- Tips to Know Before You Go (When to Go, Budgeting, Transportation)
- Best Neighborhoods to stay in London with Kids (including my Family Hotel and Rentals Spreadsheet! ???? )
- Kid-Friendly Restaurants for Breakfast, Lunch/Dinner & Dessert (sorted by cost ????)
- What to Do with Kids in London organized by Must See’s, FREE Museums, BEST Parks for Families, Fun Shopping, and Off the Beaten Path ideas!
- Map of more than 50 Recommendations listed in this Guide so you can plan your perfect trip!
- Helpful blog posts by local parents and frequent family travelers
|Updated May 2020. I check comments often, so let me know if I can help with a specific travel question below in the comments! ????)|
Know Before You Go to London with Kids
There are hundreds of great travel blogs and videos on traveling to London with kids so we wanted to put together the best of the best in a no-fluff, focused list and spreadsheet format you can find all the info you need to start planning the perfect trip to London with your kids!
When to Go?
London is wonderful (and expensive) in any season! The summer is great and the holidays are very special. There are 2 “off-seasons” that are a great place to start for slightly less expensive flights and hotels: September to October and January to March.
London is consistently one of the most expensive cities in the world. And with kids, the costs just multiply! Some $$ saving tips include:
- Check out the budget hotels in the list below that are mostly centrally located.
- Focus on the many free museums and stunning free parks London has to offer!
- One tip for cheaper West End Theater tickets is to go in person to the ticket booths and ask for same day tickets. Many people say they have good luck but you do need to have understanding kids if it doesn’t work out.
- The Tube is free for children under 11 with a paying adult! (Tube, DLR, buses and trams, London Overground, TfL Rail)
- Locals Tip! Check out the app Mumderground where you can look up Tube stations to see if they are stroller friendly.
Best Neighborhoods to Stay in with Kids
So many Options, so many Opinions!
To say London is huge is an understatement! With almost 9 million inhabitants (more than NYC and almost double all of Scotland!), many of the tourist attractions are spread out. There are tons of options and opinions on where to stay with a family.
Our advice is to first decide your top attractions and goals (budget, city or neighborhood feel?) and then check out the neighborhood that best fits.
A word on staying outside London: Many frequent travelers and locals recommend staying in London if you want to see things inside the city. The cost of public transportation for a family can definitely add up and eliminate any savings in the hotel costs. However, if a 30-minute train into the city is ok for your schedule, check out the Greenwich or Richmond neighborhoods that have a great village feel and more apartment rental options.
Below are the 4 great neighborhoods for families in London by local parents: (Read more of their reviews at the end of this guide)
- South Bank: Across the Thames but with tons to do including London Aquarium, London Eye, National Theater Gabriel’s Wharf, Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe.
- Covent Garden: Royal Opera, Covent Garden Market, National Gallery, Trafalgar Square (Note: Might be louder with more nightlife)
- Shoreditch: Centrally located with tons nearby. Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Old Spitalfields Market, and Columbia Road Flower Market.
- South Kensington: (Pricey though!) Diana Memorial Playground, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Hyde Park, London Zoo (and to the north, Notting Hill)
Where to Book?
- VRBO.com or Airbnb.com for apartments to rent in London.
- Booking.com is my favorite site for booking hotels. Many have free cancellation.
- Mom Tip! Filter the reviews by month that you are traveling in to see how travelers like the area for that season. You can also search the reviews for “with kids” or “children” and see if its a great hotel for kids.
????Hotels & Apartments for Families in London
|Name & Location||Cost||Kid Friendly Notes|
|Premier Inn County Hall|
Near Waterloo Station
|3 star hotel with costs around $120 a night for double occupancy.||Highly regarded as a great budget option for family travelers. Family rooms and hot Breakfast. Convenient location near London Eye, Aquarium, Waterloo Station, Big Ben and Parliament.|
|Comfort Inn Victoria |
|3 star hotel around $240 in low season for a triple room and $298 for a quadruple.||Good option for budget family trips. Hotel includes triples and quadruple rooms and Breakfast included. Close to theaters, Westminster Cathedral and Buckingham Palace.|
|The Royal Garden Hotel Hyde Park Kensington||4 star hotel around $500 for a King Suite (with sofa bed)||Across the street from Kensington Palace, Hyde Park and Royal Albert Hall. Breakfast is not included and around $35 pp.|
|130 Queen’s Gate Apartments|
Kensington and Chelsea
|Very nice apartment rental for around $600 a night for a 2 bedroom apartment. Higher prices in high season.||Rated “excellent, 8.6” on Booking.com. Near Natural History Museum, very close to tube station, Victoria and Albert Museum etc.|
|The Taj at Buckingham Gate |
|5 star hotel with many different suite options that start around $1,000 a night for 2 bedroom, 5 person occupancy.||This all-suite hotel is the most mentioned by luxury family travelers! Includes Michelin starred restaurant and FamilyTraveller.com says, “Don’t miss the Jungle Book experience with tea and a tour of the famous toy store Hamleys.”|
????Kid-Friendly Restaurant Matrix
All links are to the TripAdvisor site for each restaurant so you can see pics of food and read reviews.
