Top Things to do in London with kids and teens (and a day trip to Stonehenge)
We had 2 weeks in London, one in April, and one in May of 2018. To be very honest, I wasn’t expecting much of the city – we tend not to enjoy much of the most highly rated places in the world – but I was wrong. London blew us off – it’s amazing and it now ranks amongst one of our favorite cities in the world.
Continue reading to see the top things to do in London with kids and teens (and a day trip to Stonehenge).
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Where to stay with kids in London
We stayed in 2 different holiday homes and they were both great.
Here’s the first one.
It’s a lovely place. The owners usually only rent a room but they’ve lent us the whole place, and they even made up a tiny bed for Coral (5) and she loved it.
It was a great place, and the best of it was the location. Within 5 minutes walking, we reached Kings Cross Station, many restaurants, St. Pancras Underground Station, and 2 supermarkets.
(If you’re new to Airbnb, click here to receive a discount on your first booking – and we receive one too, without any additional cost to you!)
The second place we rented was this one.
We loved it! It’s a super nice apartment, on the ground floor (no stairs!!! Super rare in the UK) and super close to bus stops and a subway station. And it had so many restaurants nearby!
Everything was working nicely, the beds and even the sofa bed were super comfortable, we loved it!
And the host was extremely nice, we highly recommend it!
One thing to beware when renting a holiday home in London
Due to the extremely expensive rates, sometimes we got into despair.
And we were desperate because we had the tickets for The Cursed Child (the Harry Potter play), we NEEDED to be in London for at least 2 days – 3 nights.
When we finally found a place within our budget, we sent a message asking a few questions. They replied with a new offer – on our e-mail. And received a really good rate – next to Coca-Cola London Eye and with breakfast.
We got a bit weirded since it was way too much for a lower price than most of the places we rented in South America, less than half of the price of the other holiday homes we’d found so far.
The person sent us their passport copies, a bill of the apartment, and all to prove it was there. The bill, though, was from 2016 so we asked for a more recent one. It took a while, but they sent it.
Still not believing the good deal, we Googled the name, the address, and a lot of complaints came out. It was a scam.
We reported it to Airbnb and Facebook and carried on looking for more.
How to avoid being scammed
Until a second scammer came around. The same thing, exactly the same thing, a different name, and a different address. But we were smarter now and did a quick research straight away – scam.
So, the thing is: if the deal is too good to be true, it probably is a scam. Beware.
So we’ve arrived in London! So far, all I can say is that it’s exactly as I imagined: rainy, cold, and beautiful. I wonder how many Harry Potter things we can fit in a week! Recommend something for us! ________________ Chegamos em Londres! Até agora, só posso dizer que é exatamente como a gente imaginava: chuvosa, fria e linda. Quantas coisas Harry Potter será que a gente consegue encaixar em uma semana? Deixe uma sugestão para nós! . . . #worldtripdiaries #travel #travelblog #travelblogger #travelphoto #travelphotography #travelpic #worldcaptures #travelfamily #familytravel #travelwithkids #kidstravel #instatravel #instapassport #travelgram #traveltheworld #worldtravel #iphonephoto #iphonephotography #iphonepic #uk #england #inglaterra #reinounido #london #londres #kingcrossstation
Don’t EVER contact the person outside of the Airbnb platform and don’t EVER NEVER EVER make any payments outside of Airbnb.
Make sure you also don’t pay through any links sent through e-mail or messenger apps. Always pay through the Airbnb website – and I mean to type the address on your browser as you would normally.
If in doubt, ask the staff at Airbnb on how to proceed.
Traveling to London with kids
We flew to London from Dublin (Ireland) to Heathrow. It was an easy flight, a bit delayed, but fine.
When we arrived in London, we were torn between the tube or a taxi. In the end, we decided on the taxi because of the heavy rain.
We paid £50 for the trip – a bit heavy on the pocket but it was only once. It was nearly a one-hour trip, so fair enough.
If we were a bit more courageous, we’d have gotten the metro – it’d have been just as easy because public transport is great in London. And it’d have been a lot cheaper.
