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Attractions in London for kids are plentiful. Ever popular choices include the Tower of London, Madame Tussauds and the London Zoo. We explain how to get the best value from these attractions by combining tickets using a pass like the London Pass, Merlin Passes, or Discount London.
If you are looking a budget friendly day out with your kids we also discuss the many Royal Parks where you can take part in such activities as cycling, skating, boating or even watching pelicans being fed! Alternatively, if the weather's not on your side, the London Museums offer good value entertainment for many hours, are free to enter, or you can offer a small donation. The Changing of the Guard is another low cost option to keep your kids entertained - we discuss your best options.
For Harry Potter crazy kids there's the perennial favourite Harry Potter Studio Tour London (an hour outside London in Watford) or within London itself you can check out some of the well known London Harry Potter film locations. There are also professionally guided Harry Potter walking tours that are not too expensive.
For an alternative view of London, why not try it from the river? City Cruises are London's leading river cruise operator and are experts in showing you London's most renowned buildings from the unique perspective of the River Thames. The 45-minute circular cruise is a popular choice with many families. With a Toot Bus Must See London ticket, you can get this sightseeing cruise for free. Alternatively you can choose to opt for a cheaper tour, the Toot Bus Kids Tour, with a live guide who tailors it just for families!
We also have a blog you can check out: 10 best family attractions in London.
Not all things to do in London need to have a big price tag attached. One of the wonderful thing about London is that if you seek them out, there are plenty of places to take the children which are either free or very low cost.
London has several large Royal Parks. St James, Regent's Park and Hyde Park are extensive parks. Dotted all around London are squares and smaller parks where you can get away for a few moments from the noise and traffic. For children there are a few parks that offer something just that bit different:
Hyde Park has a great pond - the Serpentine - where you can hire boats and in the summer months, even swim in the natural, dechlorinated lido.
In addition to this you can hire bikes and cycle round the park from several different cycle stations within the park. In-line skating is highly established on the Serpentine Road - you can hire skates from the Club Blue Room at Marble Arch.
Hyde Park also hosts a tennis centre, lawn bowls, putting green and cafe.
In the North west corner of Kensington Gardens you will find a very popular Peter Pan themed play-area complete with wooden pirate ship at its heart! This playground in memory of the late Diana Princess of Wales offers much for all children up to the age of 12, including wheelchair users.
Southwest of the Serpentine Lake and into Hyde Park you can find the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial - a large oval fountain where anyone is free to wander; it is popular with children in the summer months.
In the heart of London St James' Park offers ceremonial parades (Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards) and a lake with a lot of bird life where there are plenty of water birds. Great views of Buckingham Palace too.
The famous pelicans are fed every day at 2.30pm, and there's a children’s playground, with deckchairs from April to September, as well as cafe serving food from breakfast to dinner.
Like St James's Park and Hyde Park there are many birds; Regent's Park is the centre for waterfowl breeding for The Royal Parks. Like Hyde Park, you can hire boats on the boating lake.
At the southern end of the park you will find Queen Mary's Gardens where in the summer months you can enjoy Open Air Theatre performances, established nearly 100 years ago in the 1930s.
Throughout Regent's Park at regular intervals are café’s for you to partake in a refreshment while you stroll. On the northern border of Regent's Park is the London Zoo, another great kid's attraction.
Enjoy the splendour of the troops in their military red at the Changing of Guard outside Buckingham Palace or Horse Guards.
Buckingham Palace is immediately adjacent to St James's Park and The Green Park. If you are thinking of attending the Changing of the Guard here it can be a nightmare with children.
Unless your children get there really early and be against the palace railings they won't see much of what is going on and most kids who do see what is going on are under whelmed.
The Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards can be better for children than at Buckingham Palace. Crowds are less, you get a good view and you can get a picture to remember. The Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards Arch takes place daily at 11am (10am on Sundays) and lasts about 30 minutes. It is held on Horse Guards Parade by Whitehall, which is located east of St James's Park.
