I know I’ve said it many times before, but hopping on a train to London is one of my go-to entertainment options for the children when we have a full day to ourselves. Arlo just adores London, and I’ve done public transport with two kids enough by now that the journey doesn’t seem as daunting or tiring as it used to.
Walking around London is one of our cheapest child entertainment options too – sightseeing at the cost of a travelcard or less. And if we wind up near the museums, there’s even more free entertainment to be had.
Another great thing about Soho, in particular, is just how close together everything is. It’s so easily walkable, even with young children – no need to attempt tube escalators with a buggy. Just pack a waterproof, an oyster card, and a buggy board if you have preschoolers, and you have everything you need to cover a lot of ground in all types of weather.
A few weeks ago, Arlo, Rory and I were in London for a pizza making class at the launch of Rossopomodorro at John Lewis Oxford Street. Arlo is always keen to see more of London, so in between our lunch stop off, we walked the following route – stopping by at some of London’s famous landmarks, finishing off in the heart of Soho after dusk in prime position to see the best of London’s Christmas Lights.
Christmas Sightseeing in London with children – A walking route:
Starting off at London Victoria station, Buckingham Palace is just a five minute walk away. The changing of the guard happens at 11.30am every day in Summer, and every other day in Winter. The ceremony runs from 11.15 – 12pm – check here for the confirmed schedule.
From here you can enjoy the greenery of St James’s Park. We stuck to the right side of the lake and came out at the Great George Street exit, a short walk away from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
Next, we turned back and walked up Whitehall for a view of Downing Street and the guards on horseback outside Horse Guard parade (you can also watch the changing of the guard here if you are out and about slightly earlier than the Buckingham Palace timings – full schedule here.)
The top of Whitehall spits you out right at Trafalger Square. If it’s summer, you can easily nip back into St James’s Park for a packed lunch.
Walk up Pall Mall and Haymarket (if you’ve had enough of walking, there are plenty of buses that will take you on this route towards Oxford Street too) and you’ll find yourself at Picadilly Circus – Arlo loves seeing the Picadilly Lights.
Head up Regent’s Street and you can show your children the wonders of Hamleys. However, if you don’t fancy your chances of inducing toy shop tantrums, you can cut through Carnaby Street instead.
If you need to stop for lunch or an early dinner nearby Oxford Street, check out John Lewis’s dining options. This part of Soho is hugely busy. with queues and waiting times for most eateries. However, being inside John Lewis, Rossopomodoro is slightly more off the beaten track, and a less chaotic, in-and-out, dining experience as a result. Despite it being within a department store, it’s secluded location means it has just the same vibe as a standalone restaurant (definitely no cafe atmosphere here). And if you don’t fancy pizza, there’s a burger restaurant just next door (still within John Lewis).
With tummies fuelled and the day growing darker, you are a stones throw away from the best of London’s Christmas lights on Oxford Street, Regent’s Street and Carnaby Street. Still in the mood to explore after that? Check out the festive window display at Selfridges, and even hop on a bus to Knightsbridge to see the Harrods all decked out in its Christmas lights splendour. From Knightsbridge it’s approximately a ten minute bus ride back to London Victoria.
Arlo LOVED this route (his favourite thing was seeing the BT Tower) and Rory was pretty content with watching the busy sights and sounds of the city from his buggy. I have a feeling I’ll be walking this route a few more times before the year is out…
We sampled a complimentary lunch at Rossopomodorro as part of their launch events. I was not obligated to write about the restaurant, but it left an impression on me as a good option for young families in a very busy area of London, and I wanted to share that.
For other ideas to do in London with children, check out these articles: