- Recommended: Hotels for Families in London
Known for its Oxford Street shops, vibrant Hoxton nightlife, incredible architecture, West End musicals and world class museums and galleries, London is a truly exciting destination. Why is it then that once children arrive on the scene we feel compelled to queue for hours and spend all our money on Madame Tussauds and the London Dungeon? Sure, they’re fantastic (though cheesy), but you can visit a wax museum anywhere, and bizarrely the Dungeons are now a chain.
You don’t need to spend a fortune – there are literally hundreds of free days out and activities to choose from, including some of the finest attractions in the world. Most parks also have picnic tables so you can take along your own lunch, and usually have fantastic free activities for the kids. Don’t forget to pick up an Oyster card for cheap stress-free travel on public transport.
The Top 10 Things To Do In London With Kids
1. Bring paintings to life
Far from being stuffy places full of people quietly appreciating artwork, London’s many art galleries are some of the most child friendly environments you’ll find, and most are free. Aside from the excellent baby care facilities and ease of getting around with a buggy, most have engaging arts and crafts activities and storytelling sessions that really bring the paintings to life. Our favourite is the Tate Modern – your toddlers can entertain themselves for hours just running up and down the slope in the Turbine hall, and the pinball-style donation boxes are great fun (bring lots of small change!). They have an excellent family area, plenty of activities for children 3+, and their child friendly restaurant serves delicious fresh food.
2. Picnic with Dinosaurs
London has more public green spaces than most other capital cities around the world, and a picnic in the park is a wonderful way to spend the day – when the weather is cooperating, that is! Richmond Park is the largest Royal park in London, with hills, woodlands, ponds, gardens and grasslands and 650 free roaming deer. Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill and the park surrounding Alexandra Palace all offer spectacular scenic views across London. In North London, Waterlow Park and Avenue House Estate are lovely spots for a picnic, Clapham Common and Wimbledon Park are favourites in Southwest London, and Crystal Palace Park has a fantastic Dinosaur area – a hit with families.
3. Learn through play at a world class museum
Forget about the stereotype of museums as collections of dusty old objects, lying idly in a musty, dim room. London’s museums are stimulating places where families can enjoy interactive exhibits together, and where the kids can dress up, get hands on and learn through play and creativity. Most are free and have good family activities; our favourites for families are the British Museum, the National Army Museum, the Royal Air Force Museum, and the Museum of London in Docklands. The London Transport Museum in Covent Garden offers a unique and exciting look at London, has some brilliant play areas, and is well worth the ticket price (£10 adults, free for under 16s).
4. Take in a West End show
A West End show is a must for any visitor. Leave Les Miserables until the kids are old enough to appreciate it, and opt for fun and colourful shows like the Lion King and Stomp, or bring to life our favourite Dickens character with a trip to see Oliver instead. There is no reason to pay full price – you can get some unbeatable discounts on theatre tickets like the Gruffalo (and other kid friendly attractions) at Really Kid Friendly. For under 5s, theatres like the Unicorn, Peacock and Half Moon are the place to be, and the Little Angel Puppet Theatre is just delightful.
5. Ride a Big Red Bus
It may sound silly, but riding on the top deck of an old fashioned red bus makes for some serious entertainment for children. You can pay for sightseeing bus tour if you want to make sure you don’t miss anything, but we prefer to do it the old fashioned way – flag down a random bus near Trafalgar Square, get on it, and just enjoy the experience. You are not actually required to sing “Wheels on the Bus”, but it’s certainly a good way to brighten up everyone else’s journey as well!
6. Visit Greenwich World Heritage Site
From central London you can take a sightseeing boat down to Greenwich, and see the Palace of Westminster (Big Ben), London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe, The Tower of London, and Tower Bridge along the way. Greenwich itself is a World Heritage Site, and its superbly child friendly National Maritime Museum won Visitor Attraction of the Year in 2009. You can also see what it feels like to stand atop the Prime Meridian, the official starting point for each new day, year and millennium.
7. Eat farm-fresh food in a unique setting
Mudchute Farm is no ordinary farm. Sure, there are pigs, cows and ducks, and even a few llamas, but not many farms have an impressive backdrop of towering, shimmering skyscrapers. You can bring along a picnic, or treat yourself to a homemade breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea at the Mudcute Kitchen, set in the courtyard and overlooking the horses. They use fresh, seasonal ingredients, including produce from their own allotments, and their chefs have trained at some of the top restaurants in the UK.
