London Holiday Checklist for Families
Where to go, what to see & what to bring - plan ahead with our comprehensive holiday checklist for families when visiting London.
London is a great city to visit as a family, with things to do for both adults and kids. There are plenty of fun attractions to keep children entertained - and adults are sure to enjoy themselves too. The London Pass has created a guide just for families, from which attractions to visit to how to navigate London’s public transport with kids in tow.
Top tips for families
Travelling in London can be quite intimidating at first but there are tips and tricks to help get you from A to B - with no hassle. Downloading public transport information apps is very useful - enter where you want to go and let your phone do your work for you. Transport apps are convenient for when you’re not sure if you should walk, take the bus, underground or taxi. The apps will let you know the quickest, cheapest and most convenient way of travelling. To use the bus and underground, you will need an Oyster Card. Top up at the start of the trip and pay as you go. If you have any credit left over at the end of your holiday, you can get a refund - for credit under £10 use any machine, for more than £10 visit a Travel Information desk at larger stations. And remember: kids under 11 travel for free, and up to four children can travel with one adult for free. If you are travelling by underground, try to avoid rush hour between 7:30am - 9:30am and 5:00pm - 7:00pm. If you have to travel during these times, the buses should be less crowded. If you’re travelling with a pushchair, check which stations have step-free access for hassle-free travel. For more in-depth travel advice, check out The London Pass’ travel tips.
On a day out in London, it is crucial to pack the essentials - nobody wants to trek back to the hotel to get something forgotten.
- A simple checklist would include gear to combat London’s weather, and depending on the season you should bring along: an umbrella, raincoat, gloves, hat, scarf, suncream, sunhat and sunglasses.
- Pack jumpers to layer up and always carry a spare pair of socks in case you’re caught in the rain or someone is tempted to jump in puddles.
- A must-pack item has to be a London map. If your phone runs out of battery or you’re stuck without WiFi, use an old school map to figure out how to get where you need to be. On that note, packing a small digital camera means that you won’t be stuck without any holiday snaps should your phone let you down. It might be worth bringing along a portable charger and making sure you can use your mobile in the UK to avoid any phone-related problems.
- When you’re out and about in the city, try to split your items into a couple of bags rather than carrying one big bag - some attractions and museums don’t let bigger bags in, and there might not always be a cloakroom.
- It’s important to stay hydrated when travelling, especially during the summer - the underground can get hot. Carry a reusable water bottle with you and ask to fill it at any cafe or restaurant, and keep an eye out for London’s public water fountains.
Top 10 places to visit with kids in London
When in London, you have to see a West End show. An evening at the theatre isn’t just for grown-ups - there are plenty of kid-friendly musicals showing in London right now. Take the kids to see Lion King, Aladdin or Matilda - you’ll be singing and dancing all the way home. Use The London Pass to get discounted tickets.
If Lion King inspires you to see some real big cats, head to London Zoo. Kids will love getting up close to the penguins, walking through the monkey enclosure and standing among hundreds of butterflies. There is so much to see and do in London Zoo, the only question is which animal are you going to see first?
Who said museums are boring? At The Science Museum kids will learn all about space and engineering, in a fun and interactive way. Entry to the museum is free, but if you use The London Pass, you will have entry to their IMAX cinema included. While you’re in the area, go next door to the free Natural History Museum. Experience what an earthquake feels like, visit the world’s largest collection of coloured diamonds, and see a dinosaur up close.
Kids will love discovering the gory history of the Tower of London. Unravel the mystery of the missing princes, gaze down at the infamous Traitor’s Gate and see the extraordinary crown jewels. After the Tower of London, head next door to the Tower Bridge Exhibition. Challenge yourself to walk across the glass floor - are you brave enough to look down?
Interactive walkthrough experiences
Children will love meeting the beloved characters from Shrek as they try to save the ogre himself in Shrek’s Adventure. Travel to Far Far Away on a 4D bus, meet Puss in Boots and rescue Pinocchio - all in a day’s work. For older kids, the London Bridge Experience might be more up their street. Discover the dark history of London - from witches to Jack the Ripper - before heading through The Tombs - an interactive scare maze. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but don’t worry - ask for a Guardian Angel tour for children under 11.
Go up high
See the city from a new perspective on the London Eye. Visit one of the most iconic London landmarks to get a view of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the Thames and Southbank. For another view, head up 800 feet at The Shard. Kids will love looking down at the city from so high up - London won’t seem so big! Learn more about the Shard with our travel guide.