London Things to Do

Table of Contents

Things to do in London as a family  

Enjoy one of the London parks 

For being a busy nation’s capital, London does incredibly well on a “green side”. Soft grass, leafy trees and bushes, abundance of flowers and wildlife make London parks perfect for taking a nap, escaping the noise, slowing down and exploring. Have a picnic, admire the symbols of England in The Rose Garden and try to spot a black swan in Hyde Park. Feed the cheeky squirrels, admire the Victorian splendour of the Albert Memorial, and bury your feet in the sand in Diana Memorial playground in Kensington Gardens. Marvel at the regal peacocks, find your inner zen in Kyoto Gardens and eat an ice-cream in Holland Park. The peaceful Green Park across Mayfair, bloomy St.James Park with its pelicans and the views on Buckingham Palace, the elegant Regent’s Park with its lovely Boating lake and pedalo hire are just a few more green heavens to mention. Every London park has something unique to offer to everyone. 

Explore London by transport

London’s sightseeing can be overwhelming, especially with children, as there’s so much to see! Jump on one of the iconic red double-decker Hop On Hop Off buses that will take you through the key landmarks of the British capital and enjoy the ride. 

Exploring the city by water is an exciting way to see the best of London with a family. Thames River Cruise will transport you from Westminster Pier as far south-east as Greenwich. Sit back, count the iconic bridges, spot the cheeky seagulls and sip on refreshments from the boat's cafe.  

Iconic London Underground, or Tube as locals call it, was featured in James Bond classics Skyfall and Die Another Day for a reason. It is the fastest way to move around the British capital! Seventy of its 272 stations, including its new addition Elizabeth line, are buildings of historical interest. But be smart and avoid the tube during the rush hour. 

Postcard-friendly spacious taxis, or simply black cabs are easily available in London downtown. They are a great way to reach your destination. These family-friendly 6-seaters can nowadays be booked for the sightseeing tours too. 

Head to London’s West End to to see a show 

Home to some 40 theatres in total, London’s West End is unmissable for its neon signs, flashy billboards, long queues and inspired, smartly dressed audience. It offers world-class, critically-acclaimed musicals, comedies and classic plays for the whole family all year around. Sing along to the famous tunes from Mary Poppins, world's most famous flying nanny, in Prince Edward Theatre. Submerge in the world of wizardry and magic in the most awarded new play in history Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in The Palace Theatre. Treat the whole family with a delightful story by one of the world’s most celebrated children’s authors Roald Dahl Matilda The Musical in Cambridge Theatre. Get transported to the heart of the African Pridelands by the stunning effects, excellent performance and the enchanting Elton John’s music with The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. These are just a few of many wonderful shows to be seen! London West End productions are incredibly popular and it is recommended to book the tickets well in advance. 

Shop for London souvenirs, eat and explore in Harrods 

Knightsbridge-based Harrods is one of the largest and most famous department stores in the world. Just a few minutes walk from Hyde park, this London landmark housed in a historical building is a must-visit when in London.

Harrods dates back to 1824 when 25-year old Charles Harrod first established his business. The enterprise went through all sorts of ups and downs until eventually becoming an ultimate shopping destination for the British and international elite, from the royal family to celebrities such as Oscar Wilde, Charlie Chaplin, Sigmund Freud and others. 

Harrods today is a home to seven floors of luxury and over 5,000 brands. The store also features two memorials dedicated to Diana, Princess of Wales. 

Despite Harrods’ reputation as a luxury shopping destination, it offers excellent quality goods and excellent souvenirs for any budget. Adorable Guardsmen bears in bear caps and stuffed corgis, British Monarchy souvenir spoons and delicate Victorian era-inspired china teacups with saucers, cute London-themed tote bags and handmade cashmere beanies, teas, biscuits and chocolates in cute tins are just a few little treasures that will help you bring a little piece of London back home. 

Indulge in Art in The National Gallery 

Britain's endless source of pride, the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square is home to 2,300 iconic paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. A sizable free to visit space for art with 66 rooms full of history, inspiration and timeless mastery, the National Gallery is a place you cannot miss in London.

The artists whose works are exhibited in the National Gallery are the real A-listers of visual arts. They include Italians Botticelli and Da Vinci, Caravaggio and Rafael, Dutchmen Rembrandt and Van Gogh, French impressionists Monet and Cezanne, and many others. 

