Are you looking for things to do in London with kids? Maybe you have a family holiday planned in the big city, or maybe you’re just visiting for the day… Whatever situation you’re in, this list of things to do with kids in London is going to be your ultimate guide!
London may not initially strike you as a family-friendly location, but we can assure you it is. London has plenty of things to do in London for kids – you just have to know where to look and where to go.
Hopefully our list of things to do in London with kids will help fill your mind with ideas and suggestions, and make your family holiday the best one yet.
Classic Tourist Attractions
Did you know that almost all of London’s major tourist sights can be seen from The Thames? Taking a boat down the river provides you with all those perfect photo opportunities, and you won’t even need to leave your seat. This is one of those perfect things to do in London with kids, as you don’t need to worry about them wandering off, or walking too far and getting tired. On the trip you’ll be able to spot Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, The London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard, Tower Bridge… The list goes on!
If you’re looking for things for kids to do in London, one of the city’s most famous landmarks is definitely a tourist favourite. The queues can be long for The London Eye, but once you’re at the top of the wheel you’ll be able to see right across the city! Perfect for children, as there’s little chance of anyone getting lost, and the pods are relatively big, so they’ll always be able to see something that interests them.
Watch a film in Leicester Square
This famous square in central London is home to lots of cinemas, and is where most movies have their UK premieres. If there’s a movie you fancy watching whilst you’re on holiday, then this is the place to do it! Your kids will love knowing that their favourite celebrity has also sat in their seat, or bought popcorn from the same shop.
Leicester Square, 1 Swiss Ct, London W1D 6AP
If your kids love chocolate, then a trip to M&M World in Leicester Square has to be on the top of the list for you. This huge shop is dedicated to the famous chocolate brand, and is comparable to a real-life version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. You may not want to buy them too much chocolate…. But this had to make our ‘things to do in London with children’ list. What kid wouldn’t love it?
Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD
There are plenty of educational things to do in London with kids. The Science Museum is a fantastic day out in London, for kids of all ages. It’ll spark their curiosity, and probably yours too! The different exhibitions are tailored to different ages groups – and it’s free admission.
Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF
Located in the London borough of Greenwich, this museum is one of the largest maritime museums in the world. It’s a short walk from The Thames, and a perfect stop-off if you’re getting around the city by tour boat. There is lots to discover for little pirates or mermaids, and the museum has special activities and exhibitions for families. Admission is free.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AE
If you’re looking for things to do in London with kids who love nature and the outdoors, then Kew Gardens is an outdoor wonderland. Best in the summer (when the threat of rain might be lower!) kids will love exploring this nature haven.
Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9PA
This museum is a treasure-trove of childhood nostalgia and toys, dating back hundreds of years. For adults, it’s amazing to discover things you thought you’d forgotten about, but for kids it’s like travelling back in time and seeing how other children throughout history have lived. During the school holidays, the museum often put on special exhibitions or activities for children too.
Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
The British Museum is one of the biggest and most iconic museums in London, and they do some fantastic tours and activities for families and children. If your kids love exploring history then they’re going to love discovering all the artefacts and items hidden inside these walls.
This time-old tradition is iconic in London and has appeared in many movies and TV shows. If you want to feel utterly London-ified then this is definitely something you’ll want to witness. The kids will be in awe, and will never forget it. It’s a short walk from The Thames, and a perfect stop-off if you’re getting around the city by tour boat.
If you want to go inside the palace, then there is a price attached to tickets. However, the real experience is walking up to the front gates and peering inside – and for this there is no fee attached. Learn some fun palace facts ahead of time to keep them entertained, and your kids will be amazed at the building, and being so close to The Queen herself.
See the lights in Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus is known as ‘the Times Square of London’ – and is an outdoor area of the city where there are shops, billboards and (sometimes) entertainers. If your kids have never been to a big city before, then this is surely going to wow them. We recommend visiting in the evening, so the lighting from the billboards glow even more.
Hyde Park is the most famous park in London (it sits on 350 acres) and is located right in the heart of the city. It’s a great place for picnics, outdoors games, and general exploring. You’ll find all sorts to do once you’re inside, such as boating on the lake, playing in the fountains, climbing trees, spotting wildlife, and so on.
Trafalgar Square is one of the most photographed areas of London, and you’ll definitely recognise it once you arrive. There some huge fountains in the Square to take a look at, and (for bigger kids) there are the famous stone Lions guarding Nelson’s Column which many people try to climb. If you do manage to get atop one, you’ll have a great view. It’s a short walk from The Thames, and a perfect stop-off if you’re getting around the city by tour boat.
Watch the boats sail along The Thames
The Thames is a hive of activity running right through the city, and there is a beautiful walkway along Embankment that lets you soak it all in. Sit on one of the many benches along the route and look out for boats – any aspiring captain or pirate will love it. Once you’re done on dry land, try jumping on a boat yourself. Many tour boats leave from Westminster Pier, including City Cruises.
