to Know: When the 4D bus tour ‘crash lands’ in a strangely familiar swamp, adults and kids alike have to work as a team in order to get “home” again by solving puzzles. In the process, everyone will get face-to-face with Shrek heroes and villains.

Beach Day at Brighton Brighton, England
Credit: Brighton, England by © Michael Gray | Dreamstime.com

Beach Day at Brighton

What Is It? A seaside town with a 4-mile-long promenade and one of the most famous beaches in England.

Why Do It? If you need a break from the city, a beach day in Brighton not only brings the chance to splash around but to enjoy many iconic attractions, including a pier with rides and arcades.

Good to Know: Brighton can easily be reached in just 90 minutes by taking the Southern train from Victoria Station.

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