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Top ten things to do in London for kids

Sorry, grown-ups – some experiences in this city are just for kids. Here are the best things to do in London while you’re still young

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Kids have got it pretty sweet in London. Not only do the recurring gripes of sweaty commutes and extortionate rent not apply, there's also the fact that some of the city's best activities are designed specifically with children in mind. Here's our guide to the ten essential things no family trip to London would be complete without.

RECOMMENDED: 101 Things to Do in London with Kids

1. Pet the pigs at a city farm

Restaurants Italian Greenwich Peninsula

Like kids, some animals get a bad rep – and pigs suffer more than most. Dirty and smelly they are not – they’re among the cleanest, most intelligent species on the planet. Hang out with them at Hackney City Farm, home to Britain’s only red breed of pig – if you’re nice they might even help with your homework.

Ideal age 2 and up.

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© Rob Greig.jpg
© Rob Greig

3. Get lost in Harrods’ Toy Kingdom

Shopping Toys and games Knightsbridge

If fairytales have taught us anything, it’s that most magical kingdoms are far, far away. But this multi-sensory playing experience, which offers everything from Caramel artisan Papa Bubble making sweets to live dance routines from ‘Fame’ types, is slap bang in the heart of London. Harrods’ Toy Kingdom, complete with a big top, candy store, enchanted forest and alien space pods, is full to the brim with toys that you can play with, from fairies to helicopters and a massive soft-toy department to throw yourself into. You don’t have to pay to play – and only the severest parent would come away empty-handed.

Ideal age 6 and up.

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© Ed Marshall

4. Take control of a tube train

Museums Transport Covent Garden

The ‘novelty’ of riding on the tube wears off quickly when you’ve grown up in London. But what if you could drive the train yourself? No, TfL aren’t so short-staffed they’ve resorted to hiring kids – but the London Transport Museum has an awesome simulator that lets you take the controls of a virtual tube train. Or ride in the front of the rollercoaster-like DLR and pretend you’re driving it. Everyone else does.

Ideal age 7 and up.

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5. Run wild in the city

Attractions Parks and gardens Bloomsbury

Providing a cornucopia of facilities to delight its young patrons, the Bloomsbury-located Coram’s Fields is one of the most child-friendly open spaces in central London. The children's park on this beautiful walled garden site is simply the best for miles around. There's an enormous sandpit and all sorts of toddler climbing frames, see saws and swings on the east side. There’s also an city farm and an adventure playground for the older kids with a zip wire, tunnel slide and lots of climbing equipment made out of natural materials.

Ideal age 1 and up.

6. Scale the O2

Attractions Sightseeing Greenwich Peninsula

Some years ago a group of Japanese tourists enjoyed a night under the big top of Billy Smart’s Circus, having mistaken it for the Millennium Dome. It would be hard to make such a mistake these days as the dome, now known as The O2, is one of London’s most popular venues. With the added attraction that you can now strap yourself into a harness and climb over its vast 53 metre-high roof like Spider-Man.

Ideal age 10 and up.

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7. Swim in the Serpentine

Sport and fitness Hyde Park

Splashing about in the Serpentine is one for the brave (or wetsuited). One of London's prettiest expanses of water, the lake has a dedicated swimming section from May to September – although the water is not heated. The gated family area with a (chlorinated) paddling pool, sandpit and swings means parents can relax while their children play. There's a private sunbathing area and sun loungers for hire and a kiosk within the lido grounds makes it possible to order from the popular Lido Café next door.

Ideal age 7 and up.

8. Indulge your inner monster

Shopping Bookshops Hoxton

We can all be monsters sometimes. So where do London’s coolest monsters indulge their dark side? At Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, where you can stock up on vile treats like impacted earwax fudge, zombie mints and salt made from tears shed while chopping onions. As an added bonus, these are the kind of sweets you probably won’t catch your mum nicking at midnight.

Ideal age 7 and up.

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© Rob Greig

10. Be a zookeeper for the day

Restaurants Italian Greenwich Peninsula

Whether you’re a budding David Attenborough or you just really, really like elephants, ZSL London Zoo offers you an opportunity that doesn’t come along every day. Get togged up in the right gear (you get to take it home with you) and follow in the footsteps of a real-life zookeeper, trying your hand at anything from feeding the giraffe to cleaning up llama poo. It’s not cheap, but it makes for a fantastic day out – just don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards.

Ideal age 11-15.

Find more great kids' activities

101 things to do in London with kids, A child dressed as Spiderman peers over a wall on the South Bank, London.
© Peter Csongedi

101 things to do in London with kids

Kids

There need never be a dull moment in this city – London is jam-packed with fantastic experiences and days out for families and kids. Here are 101 of the best things to do with children in London.

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