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21 Exciting Things to Do in London for Children (2024)

One of my favorite destinations for families is London. There are so many wonderful things to do in London for children including beautiful parks, historical sites, family-friendly tourist attractions, and amazing shopping districts.

21 Fantastic Things to Do in London with Kids

The majority of the best things to do in London for children can be found in the heart of the city, along the banks of the River Thames. It is easy to get around on foot by hopping on the London Underground. Why not book a guided tour, head to the West End for a show, or enjoy high tea at an iconic London hotel? London is a great place if you’re on a budget, only have a few days, or even if you have a whole week! Below, I’ll share the top kid-friendly attractions in London.

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What Are the Best Things to Do in London for Children?

London is a great place to visit with kids of all ages! I think the most difficult choice is deciding what NOT to do. You just can’t fit it all into one trip, so my advice is to skip the things you don’t want to see and focus on what you and your kids enjoy. Where your family is looking for family-friendly London tours or independent activities, here are my top picks for what to do in London with kids.

1. Visit the Iconic Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Visiting Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament is a must for families exploring London. Big Ben, officially called the Elizabeth Tower, is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

You can book a tour to climb the 334-step spiral staircase to the top, where you will learn about its history and see the internal mechanisms of the clock tower. 

Keep in mind that it’s a little tricky to get tickets to Big Ben unless you book them way in advance, due to ongoing conservation work. If you can plan ahead, it’s worth the visit!

Before traveling to a destination, it's fun to learn about it through literature. Here are some of our favorite books to read before a trip to England. - Kids Are A Trip

Also, kids have to be 11 years old to enter. If you don’t want to bother, you can still admire Big Ben from the outside and take photos.

Next to Big Ben is the Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster. This stunning building is home to the UK Parliament and is open for guided and self-paced tours. They typically run between an hour and 90 minutes. During that time you will see the historic chambers and learn about Great Britain’s democratic process.

2. Tour the Historic Tower of London

If you’re an Anglophile, you don’t want to miss out on a visit to the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are located. The Tower of London is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts 1000 years of history as a fortress, royal palace, and prison.

Book a guided tour of the Tower of London to explore its stunning towers, walk along the walls, and hear stories of its past, including tales of kings, queens, and famous prisoners.

Tower of London

Do you think this stop might be too boring for the kids? It’s definitely not! The guides are hilarious, and the stories of the tower are fascinating. Before entering the Tower, pick up a free Family Trails booklet to keep everyone engaged during your visit.

The centerpiece of your tour will be the Crown Jewels, housed in the Jewel House within the Tower. You will be able to see the crowns, scepters, orbs, swords, and ceremonial robes up close, all adorned with precious gemstones and metals. To this day, they are used by British monarchs during important state occasions and coronations.

3. Don’t miss Tower Bridge

While you’re here, plan a stop at the Tower Bridge. The historic site offers panoramic views of the Thames River and the city skyline.

Tours include the Tower Bridge Exhibition where you can visit the Victorian engine rooms and even walk across the glass-floored walkways!

Want to bring a hilarious version of the Crown Jewels to life before or after your visit? Have the kids read Gangsta Granny by Walliams David.

4. Explore All of London’s Great Museums

London offers a variety of fantastic museums for kids, making it an ideal destination for family trips. The Science Museum in South Kensington is always a hit with younger children. It offers interactive exhibits and special exhibitions that make learning about science engaging and fun.

For natural history enthusiasts, the Natural History Museum is a must-visit, with its dinosaur skeletons and interactive displays.

British Museum interior London with kids

The British Museum is fascinating and houses treasures like the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies, and interactive exhibits that bring ancient civilizations to life.

The National Maritime Museum and Cutty Sark in Greenwich offer highlights of the region’s maritime history. The London Transport Museum showcases the evolution of transportation.

You can even visit a museum inside a replica pirate ship, The Golden Hinde, that’s perfect for adventurous young kids! London is home to so many family-friendly museums and these are just a few.

