Keeping the kids entertained can be hard work. So we've put a list together of some things to do in London that will appeal to the whole family. From active outdoor pursuits and nature, to fun and educational museums - the city is full of adventures. We hope to help you make the most of your time in London with the kids.
Spot the sights with Big Bus Tours
Challenge the kids to the ultimate game of eye-spy on board one of our open-top bus tours. We'll take you to some of London's most famous landmarks, with our live guides pointing out hidden details and sharing secret stories about buildings like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London and St. Paul's. Our tours are a great place to begin your London day out, with convenient stops located by all the best attractions. Best of all, you can hop on and off as much you like, which means weary legs can rest without stopping the adventure!
Where: Hop on from over 50 different stops - find your closest one here
Thrill-chasing at London Dungeon
London has some 2,000 years of history behind it, and some of it is fairly dark. The London Dungeon takes you on a journey to uncover some of the city's gruesome past - bringing together an amazing cast of theatrical actors, special effects, stages, scenes and rides. This original and exciting walkthrough experience stimulates all the senses - making you feel as if you're right in the middle of history. Some parts are a little scary and can make you jump, so if you're with children under 12, visit with caution.
Where: Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 7PB
Make a pilgrimage to the Natural History Museum
Set in one of London's most stunning landmark buildings, The Natural History Museum is a cathedral to natural history, with hundreds of exciting and interactive exhibits to uncover, along with traditional Victorian displays filled with specimens from all corners of the animal, mineral and vegetable kingdom. The popular Dinosaur gallery is definitely a highlight, along with the seasonal Sensational Butterflies enclosure, Darwin Centre Cocoon and open working laboratories. Wear comfy shoes, arrive early to make the most of the day, and don't forget to check out a new inhabitant named Hope - a 126-year-old blue whale skeleton suspended in a graceful dive in the museum's great hall.
Where: Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW7 5BD
Heaven is at Hamleys
Magnificent Hamleys is the oldest toy shop in the world - founded by and named after Cornishman William Hamley in 1760. The enormous Regent Street flagship store was opened in 1881 and offers seven glorious floors, completely stuffed with action figures, soft toys, dolls, arts and crafts, and games. Talented staff demonstrate nifty toys and gadgets on every floor, and you'll find products grouped by theme. Be warned - adults are just as likely as children to be spellbound by the infinite offerings on display at Hamleys, so we recommend planning your visit with an open mind, and an open wallet! Even if you don't buy anything (which would be an absolute miracle) the demonstrations, displays and 5th-floor ice-cream parlour will make your visit well worthwhile.
Where: 188-196 Regent St, Soho, London W1B 5BT
Fact finding at Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
Love the weird and the wonderful? Not easily freaked out? Then Ripley's Believe It Or Not makes for an entertaining day. Robert Ripley dedicated himself to travelling the world to discover the unusual and the unexplained, including real shrunken heads. Inspire young minds with the different cultural practices, people, creatures, art and history on display. Need to tucker them out? The mirror maze is a challenge, the black hole will leave you spinning and the LaseRace will test your agility.
Where: The London Pavillion, 1 Piccadilly Circus, London W1J 0DA
Pollock's Toy Museum & Shop
Located on a quiet street corner in posh Fitzrovia, tiny Pollock's is charming ode to nostalgia, packed to the brim with a collection of mainly Victorian playthings, including dolls, teddy bears, tin toys, folk toys, dolls houses, puppets and toy soldiers from around the world. Go on a journey through time to revisit your own toy stories and delight your kids with playthings of the past.
Where: 1 Scala St, Bloomsbury, London W1T 2HL
Kids only at Coram's Fields Playground
Coram's Fields Playground is a wonderful retreat from the hustle and bustle of London’s streets. This little green space is a haven that includes playgrounds, sandpits and farm animals. From March until October the café and paddling pool is open. This is a real gem in Zone 1 (city centre) where you'll get to see chickens, goats, rabbits and birds. There's one catch - adults can only enter with children.
Where: 93 Guilford St, London WC1N 1DN
Wild swimming at Hampstead Heath Ponds
Hampstead Heath is a enormous park in North London covering a massive 790 acres, with thousands of trees generating a literal breath of fresh air for the city. What's more, it's a natural oasis, with a variety of open-air swimming ponds, complete with lifeguards. On a hot summer's day, this is a cool, tranquil escape from the city heat, and in winter it provides a chance for the foolhardy to prove their bravery! Keep an eye out for kingfishers, canada geese and even the resident heron. Note that the swimming ponds only permit competent swimmers aged 8+, and all children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
Where: The closest entrance to the Mixed Bathing Pond is at the Corner of East Heath Road and Downshire Hill, NW3
Finding fairytales at Kensington Gardens
Covering 242 acres (98,000 square metres), Kensington Gardens is home to Kensington Palace, the Italian Gardens, Albert Memorial, the Peter Pan statue and the Serpentine Galleries. Discover the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground - with a huge pirate ship as its centrepiece - located next to the Elfin Oak. Nearly a millennium old, this Oak stump has elves, fairies and animals carved and painted on its surface. Top it off with a visit to regal Kensington Palace - admission for children under 16 is free.
Where: Kensington Gardens, London, W2 2UH. Hop off the bus at our Kensington Palace stop.
Only the brave go Up at the O2
Up at the O2 offers a 90-minute 52-metre climb up and over the dome-shaped roof of Greenwich Peninsula's 02 Arena. Take a trip out east to experience sensational views of London from this iconic event venue. Complete safety gear hire is included with your admission ticket, along with an expert guide - with you every step of the way, pointing out all the famous sights. Note that under-18s must be accompanied by an adult, there must be one adult for every two children, and the climb is only open to kids of ages 10+ and 1.2m+ in height.
Where:Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX.
Hands-on at the Horniman Museum
Pay a visit to The Horniman Museum to meet the one tonne walrus - famously overstuffed by his Victorian taxidermist who, it's believed, had never seen anything like it. Originating as the home and private collection of Victorian tea trader Frederick Horniman, the museum is packed to the brim with curios to delight all ages, from antique musical instruments to over 250,000 natural specimens, as well as a celebrated aquarium and natural history collection. The Horniman takes an unusual, hands-on approach to exhibiting, with many objects available to pick up, play with or try on. The museum is also home to 16 acres of historic garden, featuring a beautiful Victorian conservatory, nature trails and stunning views of London.
Where: 100 London Rd, Forest Hill, London SE23 3PQ
Weird science at the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy
'Bizarre and quirky' doesn't quite sum up this extraordinary museum. It's a place for people who aren't squeamish to gawp at weird and wonderful exhibits. One of the UK's oldest natural history collections, The Grant Museum houses over 1,000 species of rare and extinct animals. It showcases a collection of alcohol-preserved brains and mammal heads, including a chimp, a seal, a red panda and an alligator. Just when you thought it couldn't get any more random - an exhibit of 18 moles in a glass jar have their own Twitter account @glassjarofmoles.
Where: 21 University St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6DE