Things to do in London with Teens
Travelling with a teenager is different from travelling with an adult or a younger child, so we asked the teen children of our staff what they like to do when on holiday with their family. The answer was a mixture of sophistication and fun. They enjoy spending time with the family, going shopping, eating at nice places, sightseeing and trying something they have never tried before. So, here are our top suggestions for things to do in London with teens.
Family activities for teenagers
1. Sail under the iconic Tower Bridge and sightsee from the river
The Thames Clippers are London’s river buses. Getting aboard a boat is a fantastic way to sight-see London from a completely different perspective. The route from Westminster Pier to Greenwich will sail by quite a few attractions including the iconic Tower Bridge. There will be plenty of opportunities for that perfect selfie, especially if you board the boat in the early evening when the city lights are turned on but it’s still light enough to recognise the attractions.
2. Watch a West End Musical
London’s West End is a reference in the world of theatre, so why not pick an interesting play to watch? The Lion King has an array of great costumes, make up and special effects.
3. Escape the plague and the Great Fire of London
Learn about London’s history with a large pinch of horror and gruesome by visiting The London Dungeon.
4. Have a family ping pong tournament
Bounce is a ping pong bar and restaurant. Before 6pm under 18s are welcomed in the venue, so it’s a good place to have a late lunch and put the old competitive streak to good use.
5. Go from road to river in an amphibious tour bus
Ok, so the teen might cringe at the idea of parading around London on a bright coloured weird looking vehicle, but the London Duck Tour is guaranteed to impress once it hits the water with passengers aboard. We are sure the Instagram video will be worth it.
6. Pay Sherlock Holmes a visit
Whether you watched the film, TV series or read the books, the Sherlock Holmes Museum will bring it to life. An intriguing attraction for adult and teen fans alike.
7. Visit Chinatown
Experience another culture by wandering the streets of London’s Chinatown. In the evening it’s particularly stunning, when all the red and golden lanterns are turned on. And while you’re there, why not try some of the delicious food? If you are visiting London in mid-February, make sure to join the Chinese New Year celebrations. The dragon parades are quite something to witness.
8. Take a picture with your feet at either side of the Greenwich Meridian Line
The prime meridian line from which the world’s time zones and longitude are calculated sits right here in London. Visit the Greenwich Royal Observatory during the day for panoramic views of the city as well as a free trip to the museum and when night falls watch the green laser beam that marks the meridian cut the sky. While you are here, why not also visit the Cutty Sark tall ship, one of the last and fastest tea clippers built in the UK?
9. Watch a street performance in Covent Garden
Not only is Covent Garden a famous area of London, filled with retail stores and tempting eateries, its streets are also full of registered buskers and street performers. So why not drop by and watch a show?
10. Pick a self-guided walking tour and go for a family walk
Self-guided walking tours are a fantastic way not only to explore London at your own pace but also to find hidden gems. There are 15 routes based on different interests, from architecture to filming locations and literature, so you are sure to find one that sparks the interest. Go forth and conquer, family of urban explorers!
11. Talk to robots and try the flight simulator at the Science Museum
Meet The Terminator robot in the flesh, or should we say, in the metal and learn about the history of robotics as well as its latest developments. And if you always fancied yourself as a bit of a pilot, why not try your hand at the flight simulator? Just two of the many amazing exhibits at the Science Museum.
12. Find Banksy
If your teen is into street art, several London walls will most certainly look good on their Snapchat story. Areas like Shoreditch, Brixton and Camden are full of them, but if you are after the famous Banksy, Time Out has put together a handy little map of where you can see his work in the capital. Time for a street art hunt.
13. Follow in the steps of Jack the Ripper
One of the world’s most famous serial killers, Jack the Ripper’s story is very much still alive in London. You just need to Google “Jack the Ripper Walks or Tours” for a string of providers to pop up. Follow in his footsteps if you dare.
14. Take a selfie with Cara Delevigne and Kendall Jenner at Madame Tussauds
So you may never meet world leaders and celebrities in the flesh, but you can surely meet them and take a picture with them at Madame Tussauds. We promise not to tell anyone they were made of wax.
15. All aboard the Hogwarts Express
For Harry Potter fans, a walk around London will spring several parts of the movies and books to mind, but if you want to stand inside Hogwarts’ hall, wander through the Forbidden Forest, drink butter beer and see the Hogwarts Express, then you must visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter.
16. Cover all the famous sights
And of course, no visit to London would be complete without sightseeing. The House of Parliament, Big Ben, Bucking Palace and the Changing of the Guard are all a must for any city visitor. The pictures also have some serious bragable value in teen currency.
Shopping for teens…
The home of London Fashion Week and part of any fashionista’s globe trotting schedule, London is an amazing shopping destination. For a more detailed guide of where to go and for what type of shopping, read our London shopping guide.
17. Hit the markets for quirky and unique fashion
If your teen has a quirky style and loves vintage or one-off arty items, then they will be in shopping heaven in any of London’s quirkier markets. Try on Camden, Greenwich, Portobello or Spitalfields markets for size.
18. Shop designer
19. Visit the high-street epicentre
It doesn’t get much better for high-street lovers than Oxford Street. Flagship after flagship of their favourite stores. Welcome to high-street heaven.
Eating out with a teenager
20. Taste some crazy delicacies
Have liquid nitrogen ice cream at Chin Chin Labs. Taste a red velvet latte made with beetroot at the super quirky Palm Vaults. Try the seriously yummy looking Bubble Wrap Waffle or buy a coffee from a telephone box. You will without a doubt come across some weird and wonderful eateries in London. And don’t even get us started on international cuisine! All you have to do is Google for a certain cuisine near you.
