london phone booth

Travel: One Day in London with Kids

One of the best things about living in Ireland is being able to get relatively cheap flights from Dublin to other cities in Europe via Ryan Air.

Awhile back we took advantage of one of those airfare deals to make a quick weekend trip to London. I do mean quick. While we were there for 2 nights, we really only had one full day to see the London sights.

Here’s how to make the most of one day in London with kids.

Getting Around

There’s no other way to get around London than with public transportation.

If you want to know which travel pass is the best one to buy (Oyster or Travel Card), Transport for London breaks it all down for you in a convenient, easy-to-read way. It also lets you know which is the cheaper option based on where you are traveling and if you are traveling with kids. Kids ages 5 – 10 are usually free with these cards.

What We Squeezed Into One Day

When we only have one day in a city, we have to prioritize what we are okay just walking by and seeing and what we really want to stop and experience. I’ll try to make mention of both here.

Harry Potter Store
The one thing my kids really wanted to do in London was visit Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter Studio Tour. Unfortunately, we could not get tickets. Whomp, whomp.

Instead, we took them to Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station. Next to the platform is what must be the world’s busiest Harry Potter store. It was so packed with tourists that I’m fairly certain all fire marshal rules were being broken. My husband said he’d wait for us outside! HA! Smart man!

It was worth it though because the kids scored a cool souvenir – Harry Potter wands.

Also at King’s Cross Station or rather, outside of it, is a huge bird cage with a swing.

We love finding random things like this in a city. And I love that my kids are still young enough to enjoy these discoveries too.

Big Ben
Big Ben is the bell inside a clock tower (Elizabeth Tower) at the Houses of Parliament. Although, most tourists refer to the entire tower as Big Ben.

You’re not allowed to go up into the tower (unless you are a UK resident with special permission), so this was a walk by. Unfortunately, the tower is currently under refurbishment until 2020, so it’s not going to make for great photos ops with scaffolding around it.

London Eye
Near Big Ben is the London Eye, which is a huge ferris wheel of sorts.

It was really expensive to ride the London Eye (£24 per ticket) and the line was long, so we opted not to do this. Instead, we played at an awesome playground located at the base of the London Eye in a park called Jubilee Gardens.

Buckingham Palace
It’s hard to tell from this picture, but we managed to show up in time for most of the changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

The crowds are LARGE for this ceremony and it was hard for the kids to see. After the fact, I found these helpful tips for watching the ceremony with kids.

Telephone Booth
I don’t even remember where this telephone booth was located, but they are all over the city.

If you see one, you HAVE to stop for a picture with this iconic symbol of London. Just embrace your inner tourist and go for it!

And don’t be surprised if you have to explain what a pay phone is to your kids! Ha!

Natural History Museum and the Science Museum
London’s Natural History Museum is AMAZING.

It’s also one of the city’s free museums. We all had a great time exploring this building and its exhibits.

Seeing the most intact Stegasaurus skeleton found (so far) was pretty incredible, as was riding up this escalator through a metallic globe.

Talk about a fantastic sensory experience!

Right next door to the Natural History Museum is the Science Museum. Admission to this museum is also free.

Both are well worth a visit and because you’re not paying a hefty admission fee (unless you want to make a donation), we didn’t feel bad about not spending hours and hours here.

Outside of the museums are a neat garden with a little place to get ice cream a snack.

In case it wasn’t obvious from this last picture, at the end of the day we had two very tired kids. They are troopers though! After a good night’s sleep they were happy and ready for another adventure.

We packed a lot into one day in London, but over a year later the kids still talk about the things we saw and experienced. That’s how I know it was worth it!

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