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Can anyone help me plan family two day trip to London!(26 Posts)
Hi there, I've managed to get reasonably cheap train fares for a weekend trip to London in May. We travel early Saturday morning, return Sunday evening. Will by myself, Dh, DD11 and DS7. I just don't know where to start! Would like them to be amazed and see some sights, we've never been to London as a family (FYI North East England) I might book a show for Saturday night. Would also like somewhere nice to eat. But I don't know where to start, where to stay and to make sure we do enough but not too much?!?! TIA
We stopped near the museums which provides plenty for the kids and crucially is free, I also highly recommend the river bus (part of the Oyster card/TfL pricing structure) down to Greenwich, the maritime museum is interesting and it's quite a good place to eat lunch. A show is a great idea, look for special offers as it's not cheap these days. There's lots of pre theatre set menus for dinner. Mine loved the natural history museum at that age, but also v&a fashion sections. They also loved Covent Garden and the street entertainment - we took them to the opera house too around that age which was amazing, they had new dresses and sipped lemonade in champagne glasses!
All sounds great, I'll have a look thank you!
I'm not very good with links but of you're travelling by train you can get 2 for 1 at lots of London attractions.
I went with DD a few years ago. We had a wander around famous landmarks such as parliament square, Whitehall, Downing Street, Buckingham palace etc. There are still some red phone boxes there. I think the number 15 bus goes past lots of landmarks and sometimes is an old fashioned red bus.
London Eye was a favourite as was the Tower of London. We also had a boat trip on the Thames which DD slept through! The Science Museum and Natural History museums are free to visit though they do ask for a donation.
Did this with my DS and he LOVED it https://www.thamesribexperience.com/ (so did i) it was full of kids, the views and the music were amazing and we saw parts of London I've NEVER seen
Hi, I’m from the North East and have lived in London over 10 years... let me try to think based on when my little brother used to come down.
South Kensington is where the science and natural history museums are (both free) get there early as they get very busy. Personally I think the v&a is a more adult museum but if your kids are into design it’s good.
Covent Garden and Leicester Sq are popular, tons of restaurants around there. Kids seem to like MeatLiqor (burgers etc), Rainforrest cafe, there’s a Forrest Gump themed restaurant in that area too. Soho is really good for food, or maybe China Town would be fun for them.
In terms of shows, you can get last minute tickets in Leicester Square or there are some good apps - maybe someone can help with the name of them. Matilda, Lion King, Charlie and choc factory all really good.
Tower of London is also an option - expensive but lots inside to see. I think the museum of London is good too, it’s opposite st Paul’s.
Finally, nice to walk along the river from London Bridge to Waterloo... you go past the globe theatre, the Tate, aquarium etc... lots of pubs to stop off in.
Let me know if you want any more recommendations aware I’ve written a total essay! 😂
Sorry one more idea, Camden market is popular, they have loads of food stalls from all over the world.
I would worry too much about where you stay as I doubt you will be in the hotel much just make sure it’s zone 1 and near a tube. When I was a kid we stayed at St katherines Dock at tower bridge.
What do you think your DC’s will enjoy? There’s a risk of trying to pack too much in
IMO you should definitely plan one day spent on the South Bank because it’s easy and ticks so many London sightseeing boxes. You can walk from Embankment tube, over the bridge and East, seeing London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Tate Modern (pop into the turbine hall), go over the Millenium Bridge for a closer look st St Paul’s, then back and continue on to Tower Bridge, view of Tower of London, the Shard...a bit further there’s Curry Sark, Southwark Cathedral, HMS Belfast and London Bridge. Easy strolling along, not as crowded as places like Covent Garden market or the museums, lots of places to stop and eat or drink, take a boat ride...the only reason not to would be bad weather.
My auto correct obviously prefers curry to Cutty!
Get on at Little Venice and go to Camden market, loads of food stalls etc
There's a Premier Inn right near the Tate Modern, you'd be well placed for loads of things if you stayed there. If its during university holidays then LSE rent out halls of residence and have some over looking the back of Tate Modern.
I wouldn’t do Camden market with 11 and 7 year olds tbh, though maybe on a future trip, teens love it...it’s also hideously packed on the weekend.
