This is the ultimate guide on things to do in London with kids. Plan your day out with kids and know which are the best kids activities in London. Look no further, here you have everything you need to make the most of your visit to London with kids!
Things to Do in London with Kids: Museums
London has a great collection of museums, and most of them are free. I will start this guide on things to do in London with kids by listing the best museums to visit with them.
The Science Museum
This is probably one of the best museums in the world to go with kids. And it’s free! If you have to choose just one museum to go with your kids, this is the best choice by far.
The Science Museum is located in central London, just a short walk from South Kensington tube station, so it’s really convenient. The area also houses other London museums worth a visit, like the Natural History Museum (which is next door).
They have an incredible hands on science resource for school aged kids on floor 3, named Launchpad. All has explanatory notices, and also there are several staff members willing to help you and a explain a bit more to your kids. There are also plenty of things to see and do for kids under 8.
If that isn’t enough for you, The Science Museum also has an I-Max Theatre and some simulators (not free).
Be careful if you are on a tight schedule. With all these things to do and see, your kids will not want to leave! After all, this is one of the top things to do in London with kids.
Open daily, from 10AM to 6.30PM. Admission is free. Check the museum’s website for more information.
The Natural History Museum
This museum is next to the Science Museum. Queues build up for entry, so you want to get there either before opening time, or late in the day. Also check the side entrance, which sometimes is less busy than the front door.
This museum has several highlights for the kids. If they like animals, they will be able to see exhibits of dinosaurs, mammals and even a life-sized blue whale. Upstairs, there is an earthquake mock-up which is awesome for them, and also check the giant escalator through the planet Earth.
Open daily, from 10AM to 5.50PM (last entry at 5.30PM). Admission is free. Check the museum’s website for more information.
London Transport Museum
Located in Covent Garden, the London Transport Museum houses more than 80 vehicles and connects them with the history of London. The highlights include a red London bus and the world’s frist tube train.
The museum is full of exhibits for the kids to play on. There is an area called Interchange which is the interactive area for kids. There they will find huge buses to drive, uniforms to dress up in and activities to complete.
You will be seeing vehicles from different eras, and there are customed actors who will tell you more about their “experiences” working and travelling.
There is a lot to touch, play on and play with in London Transport Museum. It should be a must on your list of things to do in London with kids.
Adults have to pay for their tickets, but kids go free. The adults’ tickets can be booked online in the museum’s website.
Open daily from 10AM to 6PM (last admission at 5.15PM).
The Tate Modern
This is a modern art museum, and sometimes it’s difficult to take kids to an art museum. Of course there are kids that love art, but most of them have very little interest in looking at paintings and art work.
Nevertheless, I think that they can really enjoy the Tate Modern. They have great audio guides for kids, so be sure to get some of those. Let the kids guide you, but save the highlights for the end if you can: Dali and Picasso. After your visit, you can all have tea at the Tate’s cafe, which is very good.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention the most important part: this museum is also free!
Open Sunday to Thursday from 10AM to 6PM, Friday to Saturday from 10AM to 10PM. Admission is free. Check the museum’s website for more information.
The National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art houses one of the best art collections in the world. They have paintings of Van Gogh, Da Vinchi, Monet, Botticelli, Cézanne, van Dyck, Rembrandt and many more. Check out this list of 30 must-see paintings from the gallery. Even if you are not an art fan, you will enjoy this museum very much, because they have lots of famous, sensational art works.
They offer free guided tours every day at 11.30 am and 2.30pm, that last about an hour and are very good. You can also rent one of the audioguides for kids that they offer. It makes the kids look for some paintings and then offers a funny, interesting description about them. This is probably one of the best audio guides for kids in London, and it’s really cheap. The National Gallery got it right and it is one of the best things to do in London with kids.
Before leaving, visit the shop, which is a great source of art equipment and books.
The National Gallery of art is located at the back of Trafalgar Square, in the centre of London.
Open daily from 10AM to 6PM, Friday until 9PM. Admission is free. Check the gallery’s website for more information.
The British Museum
This museum is a place to see the world, without leaving London. It houses amazing art pieces and ancient artifacts spanning every culture and all of human history. It is also the first national public museum in the world. Of course admission is free, as it has always been.
The British Museum offers a very cool audio guide for kids, which takes them on a treasure hunt in each gallery. The challenge is very good and keeps the kids engaged for a long time.
Before leaving, visit the gift shop. It is huge and kids love to spend time browsing through all the items.
Open daily from 10AM to 5.30PM, Fridays until 8.30PM. Admission is free. Check the museum’s website for more information.
This is a small museum, and the building is at first sight strange. It’s like an industrial construction, with mosaic floor. Despite all that, the building was designed as a museum, and was first opened in 1871.
Here you will find a big collection of old toys, so you will be looking for the toys of your childhood and showing them to your kids. But it’s not just about the toys, you will also find all kind of objects associated with children through the years, such as clothes, shoes and chairs. It’s great to show your kids how other kids, of all social classes, used to live.
