Family things to do in London include never putting your camera down! There’s an exciting landmark around every corner to ‘ooh and ahh’ over no matter what your age. Along with stepping back in time at historical sites; fascinating museums and everyone’s favourite theme park attractions keep the kids smiling.
When it’s time to blow off some steam and have a break from sightseeing, colourful playgrounds and lush gardens get you back to nature.
Half the fun is buying quirky souvenirs from shops made for kids and big kids alike. And, no matter where you are, even the fussiest of eaters are catered for as you gallivant around the city.
Best London Activities with Kids
As a family, we love visiting London. We’ve been countless times over the years, and there are always new things to see & do! Hence, the following list isn’t just a list of kid-friendly activities in London, but more of a summary of themed ideas. So no matter what age or interests your kids have, you’re sure to find something to suit!
Ready for adventure? Here’s where you’ll find fun for kids in London.
Visit the Bucket List Attractions
It’s easy to spot some of London’s most famous attractions from up high as you fly into the city. Get up high again on the London Eye and you’ll have a lot more time to admire the sights with 360-degree views. Board one of the high-tech glass pods for a 30-minute ride on what is the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel.
Back on the ground, it’s hard to miss the spectacular Tower Bridge spanning the River Thames. Get your iconic family photos with the bridge as the backdrop. Then, explore the glass floors and walkways on the bridge that soar 42 metres above the water.
Check out the Victorian Engine Rooms to see photos and interactive displays bringing history to life. A must for any engineering-mad kids like mine!
One of the must-see places in London is, of course, the Tower of London. Not only is it a world-famous fortress, but it also houses the Crown Jewels. Kids love hearing spooky stories from the Yeoman Warders – or ‘Beefeaters’ – and discovering the Royal Armouries collections.
That’s a lot of landmarks to get through, but there’s so much more! Get up close to what’s likely the world’s most famous clock, Big Ben, to get that Instagram shot everyone must have. More await at Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Westminster Abbey.
Get Your Theme Park Thrills
There’s nothing like the mention of theme parks to kick the kids into high gear – and London has them in spades. LEGOLAND Windsor impresses everyone who’s ever created with the colourful bricks.
After learning how to drive a Lego car, ride the dragon coaster in the Dragon Knights’ castle, and take a spin on the Merlin’s Challenge carousel, before exploring miniland – where the landmarks of the world are made of bricks!
Hot days are best spent on waterslides and Thorpe Park delivers. Spin through the Storm Surge in a raft and ride the Rumba Rapids before hitting the four-lane super slides.
Off the water, stumble through the Black Mirror Labyrinth and hop on the ghost trains. Only the brave dare SAW – The Ride, with a drop of 100 degrees from a height of 30 metres.
If, heaven forbid, it’s a really bad weather day, KidZania in Westfield London turns on the exciting indoor entertainment. It’s all about exploring different jobs and careers with fun activities. So, your little firefighters and pilots can immerse in their passions while learning all about them.
As far as family activities in London go, museum hopping is at the top of the list. And these aren’t the type of museums that evoke the dreaded, “I’m bored.”
The Science Museum in Kensington provides hours of fun delving into the interactive curiosities of the Wonderlab with magnets and liquids. Get up close to a space module and explore the sensory displays of The Garden.
The 3D Ronson IMAX Theatre features a screen the size of four double-decker buses.
Speaking of which, the London Transport Museum takes you back through about 200 years of buses, trains, trams and riverboats.
You’ll discover the secrets lurking beneath the streets at the abandoned Tube station display. Learn about Victorian transport with horses and carts, and test your skills in solving transport problems faced by modern engineers.
From the land to the water, HMS Belfast is a ship museum that transports you to life aboard a Second World War Royal Navy Warship. Poke in and out of rooms across a whopping nine decks while learning about sailing in the Arctic Circle and the ship’s role in the Korean War. The kids will love climbing up and down the ladders during a day in the life of a sailor.
