Planning a holiday to London for the entire family can be a challenge, to say the least. When you visit a new place with young children, you need to ensure that there is something on offer to keep them stimulated and entertained whatever the weather.
Not only do you need plenty of fun things to do, you also need a little variation – even the keenest children may grow weary if you only intend to visit museums during your trip.
Luckily, the capital is filled with wonderful attractions for people of all ages, so you can keep the kids happy while having a bit of fun yourself – it’s your holiday as well, remember!
The Natural History Museum
While you don’t want to cram too many museums into your trip, there are a few that you need to visit with the kids. And if you have time for only one, make it the Natural History Museum.
From the gigantic blue whale suspended from the roof to the ancient dinosaur bones that greet you as you arrive, there’s nothing in this building that won’t captivate young minds.
With so many different interesting galleries to explore, you can easily spend the morning in here with the kids. It’s open for the majority of the day (10am 5.50pm) and you can keep the costs low as it’s free entry for the whole family.
Getting there: Take one of the Circle, District and Piccadilly Lines to South Kensington Tube Station. Walk north until you see the museum.
London’s version of the famous wax works has long been a firm favourite with families visiting the capital. Everyone from the Royal Family to David Beckham has stood in the famous galleries of Madame Tussauds.
An online family ticket will cost £76, but if you pay on the door, you can expect to part with £111.60 for two adults and two children.
New exhibitions include The Hunger Games and Star Wars as well as all your children’s favourite superheroes.
Getting there: Simply take the Tube to Baker Street Station and make the two-minute walk from here. You can get to Baker Street using the Bakerloo, Circle, Jubilee, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City Lines.
The Tower of London
The grisly past of London’s infamous castle prison makes it the ideal place to take curious children during a trip to the city.
Something you must do is take the Yeoman Warder tour with your children. The “Beefeaters” will regale your little ones with stories of execution, torture and imprisonment as you explore the thousand-year history if this incredible tower. Tours start every half an hour and last for an hour.
Other popular attractions here include the Crown Jewels and the Ravens. The tower opens at 9am and closes at 5.30pm all days except Sunday and Monday, when it opens at 10am.
Getting there: Head to Tower Hill Underground Station using the Circle and District Lines. The castle is just across the road – you can’t miss it.
The London Eye
What could be better for the kids than a gigantic Ferris wheel in the centre of London? Upon seeing the London Eye, your children will immediately want to ride it so book a ticket and give them what they want!
Offering remarkable panoramic views of London and the South Bank, the Eye has become one of the most popular attractions in the entire city. For added fun, start a competition with your children to see who can name the most London landmarks. The Eye is open 10am – 8:30pm and costs £119.80 for a family of four (£95.84 if you book online).
Quick tip: The Eye is right next to SEA LIFE – London Aquarium, so it’s easy to combine the two activities in one morning.
Getting there: The closest station is Waterloo, which is served by the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern and Waterloo & City Lines. You can’t miss the Eye when you leave the station!
It doesn’t have to take up a great deal of your trip, but all families should visit London’s most famous square during their stay in the capital. As well as the imposing Nelson’s Column and its surrounding lions, kids can enjoy the Fourth Plinth and whatever piece of contemporary art is on show at the time.
If you are travelling with older children – perhaps some budding artists – make sure you visit the National Gallery which borders the square. This vast space is filled with classic art, from Van Gogh to Da Vinci.
Getting there: Take either the Bakerloo or the Northern Line to Charing Cross station. As you surface from the Underground, you will see the square in front of you.
Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards’ Parade and 10 Downing Street
Perhaps three of the most important attractions in London, Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards’ Parade and 10 Downing Street are all located well within walking distance of one another.
For British history, you’ll struggle to find three things that have more importance in the UK, and visiting the trio can make for a great educational trip for the kids. To see them all, we suggest taking the tube to Westminster (where you can also see Big Ben and Westminster Palace) via the Jubilee, District or Circle Lines and walking along Whitehall to Downing Street, from here you can keep going on to Horse Guards’ Parade before walking through St James’s Park to The Mall.
With Buckingham Palace in the background, you can walk straight down this famous street towards the Queen’s iconic residence. Although the grounds themselves are well worth strolling through, the most impressive thing to see here is the changing of the guard.
This display of military pageantry is so quintessentially British, you just have to see it. The kids will love seeing the Queen’s guard decked out in their bright uniforms while the marching band spurs them on.
The actual event actually takes place in the Palace’s courtyard, and you’ll need to ensure you are here for 11am when it begins. From 11:15am, the guards start to arrive and at 11:30am the official parade begins. The entire thing only lasts for 30 minutes, but it’s great fun to witness.
For March, the ceremony will take place on alternate odd dates (1st-5th-7th-9th-11th etc.) so make sure you go on the correct day! If you aim to arrive at 10 Downing Street at around 10am, you will have ample time to stroll through the political heart of Britain towards the Palace.
If you want to spend some time exploring Big Ben and Westminster Palace, you may need to arrive earlier. Alternatively, you can take the Piccadilly Line to Hyde Park Corner, walk through Green Park to Buckingham Palace and do the whole thing in reverse with the changing of the guard first.
Where to stay?
There are many family hotels in London, and we have a number located in the Paddington and Kensington areas. The likes of our Park Grand London Paddington, Grand Royale London Hyde Park and the Shaftesbury Hyde Park International are not only set up to cater to the needs of young families, but they are perfectly placed to ensure that travel to the main attractions is as hassle free as possible.