Fun things to do in London for kids
I’ll list here all the non-Harry Potter things we did in London because the HP related things will come up later on.
London is AMAZING – there are all kinds of things for everyone. It’s an extremely family-friendly place to be and we fell in love!
It’s iconic and couldn’t be missed. It’s very, very pretty. You can, if you want to, also visit London Tower before or after, as they’re really close to each other.
If you can watch if open for the ships to cross, check out the schedule before heading out or wait inside the tower meanwhile!
There are many activities there for the whole family!
Walk around the Southbank
I just love me a river and the Thames is lovely – very brown and full of boats, but lovely. Not to swim in, probably.
But a walk around the area is nice. When walking around the Southbank, you can visit the Tower Bridge (above), Tate Modern Art Museum, Big Ben, London Eye and all the other over-priced tourist attractions in the neighborhood.
There are many restaurants, and when we were there, we even found a used book fair going on – many pre-loved books for a very cheap price.
You can even enjoy the skate park if you skate.
A classic, we had to see it. And we did. It was a fairly quick visit, everything was closed and there were only 2 guards on that day at the front of the building. We watched them for a little while and we got bored.
It was after a pretty long walk and, well, there was nothing going on anyway. But it’s pretty cool to see it live. Very worth the visit.
If you want a very cool market, full of buskers (and the cool floating Yoda), don’t miss it. It was very crowded when we went, and lots of fun. It’s a very pretty area, worth a walk. Even for who, like us, wasn’t going to do any shopping.
For our (bad) luck, Big Ben was under refurbishment when we were there and all we could see of it was the clock. Too bad. We really wanted to see it.
This is said to be the oldest toy store in the world. It’s also said to be where the royal family buys the toys.
There are many locations, but you want to visit the one in Regent Street. Oh, my goodness. It’s seven stores filled with the most amazing toys. We spent around 3 hours there.
The staff promoting the toys are great and make every single toy look like the best thing – and they’re great with kids. They’re a show.
If we had a bigger bag, we’d have gone home loaded.
Oh, who am I kidding? We bought a bag. But we refrained from buying too much – toys aren’t a good investment.
We just got Coral her birthday presents.
Chocolate heaven – but it actually has a lot more than chocolate. There are many clothing items and mugs. I’m a mug addict – we bought some. Well, how could I resist those M&M face mugs?
They even print your own face onto the M&M’s – if you’re willing to pay. It’s an extra £5 over the regular price (which is already expensive enough). Maybe for the fun?
We didn’t though. We’re poor enough paying for housing in London.
But the kids had so much fun there, it’s well worth a visit! It’s one of my kids’ favorite London tourist attractions for kids.
London Eye, Madam Trousseau, Shrek’s Adventure, Sea Life, London Dungeon
London Eye is London’s iconic Ferris Wheel. I hate Ferris Wheels but I was willing to ride it for the kids. The thing is… £27 per adult and £22 per child is a bit too ridiculous.
There’s the option of buying all of those attractions for £55 per adult and £40 per child. Still too expensive for us. It may be worth it if you don’t have 4 kids or if you live in the area and have the time to explore the rest of London, or if you’re rich, but honestly… we found it’s not worth it. We do a lot of things with that money.
The Ferris wheel might be good for sightseeing London with kids but £140 for 30 minutes of horror… no, thanks.
The iconic red buses
You can ride it – most of London’s public buses are red and double-decked, so you don’t need to pay a fortune to ride a special one.
The top deck sways a lot, though – not too good for the people who suffer from motion sickness… But it was fun and cheap (a single ride costs £1.50)!
Tate Modern Art Museum & Natural History Museum
We didn’t visit either – too bad for us. They’re both free entry and they are very highly rated. They’re said to be the best museums in London for kids.
We really wanted to but ended up not doing either. London has just so much to offer – it’s hard to choose.
So, yeah, don’t be like us. Just choose one thing and do it or you’ll end up not doing anything.