8. Feed the kids to a giant pitcher plant
The Royal Botanic Gardens, better known as Kew Gardens house the earth’s largest and most diverse botanical collections, and makes for a brilliant day out with the family, rain or shine. Children will love the treetop walkways, the Evolution House, the stag beetle loggery, badger sett and visiting the peacocks at the Waterlily pond. On rainy days, your family can keep nice and dry in the glasshouses or have a look at some marine life in the aquatic displays. There is also a unique indoor botanical-themed interactive play area where kids can climb into a plant to pollinate it, be eaten by a giant pitcher plant, or just run around and burn off some energy.
9. Stroll along the South Bank
The South Bank is by far one of the most lively and child friendly places to go in London. Even if you don’t visit one of the many attractions and galleries, just ambling about waving at the boats and watching the street performers is a great way to spend the day.
10. Find all your favourite characters
One sure way to stave off boredom is to weave some exciting characters into your visit to London. Leadenhall Market is a pretty covered market in the City of London, but if you look carefully you might recognise Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter films. London Walks do a special Harry Potter walk on Sundays and Smollensky’s on the Strand kids “cocktail” menu features Harry Potter Potions. Little ones will also love recognising all the places Madeline and Pepito visit in Madeline in London, and looking for Paddington Bear.
We’re sure you’ll find some lovely stress-free outings among our Top 10 to suit your family, so grab your boisterous little travel companions and umbrella (you’ll need it!) and discover our wonderfully child friendly city!
Our Trip To London
David here. We just got back from London and used the above guide to help explore London with our 2 boys.
Here are some pictures and suggestions for enjoying your trip to London with kids.
Where We Went
- London Transport Museum – Highly recommended for ages 5 and up.
- London Science Museum – Recommended for ages 6 and up.
- Museum of London Docklands – Highly recommended for ages 8 and up.
- British Museum – Highly recommended for ages 7 and up. Family visit info here.
- Imperial War Museum – Highly recommended for ages 6 and up.
- Tower of London – Highly recommended for ages 6 and up.
- Tower Bridge – The bridge lift times will help you time your visit with when the bridge goes up.
- Natural History Museum – Highly recommended for ages 5 and up.
- National Army Museum – Good for ages 8 and up for the museum; ages 1 to 5 for the Kids’ Zone.
- Tate Modern – Recommended for ages 9 and up.
- National Portrait Gallery – Recommended for ages 8 and up.
- Hamleys Toy Shop – Recommended for kids that like toys.
- Borough Market – Great fun and food for the whole family.
- Double Decker Bus Ride (video) – Skip the expensive tourist buses. Grab a map for buses from a tube station and take a bus that runs through the city center. Buses come seemingly every 5 to 7 minutes so you never have to wait long.
- The Golden Hind Restaurant in Marylebone for superb fish n’ chips. This was the best place we ate in London (besides some great Indian restaurants).
London with Kids: 31 Things To Know
1. Tower of London
This well-preserved medieval castle is one of London’s premier attractions. Interior exhibits are well done and intereactive. The castle was eventually converted to a prison and the site of many executions. Much of its history is dark and gruesome – which kids love, of course.
- ages: 5 +
- tube: Tower Hill
- open: March to October Sunday & Monday: 10:00 to 17:30, Tuesday–Saturday: 9:00 to 17:30; November to February Sunday & Monday: 10:00 to 16:30, Tuesday–Saturday: 9:00 to 16:30.
- costs: family £55, adult £20, child £10, kids under four years are free.
- website: www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon
2. Tower Bridge
London’s number one icon. The bridge opens and closes almost 1000 times a year (schedule posted online and at the bridge). The Tower Bridge Exhibition provides a history of the bridge and allows access to the bridge’s top walkway by way of an elevator.
- ages: 5 +
- tube: London Bridge or Tower Hill
- open: April to September 10:00 to 18:00, October to March 9:30 to 17:30.
- costs: family £11, adult £8, student £5, child £3, kids under four years are free.
