Traveling with kids is always an adventure – even more so when you go to a big, bustling city like London. Bright red busses rushing by, people walking in every direction, and so many sights to see with little eyes and inquisitive young minds. London is a great city to visit with kids – especially as a first international trip – and there are some delightful things to do with kids in London, too.
While I’ll be honest that I don’t have kids, I have visited London with kids – namely my two younger brothers, who were pre-teens when they first visited me while I was living in London. It was a big change from my normal way of showing people around town, to shift to tailoring each day’s itinerary to the activities that young(er) people like to do (I’m not that old!), but it can be done with a little extra time and planning.
If you’re planning a trip to London with kids, get excited – and get them excited too – as there are tons of fun and kid-friendly things to do in London. Below you’ll find 20 of my favorites, and lists to suggest which are the best things to do in London with kids of different age groups. Additionally, don’t forget to check out the London Pass as it will help reduce the cost of traveling to London as a family and give you access to many of these sights.
The Best Things to Do in London with Kids
Before launching into the complete list of all the things to do with kids in London, I thought it might be helpful to narrow down the list a bit to the activities that are age-appropriate for both elementary-age children and middle school-aged pre-teens. If you’re traveling with kids from both groups, I recommend sitting down with your kids and helping them choose a few from each list so that everyone has something fun to look forward to.
The 5 Best Things to Do with Kids Age 5-9
- The London Zoo
- The London Aquarium
- Topsy Turvy World
- Cartoon Museum
- Hackney City Farm
The 5 Best Things to Do with Kids Age 10-13
- The London Eye
- Clink Prison Museum
- The London Dungeon
- Madame Tussauds
- The Science Museum
Read on to learn more about each of these activities and what makes them great for families with kids of all ages visiting London.
1. Cartoon Museum
I always mention the immense diversity of London museums. You will find tons that appeal to children within that diversity, like the Cartoon Museum.
A visit to the Cartoon Museum certainly is one of the best things to do with kids in London, mainly because it ignites different emotions in adults and children. Adults will take a trip down nostalgia lane to see some of their childhood cartoons, while kids will be in awe, looking at the astounding evolution and work it took to create the cartoons they watch on YouTube or TV.
The museum houses a library of over 5,000 books and 4,000 comics, and the staff has laid out the prices chronologically. Each work displayed also has insightful captions explaining its value and context. The museum also offers workshops where kids can explore their creativity. A few cool workshops kids can attend are “Create a Comic Strip” and “Caricature.”
2. Clink Prison Museum
The Clink is a prison that operated from the 12th century till the end of the 18th century. Today, the building serves as a small museum, where you and your family can learn all about medieval torture. While it might sound spooky, it truly isn’t.
The museum houses tons of historical artifacts relating to crime and punishment. Some exhibits are interactive, and kids can even handle the torture devices guards wielded to punish and torment inmates. There are also some wax figures of workers and prisoners, making the experience highly realistic. Overall, the museum is fascinating, and your kids will love how authentic the atmosphere feels as they get to experience first-hand what it was like to be an inmate in London’s medieval times.
3. Hackney City Farm
Perhaps, you and your kids don’t share a love for horror stories. If that’s the case, you can visit Hackney City Farm. Located in the middle of Hagerstown Park, Hackney City Farm is a brilliant little city farm to spend a day out in the sun and get acquainted with farm life.
The property is home to donkeys, goats, pigs, ducks, chickens, and even a pony! Some animals roam freely, and your kids can get close to them. The enclosures feature signage with tons of information about farm animals. Be prepared if you are a city dweller as it may be muddy.
4. Imperial War Museum
If your kids are interested in war history (or perhaps you want to pass your family history on to them), the Imperial War Museum is a fantastic place to visit. The museum deals with the events during WWI and WWII and features a stunning section on the Holocaust.
They have a large selection of vehicles, guns, and uniforms. The museum curators have done an amazing job presenting artifacts and stories in such a way that invites visitors to take a moment and reflect on the historic events. They have included numerous personal accounts to understand what occurred on a human level. A visit to the museum is one of the most kid-friendly things to do in London and will give your kids excellent tools to understand history.
5. Kew Gardens Treetop Walkway
Kew Gardens is a magical wonderland where kids can jump, explore, and climb in nature. In 2019, the park opened Children’s Gardens, a huge area where the little ones can learn all the things plants need to grow. Children’s Gardens is designed for ages two to 12 and features numerous facilities depending on how adventurous your kids are.