London museums have in recent times extended many of their exhibitions to include activities and hands on exhibits for kids. Examples of this are the British Museum with its digital Discovery Centre, free activity backpacks and free regular events. The Natural History Museum has its own Investigate science lab and Darwin Centre especially for kids.
Most London museums are free (donation optional); some, such as the London Transport Museum charge only adult entry while kids go free. The London Transport Museum has many exhibits for children to play on, as well as more the 80 vehicles including the iconic London red bus.
The Science Museum is one of the most kid-friendly of all the London museums and is a must see. The focus of the Science Museum is high tech, hands-on, interactive and up-to-date. The basement area is focused on children with different areas focused on different age groups. The museum also puts on workshops for the kids too.
The Museum of London Docklands has its own 'interactive space' for kids where they are free to try hands-on activities such as role-play or building. To enter this area for free you need to apply for a ticket in advance through their website or on arrival.
The Crystal is a relatively new (2012) exhibition that showcases futuristic designs for city living. It is located just near the London ExCel Centre and Royal Victoria station. There is plenty for kids to do with interactive touch screens and even 'immersive experience' - children can learn about sustainable living.
- Take your pick from dozens of London Museums with loads of exhibitions and activities for children
- See London from the magical side - lose yourself in Harry Potter film locations in London including Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station
- Get down to one of London's many free popular City Farms: Hackney, Mudchute Farm and Park and Vauxhall City Farm
- Get organised and check out scheduled bridge lift times to see the raising of Tower Bridge - or buy tickets to go inside!
- Take a trip to Covent Garden to marvel at this day's street entertainers in the Western Piazza
- Take a dip in Hampton heated open air pool. There is plenty for kids with regular teaching and inflatable sessions. Two pools in a sunny woodland area on the outskirts of Bushy Park with a grassed area to relax in. Moonlight swims!
- Enjoy a British Fish & Chip shop takeaway!
- Ride a London red bus
The hop-on hop-off double deck bus tours are enjoyed by a sizable proportion of all visitors to London.
Tootbus (formerly Original Tour London) offer a specific tour aimed at families with children, called the Kids Tour. This specially designed route offers a bespoke live guide who will enthrall kids and adults alike with their tales of London past and present.
This tour aims to be reasonably priced, fun and educational.
There are even special deals to be had during seasonal events such as Christmas.
Surveys and anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that a lasting memory for many visitors to London is the public transport system.
Make sure you take your kids on the London Underground at least once, also the top deck of a London red bus. Make it into a game, get a bus and underground map and get your kids to plan your route around central London.
Remember, children under 11 travel free on London's buses and Underground so it's a cost effective as well as entertaining way of getting the most out of London.
These are the big ticket days out in London you will have all heard of. Many of these can be purchased in a combined ticket to save you more money in the long run. Some tickets are designed to be used within a short period of time (such as the London Pass), while others, like the Go City London Explorer Pass, allow you 60 days, or in the case of the Merlin Annual Pass, a whole year to see the big attractions.
Below we show you some of the best family friendly attractions in London, covered by the Merlin passes and the London Passes.
For Harry Potter fans, there's a low-down on the best way to get your Harry Potter fix, whether that's the Harry Potter Studio itself or a film location walk.
Fast becoming one of the most popular attractions in the London area today, The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London offers something for everyone - even non-Harry Potter fans will enjoy the behind the scenes experience of the best selling film series.
Featuring a huge array of sets and props the breathtaking detail of the intricate artwork is highly comprehensive and film lovers everywhere will learn plenty from the experience.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London is an hour's journey from central London in Watford. Tours operate from London or it is reasonably straight forward to travel independently. Details of independent public transport to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London and a selection of approved tours can be found by following the link below.
For a lower budget experience, Harry Potter fans can also visit numerous film sites located in London, including the ever popular Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station. This can be done independently for free or by a reasonably priced (from around £15 per adult) walking tour. Details can be found on the link below.
If you are going to visit all five we would strongly recommend purchasing a Big City Saver Pass (previously Merlin's Magical London pass) to save yourself heaps on the entry price.
