Planning a quick family getaway to London? Our tips for a weekend in London with children are here to help you put together an action-packed trip that will leave everyone satisfied, from toddlers and small children to teens and adults. With the wide variety of events and sights available in the capital, there’s no reason for anyone to feel out. Read on and let our guide to a weekend in London with kids help you organise the perfect visit to the Big Smoke!
Guide to a weekend in London with kids
In this guide
- Stay at a family-friendly hotel
- Enjoy a meal at a family-friendly restaurant
- See the major sights
- Do some fun learning
- Get in touch with nature
- Do some shopping
- Watch a spectacular show
- Read a bedtime story
Stay at a family-friendly hotel
Nap at Kip
An affordable hotel in Hackney that’s especially convenient for visitors to East London, Kip offers a comfy, stylish setting with monochrome colour schemes and smart TVs. The special Family room is designed to make sharing a space with the kids a pleasure instead of a chore. It includes a king-size double bed and a bunk-bed annexe, with a baby cot available on demand as well.
Sleep on your own schedule
Spread across four attractive white townhouses, The W14 in Kensington offers comfy contemporary accommodation and useful amenities. The family rooms at this stylish hotel will make parents feel pampered, yet still feel cosy to kids. You can even book a room here just for daytime use, perfect for a quick nap or an extra couple of hours of shut-eye for a sleep-deprived parent.
Royal family treatment
A lavish hotel with views of Buckingham Palace, The Rubens at the Palace offers luxury amenities to all its guests, but pays special attention to small children. The hotel provides baby cots, night lights, bath toys and more for the littlest ones, while older children get their own check-in, cookie-and-milk turndown service, board games, books and more. Babysitting services are available as well, and the broad range of rooms and interconnecting options ensures the right fit for families of all sizes.
Enjoy a meal at a family-friendly restaurant
Mini pizzas for kids
When it comes to feeding a hungry kid, it’s hard to go wrong with pizza. There are many pizza parlours you can pop into throughout the city, but the comfortingly named Mamma Dough deserves special mention for its dedicated children’s menu. Kids can choose their own toppings and get perfectly sized mini pizzas, while parents will enjoy the variety of the toppings and the laid-back vibe.
Bustronome combines gourmet cuisine with sightseeing, providing a great experience for the whole family and letting you squeeze a little more time out of your weekend. While driving around the capital on a double-decker bus and taking in all of London’s exciting sights, kids and parents alike can enjoy a refined three-course lunch or dinner. The bus has a unique glass roof, so bad weather won’t stand a chance of dampening the tour. You can even hire the entire bus for special occasions.
Going out in the Big Smoke on a weekend can get pretty stressful for and with kids, so why not let someone else take a bit of the load off? On Saturdays, The Arber Garden offers a free supervised kids' table, so everyone can enjoy their meal in peace. The menu at this family-friendly pub features contemporary British and European dishes, accompanied by a vast drinks range. A serene garden is also available.
Interactive DIY cooking
The charming Kintan restaurants lets both kids and adults get involved in the cooking and have fun preparing their food. You can choose individual items or platters for up to six at this Japanese restaurant, then grill the dishes on your own on the smokeless table-side roasters at the table.
Plant-based burger joint
For a quick and guilt-free meal, plant-based families can stop by The Vurger Co. The award-winning enterprise serves generous vegan burgers, salad bowls and various sides, in a bright, contemporary interior. The environmentally conscious eatery hasn't forgotten about children, either, with a kids' club box that includes a main dish, side and drink available as well.
See the major sights
The home of the Royal Family
One of London’s must-see landmarks and the world’s most famous palace, Buckingham Palace fires up kids’ imaginations with visions of kings and queens. The world-famous changing of the guard is another highlight, and you can also pay a visit to the State Rooms and bask in the opulence. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a real-life prince or princess rolling up.
Learning about important historical events is sure to be more fun when it takes place in a grand medieval fortress, with guards traipsing around the castle grounds, impressive armour and weaponry on display and interactive exhibits ready to be activated. Not to mention the stunning Crown Jewels, of course. Different tours, events and immersive experiences are available as well.
The capital's iconic wheel
Duck into one of the pods at this famous observation wheel for a peaceful break from the capital’s hubbub and a chance to see the city from a different angle. The London Eye draws millions of visitors each year, eager for a leisurely yet thrilling turn around the wheel. Even just walking by and taking in the signature riverside vista can be a cherished memory forever.
Do some fun learning
Dinosaurs for days
With plenty of dinosaur bones on display, as well as animals of all sorts and sizes, fascinating plant exhibits and more, children of all ages are sure to lose track of time at this landmark museum. Special child-oriented events and tours are available as well. Best of all, the main exhibitions of the museum are completely free of charge.
Another of London’s excellent free museums, the Science Museum is the most visited such establishment in Europe. It houses more than 15,000 unique objects from Earth and beyond. Its interactive galleries and award-winning exhibits will keep children and adults alike entertained for hours, with plenty of fascinating new facts learned in the process.
Uncovering the transport network's secrets
Sure to astound and delight any vehicle-minded kids, the London Transport Museum presents the past, present and future of the city’s lifeblood. The award-winning museum not only features an abundance of fascinating exhibits, it also hosts events for families throughout the year, including creative activities, singing and story sessions for under-fives and more.
