Everything you need to know for a trip to London with teens. From essential landmarks to best London viewpoints, Harry Potter places to Sherlock locations, fun activities to do in London and shopping in London with teens. This is a teen-approved directory of 105 things to do in London on a family trip. There’s something here to keep everyone happy!
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London with Teenagers
My sons grew up in London and they’re both students now so we know a thing or two about how to entertain teens in the capital. This is our personal bucketlist of places to go, sights to see and things to do. If we haven’t tried it ourselves we generally know someone who has or we’d like to one day. Because it’s a personal list, and London’s a big city, some attractions aren’t included – but let me know if we’ve missed out one of your favourites. I hope it’ll inspire you to plan some great days out in London!
Getting Around London
Tube, bus, taxi, the most popular ways to get around London are also sightseeing must-dos in their own right. For more info on getting around London quickly and cheaply see our post coming soon.
Take the Tube London’s Underground service, universally known as the Tube, is comprehensive and efficient. The stylish Tube map might look complex but it’s a lot easier to figure out than the buses and you’ll soon get the hang of it.
Catch a bus London’s red buses are everywhere. Armed with a bus map and a bit of patience you could treat the scheduled services like a Hop on Hop off Sightseeing version at a fraction of the price.
Hail a black cab Licensed London taxi drivers know every street, route and place of interest within 6 miles of Charing Cross. They are understandably proud of this having spent years studying The Knowledge, the toughest taxi test in the world.
Take the Thames Clipper Did you know that Transport for London runs a scheduled boat service too? Travel from point to point along the Thames with London locals.
Walk For a big city London is surprisingly walkable. Before you head to the nearest Tube check a street map to see if you couldn’t reach your destination more quickly on foot.
Is the London Pass worth it?
The London Pass offers free entry to more than 80 London attractions. You buy 1 day, 2 day, 3 day, 6 day or 10 day Passes for Adults whilst children aged 5 to 15 years qualify for Child passes. Obviously they come at a price so you need to calculate how many attractions you can fit into a day without causing major family fallout. Your best bet is to do this in advance, with the teens, so that you can all agree itineraries that will make the Passes worthwhile.
A one day London Pass costs £69 for an adult. But a two day is £94, a 3 day is £115 and 6 days is, by comparison, a bargain-ous £154 so you can see that if you keep up the pace the savings increase!
Click here to find out more and book the London Pass
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Hotels and Apartments in London
Click here for a selection of hotels and apartments in London with Booking.com. You can set your preferred filters then scroll through the photos, descriptions and reviews to choose the accommodation you like best for your stay.
Famous Landmarks in London
If you’re first time visitors to London you’ll need this checklist of top sights. They are the iconic symbols of the capital which appear in a million selfies so teens should be happy to take a quick trip around them, phone in hand. With a bit of knowhow you can tick several off on a single TfL bus journey otherwise a Hop On, Hop Off bus tour, such as the one included in The LondonPass, will organise it all for you.
Free sights around Westminster
Free to view from the outside at least. Many landmarks charge for entry but you don’t necessarily need to go inside to enjoy their splendour.
Buckingham Palace The London home of HM the Queen. Parts of the Palace are open to visitors in the summer season but you don’t need to go in to enjoy its landmark status. It is easy walking distance from several tube stops as well as other Westminster landmarks. At the opposite end of the Mall lies Trafalgar Square.
Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. Built to commemorate Britain’s victory over France in the decisive 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. The diminutive admiral and war hero lost his life in the sea battle but was immortalised here by a grateful nation. You need to stand back to fit the whole column in a photo but the four lions who lie at the base are very popular too. From here walk up Haymarket to Piccadilly Circus or head in the opposite direction down Whitehall towards Westminster Palace.
Piccadilly Circus Often likened to NYC’s Times Square because of the neon billboards, but really – it isn’t. The famous statue of Eros is quite small too. Circus sounds exciting but it just means roundabout, Oxford Street has one too. But Piccadilly Circus is still a hub for visitors.
