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7 days in London with 15 year old

I am going to London for a week with my son in March. I am trying to decide:
-Where to go outside of London for a day or two?
-Should I sleep in London the whole 7 nights or take one or two nights and stay elsewhere?
-Last, my flight leaves from Heathrow at 11am on a Thursday morning. Where should we stay our last night?
Thank you!

Posted by
2262 posts

hey axm
how old is your son? check out some things are kid friendly and free with adult. check with different walks on different days, see a play, maybe a matinee for discount prices. a boat ride down regents canal, maybe a double decker bus tour thru london and afternoon tea.
don't know where you are flying from and to for last has lots to see, walk thru picadilly square or trafalgar square, "free entertainment" bring your pounds, stop at cafe and maybe eat fish and chips, yes it's touristy but we're tourists. walk thru harrods have lunch and just enjoy yourselves.
it's a big and busy city, book sites that need to be reserved itherwise waiting.if worse come s to worse, hail a cab, have the name of hotel and address to make life easier. have a great and fun time.

Posted by
8480 posts

What does your son know about London? What are his interests?

I’ve been visiting London for over 40 years. Always something new to see and enjoy each visit.

The reality of your “week” is that it isn’t 7 full days. Arrival and departure times curtail those days.

Most museums are free. Depending on your interest can take hours to explore.

I always suggest that first timers see the Museum of London. It explains how the city your are visiting evolved. Other museums:
British Museum
Natural History
Churchill War Rooms
Imperial War Museum
Transport Museum

If you wish to go outside London but still stay in London consider these options.
Hampton Court
Windsor Castle
Blenheim Palace
Stratford Upon Avon

To properly answer your questions it would be nice to know you and your son’s interests. For example if there’s an interest in Harry Potter visiting the WB Studios can be an all day event.

Posted by
660 posts

Have proof of age with you or he might have to pay adult entry if entry needs to be paid.

Could try the Imperial War and/or Science Museums. South Bank Skate Park if he’s into boarding. The climb to the top of St. Paul’s is fun if you’re both up to it. An East London Food Tour if you’re foodies. Borough Market also. Brick Lane and Spittalfields Market are great at the weekend.

Sorry, just realised you didn’t ask what to do... but I’ve typed it now so might as well post :o)

Posted by
6113 posts

There are pros and cons of staying in London for 7 nights vs 5 in London and 2 in say York. You don’t lose time or have the hassle of moving accommodation if you stay in London and there are many easy day trips from here, depending on your interests. Windsor, HP, Hampton Court, Oxford or Cambridge are all possible day trips. What are your interests? What pace of trip do you prefer?

If you visited, say York, you do get to see some countryside from the train as you whizz by at speed. You would have to have your last night in London, meaning 3 lots of accommodation.

You need to be at the airport at 8am, which means you can get there from central London by public transport.

Posted by
26 posts

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Great information and suggestions! As one of you pointed out, moving to a different location makes one lose time and energy so I decided to stay in one place and maybe take a day trip to Cambridge or Oxford and Windsor and spend the rest of the time in London. My son is interested in the arts, mostly, so we will be going to lots of museums in addition to taking in the sites and going to the theater. Unfortunately, I saw the Cartoon Museum is closed because it is moving and that would have been a big hit for him since his drawings are strongly influenced by cartoon illustration. But I'm sure the Tate won't disappoint. If you have any other suggestions on interesting museums or galleries, I'd love to hear them. I'd also love to hear suggestions for favorite restaurants. We're eclectic, adventurous eaters (not fancy) and staying in the Bloomsbury section of London.

Posted by
8480 posts
These are interesting.

If you go to the Sacchi Gallery there’s a great Lebanese restaurant, Comptoir, in the nearby Duke Of York Square. It’s a chain.

Remember there are two Tates, Tate Modern and Tate Britain.

