The best things to do on London’s South Bank with kids

The best things to do on London’s South Bank with kids

Considered one of my favorite elements of town to discover, there’s a lot to tempt you to London’s South Financial institution with children – household sights galore, the prospect to walk alongside the Thames, a string of Instagrammable London sights.

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So if you happen to’re planning your London itinerary, or searching for concepts of issues to do close to the London Eye, I’ve picked out among the finest choices for households.

There are ideas for indoor sights for wet days in London and free days out on the South Financial institution with children, strategies for toddlers and youths, and even among the finest locations to remain on the South Financial institution in London.

The place is London’s South Financial institution?

Operating alongside the south facet of the Thames, formally London’s South Financial institution space stretches from Lambeth Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge.

For the sake of this piece, I’m additionally together with just a few highlights as far east as Southwark Bridge – round half-hour stroll from the London Eye and Sea Life Aquarium, it’s a straightforward stroll away, plus you’ll be able to move by if you happen to’re heading to the realm round Tower Bridge with children too.

However if you happen to solely have time for a flying go to to the South Financial institution with children, the important thing household sights are set within the space between Westminster Bridge and Waterloo Bridge, which can also be the place most short-term actions happen.

The best things to do on London’s South Bank with kids

The London Eye

One of many iconic sights of town, the London Eye can also be an important place to get a fowl’s eye view of the capital.

Turning excessive above the South Financial institution and looking throughout the Thames, it’s finest for good climate – unsurprisingly – however chilly sunny winter days can provide some gorgeously clear views.

A view towards the London Eye against a blue sky, with the river Thames and the old County Hall building seen in the foreground - one of many things to do on the South Bank with kids

Or time your ‘flight’ for sundown and watch the lights twinkling on throughout London.

Prebooking is strongly suggested, with reductions if you happen to purchase your tickets on-line prematurely. There are additionally fast-track tickets out there to skip the queues, which is right with children, particularly in peak season.

It’s also possible to purchase mixture tickets with the London Dungeon and close by London aquarium.

For extra concepts of one of the best views in London with children, try these alternate options

Sea Life London Aquarium

A beautiful different to town’s zoos for animal lovers, the Sea Life London Aquarium is a good place to go to – one of many largest collections in Europe.

London’s aquarium homes over 500 species, 14 themed zones and greater than 2 million litres of water with some uncommon creatures to find, in addition to some favourites together with penguins and clownfish.

There are additionally frequently particular occasions throughout faculty holidays, and you’ll be part of behind-the-scenes excursions.

It may well get busy at peak instances and on wet days, so it’s properly value pre-booking and there are often reductions if you happen to purchase on-line prematurely.

For extra concepts on how to save cash on days out in London with children, try my prime ideas

Bright yellow and striped reef fish plus a clownfish - coral reef fish are among those to be found at the Sea Life Aquarium on London's South Bank

Shrek’s Journey

Shrek followers will love the prospect to stroll by the world of Far Far Away, assembly among the well-known characters together with Princess Fiona and Donkey, in addition to Shrek himself.

There’s a problem to gather substances to be able to discover Shrek and make it house safely, with 10 themed dwell reveals and a 4D flying bus to finish Shrek’s Journey. Higher for main faculty aged children who’ll respect the enjoyable than for toddlers and preschoolers.

Preserve a watch out too for particular occasions 12 months spherical, together with particular visitors like Puss in Boots and a Shrek Santa at Christmas.

It’s also possible to get mixed tickets to different Merlin sights, together with the close by aquarium or London Eye. Tickets with free cancellation are additionally out there from Get Your Information.

The London Dungeon

One for older and braver children, a visit to the London Dungeon is a scarily good day trip, with dwell actors whisking you thru 1,000 actually alarming years of historical past, plus loads of particular results and rides to get your coronary heart racing even quicker.

Considered one of a string of places across the UK, like the opposite Dungeons, every location has areas themed to go well with its personal historical past too. The London Dungeon, for instance, brings you head to head with the Nice Fireplace and Sweeney Todd.

Prebooking is strongly suggested, with on-line reductions if you happen to purchase your tickets prematurely: finest for teenagers and braver tweens. It’s also possible to purchase mixture tickets to different Merlin sights.