Westminster Palace and Big Ben The well known clock face in the Elizabeth Tower is currently under wraps due to restoration work. This is spoiling the fun for thousands of selfie takers although the rest of the Palace of Westminster, home of our squabbling Parliament, still looks pretty impressive.
Westminster Abbey Unless you’re very interested in church architecture and history you don’t need to go inside. Just know that this is the church where William and Kate got married and is the resting place of many of Britain’s finest, including the Unknown Warrior.
Free sights around the City of London
St Paul’s Cathedral The dome of St Paul’s has been a feature of the London landscape since 1675. It’s close to the Millennium (no longer wobbly) Bridge too. If you cross the bridge you’ll find the re-construction of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre.
Tower of London From St Paul’s follow the river east to find a proper castle overlooking the Thames in the heart of London. First built in 1078 the Tower looks tiny these days compared to neighbouring skyscrapers but up close it retains some of its former menace. View it from a riverside walk or go inside for full effect.
Tower Bridge Several bridges span the Thames but this is the really famous one. Tower Bridge splits and lifts to allow large ships on the Thames to pass beneath it. It’s right alongside the Tower of London so you can tick off two sights in one go.
WANT TO VISIT LONDON LIKE A LOCAL? Click here for our 2 day itinerary taking in must-see landmarks and attractions with walking routes and ticket tips
For 10 Fun and Authentic London Experiences, click here.
Red phone boxes
Once teens have stopped laughing at the primitive way in which their parents used to communicate they may want to take a photo. Find red phone boxes by the Royal Opera House, in Parliament Square, Covent Garden and opposite the V & A, amongst other sites.
Pageantry that’s free to watch
Soldiers on horseback in scarlet tunics, a marching band wearing tall black caps, a centuries old ritual: isn’t this one of the quintessential images of London life? The protectors of Buckingham and St James’ Palaces are all active infantry soldiers who also take on these ceremonial duties. Changing the Guard and Changing the Life Guard are regular ceremonies which you can watch at Buckingham Palace or Horse Guards Parade.
Film and TV locations in London
Colourful. characterful and hugely photogenic, it’s no surprise that London has starred in plenty of movies and TV dramas. Fans love to follow in the footsteps of their favourite characters and it’s a great way to see the city at the same time. Here’s a round up of sights, shops and locations linked to some big and small screen greats.
Harry Potter places in London
London’s biggest Harry Potter attraction, the Warner Bros studio tour, is actually 20 miles outside the centre so best to allow a whole day to visit it.
If you’d rather stick to central London you can still visit some key Harry Potter sites. Leadenhall Market near the Tower of London was used as a location for Diagon Alley in the filming of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Although architecture apart it’s 100% Muggle in real life.
In the concourse at Kings Cross station you can find a special Platform 9 ¾ wall with a luggage trolley embedded in it. A professional photographer is on hand or you can take your own photos whilst a Harry Potter merchandise shop is conveniently adjacent.
Another key HP destination is the two-part play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child which is on at the Palace Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue. Tickets are sought after but keep checking the website here for release dates, returns and the weekly Friday Forty.
The House of MinaLima in Greek Street, Soho showcases the graphic style of the Harry Potter films. See exhibits from the Marauders Map to the packaging for Chocolate Frogs and shop their gorgeous themed gifts. Find out more about the gallery and shop here.
Click here to book the Magical London Harry Potter guided walking tour
Sci-fi and Doctor Who in London
Sci-fi and fantasy lovers will want to pop into the Forbidden Planet megastore in Covent Garden. It’s the world’s biggest retailer in that niche and has a huge range of merchandise, comics and graphic novels from Manga to Marvel, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2.
Diehard Dr Who fans may want to make the trip out to Upton Park to The Who Shop in East London. Although The Stamp Centre, more conveniently located in The Strand, also carries some Who merchandise.
Incidentally there is an actual TARDIS-style police call box outside Earl’s Court tube station. Locals pass it without a glance, but it is ready and waiting for your photo opp. Although based on the original 1929 design this is a modern box, installed in 1996.