You don’t need to be zone 1, you could be zone 2 and still be close enough to enjoy everything. Camden is zone 2 and it’s only one short bus ride to oxford street for example and much quicker than the tube.
For the kids, remember that the free museums often have “handling” areas where they can get their mits on things rather than just looking. The science museum used to be absolutely amazing for free but a lot of it you have to pay for now.
For a show, if you aren’t fussy you can often get returns on the same day at the official outlet in Leicester sq. If you are fussy you can book in advance and try and get a preview showing which is much cheaper. Mid week matinees are often cheaper. You’ll get ripped off at the Rainforest Cafe, the food is terrible and soooo expensive. Equally at an Angus Steakhouse etc. sleepwhenidie has some really good suggestions. We also love the planetarium which you can get the Thames clipper down to at Greenwich, you can just use your oyster for that so its cheaper than boat tours.
Just thinking about things my DC’s love - they are 9,10,13...
- the South Bank
- wandering around Soho at night after dinner (with me and DH, not alone!) - especially if they get amazing cake/ice cream/doughnuts!
- all the museums, but only for an hour or two at a time
- the Zoo
- Ping Pong for dim sum, Franco Manca for pizza, Five Guys for burgers
- they loved climbing the Monument
- they loved visiting the Tower of London
- Churchill’s War Rooms
- Emirates cable car is fun
They are underwhelmed by
- Buckingham Palace
- Trafalgar Square
- Downing St/Whitehall
- food markets (Borough is amazing, Camden on their doorstep, they are unmoved)
- no interest in going on the Eye
- they can mostly take or leave Covent Garden though we have had some funny moments with street performers there
I would book an open top bus tour you can do it all yourself but the commentary os fab and a lot of rides are hop on hop off.
You can combine it with tickets for other attractions such as the London pass or a bundle.
I do think Tower of London and then depends what your family is in to. Maybe one of the markets.
China Town would be fun for dinner
My kids loved Leicester Square there is always so much going on, and the older one likes national portrait gallery and Trafalgar Square
If you have time Harvey Nicholls, Fortnum and Mason, or Selfridges are worth a gawk and you can eat well but not cheaply in wach of them
Would they want to see Nike Town? DS considers this an essential part of any trip
Hamleys isn't as Magical as it once was.
London Zoo and a boat trip
Oh, sorry, some more! Borough Market is amazing, mine loved it atvthat age because they could sample all the cheese.
If you want a cheap afternoon tea, Liberty’s do one in their cafe that is only about £11.
For restaurants, the kids love Fire and Stone in Covent Garden, or Ping Pong all you can eat on a Sunday because it’s all a novelty. (However me and DH love the Hawksmoor pretheatre menu. )
If you have Tesco clubcard vouchers, you can swap them for attractions in London like the bus tour, Tower of London - check the website.
Agree Hamleys is not as good as it was, DD enjoys the Lego store in Leicester Square, the M&M Store (and the massive sweet shop in the same square!). We like the Rainforest Cafe but you may have to wait for a table and it's not cheap.
Best shows...number 1 has to be Matilda. The Lion King is obviously amazing. Hamilton is superb but 7yo might not appreciate it so much. School of Rock and the Show that goes wrong (?) come highly recommended by my nephews.
Areas to stay which are cheaper but still very accessible are Shepherds Bush and Earls Court. We always love walking along the South Bank, boat trip on the Thames clipper to Greenwich, British Museum, Hamleys (maybe not to buys any thing but for the experience!), picnic in Hyde Park.
I would just walk around to be honest; ask your kids what they want to see. At those sort of ages mine went for the obvious like Big Ben, Buckingham palace and the Natural History museum. They liked Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden.
They liked going for a meal in China town and in a cool Caribbean place. They liked Hyde Park (Wombles readers) and dragged us to platform 9 3/4.
Now they are older they like the buzz of places like Brixton and Camden and visiting the V&A and the galleries.
Yeah definitely aks the kids. We took a 9 year old relative recently and he was exhausted and overwhelmed after 1 day at his chosen museum.
When they were younger we stayed in youth hostels: did the one at St Paul’s and Oxford St and Kings Cross. It was nice to have somewhere they could hang out in the evening.
Now we do Brixton Premier Inn.