One Day In London With Kids Travel Guide
It thrilled me to arrange a 1-day stopover in London with kids. We used the stopover option when flying British Airways award tickets for a 24 hour layover in London. Using our family favorite YouTube trick, we distilled London into a fun, varied, exciting day. If you find yourself in London with kids, this itinerary will keep you moving and engaged with a variety of options.
London With Kids – Buckingham Palace
My son wanted to see the iconic changing of the guards. I noticed that there was a lot of paid parking available near the Trafalgar Square. Parking here allows for additional sightseeing by walking to the palace via the Mall under the Admiralty Arch and through St James Park. Trafalgar Square is a CRAZY round-about in front of the entrance to the palace gardens and grounds and is a great place to start your day.
The palace changing of the guards happens at 11am Mon, Wed, Fri, and Sun but they always have an updated schedule here. We arrived just in time as we could hear the band playing as they began the march. We opted to hang back and watch from a higher vantage point as crowds here can get super busy with pickpockets everywhere. The whole ritual takes 45 minutes, but during any slack time, we got to ogle the palace and beautiful surrounding gardens! Once the ceremony finished up, we began the hunt for fish and chips as hey, when in London! Just off a side street on the way towards out next destination we ducked into The Old Star and nabbed a table for a great lunch.
After a few photos in the iconic red phone booths we found a street side restaurant a few blocks of the main street that was delicious and just so happened to be on the way to our next venue.
London With Kids – Westminster Abbey
As a family, one of our churches always tops our list of favorite sites to visit. With history, decoration, variation, and sheer magnitude always make for an impactful experience. As most churches don’t mind visitors, we make a point explore as many as possible. Sadly, there was a special event going on and we were unable to view inside so we took a walking tour around the perimeter and through the Dean’s gardens while discussing the beginnings of the Church of England.
London With Kids – Westminster Palace
Although still in heavy construction, just across the street was Westminster Palace offering a striking cityscape against the Thames River. Tours are available but wanting to get the most of out of our short stay we opted to again take the perimeter tour and enjoy the visual aspects of this sprawling complex. This set us up to stroll back to our parked car passing 10 Downing St, The Minister of Defense, Dover House, and some wonderful statues while enjoying some of the street performers and general liveliness of the streets of London. From there we drove to our hotel for the night which I had found within walking distance to our next stop.
London With Kids – Tower of London
The tower sparked an interest in both myself and my son, and as one of the best curated tourist attractions for a family we have been to in a long time, it did not disappoint. The self-guided tour is marked with plenty of plaques and information to go along with the free tour booklet. Live reenactments in historical garb, beautiful sculptures harkening back to the time the Tower served as a zoo, and a rich history kept us engaged. Capturing the most interest of my kiddo was The Beauchamp Tower and the White Tower. The towers contain the arms, armor, and warfare exhibits.
We made our visit near the end of the day which, inadvertently, was helpful in time management. As the literal and figurative “crown jewel” of the Tower of London are the actual crown jewels. The entire time we were exploring the surrounding area the line to see the crown jewels was over one hour long, but right before closing they open up a shortcut to get the last groups through the vault. Rather than hours we spent less than 5 minutes in line. The tour of the jewels itself goes quickly, but is as stunning as you would imagine. In only 2-3 hours we had seen everything we wanted to, got a great pic with the St James bridge in the background and headed back to our hotel (finding ONE more fish and chips stand on the way home).
You can cover a lot of ground spending one day in London with kids. We kept focused geographically and tried to limit how much we saw so we could take the time to enjoy each place. This trip was with my younger son but, at 9 years old it was a full day for him and he was engaged and into the sightseeing for the entire duration. Even such a short stay can make a huge impact when traveling in London with kids.