Fans might enjoy a Dr Who London walking tour
Sherlock Locations in London
221b Baker Street The world famous address of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, is, for complex reasons, actually attached to 237 to 241 Baker Street. A blue plaque on the wall helps to dispel confusion as this is the present day home of the Sherlock Holmes museum and shop.
Sherlock filming location BBC’s Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, was actually filmed about a mile away in North Gower Street. The terraced Georgian houses are similar to those in Baker Street but the location is much quieter. If you walk from Baker Street it’ll take about 20 minutes. Incidentally, the neighbouring Speedy’s cafe, which appears in the television series, is quite real!
Sherlock Holmes pub This Victorian-style pub contains a replica Sherlock Holmes apartment that was first displayed at the Festival of Britain in 1951. 10 Northumberland street, near Charing Cross.
Madame Tussauds I’m including the wax museum here because it’s close to Baker Street. It’s not for every teen but it does provide photo opps with 250 lifesize celeb wax figures past and present. Sherlock stars Robert Downey Jnr and Benedict Cumberbatch feature of course.
The Game is Now The official Sherlock Live Experience escape room, devised by show creators, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for TimeRun. Tackle a new Sherlock case with content from the stars of the TV series.
There are several Sherlock Holmes tours to choose from – here and here for instance.
Notting Hill film locations
London is the star in Richard Curtis’ timeless feelgood rom coms Notting Hill and Love Actually. The films helped to put Notting Hill on the visitor map. It’s a great area to explore whether or not you’re a fan of the movies and you can’t go far wrong by following in William Thacker’s footsteps through Portobello Road market.
You can explore Notting Hill and it’s film star credentials on a walking tour like this one.
More for film buffs in London
The British Film Institute’s IMAX by Waterloo station is the UK’s biggest cinema screen. Book ahead for current blockbusters as well as old favourites here.
James Bond fans will want to visit Bond in Motion at the London Film Museum in Covent Garden. It’s an exhibition of over 100 original vehicles used in the films from the Aston Martins to the villain’s Jag from Spectre as well as props, film clips and storyboards.
The MI6 Building There’s no secret about the UK’s foreign intelligence service hangout since it has featured in several James Bond movies over the years including Skyfall and Spectre. The striking postmodern building overlooks the Thames on Albert Embankment at Vauxhall.
Military Museums in London
Find out about life as a soldier during conflict or as a Londoner living through wartime attack. These museums with a military theme help to shine a light on school history lessons and the GCSE exam syllabus.
Imperial War museum
War through the eyes of the people who were there from WW1 to present day conflicts. I was particularly struck by the WW2 spy training section but there’s lots of interest here. Free entry.
Churchill War Rooms
Visit the warren of underground rooms in Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s wartime bunker beneath the streets of Westminster. It seems low tech to our modern day eyes yet it was key to Britain’s fight for victory in WW2.
What was life like on a WW2 warship from the Royal Navy? The nine-decked HMS Belfast is moored on the south side of the Thames near Tower Bridge. Visitors scramble up and down metal ladders, hear real stories of its 950 crew members and experience a battle simulation.
This newly refurbished museum explores the past and future of the Royal Air Force with interactive exhibits, cockpit simulators and a 4D theatre. We haven’t visited but I’ve heard great reports. The museum is 28 minutes from central London on the Northern Line tube.
London Castles, Palaces and Ships to visit
Tower of London
The mighty Tower has stood firm for almost a thousand years. A castle, palace and prison, it is rich with history, pageantry and fascinating stories. Visit to see the famous Beefeater guards, the Crown Jewels and the legendary ravens, guardians of the Tower.
Hampton Court Palace
One-time home to King Henry VIII, the historic Hampton Court Palace allows visitors a fascinating glimpse into the regal world of the Tudor, Stuart as well as Georgian courts. Visit Henry’s industrial size kitchens, get lost in the outdoor maze and seek the re-enactors who portray courtly life. Hampton Court Palace is about 30 minutes by train from London Waterloo so it’s more of a day trip than a quick visit.
