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Things to do in London with Kids — Family Travel Guide + Tips

Visiting London is always a good idea. And guess what? That’s still true if you’ve got kids in tow. London is an incredible city that will keep everyone in the family busy from your first bite of English Breakfast till your last sip of a cask ale. This post will help you plan a perfect trip to London with kids. We’ll start with a few reasons why London is great destination for families, then share some of favorite things to do (and eat!), before we wrap up with some general planning advice and tips.

Ready to go to London? Let’s get started.

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Why visit London with kids

Traveling with kids is often as much for the parents as it is for the kids. While children may not remember or appreciate their travels in their youth, their parents most certainly will. London is a fantastic place to visit with kids because everyone will find something to love.

London is a major cosmopolitan city home to over 9 million people. It’s the capital of both England and the UK and has been around for almost 2,000 years. Almost 30 million people visit London every year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

So if you’re thinking about going to London, you’re definitely on the right track. Visiting London, especially with kids, will be a trip full of history, beauty, and of course, plenty of fun.

5 reasons to visit London with kids

1. London is full of history.

Kids might not always love to learn when they know they’re learning, but it’s easy to trick them into it in London. There are museums inside actual castles (hello, Tower of London). They can discover mummies of ancient Egypt or see real knights in shining armor at the British Museum. They can even stand in two hemispheres at the same time. What’s a hemisphere? Better find out at the Royal Observatory.

2. It’s easy to get to and get around London.

The two major international airports in London, Gatwick and Heathrow, are both connected to central London by train. From central London, you can get just about anywhere on public transportation via train, bus or even boat.

This is great for families traveling with little ones because it means you don’t need car seats. If you travel exclusively on public transit, which is easy to do, you won’t need a car seat at all for a visit to London.

3. London has so many beautiful and super fun parks.

It’s not a trip to London without spending time at one of the amazing parks. Parents will love the immaculate landscaping, beautiful waterfronts and city views. Children will go wild for the playgrounds, pedal boats and birds galore. Plus, the main parks all have cafes where you can pick up drinks and snacks, and also public toilets (for a small fee).

4. There’s a ton of fun things for kids to do.

There are major attractions that will fill your entire day and smaller gems that you will stumble upon that might just become the highlight of your trip. Kids will love exploring the London Transport Museum, riding the London Eye and eating their way through Borough Market. In between the big things, remember to stop and blow bubbles outside of Tate Modern, pop into the world’s oldest toy store or get an ice cream cone on the banks of the Thames.

5. London is a very kid-friendly city.

It’s easy to bring kids and babies just about anywhere in London. Most all restaurants have highchairs available, bathrooms are often equipped with changing tables, and kids even get in free or for less at most major tourist attractions. Many pubs even allow children during the day, so parents can still grab an obligatory pint.

Kids aren’t just allowed, they’re welcome and they’re often present. We never felt out of place with a toddler and never felt uncomfortable if our kid screamed for a minute or dropped something at dinner. (Contrast this to Paris where we literally couldn’t go out to a meal with our toddler because there were no high chairs, no space, and no other kids there.)

Best things to do in London with kids

There is so much to do in London with kids! From entire museums to a hill in a park, a little one will find fun at every turn of a London holiday. Here are some great things to add to your itinerary if you’re traveling to London with children.

And I’ll let you in on a little secret … parents are going to love all of these things, too!

Best parks & outdoor activities for kids in London

  • Hyde Park: You could fill a day at this huge, beautiful park. Kids will have a blast playing on the Diana Memorial Playground on the northwest corner or the Hyde Park Playground on the south center side. Walk around the Serpentine and watch the birds, or take a pedal boat out on the water in the summer.
  • St James’s Park: This park is smaller than Hyde Park, so it’s easier to tackle with little ones. The park is sandwiched between Buckingham Palace and the Churchill War Rooms, with a quaint, bird-filled pond in the middle. There’s a great playground on the southwest corner of the lake, too.
  • Spitalfields City Farm: If you’re in the Shoreditch neighborhood for the Columbia Road Flower Market or Brick Lane Market, City Farm is a great kid-friendly activity to add to your itinerary. It’s a small farm, but kids can pet goats and donkeys and see some other animals. (It’s a good use of an hour if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t go out of my way just to come here.)
  • Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park: Walk where champions walked at the grounds of the 2012 Olympic games. The area has been converted to a massive park, and the main attraction for families is the ArcelorMittal Orbit. It’s a massive sculpture with an observation deck with incredible views of London and the world’s longest tunnel slide.
  • Jubilee Park Playground: This park and playground is located near the base of the London Eye. It has so many fun things for kids to climb on, jump off and slide down that the only way to convince them to leave will be bribing them with a spin on the looming gigantic ferris wheel.

