London has so much to offer the family visitor – whatever age your kids are. I could share hundreds of things to do in London with the family, but I wanted to start out with my top five. These are your absolute must-visit attractions that I believe you should consider, especially if you only have a short time in London, such as a day trip. If you do only have a day or a short period in London, such as traveling through on the way somewhere else, you can still have a fabulous time. If you are moving on at the end of the day, whether it’s on a train trip to somewhere else, or a day trip back home, or perhaps a layover or flight to catch, you don’t want to haul your luggage around with you all day. I’d definitely recommend using some luggage storage in London so you can know your luggage is safely and securely stored and then you can walk and travel all around the city unencumbered.
So let’s get on with it – my top five family-friendly attractions in London are:
London Zoo is absolutely my top pick for London. I do visit a lot of zoos and I work in the exotic animal industry too, so I can be quite critical of some zoo experiences. London Zoo gets everything right and is a world-class facility for education and conservation. Visiting London Zoo spends your money in an ethical way as you’re supporting the conservation of endangered species all around the world. I would recommend having a full day to explore London Zoo as it’s so large, with lots of opportunities for food or packed lunch spots, playgrounds and interactive fun as well as looking at the animals.
No visit to London is complete without going on the London Eye. The queues can be large for this so pre-book tickets if visiting at peak times and if you’re in a rush, book fast track tickets that let you skip any queues. The views are absolutely unrivalled. If the queues aren’t too big, this should take you under an hour from start to finish. This is an ideal attraction to couple with SEALIFE London Aquarium as that’s only a two minute walk away!
London’s Science Museum has exhibits and attractions that will appeal to children from babies in arms all the way up to teenagers and adults. It makes science and learning so much fun, with interactive exhibitions as well as hands on acitivities like gaming, virtual reality and augmented reality. It’s also free to visit, which is amazing because it’s such a good attraction. This can be helpful for anyone on a budget. There’s an IMAX theatre which does cost extra but is well worth it – the screen is the size of four double decker buses! It shows a variety of educational shows, from nature to awe inspiring movies about the galaxy.
I always thought that kids wouldn’t be into Madame Tussauds – that is until I went there with mine! He absolutely loved it, and I saw lots of other families having an amazing time. I’d recommend for children over five, as there’s not much to interest toddlers and the appeal does rise the more figures the children recognize. It’s a really unique attraction with lots of opportunities for fun and silly family photos – alongside the incredibly lifelike celebrities, politicians and superheroes. There’s a Marvel 4D cinema experience and a Marvel heroes section that should appeal to a lot of children and some interactive exhibits. I’d recommend about two hours for Madame Tussauds, but if in a rush you can do it quicker and still see everything. It is a 30 minute walk through the beautiful Regent’s Park from London Zoo, so if you did have a spare hour or two at the end of the day, this could be a good fit. And if you want to arrive in style, you can hire a chauffeur service for this occasion.
SEALIFE London Aquarium
If your kids are nature fans then this is a must-visit attraction. Walk underneath tunnels whilst sea turtles swim gracefully above and really feel like you’re experiencing the ocean world. There’s also a rainforest adventure and a polar adventure, complete with penguins! The whole aquarium is really laid out so you feel fully immersed as you go from zone to zone. The aquarium isn’t huge so this isn’t a full day adventure, but I’d allow at least two hours and up to four depending on how much time your kids spend sitting and watching the fish.
As a side note for the previous three attractions: London Eye, Madame Tussauds and SEALIFE are all part of the Merlin group which allows you to buy a pass for three or five attractions in the group. This will save you money, so if you’re planning on visiting multiple Merlin group attractions in succession. The additional two attractions for the five attraction ticket are London Dungeon and DreamWorks Tours: Shrek’s Adventure. These are definitely worth visiting if you have the time, but they don’t make it into my personal top five.
It’d be an action packed weekend to fit all these in but you could do it as Madame Tussauds, the London Eye and SEALife could all be done in one day, whilst London Zoo and Science Museum are both all day long attractions. If you’ve got any other suggestions for must visit London attractions, drop them in the comments!