The best London parks for kids
Parks are always great, they’re (mostly) free to enter and a great place to have the kids run wild and burn some energy. We love them.
St. James Park
It’s close to the Buckingham Palace and huge. We had lots of fun watching the birds, the pelicans, and, of course, the squirrels.
We’d heard that the squirrels in Hyde Park are tame but we found these ones tame enough. People aren’t actually supposed to feed them, but there were loads of people feeding them – and they’d climb people to get a piece of nut. Cute.
It’s a beautiful park, great to let kids run wild.
We had so much fun there! The squirrels are adorable and super tame. Coral had so much fun playing with them. We had a few peanuts with us and they’d come to us to grab them.
The park itself is great, beautiful, and you should really visit it, even if you’re not feeding the squirrels.
Harry Potter Attractions in London
You say Harry Potter and we’re there, really. We tried to do as much as we could of the Harry Potter things during our stay! Find out more below!
The Cursed Child for kids – review
We bought the tickets online – over a year ago. Well, we are real Potterheads. So we had the dates that we had to be in London – because of the play.
Closer to your play date, they send out e-mails with the rules. And there are many rules: no outside food, no latecomers (you’re supposed to arrive around an hour earlier), no big bags (although we did see a person with a huge suitcase one day), no dangerous goods.
They do a bag inspection (a pretty meticulous one).
The Cursed Child and Platform 9 3/4 done! We’re truly enjoying London! It’s not even that cold anymore – we managed to go out not wearing our down jackets yesterday!!! ———— The Cursed Child e a Plataforma 9 3/4 feitas! A gente está se divertindo em Londres. Nem está tão frio mais! Ontem conseguimos sair sem a jaqueta de frio!!! ————- Obrigada, @moduque_br ! Thanks @familytravellife ! . . . #worldtripdiaries #travel #travelblog #travelblogger #travelphoto #travelphotography #travelpic #worldcaptures #travelfamily #familytravel #travelwithkids #kidstravel #instatravel #instapassport #travelgram #traveltheworld #worldtravel #iphonephoto #iphonephotography #iphonepic #uk #england #inglaterra #reinounido #london #londres #thecursedchild #harrypotter
There are a bar and toilets inside (the female one gets pretty crowded during the break but there’s a person from the staff directing people so it’s faster) and the show starts exactly at the appointed time.
We had the show in 2 separate days because it’d be hard on the kids and we were right: it’d be pretty hard to sit for 5 hours.
But it’s absolutely marvelous. We all loved it so much! Even 5-year-old Coral. It was so very much worth it! The 2 main characters, Albus and Scorpius, were perfect. Stunning work, everything was perfect!
If you can, go watch it!
A few tips for those going to watch The Cursed Child with kids
- Arrive early, let them adjust to the darkness, to the seat. Get them a popcorn or a drink. It’s easier to sit and take photos of the set to enjoy your time.
- At the snack bar, ask for the boosters! They’re lifesavers for the kids.
- If you can, don’t bring any bag – the line is slower than the line for the people with no bags.
- You need to go get your tickets before the show. They say on the day, but ours was printed a few days before.
- Read the book before and see if your child can handle it. The second day (or the second half) of the play is a bit darker and a bit scarier.
To buy the tickets
So, as I’ve said, we bought our tickets online when they were released. It was over a year ago and it was a shot in the dark: we’d no idea if we’d be able to make it. But we bought it anyway.
You can follow our path and buy as they release them (check their Facebook page for news and updates) or you can arrive on the day and see if they have tickets. According to the gentleman from the ticket office, there always are a few tickets left. Premium tickets, mostly, but a few people can’t make it on the day, so they try to resell them. It’s a roulette.
On Fridays, they release a few tickets for a cheaper price there, but you’ll need to be there early to grab one.
The Making of Harry Potter – Warner Bros Studios, London
Oh, we loved it!
It was great!
Not very easy to reach, but still awesome! It’s very worth all the trouble, seriously.