Best museums for kids in London

  • London Transport Museum: Kids will have a blast seeing life-size trains and buses from the olden days till today. They can even drive a bus themselves or cruise a water taxi down the Thames. (Check out our London Transport Museum guide for more info and tips.)
  • National Maritime Museum & Royal Observatory in Greenwich: These two small museums are close to each other in the darling area of Greenwich. Kids will love to see the cool boats at the maritime museum and straddle the prime meridian at the observatory.
  • British Museum: Got older kids who are interested in mummies and knights in shining armor? This is the spot for you!
  • Tate Modern: This modern art museum is free, which every parent will love. After spending some time in the galleries, the best part is outside the museum on the Thames bank. There are often street performers playing music or making massive bubbles. This was one of our 2-year-old’s favorite things in all of London.
  • Natural History Museum: If you have a dinosaur fan in your household, they will love watching these prehistoric giants come to life at the Natural History Museum! (If you’ve been to a natural history museum in another city, this one isn’t a must do.)

Best markets & stores for kids in London

  • Hamleys: There are a few Hamleys locations in London, but the largest is on Regent Street. This toy store is 7 floors of delight and it feels like a party the moment you walk in the door. The store is as much for playing with toys as it is for buying them. Even if you leave empty handed (good luck!), your kids will still have fun.
  • Borough Market: This large and historic market is part food hall, part farmers market and part artisan shop. The live seafood is a toddler favorite in our house, but kids will love picking out their favorite treats. Parents will love that they can grab a Pimm’s Cup or a craft beer and walk around as everyone explores and eats through the market. Check out our favorite places to eat in our Borough Market guide here.
  • M&Ms World: If you trade on M&Ms as currency with your children, this might just be an essential stop. There are over 100 varieties to choose from or you can even get your face printed on them while you wait.

Coolest things for kids to see in London

  • Tower of London: What is cooler to a kid than an actual castle? Maybe Crown Jewels? Or the actual ravens and iconic Yeoman Warders (aka Beefeaters or red-suited guards) who protect the castle? Well, you can see it all at Tower of London.
  • Buckingham Palace: While the queen doesn’t typically reside at Buckingham Palace, it is still the administrative headquarters of the monarch. While you can go inside and tour the state rooms in the summer, kids will probably be most happy saying they saw where the Queen lives (technically true) and the cool hats on the guards from outside the gates.
  • Big Ben: After five years covered in scaffolding, the new and improved Elizabeth Tower (aka Big Ben), was finally unveiled in 2022. It’s big and sparkly, which will likely impress your tiny travellers. This probably isn’t a common kid favorite, but our 2-year-old was fascinated by Big Ben. We had to go back three times during our trip and they still talk about it months later.
  • Tower Bridge: Kids growing up singing London Bridge is Falling Down will be a tad disappointed to discover that London Bridge is actually just a boring bridge. The most iconic bridge in London is Tower Bridge, which you can walk across for free. You can also pay to go inside, but just crossing over it is usually enough for kiddos.