If you visit with a family, keep in mind that small children can get restless in the rooms like dimly lit Dutch Portraiture. Think gloomy faces staring at you from the paintings and total lack of freedom to run around. Speed up to the rooms 43 and 44, where the impressionism brings in the colour and brightens the mood. Take a tasty break in one of the museum cafes. The curated museum shop is perfect for local and art-themed souvenir shopping. It also sells quality reproductions and excellent children’s books. 

Learn How Britain Ruled the Seas in the birthplace of GMT Greenwich 

A trip to vibrant Greenwich is a day full of adventures. Maritime Greenwich is a World Heritage Site. It combines human achievements in science, architecture, naval engineering, astronomy, navigation, time-keeping and art to tell us a story of how Britain dominated the seas. Home to the Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), this history-rich maritime hub on the Thames is where the eastern and western hemispheres meet. 

Pick one of the family trails from the "Play and Explore" trolley and discover objects, stories and people. Stoke the boiler of a steamship. Buy and sell fish in the marketplace. Tour the Universe at London's only Planetarium and enjoy many more family-friendly activities in the National Maritime Museum. Or why not climb aboard Cutty Sark? The fastest of its time, this historic sailing ship invites you to look around and meet the cast of its colourful characters. Play interactive games and see how the crew lived and worked at sea. For some extra thrill, you can even climb the rig of Cutty Sark! 

General admission to Greenwich Museums is free. Some exhibitions and shows need to be booked separately.

Saturday is the best day  

Take a selfie next to Queen Elizabeth II or Lady Gaga in Madame Tussauds museum

Located on Baker street, this wax A-listers-dense museum is a top place for big laughs and selfies to envy. Museum’s impressive collection includes British movie stars like Bondiana-famous Daniel Craig, the one and only Dominic Cumberbatch and Titanic-darling Kate Winslet. You will also find an impressive squad of sports celebrities, the British royalty and some of the best and worst political leaders and historical characters. The wax copies are so good that some say they are better than the originals! Marvel fans will be happy to see many of their favourite superheroes ready for action and lined up for selfies.  

The Sherlock Holmes Museum and leafy green Regents Park are a stone’s throw away from Madame Tussauds. 

Out of ideas for what else to do in London? Dig into the local produce and vintage finds in one of the historical London markets. The Borough Market at the foot of London Bridge, Saturday Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill, and unconventional Camden Market are just a few to list. Count dinosaur bones and get frightened by the life-size moving T-Rex in the Natural History Museum. Or spoil the whole family with a tour to the Warner Bros. Studio London and discover the magic behind “The Making of Harry Potter”. As we say, London has something unique to offer to everyone. 

10 must-visit places in London 

1.     Buckingham Palace 

A grand royal residence with 775 magnificent rooms, Buckingham Palace is the Queen's London home, a busy headquarters hosting the world leaders, and an absolute must-see for every visitor of the British capital. Located next to Green Park and St James Park and overlooking the Queen Victoria Memorial, this iconic palace has one of the most famous balconies in the world.

Changing the Guard, a traditional 45-minute long ceremony where The Queen's Guard hands over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace to the New Guard, is performed by the active infantry soldiers marching foot to foot, dressed in postcard-looking scarlet coats and bearskin caps, with musical support from a Regimental Band or Corps of Drums and sometimes pipers. 

Buckingham Palace is open to the public during the summer months and for a limited number of tours in December, January and Easter. Changing the Guard can be seen daily in June and July, and on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from August till May. The ceremony starts at 11am and is free of charge.

2. The Tower of London 

There is no other place in London as soaked in history and as full of fascinating tales of the British royals, love and hate, intrigue and treason, imprisonment and torture, as the Tower of London. A fortress, palace and once a prison, it is also a home to the magnificent Crown Jewels collection, the powerful symbols of the British Monarchy. 

It is said that the United Kingdom and the Tower of London will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the Tower of London. There are nine ravens there today. Yeoman Warders, or "Beefeaters", once the Royal Bodyguards, dressed in splendid dark blue and red uniforms, greet the visitors all year around to share incredible stories not just about the legendary birds, but also the Tower’s  famous masters and prisoners from one thousand years of history. 

