3 Perfect Days in London (with Kids!): Itinerary

London is truly one of the very best places to travel with little ones - there are just so many fun things to do in London with kids! And there is so much variety - everything from world-class museums to outdoor space to live theater, much of which is free.

                                                  

We loved being there this summer, and spent 6 glorious days barely scratching the surface of that incredible city. Still, I find three days is often the amount of time people have if they're traveling through Europe, or want to venture out to other parts of the UK. So it's a great starting point for seeing some of London's highlights with kids!

Keep reading for a London itinerary for three pretty fantastic days there with kids - and some suggestions for extra days if you have them!


DAY 1 IN LONDON


  • Kensington Palace
  • Princess Diana Playground
  • Kensington Gardens/Peter Pan Statue/Parakeets/Hyde Park
  • Afternoon Tea
(Grab some food for a picnic this morning before heading out! Also, if your kids have a tendency to want to get wet and sandy, a change of clothes might be a good thing to take along, as well.)

Kick things off while kids are fresh with a dose of British royalty by heading to Kensington Palace. Kids will love all the little activities they have inside, including some little toys like those enjoyed by Queen Victoria. The Princess Diana exhibit is dreamy with all her beautiful outfits, so this will be especially fun if you have some little fashionistas!

(Tip: If you're traveling as a family and plan to visit this and even one other attraction on the list of Historic Royal Palaces, it may be worth it to get an annual pass.)


After leaving the palace, pull out your picnic. There are lots of beautiful places to sit and enjoy in nice weather!

From there, take a short walk to the Diana, Princess of Wales' Memorial Playground. You could easily spend hours here - it's multiple playgrounds within a single complex. There's a giant ship, sand areas, a tiny stream, and tons more. Beware that it can get quite busy, and the lines to enter can get long (although we were there on a sunny day in July and didn't have to wait at all so...who knows?).

                                             

After that, take a stroll through Kensington Gardens. Be sure to stop at the Peter Pan statue, as well as to see the parakeets who flock around you! My kids were mildly terrified at first but quickly found it was a delight. Consider crossing over to Hyde Park, as well; if it's summertime, you could even rent a pedal boat or rowboat!


After that, head to a late afternoon tea. Many places serve until 5pm, and some do until 7! I recommend going around 4:30 or 5 with young kids - you'll miss the earlier rush and most people won't be bothered if you're not completely silent. Plus, then it doubles as an early dinner, and your exhausted kiddos can go back and head straight to bed. Some have a stricter dress code, but others aren't that particular - be sure to check at your location. Kensington Palace itself hosts one in the gorgeous Sunken Gardens, and many hotels do, as well. We loved the one we did at Fortnum & Mason, and the food hall is spectacular! Wherever you go, be sure to check if they have a children's tea, and the ages for which they charge.



DAY 2 IN LONDON

  • British Museum
  • Transport Museum
  • Savory Pies
  • National Gallery
  • Houses of Parliament/Big Ben/Westminster Abbey
  • Buckingham Palace and/or London Eye

Start out the day by heading in for a brief visit at the British Museum; seeing the original Rosetta Stone is truly awe-inspiring. There are so many treasures there that it would be impossible to see them all, but they have multiple highlights tours so you can spend anywhere from half an hour to 6 months. I'd recommend keeping it brief (30-60 minutes) to see the incredible building and just a couple highlights before heading to your next stop.

                                        

After that quick stop, head over to the Transport Museum - any vehicle-obsessed kid's idea of heaven! There are so many fun forms of transport on display in both miniature and full-size form.

After that, head in to Admiralty's pub for lunch, which serves Fuller's Ale & Pies. My friend who lived in London says these are the best pies in London and I can't argue - they were fantastic! (Not all locations serve the pies, but this link should show the ones that do.) 


After that, pop into the National Gallery across the street, one of the most kid-friendly art museums I've ever visited. They have several self-guided highlights tours and children's tours on their website, as well as many wonderful guidebooks you can purchase in the gift shop. We got one with a brief description of pieces of art along with stickers for each one that the kids stuck on after finding it. We meant to spend half an hour here and ended up staying for 2.5 hours, but I think planning for 45 minutes-1 hour will allow you to see some of the major works. (Another option is to look into their evening hours on certain days - we loved going when it was much less crowded.)


Finally, head down to the iconic Houses of Parliament. Big Ben is currently under construction, but it's still pretty incredible to see the building on the banks of the Thames. Wander over to Westminster Abbey (we love seeing it but didn't go inside) and Buckingham Palace, or hop on the London Eye for an arial view of the city. If you're lucky, you'll catch the sun setting and casting a rosy glow on the water!




DAY 3 IN LONDON

  • Tower of London
  • Tower Bridge
  • Borough Market
  • Natural History Museum and/or Victoria & Albert Museum

Start out the day by heading to the Tower of London first thing - and be sure to get in on a Beefeaters tour! They're incredible, knowledgeable guides who are also typically terrifically entertaining. Ours was engaging with the kids and had lots of jokes, as well. Be sure to see the Crown Jewels while you're there!

After that, head over to Borough Market for lunch. You can either walk across London Bridge to get a beautiful view of Tower Bridge (about a 15 minute walk), or you can walk across Tower Bridge itself (adds about 10 minutes, but more fun, in my opinion). Once you get to the market, grab some fish & chips or browse other specialties. And don't forget to pick up some Bread Ahead doughnuts!


Next, hop on the tube over to the Natural History Museum - the building itself is spectacular, and the dino exhibit is particularly fantastic. If you have time, try to pop into the Victoria & Albert Museum across the street, which has some of the best activities for kids that we've found. You can check out backpacks related to different themes that contain written activities and multimedia (ours had an mp3 player and headphones to listen to music related to the rooms).



EXTRA DAYS

There is just SO SO much to do in London. Here are some other suggestions of the best things to do in London with toddlers and kids if you have more time!

St. Paul's Cathedral: It just about killed me to not be able to fit this into the 3-day itinerary because it was one of my favorite things, so if you can fit it in, I absolutely recommend you do. If you time it properly and your children can be reasonably quiet for about 45 minutes, Evensong is truly a celestial experience.

Harry Potter: There's tons and tons of HP stuff. You could go out of the city to the studio for a tour, you could go to Platform 9 3/4, or any number of other things. So fun.

British Library: Another one of my very favorites that I couldn't squeeze into this particular itinerary, but if you have more time, definitely make this a priority. There are just so many mind-blowing works there.

Portobello Road Market: Located near beautiful Notting Hill, this area is just fun and vibrant. I like the food better at Borough Market, but this one has a really fun atmosphere.

Churchill War Rooms: I was so disappointed we missed this when we were there. Next time!

Camden Market: Yet another fun and unique market! I love the locks near this quirky market.

Millennium Bridge & Tate Modern: Fun to walk across, and the TM also has world-class exhibits and children's programming. Right by St. Paul's.

Original and current Globe Theaters. Even if you don't see a show, it's fun seeing the sites!

Thames cruise: I think this would be a really fun way to see the city!

Theater district: London has truly fantastic live theater. If you're able to see a show, do! I think something British would be especially fun, like Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Changing of the Guard: Honestly, I find this rather dull, but if you think your kids will be fascinated by it, go for it. I'd recommend doing the Royal Mews, instead, though - it's very interesting seeing the stables!

Science Museum: This one has so many fun and interactive exhibits, and is great for a wide range of ages. It's right near the Natural History and V&A Museums.









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