London is an amazing city and a great starting point for families wanting to experience an international destination for the first time. The combination of modern day life and rich history keeps everyone entertained. Because there is no language barrier, it’s easy for families to get around and take in the information, plus there are endless activities, parks, and kid-oriented attractions.
There is so much to see and do that prioritizing is a must. Here’s a list of my favorite activity recommendations:
Start with the Big Bus Double Decker Tour. A must-do London experience that will give a broad overview of the city while providing easy transportation. My children learned a lot from the live guides on the bus (there is also a headset available, but they didn’t like those). After the bus tour, think about a private guide. Although they can be expensive, it’s money well spent. We used Context Travel for a Food Tour of London. I also recommend Clare McCoy, a Blue Badge Guide, who is excellent with families.
2. The Royal Perspective
Royalty is important in London and novel for kids (at least American kids). With enthralling stories of kings and queens, the whole family will be eager to see the royal sites. Don’t miss the Tower of London where you are surrounded by 1000-year-old buildings and an entertaining beefeater. The opulence of the Crown Jewels is stunning. At Buckingham Palace, the pageantry displayed with the Changing of the Guard is well worth waiting wading through the crowds. You can see what “royal treatment” means for horses at the Royal Mews and the “coloring room” offers a quick family break. Embrace the British tradition of high tea at the Orangery. Also, not far outside of London, Hampton Court Palace offers a working “Tudor” kitchen, game room, maze, and trails.
3. The Royal Parks
London offers a vast selection of public parks, including Kensington Park (Princess Diana’s playground with a pirate ship), Regent Park (zoo), Hyde Park (swimming, boating, and fishing)—all are outstanding. Try eating lunch at a different park each day. Not only is it economical, but our kids loved the visits to local stores for “take-away” food.
4. Covent Garden
This is a family favorite and we went back multiple times. Kids love the outrageous street entertainers. There are a variety of dining options and the London Transportation Museum is an easy stop and located here.
Perfect options for rainy days, London has an amazing collection of museums. Pre-screen them online to see which ones interest your group the most. The Imperial War Museum has huge tanks and a terrific exhibit on the “Children’s Experience of the War.” The Science Museum has a new “Wallace and Gromit” section that is fabulous! We loved the Tate Modern. Also, there’s The Natural History Museum, the British Museum and the Museum of London, to name just a few!
Note: London Eye: We did this the first day. Instead, I’d recommend doing it later in your trip so that kids recognize what they are seeing. The views and photos opportunities are stunning.
By Nancy Solomon for Ciao Bambino
Photo courtesy of Ciao Bambino