If you’re seeking the perfect escape for a long weekend in London with kids, you’ve come to the right place. We’re a family of five who recently embarked on an unforgettable journey to this vibrant and historic city, and we can’t wait to share our experiences, insights, and tips with you.
While you could spend weeks in the city and still not see everything, we only had three days in London to explore and enjoy as much as possible. We saw as much as possible in a short amount of time.
My husband and I have both been to London together, and when I studied abroad at Bournemouth University, on England’s southern coast, I used to visit the city often. But this was the first time we’d be in London with kids, and I wanted to make it memorable for them.
Quick Tips for Visiting London with Kids
Three Days in London: An Itinerary
We had a full three days in London plus two-ish travel days. While I wish stayed longer, this was all the time we had for this trip.
PRO TIP: If you’re flying into London I highly encourage you not to travel on one of your sightseeing days. The airports around London are a decent way from the city and you’ll eat up a lot of your time just via transportation.
This is our exact itinerary from our long weekend in London with kids, so hopefully it will help you make your trip memorable and a little less stressful.
Thursday evening: travel to London
Friday: Tower of London, Borough Marke, and the British Museum
Saturday: Bike tour and a West End Show
Sunday: Camden Town, Afternoon Tea, and the Natural History Museum
Monday: travel home
We landed at London’s Stansted Airport around 7 pm and didn’t arrive at our hotel, The Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington (see below for more info) until 10:30 pm. Of course, this was after getting to the airport around 5 pm. I’m thankful we didn’t have to deal with jet lag, but I almost wished we took the train to London just like we took the train to Paris.
I’m sharing more about our thoughts on traveling to/from London below in case you’re interested.
Day One: Tower of London, Borough Market & British Museum
In order to see as much as possible during our long weekend in London, we hit the ground running by waking up early, enjoying breakfast at our hotel, and then heading over to the Tower of London.
Tower of London
This is a must-see spot during your weekend in London, and when you’re there you’ve gotta go on their free Yeoman tour (included in your ticket) so don’t miss it.
The kids loved this tour; the Yeoman kept everyone in the crowd engaged and hanging on his every word. There were a lot of people in our group, but he projected clearly; we could hear all his tales and jokes even when we were at the back of the pack.
PRO TIP: Get there when the Tower of London opens. Immediately go see the jewels, walk around a bit, and then head back to the entrance for the tour. If you wait until after the tour there will be a huge crowd to see the jewels.
Get your tickets in advance; we were there in the off-season and they were selling out in the afternoon. I was tempted to buy the audio guide and/or books they sell when you get your tickets, but I passed on them. When we got there we bought one kid’s book since it was so cheap.
Not far from the Tower of London is Borough Market, and our spot for lunch. Before Borough Market went viral on Instagram and TikTok, it was the spot for a quick lunch lunch-on-the go. I mean, it still is, but back in the day fish ‘n chips, pie stands, and other food stalls took over a small section of the market and were a great takeaway option.
Today it’s a bustling trendy area with overpriced foods, free smells, and something spectacular everywhere you look.
It’s easy to get overstimulated in an area like this, especially if your kiddos are hungry (and if Mama is getting a little hangry). Instead of trying to stand in different lines and order the most popular things seen on the internet, we settled at a pub on the outskirts of the market for lunch.
We ate lunch at The Wheatsheaf, and it was delicious.
The name of the game was Pizza and Burgers for lunch. We also had tater tots and some of the best curly fries. Grab a table outside so you’re still in on all the action happening at the market. (A local who eats there often told us that if you eat/drink there you can bring food over from the market, too.)
Once we were sufficiently stuffed we wandered around the stalls a little bit more. We promised the kids we’d get some desserts after we ate lunch, so it was time to live up to that part of the deal.
After lunch we picked up some of the famous strawberries with milk chocolate drizzled over them—not totally worth it in my opinion—and then bought a couple of crumbles from Humble Crumble. We got a mixed berry and apple cinnamon; they were both fantastic, although I personally liked the apple cinnamon more.
If we had more time (and room in our bellies) we probably would have tried more, and if we had even more time around Borough Market I’d absolutely do a food tour like this one.
The British Museum
While The British Museum isn’t very kid-friendly in terms of attractions, this was on my husband’s list of places to visit during our weekend in London.
Entry into the British Museum is free, however; I highly recommend you get tickets ahead of time. The line without tickets was wrapped around outside the gate, and those with tickets could just walk on through. Also good to know: there is a pretty thorough bag check when you go through security.