Best of all, many are free museums, like the British Museum and the Natural History Museum. If you are trying to save money while traveling, add a few of these to your London itinerary.

5. Head to Buckingham Palace and Watch the Changing of the Guard

Watching the Changing of the Guard is one of the most classic things to do in London for children. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. Arrive early to join the crowds and witness the iconic Changing of the Guard ceremony.

This is where the Queen’s Guard hands over duty to a new set of guards, and it’s fun to experience. It typically takes place every other day, in the morning around 11 AM, depending on the season. You should check the official schedule online for the current dates and times.

Changing of the Guard Buckingham Palace

The ceremony usually lasts around 45 minutes to an hour. There are many great places to watch the Changing of the Guards, but the tried-and-true spots include the palace gates, the Victoria Memorial, and The Mall.

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If you’re visiting during the summer and can get tickets, a tour of Buckingham Palace afterward will round out the whole experience! They’re hard to get but book your tickets early and plan on going after watching the guard ceremony.

6. Go on a Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour

If you’re planning a shorter trip to London and you’re looking for the best family activities, I suggest starting with a hop-on-hop-off bus tour. It offers a convenient and flexible way to explore the city. You will visit popular attractions like Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, and the London Eye, all at your own pace.

There are different hop-on-hop-off tours, each one taking you to a wide range of popular attractions and landmarks in London. If you’re not sure which line you need, you can find bus tour reps at most historical landmarks. They can answer your questions and help you find the route that best suits your interests and schedule.

Hop-On-Hop-Off-Bus-Tour-London-Kids-Are-A-Trip

For a scenic tour, take one of the double-decker bus tours and enjoy the exciting views of London! In about 3 hours, you can do the entire circuit and see many of London’s iconic landmarks.

Hop-on-hop-off tours are perfect for families with kids of all ages because you can pick where you want to get off and then get back on later. If you are heading to London for a quick visit, check out my post for more on what to do in London if you only have one day!

7. Check Out the Sky Garden

Visiting Sky Garden in London for the first time is a must for breathtaking city skyline views. Located atop the Walkie Talkie building (20 Fenchurch), it offers unbelievable views of recognizable landmarks like the Shard, Tower Bridge, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

At the top, there’s a brasserie, if you can get a table. Best of all, admission is free! You still have to book your reservations in advance, sometimes up to 3 weeks before your visit.

8. Find All the Harry Potter-themed Attractions

Harry Potter fans will have plenty to do with all the different Potter-themed sites in London! Head to Wands and Wizard Exploratorium for a magical tea brewing session complete with picking out your own wand. Or see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre.

Take a walking tour of London’s Harry Potter sites, stopping at King’s Cross Station for a whimsical photo at Platform 9¾. Wander through Leadenhall Market, the real-life Diagon Alley. Then, visit Millennium Bridge, Australia House, and the Reptile House at London Zoo and see if you can talk to serpents, too!

You can also book a guided tour if that’s more your thing.

9. Take a Ride on the London Eye

Riding the London Eye is a great thing to do for the entire family. The London Eye, located on the South Bank of the River Thames, is a giant observation wheel that provides some of the best views of London’s landmarks.

London Eye

Enjoy a cozy, 30-minute ride in one of the enclosed capsules while you take in the city from above. It’s a memorable way to see London from a different perspective. You can buy tickets at the gate or book them in advance for a discount.

After your ride, families with older kids might want to explore nearby attractions like the London Dungeon, an interactive macabre show featuring London’s darker history.

10. See a Show in the West End

London is synonymous with the theatre, and you can enjoy plenty of kid-friendly shows on your family vacation. From kid-focused productions at places like the Unicorn or Polka Theatres to big-budget shows on the West End, there’s something for everyone.

For family-friendly options in West End, check out “The Lion King,” “Matilda,” or “Mama Mia!” Tickets are available for purchase either at most West End theaters or online. To get same-day discounted tickets, head to the TKTS London booth in Leicester Square.