View of the Millennium bridge over the Thames with a view of Tate Modern and the Shard in the background - the Tate Modern is one of the many attractions on the South Bank in London

Tate Fashionable

Set in a transformed energy station on London’s Bankside, Tate Fashionable is certainly not your common artwork gallery – children are inspired to speak (and there’s loads of house to run round within the turbine corridor) plus you’ll discover plenty of simple methods even for youthful ones to get pleasure from what they see together with advised video games.

The Tate Fashionable additionally has advised routes for households to observe by the collections, which embrace large names from the twentieth century, similar to Matisse, together with works from the previous decade.

It’s free to go to and also you don’t presently must prebook, except you’re visiting one of many particular exhibitions (that are additionally paid entry).

The Florence Nightingale Museum

On the opposite facet of Westminster Bridge Highway from the London Eye, the Florence Nightingale Museum is an enchanting and fewer visited cease to think about alongside the South Financial institution with children.

The museum tells the story of the woman with the lamp, together with her work as a nurse within the Crimean Conflict and her affect as a pioneer of recent nursing.

There are interactive displays, and you’ll meet the redoubtable Miss Nightingale herself, in addition to studying extra quirky details – together with how she acquired her identify, and the very fact she had a pet owl referred to as Athena. The museum additionally has household trails and common actions for teenagers.

Shakespeare's Globe on the South Bank in London, a recreation of the original Elizabethan theatre - one of  the many attractions on the South Bank for families

The Globe theatre

Step again to Tudor England with a go to to the Globe Theatre, a reconstruction of the open-air playhouse the place Shakespeare labored, and the place his performs are carried out at the moment.

And in addition to shopping for a ticket for a efficiency – positively one of the crucial memorable methods to see Shakespeare, particularly for teenagers finding out the performs – you may also take a tour behind the scenes.

The 50-minute excursions embrace tales of the unique sixteenth century playhouse and London in Shakespeare’s Day, the way it survived plague and political oppression, together with how the Globe was recreated, plus time to take a look at the exhibition house.

Southbank Centre

The Southbank Centre is on the coronary heart of a whole lot of the occasions and actions which occur on the South Financial institution, proper all the way down to the road artwork painted on the surface.

However enterprise inside and there are some improbable artwork exhibitions to find if you happen to’re visiting London with teenagers, together with interactive installations and artwork on the Hayward Gallery.

When you’re visiting the Southbank Centre with youthful children, you’ll find family-friendly performances going down on the Queen Elizabeth Corridor, in addition to the annual Think about Competition for households each February.

Royal Competition Corridor

South Financial institution London can also be house to the world class live performance venue of the Royal Competition Corridor, a part of the Southbank Centre advanced and its largest efficiency house.

And whereas the emphasis is on live shows by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra (amongst resident orchestras), there are additionally household live shows to introduce children to classical music.

There’s something from Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes set to music, to The Making of The Orchestra and different family-friendly performances.

View along the South Bank towards St Paul's Cathedral including the dolphin lamps - a walk on the South Bank with kids is one of the best free things to do in London

Stroll the South Financial institution

The River Thames is the center of town, so a stroll alongside the river is at all times probably the greatest issues to do in London with children – don’t simply rush from A to B, save a while to find the quirky particulars, take in the river views and benefit from the road performers.

Stroll from Westminster Bridge to Southwark Bridge, and there are views of landmarks just like the Homes of Parliament and St Paul’s, in addition to strolling previous the London Eye, the Tate Fashionable and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre.

When you do deep going a little bit additional and you’ll see the Golden Hinde, a reproduction of the ship through which Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe, plus the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

There are sometimes altering short-term artwork installations, even an city seaside in summer season, plus festivals and occasions all year long – try this stroll alongside the South Financial institution for extra inspiration, in addition to these highlights to identify.

Sturgeon or dolphin lamps along the South Bank with the river in the background - taking a walk on the South Bank with kids is one of the best free things to do in London for families

Spot the quirky lampposts

Take a more in-depth take a look at the lampposts as you head alongside The Queen’s Stroll and the riverside – often known as dolphin lamp requirements, the fishy creatures twined across the base have by no means appeared very similar to dolphins to me!

Primarily based on statues of dolphins or fish with intertwined tails on the Fontana del Nettuno within the Piazza del Popolo in Rome, they’re generally described as stylised sturgeons – as soon as so useful they have been referred to as a royal fish.

Initially powered by electrical energy, they have been transformed to gasoline lamps earlier than switching again to electrical gentle once more in 1900 and plenty of are Grade II listed.

