Things to do in London

Things To Do In London With Kids

From fascinating historical journeys to groundbreaking modern experiences, our list of things to do in London with kids is sure to excite and inspire.

1. SEA LIFE London Aquarium

While most of us associate a trip to London with black cabs and Big Ben, you can also come nose-to-nose with sea turtles, stingrays, and even sharks. The SEA LIFE London Aquarium sits just a stone's throw from Westminster Bridge. It's one of the fun things to do in London with kids when the famous British weather strikes on school holidays.  

Ask any junior traveler about their favorite part of the London Aquarium and they're sure to mention the incredible glass walkthrough tunnel. Here, you can watch countless aquatic species drifting languidly above your head.

The aquarium is also home to a diverse range of global habitats, from polar enclosures complete with an adorable penguin colony to an incredible rainforest area with toothy crocodiles.

2. Madame Tussauds

Once upon a time, wax artist Marie Tussaud used her craft to create eerie death masks of Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI, and other unfortunate guillotine victims during the French Revolution. Nowadays, you can experience her legacy in the far less gory surroundings of the Madame Tussauds exhibition. 

Whether your kids dream of snapping selfies with their favorite music artists, meeting the royal family, or even coming face-to-face with superheroes, Madame Tussauds is the place to meet the stars — in hyper-realistic wax form, at least.

The venue's impressive themed areas recreate experiences normally reserved for the rich and famous, including a celeb-spangled awards party and replica sets from classic movies.

3. Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

Sightseeing tours are a great way to take in London's famous landmarks without hours of walking, but they're not always the best option for fidgety kids. Enter the hop-on hop-off bus: a fun London attraction for kids and adults alike that allows you to take sightseeing at your own pace.

These much-loved double-deckers have open-air upper decks — perfect for giving smaller family members a good view of London's landmarks while soaking up knowledge from the kid-friendly commentary.

4. Natural History Museum & Science Museum

When it comes to free things to do in London with kids, the Natural History Museum and Science Museum are hard to beat. Londoners often reference these famous British museums as a pair because they're just a short walk (or toddle) apart.

We've yet to meet a kid who doesn't love dinosaurs, and the Natural History Museum certainly delivers plenty of prehistoric excitement. Its free dino-themed exhibits allow you to get up close and personal with real T. rex, triceratops, and iguanodon skeletons.

The museum's vast collection also includes glittering gemstones, taxidermied creatures great and small, and a hair-raising earthquake simulator.

Meanwhile, the Science Museum takes families on a voyage of discovery, with authentic artifacts exploring humankind's forays into outer space, the dawn of modern medicine, and how math influences our everyday experiences.

Alternatively, purchasing paid tickets unlocks a wealth of hands-on activities. Create your own works of art in the Wonderlab, or soar with the Red Arrows aerobatic team.

Photographer: Benjamin Elliott

5. London Zoo

Teens or toddlers, London Zoo's immersive habitats deliver enjoyment and education for kids of all ages. Adventurous families can climb the 80-foot-high Monkey Valley to watch colobus monkeys swinging through the treetops, relax on the sand at Penguin Beach, or get face-to-face with lemurs while pottering through a Madagascan shrub forest. 

Little kids will love running wild in the zoo's unique Animal Adventures play area. Designed with small people in mind, this innovative outdoor play zone fuses low-height animal enclosures with slides, bridges, and water play for a relaxed way to meet the zoo's furriest residents.

6. Family-Friendly Theater Shows

London is home to a whopping 241 theaters, from the teeny-tiny Arts Theatre in the West End to the London Coliseum, the enormous Baroque-style home of the English National Opera. Whether your brood is into cheery Disney sing-alongs or Broadway classics such as Wicked and Mama Mia!, you should find the perfect show in the heart of London's theater scene.

Alternatively, head to the Royal Albert Hall to marvel at its incredible domed roof and pillar-flanked porches. This distinctive venue has played host to a mind-boggling range of cultural events, including orchestral concerts, film premieres, and — surprisingly — tennis.

Here, you can witness unbelievable feats and immersive new worlds in our extraordinary Alegría show, which tells the moving tale of a kingdom searching for a new king.

7. Young V&A

If your kids groan when you suggest a museum visit, they clearly haven't experienced the Young V&A. Formerly known as the Museum of Childhood, this innovative exhibition reimagines the museum format. The soaring galleries crammed with creative exhibits celebrating childhood allow kids to do what they do best: imagine, play, and design. 

As you roam the halls, kids can stop to roll marbles down the enormous marble run. They can create their own architecture in the Imagination Playground, or put on a play at the communal stage. The smallest family members can enjoy multisensory exploration in the mini-museum. This infant-friendly space is bursting with texture, sound, and color.