- website: www.towerbridge.org.uk
3. British Museum
One of the world’s best museums has a kid-friendly attitude and fun audio tours and workbooks designed just for kids. The Rosetta Stone, the Elgin (Parthenon) Marbles, and the Egyptian mummies are some of the jaw-dropping exhibits.
- ages: 4 +
- tube: Holborn, Tottenham Court, Goodge St., or Russel Square are all within a 5 minute walk.
- open: Saturday to Thursday 10:00 to 17:30, Friday 10:00 to 20:30.
- costs: Free.
- website: www.britishmuseum.org
4. London Transport Museum
This is one of our kids’ favorites. A great collection of buses, trains, trams, and omnibuses. Kids can enter most exhibits. It’s a very hands-on and fun museum filled with posters, maps, subway signs, and models.
- ages: 3 +
- tube: Covent Garden
- open: Saturday to Thursday 10:00 to 18:00, Friday 11:00 to 18:00
- costs: Adults £13.50 (and good for one year of re-admission), under age 16 are free.
- website: www.ltmuseum.co.uk
5. National Gallery
A stunning collection of 2300 paintings. Free tours everyday at 11:30 and 2:30. Kid-friendly audio tours are available for £1 or can be downloaded in advance. Sundays have family sessions for under 5s and 5-11s.
- ages: 4 +
- tube: Charing Cross or Leicester Square.
- open: Saturday to Thursday 10:00 to 18:00, Friday 10:00 to 21:00
- costs: Free
- website: www.nationalgallery.org.uk
6. National Portrait Gallery
A scrapbook of history in museum form. The gallery houses pictures of the major (and not-so major) figures of the nation’s history from King Henry VIII to David Beckham. It makes a great introduction to British history for both kids and adults. Kid-friendly audio tours are available.
- ages: 6+
- tube: Charing Cross or Leicester Square.
- open: Saturday to Wednesday 10:00 to 18:00, Thursday and Friday 10:00 to 21:00
- costs: Free
- website: www.npg.org.uk
7. National Army Museum
If you can only visit one war-related museum then give this one a miss and choose the Imperial War Museum. The NAM has lots of exhibits – most of which follow the battle history of British forces over the last 1000 years. A Kids Zone in the basement is a great play area but it gets very busy and reservations are highly recommended.
- ages: 2+ for the Kids Zone, 6+ for the museum
- tube: Sloane Square
- open: Daily 10:00 to 17:30
- costs: Free
- website: www.nam.ac.uk
8. Imperial War Museum
One of the best museums in the city. It features an incredible array of airplanes, tanks, guns, gear, and information. Displays and exhibits are meticulously detailed. Videos have survivors and soldiers re-telling the horror and challenges of war. The audio tour is a must. (The holocaust exhibit on the top floor is rightfully restricted to kids 11 and older.)
- ages: 4+ if they like tanks and planes, but older to really appreciate the material.
- tube: Lambeth North or Elephant & Castle
- open: 10:00 to 18:00
- costs: Free
- website: www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-london
9. Changing of the Guard
Some find this a little dull, others love the pomp and tradition. The best place to see the guards is on The Mall, near St. James’s Palace. If your kids are small they won’t see much squashed in with the crowds at Buckingham Palace. There is also a Changing of the Guard at Windsor Palace (35 minutes outside of London by train) that sees far smaller crowds but offers more pageantry.
- ages: 2+
- tube: St. James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park Corner
- times: 11:30 but be in place by 11:00am at the lastest. It takes place every day May through July and alternating days otherwise – check the schedule.
- costs: Free.
- website and schedule: www.royal.gov.uk/ChangingtheGuard
10. Buckingham Palace
Think of this as a grandly decorated Victorian home and you won’t be disappointed. If kids are expecting the castles of legend then Windsor Castle will better feed their imaginations. (Kid-friendly audio tours available.)
- ages: 6+
- tube: St. James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park Corner
- open: 9:45 to 18:00 and only in August and September when the Queen is holidaying.
- costs: family £46, adult £17.50, child £10, ages four and under are free.
- website: www.royal.gov.uk/buckinghampalace
11. National Maritime Museum
500 years of maritime history packed into one fantastic space. Hands-on exhibits make it fun for younger kids but this is definitely an all-ages attraction. Battles and boats galore.
