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A 10-Day Family Trip to London and the South of England

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London and the southern region of England offer a paradise for tourists, and families with kids are certainly no exception. With its countless activities and attractions, London, coupled with a tour of England’s southern landscapes, promises an enjoyable vacation.

Popular itinerary for Family Trip to London and the South of England:

This suggested itinerary includes 4 to 5 days in London and up to 6 days exploring the south of England before circling back to London. The plan relies on public transportation within the city and a rental car for the days spent exploring outside the urban hub.

To use public transportation most efficiently, we recommend the Visitor Oyster card. This smart card allows seamless payment for rides on buses, the Tube, the tram, DLR, the London Overground, Elizabeth line, River Bus, and most National Rail services in London. Children up to the age of 11 travel for free when accompanied by a paying adult (up to 4 kids per adult).

Kids aged 11 to 15 can benefit from a young visitor discount by being added to the Visitor Oyster card, a service provided at major tube stations.

In this itinerary, London is strategically divided into zones or neighborhoods to streamline travel time, allowing each day to be dedicated to exploring a specific neighborhood.

Day 1:

Madame Tussauds London Wax Museum on Marylebone Street is an absolute must-visit attraction, especially for families with kids. This historic wax museum, dating back 200 years, is divided into themes, showcasing an extensive collection of iconic figures, including the British Royal Family, renowned singers, actors, sports figures, and characters from movies such as Star Trek, Shark, and Marvel superheroes. Immerse yourself in the experience by taking a ride in a London black cab, offering a journey through the city’s captivating history.

Be sure to allocate half a day for the museum and book tickets in advance, presenting them at the entrance at the designated time.

In the afternoon, enjoy a picnic in nearby Regent’s Park. Bring along enough nuts to feed the squirrels, and if time allows, consider visiting the London Zoo. This 200-year-old wildlife conservation and scientific zoo offers a close encounter with various animals, reptiles, birds, and fish. Some areas even allow visitors to interact closely with animals like lemurs and monkeys.

Day 2:

In the heart of central London, within the South Kensington neighborhood, you’ll find a collection of prestigious British museums, many of which offer free admission. Affectionately known as Albertopolis, this area is a tribute to the influential patron of arts and science, Prince Albert (Queen Victoria’s husband). It functions as a vibrant campus, hosting museums, schools, colleges, and various educational institutions committed to promoting arts and sciences.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, commonly referred to as the V&A Museum, stands as a celebration of human creativity across a diverse array of arts and crafts disciplines, spanning ceramics, textiles, fashion, and interior design.

For families, a highlight is the Natural History Museum on Cromwell Rd. Boasting an extensive collection from botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology, and zoology, the museum features popular exhibits on dinosaurs, marine life, a whale’s skeleton, an earthquake simulator, and much more. The museum is divided into four colored zones, allowing you to plan your visit based on your family’s interests.

Adjacent to the Natural History Museum, you’ll find the Science Museum, featuring an extensive array of exhibits in diverse collections related to space, technology, and transport. Many of the exhibits are interactive, ensuring that kids are thoroughly entertained during their visit.

After exploring these two major museums, take a leisurely break by either indulging in shopping at the world-famous Harrods department store or enjoying a picnic in the nearby Kensington Gardens.

*Please note that while entrance to the museums is free of charge, you must reserve tickets in advance.

Day 3:

Today is all about shopping and fun in London’s city center, particularly around the Piccadilly Circus area, which offers an abundance of entertainment for kids.

Begin with a visit to the world-famous Hamleys on Regent Street, a seven-story toy store where your kids can find everything they’ve ever dreamt of. Even without making a purchase, exploring the store is a delight, with ongoing demonstrations, events, and special displays on different floors.

Not far from Hamleys, at Leicester Square, there are two mega stores for kids—Lego and M&M’S. The Lego store offers a delightful selection of building blocks based on various themes and collections, while the M&M’S store features a wide array of merchandise and the famous chocolate candies.

In the Piccadilly Circus area, numerous eateries cater to every taste, and if you’re craving Asian food, China Town is just around the corner.

London is renowned for its musicals, and last-minute tickets can often be purchased in box offices located in Leicester Square.

A short walk from Leicester Square leads you to Covent Garden. Once a city market, it has transformed into a covered market offering arts and crafts, food stalls, and vintage goods. In one corner, you’ll discover the London Transport Museum, which exhibits the rich history of London transport, from horse-drawn carriages to underground, rail, and over ground vehicles, including underground cars, locomotives, and the iconic London Double-Decker.

Day 4:

Today, we’ll venture out of the city center to the east, spending most of the day in Greenwich. The quickest and easiest way to reach Greenwich is by taking the DLR (Light Rail) or the river bus.