Meanwhile, adults can take their families on a trip down memory lane through an incredible collection of childhood artifacts and toys.

8. London Parks and Playgrounds

Yearning for time in nature or need the kids to let off some steam? One thing's for certain: You're never far from an expansive park or playground in London. Just like the city itself, London parks are crammed with quirky features you won't find anywhere else. Take Crystal Palace Park, a green haven of ponds, mazes...and Victorian dinosaur statues.

Explore the rose gardens at Hyde Park. Head to Greenwich Park to hop back and forth over the Prime Meridian Line, and take a dip in the swimming ponds on Hampstead Heath.

Photographer: V2F

9. Harry Potter Filming Locations & Studio Tour

Whether you're still waiting for your Hogwarts acceptance letter or have come to terms with Muggle life, the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London is a must-see for Potterheads.

The tour takes in all the much-loved locations from the books and movies. Fans can discover weird and wonderful plants in the herbology greenhouse. Would-be wizards can peer into shop windows in Diagon Alley and wait for the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 3/4. 

The experience doesn't stop at the incredible displays of props, costumes, and sets. Once you've worked up an appetite, you can toast a great day out with a warming, foamy butterbeer or enjoy a Potter-themed meal beneath a ceiling of floating candles.

For more magical experiences, explore our list of some of the most unique things to do in London.

10. The London Eye With Kids

The River Thames is close to the heart of every Londoner. It's featured in the opening sequence of the nation's favorite soap opera and is the site of Europe's tallest cantilevered Ferris wheel. 

The 135-meter London Eye has 32 air-conditioned capsules ready to take passengers on a 30-minute journey around its circumference. However, eagle-eyed visitors may notice there's a capsule number 33. Why? Clearly the designers of the London Eye were superstitious, as the wheel lacks a number 13. 

Traveling aboard a capsule offers a spectacular bird's-eye view across the city, and you can see up to 25 miles of the cityscape in fine weather. Challenge your kids to see who can spot the most recognizable London buildings. Look for Buckingham Palace, The Shard, and the aptly named Gherkin Building. 

Photographer: Radu Ioan Iancu

11. Tower of London

While the Tower of London may look like a whimsical castle, its fairytale exterior hides a far more grisly past. The imposing site was once a prison where infamous prisoners such as Anne Boleyn and Guy Fawkes spent their final days before execution. The hordes of ravens probably did little to lift their spirits. 

You can still see carved graffiti left by the tower's hapless inhabitants and head to Tower Green, where famous convicts met their fate. But there's more to the Tower of London than rolling heads and gruesome tales. It's also the permanent home of the Crown Jewels, providing a tantalizing glimpse of dazzling treasures still used by the royals.

12. KidZania

A city run by kids may sound like a recipe for disaster, unless you happen to be visiting KidZania London. This kid-sized metropolis takes role-play to the next level. It gives children a hands-on taste of the world of work through its highly realistic themed zones. 

This kids' paradise offers an exciting array of aspirational careers, from navigating the skies as an airline pilot to fighting fires with hoses shooting real water. Need a well-earned break? No judgment here. KidZania boasts highly trained supervisors to support children on their adventures. Children aged 8 and older can roam through the zones adult-free.

13. The London Transport Museum

Transportation is crucial to London's status as a major commercial hub. A visit to the London Transport Museum is one of the best things to do in London with kids. It has the awards to prove it and is a great way to explore the extraordinary ways Londoners navigate their city. 

The museum's fascinating exhibits take you on a whistle-stop tour of London transport. It starts with Victorian horse-drawn carriages and ends with the vehicles used to keep London moving today. On the way, kids can prepare to become engineers of the future through the museum's interactive exhibits and experience life as a transportation worker in the All Aboard play zone.

14. Tower Bridge Glass Walkway

The imposing Tower Bridge has opened its gates to some extraordinary vessels since 1886, including the Queen's Royal Yacht Britannia. The Spanish cargo vessel Monte Urquiola made the most dramatic crossings, crashing into the bridge an astonishing three times in the 1950s and '60s. 

Tower Bridge's most unexpected feature is its glass floors, allowing curious kids and adults to spy on boats as they sail underneath. Afraid of heights? Don't panic — the City Bridge Foundation assures visitors the floors are tough enough to withstand the weight of six elephants. 

15. Science Museum's Water Play Area 

When it comes to options for kids, The Garden, a free interactive gallery in the Science Museum's basement, contains everything small children — and weary parents — need to enjoy a relaxing morning or afternoon learning through play.

Perfect for ages 6 and younger, this kids' utopia boasts an array of engaging hands-on activities where they can learn about water, light, and sound. There's even a team of helpers known as Explainers to help little ones enjoy their science- and water-based play session to the max.

