Over the summer, my family spent 12 days in London, and this is the London Itinerary for Kids that I created for my daughter. This itinerary includes 9 days of activities with different themes. Some of the days are more focused on history while others center around unique activities for children in London.
This London itinerary for kids includes visits to several must-see London sites: the Tower of London, the British Museum, the Museum of Natural History, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Camden Market, and Hampton Court Palace. To create a London Itinerary for Kids, I wove in stops at play spaces, parks, playgrounds, and children’s attractions. Your family will still get a dose of history and culture, while making sure children are having fun.
I didn’t include mealtimes in the itineraries, but many of the museums have cafes that conveniently offer kids meals that include a sandwich, piece of fruit, juice box, and chips. I thought this was a great option. Cafes and restaurants are easy to find throughout London; if we weren’t eating at a museum, we often stopped at Gail’s Bakery, which seems to have locations in every neighborhood. Gail’s has excellent pastries, plus soups and sandwiches. It’s quick and easy, which is just what I need when I am trying to feed a toddler.
London Itinerary for Kids
The goal was to create walkable itineraries. Once you take the tube to the first location on the itinerary, you should be able to walk to the other activities.
Some of the itineraries are suited for days with favorable weather – especially the Castles and Gardens itinerary and the Zoo and Camden Market itinerary. Pick these for the days with the best weather. If the weather is bad, choose Science and History (and maybe skip the playground) or Books and Letters.
My daughter turned three the week we took this trip, but these activities are great for kids of all ages. I brought a travel stroller everywhere, and my daughter would nap in the stroller. Usually, if she napped, she would fall asleep on the walk from one place to another. I would use her nap time to my advantage, seeing areas of museums that might not be the most fun for toddlers.
1. Playing, Shopping, and Nature
This London itinerary for kids combines visits to a wonderful story-inspired immersive play space, Europe’s largest mall, and the site of the 2012 London Olympics. These three attractions are within a couple of blocks of each other.
This immersive play space is perfect for kids ages 2-8. In addition to two floors of Story Worlds and a Story Garden, there are storytelling sessions and special exhibitions (pre-book tickets for those activities). A small cafe offers snacks and light meals. I was thoroughly impressed with this activity, and we plan on returning. We spent about 2.5 hours here.
Discover Children’s Story Centre looks like it’s out of the way when you look at a map, but it is just a very short walk from the Stratford stop on the Jubilee Line.
Cost: £9 per person, storytelling sessions are an additional £2.50 and exhibit entrance is an additional £3.50.
To get to the Discover Children’s Story Center, you will take the tube to Stratford. The Stratford Station is located at the massive Westfield Stratford City, the largest shopping mall in Europe. It contains 250 shops and 70 restaurants and cafes. It feels more like a mini city than a mall, with open-air spaces and playgrounds. Simply walk through, stop for lunch, or do some shopping. We stopped at John Lewis and bought Peppa Pig boots.
Note: Don’t get this confused with the Westfield London which is in Shepherd’s Bush.
This 560-acre park was home to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Today, it is home to nature trails, gardens, sports fields and stadiums, music venues, and restaurants. Guided walking tours and boat tours are available.
2. Science and History
The Science Museum and the Museum of Natural History are wonderful free museums that are right next to each other.
This museum is free, but it is best to make a reservation to avoid waiting in a long line to get in. Like many of the museums in London, there is a children’s play space with interactive exhibits. It’s called The Garden, and you don’t need to make a booking to access it, but be aware that since it is free, it can be busy. The Garden has areas for building, exploring, and climbing.
To get to The Garden, we walked through the space exhibit which really captured my toddler’s attention.
We ate lunch in the cafe before walking across to the Museum of Natural History. The cafe did have kid’s lunchboxes… and a delicious cake!
Just like the Science Museum, this museum is free, but make a booking in advance to avoid lines. This museum doesn’t have a children’s play area but is home to the most intact Stegosaurus fossil skeleton. See the stegosaurus, take an escalator through the earth’s core, and visit the Dinosaur Gallery. My 3-year-old was a bit young for this museum, so we didn’t stay too long, but the beauty of a free museum is that you don’t feel like you need to get your money’s worth; you can pop in, see what you want, and leave.
Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground
This playground inspired by the story of Peter Pan is very popular, and once it is at capacity, there will be a line to get in. We went on an afternoon in June (British schools were still in session) and got right in. This large playground as several areas to explore, including a large pirate ship.
This playground does have sand and water, so a spare change of clothing for your child is a good idea. There are bathrooms, a cafe, and a picnic area at this playground.
3. On the Water
I know, the Museum of the Docklands and the National Maritime Museum might not sound like an exciting day for a child, but these museums are surprisingly cool! Plus, if you have time, stop at an urban farm.
This museum is a short walk from the Canary Wharf tube station. The museum itself is dedicated to the history of Victorian-era shipbuilding and shipping. But within the museum, you will find Mudlarks, a play area geared towards toddlers and young children. Kids can try on costumes, climb a play structure, and load up ships. There is a water play area, so a change of clothing isn’t a bad idea.