As far as interesting and quirky, this link provides options,

Posted by
10 posts

A 15 year old... that's tough! However, I always think Windsor is a brilliant place to go as it has everything and its pretty easy to get to from central London, train to Slough and change there for Windsor. Then you have the Castle, wonderful town and also you can have a super lunch on the river. But, I would throw in a two night stay in the Cotswolds as its simply a completely different place to London and it brings through such wonderful Englishness that I have no doubt that for 2 days your son will love it as much as you. Find a nice British pub to stay in.

Posted by
84 posts

axms10- Let me know how your trip goes. We are going in May for 10 days with our sons ( 26,23 AND 16). Would be interested to hear what you did. My wife has been there once, but not the rest of us. Seems like there is too much to do and see. Thanks, Dan

Posted by
2023 posts

These are great suggestions but not sure if Victoria and Albert Museum was mentioned--could spend hours there. I have never seen Tussard Museum but it may appeal to the kid. Our tween girls loved the Sherlock Holmes Museum and the Tussard wax figures there are impressive. As much as I adore the Cotswolds I don't see choosing it over the many London sites. Oxford or Cambridge would be nice day trips out of London.

Posted by
2262 posts

hey axm
my niece just got back from outside london, semester abroad and loved it.
check out:
festive food tube map london
10 best street markets in london maltby street market
maybe a train ride to brighton. ( may be too early in year
there is a lot to see and do in london, we had so much fun. stay in london instead of changing hotels, that's like at least half day to get the morning/early afternoon together,
make sure you do for you too, compromise. ejnoy

Posted by
137 posts

You're going to have a great time! I'm posting my trip report from my adventure with my boys.

My boys favorites were Hampton Court Palace, Natural History Museum. the Thames Rockets, and climbing the O2.

Someone mentioned the Imperial War Museum. It is wonderful. I loved the Churchill War Rooms, but my college daughter (on a separate trip) couldn't figure out why I loved it so much. Depends on their love/knowledge of history.

In the past my husband and I day-tripped to Salisbury (cute cute town, cathedral, old ruins from renaissance castle, and Stonehenge), in addition to the Stratford-Upon-Avon trip with the boys. The train rides are beautiful anywhere you go, and really added to our trip. I wouldn't try and move all your stuff, just hop on the train and go. Tickets are really inexpensive if you buy now.

Make sure you get Heathrow Express train tickets now, they get more expensive the closer to your trip.

Have a great time!

Posted by
26 posts

Such fantastic feedback and suggestions!! Thank you to everyone!! We are leaving Wednesday!!

Posted by
26 posts

First, I want to thank everyone for their absolutely fantastic suggestions and comments. They really came in handy. Second, I thought I would update you all, especially since one of you (Dan) said you were going to London with your young adult children. First of all, I love the place we stayed in Bloomsbury. I have stayed there two other times and I love this place (the Ridgemount). It is simple and not fancy at all but the location is great and the owners so friendly and helpful. And, at the recommendation of a number of you, we stayed there the whole week so as not to waste time and energy moving and I am so glad I did it that way. I need to preface the rest by saying that my 15 year-old is very low energy and so we didn't do nearly as much as I would have liked but here are my words of advice:
-Save museums for during the week so that lines are not as long.
-Download the Rick Steve's British Museum tour. It was so much fun that my, normally blasé son, exclaimed he wished there was more to it. It made the museum so interesting and much less overwhelming. We had tea, scones with clotted cream in the cafe which was a wonderful break.
-Get a skip the line ticket to the London Eye. It is expensive but very worth while.
-The London Pass was a totally waste for us because my son does not like doing much in one day. Only get one of these if you love to see a ton in a day.
-We wet to the Saatchi Gallery and saw a super cool virtual reality exhibition. Very worth it but only there until May 5.
-My son loved walking around Shoreditch to see all the street art. One of you had suggested that and it was great. We didn't do the tour though....too long....and instead downloaded directions to see things and just did as much as we wanted, stopping and Spittafield's Market for lunch.
-We took a tour of the Globe Theater which was wonderful. I wish we could have seen a play but my son wasn't interested :( . Afterwards we went to the Tate and then Wagamama's for lunch. That was a great day.
-We spent one day in Cambridge and that day was a Sunday where we stumbled on a wonderful outdoor market. It was cold and rainy but we had fun nonetheless.
-One day we went to Camden Market which my son proclaimed, "too touristy", but I enjoyed it and splurged on a pair of leather boots (don't forget to bargain!).
-We got tickets ahead of time for Mousetrap (on TodayTix), which we loved, Everybody's Talking about Jaime while there on TodayTix, which we liked, and The Play that Went Wrong before we left, which was hilarious.
-Public transportation was so easy and fun to take. We just bought an Oyster Card at the airport and added to it...easy as pie. If anyone has a child 15 or under, take the Oyster Card to the Tube personnel and they convert it to a youth pass and you save 50%!
There's more to say but those are the highlights. London is super fun and a great walking city. I hope this helps someone. Happy to answer any questions!