16. IFS Cloud Cable Car

If your kids love playing I spy, how about trying it 90 meters in the air? You likely automatically associate cable cars with ski resorts. The IFS Cloud Cable Car, however, proves this aerial mode of transport works just as well in an urban environment.

Arriving every 30 seconds and whisking travelers off on a thrilling 10-minute ride over the Thames, the cable car is the most exciting way of getting from point A to point B in London.

As you travel between the Royal Docks and the Greenwich Peninsula, soak in extraordinary panoramic views of the skyline. See who's first to spot St. Paul's Cathedral and the dome-shaped O2 Arena.

17. Shrek's Adventure! London

4D buses driven by, you're not having a crazy cheese-induced dream; you're at the weird and wonderful Shrek's Adventure! London attraction in the heart of South Bank. This interactive experience takes you on a hunt for everyone's favorite ogre through 10 entertaining live shows.

Kids will enjoy wading through murky swamps, creeping around Lord Farquaad's dungeon, and escaping a bizarre mirror maze while encountering storybook creatures, mystical spells, and Shrek himself.

18. London's Shakespeare Globe Theatre

The modern Globe Theatre is the third theater to stand on the site where William Shakespeare trod the boards. The original building burned to the ground in 1613 due to an unfortunate accident with a cannon prop. However, the modern Globe lovingly recreates the atmosphere of a night at an open-air theater in Tudor England.

Top tip: Book Groundling (standing) tickets on Fridays at 11 a.m. to treat the whole family to a live performance for just £5 per person.

Photographer: Victor Moussa

19. Hyde Park

Hyde Park, or The People's Park according to the locals, is London's largest Royal Park and a glorious space for winding down and running free. Beautiful walking trails snake through the grounds, leading visitors through traditional English rose gardens and around the picturesque Serpentine Lake.

Tech-savvy kids can even transport themselves back in time using the Great Exhibition in 1851 app. It recreates the astonishing Crystal Palace before your eyes in augmented reality.

20. Horniman Museum and Gardens

Cirque du Soleil has many goals, but one of our most important is to evoke curiosity in the world. A curious kid is a kid with a bright future, and there are few better places to spark that thirst for knowledge than an immersive museum. 

The Horniman Museum is one of London's lesser-known attractions. Its quirky charm and diverse collection of animals (both live and stuffed) makes it a firm favorite of many London kids. The World Gallery transports you on a cross-continental and multisensory tour of global cultures, revealing the sights, sounds, and even smells of different times and places.

It also boasts an astonishing array of musical instruments and possibly the most taxidermied creatures ever seen in one place.

21. Hamleys Toy Shop

If you asked a child to imagine their dream toy shop, they'd probably describe Hamleys on Regent Street. It's not just the oldest toy shop on earth; it's also the largest, boasting an impressive seven floors crammed with toys and games. Our favorite is the ground floor. Here, kids can marvel at an extraordinary array of plush creatures, including life-sized zoo animals. 

22. Museum of London Docklands

A day trip to the Museum of London Docklands is the closest you'll get to a real-life time machine, providing an authentic glimpse into London's historic docks. The immersive environments allow families to lose themselves in the dark alleys of Sailortown, mingle in an 18th-century "Legal Quay," and explore the stories of enslaved Africans.

The museum also boasts a delightful play area where younger kids can operate a miniature dock and try loading cargo onto a ship in true docker fashion.

23. The Top Hat Restaurant

Combining Monopoly with a bustling eatery sounds like a hare-brained scheme, but it turns out it's a winning formula. Walking into The Top Hat on Tottenham Court Road is like landing on a real-life Monopoly board, with house-shaped dining booths and glitz aplenty.

The game board-themed menu is packed with delicious, kid-friendly comfort food and enough Monopoly puns to keep you giggling until dessert.

24. Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park is the starting point of the Greenwich Prime Meridian and offers the unique experience of quite literally moving from one hemisphere to another in a single step. The park and surrounding area are packed with curious London attractions and outdoor activities for kids, so you'll want to allow an entire day to explore its wonders.

From here, you can travel the stars in The Royal Observatory's planetarium, set your watch by the dropping of the red ball in time-honored London tradition, and stop to smell the flowers in the idyllic Queen's Orchard.

Photographer: Phil Lev]

Explore London From a Kid's Perspective

Hopefully, this list of extraordinary things to do in London with kids has inspired you to embark on your own family odyssey in this ancient and surprising city. While you're here, join Cirque du Soleil to dream the unimaginable at one of our breathtaking London shows.

Unbeatable acrobatics, soul-touching music, and artistic expression are at the heart of what we've set out to do. We're ready and waiting to immerse you in our otherworldly dimension of heart-pounding experiences.

More articles about