3. The London Eye 

The London Eye is Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel and a must-experience for children and adults alike. Located on the South Bank of the River Thames, across the bridge from Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and the world-famous tower clock Big Ben, the London Eye is one of the most iconic attractions in Britain. A 30-minute journey on this whopping 135-metre high wheel offers mind-blowing views of Buckingham Palace, the futuristic skyscrapers of London’s financial district City, the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, historic Tower Bridge and a lot more. The London Eye is incredibly popular amongst tourists any season, and the queues can be overwhelming. It is strongly recommended to purchase tickets online, with the fast-track option being well worth the money. 

4. London Transport Museum 

London’s means of transport made it to the gift shop postcards and became the symbols of the British world, and there is no better place to explore it than the London Transport Museum. Located in the vibrant West End neighbourhood Covent Garden famous for its indie shops, theatres and street entertainment, this unique museum features over 200 years of transport history. The rich collection ranges from elegant Victorian carriages to the iconic modern-day black cab and a red double-decker bus. It demonstrates how London’s growth, culture and people have been entwined with its transport system over the centuries. Children-friendly and fun for the grownups, this action-packed museum, its lovely shop and its cute upstairs restaurant will win the hearts of the whole family. 

Tickets to the London Transport Museum are to be purchased in advance, and the entrance is free for children. 

5. Hyde Park 

It is impossible to imagine London without Hyde Park, the city’s vital green lung where tourists and residents come to escape the city buzz and enjoy peace and quiet. 350-acres leafy heaven offers as much refuge as it does entertainment for the whole family. Challenge yourself to an open swim in the summer in Serpentine Lido or rent a family pedal boat all year around. Relax in one of the idyllic cafes with excellent ice-cream and picturesque views. Dip your toes in the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. Engage in active family fun in Hyde Park Tennis and Sports Hub. Walking, jogging, cycling and even horse-riding friendly Hyde Park has an intellectual vibe too. Speaker’s Corner, located in the North East corner of the park near the Marble Arch, is the oldest living free speech platform in the world. If you come there at about midday on Sunday, you will be able to witness the debates that often last until long after dark.

6. Trafalgar Square 

Trafalgar Square is surrounded by the splendid National Gallery to the north, the elegant Strand to the east, the busy Whitehall to the south and the Admiralty Arch and Mall to the south-west. It also lies a stone's throw away from Leicester Square, famous for its red-carpet movie premieres,  Piccadilly Circus with its popular status to Eros, and tastebuds-tempting Chinatown. Thanks to its unique location, Trafalgar Square seems like the centre of everything in London downtown. Similar to Times Square in New York, this London landmark is a natural meeting place for public gatherings and cultural and religious celebrations. Be it Christmas Carol singing, Chinese New Year, Eid, Diwali or a football championship, the locals know where to go to spread the joy.

Trafalgar Square is named after the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars. The centrepiece is a statue of a war hero Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, the 5-metre-tall Nelson’s Column. It is "protected" by four bronze lions beloved by the tourists and the locals. The nearby fountains feature dolphins, mermaids and tritons and look spectacular when illuminated with LED lights at night.

7. Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament 

Big Ben is the world’s most photographed clock tower and a must-see landmark for anyone visiting London. Located on the banks of the River Thames in Westminster, it is a part of the northern end of the stunning Gothic-style Houses of Parliament. The origins of the name of this renowned 96-metre-tall clock are unclear. Some say it was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, who oversaw its installation. Others insist that the heavyweight boxing champion Benjamin Caunt was the inspiration. Even though it was renamed the Elizabeth Tower in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, Big Ben’s memorable name is not going anywhere. The legendary clock has seen six monarchs and 41 prime ministers since its bells first struck and is still counting. 

The tower clock is currently closed to the visitors due to the conservation works and is expected to reopen later in 2022. But the Houses of Parliament can be explored with family-friendly tours throughout the year. 

8. Hamleys on Regent Street

Hamleys is a dream destination for the whole family. And it is not all about shopping but plenty of history too. The world’s oldest toy store, Hamleys was founded by an Englishman William Hamley back in 1760. Located in High Holborn first, the store moved to the fashion paradise Regent Street in London's West End in 1881. The multibrand play heaven now occupies a staggering seven floors of toys, games, crafts and activities.

Hamleys is famous for its friendly atmosphere and in-store entertainment. It is not unusual to see the staff dressed as cartoon characters or superheroes, singing and dancing. Live toy and game demonstrations spread a lot of excitement amongst the little ones too. A soft bear-building workshop, selfie-friendly Lego lifesize characters and even an ice-cream kiosk are just a few things that make Hamleys so special.

