London is an astounding travel destination no matter what age you are. World-class attractions, incredible arts, unparalleled shopping, and a wealth of green spaces provide endless entertainment. However, England’s capital is an enormous space and one of the most densely-populated cities in Europe. This can make it a daunting destination for families travelling with young children.
Use this guide to planning a child-friendly London itinerary to ensure you have a smooth-running trip that hits all of the hotspots.
Utilise public transport
London is large, but its excellent public transport network makes it easy to navigate your way around. You can access London by train from stations across the UK and then continue to utilise the railway and underground during your trip. You can get from the centre of the city to its outskirts in minutes, and trains are frequent especially in key tourist areas. Special passes are available for visiting families which keep this mode of transport cost-effective.
Avoid stress and frustrating traffic jams by leaving the car at home. It will also keep your trip more sustainable and affordable, too.
Keep the itinerary balanced
Any parent will tell you that a child’s energy can go from zero to a hundred – and vice versa – in a matter of minutes. Avoid children becoming over-tired and grumpy by keeping the itinerary balanced. For example, follow a trip to Buckingham Palace with a chilled-out picnic in neighbouring St. James Park. The contrast of going from indoor to outdoor and inactive to active will help to boost their energy levels for the afternoon.
Make sure to build in plenty of rest time as well. This means that meals can be taken at a leisurely pace, giving you the chance to sit down and recharge regularly throughout the day.
Don’t skip the museums
Even if your children turn up their noses at the idea, don’t skip the museums. London’s museums are some of the best in the world, housing ancient artefacts and engaging exhibitions that will enchant adults and children alike. Highlights for kids include the Natural History Museum with its dramatic dinosaur displays and the hands-on Science Museum.
Also, don’t overlook the city’s extraordinary heritage sites. Attractions such as Hampton Court and Westminster Abbey offer activities and trails to make them more interesting for children. An unmissable historic site for families visiting England’s capital is the Tower of London. Live actors aided by special effects bring to life the city’s most gruesome history, in a way that will make kids squeal with laughter rather than terror.
Include time outdoors
No matter which season you are travelling in, make sure to spend plenty of time outdoors. In the autumn, you will find pumpkin picking experiences and Hallowe’en trails through the grounds of historic houses. Winter brings illuminated fun fairs with children’s rides and outdoor ice-skating rinks.
Visiting in spring or summer? The outdoor entertainment is endless. Try activities on the water in Hyde Park, go for a longer walk through the deer-filled Richmond Park, and get lost in the sensational Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.
See a West End show
Last but not least – make sure you see a West End show. These exceptional theatre performances are colourful, captivating, and are sure to be one of the top experiences of your trip. Family favourites are mostly in musical form. Child-friendly shows that are currently running in the West End include Matilda: The Musical, The Lion King, Wicked, and Frozen. You can also catch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre. This unforgettable play is boosted by truly magical special effects and is a must for any wizards and witches – young and old!