Rides & transportation in London that kids will love

  • London Eye: This towering Ferris wheel has been an icon of London since its millennium debut in 2000. Its prime location on the banks of the Thames right across from Big Ben makes it impossible to miss. A spin around the wheel is expensive, but can be a great activity for families. (Be sure to check out our full guide to the London Eye before you visit.)
  • Golden Carousel: This classic carousel is just steps from the London Eye on the Queen’s Walk. It’s substantially cheaper (like, £3 cheap) and absolutely delightful. It’s a great activity for the little ones to enjoy while the grown ups grab a pint and watch them ride.
  • Double-decker Bus: Transportation around London is more than just efficient, it’s so much fun! The bus routes around the city are extensive, so there’s likely a bus stop near just about anywhere you are. You can pay the fare simply by the tapping your credit card, so no need to have exact cash or buy a separate ticket. Make your way to the top and enjoy watching the city go by from the best seat in town.
  • River Bus: The River Thames cuts through the heart of London, so it’s no surprise that some of the best transit between two destinations is sometimes by boat. Jump on the water taxi at the London Eye and sail down to Greenwich for the day. It’s a great way to get to the National Maritime Museum & Royal Observatory.
  • Emirates Air Line: Did you know you can fly over the River Thames in a gondola? The line runs between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks. There isn’t too much to do on the Royal Docks side, but at 10 minutes each way, riding the Gondola round trip is totally worth it if you’re in Greenwich.

Things to skip in London with toddlers

There are very few fantastic London experiences that we would recommend skipping if you’re visiting with young kids (let’s say under 3). These attractions are great, but just not ideal for toddlers or babies. Don’t let this discourage you though — you absolutely could do these things with kids. However, if you plan to be back in London again, we’d suggest saving them till your kid is past the toddler stage.

  • Changing of the Guard: The Changing of the Guard is really crowded, which means you have to arrive early for a good spot, which means you spend a lot of time sitting and waiting. Nothing about that sounds fun with a toddler. Not to mention the actual pomp and circumstance isn’t likely to impress little kids in the same way it appeals to adults.
  • Afternoon Tea: Boiling water, fragile glassware and tall towers of desserts just do not pair well with handsy toddlers. Save the fancy high tea until your little one can reliably hold a teacup on their own. That said, once they reach that age, there are lots of kid-friendly tea options around London.
  • Harry Potter Studio Tour & Platform  9 3/4s: The Harry Potter attractions in London are best saved for kids who have read the books or at least watched the movies. Platform 9 3/4 is mostly a photo op and a store, which won’t mean much to a young toddler. (Bigger kids will love it though!) The studio tour looks incredible, but it’s an hour away from central London. This makes for a long day and lot of car/bus/train time for a little one, which is why we cut it on our most recent trip.

Where to eat & drink in London with kids

London is incredibly kid friendly when it comes to dining. Children are welcome in nearly all restaurants and they’re often seen out at restaurants and pubs with adults.

Most restaurants, in our experience, have high chairs available. We also travel with this portable high chair harness just in case, but we never had to use it in London. Many sit-down restaurants also offer paper kids menus with crayons and such to entertain the little ones. So far, London has been the best city for dining out with a baby.

Best Dining with a View

Many of London’s tallest buildings offer dining near the top, but we suggest Sky Garden. Located on the 35th floor of the Fenchurch Building, Sky Garden is London’s highest public garden. It’s right across the Thames from the Shard, so the view is similar (just lower).

Make a reservation at Darwin Brasserie at Sky Garden, which is the most casual of the Sky Garden restaurants. The restaurant has a great kids meal selection and the kids menu comes on paper with crayons. They also have highchairs.

For the best experience, arrive 30 minutes early, skip the queue with your dining reservation, and enjoy some time in the garden and on the outdoor terrace before your meal.

Tip: You can also visit the Sky Garden for free, even without a dining restaurant. To enter, you need to reserve a timed ticket. These are released roughly three weeks in advance and can sell out quickly. 

Best Street Food

The Queen’s Walk is a pedestrian walkway that mostly follows the south bank of the Thames between Lambeth Bridge to Tower Bridge. The section of the Queen’s Walk between the London Eye and Gabriel’s Pier is loaded with tasty street food options and is a really fun walk.

Make this walk in the summer and you’ll pass Euro-style hotdogs, Mexican street food, halloumi wraps, ice cream, cheese toasties and more. Lots of fun, tasty options to enjoy outside on the Thames.

Best Pub Dining

It’s not a visit to London without at least one pint at a pub. Kids are allowed in many pubs in London, at least through dinner time, as long as they’re with an adult.