As soon as we entered we turned left and went straight towards the Rosetta Stone (after a quick stop at the toilet). The Rosetta Stone prompted a nice learning moment for explaining language to kids and how important the Rosetta Stone was to language and our history.
While The British Museum isn’t as gigantic as, say the Louvre, it is a decent-size museum. The kids wanted to see mummies, so high-tailed it up to the third floor to see some pretty magnificent mummies.
And that was basically all we had the bandwidth for before we all started tapping out. It had been a long day! Dinner was at a random pub, and then we headed back to our hotel around 7 pm for the rest of the evening.
We each clocked in around 25,000+ steps…not a bad first start to our (long) weekend in London.
Day Two: Bike tour and a West End Show
Our second full day in London was one of our favorites; it was more of a relaxing day (compared to how much we walked around the day before). We went on a bike tour around London and then saw a show on London’s West End!
Bike Tour around London
We started the day by heading over to Waterloo station, just around the corner from the Tube station is Fat Tire Tours, home of our bike tour for most of the day.
Our tour was four+ hours long (stopping for lunch along the way) and went all around the city. I was a little worried about the tour for two reasons. One, the weather called for rain, but the tour went on without a hitch! We got a little wet here and there, but nothing we couldn’t handle.
The second thing I was worried about was the timing. Four hours is a long time when you’re only in London for three days. Thankfully it was exactly what we needed; we love bike rides and this one showed us and took us to all the hot spots.
Not only did we see Big Ben, but we also saw Westminster Abbey, Tragaler Square, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Hyde Park, and more.
My favorite parts were riding right along and up in front of these iconic places and passing the throngs of people out to see the same thing. The kids didn’t complain of tired legs or feeling bored; they loved it as much as we did.
Our tour guide, Lincoln, was awesome. He shared history and stories in a way that we’ll actually remember them. So many great stories, seriously.
If you have time during your long weekend in London, especially if you’re with kids, I absolutely encourage you to go on this bike tour. It was an incredible way to see the city and it ranks as one of my kids’ favorite things that we did.
See a Show
Seeing a show in London’s West End was one of the things I was most excited about during our weekend in London, and I was incredibly excited for the kids since this would be their intro to the theater.
We decided to see Frozen the Musical, and it was phenomenal. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I laughed and cried, and could barely stay in my seat for some parts. It was fantastic.
Tickets to shows are not cheap, so if we were paying that much money for all five of us, we wanted to see something the kids would recognize and know. The last thing I wanted was for the kids to start complaining, get bored, or talk during the show.
Thankfully, all three kids were completely enthralled the entire time.
I have a mental image of Logan and Maddie (6 and 8 years old) literally on the edge of their seats with their eyes open wide.
Good to know: there is an age limit (must be at least 4 years old) to see Frozen the Musical (and other shows in London), so double-check before you take your kids to see a show in London.
The most stressful part of seeing a show was getting the tickets; I didn’t want to pick the wrong seat. We ended up sitting in the Grand Circle in row C and they were great seats. I wanted row B, but they were sold out; the Grand Circle gave us an exceptional view of the stage.
By the way, while I recommend always booking direct when possible, I actually got our Frozen tickets from Disney Tickets (a site I vetted before buying), and I saved a decent amount of money.
Stroll Through Covent Garden
We opted for the 7 pm showing of Frozen; honestly, it’s because I was hoping the crowd would be a little bit older…and I was right. The show lasted about 2.5 hours, and after it ended we walked around Covent Garden a little bit.
If you venture into Covent Garden during the day you’ll find street performers all over the place. There was a fantastic musician jamming out to cover songs that made my high-school heart happy.
Day Three: Camden Town, Afternoon Tea, and the Natural History Museum
A portion of our third day in London was done on the fly. We had free time in the morning and afternoon, and while we almost went to see the changing of the guard, we decided to detour and experience Camden Market instead since we saw Buckingham Palace the day before.
Our other options were to visit Westminster Abbey or Portobello Road in Notting Hill. We stayed on Portobello Road once, and I just love that area.
Camden Town, home to Camden Market, is such a funky section of London that I absolutely adore. We didn’t have much time to walk around and since we were traveling super light I couldn’t buy anything, but it was fantastic for people-watching and window shopping.
If we had more time or if we didn’t have lunch plans, we would have loved to eat at the market. The food options looked better than Borough Market, for what it’s worth.
Afternoon (Science) Tea
Our kids all agreed that our Science Afternoon Tea at Ampersand Hotel was a highlight of our weekend in London. And I’m pretty thankful they said that because it was not cheap; this was definitely a splurge experience for our family.