- ages: 3+
- tube: Maze Hill or Cutty Sark (DLR)
- open: 10:00 to 17:00
- costs: Free
- website: www.rmg.co.uk/national-maritime-museum
12. Natural History Museum
One of London’s best museums for all ages. Dinosaurs, blue whales, saber-tooth tigers, elephants, volcanoes, meteors, earthquakes, and all sorts of creepy crawlies. The ideal mix of kid and adult fun.
- ages: 3+
- tube: South Kensington
- open: 10:00 to 17:50 daily, 10:00 to 22:30 on the last Friday of every month
- costs: Free
- website: www.nhm.ac.uk
13. HMS Belfast
A floating musuem in the form of a retired World War II ship. 7 levels to explore and kids can go everywhere. The living quarters, naval guns, anti-aircraft weaponry, and Operations Room will fill 2 hours easily. This is a much better use of time than visiting the nearby Golden Hinde ship.
- ages: 6+
- tube: London Bridge (5 minutes) or Tower Hill (10 minutes)
- open: March to October 10:00 to 18:00, Novermber to February 10:00 to 17:00
- costs: Adults £14.50, under age 16 free
- website: www.iwm.org.uk/visits/hms-belfast
14. London Eye
This giant ferris wheel offers fantastic views of greater London. It takes 30 minutes to go around and the wheel moves at such a calm speed it’s not scary for any ages. Passengers are completely enclosed in air conditioned and heated glass pods that fit 25 people.
- ages: 3+
- tube: Waterloo or Westminster
- open: Daily 10:00 to 20:30. Closed for yearly maintenance in January (January 7 to 18, 2013).
- costs: Standard ticket is £19 for adults, £11 for kids 4 to 15, £60 for a family. £28 adults, £115 family for Fast Track tickets to bypass queues. Booking online saves up to 20% on all tickets
- website: www.londoneye.com
15. Museum of London Docklands
This is one of my personal favorites. Geared to slightly older kids the exhibits do a great job of tracking the history and growth of the London riverfront from Roman days to modern times. Sailor Town is a reconstructed Victorian port town done with fantastic detail. If you’re based in central London it’s a little out of the way but worth the 20 minute journey to East London.
- ages: 6+
- tube: Canary Wharf, DLR: West India Quay
- open: Daily 10:00 to 18:00
- costs: Free
- website: www.museumoflondon.org.uk/Docklands
16. Family-friendly Theatre and Musicals
London is loaded with great shows and tickets for even the most popular shows are available on relatively short notice (though obviously book well in advance if there’s a particular show you want to see).
TKTS is the main discount site (though there are many others). They have a booth at Leicester Square but the website posts discounted tickets as well.
Use Ticketmaster.co.uk to check seating maps and theatre layout but by your tickets elsewhere.
These are the best shows for kids:
- The Lion King (tube: Covent Garden) – Playing since 1999. Fantastic music and story.
- Shrek The Musical (tube: Covent Garden) – Great special effects and very funny. The dragon steals the show.
- Wicked The Musical (tube: Piccadilly Circus) – The the untold story of the Witches of Oz. Supremely entertaining for both kids and adults.
17. Playgrounds & Parks
- Kew Gardens (tube: Kew Gardens) – A treetop walkway with great views, an indoor playroom, and days-full of fun.
- Hampstead Heath (tube: Hampstead) – The best place in the city to feel like you’re not in the city. Great for picnics and lakeside walks.
- Hyde Park – There’s lots here. The Diana, Princess of Wales pirate-themed playground is very popular with kids (tube: Queensway). You can also rent paddle boats and row boats or cool off in the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain (tube: Knightsbridge or Hyde Park Corneer).
- St James’s Park (tube: St James’s Park) – A beautiful park with one of the best playgrounds in the city. Visit the pelicans on duck island.
- Battersea Park (tube: Sloane Square then bus #137 or train to Battersea Park station) – Boating on the lake and the Children’s Zoo are the highlights. The zoo features kid-friendly animals (butterflies, small primates, farm animals) and an excellent playground with a fire engine (open 10:30 to 17:30 in summer and 10:30 to 16:30 in winter).
- Regent’s Park – There are several excellent playgrounds, the London Zoo, boat rentals, and a beautiful rose garden decked out with waterfowl and Japanese bridges.
- Need more parks and playgrounds: here’s a good list of adventure playgrounds.
