Among the European capitals, there is a city particularly appreciated by kids, like Prague for us – a city full of museums and exhibitions, many of them free, with green areas, castles, and bridges over the river, windows and shops full of toys. Let’s take the raincoat and the rain boots because here the weather changes a lot and go to the North. Let’s go to visit London together with our kids!
When you plan a trip in a huge capital there is always the same doubt – what to do with children? Will it be suitable for a family trip? What to visit? London offers many opportunities and activities to do with little travelers. We will try to introduce you to the most fascinating, which are not always the most expensive as well.
What to do in London with children?
Which museums to visit in London
The capital is very large and to move in it you can use the public transport – bus or subway. Children under 10 years old accompanied by an adult with a ticket travel for free. http://www.tfl.gov.uk/ Print the page from the site and take it with you when you travel. You may meet some poorly informed conductor!
The first stop of this London-with-children handbook is the National History Museum. The building itself is very fascinating, with the interior reminding to Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s wizard school. A Diplodocus’s skeleton welcomes us in the lobby and gives us a taste of the dinosaurs’ room where children will be amazed by skeletons and realistic reconstructions in motion. The exhibit is very wide and covers every field of the natural and environmental sciences. The setting is suitable for children and teenagers with many interactive apps. The tickets are free. More info at http://www.nhm.ac.uk/
The Science Museum is in the same area, around the corner. The crowd of enthusiastic kids moves from a room to another between huge puffing steam machines, planes, and suspended missiles, vintage cars stacked on the wall, a reconstruction of the lunar module lem, vintage electronic gadgets in the shop window. In the basement, there is a whole section dedicated to children’s fun; a really fun interactive playground, “The Garden”. There are so many attractions in the museum complex and the tickets are free for all the permanent ones. Special exhibitions, IMAX cinema, and flight texts require the payment of a ticket. http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/
The British Museum might seem unsuitable for children. It is the place where some of the most important historical finds in the world are collected, such as the Rosetta stele. It is instead a great place to visit with children. With its wide spaces, the most interesting rooms for children will the Egyptian gallery and the mummies on the first floor, the Assyrian-Babylonian, Roman and African ones. Tickets are free, offers are welcomed. http://www.britishmuseum.org/
The Tate Modern is another exhibitions place in London to visit with children. The great red-brick building, formerly the city’s hub, is now a Modern and Contemporary art museum that stands out majestically on the Tames river. The best way to reach it is through the Millenium Bridge, the modern pedestrian bridge. The huge central hall will amaze your children, being very scenic and resembling a Star Wars spaceship. Upstairs there are modern art masterpieces placed in wide rooms suitable for children as well. The tickets are free. http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern
War is a really difficult subject to explain to children and visiting the Imperial War Museum may be the right opportunity to think about it together. The exhibition is very wide and well placed; the means and objects – mostly from the First and Second World Wars – tell a sad story, but also the bravery of those who lived those days in the first person, surviving the Nazi bombs in London for a very long time. Children will discover and virtually control tanks, submarines, and airplanes. The realistic reconstruction of a Great War’s trench with audio included is very suggestive. The tickets are free. http://www.iwm.org.uk
More family attractions in London
If the weather permits, London offer so many outdoor activity, since the city loves children! Parks are exciting, such as Hyde Park and Regent Park. The first one offers wide spaces for playing, a large playground in memory of Diana Spencer located in the Kensington Gardens, two ponds with pedal boats for the summer, the statue of Peter Pan and many squirrels waiting for nothing else but to eat peanuts directly from the hands of the children. Regents Park is home of the London Zoo. You can book your tickets online and save 10% http://www.royalparks.org.uk/.
To make the children runs a little bit, the Coram’s Fields playground is a great place as well and it is close enough to the British Museum. The tickets are free.
The little knightly lovers will definitely appreciate a visit to Temple Church, the historical headquarters of the Templar Knights, who are still portrayed today with stone effigies in the round room of the church made famous by the movie “Da Vinci Code”. Tickets are free, but you should ask about access times because they are quite limited. http://www.templechurch.com
Under the Queen’s house, Buckingham Palace, there is the change of guard (ask about the timetables: http://www.royal.gov.uk/RoyalEventsandCeremonies/ChangingtheGuard/Overview.aspx) and along The Mall avenue, the parade on horseback will enchant your children!
For young history lovers, the Tower of London is spectacular https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/ , a historic fortress from the time of the first Roman settlements and still today the keeper of the crown jewels, a great destination for half a day.
