London has a long and rich history that even the youngest of visitors can appreciate. Whether viewing the Crown Jewels and walking in the footsteps of queens and kings at Buckingham Palace, sampling international fare at street markets or climbing the Tower of London, the whole family will be charmed by the city’s treasures. Parents will love its diverse cultural offerings, from funky street art in Shoreditch to Michelin-starred cuisine and upscale shopping in Chelsea. Here is Indagare's three-day plan for the best things to do in London with kids.
Contact Indagare to book a family-friendly trip to London. Our travel specialists can match you with the best hotel, plan great meals and activities and arrange behind-the-scenes access.
Begin the day with a quintessentially British breakfast everyone will enjoy at the Wolseley, and afterwards walk through Green Park to arrive in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace in time to watch the Changing of the Guard, a 350-year-old ceremony in which the Queen’s Foot Guards transfer watch (daily from May through July at 11:30 a.m., the rest of the year on alternate days). For the best view, arrive a little before 11:15 a.m. and find a spot near the Victoria Memorial. Exit the park at Hyde Park Corner and walk down Brompton Road to Harrods, the renowned and seemingly endless department store, which also has a basement food hall not to be missed for lunch.
Just north of Cromwell Road is a trio of London’s most popular museums: the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). Best for interactive exhibitions, the Science Museum has a 3-D IMAX cinema and a popular space exhibition, while the Natural History Museum houses 70 million specimens in four distinct sections. The V&A is great for older children and budding artists; it has 145 galleries dedicated to decorative arts dating from the 1600s. Afterward (or alternatively), walk up Exhibition Road to the expansive Kensington Park Gardens. Admire the Royal Albert Hall and Albert Memorial, go rowing on the Serpentine, have a cup of tea at the Boat House or the beautiful Orangery, the latter at Princess Diana’s former—and William and Kate’s current—home, Kensington Palace. Afterwards, head up to Portobello for dinner at Pizza East, a casual but trendy pizzeria from the Soho House founder.
Start at the towering London Eye, a 443-foot tall Ferris wheel that will give you a panoramic view of the city (peek into the back garden of 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s official residence). Walking east, trace the Thames past the buildings of the arts-focused Southbank Centre, and see the rows of booksellers and eclectic street performers. Not far from here is the Imperial War Museum, which displays an in-depth look at World Wars I and II, through expertly curated archives and exhibits. Planes, tanks, trenches and other interactive galleries will intrigue history buffs of all ages and is worth a full morning visit. Later, continue on to the Tate Modern, a former power station converted into the UK’s largest modern-art museum. Don’t miss the Rothko Room and the spectacular Turbine Hall.
After lunch, take a picturesque walk across London Bridge or Millennium Bridge to the Tower of London (though with so much to see once you arrive, a short taxi ride is also a good idea). This 900-year-old riverside fort is a favorite with youngsters and has enough attractions to fill a full day. Highlights in the Tower of London include a look at the Crown Jewels (especially the Imperial State Crown, decorated with 2,868 diamonds) as well as the Royal Armouries and the Bloody Tower. Plan ahead and arrive in time for the lively reenactments, and be sure to snap a photograph of the distinctive Yeoman Warders, known as Beefeaters. Young art enthusiasts should visit Somerset House, a center for arts, music and film just across Waterloo Bridge. In the summer, children will love the 55 dancing fountains in its courtyard, and in the winter, there’s a wonderful ice-skating rink. Later, head to Bocconcino, in Mayfair, for delicious pizzas and other Italian dishes or Dishoom in Covent Garden for Indian cuisine.
Related: Best Afternoon Teas in London
After breakfast, head to Marylebone High Street, which is beloved by Londoners for its refined atmosphere, and tour the nearby Sherlock Holmes Museum, which details the adventures of the British detective. From here it is a short walk (crossing busy Marylebone Road) to Regent’s Park. Head straight to the Inner Circle, where you will find roses in Queen Mary’s Gardens and the Open Air Theatre, which has puppet shows and Shakespeare productions during the summer. Head north through the park to the London Zoo, a family favorite that is home to more than 12,000 animals and offers talks with experts and interactive feeding times. Pick up a snack and a cup of tea at one of the many refreshment stands and walk up beautiful Primrose Hill, one of the highest points in the city. Later, sit down for lunch nearby at York & Albany, Gordon Ramsay's charmingly casual dining room that has delicious British comfort food and a children's menu.
In the afternoon, spend some time exploring London's best shopping districts for one-of-a-kind purchases, from fashion to toys. Some of our favorite neighborhoods to explore include Covent Garden, a modern marketplace filled with boutiques, restaurants and street performers; Soho, a maze of shopping streets and small cafés, including quirky Carnaby Street and designer fashion in Liberty department store; and bustling Regent Street for kid-heaven Hamleys, the landmark toy shop dating from 1760. After shopping, pop in for afternoon tea at the iconic department store Fortnum and Mason. Later, continue shopping in Chelsea, a charming village-like neighborhood of London, where old-school shops sit side-by-side with modern brands.
Indagare can organize many custom family-friendly tours, classes and special access in and around London. Here are some of our most popular options:
• Private tour of the State Apartments of Buckingham Palace (depending on the Queen’s whereabouts) • Cruise on the Thames on a private yacht or RIB boat • Private viewing of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London • Tour of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, including a soccer practice session • Private guided tour of Spencer House, the ancestral home of Lady Diana • Private tour of Prince Charles’ organic gardens at Highgrove, in the Cotswolds • Themed children’s tea party • Special tour of the Harry Potter movie sets • Curator guided tour at Tate Modern • Private dinner at the Wallace Collection • The Warner Bros. Studio, located an hour outside of the city. Indagare can arrange special tours to see the sets, costumes and props from the Harry Potter movie that will delight young fans of the series.
Contact Indagare for assistance planning a family trip to London. Our specialists can customize your itinerary to include great meals, excursions and special activities.
We only feature hotels that we can vouch for first-hand. At many of them, Indagare members receive special amenities.Get In Touch