Big cities, little people: the London city guide
There’s nothing quite like a big city playground, and London is almost unbeatable. From the miles and miles of parks to the (mostly) free museums and kid’s events, there’s something for everyone from adults to children. Read on for our take on this fun city.
First, the practical bits
Photo by Ole Witt
Public transport can be a bit tricky to navigate with a buggy so plot your route using the ‘wheelchair friendly’ option on Google Maps and walk when you can. Children under 10 travel free on city public transport as long as an adult with a valid ticket is with them.
If you travel in or across the city by National Rail (Overground trains) you’ll be able to get 2For1 entry to many of the top attractions.
You’ll need to pay 30p (in exact change) to use most public bathrooms in train stations. So keep 10 and 20p pieces handy for emergencies.
Be prepared for four seasons in a day with warmer, longer days from May to August and rainy, darker, cooler days the rest of the year.
Seeing the sites
Photo by Alessia Caudiero
The London Eye
One of our best activities with little ones. A half-hour spin around the London Eye gives you unrivaled views over the city. Buy a ‘skip the queue’ ticket and don’t forget to enjoy the 4D mini London film at the end.
Big Ben and Houses of Parliament
Big Ben is currently tucked up under scaffolding but it’s still worth a stroll past. If your crew is up for it, wander across Westminster Bridge, past Big Ben and Westminster Abbey and up to Trafalgar Square to see Nelson, the lions and the National Gallery.
St Paul’s Cathedral
If you’re up for the challenge, St Paul’s boasts 528 steps to a spectacular view and the magical whispering gallery. But one of our favorite views of St Paul’s is from the roof terrace of One New Change, where you’ll also find some great spots for lunch.
Photo by Charles Postiaux
One of London’s best-known icons opens and closes roughly 1000 times a year. Find the schedule here. We recommend downloading the Family Trial app for a whole extra dose of fun.
Photo by James Toose
Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guards
The Changing of the Guards is not on every day so check before you go. Our top tip is to stand on the Mall in St James Park, where you’ll have more chance to see them as they march past. Then pop down to Buckingham Palace to wave to the Queen when the crowds have dispersed.
Tower of London
Home of the Crown Jewels and Yeomen Warders, the Tower of London is London’s only castle and a fascinating visit
What to do on sunny days
Photo by Mike Benna
Explore the Parks
London is bedecked in parks – it’s one of our favorite things about the city. Pull up a deck chair and enjoy an ice cream on the edge of the Serpentine, spread out a picnic under the trees in Hampstead Heath, count deer in Richmond Park, visit the mini zoo in Battersea Park, or burn some energy in Kew Garden’s Children’s Garden.
Photo by Robert Tudor
Play fountains and paddling pools are dotted around the city – perfect for cooling off between site seeing. Find them all here.
What to do on rainy days
Visit the Sky Garden
An enchanting indoors, rooftop park with incredible views and three restaurants. It’s free to get in but tickets must be booked in advance.
Photo by Michał Parzuchowski
Get lost in the museums
The big museums in London are free so be sure to make the most of it! The Natural History Museum and the Science Museum have lots of interactive displays and an ever-rotating program of events. The Natural History museum even hosts ‘Dinosnores’ a fantastic museum sleepover perfect for little people.
Photo by Sarah Ehlers
Platform 9 and ¾s
For Harry Potter fans, no trip to London is complete without a visit to this iconic platform in Kings Cross Station. Pose with a trolley for a fantastic Hogwarts themed photo and then pop into the Harry Potter shop on the way out.
Leicester Square’s Lego Store (the largest one around) and London’s most famous toy store, Hamleys, are definitely worth a visit.
Let the littles run the city
Kidzania is an indoor city for 4-14-year-olds and the perfect spot to spend a rainy few hours.
Singing and Dancing
From the Lion King and Mary Poppins to Frozen and Wicked a theatre trip is an absolute must for any London visit.
No one does Christmas quite like London and a wander down Oxford, Bond and Regents street will be a treat of glittering lights and festive decorations. Magical ice rinks pop up at Somerset House and The Natural History Museum, and Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is the place to be for festival games and rides.
There is more than enough to keep you entertained in London for days on end but if you fancied a day out of the city Lego Land Windsor is a short train ride away, as is the magical Harry Potter Studio Tour.
Citymapper and Google Maps for travel and directions.
Hoop for classes, groups and fun events aimed at children.
Feature image by Sabrina Mazzeo