Readers, we're going to let you in on a little secret: London is one of the world's most family-friendly cities. Our public transportation is clean and easy to navigate, our attractions are full of kid-centric activities, and our family ticket packages are unbeatable. Traveling by train? You can book 2FOR1 tickets to some of the city's most popular attractions, including the Royal Air Force Museum, the Tower of London, and St Paul's Cathedral. Planning to ride the London Eye? Purchase a London Big Ticket and receive up to 50% off tickets to Madame Tussauds, London Dungeon, and London Sea Life Aquarium. But wait! Before you scoop up the kiddos and scurry off to start your adventure, check out our list of the best things to do in London with kids.
The Natural History Museum inspires the inner explorer in visitors of all ages. Wide-eyed youngsters will marvel at the colossal blue whale skeleton on display in the entrance hall, and that's just the first of many surprises. Future paleontologists will adore the Dinosaur Hall, a one-of-a-kind exhibit bringing the massive creatures to life, as well as the Dino Lab, where visitors can watch museum staff work with real fossils. Don't miss the remarkably lifelike animatronic T-Rex - it's a favourite with kids. The hands-on Investigate Centre is perfect for curious-minded families. Kids and adults can work together, using microscopes and other scientific tools to get an up-close look at real specimens from the museum's collections. Before you go, download the official visitor app and check out their family-friendly routes through the museum.
Turn your afternoon into an underwater adventure right in the heart of London. Your journey begins with a shark walk: stroll over the glass walkway and look down to find sharks swimming right below your feet. From there, you'll follow the set path through a series of thrilling and educational zones featuring all of your favourite sea creatures, including sea turtles, stingrays, seahorses, and of course, plenty of sharks. Kids will love the special viewing portholes, which create the feeling of seeing a tank "from the inside." The aquarium's newest permanent exhibition, Ocean Invaders, is dedicated entirely to jellyfish and includes a can't-miss interactive game that allows visitors to create their own jellyfish environment. Most families spend between 90 minutes and two hours on the aquarium's route, but you're welcome to linger as long as you like with your favourite creatures.
The history of London brims with fascinating, centuries-old stories of mystery, intrigue, scandal, and murder. No matter how thrilling the history, however, a dry presentation will make kids lose interest. At the London Dungeon, where London's wildest, spookiest, and most gruesome stories come to life, there's no risk of boredom. During the 90-minute tour, costumed actors guide visitors through nineteen immersive theatrical performances and rides with plenty of audience participation. You'll visit Jack the Ripper's favourite pub, attempt to escape the Great Fire of London, face the murderous wrath of Henry VIII, and more. The convincing cast does a good job of eliciting screams from the audience, so make sure your family is prepared to be startled. The London Dungeon officially recommends the experience for children aged 12 and older, though younger children are welcome at the discretion of an adult.
The London Eye is delightful for everyone, but it's especially thrilling for kids. Before you board, you'll be ushered into a cinema for a brief but impressively entertaining 4D experience. The short film, which tells the tale of a young girl who wants to see London from above, features stunning 3D aerial shots of the city and fabulous special effects like bubbles and raindrops. It's the perfect way to get youngsters excited about the London Eye experience. The 30-minute Ferris wheel ride itself offers unparalleled views of London's landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, St Paul's Cathedral, and Buckingham Palace. Before you board, try to snag a copy of the London Eye 360° View Mini Guide or download the free London Eye Guide app. Both the book and the app make identifying landmarks easy, and the challenge of spotting them keeps kids engaged and entertained for the entire ride.
In recent years, this museum of wax figures has worked hard to appeal to young visitors. Based on the constant queue outside the building, their efforts have succeeded. Madame Tussauds has something for everyone, from pop culture gurus to history geeks. Mystery fans will love the Sherlock Holmes Experience, an interactive theatrical walkthrough that involves visitors in the search for clues, and superhero lovers will get a kick out of the Marvel Secret Command Centre. Every room features impressively lifelike waxworks; the sheer realism of the sculptures leaves many young visitors awestruck. Every room includes fun photo-ops, and while an official Madame Tussauds photographer is on hand to take a professional photo for you, you can also take your own for free.
The Royal Air Force Museum combines science and history to create a family-friendly treat. In the Aeronauts Gallery, kids explore the science of flight through a series of engaging hands-on exhibitions. Aspiring pilots can even take a pilot aptitude test and try their hand at operating a helicopter. There are also two stellar flight simulators - the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Black Hawk - both of which offer realistic flight adventures for the entire family. Check out some of the jaw-dropping 100+ aircrafts on display, and make sure to round out your day with at least one of the 4D cinema offerings.
Hop onto the Emirates Air Line for a 10-minute journey through the skies of London on the UK's only urban cable car. The Air Line experience, which includes a complimentary in-flight guide and on-board video, is a novel and inexpensive way for families to take in beautiful London views. The Air Line's two stops, Greenwich and Royal Docks, both offer first-class attractions that warrant a full afternoon, so we recommend purchasing a roundtrip ticket and planning your day around the cable car ride. In Greenwich, visit the Emirates Aviation Centre, a small but entertaining and interactive attraction where families can climb into a cockpit, experience a 30-minute flight simulator, and explore plane travel through hands-on displays. Near the Royal Docks stop, you'll find the Museum of London Docklands as well as Thames Barrier Park, a 22-acre green space featuring a children's play area. At the end of the day, you'll have an easy time convincing the kids that it's time to leave: just remind them they still have a return trip on the cable car to look forward to.
For a magical day in central London, look no further than the Harry Potter London Tour. This epic self-guided adventure takes you all around central London for an experience that's half-tour, half-treasure hunt. The fantastically-detailed directions are easy to follow and include plenty of Potter-themed pit stops. During your walk, you'll see the filmimg location for Diagon Alley, stroll past the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron, and visit Platform Nine and Three Quarters at King's Cross Station. Kids will particularly enjoy exploring London's tucked-away spots to solve tricky treasure hunt clues. As long as you watch out for dementors, you're guaranteed a magical day.
This list wouldn't be complete without Hamleys, the world's largest and oldest toy store. While it opened more than 300 years ago in 1760, Hamleys has been housed in its current Regent Street location since 1881. Of course, young visitors will probably be more excited about the 50,000 toys on sale than the store's impressive history. Kids can play freely with many of the toys on display, and entertaining in-store demonstrations take place regularly on all seven floors. In short, Hamleys is toy store heaven, and no child is immune to its magic. Fair warning: you probably won't be able to leave without making a purchase or two.
The Royal Observatory Greenwich is best-known for being the home of the Prime Meridian Line, but once you've jumped over the line and snapped a few photos, there's plenty more to see and do. Start your visit with a stop at the state-of-the-art Peter Harrison Planetarium, which shows stellar tours of outer space each and every day. Once you've immersed yourself in the wonders of the universe, head to the free Astronomy Centre, where kids can explore space firsthand through interactive exhibits like a space mission simulator. Then, explore the history of the observatory through the official family trail (it's full of kid-friendly facts and activities). By the end of the day, you might have a future astronomer on your hands.