Discover the viewpoints

Save a while to go up onto the bridges for some further views alongside the Thames, together with from Golden Jubilee Bridge.

You may even begin your South Financial institution stroll from the northern Embankment and use the bridge linking Embankment tube and the Southbank Centre to get throughout – there’s often a soundtrack of metal drums

Preserve strolling in direction of the Oxo Tower (whose home windows cleverly acquired across the prohibition on promoting) to Gabriel’s Wharf the place the financial institution widens and also you get an important view in direction of Blackfriars Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Additional alongside the river, there are extra nice views from the Millennium Bridge resulting in St Pauls – you’ll be able to see the cathedral peeking between the fashionable buildings as you cross.

View over the Millennium Bridge to St Paul's Cathedral on the north bank of the Thames - taking a walk on the South Bank with kids is a great way to explore London

Take a ship journey

When you’re seeking to take to the river, there are many decisions of boat journey from the South Financial institution with children, whether or not you need to velocity down the Thames, hop on for a fast journey or get pleasure from a sightseeing tour.

For extra concepts of London boat journeys with children, try this publish

Uber Boat by Thames Clippers

When you’re not searching for an extended cruise, aren’t fussed about commentary on board or desire a extra spontaneous choice, Uber Boat by Thames Clippers is unbeatable.

Whilst you can select the identical route as most sightseeing boat excursions in London, this operates virtually the identical manner as a water bus, so it’s a enjoyable solution to get round London.

The boats go away from 23 totally different piers alongside the Thames, together with London Eye Waterloo pier, with common boats by central London, plus much less frequent routes to take you west to Putney and east past Greenwich, so far as Woolwich (Royal Arsenal).

You need to use contactless to pay (in addition to your Oyster card), or ebook through their app, so there’s no must plan your tickets manner prematurely. Or you’ll be able to choose up a one-day limitless River Roamer journey move: if there are two adults in your group, the household move implies that children go free.

One of the City Cruises boats on the Thames in London with the Shard and HMS Belfast in the background - one of the best boat trips in London with kids

Metropolis Cruises hop-on hop-off boats

There’s a complete vary of various sightseeing boat excursions from Metropolis Cruises, together with ones with afternoon tea but in addition a 24-hour hop-on hop-off ticket, so you will get on and off the sightseeing boats at 4 totally different piers, if you would like a number of cruises.

There’s commentary on board as they sail alongside the Thames, previous landmarks together with the Homes of Parliament and the London Eye, so it’s a enjoyable, hassle-free solution to spot just a few highlights with children – if the climate’s good, you’ll be able to sit outdoors on the highest deck.

It’s also possible to choose up mixed tickets, together with for riverside sights such because the London Eye plus a ship tour, or the Tower of London plus cruise.

The boats run frequently from London Eye Waterloo Pier, in addition to between Westminster Pier, Tower Pier and Greenwich.

Get 20% off all Metropolis Cruises sightseeing excursions utilizing code CC20 till the top of 2024 – click on right here to get the low cost

Spot road artwork

London’s road artwork scene is consistently altering, so it’s potential to return repeatedly to see one thing new – but it surely’s simple to see among the capital’s eye-catching works as you wander previous different sights.

Stik street art figures against a yellow background at Hungerford Bridge some of the street art to spot along the South Bank with kids

Stroll alongside the South Financial institution and you’ll see road artwork by Stik at Hungerford Bridge, not removed from the London Eye, for instance.

The graffiti on the Southbank Skate Park is consistently getting a brand new look too, whereas the Southbank Centre frequently sees new items added to its concrete partitions and stairs – usually specifically commissioned, the checklist has included Belgian artist ROA and East London’s Bread Collective.

Preserve going a bit additional and there’s a technicolour Shakespeare close to the Clink Avenue tunnel past the Globe too.

Or head a little bit manner in from the riverside to find the Graffiti tunnel – scroll down for extra.

Go to the Graffiti tunnel

This 300m Leake Avenue tunnel beneath Waterloo station is London’s longest authorized graffiti wall – the pictures change always however you’re assured to find one thing eye-catching right here.

Popularised after Banksy’s 2008 Cans Competition, there are generally periods for wannabe road artists however anybody can simply convey their very own paint and get inventive.

And even supposing it’s solely round a five-minute stroll from the London Eye, it’s usually ignored by the hordes of individuals visiting the South Financial institution.