With the West End being so close to both Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square, you can make a memorable evening for a family by planning a walk down to one of the squares. Enjoy the bustling atmosphere, watch street performers, or plan a post-show meal at one of the restaurants just off the square.

London is also the home to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, which is an excellent place to introduce your kids to a wonderful part of history.

11. Take a River Cruise Along the Thames River

A cruise on the River Thames in London is a delightful way to explore the city from a unique perspective. You can enjoy sights like the Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye while gliding along the historic river.

Tower Bridge Walk London

You can find a variety of river cruises, most leaving from either Westminster Pier or Greenwich Pier. This one leaves from Waterloo Pier and includes tickets to ride the London Eye. They usually take about an hour and include indoor and outdoor seating, tall windows for panoramic views, and a bar where you can buy drinks.

For more flexibility, you could also take a hop-on-hop-off river cruise, which allows you to create your own itinerary and access City Cruise boats all day with your 24-hour pass.

12. Spend the Day Exploring Regent’s Park

Whether you’re looking for free things to do in London or just want to enjoy a day in one of London’s beautiful, family-friendly parks, Regent’s Park will not disappoint. One of London’s most picturesque green spaces, it offers a wealth of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages.

The park features the Regent’s Park Boating Lake, where you can rent pedal boats and rowing boats for a peaceful ride on the water. During the summer months, the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre hosts Shakespearean plays, musicals, and concerts that you can attend.

The whole family can get active and hit the ball courts for a game of tennis or cricket. There’s lots of open space for picnicking and walking trails if you want to go for a jog or rent a bike and cycle. Or take a stroll through Queen Mary’s Gardens, which showcases a stunning collection of roses, plants, and shrubs.

Regent’s Park is perfect for families, boasting a few unique playgrounds for younger kids that include water play, wooden climbing structures, sand pits, and more. Plus, the park is home to the London Zoo, where you could easily spend half a day!

13. Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens

While you’re in London with children, you can’t pass up a chance to visit the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. It is located in the Kensington Gardens portion of Hyde Park. (Technically, Kensington Gardens is part of Hyde Park, but each section has its own distinct feel and attractions.)

The Diana Playground was inspired by Peter Pan. It’s absolutely beautiful and tons of fun! There are climbing structures, sensory trails, water play, a pirate ship, and more. While the kids play, you can grab a coffee or bite to eat at the cafe next to the playground.

Princess Diana Memorial Playground London

For families with older kids, the adjacent Hyde Park offers all kinds of activities. You can spend the day boating on Serpentine Lake or cycling along paved paths.

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During the summer, there are open-air concerts. In the winter, you can attend a Christmas fair here or go ice skating at an outdoor rink.

14. Spend the Day at Holland Park or Battersea Park

If you need an easy way to spend half a day, 2 smaller parks in London are packed with things to do: Holland Park and Battersea Park.

Holland Park boasts a variety of attractions, including the Kyoto Garden and its cascading waterfalls, peacocks, and Japanese-style landscaping. You can come hungry and head to the visitor’s center, which features eateries, green lawns for picnics, a toddler’s play area, and more.

Holland Park Japanese Garden London

Nature lovers can visit the Ecology Centre to learn about local plant life or take a stroll along quiet tree-lined trails. There’s also an Adventure Playground with zip lines, balance beams, and unique structures.

On the other side of the Thames, Battersea Park offers even more family-friendly activities. There’s a great children’s zoo, lovely playgrounds, and different flower gardens to peruse. You can paddle around the boating lake in paddleboats, visit outdoor cafes, or enjoy tennis courts.

15. Visit the London Zoo

Why not make a full day of your visit to Regent’s Park and visit the London Zoo, too? It’s no wonder this is such a popular destination for families in London! In addition to being the oldest zoological park in the world and boasting an impressive conservation program, there’s so much to do here for kids of all ages.

You can see leaf-cutter ants, lions, penguins, gorillas, and even endangered animals up close in themed habitats. Walk through the butterfly habitat or take the little ones to the Animal Adventure Play Area.