This thoroughbred Victorian tea clipper was the fastest ship of its time. You can reach its mooring at Greenwich by rail, DLR or, appropriately, the Thames Clipper river boat service.
Swashbuckling Sir Francis Drake sailed the Golden Hinde to South America and back on command of Queen Elizabeth I, collecting many treasures from Spanish ships on his way. Astonishingly this lifesized replica, built in 1974 has travelled even further afield. She’s berthed in St Mary Overie Dock in Southwark and is scene of many a small child’s birthday party. But visitors can still imagine Drake’s life of adventure – and piracy – on the high seas.
Bringing history to life in London
Museums that look at different aspects of London life in the past.
The Ragged School Museum Enrol for a lesson in a Victorian school classroom in the East End. On the first Sunday of every month visitors of all ages can join an 1870s-style class complete with easel, slates and a dunce’s cap! The Ragged School Museum, Mile End is also open on Wednesdays and Thursdays, though without the lessons, click here for more info.
Museum of London Docklands at Canary Wharf focuses on the history of London’s port life including a re-creation of the ramshackle Sailortown district in Victorian docklands.
The Foundling Hospital. There was some hope for abandoned children in London in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Foundling Hospital was the first children’s charity and became fashionable amongst benefactors; the composer Handel was a keen supporter. The site is now a museum with thought-provoking displays and oral histories.
The Old Operating Theatre An original 1822 operating theatre – with viewing gallery – from St Thomas’ Hospital that was discovered in the attic of a Southwark church. Be prepared for a spiral staircase and gory details!
Free museums and galleries in London
Many of London’s great museums are free to enter. This comes as a very pleasant surprise indeed to a lot of visitors, especially families. Not only are these museums a free thing to do in what is a fairly expensive city but you can pop in for half an hour or so with no need to stay on to justify the entrance fees. Many also have indoor picnic areas meaning you can bring your own lunch.
So here’s our Greatest Hits guide to London’s top museums, focusing on items to interest teens. Check in advance for exhibitions, workshops and activities at the time of your visit. Nb there may be a fee to enter temporary exhibitions.
The British Museum London school children visit to see the mummies in the Egyptian rooms. Other don’t-misses from the 80,000 artifacts on display include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures (aka the Elgin Marbles), an Easter Island statue and the Anglo Saxon helmets and swords from Sutton Hoo.
The Science Museum All things science, tech and engineering with fantastic play, experiment and learn facilities for all ages. There is a charge for entry to the wondrous Wonderlab.
The Natural History Museum The history of life on earth and evolution, from animatronic dinosaurs (quite scary actually for very young children), to an earthquake simulation, plus meteorites, moon rocks, flora and fauna.
The Victoria and Albert Museum The V&A focuses on art and design. For teens who are interested in fashion the costume galleries are definitely worth a look.
Museum of London A history of London from pre-history to the present, including the Great Fire and a Victorian shopping street.
National Maritime museum Discover Britain’s seafaring history with stories from across the globe. It is part of the Greenwich museum complex that includes the Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory, home of Greenwich Mean Time. Nb Although the Maritime museum and Queens House are free to enter, other parts of the complex are ticketed.
Exhibitions Coming up in 2019
Brick Wonders exhibition at Horniman Museum Feb 16 to Oct 27 2019. Something for Lego fans old and young, including brick constructions of old London Bridge and the Horniman walrus itself.
Anish Kapoor‘s mind bending sculptures are the opening exhibition at Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery in Ealing March 16 to Aug 18 2019. This spectacular, newly restored building was once Sir John Soane’s country retreat.
Manga at the British Museum. Where art and storytelling collide, this exhibition of Japanese comics and graphic novels is the largest ever outside Japan. Interactive opportunities will likely include a special photo booth for manga-style portraits. May 23 – Aug 26, 2019
Free Art Galleries in London
National Gallery One of the world’s greatest collections of paintings with works from Botticelli and Michelangelo to Monet and van Gogh. The upstairs Dining Rooms have aerial views of Trafalgar Square.