Head down Chicheley Avenue and throughout York Highway to search out it, or you’ll be able to see the Graffiti tunnel location on Google Maps. Preserve a watch out for any occasions going down on the Leake Avenue Arches, that are additionally house to numerous locations to eat, together with Draughts Board Recreation Cafe and Mamuska for Polish meals.

My daughter walks through the Leake Street Graffiti tunnel in Waterloo - just a few minutes from London's South Bank

Splash in a fountain

When London basks in one among its occasional heatwaves, there’s nowhere higher to be than splashing in one of many fountains which have began popping up throughout town – come ready with spare garments!

The Showing Rooms interactive sculpture on the Southbank Centre is among the enjoyable choices, with jets of water creating ‘rooms’ earlier than they vanish simply as rapidly.

It’s value realizing that youngsters want tops on to splash right here: a T-shirt over their swimming costume, a rash vest or a swimming costume with sleeves are all tremendous.

It often seems on the Riverside Terrace, at degree two, for a number of months through the summer season, from across the begin of June to late August (though it’s switched off on Mondays).

Head to Jubilee Park playground

Jubilee Park & Backyard close to the London Eye has its personal playground if you happen to’re taking a stroll alongside the South Financial institution.

Set inside Jubilee Gardens, there’s a fab journey playground geared toward kids as much as 11 years, with cleverly designed wood buildings and spidery rope webs to entertain any budding younger climbers – refurbished in Might 2022, there’s additionally new gear for youthful children and sensory choices to make it extra inclusive.

Moments from each the London Eye, and Sea Life Aquarium, it’s simple to mix with the large household sights, plus Jubilee Gardens are a reasonably place for folks to take a couple of minutes to relax out.

For added household enjoyable, there’s a carousel close to Golden Jubilee Bridge, simply to the facet of Jubilee Gardens and the playground

Bike tricks at the Southbank skate park - one of the unusual things to spot on the South Bank with kids

Take a look at the skate park

Whether or not you need to watch the bikers and skate boarders check out their methods otherwise you’re seeking to hone your individual expertise, that is one spot on the South Financial institution which isn’t quiet.

Set within the undercroft of the Southbank Centre, there’s been a skate park right here for many years, and it’s been referred to as the birthplace of British skateboarding.

With a sequence of ledges, banks and a set of stairs for skate boarders to make use of, there’s additionally a railing separating these watching from these skating if you wish to have a look with out getting too shut.

Household actions on the South Financial institution

Together with the everlasting sights on the South Financial institution with children, there are common occasions and festivals going down through the 12 months.

The Think about Kids’s Competition takes place in February, geared toward children aged as much as 11, with a sequence of free occasions to get pleasure from in addition to paid actions.

Within the run-up to Christmas, the South Financial institution additionally holds its personal winter market with stalls and road meals.

And there are common actions throughout faculty holidays too, together with inventive periods, household trails and extra. Take a look at the total particulars of what’s on for households on the Southbank for the most recent info.

Yellow sign reading What's On by the Southbank Centre in London - there are always a string of family activities, events and festivals on the South Bank for kids

The place to eat on the South Financial institution with children

The South Financial institution is house to a string of chain eating places that are nice for households, together with Wagamama, Sincere Burger, Nando’s and pizza galore (together with Pizza Specific and Strada).

However you’ll additionally discover just a few extra choices to tempt with children of all ages, whether or not you’ve acquired mini gourmets or fancy a twist on just a few classics.

Southbank Centre Meals Market

Head to the South Financial institution on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to search out the Meals Market remodeling the piazza on Belvedere Highway behind the Southbank Centre.

If you wish to seize a espresso, juice, crepe or cookie, you’ll discover simple snacks to gasoline your exploring, however there’s additionally a powerful array of meals from world wide too, together with Ethiopian and Venezuelan dishes in addition to Caribbean and Punjabi curries.

There are many vegetarian and vegan choices too, in addition to craft beer for the grown-ups. Seize a seat at one of many outside tables or stroll again to the riverfront to eat.


Giraffe’s eating places are well-known for aiming to maintain all family members blissful – there are child-friendly classics but in addition parent-friendly dishes and cocktails.

The South Financial institution department is the biggest within the capital too, so when you can count on queues at this widespread spot, they do usually transfer pretty quick.

There are brunch dishes together with pancakes on the youngsters menu, in addition to hidden veggie pasta, whereas the primary menu has something from tender shell crab burger to Thai duck stir fry.

