If you’re visiting London with kids for the first time, chances are you’re all pretty excited. London is a bustling and diverse city packed full of incredible attractions, trendy nightlife, edgy fashion, history and culture. The only problem is, pick up any guide book and you quickly realise it’s one large city to traverse, especially with little people in tow.
Planning in advance really helps you make the most of your time in the city, so here are some of my top tips for visiting London with kids for the first time.
1// WHEN TO VISIT
The weather in London is notoriously fickle. You might bask in the sun overlooking the Thames one minute and rush for an umbrella the next. The summer months, of course, have the nicest weather but will also be the busiest and most expensive time of the year to visit.
January and February are the quietest (and coldest) months but you’ll often have top museums and attractions to yourself, especially if visiting during term time.
No matter which season you choose, pack wisely with options for all temperatures.
2// WHERE TO STAY
Location is key when visiting London with kids. The centre of the city plays host to some of the most infamous landmarks and tourist destinations in the capital, so choose a central location with quick and easy access to the attractions you plan to explore.
Accommodation in London is easy enough to find but can be expensive so do some research before you go. Though you may be tempted to opt for a hotel, London-serviced apartments are actually a great alternative, allowing families to live like locals in a more spacious and homely environment for the duration of their stay.
3// HOW TO GET AROUND
The underground is fun, easy, convenient and safe for families to use, however, most stations do not have lifts from street level to the train platform making it extremely difficult if you are travelling with young children or strollers.
Buses run every 3-10 minutes and are a great option for travelling around London. Most are of the iconic red double-decker variety and offer great views of street life and popular attractions from the top deck. City buses do not accept cash so be sure to purchase a Visitor Oyster Card before you venture out as it enables you to travel on the entire public transport system. Better still, the card comes with discounts to attractions, restaurants and activities.
4// THINGS TO DO
With the Tower of London, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Centre and world-class museums…the list of things for families to do in London is endless and trying to fit everything into a small trip can be overwhelming.
SACO serviced apartments has recently launched a new interactive web app to help visitors that are new to London explore the city more easily and efficiently when they are pushed for time. Carefully curated to introduce visitors to establishments that might take months to find unaided, the web app has each location plotted on a map to ensure users can find them easily.
As well as acting as a useful tool for visitors considering serviced apartments in London, the web app also offers exclusive discounts with a number of eateries within the Square Mile, which adds extra value. It presents users with a list of public work spaces, food, drink, health and well-being outlets, history and cultural museums and shopping destinations, helping them find what they are looking for within the Square Mile when it’s needed.
5// WHERE TO EAT
London’s food scene offers everything you could possibly wish for, at prices to suit all budgets. Unless you are planning on fine dining (better without kids) there are plenty of family food choices including pizza shops, pubs, noodle houses and burger joints. Check out websites for restaurants in your area and ask for recommendations at your hotel.
The multi-cultural city also serves up Indian, Malaysian, Korean and Turkish food galore. Alternately, head to one of the city’s markets, like Street Food Union, or a street stall to get your fill of gourmet treats at budget prices.