If you’re looking for a fun and educational way to spend a day with your kids, London has plenty of museums to choose from. Whether you want to explore history, science, art or culture, there’s a museum for every interest and age group. In this blog post, I’ll share some of the best museums for kids in London and what you can expect to see and do there.
If your kids are into dinosaurs, the Natural History Museum is the place to go. We recommend going first thing in the morning to beat the crowds and make a plan in advance for what you want to see. A quieter museum, more low-scale is the Horniman Museum in South East London with an impressive display of stuffed animals intact since Victorian times. Last but not least, in Crystal Palace Park you’ll find vintage dinosaur statues as well as a dinosaur-themed playground.
Kensington, West London
See London’s most epic roaring T-Rex (for free)
- Follow the roaring sound, and watch a full-scale T-Rex waggle its tail in the museum’s extensive dinosaur section
- Enjoy the impressive Victorian museum building, featured in BBC’s “Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures“.
- Let the kids explore the mammal gallery, with its wide range of real-scale animals on display
- Visit the quieter minerals section and admire gemstones collected from all the corners of the world
Natural History Museum is high on the bucket list of many families visiting London. This museum is one of the most popular attractions in the city, and for good reason. It has something for everyone, from dinosaurs and fossils to volcanoes and wildlife. You can easily spend hours exploring the different galleries and exhibits, learning about the amazing diversity of life on Earth. Here are some tips to make the most of your visit:
- Plan: The museum is huge, so it’s a good idea to check the website and map before you go. You can also download the free app, which has interactive games and quizzes to keep your kids engaged. Decide which areas you want to see first, and book your tickets online to avoid queues.
- Don’t miss the highlights: Some of the museum’s most famous attractions are the blue whale skeleton in Hintze Hall, the animatronic T. rex in the dinosaur gallery, and the earthquake simulator in the Red Zone. These are very popular, so try to get there early or late in the day to avoid crowds.
- Enjoy the activities: The museum offers a range of activities for kids of all ages, such as hands-on workshops, storytelling sessions, and science shows. You can also borrow a free explorer backpack, which contains binoculars, magnifying glasses, and activity sheets to help your kids discover more about the museum’s collections.
- Take a break: The museum has several cafes and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat or a drink. You can also bring your food and enjoy a picnic in the museum’s garden, which has a pond, a wildlife area, and a playground. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop, where you can find souvenirs, books, and toys related to the museum’s themes.
The Natural History Museum in London is a must-see for any family visiting the city. It’s not only entertaining but also educational and inspiring. Your kids will love seeing the amazing specimens and exhibits, and you’ll love seeing their curiosity and wonder. It’s a great way to spend a day together and create lasting memories.
Read more tips about visiting the Natural History Museum with kids.
Forest Hill, South East London
Meet the giant walrus
- It’s something fascinating and slightly creepy about the big collection of stuffed animals at the Horniman Museum
- An oversized walrus has been the star of the show since Victorian times when the museum was built.
- You’ll be able to enjoy a stuffed example of the extinct dodo.
- There’s also an aquarium (charged entrance) and small farm (free entrance) with alpacas and bunnies
Horniman Museum is a great place for kids into the natural world and strange creatures. This quirky and eclectic museum has something for everyone, from natural history and anthropology to music and art. You can explore the fascinating collections of stuffed animals, masks, instruments, fossils and more, and learn about different cultures and environments around the world. The museum also has a butterfly house, an aquarium, a farm and a nature trail, where you can get up close and personal with some amazing creatures. And don’t forget to visit the famous overstuffed walrus, the mascot of the museum!
The Horniman Museum is a great place to spark your kids’ curiosity and imagination, and it’s also very family-friendly. There are plenty of interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, workshops and events for all ages, as well as a playground, a café and a gift shop. The museum is free to enter, but some attractions have a small fee. You can also book tickets online in advance to avoid queues. The museum is open every day from 10 am to 5:30 pm, except on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
The Horniman Museum is located in Forest Hill, in south-east London. You can easily get there by public transport, as it’s only a 10-minute walk from Forest Hill station, which is served by trains and buses. You can also drive there, but parking is limited and there is a charge. Alternatively, you can cycle there, as there are bike racks outside the museum.