Another attraction worth visiting with kids at Kew Gardens is Treetop Walkway. Although I must warn you, it isn’t suitable for vertigo sufferers. Treetop Walkway is a very popular destination for families. As soon as you walk in, you can see (and hear) toddlers and children enjoying the area.
Designed by the same people behind the London Eye, the Treetop Walkway is 200 meters long and 18 meters-high walkway that gives visitors the chance to rise above the shrubbery at Kew Gardens in London. The views are stunning, but the sculptures and engravings around the path are superbly informative.
The elevator is out of action due to Covid, but you can access the top through the stairs.
6. London Aquarium
Located on the Southbank, visiting the London Aquarium is a proven antidote against boredom for little ones. The venue feels like a completely different world, with dim lights and exotic fishes swimming in the immense tanks.
The sea life aquarium has multiple sections: the intense Shark Walk, the Atlantic Coasts section, the Ray Lagoon, Seahorse Kingdom, Conservation Cove, Ocean Invaders (jellyfish), Rockpool, and Ocean Tunnel. Try and visit before sunset so you can see the penguins as well.
Since visiting the aquarium is one of the most popular things to do with kids in London, you can easily find great deals on tickets – which families can also buy in package deals, for example, with the London Eye.
7. London Dungeon
Located along the South Bank, the London Dungeon is a fantastic alternative to get your kids interested in history.
The London Dungeon is a 90-minute experience that takes a trip back in time through some of London’s darkest periods like the Black Plague, Great Fire of London, and Jack the Ripper, to mention a few. Everything feels very authentic.
The lengthy experience uses a mixture of live actors, special effects, and rides to create a spooky atmosphere. The actors are incredible; they never break character and have sublime storytelling skills. Overall, the attraction is creepy, funny, and exciting.
8. London Eye
A classic stop in London, riding the London Eye is an experience with no age limits. Some parents may be doubtful to bring their kids on a spin at the London Eye, given they can’t exit the pod if their kids aren’t comfortable. However, I believe the London Eye ride is something your little ones can enjoy.
Firstly, kids will love loping on the capsules. It feels like an adventure, and kids tend to be fascinated by the wheel’s movement. Secondly, if they’re older, they will love admiring the views of the city that unfolds before their eyes.
9. London Zoo
Visiting the London Zoo is another of the unbeatable things to do in London with kids. The London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo, opening in 1828. Initially, the zoo housed an animal collection that served for scientific study only, and it wasn’t until 1847 that it opened its doors to the public.
The London Zoo has enough to keep you and your kids entertained for three to four hours. It has tons of animals to see, from giraffes to lemurs, and there are interactive areas where you can get up close to the animals.
10. Madame Tussauds
There’s nothing more exciting than taking a picture with your idol, whoever that is. Madame Tussauds is a famous wax museum that displays celebrities, movie characters, and eminent figures made out of wax. The museum has over 150 lifelike figures, including Yoda, Shrek, and Spiderman.
Since we’re in London, there’s a wax figure of the Queen. I know it isn’t as cool as seeing the flesh-and-bone Queen, but it gets pretty close. Another reason to visit the London Madame Tussauds is that it was the first wax museum Marie Tussaud ever opened, dating back to 1835.
11. Mudchute City Farm
Visit Mudchute Park and Farm and get a taste of the country in East London. Mudchute Park and Farm is a large urban park and farm in Cubitt Town on the Isle of Dogs, just south of Canary Wharf.
Despite its name, the farm is a local nature reserve and a site of metropolitan importance for nature conservation. It spans over 32 acres of countryside and features working farms, stables, and even a children’s nursery. You can find all kinds of friendly fur and feathered creatures as the farm has a stunning collection of rare British breeds, with around 200 animals and fowl. It also offers interactive activities, like horse riding and family picnics.
12. Mudlarking the Thames
Are you interested in a fun outdoor activity for your kids? Then Mudlarking is you and your family. Mudlarking is the activity of scavenging in river mud for items of value; there are several great beaches along the Thames that are perfect for Mudlarking.
The Thames tide rises and falls twice a day by up to 24 feet; when the water departs, leaving tons of centuries-old objects that people once tossed into the river. Now you get to hunt for these objects. While tourists technically can mudlark on their own, they must have a permit. There are two kinds: ‘Standard’ and ‘Mudlark.’
Popular places to mudlark are under the Millennium Bridge outside the Tate Modern or on the North Bank near St. Paul’s Cathedral. I know Mudlarking is a bit outrageous and not what most people back home will be expecting to hear about your London trip. However, it’s a wonderful activity, especially for kids who love collecting objects.