We left home a lot earlier because we had in mind a stop at the café before our tour (it was over 2 hours earlier than our time slot) and we arrived at the bus stop at Watford Junction 1,5 hour before our tour and the line was SUPER long.
It took us 40 minutes on the bus line. Not fun. The people organizing the line were doing a good job, but it still took way too long.
But, well, it is what it is.
A visit to the Warner Bros Studios with kids
Once we arrived there, we went to grab our tickets on the machines (tickets need to be bought beforehand) and we waited. We had around 30 minutes before our tour and it was enough time to take photos outside on the Daily Prophet walls, with the chess pieces, to go to the loo, and take some more photos around the entrance.
The kids were given some Harry Potter passports and I even got one because, you know, I needed it. You can press some emboss stamps on your passport in certain places, and it was great fun.
Looking at all the props, the filming locations, the costumes, and all the details used to make the movies – all worth it!
The tour starts with a film and a few minutes in the Great Hall – and after that, you’re free to wander around at your own pace.
You’ll have the chance to enter the Hogwarts Express, film yourself making the broomstick rise (for free) and take photos in a few other photo spots. There are also some places where you pay but you have some better photos and movies of your group in one of the scenes.
Will the kids enjoy the Warner Bros Studio Tour?
Kids will have fun, but it’s a lot like a museum. They can’t touch most of the things, and they shouldn’t run around.
We found our kids (aged 6 and over) were fine and they enjoyed it a lot – we’ve just finished rewatching the movies so they had enough to look at.
There is enough to make even the little ones happy, especially if they like Harry Potter, but it’s more geared to older kids. Tweens and teens will have a blast.
How to get there
You’ll need to take the train from Euston Station to Watford Junction (it’s around 20 minutes). We walked from Kings Cross Station to Euston (it’s less than 10 minutes walk).
At Watford Junction, there’s the bus stop that goes to the Studio. The buses are all Harry Potter themed so they’re easy to find. Just beware because the lines are long.
The bus costs £2.50 return and it’s a 15 minutes ride – there’s a short movie there showing a bit more of the Studio and the upcoming movies.
You can drive, and they offer free parking.
You can find more detailed instructions at the Warner Bros website.
Tips for your visit to Warner Bros studio
- You need to buy the tickets before! They sell out pretty fast, so buy them as soon as you can! Also, note that some days are cheaper than the others! Look for the Saver days!
- The bus line takes long and the trip costs £2.50 return or £2 one way. You CAN’T use your Oyster card there.
- We got in around 30 minutes before our actual time slot – it was an empty day, according to the staff
- You can take your own food and eat it at the tables near the café in the middle of the tour. But don’t miss the butterbeer!
- You can walk back and forth with the exception of the Great Hall. But just so, take your time and enjoy every single detail, they’re the best part of the tour!
- To emboss your passport correctly, press hard and for long. Also, make sure you only put one page of the passport at a time. If you don’t get the passport, you can emboss any other paper, but get the passport. They’re free.
- Visits take around 4 hours – depending on how much of a Potterhead you are, though. We were there for around 5 hours.
- There are many shops around the Studio – don’t rush buying it all on the first shop.
- There’s a spot for the photo of the trolley entering platform 9 3/4 BUT the Kings Cross Station photo spots are way better!
Platform 9 3/4
This is the Harry Potter shop inside Kings Cross Station. It’s not actually between platforms 9 and 10 BUT it’s amazing.
The shop there is so big and so full of the most perfect things! It’s rather expensive, though, so think of a plan if you’re taking your kids. We didn’t, but we could’ve given them a little money each to buy what they liked. Luckily, only the youngest wanted stuff. The rest knew it was overpriced.
And then, take a photo with the trolley entering the wall!
Is it worth waiting in line for the Platform 9 3/4?
We went there around 4 times before we found it not too full. When we went, the line was around half-way long and it took us an hour. It’s well worth the wait, though, the photos are great and the people working there are very professional and great.
Coral loved climbing on to the trolley and holding The Elder Wand for the photo.
