London Drum

Two Days In London With Kids – Example Family Itinerary

Itineraries with family-friendly attractions to help you plan a two-day stay with kids

Idea #1 – Sightseeing bus & boat, Changing the Guard, landmarks

Trafalgar Square
Horse Guards Parade
St. James’s Park
Buckingham Palace
Changing The Guard at Buckingham Palace
Tootbus Tour
Tower Bridge
Tower of London
Day One | What you will see:
Trafalgar Square, Horse Guards, Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace, sightseeing bus, Tower of London

Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, double-decker buses and Changing the Guard – that’s what everyone wants to see when they come to London for a couple of days So the first day of this itinerary is going to squeeze in all four of those with as little walking as possible (because traipsing round London with your kids can be a nightmare).

If it’s your first time in London then you’ll probably want to show your kids some of the famous landmarks, so start off in Trafalgar Square and show them Nelson’s Column. Then buy a sightseeing bus ticket from the Tootbus Tour shop on the corner of Cockspur Street. We won’t be riding the just bus yet, but let’s buy the ticket now so we can join the bus later.

Now walk down Whitehall until you reach Horse Guards. Take a photo of your kid standing next to a soldier and then walk through the central arch into the parade ground. Walk through St. James’s Park until you reach Buckingham Palace at the very far end. Now you need to find yourself a good vantage spot for the parade.

Read our review of Changing the Guard because you’ll probably be surprised at how busy it gets (not all kids are good with crowds). You’ll also have to get there quite early if you want a good view.

When the ceremony ends around 11.30 AM find the TootBus Tour stop on the corner of Buckingham Gate. Now we’re going to ride it past a lots of landmarks.

The first places you’ll see are Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Parliament. It will then cross over the river for a look at the London Eye, and cross back over the river again to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The route will differ depending on whether it’s Mon-Fri or Sat-Sun, but eventually you’ll end up by Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, which is where you should get off. Hopefully the entire route will have taken around 50 mins, but you might have got unlucky with the traffic. Let’s assume it’s 2 o’clock.

We normally recommend 3-4 hours at the Tower of London, but you don’t want to spend that long walking around with little kids so 2½ hours should be plenty. Highlights include Traitor’s Gate, the Bloody Tower and Crown Jewels.

London Eye
City Cruises
Cutty Sark
Royal Observatory
Greenwich Park
Day Two | What you will see:
London Eye, sightseeing boat to Greenwich, Royal Observatory planetarium

If you’re taking your kids to London for a couple of days then the London Eye is probably high on your list of things to do, so let’s give that a try today. The wheel only takes about 30 mins to go around and it’s not too scary (although it does judder around a bit). The scariest thing about it is probably the queue, because if you forget to buy your tickets online beforehand than you might end up waiting an extra 30-45 minutes.

When you get off the wheel find the pier next door (literally right next-door) and catch one of the sightseeing boats to Greenwich. We recommend catching a City Cruises boat. (The Thames Clippers go there as well, but they don’t have many outside seats.)

The boat ride will give you a great view of St. Paul’s, the Globe Theatre and Shard, before floating past the Tower of London and passing under Tower Bridge.

Forty minutes later you should be pulling into Greenwich pier under the tall mast of the Cutty Sark. You might want to head into the town centre for something to eat at this point, after which you should walk across Greenwich Park and up the hill to the Royal Observatory.

Unless your kid is incredibly interested in astronomy it’s probably best to skip the museum because it’s primarily aimed at adults – we’re here for the planetarium round the back. Your kid will definitely enjoy this show.

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Idea #2 – Four Merlin attractions & London Zoo

London Eye
London Dungeon
London Aquarium
Shrek’s Adventure
Day One | What you will see:
London Eye, London Dungeon, London Aquarium and Shrek’s Adventure

The idea behind this itinerary is that you can buy a combo ticket for four attractions (either Shrek’s Adventure, London Dungeon, London Aquarium, London Eye or Madame Tussauds) and get them cheaper than buying them all individually.

The first four attractions are next-door to each other, whereas Madame Tussauds is a tube ride away, so we’ll save that for the second day.

Option 1 – London Eye

We always recommend starting with something exciting so how about a ride on the London Eye? It’s also quite a handy way for parents to show their kids lots of famous landmarks without having to visit them (allow for 30-45 mins queuing, and 30 mins on the wheel).

Option 2 – London Dungeon

The London Dungeon might sell you a timed ticket during busy periods which means you’ll have to return later in the day. Craig hated every minute inside this place, so you might want to read his review first (allow for 30 mins queuing, and 90 mins inside).