18. Using the Tube with Kids
- The tube is easy, convenient, and safe for families to use. But most stations are far beneath street level and require a lot of steps or escalator rides. Many stations do not have lifts (elevators) from street level to the train platform making it very difficult if you’re traveling with a young child or stroller.
- This is a map of the London tube stations and their accessibility options (pdf file). The stations marked with a green circle and an A are the most accessible.
- Kids 10 and under are free on the tube and Docklands Light Rail (DLR). Kids 11 to 15 do need to pay. Be sure to travel with a Oyster card or Travelcard as they offer big savings (details below).
- If you have an Oyster card you scan it as you enter and leave the tube station. If you have a paper Travelcard you insert it at one end of the turnstile and it pops out the other side.
- If you’re traveling with kids 10 and under (who won’t have a ticket) be sure to use the gate entries instead of the turnstiles which are meant for individuals.
19. Using the Bus with Kids
- The bus is a fabulous option for getting around London. Most buses are of the iconic double-decker variety and offer great views of street life from the top deck.
- Unlike the tube you won’t have to negotiate stairs, escalators, busy train platforms, or transfers between lines. Buses run about every 3 to 10 minutes depending on the route. (We rarely waited for more than 5 minutes for any bus.)
- The Oyster and Travelcards (details below) that are used for the tube are also accepted by the bus. Central London buses do not accept cash so you pretty much have to buy either an Oyster or Travelcard (or individual tickets from a tube station but this is an expensive way to travel).
- Here is a map of central London bus routes (pdf).
- And the London Bus Checker iPhone app.
20. Using an Oyster Card for Public Transit
Oyster cards are plastic (credit-card sized) cards for using the tube, bus, or DLR (Docklands Light Rail). You pre-load them with money at a tube station. To use them you swipe across an electronic sensor as you enter a bus or tube station.
With the Oyster card you get large discounts on fares and you’ll never pay more than you would have by using individual tickets – always less, usually about 50% less.
Oyster cards not only save you money but they make getting around the city very easy. There’s no having to worry about having the correct change or figuring the fare for a bus ride. It turns London into a big hop-on/hop-off network of buses and trains.
Here are some things to note about buying and using Oyster cards:
- Oyster cards require a £5 deposit which is refundable (along with any unused balance) if you return your card at a tube station.
- Kids 10 and under are free on the tube, bus, and DLR so they don’t need an Oyster card
- Ages 11 to 15 will need to submit a photo to get an Oyster card. This can be done in advance but is still a hassle. I’d recommend doing one day travelcards for kids in this age range unless you’ll be in London for more than a week. If you’re in the city for more than a week then it’s worth it to get the photo card whether it be an Oyster or 7 day Travelcard (which also requires a picture).
21. Using Travelcards (and getting a 2 for 1 discount for attractions)
An alternative to Oyster cards is buying Travelcards. They are roughly the same cost as Oyster cards. Their big advantage is that they allow 2 for 1 entry to several top attractions in London: The Tower of London, Madame Tussauds, river cruises, and the ZSL Zoo. (Full list of qualifying attractions here.)
The best thing to do is probably to get Oyster cards for the adults and 1 day travelcards for the kids aged 11 to 15. On the day you plan to go to one of the attractions covered by the 2 for 1 deal (the most popular being the Tower of London) get Travelcards for the adults and use them to get the discount into the attraction. (Remember that the Oyster card is simply a means of payment so if you don’t use it one day there’s no “cost”.)
Using Travelcards for the 2 for 1 discount isn’t straight forward so here are a few things to note:
- To qualify Travelcards must be purchased from a railway station in London. These Travelcards will have the rail logo in the bottom corner.
- Travelcards purchased from any other outlet (e.g. tube station) are not valid.
- You can buy Travelcards from the ticket offices of the following rail stations: Paddington, Euston, St Pancras, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Charing Cross, Waterloo and Victoria. Travelcards sold at airports are not valid for the 2 for 1 discount.
- Travelcards can be bought for 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month. The 7 day or 1 month Travelcards require a photo id card. Photos must be brought to the ticket office when purchasing.
- The 1 day tickets must be used on the same day as the visit to the attraction will occur. (Although they can be bought a day or two beforehand.)