Booking an afternoon tea was slightly stressful since there were so many options to pick from. Then I saw this science version and it was a no-brainer for us.
The kids loved it. It was hands-on; they got to mix their drinks and play with their food, and instead of tea they got hot chocolate.
While the savory food was slightly limited* compared to the sweets, we liked it all, even if we all felt like we needed a nap after all the food.
Good to Know: *You could actually order more of whatever you wanted. I’m not sure how many times or how many you could request, but it was offered, which I thought was great.
My favorite part was the grown-up cocktails. They were all delicious and made it extra fun for us.
Our server was also exceptional; he could tell the kids were really into it, so he played into their excitement. We appreciate the extra kindness.
The Natural History Museum
If I had to change anything from this itinerary for a long weekend in London I’d probably swap afternoon tea and this museum visit. We were seriously so ready for a nap after our tea that it would have been nice to do the museum first when we still had more energy.
Regardless of when you go to the Natural History Museum, make sure you book your tickets ahead of time, just like you did for the British Museum. You’ll get in so much faster.
Once inside we made a beeline towards the dinosaur exhibit. There was another dino special exhibit happening, but we were feeling a little pinch to our budget by then and didn’t pay extra for it, so we just wandered around the museum.
The other highlight—besides the dinos and the gigantic gift shops—was the volcano and earthquake exhibits. If you start on the second floor you can take an escalator ride up through a “meteor” that takes you to do volcano section. We all enjoyed it.
Covent Garden…or Wherever Else You Want to Visit
We didn’t have any plans after the museum, so we decided to go back to Covent Garden since it was still early, and since we enjoyed it the evening before.
It was even more lively during the day, but we didn’t see much, because we (literally) got roped into a magician’s set. Logan was a “helper”…and then we were kinda stuck there for the entire time. I really wanted to go to some shops, but by the time the magician finished, it was time for dinner.
We wandered around after that and found dinner in the area, then wrapped up our evening and headed back to our hotel.
We had grand plans to get up early and go see something else in London since our flight didn’t leave until the afternoon.
By the time we were ready to go, it was already mid-morning. So instead of going to Notting Hill or Westminster Abbey, we started making our way towards Stansted.
It’s a good thing we didn’t go anywhere else since getting to the airport took slightly longer than expected. Not only that, but the airport was packed.
I would have been incredibly stressed about timing if we had gone somewhere before the airport.
Traveling to London
I won’t lie: I usually hate these sections in travel guides because if someone is planning a trip somewhere, they most likely already know how to get there.
The thing is, there are so many different ways to get to London, especially from Europe, that I want to share some experiences/thoughts with two different ways to arrive.
Arriving in London via Stansted Airport
The problem is that by the time we spent money on our roundtrip tickets for the Stansted Express (a high-speed train that takes you into London), and the taxi from the tube station to our hotel (it would have been double the time to take the tube; we did take the tube on the way out), it would have been cheaper, faster, and more convenient to take the train to London. Live and learn, right?
This is why I like to share our experience, so you can have more details when it comes to putting your trip together.
Long story short, if you arrive at Standsted, be prepared for it to possibly cost more in the end and for it to take several additional hours to/from your destination in London.
Where we Stayed in London as a Family of Five
Finding a place for all of us to stay was the biggest headache for planning our weekend in London.
Not only is accommodation outrageously expensive (like, jaw-droppingly expensive), but as with most places in Europe, it’s hard to find a place for all five people to stay in the same place/room. Seeing the price for two rooms anywhere literally left my jaw hanging wide open, so that was out of the question. I also recently heard not great things about Airbnb in London, so I wanted a hotel for our three days in London.
Good to know: If you’re affiliated with the military you can actually sign up for a membership with the Victory Services Club or the Union Jack Club. Both places have family accommodations and are highly recommended by friends.
After searching high and low I found the Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington, not only did it have a two-bedroom, two-bathroom room available, but it included breakfast at a rate that was half the price of anywhere else.
The one and only downside (which wasn’t a deal breaker, but needs to be noted) is that it was slightly far away from any place we wanted to visit. It was a 10 to 15-minute walk to the Tube and then at least a 20-minute ride to any stop. Thankfully there was also a bus that stopped in front of the hotel, which worked out well when the times matched up for us.
Find a hotel for your long weekend trip to London here:
Your Long Weekend Trip to London
If you only have three days in London this was a great way to see a lot/most of the city in a short time. Could we have done more? Absolutely. Did this hit all the high points for us? It sure did!
Until next time, London. Cheers!