Open daily from 10AM to 5.45PM. Admission is free. Check the museum’s website for more information.
The Grant Museum of Zoology
This is an interesting museum, which houses specimens gathered by Robert Grant, the first professor of zoology in England, as a teaching collection for students. You will find a lot of animal skeletons and dissections, including the thylacine, also known as the tasmanian tiger, extincted in the 1930s.
In a big central table, the museum provides art materials so kids can produce sketches of the specimens exhibited.
Open monday-saturday, from 1PM to 5PM. Admission is free. Check the museum’s website for more information.
Things to Do in London with Kids: Parks and Playgrounds
London parks are a must in every list of things to do in London with kids. There are a lot of beautiful, safe and clean parks in London, and many of them have awesome playgrounds for the kids. These are the best of them.
St. James’s Park
Located in Westminster and surrounded by three palaces, this is probably the finest park of London, and a must for families on a sunny day. There is a big playground with sand, swings and climbing areas for children up to the age of 7. The park also has a beautfiul lake and is home to several animals, including pelicans, squirrels, ducks and many more. The park is very clean and it is big enough to spend a whole day wandering and strolling.
If you are looking for a place to enjoy a picnic, look no further: this is the perfect spot. Also bring some appropiate food to feed the ducks and squirrels. Don’t feed the pelicans, as they are fed by wildlife experts between 2.30-3PM everyday.
St. James’s Park has excellent reviews in TripAdvisor, and it is the #4 best thing to do in London, so you will not want to miss it.
Open daily from 5AM until midnight. Check the park’s website for more information.
In order to access this park, you have to be accompanied by children. Adults are not allowed to enter alone, and also those with bikes and dogs are forbidden. With these rules, this is an obvious choice when it comes to things to do in London with kids.
This unique 7-acre playground features sandpits, swings, slides, ropeswings and climby things for all ages. The environment is very safe.
You will also find some animals here, including rabbits, chickens, goats, sheeps, ducks, birds and guinea pigs.
Open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Summer: 9AM to 7PM
Winter: 9AM to dusk
Diana Memorial Playground
Located in Kensington Gardens, the Diana Memorial Playground is the best playground in London, for kids up to 12 years. The design has been inspired by the stories of Peter Pan and by Princess Diana’s love for children. Over 1.000.000 visitors enjoy this free playground each year.
Adults are only allowed to enter if they are accompanied by children. The best feature of this playground is the huge wooden pirate ship, which the children can climb all over. It even has its own beach, so it is awesome. But playing there is not the only thing to do: there are also slides, a climbing area, a music area, a sensory trail and much more.
Be advised that waiting times can be long for some games, as this is one of the most popular things to do in London with kids.
- May – August: 10AM – 7.45PM
- April and September: 10AM – 6.45PM
- March and early October: 10AM – 5.45PM
- February and late October: 10AM – 4.45PM
- November – January: 10AM – 3.45PM
Holland Park Adventure Playground
Located in one of London’s most exclusive neighbourhoods, this playground has a lot to offer, including climbing structures, zip wire, a mini climbing wall, giant see-saw, swings, an aerial runway. They have it all!
Also next to the Adventure Playground there is an enclosed area for the little ones to play, and a sports area too.
Open daily from 7.30AM until 30 minutes before dusk. Check the park’s website for more information.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
This park was previously home to the London 2012 Olympic Games, but now it’s open to the public for free, and is a fabulous place for families. Definitely one of the best things to do in London with kids!
The best feature here is the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide, standing at 11.5m tall. You will get breathtaking views of London and you can enjoy 2 different experiences: The Slide, which is a 40-second journey through twists, turns and drops; or The Abseil, which is an exhilarating descent of the highest freefall abseil in the UK.
Apart from that, you will find the Tumbling Bay Playground near the cafe, which is awesome for kids of all ages. It features sand pits, tall-tree houses, wobbly bridges, slides, swings, man made rock pools, climbing walls, and much more!
If your kids like sports, you will be able to play basketball and badminton at the Copper Box Arena, tennis at the Tennis Centre, swimming at the London Aquatics Centre, biking at the Lee Valley Velopark and some other sports at the Lee Valley Hockey.
Open daily, year round. Admission is free, individual activities may charge. Check the park’s website for more information.
Harry Potter Attractions
If your kids are Harry Potter’s fans, London is the best city for them in the whole world. There are several Harry Potter film locations within the city of London: Picadilly Circus, Scotland Place, Cecil Court, the Parliament, Millenium Bridge, Borough Market, Leadenhall Market and Kings Cross Station, to name a few of them.
In Kings Cross Station there is a very popular photo spot with a trolley going into the wall under a Platform 9 3/4 sign. There is also a big souvenir shop.
And of course, if your kids really like Harry Potter, the Warner Bros. Studio is a must if you are in London. Located in Leavesden, about 20 minutes outside London, this is not an amusement park, like the one at Universal. This is the actual studio where the movies were filmed, so you can’t miss it. If your kids like Harry Potter, the Warner Bros. Studio should be the first thing in your list of things to do in London with kids.