On the same maritime theme, Cutty Sark in Greenwich was the fastest ship of its time. Do the Rig Climb (available for ages 10+) up the masts in the company of costumed guides. Or visit in the school holidays for family-fun workshops.
Nearby, the National Maritime Museum is a treasure trove of all things nautical. Kids can get hands-on navigating a naval vessel in the ship simulator, and while exploring the interactive exhibits in the children’s gallery. Afterwards, head along to the Greenwich Park Playground where young sailors can try out their new-found skills on the wooden sail boats.
Hit the Movie Buff Trails
Follow in the footsteps of stars from your favourite movies on days out with kids in London. You’ll see wizardry and witchcraft from behind-the-scenes at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. Yes, that means seeing Hogwarts Great Hall and the Forbidden Forest, along with boarding the original Hogwarts Express and exploring Diagon Alley.
Shrek’s Adventure! London is close to the London Eye at South Bank and thrills kids with film sets and live shows. Hop on the 4D ride, see the smelly swamp and meet Shrek characters along the way. Keep the movie theme going at South Bank at BFI London IMAX Cinema – home to the UK’s biggest screen.
Spot your favourite characters at the Scenes in the Square trail across Leicester Square. Get your camera ready for shots with bronze statues, including Bugs Bunny and Mary Poppins. Look for loveable Paddington and Batman on a rooftop. Naturally, you’ll find Mr Bean here too, along with the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones.
Hop On Board Thames Boat Rides
London activities with kids don’t come much more exciting than zooming across the Thames in a speedboat. Take your pick of an array of thrilling boat trips, like Thamesjet. You’ll cruise by the Tower Bridge before picking up speed in the fast zone with heart-pumping stops and turns for plenty of screaming (of the fun kind) action.
The Thames RIB departs from Embankment and Tower Pier with pumping James Bond theme songs to add to the adrenaline hit. Different experiences include the Ultimate Spy Experience that whizzes around to James Bond movie locations like the O2 Arena and M16. Or, strap in with the Thames Rockets on a rigid inflatable boat with guides to highlight facts about the sights.
Speed not your thing or travelling with little ones? Choose the Thames Clipper, a riverboat commuter with comfy seats, a cafe and all-important bathrooms that stops at different piers across the city.
You’ll also find a range of fantastic lunch and dinner cruises to check out the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye from the water while savouring two or three courses.
Get Set for Spooky Adventures
Is there a teen who doesn’t love a good spooky adventure? Attractions for kids in London include the London Dungeon, though it’s not really recommended for those under 12. That’s because it delves into the scary histories of Jack the Ripper and the Fleet Street barber, with a visit to the torture chamber and scream-worthy special effects throughout the walk-through experience.
If you’ve got the stomach for it, discover the horrors of Victorian surgery at the Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret. How about seeing some shrunken heads? The Wellcome Collection features those and a Peruvian mummy among a collection of around 250,000 curios.
Part of the London Transport Museum, Hidden London Tours take you underground into London’s ghost stations, long abandoned and featured in many a dark film. Older children will love taking a ghost bus tour or Jack the Ripper walking tour to delve into eerie streets full of gruesome secrets and mysteries.
Explore London’s Parks & Gardens
Looking for free things to do in London? Fabulous parks await with colourful playgrounds and plenty of grassy spaces for kids to wear themselves out on.
Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground is one of the best, with swashbuckling fun in the form of a pirate ship to climb all over and fantastical sculptures among the trees in Kensington Gardens.
Regent’s Park is the place for throwing a footy around with the locals or showing off your skills on cricket pitches. Choose from playgrounds with slides, swings, climbing frames and sandpits.
The stunning Queen Mary’s Gardens here feature blooming roses, and it’s likely you’ll spot beautiful birdlife near the boating lake. While not free, it’s possible to hire pedalos and boats to explore the lake during summer.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park plays host to Tumbling Bay Playground for traversing wobbly bridges and splashing in rock pools. The kids will love weaving in and out of the Waterworks Fountains and building castles in the sandpit. Meanwhile, you can settle in at the Timber Lodge café for a home-cooked food treat.
