Guide written by Nancy Solomon.
London is an amazing city and a great starting point for families wanting to experience an international destination for the first time. The combination of modern day life and rich history keeps everyone entertained. Because there is no language barrier, it’s easy for families to get around and take in the information, plus there are endless activities, parks, and kid-oriented attractions. There is so much to see and do that prioritizing is a must.
Note: Be sure to read the Day Notes for the kid-friendly details on recommended attractions
Ciao Bambino provides tips and advice around all things related to traveling with kids
and is a guide to the best kid friendly hotels
Day 1 - London
Big Bus Double Decker Tour:
A must-do London experience that will give a broad overview of the city while providing easy transportation. My children learned a lot from the live guides on the bus (there is also a headset available, but they didn’t like those). After the bus tour, think about a private guide. Although they can be expensive, it’s money well spent. We used Context Travel for a Food Tour of London. I also recommend Clare McCoy, a Blue Badge Guide, who is excellent with families.
Tower of London:
This is my favorite site in London. It is not to be missed! There are few places that give you historical insight into medieval times like the Tower. The moat, the Beefeaters, the Jewels, everything has been well preserved and brings you right back to that time period. The Beefeater tour was amusing and the guide engaged my children from the beginning. You can even ice skate in the moat over the winter months. Be sure to check the website to see what special events are happening.
Museum of London:
A great way to get a visual overview of the history of London—the museum covers history from Roman Rule to present day times including the great fire and the plague. There are movies and model displays to deliver the information in multiple ways; this format makes it easier for children to absorb. Don’t forget to pick up activity sheets at the front desk.
A healthy and delicious noodle house, Wagamama is perfect for families. It’s fast, reasonably priced and offers a variety of foods that kids like. They have locations all over the city.
48 Buckingham Palace Road
SW1W ORN London, United Kingdom
tel: +44 20 7233 9533
fax: +44 20 7828 0638
Off Tower Bridge Approach
Tower Hill, EC3
EC3N4AB London, England
150 London Wall, EC2
EC2Y 5HN London, England
fax: +44 20 7001 1058
4 Streatham St., WC1
WC1A 1JB London, England
Day 2 - London
Use this day to relax and explore the heart of London. Stroll through Piccadilly Circus (a simple walk through is sufficient) and enjoy highlights including Hamleys, Fortnum and Mason, and Covent Garden.
A mega toy store loaded with original creations and people running displays of the toys. It’s an easy and fun stop with kids right in the heart of the city.
Fortnam and Mason:
The food hall and restaurants in this grocery store is like no other. Think Tiffany’s for food. Everything is beautiful and you can see why the Queen shops here. Look for more interesting items like Chocolate covered ant. Also, it’s perfect spot to stock up for a picnic lunch
This is a family favorite and we went back multiple times. Kids love the outrageous street entertainers. There are a variety of dining options and the London Transportation Museum is an easy stop and located here.
This enormous museum needs to be tackled with a plan in mind. Highlights for kids include the Rosetta Stone, armor displays, and mummies. There are a series of different “trails” for families based on ages and interests. These “trails” and other activities are available at the Paul Hamlyn Library. You can also take a look online and choose what you’d like to see.
188-196 Regent St., W1
W1B 5BT London, England
181 Piccadilly, W1
W1A 1ER London, England
fax: +44 20 7437 3278
WC2E 8RF London, United Kingdom
tel: +44 20 7234 5800(Tourist Information)
fax: +44 20 7378 6525(Tourist Information)
Covent Garden Piazza
Covent Garden Piazza
WC2E 7BB London, United Kingdom
tel: +44 20 7565 7299 / +44 20 7379 6344
fax: +44 20 7565 7254
Great Russell Street
Great Russell St., WC1
WC1B 3DG London, England
fax: +44 20 7323 8616
Day 3 - London
Royalty is important in London and novel for kids (at least American kids). With enthralling stories of kings and queens, the whole family will be eager to see the royal sites.
Buckingham Palace/Royal Mews/The Orangery:
At Buckingham Palace, the pageantry displayed with the Changing of the Guard is well worth waiting wading through the crowds. You can see what “royal treatment” means for horses at the Royal Mews and the “coloring room” offers a quick family break. Embrace the British tradition of high tea at the Orangery
London offers a vast selection of public parks, including Kensington Park (Princess Diana’s playground with a pirate ship), Regent Park (zoo), Hyde Park (swimming, boating, and fishing)—all are outstanding.
SW1A 1AA London, United Kingdom
tel: +44 20 783 9137
West Carriage Drive
W2 2UH London, United Kingdom
tel: +44 (0)20 7298 2100
Day 4 - London
Perfect options for rainy days, London has an amazing collection of museums. Pre-screen them online to see which ones interest your group the most.
This fun and innovative museum is an easy stop along the Thames riverfront walk. When you enter the building, the Turbine Halls are striking (the building is a converted power station). This open space is a blast for kids. Amazing artwork and giant sculptures are casually displayed all over the museum. The low key atmosphere and interesting exhibits appeal to children of all ages. They even have an excellent online art site: http://kids.tate.org.uk/.
Imperial War Museum:
The Imperial War Museum has huge tanks and a terrific exhibit on the “Children’s Experience of the War.”
Natural History Museum:
Housed in a beautiful Victorian building, this museum has plenty of exhibits that will keep the young naturalist happy for hours, with excellent children’s guides and resources. At the information desk you can buy discover guides
Younger children will enjoy the activities about the way we’re made in the Human Biology Gallery, the nearby large mammals dominated by the Blue Whale suspended from the ceiling, and the hands-on activities in the Creepy Crawlies Gallery. Older children and teenagers should head for the Red Zone through the Earth Hall into a noisy, bubbling world of volcanoes and the earth being created. In the basement, you can check out the Investigate hands-on science centre for 7-14 year olds, where you can explore the world in more depth using the computers and microscopes.
When you walk into the spacious entrance of the Science museum, the first impressions are of space, light and color. This museum has loads of hands-on activities to suit all ages, from toddlers to teens. Beside the information desk are touch screens to help plan your visit. On every floor you can find hands on activity areas designed for different age groups and in between plenty of larger exhibits like cars, boats, planes and even a space capsule.
For toddlers, there’s The Garden in the basement for fun with water play, climbing and exploring areas, and on the ground Floor, the Pattern Pod is an enclosed area for 5-8 year olds to explore all aspects of pattern and touch. Both have buggy parking areas, cafes and picnic areas nearby, and there are ‘Explainers’ in Orange T-shirts to help you. Launchpad is ideal for 8-14 year olds with two large areas full of hands-on activities to explore how things work and I saw groups of teenagers enjoying the galleries demonstrating how energy affects our lives.
This giant Ferris wheel offers amazing view for everyone on board. You may want to save this to the end of your trip, so that the children recognize what they are seeing.
SE1 9TG London, England
Lambeth Rd., SE1
SE1 6HZ London, England
fax: +44 20 7416 5374
Cromwell Rd., SW7
SW7 5BD London, England
Exhibition Rd., SW7
SW72DD London, England
fax: +44 20 7942 4730