9. The London Dungeon 

The London Dungeon on Thames South Bank is all about London’s dark but incredibly entertaining past full of witch hunts and unsolved mysteries, the plague and bloodthirsty kings, torture and executions. It is a good thing the spookiness is served with a generous amount of humour. Recreating the various events from the last millennium with a mixture of live actors, special effects and rides, the London Dungeon offers a unique, chilling, sensory and memorable experience. It is scary yet funny. You learn and laugh as amusing infamous characters from the “bad old days” such as Jack the Ripper or Henry VIII come to life before you. 

The London Dungeon is recommended for families with older children as it gets very dark, smelly, with occasional loud noises inside. Younger children are welcome to join the thrill as long as they are accompanied by the grownups. 

10. The Museum of London

Want to know what Roman Londinium is or how the Great Fire of London started? No place tells the story of Britain's capital and its people as colourfully and eloquently as the Museum of London. Free, spacious, family-friendly, it documents 450,000 years of London’s history, from the prehistoric to modern times. This family-friendly hidden gem is currently the largest urban history collection in the world, with more than six million objects. 

The Museum of London is conveniently located a few minutes away from the river bank and St Paul's Cathedral. The building overlooks the remains of the Roman city wall and the City of London, the oldest part of the capital and now its main financial district. 

The museum is free to visit. The tickets have to be pre-booked.

Top 10 places to eat out in London 

The Ivy Kensington Brasserie, 96 Kensington High Street, London W8 4SG

Elegant and stylish, The Ivy Kensington Brasserie is a reliable place for sophisticated and relaxed all-day a la carte dining. From modern British classics to Asian-inspired cuisine and fantastic vegan and vegetarian dishes, the Ivy promises that everyone will find something on the menu to love. The Ivy is located in a prominent area of South Kensington, a few steps away from the vast greenery of Kensington Gardens, next to the luxury boutiques of Kensington High Street, and a stone’s throw from The Royal Albert Hall and the Design Museum

Caldesi in Marylebone, 118 Marylebone Lane, London W1

If you want to taste authentic Italian regional cuisine in London, Caldesi is the place. This family-owned restaurant was founded by Tuscan-born celebrity chef and restaurateur Giancarlo Caldesi. Located in a beautiful neighbourhood just off Oxford Street, this "Little Corner of Italy in Marylebone" knows how to feed a family. The menu includes fresh antipasti, Apulian Burrata, homemade pasta with low-carb options, excellent choice of fish and Giancarlo’s Tiramisu to die for. According to the owner, the restaurant uses only the finest artisan Italian produce and seasonal ingredients to create the true tastes of Italy.

Din Tai Fung, Selfridges, 4th floor, 400 Oxford St, Duke St, London W1A 1AB

This Chinese restaurant with an inspiring story behind is conveniently located inside Selfridges department store on Oxford street. World-famous for its Xiao Long Bao, a steamed soup dumplings, this Asian restaurant is exotic yet feels like home. Din Tai Fung prides itself in exceptional Chinese culinary craftsmanship applied to every dish. Din Tai Fung's dumplings are hand-made with juicy minced meat, wrapped in a delicate dough skin, pleated, twisted, and then steamed. The menu also includes traditional Shanghainese drunken chicken, mouth-watering steamed buns and noodles and delicious creative desserts where the East meets the West. Every fish is made fresh and is served in minutes. 

The Shed, 122 Palace Gardens Terrace, Kensington W8 4RT 

The Shed is a great place to experience the finest traditions of modern British cookery. Its sustainable farm-to-fork approach brings a slice of the Sussex countryside to London’s cosmopolitan Notting Hill. The menu champions hyper-seasonal produce and uses wild, foraged, and locally grown ingredients with a zero-waste focus. The sustainable livestock from the Gladwin farm in West Sussex provides fresh produce for the meat dishes. 

The restaurant's eclectic, atmospheric interior is perfect for quick eats over lunch and an exciting dinner with friends and family. The "Local & Wild"creative tasting menu is a six-course culinary journey through the English countryside and coast, and is well worth the money. That journey is better be taken on a covered outdoor terrace where you can experience British summer without dire consequences.

Yalla Yalla, 1 Green’s Ct, Soho, London W1F 0HA 

Yalla Yalla is inspired by the Middle Eastern generosity and the hospitality of Arabic homes. This beautifully decorated authentic restaurant brings delicious flavours and wonders of Lebanese cuisine to vibrant and liberal Soho. Yalla Yalla prides itself in only using traditional, time-honoured recipes, passed down through generations and perfected along the way, as well as fresh, locally supplied produce. The restaurant is a natural family choice for big lunches and dinners in downtown London.