We didn’t devote much time to the museum itself, we went to the play area and got meals at the cafe. They do have kid’s lunch boxes.
Cost: entrance to this museum is free, but Mudlarks play sessions are £2.50 per person. Prebook the play session.
Take the ferry across the Thames from the Museum of the Docklands to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. The ferry journey from Canary Wharf to Cutty Sark takes about 20 minutes.
AHOY, the Maritime Museum’s play area is aimed at children 7 and younger and has toy cannons, a pirate ship, and a fish market. In addition to AHOY, there are costumes scattered throughout the museum for children to play with.
Cost: the museum is free; admission to AHOY is £3.00 for 1 child and 1 adult.
Book a time slot for AHOY in advance.
The National Maritime Museum is in Greenwich, which is a darling neighborhood. We explored a bit before stopping at the Gail’s Bakery next to the National Maritime Museum for an afternoon snack. We recommend the scones.
Mudchute is a 32-acre urban farm with over 100 animals, and admission is free. Mudchute Kitchen offers onsite dining.
To get to Mudchute, you can either take the Greenwich Foot Tunnel under the Thames or you can take the ferry.
4. Castles and Gardens
While it takes a little more effort to get to these sites, this day was the highlight of our trip. Make sure you plan to do this itinerary on a day with nice weather, since it involves being outside.
To get to Hampton Court Palace from central London, you will need to take the South Western Railway from Waterloo Station to Hampton Court. This takes about 36 minutes – but it is so worth the effort!
The Magic Garden playground at Hampton Court Palace is absolutely exceptional! It’s gated (so no need to worry about your child escaping), and has an outdoor cafe and wifi! The thing you need to know is that there are some water features and sand, so be prepared with a towel and change of clothing. ** The Magic Garden is open April – October but check the website for hours and more information when planning your visit.
After our child wore herself out at the playground, we ventured inside the castle and walked around the grounds. There is so much to see and do here – including guided tours and horse-drawn carriage rides.
Cost: £26.30 – £29.00 for adults, £13.10 – £14.50 for children between 6-17. Kids 5 and under are free.
For Ted Lasso Fans, a Stop in Richmond
Hop in an Uber or taxi to get from Hampton Court Palace to Kew Gardens. The journey takes about 30 minutes. We are big Ted Lasso fans, so we stopped in Richmond and had a pint at the pub. Richmond is right between Hampton Court Palace and Kew, so it made sense logistically.
Kew Gardens is a botanic garden spanning 300 acres. Families can explore gardens and greenhouses and walk on an elevated walking trail. The Children’s Garden is an outdoor play space with mini sunken trampolines, climbing structures, and fields for playing. Double-check the website for The Children’s Garden hours when planning your visit.
Cost: £40.00 for a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children), £17.00 for adults, £5.00 for children 4-15 years old.
5. Along the Thames
This London itinerary for kids takes you to a more touristy part of the city where you will find Sea Life London Aquarium, the London Dungeon (which does NOT seem kid-friendly), Shrek’s London Adventure, and the London Eye. If you want to do a sightseeing cruise, they leave from this area.
Then, walk across the Thames to see iconic London architectural sites, including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace.
While this isn’t the best aquarium I have been to, my daughter enjoyed it. She was mesmerized by the massive tanks containing sharks, fish, and turtles.
Cost: £29.50 – £40.00 for adults, £30.00 for children 3-15 years old, children under 3 are free. Book your tickets online in advance to save money.
If you want to ride the London Eye, it’s just beside Sea Life. The London Eye is Europe’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel and it offers stunning views of London. London Eye rides last 30 minutes, the time it takes for the wheel to complete a rotation.
Cost: Adult tickets start at £29.00 and children’s tickets start at £25.50. Children under 2 are free, but they need to be included in your booking. Combo tickets are available for the London Eye and Sea Life or the London Eye and a river cruise.
Walk across the Thames
Next, walk across the Westminster Bridge towards Big Ben.
Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace
It takes about 30 minutes to walk from the London Eye, across Westminster Bridge, past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, past Westminster Abbey, and to Buckingham Palace. Tours of all of these historic sites are available. If you want to see the changing of the guard, check the schedule and be aware that it doesn’t take place every day.
This museum sells annual memberships for £24 (children 17 and under are free) instead of having visitors pay for one-time entry. For that reason, you may want to visit the Transport Museum more than once. We went twice in a week. My daughter loved it, and it is so centrally located within Covent Garden.
The museum details the history of public transportation in London and visitors can enter some of the trains and vehicles. There is a children’s play area (no extra fees or bookings required) and exhibits geared toward children throughout.
Cost: £24 for adults (annual membership), children 17 and under are free.
Pre-book your visit online.
Since the Transport Museum is within Covent Garden, this is the perfect chance to explore the area filled with shops and restaurants. There are often street performers in the area.
From Covent Garden is it about a 10 minute walk to the Thames side of Somerset House where the bus tour departs.
