If you’re busy planning your trip and looking for things to do in London with your kids, you’ve come to the right place! But hang on a minute, what if you’ve already arrived and you’re looking for last minute activities to keep the kids entertained? Don’t worry we can help there, too.
There are so many kids activities in London, it would be impossible to cover them all. So we’re going to break them down by length. Starting with full day activities, moving to shorter experiences to keep your little ones entertained, then finishing with suggestions of parks and shops to fill a spare 30 minutes.
Longer activities for kids in London:
If you have a full day to fill whilst in London then we’ve got two brilliant family-friendly activities for you first.
Visiting the National History Museum with Children
London’s National History Museum is a firm favourite with kids and adults alike. There really is something for people of all ages here! From galleries covering geology and insects, through to animal specimens and dinosaur skeletons.
If you look carefully as you arrive, you can challenge the children to see which animals they can spot on the facade of the building. We hope you’ll manage to find a few different species, but they are well hidden.
If the grown-ups want an advantage, have a look at the building designs to study in advance!
If you miss the animals outside, don’t worry, it’s hard to miss “Hope” as you arrive inside! This enormous skeleton of a Blue Whale is suspended from the ceiling right in front of you.
But there’s more than just animals in the Museum!
Head down to the “Heart of the Earth” to experience a virtual earthquake. Maybe you’re looking for something out of this world? The Nakhla Meteorite came to Earth from Mars, showing there used to be water on the red planet. If your children would enjoy a mysterious tale, check out the cursed Amethyst in The Vault Gallery and learn about its unfortunate owners.
It’s easy to see why the National History Museum in London is so popular with families. And it’s also worth bearing in mind that entry to the Museum is absolutely free! If that’s whetted your appetite, we have lots of other great free attractions in London for you to explore!
Take your kids to London Zoo
Sticking with the ever-popular theme of animals, we highly recommend the Zoo as a child-friendly activity in London.
London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo, but it wasn’t the first place to house animals in the capital. Many of the first animals to arrive at the London Zoo were originally housed at the Tower of London Royal Menagerie.
Want to learn more? You can listen to more interesting details in our Tower of London podcast!
Animals were moved to the new dedicated zoo starting in 1828, opening to the public in 1847, it has been fascinating guests ever since.
There’s a huge variety of animals to see here. We’re sure your kids will be thrilled to run from the aquarium to the reptile house, then on to the gorilla enclosure, to name just a few.
If you’re looking for a more “hands-on” experience, the zoo is well equipped. From meeting the penguins or giraffes, to photography workshops, or even working for the day as a junior keeper. All of these roles are offered with the zoo’s conservation goal at their heart, so your children can learn valuable lessons while being delighted by the animals.
These experiences are popular so we recommend you book a London Zoo activity for the kids in advance.
Does it sound likes there’s almost too much to see? With 673 different species living here, you could be right! Spare a thought for the zookeepers who have to carry out an annual “taking stock” of all the zoo’s inhabitants, literally counting every single animal. Maybe challenge your kids to help by counting the camels or adding up the anteaters.
If you can’t quite spare the whole day, the zoo has several prepared itineraries to make the most of your shorter visit. Just don’t blame us if your kids don’t want to leave!
Shorter activities in London for Kids:
If you haven’t got a whole day to fill, or you’re looking for a shorter activity for kids in London, then we’ve got three more great suggestions for you.
Ride the Cable Car over the Thames
Your Oyster Card entitles you to a discount on this stunning cable car ride over the River Thames from North Greenwich. We’re sure your kids will love the 20-minute round trip, where you can enjoy great views of the O2 Arena (Millennium Dome), skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, and London’s Olympic Park. It’s one of the more obscure things to do in London with kids that we highly recommend!
The Cable Car is around 5 miles/8 kilometres east of central London; be sure to check the location and opening times to plan your day. We suggest pairing the cable car ride with a visit to Greenwich Royal Observatory and/or a boat ride on The Thames. You could also visit the Olympic Park with its enormous Orbit slide, which is our next topic.
Ride the Orbit Slide in London’s Olympic Park
Another great option for kids’ activities in London is the Orbit Slide. Found in London’s Olympic Park, the slide is hard to miss. The huge twisted red structure is made from steel recycled from cars and washing machines.
You have two choices to get to the top: take the lift or climb 455 stairs. Either way, once you reach the top, the only way is down. All the way down…178 metres of fun, to be precise! The only question is, can you tear the kids away after just one ride?
Kid-Friendly Walking Tour of London City
Did you know we offer kid-friendly walking tours of London? We love to share fun stories and interesting facts with our youngest visitors, keeping them entertained and showing the whole family around the city’s most iconic spots.
Our City of London Walking Tour is perfect for children and offers the whole family a comfortable half-day to explore some of the top sites in the city. We would love to show you London!
The Best Playgrounds in London
It might surprise first-time visitors, but there are plenty of parks and green spaces in London. There are also plenty of playgrounds, ideal for letting your kids burn off some steam. Check out our list below if you or the kids need a break from regular tourist activities for a while.
Coram’s Fields Playground
- Location: Central London, near The British Museum and Charles Dickens Museum
- Children under 16 only; Adults only when accompanied by Children
- Slides, sandpits, paddling pools, and swings
- City Farm with rabbits, chickens, and goats
- Dog-free area
- Free access from 9AM until dusk
Diana Memorial Playground
- Location: Kensington Gardens close to Kensington Palace
- Children up to 12 only; Adults only when accompanied by Children
- Inspired by the famous story of Peter Pan
- Pirate ships beached in sand to explore
- Toys and play sculptures
- Free access from 10AM until early evening
- Limits on capacity, queuing may be required
Greenwich Park Playground
- Location: East side of London close to Greenwich Attractions
- Maritime theme
- Toys made from natural materials, trees, and logs
- Children up to 12 only
- Free access from 6AM until early evening
Shops for Kids in London
London is well-known for its shopping for adults, but there are also plenty of shops for kids, too. Have a look at our top choices. We challenge you to walk past any of these without popping in for a look!
The Lego Store
Right in the centre of London, on Leicester Square, is the largest Lego store in the world! Complete with a huge Lego Big Ben, tube train, London map, mosaic maker, pick & build wall, and demonstration tables…your kids are bound to love visiting. The shop can get very busy and there are frequently queues outside, so pick your visiting time carefully. We recommend mornings.
Hamleys Toy Shop
Found on Regent Street in central London, Hamleys is fondly known as “The Finest Toy Shop in the World”. With history stretching back to 1760, you can be sure that Hamleys have become experts at selling toys. They were even recognised by Queen Mary with a Royal Warrant in 1938. Whilst we might be interested in the history, we expect that your kids will amazed by the world of fun inside. Just try not to lose them over the 7 wondrous floors of toys.
Just opposite the Lego store, you can find the worlds biggest M&M’s store, packed full of chocolate, toys, and clothes over 4 huge floors. If you can pull your children away from the giant chocolate wall, then they can see M&M’s crossing Abbey Road like the Beatles, dressed up as the Queens Guard, and much more. If you do visit, no, you aren’t going crazy, they really do pipe the smell of fresh chocolate into the store!
So we hope that’s given you some ideas for things to do in London for kids! If you’re still planning the rest of your trip, check out the rest of our London travel guides for more local expert advice. If you’re struggling with your itinerary, drop us a message or leave a comment below for some help.