There is so much to do in London with kids.
But – and as a Londoner I can say this – lots of activities on your typical visit London bucket list are super pricey and super busy, because every other family has got their hands on the same old “London with kids” itinerary.
Yikes – what are you meant to do to give your London trip or day out the wow factor?
Well, the great news is there ARE loads of awesome hidden gems in London. We’re talking seriously cool adventures to fill your very own personalised London with kids bucket list AND lots of them are FREE.
So whether you’re a UK parent after ideas for days out in London or you’re visiting England from overseas check out these fun travel tips.
There’s everything you need to make a family trip round London truly memorable for your children including :
- 101 free things to do in London with kids
- Cool London museums free from crowds
- Over 30 London palaces and grand houses
- Beautiful London parks and green spaces to run wild in and explore
- Secret London places you’ve not heard of
- Things to do in London on a rainy day
- London adventures for older kids
- London’s spookiest haunts
- The best activities in London in the summer
- Hogwarts Express style steam trains
- … and – we couldn’t leave him out – everything Harry Potter to do in London.
PLUS I’ve got for you the best kids’ books about London both Londoners and visitors will love.
And EXTRA tips for visiting London on a budget.
It’s a massive list of ideas so do save for later for quick reference …
All The Best Things To Do In London With Kids
1. Free Things To Do In London
Lots of London’s big attractions – whether it’s the Harry Potter studio tour, the Eye or the Tower of London – are worth the money.
But if you do more than a few with the kids, you will – believe me – go broke fast!
So fill up your London itinerary with plenty of these fabulous free days out in London.
2. London Museums
London’s world beating big museums like the Natural History, British Museum and National Gallery, are free, but boy they get busy. And for a lot of kids, they are just too big.
Luckily, there are also brilliant mid-sized free London museums that are great for children.
The Museum of London is our favourite. It sweeps through London’s history from the stone age to the swinging sixties but at a hands on, child eye level.
Or if you really want your kids to take in some fine art, skip the crowds at the National Gallery and check out the Rembrandts and Vermeers in Kenwood House before running wild on Hampstead Heath, one of London’s most beautiful green spaces.
London also has some seriously awesome small museums that are free.
3. London Palaces
We can’t promise afternoon tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace when you visit London.
Or even with Meghan BUT London can offer you over 30 palaces and grand houses.
And surprisingly quite a few are free.
They are a great opportunity to escape the main tourist haunts of central London, as they are scattered across the city from Ham House in its beautiful riverside spot out west to the super cool Tudor – Twenties mash up that is Eltham Palace in the east.
4. London Parks & Green Spaces
Everyone knows about London’s museums and palaces but not so much about our awesome green spaces.
There are of course the big parks in the centre, Hyde Park, Green Park, St James Park and Regents Park, which are all wonderful spots for a run around and a picnic.
But also much wilder areas like Hampstead Heath and Richmond Park – home to wild deer – AND lots of stunning forest and woodland.
But that’s not all. For more wildlife adventures up close to nature think marshes.
London was built on the Thames marshes and there are still lovely spots to explore – including Rainham Marsh, Walthamstow Marsh and the London Wetland Centre – which are home to huge numbers of rare birds.
Lastly, don’t forget London’s playgrounds.
When the kids have had enough of the crowds and the whole family’s getting fractious, they are a godsend. One must know hidden gem is Coram’s Fields playground which is handy for a whole bunch of museums.
5. London’s Hidden Gems
Talking of hidden gems, if you do want something different to do in London with your kids free from crowds check out these lovely secret places in London.
There’s a fossil dig, a huge cave complex – who knew? – and more and they’re all cheap or free.
6. London On A Rainy Day
Unfortunately, when it rains London’s busy indoors tourist attractions do get – if that’s possible – even busier.
But there are still loads of things to do with kids in London on a rainy day on our rainy day London bucket list, including a whole bunch of ways to burn off energy.
