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Please help with London itinerary for trip with 6 year old(45 Posts)
Please help me plan a three day trip to London with DS (6) during the Easter hols.
There are a few things we’d like to do, so I’d appreciate suggestions and any help with travel/itinerary to make the best use of our time, as in what’s closest/easiest to get to and in which order, so we can fit in as much as possible.
We arrive and depart from King’s Cross, getting in late morning, and we’re staying in Holborn. The only thing booked so far is a matinee at the Theatre Royal on the second day. I’ve booked an early evening train home on our third day, so we need to get back to KX by about 6.30pm. I intend to travel light, so we don’t need to drop bags off/pick them up from our hotel.
We’d like to do the following: London Eye; Natural History Museum; afternoon tea; Chinese dinner, preferably in Chinatown; bus tour, probably one of those hop on/hop off ones so we can combine it with some of the places we want to visit; shopping at Hamleys, possibly Harrods and ideally Fortnums; changing of the guard; Borough Market so we can get some of Jason Gellatly’s doughnuts! We’d also like to travel on the Thames by boat at some point if possible. I want us to be total tourists and see as much as possible, incorporating fun stuff for DS – a play park opportunity or two would also be great, although I know there’s already a lot of stuff on our list, and it might not be possible to do it all.
Any recommendations for any other activities and places to eat would also be very much appreciated. Evening activities are fine – DS is a bit of a night owl, so anything uptil 9pm wouldn’t faze him at all.
Changing the guard is on every second day - for a decent view you need to be there v early
Hopefully the Lego bus stop is still outside Hamleys
Nat Hist Mus - use the Exhibition Rd entrance as the queue is usally shorter
London Eye has queues usually but you can pay extra to skip them
There is a decent playground next to it
Don't be too overambitious. There is a lot of walking in London on little legs even if you do take public transport, and for many of the things on your list there is a lot of waiting around/ queueing time.
I remember coming back (to Scotland) from one of our trips when my kids were that age and asking what had been their favourite thing- it was going on the tube! What does "London" mean to your DC? It could be big red buses and black taxis or doctor who blue boxes rather than museums!
Depending on where you live, the whole experience of big crowds and enormous buildings might be sufficiently exciting/ overwhelming- or you may be from another big city where your DC is well used to these things.
For a total tourist trap place to eat would be the Rainforest cafe.
Thanks both - and a bump for the evening crowd. I'd really appreciate advice on the most effective itinerary - e.g do x in the morning, and then you're close to y kind of thing. DS is used to big bustling cities and is excited to see as many landmarks as possible. He loves travelling on all kinds of public transport, and I thought the hop on/off bus tour would help us to link up some of our must dos, and spot things as we go.
I always say this on here, but transport-loving children seem to love the DLR. They're driverless trains, so you can sit at the front and pretend to drive them. Coming through Canary Wharf is lovely as it's a bit city - ish ie big buildings, you're on an elevated section... You could combine that with a boat trip to Greenwich and the DLR back into town? Or a walk through the foot tunnel (under the river!) if that appeals?
Fortnums is nice and beautiful but I guess one for you? Harrods is a dreadful pile of shiny tat however, so have a think about do you really want to go there...
If you need somewhere for a bit of child focused downtime, look at Coram's Fields. It's a big child area, wih play parks etc near Kings X/Holborn. It's not swanky but it is lovely.
Start one day very early by walking or bussing down to the south bank over Waterloo bridge. Have a picnic breakfast there, or lots of cafes. Walk along to Tate modern, see St Pauls over the wobbly Millennium Bridge. Then back along the Southbank to the Eye.
After, cross Westminster bridge to see Big Ben and Parliament square, try to be there when it chimes. Walk along Whitehall, then through horse guards to St james's park, you will come out right by the Pelicans, and be able to see Buckingham palace. Have a tea break at Inn the Park.
Then, head out of the park along the Mall to Trafalgar Square.
