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London is not only the capital city of the United Kingdom, but it is also one of the oldest and most magnificent cities in the world. Today it is a bustling metropolitan hub full of world-class restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. But the history of London spans nearly two thousand years, and for curious travelers, it holds countless stories, mysteries, and legends. Families traveling to London can rest assured that there is plenty to keep everyone entertained and off their devices for the duration of your trip. Read on to discover our time-tested one-week family-friendly London itinerary for kids and teens.
“In London, everyone is different, and that means anyone can fit in.”
Where To Stay:
While the options for accommodations are seemingly endless, choose from one of our favorite family-friendly London hotels to ensure a central location, child-friendly amenities, connecting rooms, and spacious suites to unwind after long days of sightseeing and adventure.
Day 1: Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Observation Wheels
Many flights from the US depart in the evening and arrive in London in the morning or early afternoon. So hop on one of the dozens of direct flights into London Heathrow Airport and start your adventure. Although the Tube is relatively easy to navigate, we recommend saving public transportation adventures for another day. Instead of attempting to make your way through the London Underground with luggage and cranky children in tow, upon arrival, enjoy a transfer in a private luxury vehicle complete with a knowledgeable driver, fresh water, and a stress-free ride. Trust us; you will be glad you did. Booking through a trusted travel agent can ensure these transfers are confirmed and on time.
Although you will likely feel exhausted from your overnight flight, fight the fatigue and avoid napping. Instead, drop off your luggage at the hotel and grab a bite to eat at one of London’s many authentic local fish and chip shops.
Once the kids are fed and refreshed, head back to your hotel to meet with your engaging, family-friendly London guide. But, of course, the best way to orient yourself in a new city is on foot. Take advantage of the central location of your hotel and embark on a history-filled walking tour of the town. Your guide will help you get your bearings and introduce the whole family to London’s incredible array of culture, entertainment, and adventure.
End the tour at one of London’s most iconic landmarks and take in the bird’s eye view of the city from the top of the London Eye.
We recommend an early dinner at a local restaurant and a great night’s sleep. You’ve earned it!
Day 2: Living Like The Royals
This morning enjoy a delicious early breakfast and prepare the family for a day of royal adventure. Your guide will be waiting in the lobby to start the tour around London. You will drive past many of the most famous sights of this majestic city. En route, your driver will regale you with stories of the British Monarchy and how they maintained rule for over 1000 years.
You will see statues of Henry VIII, Alfred the Great, memorials to Diana, Prince Albert, George VI (“The Kings Speech”), and Elizabeth, his wife. But that’s just the start. Children and adults alike will have fun following in the footsteps of the Royal families. Peek at the exteriors of the magnificent homes and palaces they have lived in and those they still do, the places they shop, dine and socialize.
Today you will learn about the fascinating lives of Henry VIII (and his doomed wives), Queen Victoria, George VI, Her Majesty the Queen, and many more historical figures.
While the Diamond Jubilee Celebrated the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II, your guide will take you on a journey through her life, from birth in 1926 to the present day. Stop in one of the famous stores the queen favors with her Royal Warrants before heading for lunch in a building built in the reign of Elizabeth I (1562) and still in use today.
After lunch, continue your royal adventure with fascinating stories and tales of scandal and intrigue. Explore palaces, memorials, sites of famous executions, and burials. Your guide will show you where Princess Anne was nearly assassinated and the apartment Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong Jones would meet for their clandestine rendezvous. Curious about other royal gossip? Ask away. There is always more to the stories than meets the eye.
Day 3: Westminster Abbey, Churchill War Rooms & Thames River Thrills
This morning enjoy a leisurely breakfast before meeting your family-friendly London tour guide at the hotel and walking together to Westminster Abbey. Founded by Benedictine monks in 960AD, today, it is still a place of worship and the site of coronations and other important ceremonies. As with most historic buildings in London, the interior of Westminster is a veritable treasure trove.
Your guide will point out the impressive medieval coronation throne and the Poet’s Corner with memorials to William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and other giants of literature. But don’t miss the tombs of Queen Elizabeth I, “Bloody” Queen Mary, explorer David Livingstone and the father of evolution, Charles Darwin.