National Portrait Gallery Portraits of every kind from the Tudors to present day celebs. Plan ahead to take part in the art workshops for young people.
Tate Britain British artists from 1500 to now. A current exhibition features the glorious Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones, next up in February is war photographer Don McCullin. You can catch the Thames Clipper to take you down river to its sibling the Tate Modern.
Tate Modern Like it says on the tin, this is the modern art Tate, the one with the huge Turbine Hall. Wander through the weird and wonderful permanent collection and head to the Viewing Level of the Blavatnik building for a 360° panorama including St Pauls.
Saatchi Gallery Contemporary art on the King’s Road that’s easy to combine with a shopping trip.
Street art in London
Street art is ephemeral so there’s a changing landscape on the streets of Shoreditch and Camden. If your teens are keen then Google just before you go for suggestions, there are plenty of cafes for pitstops.
Chewing gum art Look out for the tiny patches of decorated chewing gum (yes, apparently so) on the Millenium Bridge.
Otherwise take a street art tour like this one to see the latest sights.
Shopping in London with Teens
London’s favourite shopping street mixes high street names with venerable department stores. Command centre for teen fashion is the five-floor Top Shop on its prime site at Oxford Circus. H&M is across the road, as is Nike Town. A four-storey flagship Primark stands near the junction with Tottenham Court Road. So that’s teen shopping taken care of. Parents might like to escape to Selfridges, a grand London institution, or the comforting John Lewis flagship which is a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus.
Carnaby Street Famous for trend setting in the 60s, the area around Carnaby Street is once again home to iconic brands and independent shops. Lots of places to eat and fab decorations at Christmas. Close to Oxford Street and Regent Street too.
Once a fruit and veg wholesalers the grand market building and piazza is now part of a glamorous zone of desirable shops, plus market stalls, street performers and plenty of places to eat.
Destination shopping at Harrods and Westfield
Harrods speaks for itself, it’s one of the most famous department stores in the world and a Knightsbridge landmark. Incidentally, A A Milne’s Winnie the Pooh was inspired by a teddy bear bought from Harrods.
Westfield London, somewhat newer, is the biggest shopping mall in Europe. The Shepherd’s Bush location has over 300 shops and 40 luxury brands. Plus plenty of places to eat and a state-of-the-art, 20-screen Vue cinema.
There might not be many bargains in London’s vintage fashion stores but teens will enjoy the hunt. Lots of one-off shops and branches of Rokit in Camden, Covent Garden and Brick Lane and Beyond Retro in Brick Lane and Soho. More vintage outlets in markets around London.
Camden Gritty and glorious, Camden market is a magnet for London’s teens with open air and indoor stalls, shops and street food clustered around Regent’s canal. It’s more affordable and eclectic than Oxford Street with an edgy history of mods and punks.
Borough One for food lovers, Borough market, south of London Bridge, isn’t the cheapest of lunch options or the most central but there’s plenty to attract all the family. From delis and doughnuts to goat kebabs the range of snacks and street food will please everyone.
Portobello Road Traditionally known as an antiques treasure trove though I’m not sure there are many bargains left. But Portobello is in the heart of Notting Hill and therefore is a great location for some general London pottering about. Saturday is the best time to visit with all stalls open for business, including vintage fashion and bric a brac. On most weekdays it’s primarily a fruit and veg market. More here.
Greenwich Combine this with a visit to the Maritime museum complex or perhaps the O2. Shops and stalls with tempting arts, crafts, fashion and collectables. It’s in Greenwich town centre so easily accessible including by riverboat. Find out more here.
Plastic duck and fridge magnet collectors will be spoilt for choice. Find Union Jack, London bus and Beefeater themed souvenirs amongst others, in tourist shops and stalls all over central London. Posher souvenirs are available in museum and exhibition stores – the Tower Bridge shop for instance has some good stuff. The fanciest has to be the Buckingham Palace Shop with three branches in Buckingham Palace Road. It has a wide range of Royal themed gifts from pretty fine bone china to cuddly corgi toys.