- The 2 for 1 discount also applies to domestic rail tickets to and from London. Your visit must to the attraction must fall within these 2 dates (as they naturally would for most people). Most foreign visitors to London are not arriving at London from a different UK city and then departing again by train within the country so this is mainly for UK citizens.
- And finally but very important, vouchers must be printed for the attraction you are visiting. To get the discount you’ll need 2 validated Travelcards and one voucher. (Vouchers can be printed from the Offers Page by clicking add to basket or instant download.)
22. Getting Into London from Heathrow airport
- The easiest way into the city is with hired car (40 minutes into the city). www.expressways.co.uk is well regarded though there are many companies. A hired car is surprisingly inexpensive when booked in advance and the best option for a family of 4 or more. Larger cars are available for bigger groups. One-way to or from Heathrow will be about £50.
- Taxi’s (40 minutes) are expensive. Walking out the door of the airport and hopping in a taxi will be almost double the price of arranging a hired car.
- Tube (45 minutes) is the cheapest. The Picadillly line connects Heathrow with central London. But if your hotel isn’t directly on the Picadilly line it will require a transfer. The tube doesn’t have any dedicated spots for luggage so if you have a lot it will be a pain (and there will be stairs to contend with on the London end.) A one way trip on the tube will be between £3 and £5 depeding on the time of day. Buy an Oyster card at the airport to make it cheaper.
- The Heathrow Express (15 minutes) can be a good option if you’re staying near Paddington Station. Otherwise, it’s just expensive – and requires another tube or taxi trip to get to your hotel or destination. Tickets are £18 and £26 for adults 2nd and 1st class; £8 and £13 for children.
23. Getting into the London from Gatwick airport
- The best way between Gatwick and London is the GatwickExpress train service (30 minutes each way). It’s the cheapest and fastest, and there’s no good reason to use any other transport. One way fares are £29 for adults and £15 for children age 5 to 15. Save 15% by booking online.
- If you want to take a taxi book a hired car in advance (SimplyAirports is good) and cut the cost in half.
24. The Best Hotels for Families
Hotels in London are expensive – probably the most expensive place we’ve traveled with kids – and it’s a challenge to find rooms large enough for a family of 4 or more.
Some tips for hotels:
- Samkip.com/London has hotel recommendations for families.
- Book early. The best deals are found online nowadays and about 2 to 3 months in advance.
- The best website for hotel discounts is HotelsCombined.com/London
- The best website for longer-term rentals and apartments is HomeAway.co.uk/London-Rentals
- AirBnb is another good site for finding home, apartment, or medium-term accommodations in London
- 4 and 5 star hotels will have better deals on weekends (when business travelers on expense accounts have gone home) and budget and mid-range hotels will have better deals on weekdays (when kids, college students, and parents are at home working).
- Some hotels outside of Central London but near to a tube station can be a great way to save money so if you’re a little desperate use a large search area.
- Best Bed & Breakfast for Families: Bed and Breakfast Belgravia London
- Best Apartment w/ Kitchenette for Families: Athenaeum Hotel & Apartments
- Best Luxury Hotel for Families: The Langham, London
- Best Mid-Range Hotel for Families: Marriott London County Hall
- Best Budget Hotel for Families: Hart House Hotel
25. Hotels in London with Swimming Pools
Most hotels in London (including those listed below) have restrictions on when children can swim. It sounds crazy, I know, but it’s the rule not the exception at London hotels.
There’s usually a designated time in the morning and late afternoon for when the kids can swim which means you have to plan your day in order to get back to the hotel for the swim time if that’s important to you.
- Marriott London County Hall (probably the best hotel pool in the city)
- Grange Holborn Hotel
- Marylebone Hall
- Hilton London Metropole
- Le Meridien Piccadilly
- Pestana Chelsea Bridge Hotel & Spa
- Rembrandt Hotel London
- Kensington Close Hotel (one of the cheapest hotels in London with a nice pool)
- The Landmark London
- The Montcalm London
- Holiday Inn London – Elstree
- The Langham London
- St. Giles Hotel London
- The Berkeley Hotel London (beautiful rooftop pool)
- The Waldorf Hilton
- One Aldwych
26. Eating in London with Kids
Most restaurants are fairly kid friendly. Nearly all London restaurants will happily welcome a family with well behaved kids but they’re not as indulgent as American eateries with loud or rambunctious children. Be sure to tell your kids that quiet and mature behaviour (within reason) will be expected of them.
