Best Museums in London For Kids

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London is a place where you can have so much fun with your family. When you’re done playing, shopping, and exploring, be sure to check out some of London’s best museums. London’s family-friendly museums can be a joy, but kids need fun things to do. Luckily London England has world-class museums hosting many child-friendly and interactive displays and features. They have cool and interesting fun stuff that kids want to see. The best part? Some London museums are free. In this post we address the best museums in London for kids. This includes the 3 biggest museums in South Kensington and a selection of smaller family-friendly museums. Some aimed more directly at children.

london museums with kids

We’ve put together all of our insider tips on how to have an epic family vacation or weekend trip that will keep everyone happy (and entertained) from morning to night in London with kids.

This post focuses on some of the very best museums in London to enjoy with your children. Some London museums now require visitors to make a reservation or book a time slot at busy times, we give you information about this, too.

I love living in London. It is a city with so much to offer for both adults and kids alike, but it can be hard to figure out what’s best for your family when you’re new here or just on a vacation or short break.

That’s where this guide comes in! We try to help you choose which museums to prioritise on your vacation in London with your kids.

There are so many museums to visit in London that you could stay a month and not run out of options.

We’ll keep this post as fresh as possible because even if something is open now it may be closing tomorrow!

It’s always important to check and double-check all information for yourself.

Museums in London for Kids

No one wants to turn down a trip to the zoo for their child, but it can take up a whole day and be very expensive.

Luckily there are free museums in London that will keep your little ones entertained. With younger children it’s best not to spend too long at a museum, they can get bored and cranky. We’d recommend the free museums or the smaller museums with kids. That way you can keep visits shorter.

Expect queues and bag searches at a few of the most popular museums. At peak times, long queues form at the Natural History Museum (NHM).

Some of London’s museums now require you to book online, in advance. Having a time slot booked should cut your wait time.

You may need to check if these museums are still free, the government were pushing for admission to become paid.

Our favourite London museums for kids are below.

The best London art museums, like The Tate Modern and National Gallery can be good with kids. Scientific museums, such as The London Science Museum and Natural History Museum are great with kids too. Then you have museums that are paid and are more “attractions” like the Transport Museum or Clink Prison Museum. There are also children’s libraries like The British Library in Bloomsbury Square or St Pancras International train station. The latter offers a museum within its walls.

Don’t forget that many museums around London offer treasure trails, guided tours, and audio guides for kids. Some offer special family days and events. Take advantage of this opportunity during the school holidays.

Some London museums even have special activities and classes for kids.

Our Number 1 Best Museum in London for Kids is The Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum Best in London for Kids animals
The mammal hall at London’s Natural History Museum was always my favourite part as a child. Today my children love it too.

Imagine, for a second, the sheer awe of your first visit to this museum. On entry you will be confronted by a huge skeleton, an enormous whale or Dippy the dinosaur. If your child has any interest in animals, or dinosaurs, this is one of the best museums in the world.

You could spend days at The Natural History Museum in South Kensington and still not see everything. Dozens of collections and rooms span fossils through human history.

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting when Dippy the dinosaur is on display, you can explore his full skeleton up close!

Best London Museum With Kids, Natural History Museum
Our favourite London Museum is The Natural History Museum.

To your left, as you enter the grand entranceway, you’ll find the dinosaur exhibit area. It’s a lot of fun to see these creatures and interact with them! You can watch an animatronic T Rex roar, or immerse yourself in some interactive displays that make for great photo ops too.

We visited the London Natural History Museum in the school holidays this year. Visitors were required to have reservations to enter the Natural History Museum. A reservation is free and if you don’t make one, booking a time slot, you may not be allowed into the museum. Make a reservation for this London museum on the website below.

Full museum information, opening times and current exhibits, here.

The British Museum London, for Kids

British Museum London Kids Guide Tour
Possibly the best museum in London, and great with kids, the British Museum.

The British Museum is a world-renowned institution that houses archaeological and ethnological collections from around the globe.

The museum website features virtual tours, info about exhibitions this month, updates on their online shop’s latest products, and more. My children very much enjoyed the kids’ audio guides at London’s British Museum.

British Museum London for Kids

The British Museum has an amazing collection of ancient artifacts. You will be able to see pieces from the Egyptian, Greek, and Asian civilizations all in one place!

One exhibit that stands out is The Rosetta Stone- how cool would it have been for people back then trying to decipher hieroglyphs?

They also house some mummies you can get up close with if you dare!

The British Museum is an incredible place to visit. It has great facilities, food that’s pricey but worth it, and really nice washrooms.

The gift shop at the British Museum is very good for kids too. It sells items from artful ornaments to children’s books and toys for a fun shopping experience with kids in tow.

Read more about this museum here on our blog page if you’re interested.

