The UK or the United Kingdom is a complete package deal for families. An unusually beautiful country packed with endless kid-friendly attractions and small enough to be explored without rushing around. What more could you ask for?
With such breathtaking cities and towns, lush countrysides, beautiful islands, and diverse attractions within little distances, it can be a daunting task to decide where to start.
We asked the fellow family travel bloggers to share their expertise in compiling the list of best places to visit in the UK with kids to add to your UK bucket list.
We knew London inside out before having our son five years ago, and we always thought it was somewhere he would enjoy. He certainly did – indeed, he absolutely adores the place.
The beauty of London is that there is so much to do, and there’s something for everyone no matter what their niche or niches may be. This is why we’d recommend London to anyone traveling with kids.
London has many amazing attractions for kids, and this includes its many parks and playgrounds. Our little man loved the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. This brilliant playground is free but you may end up having to queue to get in sometimes.
Nearby, the Museums in South Kensington are outstanding, The two that kids are most likely to be interested in are the Natural History Museum and Science Museum. Our son was so enamored of both that he wanted to return to them the following day.
The Science Museum has plenty of hands-on exhibits, perfect when you’ve got a curious little one
wanting to explore.
He also loved visiting some of the famous buildings in London. He was particularly keen on St Paul’s Cathedral and joined me on a climb to the Golden Gallery, the viewpoint at the top of the famous dome.
South Kensington is a very convenient area to stay in London with kids, as it’s right next to the Museums and within easy striking distance of Central London. The Meininger Hotel London Hyde Park is, despite its name, across the street from the Natural History Museum, and an ideal choice for families.
The best way to explore London is on foot. Here are some of the best self-guided London walks to explore the city like a pro.
Contributed by David Angel from Delve into Europe
Tip: Take a self-guided walking tour with kids to discover some of the beautiful neighborhoods and prettiest streets in London. Let your kids admire the colors and creativity.
Greenwich, a borough in London is located to the south of River Thames. Greenwich gives it’s name to the famous GMT or the Greenwich Meridian Time. The Prime Meridian, where the Longitude Zero passes through is located in the Royal Observatory. Take the iconic picture by standing with one foot in the Western hemisphere and other in the Eastern hemisphere across the Prime Meridian. The Prime Meridian has been used for reference of GMT time since 1884.
The Royal Observatory Built way back in 1676 has a major role in the work in fields of astronomy and navigation. Getting into the world of stars, it has one the world’s greatest telescopes and other historic clocks and instruments in the museum.
Royal Observatory, a part of the Greenwich Park sits atop a hill overlooking the beautiful Park. Standing at the entrance of the Royal Observatory gives some mesmerizing vistas of the manicured landscape with backdrops of National Maritime Museum and the London skyline.
Another great way to Enjoy the soak in the beauty of London skyline and the River Thames is the Emirates air Line Cable car between the Greenwich Peninsula and Royal Docks.
Greenwich, is a historic city and home to the Royals long time back. It is eminent through the architecture and important buildings like the Queen’s House, Old Royal Naval College, National Maritime Museum that can be visited.
The Queen’s house built in the 17th century is a living example of grandeur and stunning architecture. The entry to the Queen’s house is free and must visit.
On the Greenwich Pier is docked the Cutty Sark, a restored 19th century tea trading ship considered the fastest ship of it’s time. It was used as a tea clipper to bring tea from China to England fast. Walk below the hull or check the history in the docks, it is surely going to be a great time.
Greenwich is easily accessible from London by the tube, train or bus.
Looking for Big Sur California vibes in Europe? Then head to the Cornwall coast where you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches in the UK, if not Europe.
The rugged cliffs, sweepings bays, and golden sandy beaches make for the perfect family playground, and it’s also home to gorgeous countryside and endless things for kids to do. You’d love to visit Cornwall with kids.
One of the region’s most popular attractions is the Eden Project, which features two huge biomes, housing plants from across the world – including the world’s largest indoor rainforest. Filled with fun and educational activities, it’s an ideal day out, come rain or shine.
Other popular attractions include the Camel Bike Trail, Flambards theme park, St Michael’s Mount and the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Plus there’s plenty to do on the many beaches, including learning to surf.
Cornwall is also home to some of the UK’s best family hotels. Watergate Bay is a favorite and is the ultimate luxury Cornwall family holiday. Situated right on the beach at the picturesque Watergate Bay, it goes above and beyond to provide a holiday that both children and parents won’t forget.
Everything from the hotel rooms to the restaurants to the children’s playroom is stylishly done, and highlights include an indoor infinity pool looking out to the ocean; a fabulous on-site spa; a free children’s club; surfing school, and endless views of the epic bay.
It’s also possible to arrange for a baby monitor in your room, so adults can have dinner together or enjoy some live music while the children sleep safely upstairs.
Contributed by Victoria from Bridges and Balloons
The Isles of Scilly, England
If you’re looking for a peaceful, old fashioned seaside holiday for families, the Scilly Isles takes some beating. Located off the coast of Cornwall in southwest England, the Isles of Scilly are a bit of a secret.