Beyond London, the Merlin Annual Pass covers the main London attractions plus all the big theme parks in the UK - and this is where the real money saving begins if you are a regular theme park goer. For example, with this pass you would get free entry into Legoland Windsor.
Legoland theme park is out in Windsor near the castle and can be reached by train from London's Waterloo station. Legoland is a full day out with over 55 amazing interactive rides, attractions and live shows for the whole family. Set in 150 acres of parkland, it is a fun day for children aged 3-12 and their families.
(Note: Legoland Windsor and other Legoland Discoveries are only included with the Merlin Annual Pass, not the Big City Saver pass, which only covers the five attractions - or a combination of - above.)
HUGE SAVINGS: Buy a 2, 3 or 5 attraction pass for top London attractions
Off-peak prices available
• London Eye • Madame Tussauds London • London Dungeon • Shrek's Adventure! London • SEA LIFE London Aquarium
Adult from £50 for 2 attractions Child (age 5-15) from £45
Adult from £60 for 3 attractions Child (age 5-15) from £54
Adult from £80 for all 5 attractions Child (age 5-15) from £72
HUGE SAVINGS: Buy a 2, 3 or 5 attraction pass
for top 5 London attractions
• London Eye • Madame Tussauds London • London Dungeon • Shrek's Adventure! London • SEA LIFE London Aquarium
Adult £60 for 2 attractions, Child (age 5-15) £54
Adult £80 for 3 attractions, Child (age 5-15) £72
Adult £130 for all 5 attractions, Child (age 5-15) £117
Beyond Merlin attractions there's also the ever popular Tower of London, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, and London Zoo. If you are intending on visiting a number of these attractions, it is worth thinking about purchasing a London Pass, which covers these and over 80 different attractions in London.
The London Pass offers you great savings on purchasing individual tickets. If you intend on visiting a lot of attractions in London this will be your cheapest way to do it.
The more you visit, the more you save
• Access 80+ London attractions including the Tower of London, London Zoo, Thames River Cruise, Tower Bridge, St. Paul's, Westminster Abbey, The View from Shard, Windsor Castle, a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, and many more...
• 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10 day passes available.
Combine your own mix of attractions into a money saving package. Discount London are one of the leading providers of discounted tours which provide excellent value for money by bundling tours into packages of two or more. Generally the more tours you buy in one package, the more you save per attraction.
Book discounted London sightseeing and attraction tickets
• Hop-on hop-off buses • Madame Tussauds • London Eye • London Dungeon • Tower of London • Tower Bridge • The Shard • Westminster Abbey • Historic Royal Palaces and more...
In Regent Street you will find the flagship Hamleys, established in 1760; the oldest and one of the largest toys shops in the world. Hamleys is set over seven floors and has over 50,000 lines of toys! Hamleys puts on regular events and even birthday parties. Regent Street is in the main shopping area of London leading up to Oxford Street.
Harrods is a unique department store in Knightsbridge and features its own 'Toy Kingdom', established 2012. Harrods Toy Kingdom features six different "worlds" including jugglers, acrobats and magicians demonstrating the latest hands-on toys.
|London Eye||Amazing panoramic flight on the world's highest observation wheel. » Fast track tickets available.|
|The Shard||Tallest building in Western Europe with viewing of London from the top. » Fast track tickets available.|
|St Paul's Cathedral||Cathedral of the Diocese of London, venue for royal weddings. » Pre-book to guarantee entry.|
|Westminster Abbey||Along with St Paul's, England's main religious building.» Pre-book to guarantee entry.|
|Tower of London||Home of the Crown Jewels and a rich thousand year history. » Fast track tickets available.|
|Madame Tussauds||See wax statues of the most famous people in the world. » Fast track tickets available.|
|London Dungeon||The creepiest attraction in town, the London Dungeon. » Fast track tickets available.|
|Hampton Court Palace||Henry VIII Medieval Palace set in vast grounds. » Pre-book to save money.|
|The London Zoo||World class zoo in the centre of London. » Flexi tickets available.|