Hit up the Shops!
Shopping may not come to mind regarding activities for kids in London, though it’s at the top of the list for shopaholics! However, it’s easy to get your retail therapy fix at stores custom-made to thrill toddlers, teens and the big kids too.
Hamleys of London is famous for no less than seven floors of fun. The wonderland is the city’s oldest and biggest toy shop with everything from crafts and games to dolls and collector items.
Got a sweet tooth? Pop into the globe’s largest sweet shop, M&M’s World in Soho. Four floors of sweet treats join a massive chocolate wall adorned with M&M varieties. For true fans, take home a memorable gift by getting your face printed on the colourful candies.
Little monsters are right at home at Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. The quirky shop is a spooky treasure trove of werewolf biscuits, zombie fresh mints and rat brains lollies. With Harrods Toy Kingdom, you can visit the famous store without the kids groaning about shopping.
Of course, little witches and wizards love the Harry Potter Shop on Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station for wands and Gryffindor scarves.
Sightseeing Trips for Tired Legs
There’s no need to tire out little legs hopping around to attractions in London for kids. The hop-on hop-off bus tours are ever-popular and an easy way to get to the top landmarks with the breeze in your hair atop a double-decker bus.
Get a bird’s eye view with a ride on the IFS Cloud Cable Car. You’ll glide over the Thames from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks with panoramic skyline views.
Another fun way to get around is the Docklands Light Railway, which connects with the cable car at Royal Victoria. Nab a seat up the front to feel like you’re driving the driverless trains. If you prefer peddling to walking, you’ll see Santander Cycles for hire at docking stations across the city.
Treat the Kids to a Themed Afternoon Tea
Even the fussiest of eaters love themed dining venues among attractions in London for kids. It’s basically obligatory to have afternoon tea and it’s not all about cucumber sandwiches.
A science theme delivers chocolate astronauts and dinosaur biscuits at the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington. Budding scientists will love the jellies served in petri dishes.
At the Wands & Wizard Exploratorium, you’ll use magic to control the tea stand and gather ingredients from locked puzzle chests. Then, you’ll create your own teas via experimentation before tucking into ‘sand-witches’.
For theatre lovers, the Swan Restaurant serves up Shakespeare-themed afternoon tea complete with Romeo and Juliet-inspired desserts.
Book Tickets to Family-Friendly Theatre
End action-packed days of exploring with one of the best children’s activities in London – a razzle-dazzle theatre show. From the Lion King to Mary Poppins, you’ll find everyone’s favourite West End musicals at family-friendly theatres like the Lyceum, the Apollo Victoria and the Prince Edward Theatre.
The UK’s only floating puppet theatre, the Puppet Theatre Barge travels down the Thames with marionettes delivering the entertainment. It’s usually moored at Richmond or Little Venice.
Are you visiting at Christmas time? From the circus shows of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland to fabulous pantos at theatres and live music at markets, you’re spoilt for sparkly choice.
Where to Stay in London with Kids
London accommodation, like any popular city, is expensive – especially when it comes to finding good value family accommodation.
Kid-friendly hotels such as the Landmark London offer family rooms that can accommodate up to 6 guests in luxurious comfort. While more budget-minded options include Buckle Street Studios, which can sleep 4 in their larger apartments, and is great for those wanting the option of self-catering (my son really loved his stay here!).
Alternatively, VRBO and Airbnb both offer a range of accommodation options that can be a better choice for longer stays in the city.
To avoid unnecessarily long commutes, it’s best to plan out your adventures, or bucket list activities before you book your accommodation so you know which area of London is going to be best for you.
Visit London with kids and you might just find a whole new world of fabulous attractions you wouldn’t otherwise enjoy. With big hitters like LEGOLAND joining fun-filled parks and themed restaurants and shops, there’s a wonderland for little ones around every corner.
Just keep an eye on anyone attempting to dash through brick walls to Hogwarts at Platform 9 3/4.