If you’re planning a pub meal, we suggest The White Horse in the Carnaby area. Planning a meal in Carnaby is a great excuse to get the family out to the area, which also has some other fun shops and restaurants along the pedestrian streets. If you’re looking for a kid-friendly activity to bribe your kid to sit through their meal, may we suggest Hamleys toy store around the corner?

Best Market Meal

You simply cannot beat Borough Market for an amazing lunch in London! (Camden Market fans, don’t @ me.) There is so much amazing and diverse street foot at Borough Market. The best thing about it is there are so many different options in a small space. The kids can enjoy a cheese toastie and fresh fruit juice while the grown ups enjoy Argentine empanadas and a local hard cider.

We actually have an entire guide to Borough Market with all of our favorite spots to eat, so be sure to check that if you’re heading there.

Best Vegetarian Food

If you’re vegetarian in London, you are in luck. So many street food vendors and restaurants offer amazing vegetarian alternatives and there is halloumi everywhere. If anyone in your family is vegetarian or vegan, head to BOXPARK in Shoreditch. This outdoor food hall has a ton of options so vegetarians and carnivores can eat together in harmony.

Plan your visit

Are you convinced that London is the right destination for you and your family? Let’s get planning. In this section, we’ll go through some of the logistics for planning and preparing for your London vacation.

When to go to London with kids

While I personally love London in the fall, the weather is more temperamental during that time. You’re more likely to be hit with a cold front or rain streak in October and November, which is less fun with little kids.

The best time to visit London with kids is during the summer months (June through September). In the summer, the weather is near perfect and London comes alive. The parks will be filled with people and oh-so-many birds, the street performers will be out in full force and the food trucks will be open everywhere. It’s the perfect summer vacation destination.

Where to stay in London with kids

We’ve stayed in many areas of London, either with or without kids. Based on our experience in all of those locations, we’d suggest staying in the Bankside area of London with kids. Generally speaking, this is the area south of the Thames between Blackfriars Bridge and London Bridge.

If you stay in this area, you will be within a mile and a half of some great attractions in central London. You can walk to top sites like the London Eye, Covent Garden, Tate Modern, Borough Market, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tower of London. It’s also well connected by train to other parts of the city. Depending on where you’re staying in the area, you’ll be close to Southwark Station which serves the Jubilee line or Blackfriars Station which serves the District and Circle lines.

Specifically, we’d suggest staying at Bankside Hotel. This hotel was very spacious, and had plenty of space for a crib (which they provided). The on-site restaurant had a great breakfast with a high chair available. And the best part? They had blackout curtains which made an 5-hour time change with a toddler much more tolerable.

How long to stay in London with kids

For visitors traveling from a distance (outside the UK and EU), we’d suggest spending five days in London with kids. This is enough time to fit in all of the must-do kid-friendly attractions, but at a relaxed pace. You’ll be able to schedule your days around nap times and likely have time to circle back to your kid’s favorite spots.

UK and EU residents who can get to London quicker and/or are likely to visit London more frequently, we suggest spending a long weekend in London. It’s a great city to spend a quick 2-3 days if you’re close by.

How to get around London with kids

The public transportation system in London is incredible. The city is well connected by train, bus, boat and more. Most routes run frequently, with many running every 5 minutes or less. That means you can quickly and easily move you and your kids between just about anywhere in the city.

The London Underground train is usually the most efficient option. Pricing varies by time and distance, but it’s usually around £3 per person, per ride and children under 5 can travel for free. To board a bus or train, you can simply tap a contactless-enabled credit card at the turnstiles, no need to buy a ticket or have exact cash. Keep the card handy though, because you will need to tap out when you leave the station at your destination.

The best thing about public transportation with kids is that unlike a taxi, car seats are not required on London trains, buses or boats.