The Horniman Museum is one of London’s hidden gems and a perfect destination for a family outing. Whether you’re interested in animals, plants, music, art or culture, you’ll find something to enjoy and discover at this amazing museum. So grab your kids and head to the Horniman Museum for a memorable and fun-filled day!
Read more about the Horniman Museum
From space rockets and aeroplanes to trains and cars – the Science Museum has it all. Another good option for kids into vehicles and engines is the classic London Transport Museum in Covent Garden.
Kensington, West London
Turning dry science lessons into fun experiences
- Wonderlab (charged entry) is an interactive gallery within the Science Museum full of fun science experiences – we love it!
- The space exhibition (free) on the ground floor is a must-see for young aspiring astronauts
- The exhibition “Flight” (free) on the third floor will take you through the history of aviation with an impressive display of original aeroplanes
- “The Garden” (free) is actually a kids area in the basement of the museum
Science Museum has been able to strike a great balance between being entertaining for kids while remaining highly educational at the same time. This museum is one of the most popular attractions in the city, and for good reason. It has something for everyone, from interactive exhibits and hands-on experiments to awe-inspiring galleries and shows. Here are some of the highlights of visiting the Science Museum with kids.
- Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery. This is the ultimate playground for curious minds, where you can explore over 50 exhibits and activities that cover topics like electricity, light, sound, forces, and more. You can also watch live demonstrations and shows by the museum’s expert explainers, who will make science fun and engaging for all ages.
- The Garden. This is a specially designed area for children aged 3 to 6, where they can discover science through play. They can build towers and bridges, create patterns and shapes, experiment with water and sound, and much more. The Garden is a safe and stimulating environment that encourages creativity and learning.
- Flight. This gallery showcases the history and achievements of aviation, from the first pioneers to the latest innovations. You can see iconic aircraft like the Spitfire, the Concorde, and the Apollo 10 command module, as well as try out flight simulators and interactive games. You can also learn about the science and technology behind flying, and how it has changed our world.
- IMAX Cinema. If you want to experience science on a big screen, you can catch a film at the IMAX Cinema, which features a 3D projector and a 12-metre-high screen. You can watch documentaries and movies that cover topics like space exploration, nature, wildlife, and more. The IMAX Cinema offers an immersive and thrilling way to learn about science.
- And much more. The Science Museum has many more galleries and exhibits that you can explore with your kids, such as the Energy Hall, the Making the Modern World gallery, the Mathematics gallery, the Information Age gallery, and more. You can also visit the museum’s shop and café for souvenirs and snacks.
The Science Museum is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm, and admission is free (although some attractions may require a ticket). It is located on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, near other museums like the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. You can easily get there by public transport or by car (there is a car park nearby).
Visiting the Science Museum with kids is a great way to spend a day in London, as you can have fun while learning about science and its impact on our lives. It is a must-see attraction for anyone who loves science or wants to spark their curiosity.
Read our full post about the Science Museum
Covent Garden, Central London
The engines that powered London through the centuries
- A great display of the historical vehicles that moved people around London through the centuries
- Two highly interactive galleries for toddlers and young children
- Stamp trail through the museum
- Lots of organised events and activities throughout the whole year
London Transport Museum is a classic museum for kids in London. Here you can hop on board the classic Routemaster double-decker bus or test what it’s like to drive a London Underground tube train. If you’re looking for a fun and educational day out with your kids in London, you might want to check out the London Transport Museum.
This museum is dedicated to the history and culture of public transport in the city, from the horse-drawn buses of the 19th century to the modern Tube network. You and your kids will love exploring the interactive exhibits, climbing aboard the vintage vehicles, and learning about how transport has shaped London over the years.
The museum also has a play zone for younger children, where they can drive a minibus, repair a train, or dress up as a conductor. The museum is located in Covent Garden, a lively area with plenty of shops, cafes, and street performers to enjoy before or after your visit. The museum is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, and tickets cost £18.50 for adults and £17.50 for children (under 18).
You can also buy an annual pass for £40, which gives you unlimited access to the museum and its special events. The London Transport Museum is a great place to spend a few hours with your kids and learn something new along the way.
Read our full post about the London Transport Museum
London has no shortage of historical attractions, so plenty to choose from in this category. We love visiting the Tower of London and Hampton Court with our kids because of the wonderful historical reenactments that make history come alive.
