London is an incredible city to visit with your family. With its fascinating history, intricate architecture and buzzing atmosphere, you’ll find no end of attractions and sights to keep you and your children entertained for days.
Enjoy the comfort of an Emirates flight to London and check out why it was voted the ‘World’s Best Airline 2013’, before throwing yourself into a family holiday to remember.
Planning your stay in London
It’s a good idea to fill your days with different sorts of attractions. Don’t go too heavy on the museums or you’ll find your little ones get bored. Although the educational attractions are also a lot of fun, you’ll need to give the kids lots of opportunities to let their hair down and run around.
Pick ‘n’ mix London
Here are some attractions and activities broken down so you can mix and match to create your own itinerary depending on the time you have and what the weather holds.
Morning attractions in London
Fill your mornings will the heavier museums when young minds are rested and keen.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum will have the entire family captivated. Set in a landmark building, there are too many highlights to mention, but the dinosaur gallery takes some beating with its amazing triceratops skeleton and its terrifying t-rex. Inspect a blue whale, learn all about creepy crawlies and then discover the world’s natural treasures. You can easily spend a day here as the museum is enormous.
Nearest underground station: South Kensington
London Transport Museum
The London Transport Museum highlights the link between transport and the growth of modern London. See an iconic red double-decker bus, learn about underground steam trains and have fun with the interactive exhibits.
Entry: Adults £15.00, concessions £11.50, children go free
Nearest underground stations: Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Holborn, Charing Cross
The most visited science museum in Europe has over 15,000 objects on display. The interactive and multi-sensory galleries bring science and technology to life. Kids will love being able to blast into space on an Apollo space mission or being able to fly with the RAF Red Arrow jets on the simulators. Their website has a handy trip planner where you can select the dates you are visiting and the ages in your group to plan your day.
Nearest underground station: South Kensington
Historic sights in London
There are so many amazing sights in London to include on your itinerary. Here’s three not to miss:
No visit to London is complete without seeing the official home of Queen Elizabeth II. It is usually only open for public tours during the summer, although there are specially selected dates between 6 December 2013 and 2 February 2014 where you can visit. The State Rooms are still used to receive and entertain guests on State and ceremonial visits. Enjoy seeing the gilded ceiling and glittering chandeliers. Time your visit to take in the changing of the guard which takes place at 11.30am every day or every other day depending on the time of year.
Entry: Winter 2013/14 visit for £75 (price includes a glass of champagne, a guidebook and 20% off in the shop). Summer 2014 prices are to be confirmed, but in 2013 the cheapest tickets were adults £19.75, under 17s £11.25, over 60s/Students £18 and under fives free for entry to the State Rooms.
Nearest underground station: Victoria
Tower of London
The imposing fortress has stood for a thousand years. It has a gruesome history that includes torture, death and beheadings. The Crown Jewels are the biggest draw for tourists.
Entry: Adults £21.45, five to 16 year olds £10.75, concessions £18.15, family ticket (two adults and three children) £57.20
Nearest underground station: Tower Hill
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Sir Christopher Wren’s imposing building is an important landmark in the city. It was the centre piece of the reconstruction effort after the great fire of 1666. Try out the acoustics in the Whispering Gallery (a whisper on one side can be heard clearly 100 feet away), then climb 271 more steps to reach the Golden Gallery where you can enjoy spectacular views across the city.
Entry: Adult tickets start from £14.50, six to 17 year olds from £6.00, concessions from £13.00.
Nearest underground station: St Paul’s
Outdoor fun in London
After being stuck indoors in a museum, it’s great to get outside for some fresh air.
Crystal Palace Park
The Crystal Palace Park is a large park in South London. Let your kids run around and meet the full sized dinosaur models that lurk amongst the trees. The park is also home to the Crystal Palace Museum, a children’s farm, lakes, a maze and a playground.
Nearest train station: Crystal Palace
Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground
For a play break, the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground is perfect. Your little ones can set sail on the giant pirate ship and enjoy the Peter Pan inspired play area. With teepees, a beach, a sensory trail and sculptures, your little ones can easily burn off some energy.
Nearest underground stations: High Street Kensington, Queensway, Lancaster Gate, Bayswater.
Rainy day activities in London
If the weather is gloomy and you need a break from museums, here are a few ideas:
No visit to London with children would be complete without a trip to Hamleys. Established in 1760, Hamleys is London’s oldest and best known toy shop. The legendary store is made up of seven floors of fun, so you might need to make some room in your suitcases.
Entry: Technically free, but it’s likely to cost you
Nearest underground station: Oxford Circus
The UNESCO World Heritage site has attractions for plant lovers and art lovers alongside family activities. On rainy days, visit the spectacular Waterlily House (closed winter months) or the humid Palm House, considered to be the most important surviving Victorian iron and glass structure in the world. During better weather explore the rose garden, the arboretum and take a look for some of the 40 iconic buildings that are scattered around the site.
Entry: Adults £16.00*, Concessions £14.00*, Children FREE (*includes a £1.50 voluntary Gift Aid donation)
Nearest underground station: Kew Gardens; Nearest train station: Kew Bridge
Kill a few birds with one stone at this attraction by seeing many of London’s top sights from the vantage point of the London Eye. So long as visibility is good, it doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside because you’ll be dry in your pod on the 135m cantilevered observation wheel. Take in the sights of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Get there early to avoid the queues and pre-book your tickets to save money.
Entry: A range of tickets are available that includes fast track and flexi tickets. Online ticket prices start at £17.28 for adults and £11.07 for children aged four to 15.
Nearest underground stations: Waterloo, Embankment, Charing Cross, Westminster
While sightseeing and museums play an important part of your holiday, it’s a great idea to throw in some fun tourist attractions too.
Children will love the spooky London Dungeon. With stories and dramatic special effects to make the gruesome history of the city come alive, the 90-minute tour will introduce you to Jack the Ripper, Guy Fawkes and the infamous barber, Sweeny Todd, while taking you through the dark side of the city streets. This attraction is atmospheric, creepy and funny.
Entry: Cheapest online prices for adults start at £16.95, under 15s £12.95, disabled adults £14.50, disabled under 15s £11.95, students £15.50.
Nearest underground station: Waterloo
Have your photo taken alongside your favourite Hollywood celebrity or rub shoulders with royalty at this fun attraction where you’ll find lifelike wax models of famous people.
Entry: Online advance tickets adults £22.50, four to 15 year olds £19.35, family ticket (two adults and two children/one adult three children) £81
Nearest underground station: Baker Street
London delivers a holiday to suit all ages. Plan your family getaway and put together an itinerary that creates lasting memories.