The archipelago is made up of five inhabited islands and scores of uninhabited isles. The main island is St Mary’s: it has a lively main town and scores of beaches to explore. There are also ancient ruins and an interesting museum charting the history of the islands.
If you’d prefer a more escapist experience, the island of St Agnes is the most remote and has limited holiday accommodation. One of the highlights from our family holiday was spending our days on empty beaches, despite it being August. We loved exploring the islands by boat and bike: you can’t bring your car to the Scillies so it’s a really safe destination for young children.
It’s possible to hire a golf buggy but most places can be reached on foot as the islands are so small. There are plenty of water sports in the Scillies: we enjoyed stand up paddle boarding and kayaking. It’s also possible to swim with seals and go diving.
There’s a great range of restaurants and plenty of great places to stay on the Isles of Scilly. If you’re after luxury accommodation, try the Sea Garden Cottages on the island of Tresco, if you’re on a budget Longstone Lodge on St Mary’s is an excellent youth hostel.
The Isles of Scilly are best reached by ferry from Penzance in Cornwall although there are also regular flights from a range of airports in southwest England.
Contributed by Annabel from Smudged Postcard
Peak District, England
When people think of England they perhaps think of Buckingham Palace, red phone boxes, historical towns like Bath or Cambridge, or fish n chips at a traditional seaside town like Blackpool or Brighton.
But for me, it’s the green, rolling countryside that’s the true England, and overlooked by so many travelers is the Peak District nestled in the heart of the country with its stunning landscapes, drystone walls, and quaint villages.
With the kids dressed in puddle suits and wellies, we love nothing better than a family walk in the Peak District. Our favorites are the Nine Ladies Circle through Stanton Moor Peak or the walk starting next to The Robin Hood pub in Baslow, with spectacular views from Birchen Edge.
Alternatively, hire some bikes and ride the Monsal Trail or Tissington Trail. We always try to visit Blaze Farm in Wildboarclough for a free walk around the farm and a taste of the scrummy homemade ice-cream or head over to Chatsworth House to marvel at the grand gardens.
A good family day out in the Peak District is always The Heights of Abraham or Crich Tramway Museum. But if you’re seeking thrills head to the Gullivers Kingdom or nearby Alton Towers!
However, the best thing to do after a long walk across the dales is to warm up in front of a fire at one of the many old and characterful pubs with your favorite tipple and some home-cooked food.
Pubs like The Bull in Monyash have a playground in the back garden, and almost all have a separate children’s menu. And as this is the Peak District, muddy boots and muddy paws are always welcome!
Check out Peak District Kids for everything you need to know about visiting this beautiful National Park in the UK.
Public transport is VERY limited here and whilst there is the odd bus from Derby, or you could take the train from Sheffield or Manchester to Edale, a car is very much advised as the transport network is so limited.
Contributed by Jenny Lynn from Peak District Kids
Lake District, England
If you are looking for natural beauty closer to London, then think no further and head to the Lake District. As the name suggests, this region is blessed with many beautiful lakes nestled by green mountains that make it a popular destination.
We chose to spend a few days in this beautiful area exploring some of the magical lakes and feasting on the magical vistas. Spending time in this countryside, away from the hustle-bustle of the city is so much relaxing and refreshing. We instantly fell in love with this place and its charm.
Some of the lakes that are a must-visit are Lake Windermere, Ullswater, Bassenthwaite, Grasmere. Lake Windermere is England’s largest lake and the most popular in the Lake District.
This is a great place to travel with kids and enjoy multiple outdoor adventures. Take a cruise in the Lake Windermere or kayak leisurely through the waters seeping in the beauty around or walk around the lakes or just sit by the lake. Camping is a great way to enjoy the wilderness of the district.
There are so many walking routes perfect for even kids to enjoy. And if walking is not your type, hop on a bus tour of the Lake District.
Also, don’t forget to visit the prehistoric Castlerigg Stone Circle thought to be built around 3000 BC that links to religious and astronomical activities and gives the kids a first-hand experience of history.
England’s largest county, Yorkshire, is one of the best family holiday destinations in Europe as there are lots of diverse, family-friendly attractions, many of which are free to experience. Spend time in the historic city of York visiting the majestic Gothic cathedral, York Minster which offers weekly tours especially for families with young children.
Walk the impressive medieval city walls, (the longest city walls in England), or the atmospheric, cobbled street, The Shambles, which was voted ‘Best Street in Britain.’ Train fans will love free to enter National Railway Museum or learn about York’s rich Viking and Roman history at the Yorkshire Museum or the Jorvik Viking Centre.
York is a small city that can easily be explored on foot and has several urban green parks and playgrounds for a good runaround! A one hour drive west of York brings you to the stunning green landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales. Book your day tour from York to Yorkshire Dales here.
Take a guided trip into a cave at Ingleton or visit England’s highest single-drop waterfall Hardraw Force. Attempt one of many family-friendly hikes in the Dales; our family’s favorite is the circular hike around Malham Cove which featured in the Harry Potter movies.