Breakfast Restaurants with Kids in London
|Name & Address||Location, Hours & Cost||Notes|
|Kennington Lane Cafe|
383 Kennington Lane
|Vauxhall, Weekdays 7 AM – 4 PM, Saturday 8 AM – 4 PM and Sunday 9 AM – 4 PM., Not expensive.||Rated #1 in Coffee and Tea of 1,300 in London with traditional English breakfast.|
113 Old Street and 4 other locations.
|Old Street, 7 AM – 4 PM, Moderately priced.||Great food and quick service (which is important with kiddos!)|
|Darcie and May Green|
Sheldon Square, The Grand Union Canal
|Kensington Gardens, 8AM to 10 PM, Reservations on website.||For a unique breakfast, check out this converted barge cafe on the canal! Serves healthy Australian food.|
Lunch & Dinner Restaurants with Kids in London
Kid Friendly Restaurant Chains
- Wahaca: 16 locations all around London. Mexican chain with great kids’ menus, cheaper meals and does well with food allergies.
- Wagamama: tons of locations. Serves casual, healthy, fresh foods with a kids, vegan and vegetarian options.
- Nandos: Famous South African peri-peri chicken that’s great for kids. Tons of locations. Little more pricey than street chicken but delicious.
- Pizza Express: Casual pizza for takeout and eat in options, all around London.
|Name & Address||Location, Hours, Cost, Reservations?||Notes|
|Beigel Bake |
159 Brick Lane
|Shoreditch, Open 24/7!, cheap bagels||Famous cheap bagel place “the Katz pastrami of London” by Eater video 🙂|
119 Brick Lane
|Shoreditch, 12 PM – 11 PM, moderately priced||Delicious Lebanese food on Brick Lane!|
56 Hanbury St.
|Spitalfields, 11 AM – 11:30 PM, $13-$24.||Great Indian restaurant near Brick Lane.|
|Honey & Co.|
25A Warren Street
|Warren Street, 8 AM to 10:30 PM, moderately priced.||Middle Eastern cafe known for amazing falafel.|
|Bread Street Kitchen|
10 Bread Street
|St. Paul’s, 7 AM to 12 AM, $25 – $65, reservations online.||Gordon Ramsey’s central London restaurant. Kids up to 12 years old get a free 2 course menu designed by Ramsey’s daughter. Family brunch on Sundays with a pizza masterclass.|
36 Tavistock St. Covent Garden
|Covent Garden, 12 pm to 11 PM, $26 – $59, Reservations can be made online.||Highly recommended casual Italian offshoot of Michelin restaurant Murano with a kids menu!|
16 Great Guildford St.
|Southwark, 11:30 AM to 11 PM, $13 – 59, Reservations can be made online.||High reviews London steakhouse where kids are free under age 10 weekdays 4-6 pm and weekends noon-6 pm.|
Dessert Restaurant Recommendations for Families in London
|Name & Address||Location & Hours||Notes|
|The Crepe Factory|
297 North End Road
|West Brompton, 8:30 – 9 PM||Delicious Crepes near the Natural History Museum.|
216 Shaftesbury Ave.
|Holborn, 12 PM to 11 AM||5 star gelato and desserts, what more could you want?!|
|Afternoon Tea!||So many options with different themes: |
– St. Ermin’s Hotel Garden Tea
– Charlie and Chocolate Factory Tea
– Science Afternoon Tea
– Afternoon Tea in a moving Double Decker!
|The best roundup of kid friendly high teas I’ve seen is by Go Live Young here. Check out each link to make reservations.|
????What to Do in London with Kids
London has so much to do with kids! This is probably the hardest section to compile of all the guides I’ve created because the options are really endless! I have focused this list on 4 sections:
- Must See Things to See (6 locations)
- FREE Museums with Kids (6 museums)
- The BEST Parks for Families (5 parks)
- Fun Shopping Locations for kids (4 shops and markets)
- Off the Beaten Path (3 unique ideas)
- There are tons of amazing Day Trips from London that would be great with kids. Emily Cole at Kids and Compass have an incredible roundup of 18 Day Trips outside of London with kids that includes The Making of Harry Potter, Legoland Windsor, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Cambridge, Oxford and Warwick Castle!