7. London Adventures For High Energy Kids & Older Children
As our kids get older burning off energy becomes a bigger challenge when we’re travelling as a family or planning days out.
But again London comes good and can offer some seriously cool London adventures for older kids from canoing the Thames to starlight climbs over the O2.
This London bucket list has over 50 adrenalin pumping ideas that are perfect for dare devils.
8. Haunted London
If that’s not enough, for more excitement you could take your older kids around haunted London’s spookiest sites.
9. London In The Summer
In the summer when you need to cool down as well as burn off energy, London’s outdoor pools and lidos are a godsend.
There aren’t loads of them but they’re spread across the city so can be combined with other trips – you could for example, explode rockets in the Science museum in the morning and then cool down in the Serpentine, just 10 minutes walk away in Hyde Park after lunch.
Another seriously lovely London activity with kids in the summer is a trip to a PYO farm.
Yep, we Londoners have those too!
The season gets started in June with the strawberries and carries on through the raspberries, plums, redcurrants, apples and more until the pumpkins at Halloween.
But if like last summer, London does just get too hot, remember it is super easy to escape to the beach for the day on the train.
These sandy beaches near London are all doable by train in a day with kids.
10. London By Train
If your kids are train mad, they will love London’s steam trains.
There’s everything from miniature ride ons, to full size branch lines and of course the Hogwarts Express …
11. Harry Potter In London
If your kids are as Harry Potter mad as mine then the Harry Potter studio tour is a must.
Harry Potter Studio London
It is VERY expensive, yes. £150 for the family but for fans IS magical. Just remember you need to book in advance.
Now it’s not – shhh – officially IN London, but only 20 minutes away on the train and there is a dedicated bus service from Watford Junction station where you get off for the studio tour.
IF time and budgets don’t stretch to the Harry Potter studio, there’s still plenty of Harry Potter related things to do in London.
There are walking tours which can be fun but these again are a bit pricey.
Platform 9 and 3/4
My top recommendation as a Londoner is to hit King’s Cross and St Pancras Stations.
King’s Cross is of couse home of platform 9 and 3/4. You can have your picture taken pushing your trolley into the wall and buy every Harry Potter gizmo you could dream of in the store.
If your kids are early risers get there before 8am and take your own picture for free or join the queue later for official photos.
Right next door is the fancier St Pancras that doubles as King’s Cross in Chamber of Secrets.
There’s loads of great photo opportunities and if you head up behind the station into the fountains of Granary Square by the canal plenty of places to eat.
St Pancras is also pretty handy for a host of London attractions including London Zoo (another Harry Potter location!), the British Museum, Grant Museum and the Postal Museum with it’s very own, super cool Gringotts style underground railway.
Leaky Cauldron & Diagon Alley
We reckon the next best Harry Potter location in London is Borough Market.
It provided the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley in the films.
It also offers loads of totally yummy things to eat and is an easy stroll away from other London attractions including
- Tate Gallery
- Globe Theatre
- Southwark Cathedral – a Dr Who location!
- Golden Hinde
- And the Millenium Bridge which was of course another Harry Potter location in the Half Blood Prince
If that little lot don’t satisfy you, check out this big list of Harry Potter locations in London
Extra : London Books
I do think there is something magical about London, whether you’re a Londoner or visiting.
And not just down Diagon Alley.
It captures our imaginations, not least because we know it so well from films and books.
And there are some truly lovely kids books about London that make great vacation reads for kids of all ages.
So as an added extra for you, this is a list of some our fave London books kids love.
Travel Tips : Budget London
OK, now you know ALL the best London destinations to visit with kids and put on your very own personalised London bucket list or itinerary that you won’t have to share with every other family in London.
And a whole load of these fab things to do in London with kids are free or cheap. Hurrah!
But as I know only too well as a long time Londoner, this city can be expensive, especially with kids in tow. So finally, here are my top tips on enjoying London with kids on a budget.
I do hope you have a wonderful time in London. I would love to hear what you get up to and which places your kids love best.
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