12 things all parents should know before taking kids to London

Last updated 10th July 2022

1. Tube tips

You’ve packed everything you could possibly need, plus the kitchen sink, into your bags – add to that children and pushchairs and you’ve got yourself a logistical disaster waiting to happen. Only 66 of London’s 270 tube stations and 55 of the city’s 112 overground stations have step-free access (the DLR is fully accessible), so avoid the family travel nightmares and download an accessibility map before you plan your route, to avoid unnecessary stress.

2. Make London your Oyster

It goes without saying that if you can avoid the early morning and evening rush hour commuters, it’s best to do so. Children under the age of 10 can travel on public transport for free, as long as they’re accompanied by a paying adult. Travelling during off-peak hours is also a way to save money. Make sure before you arrive in London you grab yourself an Oyster Card, you’ll be surprised to find out that you can make a saving of nearly 50% in comparison to paper tickets.

3. Love the bus

Why not swap part of your tube journey for a bus? You’ll not only get more of a scenic route, with phone signal, but with specific pushchair areas you’ll be able to let your little one have a mid-afternoon snooze in peace.

4. Shop savvy

If you’ve got a hungry and cranky child on your hands, you may just need to pop to the nearest supermarket to stock up on a bagful of snacks to keep them going for the rest of the day. Our top tip is to keep mums and dads happy by making your way to Waitrose. By taking out one of their loyalty cards, you’ll be able to grab a free hot drink without even having to spend a penny.

5. Freebies!

London can be a pretty expensive place, but the great news is that the city’s main museums are free, offering a whole heap of activities for curious little ones. From spending the day exploring The Science Museum, to coming face-to-face with old bones at The Natural History Museum and even the less explored Horniman Museum.

Dinosaur model in London museum

Animated model of Tyrannosaurus Rex at the Natural History Museum, London

6. Ticket deals

By booking tickets online for exhibitions and museums you can often make savings, but if you’re travelling into London via train you may be able to save yourself a whole ticket! In order to encourage visitors to use trains, you can use your ticket to claim a two-for-one deal on museums, theatres and restaurants.

7. Shows for less

It’s behind you! If you’re looking to explore the capital’s theatrical delights, looking online will secure you cheaper tickets. But, if you’re really after cheap as chips deals, then make sure you swing by the TKTS booth in Leicester Square and swot up on the these clever tips for finding cheap theatre tickets in London.

8. Snack with style

Take advantage of London’s perfect snack spots by turning a snack break into an activity in itself. Best suited for older kids, stop for a purrfect tea break with a feline twist at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, where you can enjoy a cuddle with a kitty, or enjoy a treat at the Cereal Killer Cafe for a twist on a breakfast staple.

9. Sky high views

If you’re looking to grab a great view of London you’ll want to try and get up high, but if you’re not looking to break the bank, there are some great budget and family-friendly options. The steps to ascend St Paul’s Cathedral dome is hardly friendly for little legs, so why not try the next best thing and pop to One New change – not only is it right next door so you get a great view of St Paul’s, but you can also take a peak over some of the buildings climbing London’s skyline. The Walkie Talkie’s Sky Garden is not only an intriguing view of London, but it’s free – just make sure you book in advance. If the weather is great, step outside to Primrose Hill to allow yourself to sit down and have a picnic, allowing yourselves the time to really savor the view.

10. Follow the clues

Elementary my dear Watson, London is the literary backdrop for a number of stories, and what better way to spend a day then to take your little detectives on a mini literary adventure? Start the day off with a sprinkle of magic as they attempt to enter into platform nine and three quarters at Kings Cross, follow a lead at Sherlock Holme’s house on Baker Street (221b Baker Street) and you can end the day with them entering Neverland at Diana Memorial Playground at Kensington Gardens, which was inspired by the stories of Peter Pan.

a wooden pirate ship at the diana princess of wales memorial playground

Kids enjoying the pirate ship in the Diana Princess of Wales memorial playground

11. Find a farm

Old McDonald had a farm and surprisingly it was in London. Well, not really, but it could have been, as London boasts several inner city farms. Many of them are not only free but they offer little farmers the opportunity to frolic with the usual farmyard suspects – sheep, cows and pigs. So no need to decide between the city and the outskirts, your family day out in London can be both urban and rural. Do some research beforehand as you’ll get the chance to explore petting zoos, farmers markets and even courses on low-impact living. Our favourite farms are: Hackney City Farm, Mudchute Park and Farm and Surrey Docks Farm.

12. Eat local

Don’t fall into London’s tourist trap by diving into the nearest fast food joint. It is possible to eat healthy, authentic food that won’t break the bank – you just need to know where to look. Just a short walk from Marylebone you’ll find Edgware Road which is well known for it’s great Middle Eastern restaurants that are open late and ludicrously cheap. These quieter locations are absolute gems, and well worth looking for.