Tower Hamlets, East London
Knights in shining armour
- Watch and take part in one of the historical outdoor plays taking place outside the White Tower
- See the ravens and learn about their story
- Try to find out what happened to the Princes in the Tower
- Admire the huge collection of shining armour and weapons
- Learn about the Tudor dynasty and what happened to King Henry VIII’s wifes
The Tower of London was built by the Normans to impress and rule over London more than 900 years ago, and it’s been standing tall ever since. The Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in the UK, and it has a rich and fascinating history that will captivate both young and old. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your visit to the Tower of London with kids.
- Plan ahead. The Tower of London is a popular attraction, so it can get crowded and busy, especially during peak seasons and holidays. To avoid long queues and save some money, you can book your tickets online in advance. You can also download the free Tower of London app, which has interactive maps, audio guides, and fun quizzes to enhance your experience.
- Choose your highlights. The Tower of London is a complex of buildings and exhibits, covering over 900 years of history. You won’t be able to see everything in one day, so it’s best to prioritize what interests you and your kids the most. Some of the must-sees are the Crown Jewels, the White Tower, the Medieval Palace, and the Yeoman Warders (also known as Beefeaters) who guard the Tower and give entertaining tours.
- Make it fun and interactive. The Tower of London is not just a museum, it’s a living history site where you can see, touch, and hear stories from the past. To keep your kids engaged and curious, you can look for clues, solve puzzles, and play games along the way. For example, you can join the Time Explorers Challenge, a digital mission that takes you on a journey through different periods of the Tower’s history. You can also visit the Hands On History exhibit, where you can try on medieval costumes, handle weapons, and learn about life in the Tower.
- Take breaks and enjoy the views. The Tower of London can be overwhelming for kids (and adults), so it’s important to take breaks and relax. You can find plenty of spots to sit down and have a snack or a drink, such as the New Armouries Café or the Raven Café. You can also enjoy the stunning views of the River Thames, the Tower Bridge, and the London skyline from various points in the Tower.
- Have fun! The Tower of London is a place where history comes alive, and where you can create unforgettable memories with your kids. Don’t forget to take lots of photos, chat with the friendly staff and volunteers, and have a blast exploring this amazing attraction.
Read more about the highlights for children at the Tower of London
Go back in time to the Tudor court
- See how Henry VIII’s feats were prepared in the enormous Tudor kitchens
- Enjoy the amazing Magic Garden playground
- Look for signs of Henry VIII’s wife in the Great Hall
- Find your way through the 300 years old Maze
- Make sure to catch the amazing historical reenactments taking place around the palace
Hampton Court is a fascinating palace outside London built by the Tudors more than 500 years ago. This historic royal residence is full of fascinating stories, beautiful gardens, and interactive exhibits that will keep your little ones entertained and curious. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your visit.
- Plan: Hampton Court Palace is huge, so you’ll need to decide what you want to see and do before you arrive. You can download a map from their website or use their app to create your itinerary. Some of the highlights include the Tudor kitchens, the maze, the magic garden, and the haunted gallery.
- Book online: You can save money and time by booking your tickets online in advance. You’ll also get access to some exclusive offers and discounts, such as free audio guides and reduced prices for family tickets. You can also book some activities and tours online, such as the family ghost tour or the chocolate-making workshop.
- Dress appropriately: Hampton Court Palace is partly outdoors, so you’ll need to dress for the weather. Wear comfortable shoes and layers that you can easily take off or put on. You might also want to bring a picnic blanket and some snacks, as there are plenty of green spaces where you can relax and enjoy the views.
- Have fun: Hampton Court Palace is not just a museum, it’s a place where you can have fun and learn at the same time. You can dress up as a Tudor, play games, watch live performances, and even meet some of the famous characters who lived there, such as Henry VIII and his wives. You can also explore the gardens, which have a variety of plants, animals, and sculptures to discover.
Hampton Court Palace is a great destination for families who love history, culture, and nature. It’s a place where you can create unforgettable memories with your kids and have a blast. Don’t miss this opportunity to visit one of the most amazing palaces in the world!