At the London Zoo, there are staff-led activities for kids, sensory experiences for babies, and daily talks to learn about different animals. For a special touch, find out about different opportunities to be an honorary zookeeper and care for the animals!

16. Explore London’s Famous Food Markets

While you’re exploring the city, you have to eat, so make an event of it! It’s so much fun to peruse the stalls and vendors at London’s many food halls and food markets. Some are young and hip while others have braved the test of time and are a part of London’s history and culture.

One of the newest food markets in London is Camden Market, just north of Regent’s Park. Not only can you shop for vintage clothes and grab sandwiches or ice cream, but there’s also a theme park in the basement!

Borough Market things to do in London for children

A popular food hall is the one at the Convent Garden Market. It’s open every day of the week and features a mix of street food and restaurants around a beautiful space filled with tables for cafeteria-style dining.

Another must-visit location is the Borough Market, which dates back to the 1300s! You can walk the market stalls, buy food from every country, sample all kinds of street food, or pop into shops just off the main walkway.

There’s a great atmosphere with live music and street performers. In the winter, the market transforms into a twinkling Christmas wonderland.

Check out this post for more things to do in London at Christmas!

17. Have Afternoon Tea

You have to experience afternoon tea at least once when you go to London for the first time. The best place to go? A parlor at one of London’s premier hotels! This national pastime traditionally takes place at 3 or 4 PM. However, you can find reservations as early as noon at some locations.

For an experience you won’t forget, go to the Savoy. They pull out all the stops with their service, while you dine on little sandwiches, scones, and cakes, with your choice of teas.

The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason is absolutely stunning! You can choose from 45 teas served with fresh scones, clotted cream, and delicious jams.

Other places for unique tea experiences include the Afternoon Tea Bus Tour (enjoy your tea on a city tour), the Science Afternoon Tea at the Ampersand Hotel, and the Peter Pan-themed tea at the Aqua Shard.

18. Shop on Oxford Street

Shopping is fun for the whole family on Oxford Street, with all your favorite shops, eateries, and history. The 1.5-mile retail avenue was once a Roman Road, dating back over 1000 years! Today, it’s where you can find all the biggest names in retail.

Located in London’s West End, a lot of tours start and end on Oxford Street, and you can find hotels with great deals in the low season here as well.

Oxford Street London

This is a bustling street lined with stores like London’s own Selfridge’s, as well as familiar favorites like H&M, Primark, Nike, Adidas, and more.

Oxford Street is a popular place for walking tours and hop-on-hop-off bus tours to stop. Note: Watch out for pickpockets here during the busiest part of the season. If you’re worried about carrying cash, there are ATMs available and many stores take different forms of payment.

Day Trips from London

While you’re thinking about all the fun things to do in London for children, don’t pass up the chance for an easy day trip! These are just a few at the top of my list, but you can read a more extensive list of the best London day trips here.

19. Windsor Castle

This day trip to Windsor Castle and Stonehenge is a full-day adventure into the iconic past of England! Board a cozy coach bus and head to Windsor Castle to tour the State Rooms and historical exhibits inside. Next, you’ll journey to Stonehenge to experience the infamous stone circles. 

20. Harry Potter Studio Tour

Just about an hour north of Central London is the Warner Brother Studio where you can take the Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour. Rent a car, take the metro, or just book this tour with transfers.

Warner Brother Studios Harry Potter London

Kids will love seeing the movie sets from the films, as well as the costumes and props used in the movies. Take pictures in Diagon Alley and Platform 9¾.

21. Brighton

If you’re going to be in London during the summer, you might want to head to Brighton. It’s an easy 90-minute train ride from the city and then you’re on the sandy beach! You can also enjoy oceanfront restaurants, explore gift shops, and ride carnival rides at the Brighton Palace Pier.

If you’re looking for more London travel tips, don’t miss these articles: best London hotels for families, this London 2-day itinerary, or the best things to do in London with teens.