As for The Natural History Museum, you can make a free reservation (book a time slot) on the British Museum website. On our last visit during school holidays, there was no requirement to show our reservation on the door. That said, it would be safest to book a time slot to guarantee admission to this museum. Not all museums in London require reservations (The Museum of The Bank of England did not on our last visit), but if you can make free reservations it’s best to do this.

Full museum information, opening times and current exhibits, here.

London Science Museum for Kids

London Science Museum with kids
The London Science Museum is great for kids!

The Science Museum of London is right next to the Natural History Museum and it’s free for anyone who wants to visit (except if you want a tour). Visit their website here, where they will tell you opening times and how visitors can reserve tickets.

The London Science Museum is an absolute must-see for any family with kids. But even adults will be wowed by the interactive science exhibits.

There’s a hands-on science area perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, with a play area. Plus an area that covers topics geared more towards elementary school-aged children. (photo above).

The Launchpad on the top floor has plenty to keep your kiddos busy including shows throughout the day and some really cool experiments you can do together too.

They have a nice restaurant and gift shop so I would bring cash if possible because they don’t take cards or checks there but we had lunch before exploring which was great since it meant no time lost while waiting in line anywhere!

The Science Museum is a lot less crowded than the Natural History Museum, so if you don’t want to wait in one of their notoriously long queues then try here.

There are other attractions near The London Science Museum. The Victoria and Albert Museum is just over the road from South Kensington Tube Station.

To get there take an underground walkway from the tube stop. It connects all three museums on Exhibition Road.

Full museum information, opening times and current exhibits, here.

The V&A London, for Kids

London V&A Museum for Kids
See the costumes from your kids favourite shows at London’s V&A museum.

This world-class museum is free to the public and offers a variety of exhibitions, tours, lectures, and films.

The Victoria & Albert Museum has something for everyone! This summer they are featuring Alice in Wonderland as one of their special exhibits with interactive displays that will delight all ages.

I really like the interactive, fun aspects of this museum.

There are dress-up stations and an area to explore different styles of music from around the world on one floor with theatrical costumes spanning many decades displayed in glass cases nearby for seeing close-up detail workmanship that is sometimes not clear enough at a distance.

On another floor there’s something interesting happening at any given time: art exhibits or rotating displays about various religions through history or just some new installation I haven’t seen before!

If you’re in London, the Victoria and Albert Museum is one of your must-sees.

It’s a huge museum with exhibitions on arts as well as crafts ranging from pottery to fashion design – there are audio guides available so pack up some headphones for an immersive experience!

The cafe at the V&A is pretty spectacular too: it may be quieter than other museums like Natural History or Science Museums but its worth checking out if they seem way too busy because this area has much less crowds.

Full museum information, opening times and current exhibits, here.

The Tate Modern Art Museum for Kids

Tate Modern for kids
The Tate Modern is another good London museum for kids. Their kids’ audio guides were hugely educational and took the kids on a treasure hunt of art through the museum.

The Tate Modern is a great place for kids and adults alike. We have enjoyed using the special kids’ audio guides here along with the electronic art wall near the cafe upstairs in the museum.

The Tate Modern offers audio guides in different languages, which makes it easy to explore the museum. There are always new exhibitions going up so you can never get bored here.

Our favourite artist was Salvador Dali- we saw his work at The Tate Modern on our last visit, as well as Picasso’s

The Tate Modern with children worked really well for us because they have cool stories and famous artists like Salvadore Dali or Pablo Picasso. Guides will help guide your child through their exhibition while also providing an opportunity to learn more about them (and maybe even develop a little interest!).

It’s perfect daytrip or half-day trip for kids in London if this sounds like your kids will find this interesting.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, be sure to keep an eye out for “Death Eater’s Bridge” when walking by the Tate Modern. Check out our post on Harry Potter tours of London too!

The bridge is located just outside the museum and you can cross it on foot to St Paul’s. It spans the Thames river.

The Tate Modern is open, so you can explore the art. You’ll need to have timed admissions though! It’s free most of the time and doors usually open at 10 am Monday-Sunday.

Full museum information, opening times and current exhibits, here.

Best art museum London for kids
Kids audio guides bring this museum to life for kids.

I enjoyed the London National Gallery with children. It was a great place for adults and kids alike, as they offer free tours that were fairly appropriate for my young ones.

They host special kid-oriented events during school holidays too!

This is where we got to see Van Gogh after a long-held interest thanks to Doctor Who.

London National Gallery Art With Kids
London’s National Gallery of Art, Trafalgar Square, it’s a great opportunity to take your kids to one of the best art museums in the world.

This museum, directly behind Trafalgar Square, felt like our own little piece of history on this very lively and busy day in London.

The National Gallery of Art is open according to their website. It’s a free (at the time of our visit) art museum that offers its collections in a variety of ways.

London Art Gallery Fun Kids
Make art fun for kids with guides and child-friendly tours.

Doors are normally open at 10 am with the exception being holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day when it should be closed.

