Family-friendly holiday guide

family-guide

Find out our top tips for getting around London and Britain as a family, activities and top attractions, and how to make the most of discounts, savings, and fast track tickets.


Getting around London 

What are the different options for travelling around London as a family?
 
By tube
London's metro system (the tube) is a great way to travel around the city, even with young children, as it's so fast. Most of the biggest attractions and most famous parts of London can be found in the centre of the city, in Zone 1 of the transport map. Tube journeys in Zone 1 are very quick, but are often quite crowded, and you may want to avoid the tube at busier times (in the evening and morning rush hour). 
 
By bus
Taking the bus is a great way to see more of London "like a local." You can travel on a bus with a Visitor Oyster card or Travelcard, and every bus has space for at least one pushchair, and priority seating.  There are also plenty of sightseeing bus tours, many of which include a helpful audio guide to help you get your bearings in the city.
 
On foot
As the Zone 1 area is actually not very big, it's surprisingly easy to walk between most of London's major attractions. Walking between certain parts of the city can even be quicker than taking the Tube. A street map of London is an essential to help you plan your way around.
 
Find out more about getting around London in our beginners' guide.

Do children need their own ticket on public transport in London? 

  • There are no ‘family tickets’ available on London’s tubes and buses – so every adult and child over 10 needs their own ticket 
  • Children aged 0-10 travel free as long as they are accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket (up to four children can travel free with each one adult) 
  • Children aged 11+ need their own ticket to travel. 11-15 year olds can get a Child Travelcard, which offers reduced prices on buses and tubes. Daily and weekly Child Travelcards are available  
  • Children aged 16+ pay adult rates on London’s public transport 

Travel tips

  • Public transport in London is busiest before 9.30am and between 5pm and 7pm. You may want to avoid it within these times and travel at another time instead – especially if you have pushchairs, or lots of bags
  • Most tube stations have lifts or escalators, but some may not - step-free stations are marked by a wheelchair sign on the tube map. If you have a pushchair or stroller, are disabled or have very young children see our guide to accessibility for more information about getting around
  • You can pick up a tube map for free at any tube station. If you have a pay-as-you-go Oyster card, you can also top up your card at any station using the simple screens
  • See more about prices and types of London travel pass

Travelling from the airport? Check out our guide to London airport transfers.



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Travel in the rest of Britain  

By train 

  • If you’re making multiple journeys by rail and travelling long-distance around Britain, a BritRail Pass can offer great value for money compared to normal ticket prices. BritRail Passes are exclusively available to overseas visitors and must be purchased in advance as they are not available once you’re in the UK
  • BritRail Passes must be purchased for each family member over 5 years old - under 5s travel free. Child BritRail passes are around half the cost of adult passes and 'Youth' passes are also available for 16-25 year olds at a reduced price
  • A BritRail Consecutive Pass is perfect if you’ve get set days you want to travel, while the BritRail Flexi Pass offers greater flexibility. Passes are available for the South West, the area around London, all of England, all of Scotland, and all of Britain

On-board facilities
Most trains in Britain provide free facilities such as baby changing, snack cars, and toilets in stations and on-board. 
 
Family ideas
Britain is known for its beautiful train journeys and has many restored steam train routes which promise a magical family trip. Discover the real life 'bridge to Hogwarts', the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland, or take a breathtaking trip through the moors on the North York Moors Railway.
 
Rent a car
Renting a car is a particularly convenient option for families, as it allows you the freedom to travel wherever you want in Britain, as well as the privacy and home comforts you need. You can easily find the best rates for hiring a car in London and the UK with our car rental price finder.




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Money-saving tips 

For many attractions, you can save money when you buy a family ticket rather than individual tickets for each family member. There are also lots of things you can do absolutely free - see our suggestions below!

Which attractions offer a family discount?

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
30% saving 2 adults + up to 3 children (5-15), under 5s free
Tower of London 25% saving 
2 adults + 3 children or 1 adult + 4 children
(5-15), under 5s free
Arsenal Stadium Tour
20% saving
2 adults + 2 children (5-15), under 5s free
Westminster Abbey
20% saving 
2 adults + 1 child or 2 adults + 2 children (11-18), under 11s free
Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
Fast Track tickets
15% saving
2 adults + 2 children (4-15), under 4s free
Harry Potter Studio Tour
10% saving
2 adults + 2 children (5-15)
London Zoo
10% saving
2 adults + 2 children or 1 adult + 3 children 
(3-15), under 3s free
Madame Tussauds
Fast Track tickets
Free guidebook for family visits 
2 adults + 2 children or 1 adult + 3 children (4-15)



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Top family-friendly attractions in London 

London Zoo

Tube icon Camden Town (Zone 2)

 Free feeding sessions, talks and displays
 Picnic areas and undercover areas for all weather conditions
 Get a 10% discount with a family ticket 

penguins-london-zoo-300

With over 12,000 animals, from the furry to the scaly, there’s plenty to amaze all ages at London Zoo. Kids will love Penguin Beach, where you can watch penguins dive, frolic and feed, and Rainforest House, where you can get up close and personal with free-roaming monkeys and sloths! 