13. Museum of London
The Museum of London takes you on an extraordinary journey through the entire history of London, from prehistoric times to the modern city we see today. While there aren’t hands-on exhibitions, the museum has visually-engaging collections. The historical findings are also on display, including many mud-larked from the Thames!
For a more interactive experience, the museum has added QR codes in its galleries so little ones can access extra digital content. The museum also has activity sheets you can download, print, and bring along on the day of your visit. This way, your kids will be more engaged with the exhibits so as to be able to complete the sheets with the right information.
14. Peter Harrison Planetarium
A planetarium is a wonderful place to take your kids no matter where you are. Situated in Greenwich Park, you will find the Peter Harrison Planetarium. The stunning venue is part of the National Maritime Museum and hosts numerous astronomical shows in its impressive 120-seat digital laser planetarium.
Their most famous show is “The Sky Tonight.” It takes you on tour through the night sky, where an astronomer shows children various constellations. You can also book Ted’s Space Adventure if your child is under seven years old. The show features Ted, a bear that goes on an adventure around the Solar System. Make sure you check the planetarium’s website and book in advance.
If your kiddos love the night sky, there are also some great places for stargazing in London too!
15. Queens Ice and Bowl
It’s no secret that bowling and ice skating are excellent pastimes for adults and kids. You can enjoy both activities at QUEENS. The Queen’s Skate Dine Bowl first opened in 1930. Since then, it has provided year-round ice skating, ten-pin bowling, and a fun time to Londoners.
The entertaining venue welcomes people of all ages. If you’re on a budget, you can book their MON & TUES MADNESS pack, where you can bowl or ice-skate for just £7.50. Bear in mind you have to book in advance to go mad on Mondays and Tuesdays.
16. The BFI IMAX
Your kids will love going to the BFI IMAX, the biggest screen in London and the UK. The screening room is a dream for any cinephile as it provides an entirely immersive experience. The screen is enormous, at more than 65 feet high (the height of almost five double-decker buses!) and 85 feet wide.
The sound quality is unbelievable, projecting the music and voices virtually to every corner of the room. The seats are perfectly vertiginous, so no head will block your view. It isn’t the cheapest alternative, a premium seat costs £20, but the experience is worth every penny.
If you and your kids love going to the movies together, check out these other great London cinemas.
17. Topsy Turvy World
Located in North London, Topsy Turvy World is a large indoor play center and party venue for children under 12. It is the perfect place for parents who want to relax and let the kids play indoors in a secure area.
The property has a playground for younger children, with slides and ball pits, and a soft play area for toddlers. Bear in mind that locals can book the place for birthdays, so it can get quite busy, especially during weekends.
18. The Science Museum
Science is a fascinating world that kids love exploring. Located in South Kensington, The Science Museum spans four floors. Each exhibition takes you through different scientific discoveries that forever changed the world, from the Industrial Revolution to today. The collections focus on varied knowledge spheres, like engineering, space exploration, physics, and mathematics.
If you’d like an interactive experience, head to the third floor and book your ticket for Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery. This section works with teams that invite kids to explore science through explosive demonstrations and shows.
19. Tower of London
If your kids love the idea of visiting the Clink Prison and the London Dungeon, then visiting the Tower of London is another one of the best things to do with kids in London; it is another way to experience first-hand what prisons were like in medieval times. However, I suggest you visit the Tower if you have kids over twelve years old. The 1,000-year-old castle that protects the Crown Jewels has excellent exhibitions that provide an insight into the past. I’m sure your children will find the crazy stories of the tower as a prison or a zoo fascinating.
I might not recommend a visit for families with smaller children. Unfortunately, most of the building has very limited accessibility for strollers, and you’ll encounter narrow stairs, alleys, and steps difficult to navigate with a toddler.
20. V&A Museum of Childhood
V&A Museum of Childhood is the “younger sister” of the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was formerly “London’s Museum of Childhood” but is being renovated and rebranded. While the museum does not open its doors until 2023, here’s what you can expect. Its collections will focus on the interests, concerns, and challenges children face today.
The museum will have three permanent gallery spaces called Imagine, Play, and Design. All exhibits feature items from the V&A’s main archive. There will also be rotating temporary exhibitions. Moreover, children will enjoy hands-on activities at the museum’s interactive displays and workshops. Like many other London museums, Young V&A will be free to visit.
Surely this is enough to plan your London itinerary with kids in tow, right? Have any other questions about what to do in London with kids? Let me know in the comments, or join my London Travel Tips Facebook community.