As you end the visit to the Abbey, walk over to Churchill War Rooms, a critical site in modern history as this is where Winston Churchill lived and worked during the darkest hours of the Blitz in World War II. Families with kids who enjoy studying history will find this experience incredibly fascinating. Close your eyes and imagine the scenes taking place as London was being bombed and air raid sirens were wailing. Yet, the implacable Churchill planned and executed the seemingly impossible feat of beating the Nazis.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.
For an extra unique experience, inquire about a behind-the-glass, exclusive private tour where you can see the scratch marks still visible on the chair Churchill sat in as he plotted a way to alter the course of history.
After spending the first part of your day exploring these historic locations, it’s time to change the pace and scenery. Your guide will bring you to the pier on the River Thames, where the entire family can embark on an unforgettable adventure. See London’s famous sights from a new perspective, with the added thrills and spills courtesy of 880 horsepower engines racing at 35 mph! From the London Eye to Tower Bridge, prepare yourself for twists, turns, and a few screams.
Day 4: City Break From London To Bath, Windsor Castle & Stonehenge
This morning you will wake up early and embark on a full-day adventure to many of England’s most iconic sights. A day visit to Bath, Windsor Castle & Stonehenge. Sure, it is a long day, but it is entirely worth it! This is a must for any family-friendly focused London trip.
The first stop of the day is the largest occupied castle in the world and the ancestral home of Britain’s monarchs. While today, Windsor castle is a favored weekend residence of Her Majesty The Queen. Kings, and Queens have lived here for nearly a thousand years. Just imagine all the tiny princesses and princesses playing in the gardens, riding horses, learning to shoot, and practicing their sword skills in this very spot. You might see a colorful display with all the pomp and pageantry the Monarchy is known for if you’re lucky. The Changing the Guard ceremony takes place on select mornings.
Fancy a bit of pop culture entertainment? Step inside St George’s Chapel, the site where Prince Harry married Meghan Markle in one of the most extravagant royal weddings of the century.
Then take a look inside the State Apartments and explore the rooms used by The Queen and members of the Royal Family. Intended to rival the Palace of Versailles in France, the castle is adorned with paintings by renowned artists such as Rembrandt and Rubens.
After saying your goodbyes visit the historic city of Bath, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site city in the UK. Stop in at the world-famous Roman Baths, taste the famous mineral water thought to promote youth, and wander the charming city streets to grab a bite to eat.
After lunch, step back 5000 years and head over to the world’s most infamous stones. Stonehenge is a mysterious site and the world’s most famous Neolithic monument. Play along as you try to solve the mystery of who built Stonehenge, how they did it (without any modern tools), and why?
Day 5: Harry Potter Adventure Day
A family-friendly London itinerary wouldn’t be complete without Harry Potter! Harry Potter fan’s young and old, will look back on this day as one of the highlights of the entire trip. Meet your driver and begin the day with a visit to Oxford and explore one of the oldest and most famous universities in the world, founded in 1167. It has been home to many famous people, from world leaders to renowned storytellers. The Importance of Being Earnest, Alice in Wonderland, Dr. Seuss, The Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia all got their start within these walls.
After lunch, the real Harry Potter Fan fun begins. Step inside the same studios used to create the Harry Potter films. Sit in Weasley’s flying car, enter Hogwarts Hall, stroll along the spectacular Diagon Alley and visit the Gryffindor Common Room.
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Wonder how Harry’s parent’s house looks in person? Step out into the backlot and see for yourself.
Visit Hogsmead station and climb aboard the Hogwarts Express. The latest addition to the Warner Bros Studio for fans of Harry Potter is the Gringotts Wizarding Bank. This exhibit is lined by marble pillars, sparkling chandeliers, and props and costumes belonging to the Goblin bankers, like Bogrod and Griphook. Discover the vault of Bellatrix Lestrange and peek inside the vault, where you will see the Sword of Gryffindor, piles of golden Galleons, silver Sickles, and more.
At the end of the tour, make your way back to London and reflect fondly on the day.
Day 6: Jewels, Rolling Heads, and London’s Dark Side
Start the day by being one of the first people to enter the storied Tower of London. This nearly impenetrable fortress on the River Thames has withstood almost 1000 years of wars, plagues, and insurrections. Skip the long lines and enjoy fast-track entrance with your experienced and engaging guide. Did you know that its official name is Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London? Originally designed as a castle for William the Conqueror in 1078, the Tower of London has held strategic importance for centuries of rulers.