Suggested length of visit: 4+ hours


London Eye

Tube icon Waterloo (Zone 1)

 Seats provided in each capsule
 Pushchairs must be folded and stored during the trip

london-eye

A trip on Europe's largest ferris wheel is a fantastic way to get a different perspective on the city and an amazing experience for all ages. Spot famous landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace - on a clear day you can see as far as 25 miles away!

A trip on the London Eye takes 30 minutes


London Aquarium

Tube icon Waterloo (Zone 1)

 Interactive feeding sessions, diving displays and touch pools
 Parking space for pushchairs available during peak season (half term and summer)

london-aquarium

At one of Europe's largest aquariums, kids can explore 14 different themed zones of fascinating marine creatures, visit the Discovery Pools to handle friendly crabs and starfish, and maybe even brave the exhilarating Shark Walk...

Suggested length of visit: 1.5 - 2 hours





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Day trips out of London

Hampton Court Palace

national-rail Hampton Court (Zone 6) (30 minutes from London)

 Family room for under 5s with toys, books and dress-up clothes
 Kids' audio guide (suitable for over 6s, in English only)
 Pushchair parking available

hampton-court

Once home to Britain's most notorious king, Hampton Court Palace is a perfect place to visit as a family. Children will love the costumed actors who bring history to life, plus the Tudor cookery, quiz trails with prizes, interactive activities for all ages and of course, getting lost in the famous maze!

Suggested length of visit: 3+ hours



Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

national-rail Portsmouth Harbour (1 hour 20 minutes from London)

 Family trails, interactive displays, and laser tag
 Pushchair parking available
 Get a 30% discount with a family ticket 

portsmouth-dockyard

Home to the famous war ships HMS Victory and HMS Warrior, Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard is a fantastic educational day out for the whole family. A ticket includes entry to ten different attractions, with children's events including family trails, storytelling, creative activities and more.

Suggested length of visit: 4+ hours



Warwick Castle

national-rail Warwick (1 hour 25 minutes from London)

 Daily shows and tours
 Pushchair parking available

warwick-castle

Fireball shows, castle dungeons, knight school and medieval jousting – history is made to be a lot of fun at Warwick Castle! Explore the centuries-old towers and discover the gruesome side of British history in the Castle Dungeon and the Horrible Histories Foul Fayres camps.

Suggested length of visit: 4+ hours



National Trust Properties

national-rail Various locations around Britain

 Regular family activities and events at many properties
 Family facilities widely available
 A family ticket costs only 5% more than two adult tickets

culzean-castle

Many National Trust properties make a great family day out, as they're very child-friendly and offer events and activities especially for families. 

See the National Trust website for more information.



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Top 3 free things to do 

Visit the Natural History Museum

natural-history-museum

Tube icon South Kensington (Zone 1)
The Natural History Museum is world-famous for good reason. From the awesome dinosaur skeletons to the grand, palace-like staircases, kids will be wowed from start to finish! 

The museum is home to millions of 'specimens' which offer a fascinating look at nature, including a gallery of life-size mammals, and a huge cross-sectioned tree. There are even themed exhibits and special kids' journeys laid out to help you make the most of your visit.
Other free child-friendly museums: Horniman Museum, Science Museum, Geffrye Museum


See the deer at Richmond Park

richmond-park

Tube icon Richmond (Zone 4)
A stroll through beautiful Richmond Park will have you doubting that you're still in London - it feels like the heart of the countryside! The park is well-known not only for its acres of lush greenery and huge variety of plants, but also for the herds of majestic deer that live there, unphased by human visitors - see how many you can spot.
Other child-friendly parks: Green Park, Hampstead Heath, St James' Park


Climb the pirate ship at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground

princess-diana-memorial-playground

Tube icon Queensway (Zone 1)
Designed to be a children’s wonderland, this huge playground built in memory of Princess Diana is a haven for children of all ages. From the wooden pirate ship centrepiece complete with sandy beach, to its sensory trail, teepees and huge variety of toys and play sculptures, there's plenty to do - perfect for young ones to blow off some steam after a visit to nearby Kensington Palace.
Other free playgrounds: Coram's Fields, Regents Park

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