Walk across Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is one of the World’s most recognisable bridges, and it costs nothing to take a walk across and soak in all those amazing views. Top tip – if you buy your kid an cheap disposable camera, they won’t mind walking around, as they’ll love having the opportunity to take lots of photos! It’s a short walk from The Thames, and a perfect stop-off if you’re getting around the city by tour boat.
Watch the street performers in Covent Garden
Covent Garden is primarily a shopping and dining destination in the city centre, but there are also lots of incredible street performers there each and every day doing all sorts of amazing things. From tightrope walking, to fire juggling – there’s something to keep everyone entertained. Watching the performers is completely free. However, they will ask for a donation at the end – so try and have a bit of pocket change available.
If your kids have read Harry Potter, they’ll definitely want to visit Platform 9 ¾ for themselves! Now an official attraction in Kings Cross station, they can go and see the magical entrance with their own eyes. There’s a gift shop right next to it too, if you want to pick up a new wand, or chocolate frog.
Activities for Teenagers
County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, Lambeth, London SE1 7PB
This spooky attraction is definitely suited to older kids, rather than younger ones. The recommended age for The London Dungeon is 12 years and above, though it is up to the discretion of the accompanying adult. If your kids are desperate to do something different, and a bit quirky, this certainly ticks the box. Just be ready for a fright!
Marylebone Road, Marylebone, London NW1 5LR
A chance to have a selfie next to all your favourite celebrities? What teenager would say no to that? Madame Tussauds has long been a favourite for teenagers and older kids – and you might even end up taking a selfie or two yourself!
Railway Approach, London SE1 9SG
Younger kids may not appreciate the view from up here – but teenagers should love it. So long as they’re not scared of heights! The observatory is the highest point in the city and offers incredible views right across the skyline. We’d recommend visiting on a clear day, or a clear night – to make sure you get the best possible visibility.
21 New Globe Walk Bankside London SE1 9DT
Located right on The Thames, so a perfect stop-off if you’re getting around the city by tour boat, this theatre is one of the most unique buildings in London. Modelled after the original Globe Theatre, all plays are performed the way they would’ve been back in Shakespeare’s time. It’s a unique experience and one your teenagers will love – especially if they have been learning about Shakespeare in school. Anything that brings history to life is great – and this does just that.
1 New Change, London EC4M 9AF
Most teenagers love shopping, so why not take them to the coolest shopping centre in the city? One New Change has plenty of shops, a few eating options – and (best of all) an incredible view over the city and over St Paul’s Cathedral from their open-air rooftop. You’ll earn serious cool-points for bringing them here.
If your teenagers are moaning about walking too much, then a boat tour is the ideal way to sightsee in the city. Book your tour ticket and enjoy all the main tourist sights from the comfort of your seat. Depending on the weather, you can sit on the top deck with a breeze in your hair, or the bottom deck protected from the elements – it’s up to you. There are refreshments on board, and loads of amazing things to see including Big Ben, Parliament, The London Eye, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, and more. There are multiple departure points too, so you simply choose the one closest to your hotel.
2-4 Tooley St, London SE1 2SY
When looking for things to do with kids in London – here’s another spooky experience, perfect for keeping teenagers on their toes. We’d recommend going around Halloween, or in the evening hours.
Clive Steps King Charles Street London SW1A 2AQ
If your teenagers have been learning about WW1 and WW2 in school, then visiting the Churchill War Rooms will really help bring those history lessons to life. The museum was once a secret WW2 bunker, and now tells the story of Winston Churchill’s life and legacy. If you’re looking for things to do with kids in London that are fun and educational, this ticks both the boxes.
A little journey out of central London is Epping Forest, an ancient woodland area where your kid’s imaginations will run wild. When looking for things to do with kids in London, don’t limit yourself to the centre of the city. As Epping Forest proves – there’s plenty to do outside the city too. Try creating a scavenger hunt for them, with items from nature to collect along the way.
12 Camley Street London Greater London N1C 4PW
A hidden oasis between two of London’s busiest railway stations, this is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon in the city. This unique urban nature reserve is the perfect place to encourage your kids to have green fingers, and take care of the world around them. It’s one of those perfect things to do in London with children on a sunny day.
Wilderness Cottage, Hampton Ct Rd, London KT8 9AU
See if you’re brave enough to enter without a map… and if you’re smart enough to find your way out again. If you’ve never taken your kids to a maze before – this is a fantastic day out and something they’ll definitely remember.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AE
The Treetop Walkway at Kew Gardens is 200 metres long and towers 18 metres above the ground. You’ll get amazing views over the city from here, as well as getting a cool view over the gardens and the birds, animals and insects living in the forest around you.
If you want to feel the wind in your hair and enjoy some of London’s best sights at the same time – then a boat tour is the way to do it. City Cruises have multiple departure points around the city, and once you’re onboard you’ll be able to spot so many amazing London landmarks. Want the perfect photo opportunity of Big Ben? You’ll find it on the top deck of a City Cruise boat during your tour!
London doesn’t have a beach – but it does have plenty of outdoor swimming pools, which become hugely popular around summertime when the weather warms up.
