Taking a family vacation offers the only respite from day to day stress, not only for adults but for the kids as well. With everyone focused on meeting their own personal deadlines, planning a holiday together to a popular city which has interests catering to all ages, can be the key to ensuring that kids will rave about it for years to come.
Many people consider London to be expensive, but seriously, with the amazing options on offer, this mega city is actually the best value for money family destination in the world. Better still if you manage to book well in advance you can find cheap flights to London and save a bomb as a family.
Not convinced? Check out this list of things to do in London and decide for yourself.
Get a Oyster Card –
The moment you arrive using one of the several UK flights, get an Oyster travel card right at the airport itself. This smart card allows travel on all public transport in London and up to four children below 11 years can travel free when accompanied by an adult. In addition you can take part in a lot of offers at select restaurants, shops and entertainment outlets.
Things to do with the family in London –
A lifetime won’t be enough to take in all the attractions London has to offer. Having said that, in spite of being an expensive city, the best part is that entry to all public museums is free. Here are a few suggestions:
- Science Museum:(Free admission for Adults and children). There are seven floors to explore in this family friendly museum, packed with puzzles and games. Buying an Explorer pass entitles you access to IMAX cinema, Red Arrows 3D, Typhoon force simulator and Legend of Apollo.
- Museum of Natural History:( Entry free for everyone). Another amazing museum at par with the Science Museum as far as the exhibits are concerned. Possibly the best of its kind in the world, this museum features dinosaur fossils, encounter with the blue whale and other stunning displays of volcanoes, meteorites and even an earthquake simulator. You can even carry your own food and enjoy a picnic in the garden.
- Legoland: Not a cheap place to visit, but definitely worth the splurge. If you book online two days in advance you get 40% off, ideal for a family of four at £87. There are around 50 attractions here for all ages, which are all free once you have entered the park. The theme park is situated in Windsor, and can easily be the highlight of the family trip, Try to visit it on weekdays to avoid the weekend rush.
- London Duck Tours: This is undoubtedly the most unique way to explore London with kids, by traveling in a yellow distinctive WWII amphibious vessel. This sightseeing tour covers all the sights from M16 to the House of Parliament and Big Ben along the river Thames and culminates with a splashdown in the river.
- London Eye: An absolute must, with or without a family, a ride on the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe provides mind-blowing views, especially around sunset when the light is at its best. The ticket includes a short 4D presentation which features some special effects. Expect very long queues, so buy your tickets online to save time and money, since the kids are sure to get frustrated standing in a line, maybe till three hours.
- Parks and fountains: All the parks mentioned here are family friendly and admission is free. Show the kids life sized dinosaurs at Crystal Palace Park. Board a wooden pirate ship at Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground or simply take a splash in the fountains at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
- Animal attractions: These free to visit places are great fun for the entire family. Head to the St James Park to watch a variety of water birds, owls, bats etc. Spend quality time watching the pelicans being fed. More birds and butterflies are in store at Camley Street Nature Park. Allow the little ones to play with animals as you take home some special farm products at Deen City Farm and Riding School.
- London Aquarium: Located right next to the London Eye in the County Hall building, a visit to the aquarium is an extremely kid-friendly experience. In fact,two other popular attractions Shrek’s Adventure and London Dungeon are situated in the same building. The aquarium is rather compact and can be seen in about 90 minutes, which means the little ones won’t get bored. There are plenty of interactive games and other interesting exhibits, especially the shark section, which the children will enjoy.
- Hop-on-Hop-off tour: A highly recommended tour as it allows you to see the big city in comfort of a vehicle, rather than trudging up and down with kids in tow. All the landmarks and some of the lesser known spots are identified on the tour. Moreover, you can get off and explore and then get on again. Opt for the Original Tour which includes a free kids London Activity pack. Included in the ticket is a river cruise, which highlights the city from a different perspective.
- Main landmarks: No trip to London could be deemed complete without seeing the many iconic landmarks of the city. The children will marvel at the Big Ben and get impressed by the Tower Bridge. Other sights include Westminster Abbey, Royal Guards, St Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and last but not the least Buckingham Palace.
- Family musical performance: London is known for the excellent family-friendly musicals, and at least one performance should be on the bucket list of any visiting family. Some of the well known ones like Alladin, Lion King, Matilda etc are evergreen. Book in advance, because the ring side seats get snapped up fast.
Of all the cities in the world, London has to be the pick of the lot when it comes to a wealth of things to do, and that too mostly free. London can be expensive, but planning and research can solve that to a large extent. It is no surprise, therefore, that families always love heading back to this children’s paradise again and again.