Two burgers in buns with sauce, tomato and lettuce on a wooden table - if you're looking for places to eat on the South Bank with kids, there are several places to get burgers


Seize a burrito to go from the Mexican Avenue Kitchen meals truck by the riverside or head indoor for award-winning Mexican road meals at Wahaca, set inside recycled delivery containers.

The menu has every part from quesadillas and enchiladas to vegan and veggie dishes, whereas there’s additionally a build-your-own-tacos choice on the child’s menu.

You possibly can reserve tables throughout sure hours however if you happen to haven’t, the eating places holds some tables which might’t be prebooked, so it’s choice if you happen to’re being spontaneous too.

Brewdog Waterloo

A restaurant with a slide in is at all times going to be a winner, and with tables set over two flooring, there’s often house to seize a chew at Brewdog Waterloo – you’ll be able to prebook, together with asking for tables close to the slide too.

There’s even an ice cream van, loads of child-friendly decisions on the menu and craft beers from the on-site BrewDog microbrewery (though sadly you’ll be able to’t go into the speakeasy bar – entrance by the pink cellphone field – with children).

Brewdog can get very busy, so be ready for a wait if you happen to go to, and can even get crowded within the evenings as individuals head in for a drink after work.

Gabriel’s Wharf

You’re spoiled for selection at Gabriel’s Wharf, which can also be house to a string of quirky boutiques and homewares if you happen to’re searching for a novel memento of a go to to London.

For meals, the Connoisseur Pizza Co is a winner if you happen to’re visiting the South Financial institution with children (whereas nonetheless tempting dad and mom), or Sizzling Mess Toasties provides grilled cheese its personal twist – assume a macaroni cheese model, or duck bacon.

And Paradiso isn’t your common burger joint – there are vegan burgers together with buttermilk rooster choices, plus sides like Bang Bang cauliflower.

There’s additionally nice Mexican meals at Hola Guacamole and Trinidadian meals at Limin’ Seaside Membership, together with artisan chocolate.

Image showing a graphic of London's iconic sights and the words 'click to read my quick start guide to London, all the essentials you need to know before a visit to London with kids' linking to my blog post guide to London with kids

Resorts on the South Financial institution with children

It’s simple to get to the South Financial institution from most locations in central London, in addition to through practice from Waterloo, however if you happen to’re searching for a household resort on the South Financial institution, there are alternatives for all budgets.

Park Plaza County Corridor/Westminster Bridge

The Park Plaza resort chain has a number of central London motels which supply their Household Expertise package deal together with the Park Plaza County Corridor on the South Financial institution, which is only a quick stroll from the realm’s household sights, and Park Plaza Westminster Bridge.

Park Plaza’s Household Package deal consists of kids’s goodie baggage, seasonal kid-friendly actions, plus free breakfast, lunch and dinner for teenagers beneath 12 when eating with dad and mom. 

Preserve a watch out for household offers as properly, similar to 2-for-1 affords on Merlin sights.

Premier Inn London Waterloo/London County Corridor

When you’re searching for funds motels close to the South Financial institution with children, there are a number of Premier Inn motels close by.

The closest two are the Waterloo and County Corridor motels, though you may also keep a little bit additional east with three extra choices in Southwark, together with one not removed from the Tate Fashionable and one other at Southwark Bankside.

You could find spacious household rooms with a double mattress plus a settee mattress and pull-out mattress, in addition to journey cots for infants at no further value. Children additionally eat breakfast without spending a dime when eating with dad and mom.

Marriot Resort County Corridor

When you’re searching for a little bit of luxurious on your keep on the South Financial institution with children, the Marriott in London’s former County Corridor constructing positively qualifies.

There are household rooms and suites, together with double double rooms – a bed room with two double beds is a uncommon discover in London.

Add in improbable views out throughout the Thames, plus it’s solely 100 yards from household sights just like the London Sealife Aquarium within the Riverside Constructing County Corridor.

Nox Resort, Waterloo

Positioned in Waterloo, only a quick stroll from London’s South Financial institution and its many sights, Nox Resort is a beautiful family-friendly aparthotel. 

Nox’s tremendous glossy household studios have a double mattress plus two singles for youngsters, in addition to a completely geared up kitchenette with a fridge, microwave and toaster. 

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County Corridor/lamposts/road artwork/Leake Avenue tunnel/skate park/what’s on signal copyright MummyTravels, Metropolis Cruises boat courtesy Metropolis Experiences, all different photographs courtesy of Depositphotos