Perfect for Animal Lovers
165 Tyers St, Lambeth, London SE11 5HS
When looking for things to do in London with kids (especially younger kids, under 8 years old) Vauxhall City Farm would be a great day out. It’s a little piece of countryside, right in the heart of the bustling city.
London, NW1 4RY
London Zoo is located right near Regent’s Park in Zone 1, so very easy to get to. The zoo is home to loads of beautiful animals, from cute penguins, to exotic birds, and big cats. You could even make the day more special with a ‘meet and greet’ experience – where your kids will get to meet an animal, assisted by an expert zookeeper.
Battersea Park, Chelsea Embankment, Battersea, London SW11 4NJ
A much smaller zoo, this one is recommended for younger kids who might find the bigger animals overwhelming. It’s a great place for birthday parties, and the zoo even have special events and educational days designed for children.
Richmond Park is a huge park on the edge of London, home to lots of beautiful wild deer. Whilst it’s not guaranteed you’ll spot any (they are wild after all) you’ll sure have fun looking for them.
County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 7PB
For children who are more obsessed with sea animals than land animals – London has an incredible Aquarium right on the River Thames. It’s a short walk from the boat piers, so would make a great day out paired with a City Cruise boat tour. The Aquarium is home to all sorts of sealife and fish – and your little ones will be transported to another world… Under the sea!
Theatre for Kids
London is home to The West End, so you’ll find plenty of musicals that children will adore. Seeing a musical might not be the most affordable thing to do in London with kids, but it’s definitely one of the most memorable.
Musicals tend to have long runs, so performances will generally be regular, and tickets shouldn’t be too difficult to get hold of – if you book in advance. There are plenty of online ticket selling websites to choose from.
For children, we’d recommend these musicals:
The Lion King – A colourful, popular, lively musical adapted from the famous Disney film.
Wicked – A different look at the two witches of Oz (from The Wizard of Oz). Younger children won’t be familiar with the plot or songs, so this may be better suited to older children (10+).
Matilda – A musical adapted from the hugely loved Roald Dahl book. Pure magic!
If you don’t fancy a musical, but instead want to see more traditional theatre – this changes from season to season, with new shows popping up each month. If you’re planning your visit to the city within a certain date range, we’d recommend checking out this theatre guide by Time Out. There you’ll be able to search by date range, and find shows that are performing on the dates you’re in town.
During the festive season, there is plenty of stuff to do in the city. In fact, the city seems to come to life around this time of year. Here are a few things children of any age would enjoy:
188-196 Regent St, Soho, London W1B 5BT
When talking about things to do in London with children, you could never forget to include Hamley’s. If you need a few hints on what to buy your kids at Christmas, then taking them to Hamley’s is the perfect idea. Take a walk around with a pen and paper and ask them to write their letter to Santa as they go.
87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL
Talk a stroll through a winter grotto, check out all the latest toys, and then end your visit with a trip to see Santa himself. On a list of things to do in London with children at Christmas – Santa has to be on the list! If you’re going to schedule a visit to Father Christmas whilst in London, this is the most magical place to do it.
Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree
Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
The biggest tree in London stands right in the heart of Trafalgar Square. It’s a fantastic sight to see, and will probably be bigger than any Christmas tree your little ones have ever seen before!
All across the city in various theatres, you’ll find festive shows and pantomimes. If you want to have a fun and festive evening out, this is definitely the ticket.
A huge winter-themed amusement park, right in the heart of the city. Hyde Park transforms around the festive season to be full of market stalls, food stalls, ice rinks and fairground rides. It’s free admission (different attraction inside may charge), and is absolutely magical.
Quirky / Random Things To Do
A short train ride out of central London (to Watford Junction) will bring you to Harry Potter Studios, an immersive and incredibly impressive behind the scenes look at how the Harry Potter movies were made. If your kids loved the books and the films, they will be in awe here.
If you never thought of seeing London by boat before, it’s time to be convinced! Most of the city’s major tourist sights can be seen from The River Thames, so why not book a boat tour, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride? You can sit outside upstairs, or inside downstairs – and no matter where you sit you’ll be have a tour guide to listen to. There’s even a refreshments shop, so you can enjoy a drink and snack while you sail.
An hour’s train journey from central London via Victoria Station – if you want a day out of the city, but don’t want to venture too far, this is a fantastic option. Head to the quirky, kitsch and friendly town of Brighton and experience what the British Seaside is like!
One of the most family friendly restaurants in London – and after you’ve worked through this list of amazing things to do with kids in London you’ll need a good meal to top up your energy! This chain is super family-friendly, and they provide entertainment while you dine too. We don’t want to ruin the surprise, but expect things to get wild!
King William Walk, London SE10 9HT
This incredibly preserved sailing ship, is fascinating to visit for both children and adults alike. It’s like stepping back in time, and you’ll be able to explore above deck, below deck and pretend you’re pirates.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 3 Thornton St, London E20 2AD
If you’re looking for things to do in london with children that are a bit adventurous and like doing whacky activities – then Visit the ArcelorMittal Orbit in East London (the previous Olympic Park) and not only will you get to explore the UK’s tallest sculpture, but you’ll also get to ride the World’s longest tunnel slide.