What to pack for London with kids

  • Baby carrier: We highly recommend wearing your baby around London in a carrier (like this one). You can easily go up and down stairs on the Underground, give baby the best view of the city and keep your two hands free. (We also have a full post about baby wearing for travel that has several carrier reviews.)
  • Layers: Mornings in London can be chilly all year, even during summer months when it warms up later in the day. Be sure to pack a light jacket or sweater that’s easy to take on and off the little one.
  • Poncho: London’s also prone to rain. Umbrellas are clunky, so we never travel with them. This adorable kids poncho packs up small and is great to have in a pinch. (We’re also known to buy kitschy touristy flag umbrellas from the closest gift shop if we get caught in real rain, so that’s a fun worst-case scenario.)
  • Kids backpack: For kids of walking age, get them a backpack of their own. Pick one that they like and have them practice carrying it around before your trip. Then they can carry around a small toy, water bottle and snack on their own. They’ll likely love it and it’s one less thing for you to carry.
  • Detergent soap sheets: If you’re traveling for a week or more, we recommend traveling with detergent soap sheets. These are dry paper sheets you can make at home using your regular detergent. You can then use them to quickly wash kid’s clothes in your hotel sink to get an extra wear out of them. This is a great hack for packing lighter! (I have some tips on making soap sheets, though this post admittedly needs a refresh.)
  • Changing pad: If your kids are in diapers, be sure to bring a changing pad for public bathrooms or park diaper changes. We have a pad like this that we just toss in our daypack. We also just discovered this diaper change fanny pack and it looks incredibly convenient, too.
  • Pack ‘n Play Cover: If you’re dealing with time changes, managing light in your toddler’s bed can be a game changer. Anytime we travel somewhere that provides a Pack ‘n Play for children, we bring this cover. (You can call the hotel to see if they have Pack ‘n Plays or cribs.) It’s not completely black out, but it does block a lot of the light and limits their view of distractions. I know a lot of other people swear by the SlumberPod, but it was always too big for our travel style.
  • Bento Box: If you have a picky eater, frequent snacker, or just don’t want to plan your days entirely around your kids’ eating schedule, we highly recommend bringing a small bento box with you. Fill it up when you get there with food from the grocery store or leftovers from restaurants. Bring it along during the day so you know you have a meal your kid will eat at any time.
  • Medicine: Bring a small bottle of children’s pain reliever with you. Of course they sell medicine in London, but if your child wakes up at midnight with a fever they picked up on the plane, you’ll be glad you have it. We’ve made this mistake more times than we care to admit and now we just bring the darn medicine everywhere.

Sample London itinerary

We recently traveled to London for a week with our almost-two-year-old and did a ton of stuff. Some things worked well and some things not so much. Based on our experience, this is how we’d recommend spending four full days in London with a toddler.

This itinerary excludes travel days, which would fall on either side of this schedule.

Day 1: London Eye & Westminster

  • Coffee & doughnuts at Coffee Academy
  • Follow the Queens Walk down the Thames, maybe take a spin on The Golden Carousel 
  • Explore at Jubilee Park & Garden, spend some time at the fantastic playground
  • Take a ride around the famous London Eye
  • Marvel at the iconic Big Ben and Westminster Abbey (Notes: Tourists can’t go inside Big Ben. You can buy tickets to get inside Westminster Abbey, but we suggest just a walk-by if you’re with kids.)
  • Break for lunch and nap
  • Take a stroll through St. James’s Park, making sure to cross the bridge across the lake for a lovely view of the London Eye
  • See Buckingham Palace and the famed guards who protect it (Again, you can go inside, but we don’t recommend it with kids.)
  • End the day at Hyde Park with a Nutella waffle, a walk around the Serpentine and stops at one of the playgrounds or the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain

Day 2: Southbank and West End

  • Coffee at Monmouth Coffee Company
  • Eat your way through Borough Market
  • Take a break on the bank-side lawn outside Tate Modern and watch the street performers (or pop in for a quick visit, it’s free!)
  • If there’s time, walk across the pedestrian-only Millennium Bridge and continue straight to St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • Break for lunch and nap
  • Walk through the gate and under the lanterns in Chinatown, maybe getting a bubble tea from Happy Lemon as you go
  • See the famous Piccadilly Circus intersection and window shop your way down Regent Street
  • Let your children play their hearts out at Hamleys, one of the world’s oldest and largest toy stores
  • Grab a pint and dinner at one of the pubs in nearby Carnaby 