Take a one hour drive east of York to explore the wild, windswept landscapes of the Yorkshire Moors. Travel across the Moors on the North Yorkshire Railway steam train and make a stop at Goathland whose station doubled as the arrival point for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. Book your tour from York to North Yorkshire Moors and Whitby by a steam train here.
On the other side of the moors, the dramatic North Yorkshire coastline is dotted with picturesque fishing villages such as Robin Hoods Bay or long stretches of sandy beaches like Cayton Bay.
This Jurassic coastline is full of fossils so keep your eyes open for a lucky find!
For an affordable, budget stay in York, I would recommend Travelodge or Premier Inn.
Contributed by Sinead Camplin from Map Made Memories
Edinburgh is one of the best cities in the UK to take your kids to. From exploring the Edinburgh castle, visiting the Edinburgh zoo, walking the hilly cobbled old town, taking a Harry Potter tour, to climbing the extent volcano, Edinburgh is no less than a live history lesson with fun for kids.
Overall, the city is kid-friendly. It can be explored easily with a stroller except for some cobbled areas of the old town.
Edinburgh Castle has to be the first attraction you visit when in Edinburgh. Kids will love the Great Hall, Mons Meg, and Honors of Scotland. Explorer Quiz is quite a powerful way to keep the kids engaged.
Our kids particularly enjoyed Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, right next to the castle. Spy cameras, Light Fantastic, and Bewilderworld are some of the most enjoyable attractions here.
How about climbing the extinct volcano right in the heart of the city? It’s not only fun to climb Arthur’s Seat but the views from it are to die for. Harry Potter fan or not, you can never go wrong with a Harry Potter Tour. Taking one of the many Harry Potter tours is one of the best things to do in Edinburg with kids. You are sure to be transported to the Harry Potter world.
There is an overwhelming number of family-friendly hotels in Edinburgh to choose from, our favorite remains Old Town Chambers. Conveniently settled on the Royal Mile, Old Town Chambers offers easy access to most of the attractions and restaurants making it a perfect fit for families with kids.
The capital of Wales is an extremely family-friendly holiday destination in the UK and families are
well catered for in Cardiff. With many of the streets in the city center pedestrianized and a great public transport system, a city is an ideal place for a family break.
Cardiff is only two hours by train from London and has a range of hotels to suit all budgets. Voco St
David’s hotel in Cardiff Bay is a five-star hotel with an amazing spa and great views across the Bay
but there are budget-friendly options like Premier Inn and Travelodge hotels in the city center.
There is also a host of places to eat with kids in the city and there is a great choice in St David’s 2
Shopping Centre and around Mill Lane. One of our favorites is Bill’s Restaurant. Keeping kids entertained in the city isn’t hard either as there is a huge range of things to do with kids in Cardiff.
Within the city, you’ll find Cardiff Castle and adjacent to it, Bute Park. Once home to the Marquess of Bute, with the park being part of the castle grounds, Cardiff Castle offers kids the chance to let off steam on the grass, check out the Norman Keep and discover the hidden secrets of the Castle walls.
Outside the castle walls, Bute Park offers more grassy areas for playing, has a playground and an arboretum. Further afield, St Fagan’s is a must-visit with kids. The Welsh National Museum of History is an extraordinary place to visit with kids with houses and buildings from across Wales painstakingly brought, brick-by-brick, to the site in Cardiff and they date from as far back as the 12th century. It is a chance to see Wales’ history close up.
You will also find the National Museum interesting for kids and Techniquest in the Bay is worth a
visit. No matter what your kids are interested in, there is something for children of all ages in Cardiff.
Contributed by Cath from Passports and Adventures
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast, as a city, is becoming a more popular holiday destination for families, not least because it is a great base for visiting the Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland but also for the Giant’s Causeway.
But, if you don’t want to travel further afield and want to stay locally, it caters for families because there are lots of great things to do with kids in Belfast.
Belfast is easily reached from within Ireland, the UK or further afield and has a good public transport system for those wanting to explore the city without needing a car. A great place to stay as a family in the city is the Clayton Hotel which is within walking distance to most of the sites and places of interest.
And speaking of the places of interest for families, there are lots of things to see and do in Belfast. If your kids like animals, you could visit the Belfast Zoo or the Streamvale Open Farm. Belfast Castle and Gardens are worth a visit, just be aware that the castle itself is not open to the public.
Belfast is also a great place to visit if you have fans of the Chronicles of Narnia books with its CS Lewis Square, where you will find sculptures in homage to some of the famous characters of the books.
And no visit to Belfast would be complete without visiting the Titanic Museum. While it might not be the first place you would think to bring kids, exhibits are well presented with lots of interactive elements to keep kids engaged. These are just a few things that families can enjoy together in Belfast, making it a great holiday destination for families in the UK.
Contribute by Cath from Travel Around Ireland
We sincerely hope that one of these kid-friendly countries in the UK inspires your next trip and the trip turns out to be one of the best UK vacations with kids 🙂
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