Photo credit: @ lunamarina/depositphotos.com
Planning a family trip to London? There are so many things to do with kids in London. After living there twice, once when I had three kids under four years old, my five days in London itinerary is full of family-friendly activities your kids will love!
London is one of my absolute favorite cities in the world, and it is very kid-friendly. It is also fairly easy to navigate with its robust transportation system.
Sure, you could visit Buckingham Palace or the London Eye, or spend days visiting one of the city's incredible museums if that is your cup of (British) tea. But, I actually have a few different ideas.
These are my suggestions for the most family-friendly activities to do with kids in London (as someone who lived there with kids!) Your young globetrotters will LOVE this EPIC five days in London itinerary.
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London is definitely one of the best cities in Europe for your travel bucket list. There are so many things to do in London with kids, it is hard to narrow it down to five days. But five days in London is long enough to see a lot in the city and get a very full family experience.
Planning to spend three days in London or looking for an itinerary for four days in London? Or perhaps you plan to spend longer than five days in the majestic city?
You can use my five days in London itinerary to plan more or less depending on how much time you have.
As many families fly into London on the first day, and you may have jetlag, the first day is usually light. If you are unable to check into your accommodations right away, you can ask the hotel to store your luggage until the room is ready, which is what we usually do.
I recommend that jetlagged and travel-weary travelers enjoy a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour for their first day in London. It is a great way to kick-off your five days in London itinerary.
On the tour, you can get a view of the city and see many of the major landmarks, such as the Tower of London, Picadilly Circus, Westminster Abby, Tower Bridge, and more. Hop and hop off wherever you like or just enjoy the full ride. You can book either a 24, 48, or 72-hour pass, so if you would like to spend more days than one touring around the city, you certainly can do so.
If you are traveling with kids under the age of 5, I highly recommend a visit to Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Garden. Not only is it a great place for them to stretch their legs, but this FREE wonderland themed after Peter Pan has plenty of climbing structures and interactive activities to keep the little ones busy. From the large pirate ship in the center, mini log houses, teepees, a sensory trail, sand, slides, and musical instruments, it is a special place that honors the late Princess Diana while catering to curious little travelers.
I also recommend on the first day a visit to the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. This wonderful gem is FREE for children under age 17, where kids can discover London's iconic transportation and its history.
An interactive museum that includes a family play zone for kids aged seven and under, kids follow a “stamper trail” which allows them to discover the history of London's transportation evolution and get a stamp in an activity book. They can even climb in and see what it is like to ride in or drive one of London's famous transports.
You will be ideally located in Convent Garden, so afterward you can grab a meal at one of the kid-friendly restaurants recommended below.
One of my absolute favorite things to do with kids in London is to visit Tower of London. There is so much to explore in this incredible UNESCO World Heritage site, kids will be mesmerized.
While you can tour the Tower of London on your own, I highly recommend a Tower of London Family Tour experience. Not only do these guides have expertise in working with kids, but they will also tell them stories that will captivate them, educate them, and have them talking about the Tower of London long after your visit.
On our last trip to London, we did one of these family tours, and my kids STILL talk about the stories they heard from the guide. They have learned how the Tower of London has served as both a castle and a prison. They heard about its fascinating history and the many stories (some gory) of its inhabitants and visitors. And, kids will see where in the Tower of London the Crown Jewels are kept, incredible weaponry and armor, and all of this in a way they will be captivated.
The Tower of London is a must-see on your five day trip to London with kids. Even just the colorful Yeoman Warders or “Beefeaters” guarding the castle in their iconic uniforms is a favorite of my kids. And of course, they love seeing the ravens who guard the tower! There is a lovely cafe onsite, so you can stay through lunch.
After your Tower of London Family Tour, you are perfectly situated for a boat ride on the River Thames, and I highly recommend it as another way to experience the city. If you booked the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour from the day before, you may have a River Thames boat ticket included, or you can buy tickets right at the riverfront. Or, you can enjoy a River Thames Cruise With Afternoon Tea!
From here, head on over to Picadilly Circus and enjoy the activities, lights, and shops this area has to offer. The huge M and M store is usually a kid favorite, but walk up Regent's Street to get the real prize – a stop at Hamley's Toy Shop.
This multilevel toy extravaganza will mesmerize your kids, and you will see demonstrations of toys you have never seen before. Hamley's is a great place to get a London souvenir. My kids always walk out with a stuffed Paddington Bear, a toy taxi or double-decker bus, or a toy version of the London tube.
Dinner can be at one of the kid-friendly restaurants listed below.