London for Sports Lovers
It’s near impossible to get match tickets for premium clubs like Chelsea or Arsenal unless you’re a member. But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the hallowed turf up close. Football loving teens will appreciate tickets for stadium tours.
Wembley stadium The UK’s biggest sport and music venue and home to the England football team. click here for a guided tour.
Chelsea Football Club Stamford Bridge is the home of the Blues in Fulham, west London. Occasionally past players lead Legends tours with the chance to hear anecdotes as well as step behind the scenes at an iconic club.
Arsenal FC The Emirates stadium in Highbury, north London is home ground of the Gunners, a team with one of the biggest fanbases in the world. It offers stadium visits as well as Legends and Matchday tours.
Fulham FC Historic Craven Cottage beside the Thames is the oldest stadium in London, dating from 1896 with a listed facade and original turnstiles. You stand a sporting chance of getting tickets for a Fulham game too! It’s a 10 minute walk from Putney Bridge tube station.
Other sporting venues in London
Cricket at Lord’s Not just any old cricket ground, Lord’s is the actual Home of Cricket, dating from 1787. Tickets for international cricket matches are allocated by ballot, and they aren’t cheap. But you can get seats for county matches or evening Twenty 20 tournaments at a more attractive price. Click here for more info.
Tennis at Wimbledon The oldest tennis tournament in the world and probably the most iconic, Wimbledon’s Grand Slam championships take place in July each year. Unless you’re lucky enough to be invited to a corporate event, precious tickets for Wimbledon are mainly available by ballot or the Queue. Find out more here. Or take a day trip to leafy Wimbledon Village, half an hour from central London, to visit the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis museum and tour the grounds.
Rugby at Twickenham The home of England Rugby and the World Rugby Museum, Twickenham stadium is a destination for fans from far and wide. Matches are family friendly (the same can’t always be said for Premiership football) and tickets relatively affordable. Find out more here.
Theatrical London – live shows and backstage
Book London theatre tickets
Central London’s theatres are some of the best in the world and you’re sure to find a show that’ll entertain all the family. The whole Theatreland experience is fun. Many of London’s theatres are more than a hundred years old and steeped in history, gilt and velvet. The atmosphere will be buzzing at a big ticket show and it’s quite something to be part of the ovation at the end of a stand-out performance. So – top tips. Book ahead – sometimes months in advance if you want decent seats for a popular show. I use this site to check the position of seats before I buy, with especial attention to legroom for tall teens. Queue for last minute tickets at the TKTS booth in Leicester Square, details here.
Watch a TV show recording
Essential to plan ahead for this one but we’ve enjoyed free seats in the audience for various panel shows including QI and Mock the Week. Register with a site like applausestore.com for more info.
Shakespeare in London
A teen who’s interested in Shakespeare will love the open air Globe theatre, a reconstruction of the 1599 original. See a play or take a tour. Standing tickets are £5 but you need to book well in advance!
Behind the scenes theatre tours
Stagestruck teens might enjoy a backstage view at one of London’s great theatres. All need to be booked in advance.
Globe Theatre Hear about Shakespeare’s original Globe of 1599 as well as the recent reconstruction here.
Royal Opera House Tour back and front of house and perhaps get a glimpse of a rehearsal. More here.
National Theatre Learn what goes into show preparation and see set building and prop making here
Fun Activities to do in London
Hire a Boris bike
Personally I don’t fancy cycling in London traffic. But a cycle path is another matter and London has a growing network of them. For short hops you can hire a TfL Santander bike from any docking station.
Known to Londoners as Boris bikes after the Mayor who installed them they can cost as little as £2 a day if you keep the trips between docking stations under 30 minutes. Try them out for a quick trip through Hyde Park or Regent’s Park – don’t forget to bring helmets! The TfL site is here. Or take an organised bike tour like this one.