Option 3 – London Aquarium

Everyone loves the London Aquarium. They’ve got a gigantic shark tank that’s two stories tall, an underwater sea tunnel where you can see the flatfish gliding above your head, and even a North Pole enclosure for the penguins (allow for 1½-2 hours).

Option 4 – Shrek’s Adventure

Shrek’s Adventure is good for really little kids – but only if they’re familiar with the movies so they can recognise all the film locations and goofy characters (allow for 1½ hours).

Madame Tussauds
Regent’s Park
London Zoo
Day Two | What you will see:
Madame Tussauds and London Zoo

Madame Tussauds is one of the busiest visitor attractions in London which might put you off a bit, so we definitely recommend buying your tickets in advance otherwise you could be queuing outside for an hour – and that’s not an exaggeration (allow for 30-60 mins queue time, and 2 hours for the visit).

The museum is full of waxwork pop stars, sports stars and film stars, but the bit that will most interest your kids is the Spirit of London ride. What they do is sit you down in a time-travelling taxicab and whizz you through 500 years of London’s history.

Assuming that you got there when it opened it should be around midday by the time you leave Madame Tussauds, so you can either take a 25-min walk through Regent’s Park past the boating lake, and maybe have something to eat in one of the cafes, or catch the 274 bus from Dorset Square to London Zoo.

There are no rollercoaster rides at this zoo, it’s just a traditional zoo with lions, tigers, giraffes and zebras (but no elephants). They’ve also got some impressive enclosures like Gorilla World, Rainforest Life and the Mappin Terrace, which looks like a towering mountain in the desert. They’ve also got an aquarium and a walk-in aviary (allow for 3-4 hours).

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Idea #3 – Thrills on the first day, educational stuff on the second

Clink Prison Museum
The Shard
Day One | What you will see:
Clink Prison Museum, London Bridge Experience, The Shard

The idea behind this itinerary is that you can butter your kids up with some thrills and chills on the first day, and then hit them with a lot of educational stuff on the second day.

If you want to your kids to learn some of the grisly history of London then take them to the Clink Prison Museum (allow for 1 hour). Think of it as a mini-version of the London Dungeon, and it’s good for kids who might find the other place too scary, or for families who don’t want to spend a fortune on entry fees (the London Dungeon is a tourist traps that charges crazy prices).

Inside you’ll find waxwork prisoners in rat-infested cells, with the sound of clanking chains coming out of the speakers. Along the way you’ll learn about some of the city’s most notorious crimes and criminals.

If your children found the Clink Prison Museum too scary then you might want to think twice about taking them to the London Bridge Experience, because this place is terrifying. We definitely recommend looking up some photographs on the internet beforehand because you need to be sure that your kid can handle it (allow for 1¼ hours).

After that we’ll climb to the top of The Shard. One look at the thin pyramid disappearing into the clouds will tell you what you already suspect… it’s London’s tallest building by miles. The observation decks are on floors 68-72 – that’s nearly double the height of the London Eye!

The viewing levels have all got floor to ceiling windows which means you can put your toes right up against the edge like you’re standing on the edge of a cliff, and the very highest level has got a few spaces that are totally open to the sky so you can hear the roaring wind and the jet engine roar of passing planes (allow for 1-1½ hours).

Natural History Museum
Science Museum
Day Two | What you will see:
Dinosaurs and spaceships at the Natural History Museum and Science Museum

If your kids are interested in dinosaurs then they’ll love the Natural History Museum. The dinosaur hall has got a full-size skeleton of a Pterodactyl, a Stegosaurus, and a tank-like Triceratops, plus some robot Velociraptors and a life-size Tyrannosaurus Rex striding around a misty swamp.

As you round the corner he’ll swing his big head towards the crowd and start roaring.

The Natural History Museum has also got a huge collection of stuffed animals. It’s almost like a zoo inside with lions, tigers, elephants, rhinos, polar bears, grizzly bears, pandas… everything!

And after that comes a section on earthquakes and volcanos and a vault full of precious jewels (allow for 2-3 hours).

The Science Museum starts off slow with a gallery full of steam machines and industrial engines, but after that comes an exhibition of spaceships. If your kids have an interest in space then they will love it – they’ve even got a mock-up of the Eagle lander from the Apollo moon missions in there.

The rest of the museum is filled with cars, trains, planes and boats, a few flight simulators and an IMAX cinema (allow for 2-2½ hours).

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London Squire bookThe owns and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon

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