Read more about Hampton Court
Even if you won’t find a pirate museum in London, you’ll learn plenty about them in the National Maritime Museum. And for an exceptionally engaging and interactive experience, hop on board Cutty Sark from the glory days of the British Empire.
Set sails and explore Britain’s maritime past
- Dress up like a fishmonger or fix the hull of a ship at the Ahoy! Children’s Gallery.
- Load the cannon and aim for pirates at the All Hands on Deck gallery on the 2nd floor
- Go on an ocean voyage and explore a gigantic map
- Check out all the exciting historical artefacts like Admiral Nelson’s coat
National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is one of the most interactive museums for kids in London. This museum is dedicated to the history and culture of Britain’s seafaring heritage, and it has plenty of interactive exhibits and activities for children of all ages. Here are some of the highlights of visiting the museum with kids:
- The Great Map: This is a giant floor map of the world that you can walk on and explore. You can also use tablets to play games and learn more about different countries and regions.
- The Ahoy! Gallery: This is a hands-on gallery for younger children (aged 0-7) where they can climb aboard a ship, steer a wheel, fire a cannon, and dress up as pirates and sailors.
- The All Hands Gallery: This is another interactive gallery for older children (aged 6-12) where they can try out various roles on a ship, such as navigation, communication, engineering, and combat.
- The Nelson, Navy, Nation Gallery: This gallery tells the story of Admiral Horatio Nelson and his famous battles against the French and Spanish fleets. You can see his personal belongings, such as his uniform, sword, and telescope, as well as the bullet that killed him at the Battle of Trafalgar.
- The Polar Worlds Gallery: This gallery explores the challenges and opportunities of living and working in the polar regions. You can see how people and animals adapt to the extreme conditions and learn about the environmental issues affecting these areas.
- The Royal Observatory: This is not part of the museum, but it’s located nearby on a hill overlooking the Thames. It’s where you can stand on the Prime Meridian line, which divides the eastern and western hemispheres of the earth. You can also visit the Planetarium and watch a show about the wonders of the night sky.
The National Maritime Museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, and admission is free. You can also buy tickets for the Planetarium and some special exhibitions. There are cafes and shops on site, as well as picnic areas and playgrounds in the surrounding park. The museum is easily accessible by public transport, or you can take a scenic boat ride from central London. It’s a great place to spend a day with your family and learn more about Britain’s maritime past and present.
Read more about visiting Greenwich and the highlights for children in the National Maritime Gallery
One of the most interactive museums for kids in London
- Once the fastest ship in the world bringing cargo from all corners of the British Empire
- Explore the different decks and cargo areas onboard the ship
- Pretty much all the exhibitions are hands-on making it a great place for kids to explore
- Get a real sense of the ship out on the main deck, as well as a nice view of Greenwich town
Cutty Sark is one of the most interactive museums for kids in London and a perfect place for anyone interested in maritime history and pirates on the high seas. This historic ship is the last surviving tea clipper, and it has been beautifully restored and preserved for visitors to explore. You can walk on the deck, see the cargo hold, and learn about the ship’s history and adventures.
There are also interactive exhibits, games, and activities for kids of all ages, such as dressing up as sailors, steering the ship, and discovering the secrets of the sea. The Cutty Sark is located near the Greenwich Pier, so you can easily combine it with other attractions in the area, such as the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum, and Greenwich Park. You can also enjoy the stunning views of the Thames and the London skyline from the ship.
The Cutty Sark is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, and tickets cost £15 for adults and £7.50 for children. You can also buy a joint ticket with the Royal Observatory for £20 for adults and £9.50 for children. The Cutty Sark is a great place to visit with your kids if you want to experience a piece of maritime history and have some fun along the way.
Check out more activities on board Cutty Sark
How to plan a great day out with kids at London’s museums?
6 tips when visiting museums with kids in London:
- Check for family-friendly events
- Plan your museum route carefully
- Pick museums with interactive exhibitions
- Spark your kid’s interests
- Consider bringing a packed lunch from home
- Know when it’s time to leave
1. Check for family-friendly events
Many of the museums in London organise scheduled events, demonstrations and lessons that are free for kids to join. You can plan for these by checking the museum websites upfront and booking in advance if needed. Note that many museums like the V&A don’t have a lot of interactive exhibitions for kids, so joining an event like this can add a lot of value to your visit.