Horseriding in Hyde Park Rotten Row, a broad sandy track on the south side of Hyde Park, features in many a historic novel. It was the place to see and be seen on horseback in bygone days, rather as Knightsbridge is now for supercars. The Household Cavalry and Royal Mews still exercise their horses here in the early mornings. You can take a turn on Rotten Row too as the Ross Nye Stables offer lessons and hacks in the park, www.rossnyestables.co.uk.
Lee Valley velo park Cycle enthusiasts will love a trip out east to the VeloPark, custom built for the 2012 Olympics. Book ahead for taster or coaching sessions and your teen could experience track riding in the Olympic velodrome, learn skills on the road circuit, or try out the BMX track or mountain bike trails. The website here has all the details.
Swim in an Olympic pool The London Aquatics Centre at Stratford is also a part of the Olympic legacy. Book in advance for family swimming or try out the Ultimate Aqua Splash assault course. Here for details.
Outdoor swimming in London
The Serpentine in Hyde Park The Lido is an open water swimming area, 100m x 30m in the Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park. It’s open daily from June to September.
Hampstead Ponds No photos allowed so I can’t show you the lovely duck pond vibe, including ducks, of Hampstead Ponds. Friends of ours have swum here for years and love it. Hampstead Heath has three bathing ponds: Men’s, Ladies’ and Mixed and an unheated outdoor pool at Parliament Hill Lido.
Hampton Pool This outdoor pool is heated all year round and even takes bookings for Christmas Day. It’s 30 minutes outside central London but I’ve included it because it’s in the same zone as Hampton Court Palace. You could, if highly organised, combine the two.
Adrenaline rushes in London for teens
Sometimes on a city break you just need to let off steam. Or do something completely out of the ordinary. Here are some activities that’ll fit the bill.
Walk up the O2 You can actually trek over the top of the O2 arena in Greenwich. Choose between daytime, sunset or twilight trips, don a climb suit, clip on your harness and you’re off. The guided expedition takes 90 minutes.
ArcelorMittal Slide The UK’s tallest sculpture in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is also home to the world’s longest tunnel slide. Take the lift up to the viewing platform then choose your means of descent! Book a slide here.
High ropes and zipwires You can Go Ape beside the Thames in the treetops of Battersea Park. Just across the river from Chelsea, it’s easily accessible for 2 or 3 hours of high octane canopy thrills. Go Ape Battersea
Take a speedboat ride down the Thames Finally, a chance to go the full James Bond along the Thames as you combine bankside sightseeing: London Eye, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, HMS Belfast et al, with an adrenaline rush RIB ride!
Best London viewpoints
The Shard One of the more expensive ways to view London from on high, but the bird’s eye views are excellent. Good weather makes all the difference.
London Eye The observation wheel that first appeared on the skyline for the Millennium is now a landmark in its own right. It gives partial views of London but after all the ride’s the thing.
Sky Garden This is the free view! You may be able to walk in but understandably it get busy and to be sure of entry you should book at least a week ahead. Bonus points for having cafe bar and brasserie options so there’s more than just the view on offer.
The Monument First used as a viewing platform in the 1670s this is the historic option. It has lovely City and river views although at 61 metres high it’s not a skyscraper. Good value if you don’t mind the 311 winding steps to the top.
One New Change Take the glass elevator up to the public roof terrace for great close ups of St Paul’s dome.
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Quirky London sights
Some of the more unusual sights in London.
The singing lift in the Festival Hall If you’re near the Southbank Centre check out the singing lift in the Royal Festival Hall. Go at a quiet time of day for an uninterrupted journey up to the 6th floor and down again, then stay for a cafe break with a view of the river.
Jeremy Bentham The philosopher and radical who died in 1832, insisted that his body be mummified and occasionally attend gatherings with friends. You can visit him in his glass case on the South Cloisters at University College London. His embalmed head was replaced with a wax effigy but the original is still preserved, safely under lock and key.