Day 3: Shoreditch & City of London

*Shoreditch markets are only open on Sundays. Be sure to adjust your itinerary so this schedule falls on a Sunday.*

  • Breakfast & coffee at Frankie Goes East
  • Stroll through countless, colorful blooms at Columbia Road Flower Market. Even if you don’t buy any flowers, this market and the local shops along the street are not to be missed!
  • Sift through antiques and used clothes or pick up a souvenir and snack at Brick Lane Market
  • Let the little one’s pet a donkey and watch the goats at Spitalfields City Farm
  • Break for lunch and nap
  • Walk across the iconic Tower Bridge. For the best views of the bridge itself, be sure to walk a bit up the Queen’s Walk on the south bank, west of the bridge itself.
  • Pass by the beautiful Tower of London. This is actually a great option to go inside with kids if you have time and budget.
  • Head over to Sky Garden for a walk through London’s highest public garden. You’ll need a dining reservation or a free timed entry ticket to access the garden.

Day 4: Covent Garden & Free Time

  • Breakfast & coffee at Intenso Coffee Shop
  • Explore transit of yesterday and today at the London Transport Museum
  • Treat yourself to bonus coffee at % Arabica, a famous and beautiful coffee brand from Kyoto, Japan
  • Wander around Covent Garden, watching street performers, popping into stores or walking through the market
  • Break for lunch and nap
  • This was a full itinerary! Use this final afternoon to revisit favorite spots or work in anything you missed from previous days.

Tips for visiting London with kids

  • Pick a hotel with blackout curtains. If you’re dealing with a time change on your trip to London, choosing a hotel with blackout curtains is a game changer. I credit the blackout curtains at Bankside Hotel for getting our toddler adjusted to the new time zone in just 24 hours.
  • Use a baby carrier. We don’t own a stroller so maybe we’re bias, but wearing your kid around London is 100% the way to go. Parents will have two hands free, babies will get the best view, and you won’t have to worry about finding stroller parking anywhere. We have a separate post dedicated to baby wearing for travel and our favorite baby carriers.
  • Consider The London Pass. If you’re planning to visit several London attractions in a short period of time, The London Pass may be a good option for you. With this pass, you can visit any of 80+ major London attractions over a set number of days. I would only recommend getting this pass if there are attractions included that you were already going to visit anyway and individual ticket prices were higher than the cost of the pass.
  • Plan half days on either side of naps. If you have a toddler who needs to nap midday, plan your days in two parts. It’s easy to do this in London because many of the best attractions are clustered together. This strategy worked so well for us on this trip. My sample itinerary above is planned in half days for just this reason.
  • Try to catch the bubbles at Tate Modern. Twice when we passed Tate Modern on the bank side, we saw people blowing huge bubbles for kids to chase around. It was honestly the happiest I’ve ever seen our kid. If you’re in the area, it’s worth checking to see if the bubbles are out because it just might be the highlight of your trip. Be sure you have a few pounds cash on hand to tip the guys who run it.
  • Plan your flight times around the time change. If you’re traveling from North America, book an overnight flight to London and a daytime flight back. This is generally the best way to deal with the time change, especially with a little one.

Closing thoughts

London is one of my favorite cities in the world. Having the chance to share that with my child was so special. It was so fun to share some of my favorite places, like Borough Market, and get to try new things together, like the London Eye.

I love traveling with kids because they find so much joy in little and random things. I never expected the highlight of my toddler’s trip to be Big Ben, but they asked to go back three times and still point to every outdoor clock and say Big Ben. They found a hill at a tiny park by our hotel and would run up and down it over and over, laughing the whole time. And for the 50th time, I’ve never seen them happier than when they got to chase the bubbles at Tate Modern.

I won’t lie, actually getting to London was not easy — they literally screamed the entire overnight flight — but at the end of the trip, I can safely say it was worth it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat and I can’t wait for their next international adventure.

Have you been to London with kids? What was their favorite thing to do there? Where should we go next?! Let us know in the comments.