Across the street is the Tower Bridge Museum of London, and not far from there is a well-kept and interactive exhibition on the history of the capital, free entry. http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk
Another interesting exhibition to discover the history of London but especially its river port is the Museum of London Docklands, equipped for families with children. It has a gallery dedicated to children under 5 with different activities and interactive games; older children will appreciate the reconstructions of the natural size of the alleys of the port at the beginning of 900 with lots of inns (pubs) and market, for info http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/visiting-us/visits-families/family-favourites/ free entrance.
The Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, South London, is a free museum with an extensive collection of anthropological exhibits, especially African, natural history and musical instruments. To the delight of the children, there are also aquariums, gardens, and cafes, as well as activities and events for the whole family. http://www.horniman.ac.uk/
If you have aspiring young pirates accompanying you, in Greenwich, on the outskirts of London reachable by the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), you can also find the Cutty Sark, an 1869 English sailing ship (family ticket £29), and the National Maritime Museum (free). http://www.rmg.co.uk/visit/
Markets, shops and more in London
The markets are great deterrents for small travelers, we recommend those of Portobello Road and Spitalfields for gifts and crafts, Camden for eccentric clothing, the Borought market temple of food in a charming location near the train station and just below the Shard, the tallest skyscraper in Europe designed by Renzo Piano. On this website, you can find the opening days and times of the markets http://www.londonmarkets.co.uk/
The shops where to bring children are not lacking in this big city, Hamleys on Regent Street is the best known: five floors full of toys, entertainers, and enthusiastic children, a visit to this children’s paradise cannot be denied to even the most rascals. Another inevitable stop is the toy department at Harrods, the luxury ones will make you smile by scrolling the label with the price at many zeros. A tip in times of crisis? Toys, at least the most common, cost less from John Lewis on Oxford Street not far from the Disney Store. Passing through Leicester Square, looking for a ticket to a musical such as Shrek, Billy Elliot or The Lion King, you’ll literally fall into the M&M’s store, you’ll hardly get out without a bag of colorful chocolate confetti. Walk then towards Covent Garden, among the different shops you will find a very special one, the Bear Workshop, where the bear you order is “tailor-made” including clothes. Once out of the shop, the street artists, often present on the square, will entertain the children with their hilarious performances.
If your travel budget is not limited London with children offers a lot of attractions for a fee, the most recent is “The making of Harry Potter”, an exhibition by Warner Bros that traces in film studios the story of the young wizard with a reconstruction of the Hogwarts castle school and breathtaking special effects. The cost of the family ticket is 83 pounds. Here are the Rowling books on amazon to prepare for the trip!
Also worth mentioning are the London Eye, which has become a symbol of the city (book your tour in advance, however), the Sea Life London Aquarium, the London Dungeon, a somewhat frightening reconstruction of the mysterious events of the city, Shrek’s Adventure – these attractions are all close by across the river to Westminster, and finally Madame Tussauds’ wax museum that is really great, as well as a fantastic ride on the train to discover London and 4D cinema.
Stop at Kings Cross station in front of the track sign 9¾ and imagine the Hogwarts wizard chasing the train to the magic school, take a picture under the huge lions of Trafalgar Square or just play in one of the city’s many gardens! These are just a few examples of what you can do in this great metropolis. If what we have presented to you seems not enough, you are right, London is much more, but take it as a beginning, the first chapter of a big book, you will have a good reason to go back to browse the pages and discover better this fantastic city with your children.
Where to stay in London with kids
Did you like our London with children? It is time to think about where to stay. A good chain of hotels not too expensive is Premier Inn. We have experienced them during our trip to Scotland with great feedback. Breakfast for children up to 16 years is free as well as sleeping in the room with parents without having to pay a penny more. London Tower Bridge, London County Hall or Waterloo are very central and could be a good base for discovering London with your children, but there are also others in the same hotel chain in the city.
This was our experience in London with some tips on where to sleep at a good price if you want to be satisfied with a b&b or a kind of hostel. We also enjoyed our stay at the Hotel Luna & Simone, which was born as a b&b and has since become a hotel, and is located near Victoria Station. Here also some low-cost tips.
Get inspiration and information about London
Still not happy? If you’re getting ready to leave for the English capital I would suggest a guide like London by Lonely Planet. Everything you’ve always wanted to know about London. You know that every trip is an adventure! For you a map cannot be missing in your suitcase.