Meet the legendary Yeoman Warders and ravens, get a close look at the priceless collection of Crown Jewels and watch in amazement as your children soak up thousands of years of history immortalized within these walls.
If your children love animals and have begged you for a puppy for their birthday, stop by the Tower menagerie. Learn about the wild and exotic animals housed here from the 1200s to 1835. How did this happen? In 1235, Henry III was ecstatic when the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II gifted him three leopards. Needing a place to house them, the King decided to start a zoo at the Tower. Over time the collection of animals grew, and the tradition of gifting exotic pets from elephants to lions and polar bears as royal gifts continued. This is noted as a highlight of many family-friendly London trips!
We cannot do justice to the Tower of London without acknowledging its dark past as a place of torture and death. Your guide will regale you with famous stories that occurred within these walls. For example, during the Tudor Dynasty, it gained its notorious reputation as a place of pain and torture where Henry VIII imprisoned two of his six wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.
Perhaps even more sinister, in 1483, after staging a coup d’etat, Richard III is believed to have hidden and murdered his nephews, 12-year-old Prince Edward and his younger brother, 9-year-old Richard, in the Tower. Skeletons of what appeared to be the young princes were found beneath the staircase of the Tower in the 1600s. Their ghosts are said to roam the grounds to this day, seeking to reclaim their rightful place and avenge their uncle.
While we recommend touring the Tower of London in the morning and attending the Opening Ceremony, true history buffs may want to consider adding on an evening Ceremony of The Keys experience.
At precisely 9:53 PM, the Chief Yeoman Warder of the Tower, wearing the traditional red Watch Coat and Tudor Bonnet, emerges from the Byward Tower and begins the 7-minute ceremony.
In one hand, he carries a lantern, still lit by a single candle, and in the other, he holds a set of the Queen’s Keys. He heads to the archway of the Bloody Tower.
Footsteps are heard in the dark corridors.
The sentry cries out, ‘Halt, who comes there?’
The Yeoman Warder replies, ‘The keys.’
‘Queen Elizabeth’s keys.’
‘Pass then; all’s well.’
While the name of the monarchs may change, this precise exchange forms part of the traditional ‘locking up’ of the Tower of London.
This ancient tradition has held steadfast every evening for 700 years. Through every war, natural disaster, pandemic, and social crisis.
The ceremony was delayed only once! On September 7, 1940, Germany relentlessly bombed London, and a bomb fell close to the Tower. Amidst the explosions and extreme danger, a guardsman was injured, delaying the ceremony by 7 minutes.
After Hours Experience:
Families with teens and older children who enjoy murder mysteries should partake in an after-hours adventure retracing the footsteps of the infamous Jack the Ripper and other sordid killers. Start the tour with your guide in the middle of the Whitechapel district where the murders took place.
Visit the three remaining murder sites and the building where it is believed Jack hid from the police on the night of the double murder. Then stop by the church where his victims prayed unsuspectingly before grabbing a pint at The Ten Bells Pub that the Ripper’s victims frequented before their deaths.
Your guide will keep the whole family entertained (if a little scared) with stories of executions, witchcraft, grave-robbing, and murders.
Day 7: Choose Your Own adventure
“With your feet on the ground you’re a bird in flight with your fist holding tight to the string of your kite.”
From Marry Poppins
It is hard to believe, but your one-week family-friendly London adventure is nearly over. So spend your last day at leisure soaking up the sights, exploring various museums, or doing a little shopping. By this point in the trip, you will undoubtedly have a good sense of the city. That being said, venture out and ride the Tube or hail one of the famous London taxis. Be sure to explore off the beaten spots and new neighborhoods.
After enjoying plenty of family time in the beautiful city of London, be sure to look ahead and secure a romantic getaway for you and your spouse! Although time with the children is amazing, so is one-on-one time with your significant other.
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Boutique Travel Advisors is a full-service, luxury travel agency. We specialize in creating bespoke itineraries for discerning clients around the world. Please visit our website or call 480-787-1477 to speak with a dedicated travel expert.
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