Just returned from 2 weeks in London and Iceland with my 10yo grandson. This was his first trip to Europe (since the toddler ones he can recall only in pictures), and the beginning of my plan to stretch his horizons to make him a citizen of the world. I’ve gotten so many good ideas from this forum and hope to share what worked well for us, and our occasional misstep.
A ten-year-old can be a delightful traveling companion. Last summer I took him to the King Tut exhibit and watched him listen to every word of the audioguide. That was my sign he was ready to tackle Europe. He’s old enough not to get homesick and young enough to still think I’m kind of cool. Although we live in the same town, too many of our interactions take place on the way to some scheduled activity, and I rarely have only one grandchild at a time. Having time to focus only on him made this special for us both.
London is an ideal destination with kids. There are endless activities, easy transportation, and no language barrier. It’s the first European city I took my own kids to, and it’s just fun! Have visited here probably a dozen times over 30+ years and still haven’t seen it all. Had no illusions he and I would cover it in a week, so chose some highlights and saved plenty for future trips. My only hard rule: No more than one heavy historical site a day.
Because of his school schedule we had to travel in summer, and I’m a confirmed shoulder season and winter traveler. I shifted our days a little to avoid the British half-term break when I expected kid activities to be packed. (You can google their school holidays.) And added a day when I realized we were scheduled to leave London on the Queen’s birthday, which should be something to see. Early June was busy but not slammed. And the weather was ideal, 70ish and mostly sunny. Thankful for AccuWeather, though I didn’t really believe its forecasts until 3 or 4 days ahead. Maybe it’s global warming, but I was here in June with his mother 30 years ago, and four days into our trip I bought us both a coat because we were freezing!
Early afternoon arrival & driver to apartment
Outside in nearby Trafalgar Sq and Covent Garden (to keep us awake)
Early dinner and try to stay up til at least 9
LondonWalks Hello, London! at 10AM
traditional Sunday Roast lunch
Peter Pan at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre with al fresco dinner at the theatre
Churchill War Rooms at 11AM (reserved ahead)
Tower Bridge exhibit during a scheduled afternoon bridge lift http://www.towerbridge.org.uk/lift-times
Pick up Tower of London tickets while we’re there (reserved ahead)
Megabus tour leaving Tower Hill at 4
Tower of London when it opens at 9
selective visit to British Museum in PM
Hamilton! at 7:30
Harry Potter Studio Tour (10:30 reservation)
Beating Retreat at 8PM (part of the Queen’s birthday celebration)
Westminster Abbey (reserved ahead; ticket good all day)
Tea at the Portrait Restaurant at National Portrait Gallery (reserved ahead)
Lion King at 7:30
Science Museum (Wonderlab and Engineer Your Future)
Londonwalks National Gallery at 2:15
Les Mis at 7:30
Trooping the Colour parade on the Mall
Flyover from St. James Park
Portobello Road market
I think this is a realistic pace, allowing time for transportation, meals, and a little down time. Yes, I could probably cover more ground on my own, but I want him to enjoy this trip and look forward to returning, not remember it as "the Death March through London with Mimi!"