We don’t always plan for specific sessions but rather ask the museum staff when we arrive and then decide on the spot. A good resource to use for planning your specific museum events is the wonderful blogger Museum Mum who regularly publishes recommended museum exhibitions and events in London.
2. Plan your museum route carefully
Don’t underestimate the complexity of museum buildings in London! Many of London’s big museums originate from the Victorian age with labyrinths of corridors and halls on different levels. Even if museums are doing their best to display clear signs and colour codes for different sections, it’s really easy to get confused. Especially when the kids are running in different directions!
Many of the museums have side entrances that are worth checking out if the main entrance queue is very long. If you visit the Natural History Museum, the queue on Exhibition Road is usually much smaller. And the same the British Museum – the back entrance on Montague Place at the rear of the museum is usually a lot quieter.
To avoid getting lost in the labyrinth it’s always good to visit the museum website in advance and have a look at the floor-plan. So when you get to the museum you should be able to follow the signs and get to your first stop quicker without getting lost on the way.
3. Pick museums with interactive exhibitions
A museum full of interactive elements can really help inspire a child to develop their knowledge and interest. Wonderlab at the Science Museum is a good example of a highly interactive exhibition that engage kids in subjects such as chemistry, computing, communication and astronomy. Done in the right way, museums provide learning experiences that inspire kids while spending quality time with their families.
Here are some of the best interactive exhibitions for kids in London:
- Wonderlab at the Science Museum
- All Hands children’s gallery at the National Maritime Museum
- Mudlarks children’s gallery at the Museum of London Docklands
- All Aboard Playzone at the London Transport Museum
- The Garden at the Science Museum
4. Spark your kid’s interests
In our experience, kids usually get more engaged when visiting a museum if they already know something about the subject beforehand. A good example is the space exhibition at the Science Museum, which has exciting hands-on displays everywhere you look. While it’s easy to get overwhelmed and jump from one thing to another, having some background information about the Apollo missions helped us focus our attention.
So our advice is to give the kids a basic introduction (through documentaries, books, games, quizzes etc.) before going to the museum. This makes it easier for them to digest the exhibitions without getting overwhelmed with information.
5. Consider bringing a packed lunch from home
Extend your child’s attention span and make sure to stock up on healthy snacks and lunch options preparing for your big museum day out in London.
We usually plan for an early lunch with packed sandwiches from home. Most museums in London serve decent food, but the choices are often limited, prices are high and queues can be long during peak hours.
Beyond sandwiches, healthy snacks and fruits are also good to have in reserve to use as small bribes!
Two nice museums to have a packed lunch
- Science Museum: When going to the South Kensington museums we always go to the “Picnic Area” on Level 3 in the Science Museum just outside of Wonderlab where there’s plenty of space and large family tables available.
- National Maritime Museum: We usually go for a quick bite at the Great Map Cafe, have a picnic in the park or get food from one of the stalls in Greenwich Market.
Brilliant Museum restaurants and cafes:
- The Energy Cafe, Science Museum: Good selection of warm and cold child-friendly dishes and plenty of space.
- Picnic Area, Science Museum: This is a great place to have your packed lunch after enjoying Wonderlab.
- The Garden Cafe, V&A Museum: Not a huge selection of food to choose from, but we love sitting next to the fountain in summer.
- The Great Map Cafe, National Maritime Museum: We really like the open space, watching the kids play while enjoying our coffee!
- T.rex Grill, National History Museum: Perfect theme and great for carnivores. Gets very crowded during peak times.
6. Know when it’s time to leave
Visiting museums with kids in London can be very exhausting and sometimes it’s better to throw in the towel (or picnic blanket) and escape to the nearest park! Luckily there are a lot of parks and playgrounds in London, so it’s easy to plan for a quick escape and relax for a bit before hitting the tube back.
FAQ museums for kids in London
What’s the best dinosaur museum in London?
Head for the “Blue Zone” in the Natural History Museum where you can see a real-scale T-Rex roam.
Which are the best space museums in London?
Which are the best Tudor attractions in London?
1. Hampton Court Palace
2. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
3. Tower of London
Which are the best car and motor museums for kids in London?
Which are the most interactive museums for kids in London?
What are your favourite museums for kids in London?
We would love to hear your comments and tips!