Reservations are recommended for most restaurants that aren’t a pub or cafe. And if you’re part of a large group or family you’ll definitely get a better table by reserving in advance.
Recommended Restaurants for Families:
- Wagamama – Noodles and more in a fun environment
- Giraffe – Very kid-friendly menus
- Bella Italia – Pizza, Pasta, Gelato
- Rain Forest Cafe near Piccadilly Circus is very kid-friendly
- Masala Zone – Shared plates makes for family friendly Indian food
- Spaghetti House – The very fun kids’ menu has 2 courses for £5 or 3 courses for £7.50.
- Pret A Manger and EAT are everywhere so you hardly need to be mentioned. Decent breakfast and sandwiches for a reasonable price.
- Byron – A friendly hamburger joint with a good kids menu.
- Pubs generally allow kids in (usually in a family designated area) until 9pm though you’ll need to ask inside to be sure. There are 2 types of pub. Chain pubs (that try very hard to resemble a traditional looking country pub) that serve terrible food. And independent or trendy pubs that are more expensive but serve great food. If you see this menu in a pub you know it serves terrible food without any character so run for the doors.
Websites for Finding Restaurants:
27. Saving Money
- Buy tickets online in advance. This applies to train tickets, museums, tours, and a range of activities.
- Many of London’s top attractions are free so hit these places first: the British Museum, The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, Imperial War Museum, National Maritime Museum, Natural History Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
- The London Pass can save you some money but it doesn’t cover every attraction in London so be sure you want to visit the sites covered. (More detailes below.)
- Ride a public bus instead of taking a tour bus – much cheaper and still great views from the top floor of the double deckers.
- Get an oyster card or use Travelcards. You should never pay full fare for a bus or tube ride in London. It’s a must to get one of these cards.
- Get a hotel with a kitchen. London restaurants are expensive. Eating-in even once a day will save you a lot of money.
28. The London Pass – Is it worth buying?
Should you buy it? Probably not. Here’s why and some more details on how the pass works:
- The London Pass is a card you can buy that allows you into many (but not all) major attractions around London.
- You lose flexibility by buying the pass as you have to choose a 1, 2, 3, or 6 day pass and then work hard to cram all of your sites into those days.
- Remember that many of London’s most popular attractions and museums are free – and thus aren’t covered by the pass. If you’re buying the pass only for the Tower of London, Madame Tussauds, or the ZSL Zoo you’re better off using a Travelcard for the day (details below) and getting the 2 for 1 discount.
- A big selling point of the London Pass is the “fast track” line skipping but this is rarely an issue for visitors as most of the attractions covered have short to non-existent lines even in summer.
- You can buy the pass with an associated Travelcard for transportation – but this works out more expensive than buying the pass and Travelcard separately.
- That said, the London Pass does offer some savings, the pass can be a convenience, and the company itself is trusted and reliable. The most popular attractions covered by the pass are the Tower of London, Tower Bridge Exhibiition, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, and the London Zoo.
29. When to Visit
The summer months, of course, have the nicest weather but will also be the busiest and most expensive time to visit. January and February are the quietest (and coldest) months but you’ll often have top exhibits nearly to yourself. Top attractions like the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum can have crowds 5 deep during July and August. In January you can be the only one looking at it.
The Weather in London by Month
(high temperature, low temperature, days of rain)
January: 43°, 36°, 16 (coldest month)
February: 44°, 36°, 15 (driest month)
March: 50°, 38°, 20
April: 56°, 42°, 18
May: 62°, 47°, 19
June: 69°, 53°, 19
July: 73°, 57°, 19 (warmest month)
August: 73°, 55°, 20
September: 65°, 52°, 17
October: 58°, 46°, 19 (wettest month)
November: 50°, 42°, 15
December: 45°, 38°, 16
All art galleries, museums, department stores, and public buildings will have public toilets. In central London there are so many cafes, pubs, fast-food restaurants, and hotels that will allow the public to sneak in and use the facilities that you shouldn’t be too far from a washroom.
Some tube stations have public toilets (map of tube station toilets) but these do cost 30p.
31. Hospitals in London
Emergency care is free regardless of citizenship or insurance. For medical emergencies call #999.
Hospitals in London with 24 hour emergency care include: