All Articles A kid-friendly guide for visiting London with the family

A kid-friendly guide for visiting London with the family

Two boys playing in Trafalgar Square in London
Image: Sally Anscombe / Getty Images
E-lyn Tham
By E-lyn Tham14 Apr 2022 4 minutes read

Home to intricate architecture, a wide variety of food, and no lack of things to do, it’s easy to spend a week—or even more—exploring London.

But is London family-friendly? Our answer is a resounding yes. Here’s all you need to know for a smooth and fuss-free family holiday, especially if you have little ones in tow:

Best family-friendly hotels in London

Kids looking out at the view of the London eye from hotel Park Plaza County Hall London
Kids bed with balloons at Park Plaza County Hall London hotel
Image: Rebecca M (left), Leanne (right) / Tripadvisor

There are so many family-friendly areas in London to stay in: Paddington is great for theater buffs, while areas like St. James, South Bank, and South Kensington are close to many great kid-friendly attractions.

Park Plaza County Hall London is one of our top picks, having won the ‘Best Family Friendly Hotel’ at the HRS Hotel Excellence Awards. They offer spacious family rooms with kitchenettes, goody bags with activity books and crayons, and a specially curated children’s menu. The hotel is also within walking distance of—and offers 2-for-1 tickets to—many kid-friendly attractions such as the London Eye, Shrek’s Adventure London, Madame Tussauds London, and more.

Another great choice is St. James Court, A Taj Hotel and its Kids@Taj program. The little kiddos will receive a special goody bag, which includes a sketchbook with crayons, and postcards that can be posted to loved ones back home. Your children will love the special kid’s menu, with personalized snacks at bedtime. The hotel’s central location makes it easy to get anywhere in the city too.

Best family restaurants in London

Restaurant terrace with chairs and tables outside a building that read
2 Bowling alley lanes frame 8 colourful bowling balls
Image: Management / Tripadvisor

If you're on the lookout for a family-friendly dinner spot, Poppies is a great choice, offering kids' meal options like fish and chips and chicken pie. Franco Manca will keep the kids entertained too—they can catch the chefs in action and watch their sourdough pizzas go from oven to table.

Alternatively, the Garden Café has an adjacent courtyard where the kids can run free, and Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen has a great ice cream bar menu for a sweet treat.

For a family day out and some good ol’ bonding time, take the kids to All Stars Lane for bowling, drinks, and food. They have family packages available across four locations in London, making it a fun yet affordable option for both the little ones and adults.

A girl eating a huge pizza at Homeslice restaurant in London
Image: Vikavei / Tripadvisor

Homeslice has gigantic 20-inch pizzas for the whole family to dig into. Afternoon tea in London is always a great idea for some respite half way through the day—take your pick from cute little jigsaw-shaped sandwiches at The Langham, a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed soirée at One Aldwych, or an Alice in Wonderland fantasy adventure at Sanderson London.

You can even dine in a glass igloo at The Coppa Club, or channel your kids’ creative juices with Masala Zone Covent Garden’s never-ending supply of coloring books and crayons.

Top things to do with the family in London

A boy sitting next to the Paddington Bear chair in London
A boy with glasses standing in front of Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross station in London
Image: Aybee RC (left), Luis M (right) / Tripadvisor

Walk in the shoes of the adorable Paddington Bear by going on a walking tour, and snap a photo with the iconic Paddington Bear statue. Harry Potter fans shouldn’t miss a tour of the Warner Bros. Studio, before hopping over to King’s Cross Station to have some fun at Platform 9¾.

Take a ride on the London Eye, explore London’s Museum Quarter, or have some fun at SEA LIFE London Aquarium, Shrek’s Adventure! London, or The Golden Hinde.

There’s even a Go Ape treetop adventure complete with zip lines and high-element courses at Battersea Park. The West End also has plenty of family-friendly musicals—think Aladdin, Stomp, Matilda, and School of Rock, among others. Don’t forget to visit Hamleys, a sprawling toy shop on Regent Street that’s a wonderland for kids.

Bring the whole family on a vintage London Bus tour and cruise along the River Thames, or experience an adrenaline rush with a high-speed Thames River RIB cruise. If you’re pressed for time, the Tootbus Kids tour is a great way to explore the city, with entertaining commentary that’s specially tailored for both adults and kids.

Tips for visiting London with kids

Can’t wait to get going? Here are some tips and tricks to make your family trip to London that much easier.

1. Save money with passes

For a fuss-free experience, check out the London Pass, which gives you access to more than 80 popular sights. You can choose from 1- to 5-day passes, complete with a digital pass for easy entry. If you’re planning on visiting several attractions from the Merlin Entertainment Group—such as the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, or London Dungeon—you can save tons with passes that cover two to five attractions.

2. Find free things to do with kids in London

Kids playing at Tate Modern in London
Image: Management / Tripadvisor

The best things in London are free. Let your kids play in the iconic red phone booths scattered along the streets, or watch the exciting Changing of the Guard ceremony. Spend an entire afternoon getting caught up in Tate Modern’s free family activities and the British Film Institute also holds free movie screenings and film-making classes.

If your family prefers to be outdoors, have a picnic or row a boat at Hyde Park. Mudchute Farm & Park promises a fun day out as well, where the kiddos can feed all kinds of animals. Children can also enter many London museums for free, such as the Science Museum, Natural History Museum, V&A Museum of Childhood, and many more.

3. Dine for free at restaurants

Gordon Ramsay has many restaurants in London where kids under the age of 12 can eat free with every paying adult, along with other restaurants like Sea Containers and Bodean’s BBQ.

4. Be prepared for any type of weather

If there’s one thing that London is known for, it’s the unpredictable weather. It’s always best to be prepared. Make sure you carry around windbreakers, ponchos, and an umbrella or two. It’s also great to have a list of rainy day activities on hand.

5. Take the Tube

A father and son waiting for the train on the London Underground platform
Image: SherryK70 / Getty Images

London’s subway, also known as the Tube or London Underground, is an experience in itself. Plus, there are discounted ticket rates for kids between 11 and 15, with kids under the age of 11 riding for free.

6. Time your trip with Kids Week

Kids Week falls in August when many theaters offer families a chance to score one complimentary ticket for a child under the age of 16 with the purchase of every adult ticket. On top of that, two additional kids can get their tickets at half-price too.

E-lyn Tham
E-lyn is a writer by day, and adventurer by heart. She aims to discover all the magic in this world, inhibitions thrown asunder – all best done with a good glass of wine in hand, and her dog by her side.