Once a hunting park and royal palace, Greenwich now offers many fun activities for families. The main attraction is the National Maritime Museum, the world’s largest of its kind. While entry to the museum is free of charge, advance booking is required. The museum is a haven for both adults and kids, featuring ship replicas and exploration activities that bring historic characters to life, and a playground for the younger kids, ensuring several enjoyable hours.

Not far away is the Cutty Sark, an authentic merchant ship that once transported tea and other goods. Today, the ship serves as a museum, providing a glimpse into what it was like to live onboard and sail the high seas. Please note that there’s an entrance fee, and tickets must be purchased in advance.

For a leisurely break, visit Greenwich Market, a covered market with arts and crafts, vintage goods, and a few eateries.

If you still have time and energy, climb the hill to the Royal Observatory to observe the stars in the planetarium, walk the meridian line, or even experience a day in the life of an astronaut.

To conclude the day, we recommend returning to London by one of the boats from Greenwich Pier to the London Eye Waterloo Pier and taking a ride on the famous London Eye just before sunset. This timing ensures the best views of London’s breathtaking skyline.

Day 5:

Today marks the beginning of our adventure in the south of England. After picking up the rental car, head southwest of the city towards Windsor, approximately 25 miles away.

Windsor is a charming town centered around its grand castle. Windsor Castle is renowned as the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, having served as the family home of the British royals for nearly 1,000 years. You can choose to delve into the castle’s history, or if British history isn’t your primary interest, you can leisurely stroll past its impressive walls and snap a few photos.

A highlight in Windsor for kids is the Legoland amusement park, featuring over 55 rides and attractions, and, of course, a substantial Lego shop

Stay overnight in Windsor.

Day 6:

Get ready for another exciting day! Just a short 8.5 miles from Windsor, you’ll arrive at Thorpe Park, the largest amusement park in Britain. The park boasts at least 30 rides, featuring both dry and wet attractions, along with other entertainment options suitable for kids of all ages.

Stay overnight in Windsor.

Day 7:

Head south to Brighton, a distance of approximately 68 miles. Brighton, a seaside resort in East Sussex, gained popularity as a tourist destination in the 19th century with the introduction of a direct rail line from London.

The primary family attraction is the Sea Life Center, the world’s first aquarium, which has been operating for almost 150 years. Here, you can observe sharks, sea turtles, and other marine life up close, experiencing day and night at a coral reef, or sailing in a glass-bottom boat.

Explore Brighton Beach, enjoy arcade games and restaurants on the historic Palace Pier, or rent bikes for a relaxing ride along the undercliff walk—a coastal route below the white cliffs east of town.

Stay overnight in Brighton.

Day 8:

In the morning, travel approximately 62 miles to Portsmouth and explore the Historic Dockyard. Once a naval base, this dockyard now showcases authentic historic vessels, including the Mary Rose of King Henry VIII and the HMS Victory of Admiral Nelson. The dockyard comprises several distinct exhibits, and you can move between them using the water shuttle. In addition to the life-sized ships, you’ll have the opportunity to visit a submarine museum and explore naval special weapons at the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower.

Stay overnight in Salisbury, a distance of about 43 miles.

Day 9:

Salisbury, located in Wiltshire County, is a historic market town boasting a magnificent gothic cathedral, which dates back over 800 years. The cathedral houses an authentic copy of the Magna Carta, a pivotal document signed in 1215 by King John. By endorsing the Magna Carta, the king committed to limiting his power and acknowledging the rights of his barons. Even after so many centuries, the Magna Carta remains a symbol of justice and human rights. Over time, it has inspired human rights legislation, as evidenced by Eleanor Roosevelt’s statement in 1948 that the international declaration for human rights is “the international Magna Carta of all men everywhere.”

Market days in Salisbury are Tuesdays and Saturdays.

From Salisbury, drive to Stonehenge, the world-famous prehistoric stone circle. In addition to exploring the iconic stones up close, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Neolithic village, gain insights into life 4000 years ago, attempt to understand the construction of the stone circle and its builders, and uncover many more secrets.

Stay overnight in Salisbury.

Day 10:

Before returning to London, enjoy another fun-filled day for the family by driving to Oxford (about 62 miles), the renowned university town. Oxford, located in Oxfordshire, is home to the first university in England, featuring several colleges with stunning architecture. The town center is compact and easily walkable. For the kids, a must-visit is Christchurch College, which served as the filming location for Hogwarts’ grand hall in the Harry Potter films. Since the buildings function as operational colleges and schools, it’s recommended to check opening times before visiting or opt for a guided walking tour with engaging storytellers.

After exploring Oxford, drive about 62 miles back to London.

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