Big Ben, London Bridge, the Tower of London, the London Eye, a double decker bus. What else comes to mind when you think of London?
With so many famous landmarks, London is a great city for a family’s first international trip. Your kids can get involved in planning each day’s tour as they’ll have heard of many of the stops.
London is also a great destination because it will feel familiar. Food choices are similar enough to home that even the pickiest eater should be able to find something they enjoy. Who knows, they may even end up liking mushy peas! And you don’t have to worry about the language barrier. Reading maps and asking for directions is easy peasy since everything is, well – English.
Although it may feel similiar, it’s still a country with it’s own way of doing things. Your children will be exposed to new customs and a new currency. Doing math can be fun if you’re on vacation learning to convert pounds to dollars.
The Tube and the bus system make London an easy city to navigate. Kids under 10 ride for free on the Tube. But, most of the stations are deep underground so be prepared to navigate stairs and escalators. If you’re travelling with toddlers and taking a stroller be prepared for some stations without an elevator (or lift). Travelcards and an Oyster card -plastic cards with prepaid fares – are accepted by both buses and the Tube and are an economical way and stress free way to pay for you public transportation.
What to Do
With so many sites to visit how do you know where to start? Hop-on Hop-off bus routes are a great way to spend your first day or two getting familiar with the city and makes getting to sites on your “Must Do” list easy. Or visit The Shard – the EU’s tallest building – and spot London’s landmarks from the Tower Bridge to the House of Parliament.
London has tons of live theatre shows and getting tickets in advance is relatively easy, even for the popular shows. The best shows for kids are Shrek The Musical, The Lion King and Wicked The Musical.
Along with notable landmarks, London has a bunch of iconic parks that are kid friendly for the times when your littles just can’t stand in another line. Hyde Park has a pirate themed playground and you can rent paddle boats. The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain makes a beautiful background for family photos. Battersea Park has boating on the lake, a fantastic fire engine playground and a small zoo with butterflies and farm animals.
Want to visit a castle? Windsor Palace (20 minutes outside of London) resembles a castle and has a Changing of the Guards. The smaller crowds here make this a great place for little ones to watch the ceremony.
Harry Potter fans in your house? You’ll need to add a stop at King’s Cross to visit the famous train platform and take a ride on the Tube to see the underground where Harry first disapparated with Dumbledore. And of course – you could spend a day at Warner Bros. Studio: The Making of Harry Potter but for something a little more authentic head to Alnwick Castle where the movies were filmed. After a free tour, your young wizard can take a flying lesson in the gardens. End the day with a magical dinner high off the ground in Europe’s largest treehouse.
Sports fans might want to watch a soccer match (or as they call it- football) and see notable, world-class teams such as Arsenal F.C., Chelsea F.C., West Ham United F.C., and Crystal Palace take on the likes of Manchester United, and Liverpool F.C.
When to Go
June, July and August are the warmest months with an average daily temperature of 19°C but they’re also the most expensive times to visit. Consider a trip in the winter when average temperatures are around 9°C; you’ll have fewer rainy days and lower crowds.
How to Get There
Canadians can get direct flights to London Heathrow through Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Halifax. Calgary and Ottawa have the option of flying direct to Gatwick, a much smaller airport. The Tube’s Piccadilly line connects Heathrow with central London and the Gatwick Express train is the cheapest and fastest way to get into London from Gatwick.
Convinced that London would be a great city for your family to visit? As a Family Travel Specialist, I help families plan and enjoy their London adventures – I know the best places to visit whether you have toddlers, tweens or teenagers.
Contact me today (call 780-668-8292 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know how I can help.