(If you don’t want to wait in line, you can pay £20 and get a VIP pass, which also gives you a photo)
It’s a touristy thing, but it’s fun!
One photo costs £8,50, two photos cost £14 and 3 photos cost £20. Each subsequent photo costs £5.
Arrive early in the morning to avoid queues (before the shop opens) or later in the day, at closing time.
And try to visit the shop late, nearing closing time, to get it emptier.
You have the chance to buy your Hogwarts letter – with your name and address if you wish. We didn’t, because £15, seriously, we’d need 4 of those.
Some of the things sold there were also found at Hamley’s and the Noble Collection (below).
The Noble Collection
We were walking around London when we saw this store. We entered, of course, when we saw many Harry Potter things from the door. It’s a museum/store of movie-related things. Wow.
One floor is basically Harry Potter. Then the bottom floor is divided between The Hobbit and The Lord of The Ring, superheroes, and Game of Thrones. Dragon eggs? Yes, please.
Harry Potter filming locations in London
There are many filming locations in London. So many! You can go on a tour (there are even free tours – based on tips) about Harry Potter locations in London.
We didn’t take any, but I kind of regret it.
We did visit as many places as we could, a self-guided tour of Harry Potter places in London.
Below is what we found.
This is where Mr. Weasley is all confused about using the tube. According to my kids, it could’ve been any station because they’re all very similar. Haha.
You know the bridge the Death Eaters destroy at the beginning of The Deathly Hallows? This is the one.
To kill the mood, there was one giant rainbow poop statue when we went there – the kids loved it. It’s right in front of the Tate Museum, so use the same trip to do it all!
The place where Harry, Hermione, and Ron apparated to after the disaster at Bill and Fleur’s wedding. We couldn’t remember exactly where it was but it was there – so London!
The Harry Potter things we didn’t visit properly
St. Paul Cathedral
The marble stairs there were used to film the stairs to Divination class. Sweet!
This is the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron.
Diagon Alley, apparently! There are many different places claiming to be Diagon Alley, I’m a bit lost. But anyway….
This is the bridge where the Knight Bus passes in the middle of 2 of London’s 2-story red buses.
Great Scotland Yard
The Ministry of Magic, everyone! And by Scotland Place, there’s the place where the phone booth should be. It was a prop, so it isn’t there anymore. We only passed in front of it and didn’t realize. Ha.
This is the supposed location of the Leaky Cauldron. Not there though. Or I’m a muggle.
It isn’t really open for visitors, but this is where Gringott’s was filmed.
House Guards Avenue
This is where the toilets used to enter the Ministry of Magic were located. No toilets, though. Just the statue of Duke of Devonshire.
Shopping Harry Potter things in London
We did a bit of shopping because we couldn’t resist!
The Cursed Child play
They set up some pretty neat selling spots with different stuff on every single half time – there are lots of things. They’re expensive but unique.
This is the place to get cheap stuff. Not great quality, but way cheaper than any other HP goods shop. We bought the kids PJs, tees, socks, and they were satisfied – paying the price of a robe at Platform 9 3/4. It’s crowded but worth the visit.
If there was a place where I was tempted to buy a lot of things, it was there. So many adorable (and alternative) things! It’s a whole neighborhood filled with shops and restaurants, an incredible place. It’s definitely one of the best places to go in London with teens.
This is a geek shop. We visited one in Glasgow and this is a huge one. We love spending time in those stores. Just looking and falling in love and planning future purchases. Maybe. They have the biggest collection of Funko Pop figures. This shop had only the older figures, which was a bit of a disappointment.
The Harry Potter shops mentioned above
Try Hamley’s, Platform 9 3/4, The Noble Collection, and the shop inside Warner Bros Studios. They’re more expensive but magical.
Tips for London Travel With Kids
- It rains a bit, so bring on the raincoats and enjoy it!
- Use public transport: they’re very easy, safe, and reliable.
- Museums are mostly free, which is great (and they’re almost always covered).
- If you’re staying long enough, grab yourself (and each of your kids) an Oyster Card. Read more about it below.