If you want to know more about Harry Potter attractions in London, be sure to check the Ultimate Fan Guide written by w3travel, which has all the information you need.
As they describe it, Shrek’s Adventure! is an interactive and immersive walkthrough experience, where the family can step into and star in your own misadventure with Shrek and his friends.
The best thing about it is the 4D bus tour, a virtual tour of central London and all the Dreamworks films, with realistic rocking and splashes.
Give it a chance if your kids really like Shrek. If they don’t, there are plenty other things to do in London with kids.
Open Monday-Friday from 10AM to 4PM, Saturday from 10AM to 6PM, Sunday from 10AM to 5PM. Check their website for more information.
We all know this place where we can find famous people… in wax. The one in London is the first and best, but they have museums in other major cities as well.
It is a good place to visit with kids, specially the Marvel and Star Wars sections at the end. It may be a good idea to purchase a Standard Ticket online beforehand, as it includes the Marvel Super Heroes 4D experience as well. Queues can be long and the museum can get incredibly busy, so try to avoid weekends and always book tickets online.
Open Monday-Friday from 9AM to 5PM, Saturday-Sunday from 9AM to 6PM. Check the museum’s website for more information.
As we are listing things to do in London with kids, we cannot leave Kidzania out of the post.
Why is that? Well, Kidzania is a whole city for kids! They can choose from a number of real-life activities. It is designed for kids aged between 4 and 14. Activities include Doctor, Dentist, Police Officer, Firefighter, Pilot, Actor, Dancer and many more.
There are some “jobs” where the kids can learn the experience of working to make money, and they can use that to enjoy other activities. If they get to certain amount of this fictional money, they can even open a bank account and receive a credit card.
Be sure to book your tickets online.
The London Dungeon
The London Dungeon is a very interesting attraction in London. They bring to life the darkest chapters of national history, combining special effects and live performance. They have a staff of very talented actors, which are always willing to surprise visitors as they show old crimes and disasters.
Maybe this attraction is not a must if you are listing things to do in London with kids, but it is worth mentioning anyway. It can be a bit scary for some kids, but kids who are 12 or older will be fine. The place can get very dark and there are lots of loud noises. Of course, you can choose to leave the place at anytime.
Be sure to book your tickets online.
This is the largest and oldest toy shop in the world, so you need to take your kids there. It has 5 floors and is full of demonstrators showing the best toys to the kids and playing with them. It is a great choice to include in your list of things to do in London with kids.
Open Monday-Friday from 9AM to 9PM, Saturday from 9.30AM to 9PM, Sunday from 12PM to 6PM. Check the Hamley’s website for more information.
Visit this land where pretty much everything is made from millions of LEGO bricks. It features 55 rides and attractions, live shows, a water-play park, a themed hotel and more than 80M bricks.
Some rides are very popular and can attract long queues, but there is a lot to do. Tickets are expensive, but if your kids really like LEGO, they will enjoy it for sure. The park offers a lot to do, so you can spend a whole day there and still leave some things for your next visit.
Treasure Trail: St. Katharine Docks and the Tower of London
This is a self-guided treasure hunt around the docks and the Tower of London. You will have to search a long lost treasure, solving the clues and following the route that will guide you through iconic parts of London. You will be solving clues along the way, which can be found on building, monuments, and plaques.
This particular trail takes 1.5 hours to complete and is 1.5 miles long. There is also a text message service with clues, in case you are stuck.
Lee Valley Ice Centre
Lee Valley Ice Centre offers a range of learn to skate courses, public skating sessions and lessons that suit all ages and abilities from toddlers to adults.
If you want to ice skate in London, this is the best place. Prices start at £9.00 for adults and £8.00 for kids.
Check out the centre’s website to see opening hours for each day.
Shows and musicals
London hosts a lot of awesome plays and musicals to keep the kids entertained. This is just a list of some of the best shows around:
- The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre
- Aladdin at Prince Edward Theatre
- Wicked at the Apollo Victoria
- Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre
- Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre
- School of Rock at the Gillian Lynne Theatre
These are really high quality shows, that you will not find easily in other places in the world. If you can afford at least one of them, be sure to include it in your list of things to do in London with kids: you won’t regret it.
The HMS Belfast is a huge naval battleship, the Europe’s only surviving Second World War cruiser. It’s located just across the river from the Tower of London and a short walk from Tower Bridge.
You will be able to explore the nine decks of the ship, including the engines, the kitchens, the hospital and the crew rooms. There are also several exhibits showing how life aboard the ship ued to be, life at sea during the war and how the ship works. The audio guides are really good and they provide lots of relevant information.
Don’t forget to sit your kids in the Captain’s chair and take a picture!
Be sure to book your tickets online.
Open daily from 10AM to 6PM (last admission at 5PM). Check the HMS Belfast’s website for more information.