The Peppa Pig-themed bus tour departs from Somerset House and takes you past some of London’s most famous landmarks, all while you enjoy afternoon tea. Our toddler loved it! My husband and I enjoyed the food and the two-hour nap that started before we even got off the bus! Brigit’s Bakery offers a few different family-friendly afternoon tea bus tours, including Peppa Pig and Paddington. While the Peppa Pig tours seem to leave from Somerset House, some tours leave from other locations.
Cost: £48.00 – £68.00 for adults, £38.00 – £58.00 for children
7. The Zoo and Camden Market
This zoo, located within Regent’s Park, is home to tigers, penguins, monkeys, and giraffes. If you want a hands-on experience, look into the Zoo Experiences, which include VIP penguin meet and greets, feeding the monkeys, sensory story times for babies, and a giraffe keeper experience.
If your children are old enough, consider considering staying at one of the lodges at the zoo.
Cost: £31.00 – £33.00 per adult, children ages 3-15 £21.70 – £23.10, children 2 and under are free.
The zoo is within Regent’s Park, and you might want to take the time to see more of the park. Some highlights are Queen Mary’s Rose Gardens, the boating lake with swan boats, watching the Gorilla Circus Flying Trapeze School lessons, and the Gloucester Gate Playground. It’s easy to make a stop at the Gloucester Gate Playground on your way to Camden Market.
Camden Market is just about a mile walk from the London Zoo; I recommend walking alongside Regent’s Canal to get there. Following the canal will prevent you from getting lost and it’s a pleasant walk.
Camden Market is a large indoor/outdoor market with food stalls and an antiques and art market. It is a perfect place to grab a quick casual lunch.
8. Books and Letters
Pick and choose what suits your family from these four attractions all located within a mile radius.
Located within the Kings Cross Station, there is a Platform 9 3/4 with a luggage trolley embedded in the wall. Since platforms 9 and 10 are separated by train tracks, you can find Platform 9 3/4 in the station concourse. There is also a Harry Potter Shop which is styled after Ollivander’s Wand Emporium.
Be aware that lines can form to take photos at Platform 9 3/4.
The UK’s National Library is more than just a library; it’s more like a library, museum, and research center rolled into one. Check the website to see a listing of special exhibitions, some are more geared toward children than others. If you can, see the Treasures of the British Library. Here you will find items like handwritten Beatles lyrics, the Magna Carta, original copies of Canterbury Tales, and illustrated books by J.R.R. Tolkien.
There is a coffee shop onsite that serves drinks and pastries.
Cost: There is a fee to view special exhibits.
A highlight of this museum is riding the mail rail, a special train designed to transport mail that runs underground.
Children can also spend time in Sorted! The Postal Play Space, an immersive mini-town. You can visit Sorted! without visiting the museum itself. Book tickets in advance.
Cost: Adult tickets are £16, children’s tickets are £9, and children under the age of 3 are free. Sorted! requires an additional ticket.
The British Museum is one of London’s most famous. It’s home to artifacts including the Rosetta Stone, mummies, and the Balawat Gates. The museum will be more fun for slightly older children, but since it is free, you can make a quick visit with younger kids.
Cost: Entry is free, but you should make a reservation in advance.
9. Tower of London and Tower Bridge
This itinerary seems more ambitious than it is. Spend your morning at the Tower of London, walk across the Tower Bridge to Borough Market for lunch, then walk across London Bridge admiring the view of Tower Bridge. Once on the other side of the Thames, make a quick stop at St. Dunstan in the East before visiting Sky Garden. It’s a full day, but it isn’t too much.
Lines tend to form to see the Crown Jewels, and for that reason, I like to recommend visiting the Tower of London right when it opens. See the Crown Jewels first before the line gets long.
Tickets to the Tower of London include visiting the Crown Jewels and other exhibitions and buildings on the grounds.
Cost: Adult tickets are £33.60, children between 5 and 15 are £16.80, and children under 5 are free. Prebook tickets in advance as this is one of the most popular attractions in London.
Tower Bridge, the stunning bridge with two tall towers, is just beside the Tower of London. Walk across and then continue on to Borough Market.
This massive food market is covered, so you can visit even if the weather isn’t great. Lunchtime is the time to go since the market closes at 5 pm (and 4 pm on Sundays). There are food tours of the market available, or you just can go explore!
St. Dunstan in the East Church Garden
This beautiful garden that contains the ruins of a Wren church is a hidden gem. It’s just a 12-minute walk across the Thames from Borough Market and a quick 7-minute walk from the Tower of London. Twenty minutes is plenty of time to spend here, there isn’t much to see, but it is worth seeing. You might want to pick up a picnic from Borough Market to enjoy in this garden.
Sky Garden is a public park on the 35th floor of a modern high-rise that offers one of the best aerial views of London. The view of Tower Bridge is especially great.
Cost: Entry to Sky Garden is free, but you do need to make a reservation. Sometimes there is space for walk-ins (I have had luck with this, but I was alone).
I hope that this London Itinerary for Kids helps you plan a memorable trip to London!