The Oyster Card is a public transport card. You charge it with the amount of money you want and pay a lower fare than the single tickets.
The card itself costs £5, but once you’re done using it, you can return it to the station and get your deposit back.
Bus trips cost £1.50 and you can ride as many buses as you want in a 60-minute time frame. Train fares vary.
Kids under 11 go free – make sure you use the family entrances, though, to pass with them.
Kids over 11 but under 18 pay half price but you need to ask for their cards to have the discount added. They need to be present to get the discount fare added into their cards. The discount resets in a set time, so if you’re staying for a long time, you may need to keep adding the discount to it.
It can be used on trains, subway, buses, and even some boats. It’s easy to recharge at any station and some convenience stores.
A day trip to Stonehenge from London
There are many mysteries about Stonehenge. People don’t believe these mysteries will, one day, be solved. We can only speculate about it.
It’s believed to be a place for healing, and for spiritual ceremonies. The truth, though, is still unknown.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although it’s not very close, it’s a highly doable day trip, even for people with small kids.
Each leg of the trip takes around 2 hours – either by car or by public transport.
Even though public transport works wonderfully in England, I do recommend you get a car for it because you’ll be able to do everything at your own pace and the kids will be able to rest or be noisy or do what they do. And, as a bonus, you’ll be able to visit the many sites around Stonehenge – there are just so many!
We visited Stonehenge on the way from Wales to London and it was a very long day. Around 4 hours from Wales to Stonehenge, then 2 more from Stonehenge to London.
The first impression of the site
As we were nearing the site, we saw Stonehenge from the road. We couldn’t pull the car and admire it because there was no space, but you can totally see it from the roads or the farms around it.
Our first impression (from the road) was: is this it?
But we went ahead. From the place where we saw it from the road to the Visitor Center, it was another drive. Around 10 minutes more. We really thought we’d missed the entrance, because it wouldn’t be so long, surely. But it was.
The Visitor Centre of Stonehenge
The entry is through the Visitor Center only and, to be REALLY honest, we liked the visitor center more than the stones.
There’s a museum that is small, but very well curated and informative. The movie showing Stonehenge through the year is beautiful, and the outside, where the village as it must have been when Stonehenge was built is also very cool.
The café is good and warm, the shop has some really nice things.
There’s a bus that goes from the Visitor Center to the stones. It’s a short trip, of around 5 minutes, and an audio keeps playing and saying some curiosities about the place. It can get quite full, but since it’s such a short trip, staying on your feet won’t hurt.
The stone circle
The megaliths are placed in a circle and they are immense. It’s crazy, and to think that people built it without any machinery is quite impressive.
But there’s a big grassy area around it and my 2 younger kids enjoyed it a lot more than the stones. They ran and laid on the ground, and played. The drive must’ve tired them. One of the kids was too interested in playing Pokémon Go, and the other was utterly unimpressed.
Of all the famous sites we’d visited so far, this was the one they enjoyed the least – and it was one of the most expensive.
It sure is worth a visit, especially if you have a History or mystery crazy person in your family, and there are many important and beautiful sites all around it (like Woodhenge!), so why not make it a whole day of it? Don’t expect kids to understand the importance of it unless you can be truly enthusiastic and find a way to make them interested in it.
Entries are timed and if you wish to visit at a very specific time, you should book your tickets in advance – important during summer.
Entry costs £45.50 per family of 5 (advanced booking) or walk-up for £50.70.
To finish it…
London was one incredible place to visit with kids. It was way beyond our expectations and we truly fell in love with it.
If you have the chance to visit it, don’t miss it!
It’s an expensive city. Anything and everything is very expensive BUT there are many free things to do too – like museums and parks and just walk around!
And a ride at the double-decker buses cost £1.50 and it takes you almost anywhere.
We absolutely loved London!
- City / Country
- Minimun Stay
- $ ~ $$$
- Best local transport option
- Do we recommend it?
- London / England
- A week
- Extremely child friendly!
- Buses and trains!
- Super safe
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