Discover London with kids: 8 family-friendly activities

From museums to aquariums, parks to zoos, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained in London. Check out these great attractions, and banish the words ‘I’m bored’ for good.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Go on, you know you want to! ©Susan Walker/Getty Images

Home of the 2012 London Olympics, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has been transformed into a wonderland of things to see and do. Little ones can splash about in the dancing fountains and burn off some energy in the playgrounds, which feature rock pools, sand pits and treehouses. Older kids, meanwhile, can relive the Olympic Games on the London 2012 Trail or try their hand at a new sport in the state-of-the-art Velodrome and Aquatics Centre. For the ultimate adventure, check out the ArcelorMittal Orbit, where you can whizz down the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide.

Cost: Free (entrance to sports venues and the ArcelorMittal Orbit cost extra)
Nearest tube station: Stratford

London Zoo

Get up close and personal with some of the world’s most beautiful creatures ©PhanuwatNandee/Getty Images

Animal lovers of all ages will be in their element at London Zoo, where you can spend the day hanging out with some of the world’s most beautiful creatures. Join the meerkats and otters for feeding time, step inside London’s only living rainforest to get up close with monkeys, sloths and bats, and head to Penguin Beach to see how the flippered animals ‘fly’ underwater. Make sure you save time for the zoo’s newest exhibition, Land of the Lions. Here, you can spy on the mighty mammals as they roam their Indian-themed habitat.

Cost: From £18 for children 3-15 years and £24.30 for adults
Nearest tube station: Camden Town or Regent’s Park

Up at the O2

Move on up at London’s former Millennium Dome ©Up at the O2

Thrill seekers over the age of 9 can climb the roof of London’s former Millennium Dome – now known as the O2 Arena. This exciting, 90-minute Up at the O2 experience takes you on a guided expedition over the roof of the O2 via a fabric walkway. You’ll be 52 metres above ground level, and walking at an incline of 30 degrees. Everyone is kitted out with a climb suit, boots and harness, so kids will feel every inch the mountaineer. There’s an observation platform at the summit, where you can stop to take in the spectacular views over the Thames and the rest of London.

Cost: From £30
Nearest tube station: North Greenwich

Science Museum

A young Wonderlab visitor is reflected inside the Infinity Boxes exhibit © Plastiques Photography, Science Museum Group

London is packed with world-class museums, but the Science Museum is one of the most family-friendly. Kids of all ages will have great fun getting hands-on in the interactive galleries and immersive experiences here. Wannabe astronauts can take on a virtual reality mission that puts you in the pilot’s seat of a Soyuz capsule, while budding pilots can experience what it’s like to fly in the RAF’s latest Typhoon jet. Even toddlers can get in on the action at the multi-sensory Pattern Pod.

Cost: Free (special exhibits and IMAX films cost extra)
Nearest tube station: South Kensington

London Dungeon

Have fun with “The Torturer” © London Dungeon

London’s colourful history is brought to life at the London Dungeon, where over 12s can enjoy interactive shows, thrilling rides and hi-tech special effects. Expect to be laughing hysterically one minute and jumping out of your seat the next, as you experience everything from Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot to the Great Fire of London. The headline attraction here is ‘Drop Dead’ – an exhilarating vertical free-fall drop ride, in the dark. Don’t miss the ‘Tyrant’ boat ride, either. Here you’ll discover the full force of Henry VIII’s wrath as you’re condemned to death and sent on a final voyage down the Thames (spoiler alert: you will get wet).

Cost: From £21
Nearest tube station: Waterloo

Sea Life London

Find Nemo and all his friends at Sea Life London ©Feverpitch/Getty Images

Everyone from tots to teens will be impressed by London’s huge Sea Life aquarium. Younger kids will be mesmerised by the bright colours of the tropical fish and rainbow coral, while older children will love the sharks, sea turtles and stingrays. The whole place has been designed so that you can get as close to the marine life as possible. As you wander through the glass tunnel, with shoals of shimmering fish darting along beside you, you’ll feel like you’re deep beneath the sea. Make time for a visit to the new Rainforest Adventure, where you can discover the creepy crawlies of the Amazon.

Cost: From £20.40
Nearest tube station: Waterloo

Cutty Sark

Get to know the ropes of the legendary Cutty Sark  ©Alexey Fedorenko/Shutterstock

Kids can become a sailor for the day on the iconic Cutty Sark. The fastest sailing ship of its time is now an award-winning attraction in south London. Children can meet the crew and discover stories of life on board, before taking the helm at the ship’s wheel and learning how to steer. The ship has plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, too – young adventurers can go below deck to have a nosey at the captain’s cabin and climb into the crew’s bunk beds.

Cost: From £6.30 for children and £12.15 for adults
Nearest tube station: Greenwich

Madame Tussauds

Say hi to BB-8 ©Madame Tussauds London

Children can have their photos taken with amazingly realistic wax figures of their favourite celebrities at the ever-popular Madame Tussauds. Young sports fans can do the mobot next to Mo Farah, while One Direction fanatics can strike their best pose with the band. And Star Wars devotees will want to check out famous scenes from the movies. Kids will love The Voice UK experience as well. Here, they can sit in the iconic red chairs alongside will.i.am, and listen to real acts from the show before deciding who to turn around for.

Cost: From £24.50
Nearest tube station: Baker Street

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Please note, all information in this post is accurate at the time of publication. Please check the individual websites for the latest details and pricing.