Family travel in London

London: The Ultimate (and Most Fun) Family City Destination Guide

From interactive museums to jumping on broomsticks with Harry Potter, scenic pony rides and more - London has something to offer for the entire family (including mum and dad).

Luke Abrahams
20 May 2023

Traveling can be stressful when you are on the go with kids, but careful planning and ideal destinations can simplify things. Perhaps the most appealing thing about London is that - despite its vast size and 24-hour lifestyle - it was built with families in mind. The grand townhouses of the city prove it, and with a soiree of world-famous museums, attractions and an excellent transport network, London couldn’t be a better destination for nomadic families on the go.

Is London a Child-Friendly City?

The short answer – yes. While any big city is a challenge to navigate with children by your side, London is one of the few places in the world that actually make it a joy to explore with the family. The cobbled lanes in some parts of the city might prove a slight challenge on stroller wheels, but with easy-access lifts, child-friendly ride-share services, and plenty of attractions for your whole family to enjoy – there are far more pros than cons in this city.

Where to Go and What to Do as a Family in London

There’s so much on offer in London that the possibilities for families are almost infinite. Museums, the aquarium, royal palaces, countless landmarks, theatre productions and beautiful parks help make planning a family-friendly itinerary to London even easier. To make the task of putting your plans together, we’ve put together a selection of some of the most popular and under-the-radar things to do in the city, from exciting events to top-notch attractions.

London Transport Museum, Covent Garden

This is easily one of the most interactive and fun museums in the whole of London. You’ll learn about the evolution of some of the city’s most iconic transportation systems. Spot the world’s first underground steam train or set sail on the Thames Nipper, a recreation of the Thames Clipper riverboat service. For kids who love nothing more than to sing, there are even make-believe busker spots so they can belt out tunes all day long.

Richmond Park, Surrey

If you are traveling with young children, take them down south to Richmond Park to teach them how to ride a horse. Hidden away in the rather cutesy Stag Lodge Stables, the riding school offers horse rides for tykes of all ages and abilities. Horses range from big to small and ultra-adorable Shetland ponies.

Kew Gardens, Kew

Avoid peak London

London can get super busy in peak seasons, so if you are traveling with babies and toddlers, keep this in mind as the trip of a lifetime could possibly turn into an exhaustive nightmare.

Kew Gardens is an absolute joy in the summer. Despite being a magnet for the green-fingered folk of the world, it’s perhaps one of the best places in the city to spend a day frolicking in the rose bushes with the kids. There are plenty of interactive things to discover, from scaling the Giant Pagoda to crisscrossing the Treetop Walk and more. If you visit during the winter months, don’t miss Christmas at Kew when the botanical gardens transform into a glowing light show paradise.

Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes

There is no better family pastime than a good old game of bowling. The Bloomsbury Bowling lanes are a throwback to 1960s British retro. The bar often attracts loads of students and locals – but before 8 pm, it’s the kids who reign supreme. The Lanes can be booked for family takeovers, and once you are finished, you can all enjoy a slap-up meal in one of the American diner-style booths.

Sea Life London Aquarium, Westminster

If you are looking for two hours of entertainment or simply to shield yourself from the rain, there’s no better place to visit than London’s great big Sea Life aquarium. Housed just underneath The London Eye, the major highlight comes courtesy of the glass ocean tunnel filled with all sorts of massive fish, from sharks to tuna. Other must-sees include the crocodiles on the Rainforest Walk – along with penguins, clown fish, rays, jellyfish and more.

Kidzania, Shepherd’s Bush

The city can sometimes get a little too overwhelming for kids, which is the perfect time to jump on the tube straight to London’s Westfield Mall for all kinds of fun at Kidzania. Designed for kids aged 4 to 14, the interactive experience is a kid-centric fictional city designed to let your little ones explore a career of their choice for the day. From pilot to DJ, weather forecaster to Hollywood actor – kids will work, play and earn as you shop around the mall’s high-flying boutiques.

The Harry Potter Studio Tour, Watford

Take a 40-minute journey outside of London and you will arrive at Hogwarts – yes, really. To keep the spellbinding magic of the Harry Potter franchise alive, Warner Bros transformed the real movie sets from the series into an immersive ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ experience. Visit everything from Gringotts to Diagon Alley and the Forbidden Forest – along with testing your skills in a potions class with Professor Snape.

Thamesjet Ride, Central London

If you are a family of thrill-seekers, an adrenaline-fueled ride along the River Thames is just the ticket. Speed past iconic London landmarks from Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) to the London Eye and more on a military-grade speedboat that twists and turns at high speeds. A piece of advice – pack a raincoat, as you will get very wet.

The London Dungeon, South Bank

You'll save so much time taking public transport and the majority of the capital's attractions are quite literally outside of the stop's Tube stations.

This one’s for the teens of your clan. The dark side of London is explored in this interactive gem of an attraction filled with rides, shows and scary (but fun) live acting. Enter the worlds of Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd – plus learn all about secret plots, detective dramas and the shocking stories of crime that London has become famous for over the years.

ZSL London Zoo, The Regent’s Park

More than 750 animals call London’s historic zoo their home. It hosts tons of seasonal events and special shows, so make sure you check out what’s going on before you visit. Highlights include feeding time with the penguins and giraffes, plus all the interactive meet and greets with the zoo’s creepy crawlies – including some massive spiders.

How to Get Around the City with Kids

It’s best to stick with London’s public transport network for getting around. Most attractions can be reached by tube or overground services. Anything within central London is within walking distance, and should your little ones get tired throughout the day, it’s easy to hail a cab or ride-share virtually anywhere in the capital.

About the author

Luke AbrahamsLuke Abrahams is a London-based freelance journalist specializing in news, luxury lifestyle, and travel features. Luke was previously the features social media editor at the London Evening Standard. His work has appeared in more than 25 U.K. and U.S. publications, including British Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, The Times, Town & Country, The Telegraph, Condé Nast Traveller, Time Out, House & Garden, Suitcase, Elite Traveler, Insider, and more. So far, Luke has visited 82 countries. His favorite is Italy, and it always will be.