Posted by
11294 posts

Thanks for your trip report - it's always great to get feedback!

"15 year-old is very low energy and so we didn't do nearly as much as I would have liked"

This is why the questions of "what would interest my child" or "what should I see in London" (or anywhere) are so hard to answer. I would have assumed that a 15 year old would have more energy than their parent - and in this case, I would have been dead wrong.

And yes, the London Pass can only pay off for a very busy itinerary. You have to see 2-3 covered items every day to make it worthwhile.

Posted by
2262 posts

hey axmst10
thanks for the report, fun reading it and learning how different every child is. that's why forum posters ask what they are interested in to give info of things to do. sometimes i get feelings that someposters new here or new to city visiting think it's prying, but you were spot on. if you were to ask son would he go to europe again to another city what would he say.

Posted by
34 posts

Thanks for reporting back! I’m going to London in August with my 2 kids; they’re a good bit younger (6 & 10) but it’s still helpful to read what other families have accomplished/enjoyed.

I didn’t think about trying the Rick Steves audio tours for us but I’ll check out the British Museum one. My littler kid is into Egyptian things at the moment so was planning to visit at least that exhibit. She doesn’t have the patience to let us read information to her but maybe an audio tour would hold her interest.

Posted by
4189 posts

Museum of London near St. Paul's
Pizza and ice cream parlors at Harrod's
We haven't been but one of my daughter's friends made it a priority-Greenwich as in Greenwich mean time
Although London is expensive, I like to stay there and do day trips by train-maybe to Salisbury which has the Magna Carta and an interesting local museum
Or spend a night in York, which is very interesting-you can walk on the old city walls-and is an easy train ride from London. I thought the WW I exhibit at the York Castle museum was more relatable than the one at the Imperial War Museum. I would rate the York Castle Museum as one of the best I've seen, after you get past the biggies. You may want to go to the British Museum early in your stay so you can go back on another day if you wish. It's hard to absorb that museum in just one visit-the brain reaches overload!

Posted by
8480 posts

Really appreciate your trip report. Sounds like you had a pleasant 7 days.

Love that you liked the British Museum, Shoreditch, Spitafields, bargained at Camden Lock Market and saw 3 plays. Great city to explore isn’t it?

Well done!

Posted by
32287 posts

That's a great trip report - thanks!

I'm glad that both of you liked Cambridge Market. There's been a market there for hundreds of years - just think of whose footsteps you trod in!

Sunday has the added Arts and Crafts Market stalls there. I hope you had a chance to see some of them.

Posted by
84 posts

Hey axmst10- Thanks for the great report! Loved to hear all the recommendations from the others too. We are just planning the details of our trip as we speak. Will keep you posted!

Posted by
444 posts

Thanks for that report! We are taking my 15 yo son and 13 yo daughter there next month (also 7 days in London) and I am still figuring out some details and this helps! I like that Oyster card half price deal! Glad you had a good trip! :)