Walk along the strand and then up to Covent Garden. The transport museum is brilliant, I strongly recommend it.
This would probably be a good point for a bus tour, as you will have covered a lot of ground. Alternatively, after the Eye, get straight onto a London Duck tour.
To do Harrods I would get on the Piccadilly line at Holborn and go to Knightsbridge, go there, then carry on to the Natural History museum. There are lots of nice places to have lunch near the museums at South Ken, there is a great creperie.
I would really recommend avoiding rush hour tubes, so being on before about 8 or after 9.30. You could maybe go to the corams fields playground and see the animals there after breakfast and then head down to harrods at about 9.30. DS will travel free on bus and tube in case you didn't know.
If you are going to Borough Market (which really won't interest a 6 year old) be sure to go to HMS Belfast just next door (which you will both LOVE).
I would also avoid Harrods and Hamleys. If he can tolerate a one hour shopping trip then how about Fortnums, or Liberty?, which at least has the novelty of being in a wonky old half timbered building with wooden stairs.
From Kings Cross you could go straight to Oxford Circus, and then walk down regent street to Hamleys. Carry on down to Piccadilly circus, then you will be 5 minutes away from Fortnums.
Great, thanks for these! Never heard of Coram's Fields, will definitely check that out. Fortnums for me and Harrods toy dept or Hamleys for him. yes to Big Ben for sure - almost forgot about that!
I would cross Hamleys off your list as it's pretty minging. All the museums have amazing gift shops so I wouldn't bother with a toy shop.
Day One - arrive, settle into hotel/grab sandwich then visit Natural History Museum (down to South Ken on the tube). My guys love the interactive bits of the Science Museum too (top floor and basement I think) if you have the energy. Supper near hotel - maybe take tube to St Paul's to have a look at that and grab some food, or down to Covent Garden - both may be mobbed though.
Day two - breakfast at Borough Market, then onto HMS Belfast as Mintyy says. My kids loved the Golden Hinde too which is just next to Borough Market. From there wander up to the Tate Modern along the Thames then take the River Bus (boat) up to Embankment (goes about every 30 mins, takes about 15 mins). Walk from Embankment to Theatre Royal (stop off in St James's park, have a play and get a look at the outside of Buckingham Palace), visit Trafalgar Square and Horse Guards Parade if you have time. Walk to Shaftesbury Ave for supper in Chinatown then rickshaw back to your hotel if funds allow.
Day three - Covent Garden for a wander and the transport museum. Pick up a bus tour here, or take the tube (leicester square to waterloo) down to the London Eye depending on what tickles your fancy the most. Back up to Fortnums for some browsing and you can book here for tea. Or Fortnums first thing for browsing, then tube from Green Park to London Bridge to the Tower of London followed by tea at the Shard (you'll need to book this) for views without queues. Back to Kings Cross.
Your plans are too ambitious. Don't underestimate travel times and physically moving around buses and trains and tube stations. London is not like Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, New York. The tube stations are well spread out.
Arrive at KX, check in, Holborn is Central Line for tube to Oxford Circus, so go to Regents Street and straight to Hamleys. You won't be able to get to Fortnums or Harrods, (traffic and tube disruption will be complete buzz kill for both of you). Also, neither will enchant a six year old.
You go for afternoon tea in Selfridges, on Oxford Street, off Regents Street, there is a smart restaurant that is surprisingly child friendly, but not condescending, near the deli but upstairs iirc. You should check TFL and catch the bus (as Oxford Street is bus/taxi only) as you've already done the tube.
Make your way back towards Holborn/ Waterloo, ( Bakerloo line Oxford Circus to Waterloo), catch the duck tour at the Millenium Eye / Waterloo Pier (get off at Waterloo and walk, tour PRE BOOK ESSENTIAL). Duck Tour includes a bus tour (bloody brilliant, lots of different routes) and an AMPHIBIOUS TRUCK on the Thames. Properly exciting.