Must See’s with Kids:
|Parliament Family Tour and Big Ben: 60 minute tour for ages 7 – 12 of the Parliament building. Book tour at link.||Kids under 15 are free, Adults £19.50|
|Hop on Hop Off Original Tour: Great for families to get an overview of all the sites. This particular tour comes recommended specifically for kids because they have a Kids Club Commentary in English. The 24 hr pass includes a river boat tour as well.||Lots of different passes at link. Most popular is a 24 Hour pass £16 for Kids and £34 for Adults. Includes Changing of the Guard and river cruise.|
|London Eye: 30 minute rotation with iconic 360 degree views of the capital. Highly recommending buying tickets online and in advance as it is both cheaper and saves you the sometimes 2 hour line.||Online standard ticket £27 and £30 on the day of. (Family Tickets include 1 adult and 2 children. Lots of other options including Student and Fast Track rates.)|
|Great Boat Outing for Toddlers: |
– Tube to St. Paul’s
– Get on the Thames Clipper (water taxi) to Greenwich.
– Go past Tower of London, under Tower Bridge and see the city by water!
|Thames Clipper is £6-8 depending on how far you go, kids are free)|
|The Tower Bridge: Beautiful and iconic! Walk across for free or check out the behind the scenes tour that explores the engineering behind this beautiful landmark. ||Advanced tickets save money. Adult £ 8.80, Child 5-15 £ 3.80, under 5 free. |
– Mom Tip! The Tower Bridge opens 1000 a year check online schedule posted online here and kids would love to watch from the riverbank!
|Tower of London: Half or full day of things to explore in the heart of the city. Check out this great post by The Little Den sharing their family’s 13 tips for visiting. Key sights: Crown Jewels, Bloody Tower, multiple exhibits and extended experiences including Knight School and the Armoury in Action where you can shoot arrows!||Buy tickets online to save 10%. Adults £24.70, Child ages 5-15 £11.70. Under 5, free. Family saver tickets available. |
|HMS Belfast located on the Thames is great fun for kids and parents alike! Beautiful views and tons to see on the multiple levels. Note: best for kids who are out of strollers as the ladders are very steep.||Open 10 AM – 6 PM everyday. Buy tickets online and save. Adults £17 – 19, Child ages 5-15 £8.50 – 9.50.|
|London Theater for Kids So many amazing opportunities in this world class theater city! Check out link specifically for visiting with kids.||Various prices based on show and time.|
|Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker street for any fans of the books and shows! Can have lines but no internet reservations.||Adults £15 and Kids (under 15) are £10|
FREE Museums in London with Children:
- Natural History Museum: Free! Open everyday (except December 24-26) from 10 am to 5:30 pm. World class museum in South Kensington with incredible exhibits for all ages.
- British Museum: Free! Open daily 10 AM to 5:30 PM and on Fridays from 10 AM to 8:30 PM. (Closed Dec. 24-26 and Jan. 1) Fabulous museum dedicated to human history, art and culture.
- Mom Tip! Check out a free backpack and family activity trail at the Families Desk in the Great Court. Free Kids Workshops listed here.
- Science Museum: Free! Open daily 10 – 6 PM (last entry 5:15 PM) Great hands on science rooms for younger kids downstairs and older kids upstairs. Next door to Natural History a bit less crowded.
- London has SO many museums but the above 3 are favorites for kids. Other great museums include:
- Museum of London Docklands is free and very kid-friendly.
- Locals tip! There’s a free softplay area that you can pre-book the night before. Perfect for a rainy day!
- National Maritime Museum in Greenwich: Great museum with a massive map of the world on the floor and boats that kids can tow each other around on! Ahoy! Play area downstairs free on weekdays and fee on weekends.
- The V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum): Focuses on art and design. Play area for dress ups. Beautiful Cafe.
- Tate Modern – International modern and contemporary art. Check out the Kid’s audio guide.
- The National Gallery – Check out the Family Guide.
- Museum of London Docklands is free and very kid-friendly.
Best Parks for Kids – All Free!
- Hyde Park: Huge park in central London containing many must see spots. Great list on the Royal Parks website as well as upcoming events in the park.
- The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Gardens is in the NW corner and has a huge wooden pirate ship, beach and fenced playground for ages 12 and under. Opening hours are seasonal and listed here but generally open 10 AM to 6 PM.
- Swimming in the Serpentine Lake if weather permits 🙂
- Kensington Gardens is a beautiful place to explore in the western side of the park next to the Palace (Mom Tip! bring peanuts to feed green parakeets!)
- Speakers Corner: Busy on weekend afternoons with soapbox orators. Located on the north east corner.
- Regent’s Park offers TONS to do including formal gardens, 4 children’s playgrounds, cafes and sports facilities. The ZSL London Zoo is in the north part of the Park and you can see many of the zoo animals for free from the park side.
- Locals Tip! Check out the amazing view from Primrose Hill!