The Whispering Gallery at St Paul’s Cathedral If you visit St Paul’s Cathedral then don’t miss the Whispering Gallery. It’s a handy place to catch your breath on the way up to the viewing platforms on the dome and has an acoustic trick all its own. Whisper a message to the sloping wall on one side of the gallery and your accomplice will be able to hear you on the opposite side. (The Whispering Gallery is temporarily closed, April 2019. Check the St Paul’s website for information).
Not 10 Downing Street (10 Adam Street) It’s pretty well impossible to get a glimpse of the Prime Minister’s residence at No 10 these days. High gates, traffic barriers and police guards keep sightseers well away. But you can still deceive your friends, if only for a minute or two. No. 10 Adam Street is a few hundred metres away along The Strand. It’s a historic terraced town house with a Georgian panelled black door and fanlight. And it looks just like No. 10…..
If you’re planning to visit London in Winter check out some fun things to do here.
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Trish @ Mum's Gone To says
Wow this is a mammoth list. I think your suggestions are great, something for all teens and all budgets. I need to pin it for our own adult trips too. #culturedkids.
Map & Family says
Thanks very much Trish, yes definitely good stuff for adults here too, I’ve really enjoyed re-visiting some of them!
Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays says
Now that is what I call a comprehensive list …. so many good things to see and do in London. #CulturedKids
Map & Family says
It’s a wonderful city you could find something new every weekend!
Scarlett Roitman says
What an absolutely brilliant list, and not just for the teens! I think the thrift shopping is a particularly useful activity for teens – gets them in the right state of mind for moving into the university years! #CULTUREDKIDS
Map & Family says
Lots of thanks Scarlett and completely agree re the shopping, the boys have quite a few thrifted treasures!
This is so cool and so thorough. Our kids are aged 5 & 3 but there’s loads on this list they can do, and we visit London usually once a year. St Paul’s would work for them, my eldest would be fascinated by the Foundling Hospital, and any of the military museums would capture their imaginations.
So much to see and do.
Map & Family says
How about Tower Bridge too? Not as many steps as St Pauls and great views from the walkway including the glass panels in the floor that you can walk on. It’s fun to watch the bridge open as well. You’ve got lots of lovely family trips ahead of you!
What a huge and complete and brilliant list of things to do!! We miss many of this list as my monkeys are still small, but definitely I want to save it and check for my upcoming weekends 🙂
Map & Family says
Thank you Francesca! You’ve got lots of exploring ahead with the monkeys! London is great for every age – we especially liked Kensington Gardens and the basement play and learn area in the Science museum when the boys were little.
Emma Raphael says
What an amazing list!! You have made me want to book a weekend in London with my teens as soon as possible. Whilst I worked in the city for a long time, and know it well, there are so many things I need to see that I haven’t heard of before! 😀 #CulturedKids
Map & Family says
Oh thank you! It’s been really fun to write and I’m so glad you’ve found it interesting. It’s a great city💂♀️
Birgit Ahrens says
What a lovely list! Thank you so much for all of these suggestions. We are London fans from Germany and try to visit one of our favourite cities once a year – so new advice is always welcome,
Map & Family says
That’s great to hear Birgit, thanks for your comment! Do let us know what you like best on your next visit.
Vyki from Museum Mum says
A really thorough list that I’ll definitely be sharing with my future houseswappers. London is great for teenagers, mine loves Camden Market, God’s Own Junkyard in Walthamstow, and anywhere that does freakshakes! The Museum lates are good for teens too as they usually have lots of fun activities and a hip crowd #CulturedKids
Map & Family says
Thanks Vyki, I’m glad it’s useful. God’s Own Junkyard and Museum Lates are great suggestions – I’ll include them when I update. I’m putting together a follow up on eating in London soon – freakshakes will be featuring! 😂
Lovely article, thanks! It would be marvellous to be able to travel again. Maybe soon!!
I wanna add a little suggestion which may interest someone reading this post.
In COVID times, we can explore the backstage life of the National Theatre online. If not, the website is promoting online shows for free (most of them).