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Things to do in London with kids: Our guide for a fun-filled vacation

Published

9 August, 2023

Edited

6 March, 2024

London isn't just one of the world's most incredible historic capital cities. It's also a fun destination for families, with a vast selection of things to do in London with kids. From outdoor activities to all the pomp and ceremony of the Changing of the King’s Guard, from picnics in the park to kid-friendly theatres, there’s enough to see and do to fill every day of your holiday in London to the brim.If you never want to hear the dreaded words, "I'm bored!" while visiting London, here is your guide on the best things to do in London with kids.

Outdoor adventures abound

London is one of the greenest cities on the planet, with vast open spaces such as Hyde Park, Hampstead Heath and Regent's Park. These 'Lungs of London' are a chance to get outdoors, enjoy the sunshine, and spend quality family time together. From wild deer to friendly squirrels, horse riding and boating on the lake, the capital's parks offer plenty of fun family things to do in London on a sunny day.

Hyde Park in Kensington is one of London’s biggest open spaces, and at its heart is the sparkling Serpentine Lake. If you’re brave enough, adult-only wild swimming groups meet and swim in the Serpentine early in the morning all year round. If you’re there with the kids, you can hire small boats and go out on the water and watch swans glide elegantly past.

The park is so big that it never feels crowded. There are dozens of playground areas and picnic spots where you can spread out a blanket, open your hamper and relax as the kids burn off some energy. Hyde Park is safe, child-friendly, and great fun, especially if you visit on a Sunday morning and head to 'Speaker's Corner' to listen to the debates.

Regent’s Park is home to the incredible London Zoo, the oldest zoological society in the world. This fantastic zoo now focuses on conservation and helping people understand more about endangered species through closer interaction. If you have younger children, a visit to London Zoo should be at the top of your list of kid's activities in London.

As well as animal encounters and entertaining talks by the keepers, there are interactive exhibits such as Rainforest Encounter and Penguin Beach. Here, you can learn more about endangered ecosystems, get up close to the animals, and even help out at feeding time.

Iconic landmarks the children will love

It isn't easy to narrow down our list of the best London attractions for families as there are simply so many. Our top tip: don't try to cram them all into one trip, or you won't get the best out of them. Top of the list is the ancient heart of the city, the Tower of London. This imposing fortress has been everything from a king's home to a prison and even a World War II Prisoner of War camp. Today, it's a brilliant opportunity to learn more about London's Medieval history and see the dazzling Crown Jewels (which is definitely not an interactive exhibit!)

The Beefeaters - the official custodians and guardians of the Tower - lead fascinating family-friendly tours, telling tales of the ghosts that haunt the corridors of the White Tower. Keep an eye out for the ravens, which form part of the legend of England and are cared for by their very own Raven Master.

The other must-see Royal residence is Buckingham Palace. It’s affectionately known as ‘The Birthday Cake’ by Londoners because of the multi-tiered monument that makes up the roundabout at the front. Buckingham Palace is London's finest Royal palace and the focus of year-round celebrations. While it's unlikely that you'll see the King himself, there is a chance to watch one of the oldest military parades, the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, during the summer months.

If you want to know more about the history of the British monarchy, a family tour of the Royal Mews is an excellent opportunity to delve deeper into the everyday lives of the Royals. Family audio guides let you wander through the Royal Mews at your own pace, stopping to admire the glittering golden coaches along the way.

Family-friendly theatres for a splendid show

London is famous for its theatres, and the West End has some of the finest in the world. There are plenty of shows all year round, including West End shows suitable for families. From Matilda and Frozen to Wicked or The Lion King (and, let's not forget, Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, which is still a huge draw), there are many Disney musicals and classic tales to entertain kids of all ages. If you're putting together an itinerary of the best family experiences in London, a trip to the theatre is a must.

For younger children, there are also wonderfully entertaining puppet theatres. A real gem is the Little Angel Puppet Theatre. Tucked away in Dagmar Passage, Islington, it’s dedicated to keeping the art of puppetry alive, with interactive performances and shows for all ages.

If your child is an aspiring performer, look out for theatre workshops during the summer, where they can learn techniques and tips from professional actors.

Explore the endless museums and parks

London’s museums are world-class, offering fantastic exhibits, interactive workshops, and bringing together cultural artefacts from across the globe. If you’d like to know more, we go into more depth on things to do in London with kids in our informative guide, The Best Museums in London For Kids.

The British Museum is filled with wonders, including special exhibits and treasures from around the world. It's a big museum, so wear comfy shoes, take plenty of breaks, and stop for a coffee in the museum's café.

If your children are seriously into their dinosaurs or love anything to do with the natural world, visiting the Natural History Museum in South Kensington is one of the top things to do in London with kids. There’s a whole segment dedicated to dinosaurs of all sizes, while special exhibits take young explorers on an adventure through jungles and rainforests, deserts and underwater worlds.

All your FAQs answered

What is the best time to visit London for family-friendly festivals?

The best time to visit London for family-friendly festivals is during the school holidays at Easter and during the summer months of July and August. Many of the best London attractions for families put on special shows and events during these times. Tickets can sell out quickly for the more popular shows, such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, so be sure to ask your dedicated concierge to book tickets in advance.

What are the best family-friendly shows or performances in London that kids will love?

The West End is full of family-friendly shows that kids will love, such as Matilda, the wonderful Wicked, and of course, Frozen. Young children will adore shows like The Gruffalo’s Child, or treat yourself to an enchanting winter show with Peter Pan.

Are there any child-friendly restaurants or dining options in London that cater to families?

London is packed full of restaurants serving cuisine from around the world. Most are family-friendly, offering children's menus with smaller servings and more familiar dishes that children will like.

Are there any boat trips or river cruises in London that are enjoyable for children?

A memorable way to see London from a different perspective is to hop onto one of the river cruises that take you up and down the Thames. Sail past iconic attractions such as the London Eye and under the famous Tower Bridge. In the evening, many of the bridges are lit underneath in different colours, creating a magical experience in the heart of the city.

Plan the best London family getaway with onefinestay

With endless family-friendly London homes and apartments to discover, staying with onefinestay unlocks the rich history and vibrant culture of England’s capital city. Browse our destination guides to find out where to stay with your children and speak to a Travel Advisor who will match you up with the perfect London home for your trip.