Fans of Harry Potter movies and books will love this incredible look into the studio that brought the magical Harry Potter to life in films. You will get a behind the scenes look at the sets, props, and movie magic used to make the iconic films.
How many of us muggles wouldn't love a chance to walk through the great hall, stand on Privet Drive, take a photo in Ron's blue car, window-shop down Diagon Alley, and taste delicious Butter Beer, among many other magical experiences.
The Harry Potter Studio Tour is well worth the visit, and a Harry Potter fan's dream come true
Afterward, your bus will bring you back to Victoria Station. You can enjoy a dinner at one of the kid-friendly restaurants listed below.
If you feel up to an evening activity, you can take a trip around Harrods (or save that for the next evening).
One of my kids' favorite places to visit right outside of central London – and a must-do on your five days in London itinerary – is Hampton Court Palace. Home to Henry VIII and other royalty, this interactive, fascinating location is not just any old castle. With period furniture and tapestries, a well-stocked, interactive Tudor kitchen, and a thematic play area, there is so much for kids – and parents – to discover.
Kids will also find this site interesting and educational as they offer kid-version audio guides. It is a great way to follow along as you tour the castle.
Period characters come out in costume to interact with the crowd, and my kids always loved the challenge of the hedge maze. For the youngest globe trotters, there are Tudor dress-up costumes, which can be found in the audio-guide rental room. Kids are even allowed to borrow them to wear while they tour the castle!
An onsite cafe offers plenty of adult and kid-friendly bites, so you can enjoy lunch during this all-day adventure.
Upon return to London, you could take an evening trip over to Harrods department store to see the iconic location and favorite shop of the late Princess Diana. The food hall alone is well worth the visit, and your kids will undoubtedly want to taste one of the delectable treats in the sweets shop.
Head up to the toy area for another exciting kid-friendly spot, and then on to the London souvenir shop if you care to take home a souvenir (a teapot is one of my favorite things to take home from London.)
I recommend starting your morning with a Magical Harry Potter Walking Tour that kids will love. Walking tours are a favorite of my kids because it is a wonderful way to see the city through storytelling. This two and half hour walking tour led by expert guides will show you spots in London that inspired the Harry Potter stories, and show you iconic sites in the city.
Alternatively, if you prefer something different, this would be a good time to visit Harrods or Picadilly Circus.
I then recommend, after a quick lunch at one of the quick-service restaurants below, a West End late afternoon matinee show or evening theater show for one of the many kid-friendly shows. The West End is London's Broadway, but as London is known for its incredible theater, you can't leave the city without seeing a performance. There are many kid-friendly shows your kids will love.
You CAN take little ones to a show (assuming they are a family-friendly theme), and we have done so with our three-year-old. The best part is they serve Cadbury candy and icecream during intermission!
London is a great city for getting around because of its comprehensive transportation system of the Underground (the “tube,”) busses, and of course the iconic taxis. If you are traveling with kids in strollers, I recommend exclusively using the bus.
Many of London's Underground stations do not have elevators, so you are looking at long escalators and stairs. When we lived there with three kids under age four, we exclusively traveled by bus, which is easy to use and there are spots on busses for strollers (prams).
London's taxis are also easy to use and can fit strollers (you often don't have to even fold them). But they can be expensive.
Get an Oyster card when you arrive to the city and you can keep using it throughout the trip (you can reload it with more funds if it runs out.)
If you have young kids who might have trouble walking throughout the city, you can rent foot scooters (like the local children) for the duration of your trip.
There are so many places to stay in London that you won't be limited on choices. One of our favorite spots is the Marriott Marble Arch. It can accommodate families of four and it is very centrally located to access transportation. It is right across from Hyde Park.
Another hotel we like is the DoubleTree by Hilton across from Kensington Garden. This is the neighborhood where we lived in London, so it is very comfortable for us. It is walking distance to Notting Hill, tube stops, and has bus access. It is also not far from Regent Street.
Kensington High Street is also another neighborhood I love that has many hotels including a Marriott Residence Inn, and there are hotels near the Marylebone area. This neighborhood is also close to Regent's Park.
There are many kid-friendly restaurants in London. These are our favorites that are chains but don't let that scare you. They are great. They just have several of these spots around the city :
Did you know you can take a day trip to Paris during your London vacation? Just an easy plane or train trip can get you there and back in one day. It's a great add-on to your family adventure.
London is a majestic city that offers so many things to do with kids. Whether you do five days in London with kids or more, or even if you are looking for what to do in London with kids for one to four days, my five days in London itinerary offers you a variety of ideas from someone who has lived there. This is the ultimate London itinerary with kids they will love!
Featured Photo credit: @ lunamarina/depositphotos.com
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