Get in touch with nature
Farm animals up close
At this working urban farm, children can get close to farm animals and learn some excellent lessons about the natural world. Bethnal Green’s Hackney City Farm also teaches about farm life and how to live life with a minimal environmental impact, useful skills in both the short and the long run. If snacks are needed, the farmyard shop is well-stocked with homemade goodies.
Romping around Narnia
A wild oasis just a few stops from London’s busiest area, Hampstead Heath offers 800 acres of woodland, meadows, ponds and paths. It inspired The Chronicles of Narnia and has plenty of areas where kids can run wild while you enjoy a leisurely stroll or prepare a nice picnic lunch. The panoramic view from the top of Parliament Hill is splendid, and during summer you can even take a dip in the Hampstead Ponds.
A stroll in the park
There’s no shortage of parks in London, but we’re singling out Crystal Palace Park for its famous Victorian dinosaur sculptures. They might be scientifically inaccurate, but nestled in this popular green space, they still make for quite the sight. Strolling around the park, you might also come up on one of the largest hedge mazes in the UK.
Do some shopping
The largest and oldest toy store in the world
A paradise for kids of all ages, this globally famous store is considered to be the oldest toy shop in the world. People travel from all over to visit the iconic flagship location on Regent Street, where you can explore seven floors of toys, books, dolls, puzzles, action games, crafts and more. A party room, cake and sweet shops, and various events are also part of the regular offer. Hamleys also has several other branches around the city.
Ethical clothes and toys
An inclusive boutique that offers ethical, natural clothing and gifts for small children, you’re unlikely to find Babatalco’s carefully curated and delicately crafted items on the high street. Stocking quality unisex clothing, accessories and wooden toys, the shop works with small suppliers to source ethically manufactured products, made using natural materials.
Unique gifts for the living, dead and undead
Once you see the old-fashioned shelves stacked full of everything you never knew you needed, such as bottled London smog or a vague sense of unease in a tin, you’ll understand how this shop has been around since 1818. Pick up treats and gifts for adults and kids, from sweet marshmallow brain food and rocket-fuelled coffee beans to elegant quill pens and quirky travel guides. Staffed entirely by volunteers, the shop also helps young local people develop their confidence and imagination through writing.
Bringing a classic to life
As family games go, Monopoly is a classic. Monopoly Lifesized takes the boardgame experience and supersizes it, letting players unleash their competitive side as they move around a life-sized game field. By completing challenges, they earn cash for their empire to grow. The experience is suitable for ages nine and over, and afterwards you can relax with a drink or a meal at the on-site bar and restaurant.
Gaming fun for the whole fam
Those who enjoy the trappings of the digital age can lose themselves in the world of immersive gaming offered by Immersive Gamebox. Book a private box with motion tracking, projection mapping, touch screens and surround sound and press start. The games library at immersive Gamebox spans a range of titles suitable for all ages, starting with Junior games for ages five–10, with games designed especially for families available as well.
An interactive city purpose-built for children, KidZania educates children about adulting through hands-on play and exploration. There’s a range of occupations to learn about, with kids able to roleplay anything from an airline pilot or surgeon to a firefighter or radio DJ. The city is intended for children ages four–14, but younger toddlers can get in on the fun in special areas as well.
Watch a spectacular show
Get to know the witches of Oz
There are plenty of family-friendly musicals and shows to be found in London’s famed West End, but we’re giving the nod to Wicked, and not just so that parents don’t have to hear Let It Go off the Frozen soundtrack yet again. One of the most successful musicals in history, Wicked expands on beloved classic The Wizard of Oz and is a thrilling production that will suit all ages. Its permanent home is at the majestic Apollo Victoria Theatre, an Art Deco masterpiece.
Leading theatre for young people
Creating inventive and exciting productions and participatory experiences for kids of all ages, the Unicorn Theatre has established itself as the country’s leading theatre for young audiences. Committed to diversity, inclusivity and accessibility, the theatre welcomes all and often collaborates with schools and communities to educate and spread the love of performing arts.
Introduce younglings to the Bard
A reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, where the most famous playwright in history staged his works, Shakespeare’s Globe offers a regular programme of the Bard’s works. While a no-holds-barred rendition of Hamlet might be a bit much for little ones, the theatre hosts shows, workshops and other activities designed especially for children. Relaxed shows are available as well, and all the public spaces are accessible by pram.
Read a bedtime story
Lewis Carroll’s Alice and her adventures have inspired countless generations. The Alice Through the Looking Glass bookshop sells iconography related to the author’s beloved world, as well as first editions and other rarities that can make for a treasured keepsake. There’s also a museum section with Alice-related cultural artefacts that you can view in person by appointment, and the store itself sits in one of the streets that inspired Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.
Home of the Ninth Art
Gosh! Comics’ window display is sure to catch the eye of adults and children alike as they’re making their way around Soho. This corner comic chop has been around for more than 35 years, its basement and walls stacked full of colourful graphic novels and assorted comic book paraphernalia. From limited editions to the latest releases, there’s something to be found here by readers of all ages and skill levels.