- St James Park: Lovely park along the river with daily pelican feedings, playground and close to Buckingham Palace. There is a nice cafe near the lake. Great place to go before/after Changing of the Guards.
- Jubilee Gardens Playground: Newest park on the list right next to the London Eye in South Bank with an adventure playground all ages will love!
- Victoria Park is a great place for kids and families as one of the oldest parks in the city with boating, multiple playgrounds and beautiful green spaces.
Fun Shopping for Families
- Hamleys London: The premier toy store with 5 floors filled with incredible toys for all ages! Opened in 1760 (!) and contains tons of toy demonstrations and interactive areas!
- Open: 10 AM to 9PM (except Sunday 12 PM to 6 PM) Address: 188-196 Regent Street. Closest Tube Station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus.
- Harrods: High end store that’s fun to peruse and explore. There is a dress code of no flip flops, ripped jeans or beach shorts so be aware if visiting in the summer.
- Open: 10 AM to 9 PM Address: 87-135 Brompton Road Knightsbridge Closest Tube Station: Knightsbridge.
- Covent Garden Market: Great place for kids with tons of very talented buskers (street performers), delicious foods to try and unique shopping. Has a huge indoor farmers market and an outdoor market.
- Open: 7 days a week, 8 AM to 7PM, Sundays 11 AM – 4 PM. Address: 130 King Street Closest Tube Station: Covent Garden.
- Portobello Road Flea Market: Large street market covering a mile in
- Open: Main market is Saturdays 9 AM to 7 PM but Fridays are the 2nd busiest day. Check out calendar for a list of each days openings. Address: Portobello Road, London W11.
Off the Beaten Path for Families:
- Emirates Air Line Cable Car over the Thames River. Short (only 10 minutes) but cheaper than the London Eye. £7 pounds round trip for Adults and you can pay with your Oyster card.
- London Transport Museum: Lesser known museum but a huge hit with kids who love all things trains and cars! Great play area for 0-5. Cost is £18 for Adults and Children under 17 FREE! (Discount tickets available online and your ticket is )
- Free* Walking Tours with Strawberry Guides: (*Note tips are encouraged at the end) There are 15 free tours for London from an Landmarks tour to a Harry Potter tour to a Street Art tour. Each tour’s website has great info for the stops and an FAQ.
- Street Art Tour and Workshop (4 hours): Fascinating 2 hour walking tour of East End of London’s famous street art by Banksy and Shepard Fairy and other artists led by a street artists. Then, you head to a 1.5 hour workshop to “practice free hand spray-painting with the friendly assistance of amazing tutors.” Cost: Starting at $59 per person
- Sky Garden – London’s Skyscraper Garden! You can go up for free if you book ahead of time up to 3 weeks in advance (limited tickets per day) on their website.
- Tons of great City Farms in London! Recommendations: Mudchute, Brooks Farm, and Hackney City Farm. Not necessarily glamorous London sites, but so fun for kids and cheap/free.
- Check out a local sports game! Every city has pride for their local teams and London is no different. Tons of options from football (soccer) to cricket and rugby. Link is to the official London site for all events.
- Locals Tip! Check out the Leyton Orient’s football team’s events (25 mins by train) as they have ticket promos like “kids for a quid” (1 £) and “football for a fiver.”
Read More: Family Travel to London, England
- The London Mum’s Magazine has as great list of the Top 10 Children’s Books about London to check out at your library before your visit!
- Alyson Long and her family spent 8 months in London with kids recently during their nomadic adventure and her write up of London with Children is FULL of great tips and locations. Longer reading but lots of gems (29 minute read)
- 3 Day Itinerary: There are TONS of great itinerary’s online but I found this 72 hours in London with Kids by Amy O’Shaughnessy at CiaoBambino to be especially well designed. (13 minute read)
- Local Londoner Kat shares more about her top 4 neighborhoods to stay with kids on the Plum Guide here. (11 minute read)
- Anna Tobin at Ciao Bambino discusses her favorite neighbors in depth here. (5 minute read.)
- Santorini Dave lists dozens of family hotels by budget and luxury and apartment rentals. (7 minute read)
Map of 50+ Recommendations
All the locations mentioned in the Guide below are included in an interactive map here and embedded below. Click the drop-down arrow in the top left corner of the map to select different color-coded layers including Family-Friendly 1) Hotels 2) Restaurants 3) Things to Do 4) Free Museums 5) Fun Shopping and 6) Off the Beaten Path.[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/1/embed?mid=1KEI28hcjXM4npkPEjsEHRnPFlKZdSEv_&w=640&h=480]
More Family Trip Guides below and if you have a specific question for traveling to London with Kids, please leave a comment below and I would love to help! ????
Photo Credit: Francesco Sgroi on Flickr. CC by 2.0.