We are in London!
We spent 3 full days in this fab city with a GoWithOh apartment as our temporary home base (more about that later). We loved the vibe of the city: the monuments, fish & chips, the traditions, the typical English weather, the famous Underground, the swarms of tourists following each other from one highlight to the other…. it’s exactly what a world city should be.
For our kids the city was a treat too. To see the iconic landmarks for real: the London Eye, the Big Ben, the red double-decker busses and the typical phone booths (some of which have been turned into WiFi hotspots!).
But please don’t make the mistake to try to fit in everything into your planning. Forget it, you will not be able to see everything in London during your first visit. The city is just too big! Make some plans but don’t worry when time runs out. It’s important to relax and just enjoy whatever happens to you in this legendary city!
Visit London with kids
So what are our tips when you plan to visit London with your children? As you can imagine it’s almost impossible to list them all as we haven’t seen everything that London has to offer…yet. We will try, but I also want to invite you to leave your own tips in the comment section at the end of this post.
1. Visit the landmarks in the evening.
Piccadilly Circus, the London Eye and also the Tower Bridge: they make a great evening destination. It was so fun to see how our daughter tried so hard to get a good selfie with the famous Tower Bridge in the background….
2. Being the ultimate tourist
It could not be avoided…being the ultimate tourist photographing phone boots, red busses and guards with funny clothes. We actually had to wait in line to get into one of these phone boots, really! But we waited patiently…overcoming our initial signs of shame…
3. Meet the cool Guards.
You will meet the famous guards at Buckingham Palace, the nearby residence of Charles and Camilla, but also close to Downing Street where you find the Horse Guards (yep, they are the ones on horses). Impressive to see them walking up and down, trying not to smile and probably also wonder why the UK government doesn’t pay them a bonus for being such an essential tourist attraction….
4. Up the London Eye!
This amazing ferry wheel is a real must. I know, it’s horribly expensive to buy a single ticket, but if you buy online you at least get a 10% discount.
And it might even get better for you. Online they offer family tickets with 20% discount. That special price made us decide to go for it! Regrets? No way, the views are amazing! One tip: don’t spend your money on fast track tickets. We bought a standard ticket and had to wait for only 15 minutes. No problem!
5. Hamley’s Toy Shop
If you are in the area of Oxford Circus and Regent Street, pay a short visit to Hamley’s Toy Shop. The personnel is hyper active (and funny) and it kind of reminded me of the huge toy shops in New York City. We did actually meet Queen Elizabeth on the 3rd floor…in Lego.
6. Relaxing in the park
The parks….wow, the parks! Never seen such beautiful and well-maintained public parks as in London. They look great, but I promise you that you will also need them very badly! Your legs will need a well-deserved rest after walking miles and miles from St Paul’s to Tate Modern, the Shard and on to Westminster Abbey. No matter which park you choose, Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James’s Park: all are beautiful!
7. Tired of walking? Hop on a bicycle!
If you are tired of walking, do a bicycle tour! Just read my latest post about our bike tour in London with Baja Bikes.
8. The art of London
One of the best things in London: many of the important museums offer free entrance! Museum of Natural History, Tate Modern and the British Museum, maybe more. In the British Museum our daughter was flabbergasted to see the famous Rosetta Stone! The stone with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs dating from 196BC drew lots of attention! She just learned about this historical piece at school and had no problem to literally push other people away to get the best picture. Go Girl!
How to use public transport
Buy yourself an Oyster card! It’s actually a smart card which holds pay as you go credit for the underground, busses, DLR and some rail services. Kids travel free or at a discounted rate! Check this website for more information on traveling with kids. Next to an Oyster Card you can also choose for a Travelcard, giving you one day of travel for a fixed price.
Our GoWithOh apartment
GoWithOh offers accommodations across top European cities. It’s all about authentic, hand-picked apartments with a really nice touch. We stayed with them in Barcelona and Florence and also in London we enjoyed our apartment where it was all about the fabulous views! We decided not to stay in downtown London. After walking the streets of London for a day we thought it might be a good idea to have an apartment in a totally different place. A more quiet place where we could wind down a bit.
Our apartment was situated close to the O2 arena on the North Greenwich peninsula. The views from our apartment were superb! We could see the O2 arena, but I personally loved the views on Canary Wharf (London’s own Manhattan) the best.
And don’t forget the Emirates Air Line cable car that carried passengers across the Thames day and night. There were small boats and because the sea is so close to this part of the Thames, you have a real low and high tide experience with the sound of waves rolling in. Who would expect all this in London!
It’s a 10 minute walk from the apartment to the Underground station of North Greenwich (Jubilee Line). That line took us directly into the heart of the city, within 15 minutes. There were two supermarkets close by with a great choice of food for breakfast and/or dinner. Our kids actually loved to prepare our own dinner in the apartment. After a couple of days such a place really becomes your home!
London is a fab city! It’s huge so make sure to plan a bit in advance, at least if there are places you definitely want to see. And don’t forget: take time to relax!