Then either go on Millenium Eye and supper on Southbank (5 min walk from where you get off) then Northern line, change at Leicester Square for Holborn and bedtime.
Alternatively, if you can't get on the Eye, Northern Line 3 stops back to Leicester Square (Chinatown). Go for a wander. Eat anywhere except on Leicester Square in Chinatown.
Both are near your base for tired legs, bus/taxi or 2/3 stops on the tube, bedtime.
Day 2 Covent Garden Piazza, 1 stop Picadilly line. Have breakfast/brunch in cafe. In the piazza jugglers, clowns, those creepy people who spray themselves silver and move once an hour, that will entertain but CRUCIALLY are very close to walk to your theatre matinee. Go to matinee. Look for pre/ post theatre meal deals.
If you missed Chinatown previously go there after your matinee. Or eat on a meal deal
Day 3 pack up, down to Waterloo Pier, 4 stops. You catch the catamaran/river ferry ( very sleek and exciting) to Borough Market, so both boat and food. You can mooch around, eat, relax. Borough is on the Northern line directly , so then the six stops back on Northern line to KX.
I missed a career as a tour guide clearly
Have a brilliant time, London, my favourite city.
The zoo! Haven't been to the one in London, but we have an amazing one in Amsterdam.
Good zoos are always recommended for children.... just looking at their amazed eyes... and great for parents too.
Plus, it is in a natural environment, Hamleys is great too but a lot of car exhaust fumes/busy/etc. around there.
Forgot the Tate Modern, or The Globe Theatre, Tower of London and St Paul's but was thinking in the mindset of 6 yrs old.
Hamleys is heaving ( and like an upmarket soft play,
not my favourite venue ) but every time I ask mine their favourite place at 6yo it is always unanimous Hamleys. There is a train on a rack at ceiling height and grown adults with bubble machines, a whole floor of interactive things, and robotic yapping dogs.
South Kensington museum is a great idea, ( plus Harrods ) just think the walking may be a bit much for even a very active 6yo after journey to London.
The London transport museum in London is brilliant if dc are into that sort of thing. It in Covent Garden.
Mine weren't wild about Hamleys. It's a tricky one for itineraries too, as there's not much else round there.
The cafe at the Tate Modern is really nice.
What about Ripley's Believe it or Not?
I've been meaning to take dd(7) for ages now. Looks loads of fun.
Day 1: Straight from KX to South Ken for the Natural History and Science Museums. Some decent restaurants near the tube stop. That will probably take you up until dinner time.
Day 2: Central London, based around your matinee. My DS absolutely adores the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, which would be near your theatre I assume? But you could do lots of central things, Chinatown for lunch, then after the theatre head across to the Eye - book in advance.
Day 3: I'd get the boat down to Greenwich as early as you can, spend the day in Greenwich, then DLR back. Really nice trip.
We took DD last year and did a lot of the things on your list. We also went to the Science Museum. We aimed to go to the Transport Museum but got distracted by the street performers in Covent Garden who were great. DD enjoyed Coram Fields.
We used buses more than the Tube and you can get some apps that help you get to the right stop and know when the next bus will arrive.
If you're doing the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) don't forget the Emirates cable car. 'Driving' the DLR/cable car may be more exciting and quiet mid-evening, in the dark....
(And you can use your Oyster card)
You'll need a whole day to do the Natural History and Science Museums. Le Pain Quotidien is nice to eat at, lovely croissants, pastries and other things 6yos like so go to South Ken, have breakfast there then hit the museums. The Nat Hist actually has good deals in the restaurant.
Agree there's too much on your list to do in one go. You'll have to go back
There is a small playground on Drury Lane. Excellent for pre/post theatre running around. Should be a 1-2 minute walk from your theatre and is usually pretty empty.
And you can take the number 14 bus from the Natural History Museum past Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Wellington Arch and Fortum & Mason to Piccadilly - then a short walk to Hamleys of you're up for it, or Leicester Square.