21. Have afternoon tea in a tropical forest
The Barbican usually hosts all sorts of events for families, including art, music, film and theatre activities. But even if you don’t take part in one of their events, The Conservatory at its rooftop is definitely worth a visit. The second biggest conservatory in the capital, the Barbican rooftop is an urban tropical forest with over 2,000 species of plants and exotic fish. They also serve afternoon tea. Talk about an English tradition with a tropical twist!
22. Visit a beach bar or a rooftop restaurant
During the summer, rooftop bars and restaurants come to life in London. You will even find beach restaurants with real sand! Yes, in London. Where there is no sea front, but there is plenty of great atmosphere and food.
23. Have a tech dinner at Inamo
A fan of gadgets? Then you will love Inamo, a Pan-Asian restaurant where you order your food and watch it be cooked via an interactive table. You can even play games while you wait for your order. Cool or what?
Where to take teenagers in London
24. God’s Own Junk Yard
God’s Own Junk Yard is the master piece of neon artist Chris Bracey. Featured in one of Dynamo’s magic stunts and even a photo shoot for fashion bible Vogue, your teen will definitely want a picture here.
25. The Royals
A visit to London would not be complete without a Royal sprinkle. Buckingham Palace opens to the public from July to September, but Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace are open to the public year round. And of course, The Changing of the Guard takes place daily during the summer and every couple of days over the winter.
26. Changing of the Guard
And talking about the Queen’s Guard… Watch the royal tradition unfold in front of your eyes, as the soldiers march up The Mall to Buckingham Palace and change shift in the most elaborate way. Definitely worth a visit.
27. Piccadilly Circus
We have all seen the Tokyo lights, but did you know London has its own little stretch of neon? Head to Piccadilly Circus during the day and get a selfie with the famous cupid statue on the background. Head over there at night and see the corner lit up with multi-colour ads.
28. Sky Gardens
While The Shard has one of the best viewpoints in London, Sky Gardens, at the top of Fenchurch Building – affectionately known as the Walkie-Talkie, is 155 meters above ground and still offers great panoramic views of the city. Best of all? Unlike The Shard, it’s free.
29. Arrive at Platform 9 ¾
King’s Cross is an interesting train station for more than one reason. It’s here that Harry Potter embarks the Hogwarts Express at platform 9 ¾. It’s also here that you will find the Platform 9 ¾ store selling all sorts of souvenirs and memorabilia from the Harry Potter movies.
Things to do for teens
30. Snorkel with sharks
Visiting the London Aquarium is a must. From piranhas to sharks, there is plenty to awe and amaze you. But if you want to take it up a notch, you can go behind the scenes, help the keepers look after the aquarium residents and even snorkel with the sharks! Yes, you read that right. You can dive with sharks right here in London.
31. Slide down the ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide
Don’t let the name or the height put you off. Not only is the ArcelorMittal located inside the Olympic Park, it now also has the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide! Think extreme tobogganing. Not for the faint hearted.
32. Tour the Thames on a speeding rib
So you have done the sedate boat ride on suggestion #1, now it’s time to take it up a notch. Or three. The Thames speed boat experience will see you speeding down the Thames on a rib. If that doesn’t get your blood flowing, we don’t know what will!
33. Visit the O2 Arena and climb its dome
As well as being the home of several restaurants, a cinema and London’s biggest performance venue, The O2 Arena, originally called the Millennium Dome, is one cool building to visit. If you take the boat tour on suggestion #1 you will arrive at The Dome via a tunnel of light. Definitely worth an Instagram picture. But wait! We are not done. You can also climb to the summit of The Dome – on the outside. There is no lifts or escalators and once at the summit, you will be more than 50 meters above ground and have some incredible views over the river.
34. Try to escape at ClueQuest
Think you are good with puzzles? Then you need to put your skills to the test at ClueQuest and see if you can puzzle your way out of a locked room.
35. Learn to free run at Parkour Generations
Now, if you like running and would love to learn some stunts, then Parkour Generation is just for you. Learn how to safely and creatively overcome obstacles as you run. And the best? You don’t have to stop here. You can continue to practice and use what you have learned when you get home.
36. Skateboard at BaySixty6
For any self-proclaimed skater, a visit to London would not be complete without a visit to BaySixty6 Skate Park. This is also the place if you have never skated before, but would like to learn. Keep an eye on their website for free sessions if you already skate or book classes before you go. One thing is for sure, you will have a great time.
37. Lee Valley White Water Centre
White water rafting, need we say more? Just the name has serious bragging rights. Make sure you check the website before attending as the opening of the park is weather dependent.
38. Go karting
Karting is great fun anywhere, especially for teens, to whom driving is the next big thing. So why not give them a taster? Before going, though, make sure you check the age requirements as some karting outlets are not insured for drivers under 18. You only need to search the net for the closest locations.
39. Spark creativity at Round House’s Young Creative
If your teen is into media, broadcasting, performing arts or music, pay a visit to one of Round House’s Young Creative Drop-in Nights and let them go behind the scenes and experience the creative industry. You will need to enroll beforehand and places are highly sought after, but it will definitely light up the flame of interest. And who knows? You might just have inspired a future career path!
So you see, whatever your teen is into, if it’s adrenaline, shopping, sports, good food or just chilling, London has it covered. There is not excuse to have a boring city break in our beautiful capital regardless of age.