The gallery also has late-night openings on Fridays where you can catch some great pieces if there happens to be anything scheduled during your visit!

Full museum information, opening times and current exhibits, here.

The Museum of Childhood

London Museum of Childhood

The Museum of Childhood falls under the umbrella of the V&A and is where you can relive your childhood and explore nostalgic toys from days gone by. You’ll find Sindy dolls, Action Man, rocking horses, -you name it!

You may be too old for some of these toys of yesteryear, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to enjoy looking! This would be my choice for the best museum in London for toddlers. Small children will enjoy the dolls, bears, clothing and games on display. There are also hands-on displays that kids should love, the dress-up station was a great imaginative play area.

As this is a small museum, it won’t be overwhelming for small children and you’re unlikely to get lost in the crowds.

The only drawback is that it’s a few tube stops out of the the city’s heart. This is a great museum to keep toddlers entertained on a rainy day. There is a nice restaurant on site with child-friendly dishes.

Full museum information, opening times and current exhibits, here.

The Grant Zoology Museum

Zoological Museum London for kids

The Grant Zoology Museum is perfect for anyone who adores bones and zoological specimens.

It has plenty of exhibits that will interest adults as well as children, with many being interactive to make learning fun!

Some may find the museum a little gruesome at first glance. Exhibits include bones and various animals preferved in jars. It has the famous “Jar of Moles”.

When we visited the Grant Museum a children’s sketching activity was going on and it was free to join. This is a very small museum and won’t be crowded like the big Kensington Museums. This would be another great wet day retreat with kids.

Full museum information, opening times and current exhibits, here.

Clink Prison Museum Kids

If you’re in London and enjoy history, education, or gore then the Clink Prison Museum is a must. The museum has been on site since it was built in 1100 AD as England’s oldest prison with some of its original cells still intact today.

The Clink Prison Museum also gives detailed insight into what life would have been like for prisoners including their diet and horrendous conditions. It’s on The South Bank, not far from Borough Market.

If you want an interesting look at how criminals were treated by society before our modern era then take a visit to the Clink Prison Museum where you can learn all about English criminal justice both past and present through exhibitions depicting every aspect of incarceration such as punishment and torture devices used during interrogation and as punishment.

Full museum information, opening times and current exhibits, here.

Maritime Museum, Greenwich With Kids

Maritime Museum Greenwich for Kids

Greenwich is a lovely spot for a day out with your kids. Take your children along to the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich Observatory, Cutty Sark and more. We have a full post on visiting Greenwich here.

Docklands Museum London For Kids

London Museum slavery

The Museum of London Docklands, a free museum near Canary Wharf is a great London museum for kids focussing on London’s history.

This museum includes the Mudlarks children’s gallery and a permanent exhibit about the slave trade which is very good for any child to learn about. Admission is free and you do not normally need to reserve a time slot, but do check their website, below, for any changes.

We really enjoyed this museum, particularly the reconstructions of buildings and rooms which we walked through. Again, it has a nice restaurant.

Find out more here, at their website.

List of London Museums That Can Be Good With Kids

London transport museum for kids
The London Transport Museum is at Covent Garden. There is a charge for admission. Kids who love buses and trains may really like this museum of transportation systems.

I’m not promising you that this is a complete list, and I’m not guaranteeing your kids will enjoy all of these museums, but these are all the London museums we know about, as Londoners.

If you know of more let me know, we can add them and visit them. We recently visited The Bank of England Museum at Bank. We found it quite boring, but if you have a spare half an hour and you’re nearby, do pop in.

  • The British Museum
  • The Natural History Museum (Kensington, free)
  • The Science Museum (Kensington, free)
  • The Museum of London
  • The National Gallery
  • The National Maritime Museum (Greenwich)
  • Museum of London Docklands
  • Horniman Museum and Gardens (South London, Borough of Lewisham, a good collection of animals, taxidermy, plus gardens and a restaurant.)
  • Sir John Soane’s Museum
  • Charles Dickens Museum
  • National Army Museum
  • London Transport Museum (Covent Garden)
  • Royal Observatory Greenwich
  • The Grant Zoology Museum
  • Cutty Sark (Greenwich)
  • The Wallace Collection
  • The Welcome Collection
  • Ragged School Museum
  • Sherlock Holmes Museum
  • Clink Prison Museum
  • Florence Nightingale Museum (Lambeth Palace Rd, St Thomas’s Hospital, paid admission, has family events.)

There are more museums! If you’re new to London and trying to choose which museums to choose my personal choice would be the Natural History Museum and The British Museum. My kids agree with this.

You could easily spend a full day in either, but I would suggest half a day because kids can get fed up and tired easily. Done right, museums are loads of fun for kids, but we all know that handling toddlers can be tricky. You know your own kids and how well they’ll do in a museum environment. Best of luck and we hope you enjoy checking out London’s best museums with kids.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

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