Enjoy spectacular views over London with breakfast at The Shard. Although you are only(!) on the 31st floor, the stylish and delicious restaurant, Aqua Shard, provides views almost as stunning as the ones from the top. What's more, it's cheaper. The express breakfast prices begin at just £9 and a full English costs £18.50, far less than a ticket all the way to the top. Reservations are required as the restaurant is very popular.
Open: Breakfast is served Monday to Fridays from 7am to 10.30am (9am to 10am at weekends)
Call to reserve your table: 020 3011 1256
Nearest tube: London Bridge
Go back in time to a Victorian classroom with the Ragged School Museum who run an open house on the first Sunday of every month between 2pm and 5pm. Although open to all ages, kids will especially enjoy the opportunity to learn the three R's from actors in full Victorian costumes, with props including slate boards, inkwells and dunce caps. Sessions run for 45 minutes and are on a first-come-first-served basis.
Opening hours: The museum is open 10am-5pm every Wednesday and Thursday, and between 2pm-5pm on the first Sunday of every month
Price: Free! Even school holiday activities are free
Nearest tube: Mile End
Take a candlelit tour of the Sir John Soane's Museum, the former home of the late architect of the bank of England. Located in Lincoln's Inn Field, the museum is open for late night viewings on the first Tuesday of every month. Explore his impressive collection of paintings antiquities and eclectic, often eccentric, personal effects that take on a romantic, slightly spooky glow in the semi-darkness. Tours take place from 6pm to 9pm and booking is not available. The museum is first-come-first-served and approximately the first 200 people in the queue from 5.30pm will be given access.
Opening hours: Sir John Soane's Museum is open Tuesday–Saturday, 10am–5pm
Nearest tube: Holborn
For an unusual exercise session or even just a quick splash about, head to the outdoor swimming ponds on Hampstead Heath. There are four ponds: a ladies' pond, a men's pond, a mixed pool and also the outdoor parliamentary lido. The pools are unique in that they're the only lifeguarded, open water facilities open to the public every day of the year.
Price: Children aged eight to 15 must be accompanied by an adult and be able to swim (and they may be asked to prove it to a lifeguard)
Price: From £2.10 per person
Nearest train: Hampstead Heath (or Hampstead tube)
Every night, for the past 700 years, the lantern-lit ‘Ceremony of the Keys’ has taken place in the Tower of London to secure the Crown Jewels. It’s the oldest military ceremony in the world and includes interactions between the Chief Yeoman Warder, the Yeoman Warder 'Watchman' and members of the Tower of London Guard, lasting 35 minutes. Tickets to watch this grand tradition are free of charge, but are incredibly popular and must be booked online up to months in advance.
How to book: Book online and bring your e-ticket on the day. No waiting list is available
Opening times: Visitors are admitted to the Tower under escort at 9.30pm and the ceremony concludes at 10.05pm (no late arrivals are permitted, so don't be late!)
Nearest Tube: Tower Hill
Just outside the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, right at the top of the hill, the line of zero longitude is embedded in the ground. Put one foot on one side and one on the other and you’ll be standing in two hemispheres. If you can’t make it to London, the Prime Meridian also passes through France, Spain, Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana and Antarctica.
Price: admission to the Meridian Line Courtyard costs £9.50 for adults and £5 for children
Opening times: daily 10am-5pm
Nearest tube: Cutty Sark on the DLR
For an alternative birds' eye view of London, take a tour of the Queen Elizabeth Tower and stand right beside Big Ben as the magnificent clock chimes on the hour. Families with kids aged 11+ can climb the 334 steps to the top of the tower where there are spectacular views across the city.
Anyone from 11+ can climb the 334 steps to the top of Elizabeth Tower where you can also stand behind the clock face and see views across London.
Tickets: Tours, which are free, are only open to UK residents and are available Monday to Friday at 9am, 11am and 2pm (and 4pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays). You need to book several weeks in advance by writing to your MP
Nearest tube: Westminster
Take a trip to the suburbs to explore London beneath the surface in Chislehurst Caves. The labyrinth of tunnels were originally excavated for their chalk, and have been variously used as an air-raid shelter, an ammunition dump and as a rock and folk venue where Hendrix, Pink Floyd, the Stones and David Bowie have performed.
Entrance to the caves is by guided tour only
Tours: Lamp-lit guided tours leave hourly, on the hour, between 10am and 4pm and last 45 minutes. No need to book
Price: Tickets cost £6 for adults and £4 for children
Nearest train: Chislehurst
Cast off from parents on a pirate ship! Or maybe play on the beach, or hide in a tepee? These and other Peter Pan-inspired activities take place in the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. Then go in search of the fairies on Peter Pan’s nearby statue.
Opening times: Daily from 10am (closing times vary)
Nearest Tubes: Lancaster Gate, Bayswater and High Street Kensington
Create your own Beano cover, draw your own superhero or design a wacky character from scratch at one of the children’s workshops held during school holidays (except Christmas and New Year) and occasional weekends at The Cartoon Museum.
The museum holds a fascinating collection of cartoons and comics from the 18th century to the present day.
Open: Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–5.30pm; closed Mondays except for bank holidays
Price: Tickets cost £7 for adults, children under 18 are free
Nearest tubes: Tottenham Court Road or Holborn
The most popular activity for visitors, as opposed to worshippers, in St Paul’s Cathedral is the Whispering Gallery. Located 259 steps up in the eaves of Wren’s masterpiece, a whisperer on the far side can be clearly heard by a friend standing on the opposite side of the dome.
Opening times: sightseeing tours run from 8.30am–4.30pm
Price: to enter St Paul's costs £18 for adults and £8 for children 6–17yrs
Nearest tube: St Paul’s