Planning a visit to London with the kids for October half-term and wondering what to see and do?
London is a big city, and a visit with little people needs careful planning if you want to avoid the biggest mistakes many first time visitors make, which is not taking into account how much time is required to see the sights, and how long it takes to get from point A to point B in London.
From soaring over the skyline on the London Eye, to rubbing shoulders with heroes and villains at Madame Tussauds, there are hundreds of paid attractions to choose from, but today, we want to share some of the popular free attractions waiting for you in London.
London hotels and restaurants tend to be on the expensive side, but the flip side is that no city in the world has more free things to do.
Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace
No visit to London is complete without seeing Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
Our website is packed with information about the Guard Change ceremonies and ceremonial events that showcase the pomp and pageantry for which Britain is famous.
The Changing the Guard ceremony is a firm favourite with visitors of all ages but the huge crowds and long wait can make it a daunting experience for smaller people so we have added a new page to our website for the half term holiday. Visiting Changing the Guard with children.
London is home to some of the finest museums in the world, with most offering free admission, they are a great option for a rainy day.
The Natural History Museum, the British Museum, the Museum of London, the Imperial War Museum, the Science Museum and the Museum of London to name a few are all fabulous!
Check them out online to find one that suits your family, or try one of our picks:
- Science Museum – Exhibition Road in South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD
Lots of interactive exhibits to keep little people occupied
- Imperial War Museum – Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ
Huge tanks, and lots of thought-provoking exhibits that tell the story of modern warfare
- Museum of London – 150 London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN
The Lord Mayor of London’s Gold Coach, and collections from Roman to modern times bring the history of London alive
- V&A Museum of Childhood – Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA
See what the kids make of the toys you used to play with
With so many iconic landmarks, visitors to London really are spoilt for choice.
Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge, to name a few, are some of the most recognised London landmarks most visitors want to see and photograph.
To see the sights a Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour might be your best bet, although not free, these kid-friendly tours can be a lot more relaxing than running from tourist attraction to tourist attraction.
No visit to London would be complete, for little people, without popping into Hamleys the finest toy shop in the world or for Mums and Dads looking for inspiration for Christmas presents.
Hamleys on Regent Street is open 10am to 9pm Monday to Saturday and 12 to 6pm on Sundays.
London is overflowing with and exciting restaurants but fine dining and eye watering prices rarely fit the bill for a family day out.
Big name fast food chains abound, but for those looking for good food in child-friendly surroundings there are lots of hidden gems, with reasonable prices, waiting to be discovered.
Suggestions to get you searching for good food at fair prices include:
Rainforest Cafe, in the heart of the West End, is a wonderland for kids where movable creatures come to life in a living, breathing, tropical haven with waterfalls, and rainforest storms.
Where – 20 Shaftsbury Ave, Piccadilly Circus, W1D 4EU
How much –Children’s meals start at £11.50 and adults from around £12 for a two-course meal
Website – http://www.rainforestcafe.co.uk/
Inn The Park, nestling in the heart of St James’s Park, servies locally sourced classic British food. A good lunch time choice, for those who have just watched the Changing of the Guard ceremony, and want an early lunch before heading off to explore London.
Where – St James’s Park, SW1 (near Duck Island)
How much – Children’s meals start at £7.50 and main courses for adults from £15.00
Website – www.innthepark.com
Getting around London
The Tube as the quickest and easiest way to get around London and children under 11 can travel free on the Tube, DLR and London Overground services at any time as long as they are accompanied by an adult using a valid Visitor Oyster card or Travel Card ticket.
Children, buggies and escalators do not make for a relaxing day out, so downloading the Transport for London Step Free Station Guide to help find stations with step-free access, close to the attractions you plan to visit, is time well spent.
When you do get to the station look for the wider ticket barrier, marked with a blue and white disabled sign, which is normally manned by TFL staff, will after you tap your Oyster Card, let the children through.
We suggest you avoid travelling in the morning or evenings rush hours; it gets pretty manic with everyone racing to get to work or home.
Why not add your favourite attractions and kid-friendly eateries and help those visiting find the best places to go and the little tips and tricks that help you get around London with children in tow.