The menu includes little plates of tempting mezze, which is a great way to kick off the meal. A generous feast of grilled meat and vegetables, cooked over the coals until tender, continues the mouth-watering journey. Heavenly crisp Lebanese baklava, filled with nuts and dripping in syrup, is a great way to finish the meal. 

Maison Francois, 34 Duke Street St James's, SW1Y 6DF

Maison Francois is a hidden gem in the heart of St James’s, the famous headquarters of the British aristocracy and gentlemen's clubs. This new family-friendly restaurant brings the best of French dining to London.

Classics such as pâté en croûte maison, entrecôte de boeuf au poivre, moules marinière, poulet rôti, freshly baked bread and airy pastries are made to perfection, transporting guests to the grand brasseries of Paris. The dessert trolley with its delicious macarons, little gateau, créme caramel and other fancies is nothing short of a culinary art collection. 

Maison Francois is perfect for a refined lunch or dinner. It is also a good choice for a relaxing breakfast. The chef promises to spoil you rotten with his out-of-this-world buttery croissants. The food is served all day.

Franco Manca Soho, 51 Berwick St, London W1F 8SJ

Doesn’t it smell like pizza? Family-favourite Franco Manca is a casual no-pressure restaurant located in bohemian Soho with its indie boutiques, plenty to explore and raise eyebrows at. Franco Manca is London-famous for its heavenly sourdough pizza, which hungry locals have been eating since 2008. Franco Manca champions slow-rising sourdough guilty pleasure and only favours properly-sourced produce from small suppliers and seasonal ingredients. You get plenty of freedom to build your own pizza, which is always great for the fussy eaters, big or small. The menu also includes excellent vegetarian salads, with unmissable Italian Mozzarella and Burrata. The vegan and gluten-free options are carefully thought through, and the Italian sorbets are simply irresistible. 

Gaucho, 25 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4QR 

Gaucho occupies a beautiful townhouse just off Regent Street and Picadilly. This luxury and stylish Argentinian restaurant invokes the true spirit of fine South-American dining in London's West End. The impressive interior, housed over three stories of the former home of the Spanish Ambassador, is inspired by the warm culture of Buenos Aires. The menu features impeccable steaks made of premium Argentinian beef from selected, sustainable farms. The meat connoisseurs might want to take note that Gaucho's Black-Angus cattle are fed on seventeen different types of grass from the Pampas provinces, with everything they eat being 100% natural. But Gaucho is not all meat, meat, meat! There are plenty of options for vegetarians too, and the children's menu has plenty of interesting choices. 

Poppie’s Fish & Chips Soho, 55-59 Old Compton St, London W1D 6HW

You cannot visit London and not indulge yourself and your loved ones in world-renowned fish & chips. The locals’ favourite, it became a symbol of British culture as much as its afternoon tea. Poppie’s Fish & Chips is a little wonder that seems to have frozen in time. Dining there is an experience with retro vibes and iconic looks from the decades and even the waiters’ uniforms channel a 1950s vibe.

The fish served in Poppie’s is prepared on-site by the restaurant’s own in-house fishmonger and supplied locally. Besides mouth-watering fish & chips, so loved by the children, the menu includes calamari, scampi and shrimps for starters and a wide selection of traditional British sides. 

Oblix at the Shard, Level 32, The Shard, 31 St. Thomas Street, London SE1 9RY

Did someone say Afternoon Tea? Also referred to as high tea, this old British tradition can hardly go any higher than the 32nd floor of an iconic London skyscraper. The Shard is the tallest building in the United Kingdom and the seventh-tallest building in Europe, well-placed a few steps away from the London Bridge. Skyscraper's Oblix East serves a three-tier platter of pure heaven with a chance to explore the endless London skyline and a modern twist on traditional English classics. The smoked salmon, cream cheese & rye, free range egg & truffle, Angus beef & horseradish sandwiches on the bottom platter are followed by the freshly baked English scones on the middle platter. The ceremony finishes with the sweet hors d’oeuvres such as raspberry & pistachio financier and coconut & pineapple tart on the top platter.

The afternoon tea in Oblix East is served exclusively between 12pm and 4pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Middle East