Let’s face it, traveling to the UK with teenagers isn’t always 100% stress-free – especially if you’re having trouble finding things to do in London with teenagers. Bored and hangry angst has a habit of throwing off that holiday groove you’ve spent ages planning. So, tempting as it may be to stock up the fridge and leave the kids at home with Netflix and junk food while you go to town on a bottle of rosé at a swanky rooftop bar, you know you’ll only feel guilty about it later. You’ll almost miss the mood swings!
The good news is that London is overflowing with world-class attractions and cultural experiences that’ll spark joy in even the most lovesick, hormone-stricken adolescent! So stress not, here’s a handy list of the best things to do in London with teenagers that’ll keep the whole family thoroughly entertained.
Top attractions to visit in London with teenagers
1. Selfie with the stars at Madame Tussauds
It’s no secret that teens crave social media bragging rights, and what better way to boost that sensitive self-esteem than a selfie party with the biggest superstars in the world? Offering a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek ‘celebrity-meeting’ experience, Madame Tussauds is guaranteed to make your teenager go from ‘you don’t understand me’ to ‘OMG! It’s Ariana Grande!’ as fast as it takes to dodge a flailing selfie stick.
There are now over 20 Madame Tussauds worldwide. But the original is right here in London. First opened in 1835 on Baker Street, it’s grown over time to showcase over 400 painstakingly created wax figures of the world’s most recognizable people. Everyone from Prince Harry to Donald Trump, Miley Cyrus, and One Direction are represented here, so you can strike whatever pose you fancy with them. It makes for some serious belly laughs and pretty awesome pictures to immortalize the moment.
There are even some original pieces from the founder herself, and an incredible, record-smashing Hulk figure – the biggest wax statue of any Madame Tussauds in the world. On top of that, there are some truly spectacular multisensory attractions that will immerse you in the realms of Star Wars, Marvel, or Alien with state-of-the-art 4D cinematics and meticulously designed sets.
2. Dive into SEA LIFE Aquarium
Nothing inspires angsty teen poetry quite like watching a lunchtime piranha feeding frenzy. Aside from finding metaphors for their existential gloom while watching red-bellied piranhas shred their way through several pounds of flesh, your teenagers can ponder the life of a jellyfish, and wander through a giant ocean tunnel patrolled by dozens of razor-toothed sand tiger sharks and blacktip reef sharks – child’s play compared to the snarky sharks at school!
SEA LIFE London also offers a remarkable underwater safari of the world’s most stunning marine wildlife. There are graceful rays, beautiful sea turtles, sea horses, sea dragons, and hundreds of tropical fish species. You can also see some animals that spend time outside of water such as crocodiles, penguins, and even tarantulas big enough to devour birds.
The aquarium regularly engages in conservation efforts such as coral propagation and endangered species breeding programs, so it will surely please the socially aware Gen Z-sensibilities of the modern teenager. Look out for the aquarium’s Polar Adventure, which runs until early 2020 and includes an Antarctic simulation complete with augmented-reality polar bears and adorable seals. It’s a genuine London must-sea.
3. Go down to the London Dungeon
Have your adolescents been acting up again? Send them to the dungeon! We’re joking – well, sort of. The London Dungeon is the perfect way to get your teenager to learn about the British capital’s incredible, albeit gruesome history while having tons of fun. You’ll step back into 1,000 years of London’s dramatic past on an immersive journey through 19 unique areas brought to life by fantastic actors, authentic sets, and special effects that chronicle the murky murderous events and characters of London’s bloody history.
For thrill-seekers, the dungeon is also home to two very dark, very scary rides. Worried your kids might be too scared for this experience? Don’t fret, apart from the regular jump scares, the actors engage in hilarious comedic dialogue guaranteed to make even the jumpiest teen chuckle. Visitors may also opt out of the rides.
4. Go behind the scenes with a football stadium tour
London is home to some of the biggest and best sports arenas in the world, and there’s no better way to impress your football-crazy teens than with a stadium tour.
The newest addition to the capital’s list of modern-day Colosseums is the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Not only can you see the first-team dressing rooms and areas specifically for wide-shouldered NFL teams, but you can even climb to the top of the stadium for incredible views over the city!
On the other side of North London, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium Tour includes an audio guide so you can explore the tunnel and dressing rooms at your own pace, as well as take some photos on the side of the pitch.
Chelsea’s Stadium and Museum Tour is a hit with fans of West London’s deep-pocketed Blues, where you can see all sorts of signed memorabilia and the glint of silverware in the trophy cabinet.
Are your teenagers too partisan to indulge in London’s Reds, Blues, or Lilywhites? Take an award-winning tour at the Iconic home of the England national team, Wembley Stadium.
5. See it all with the London City Card
The reason you’re here is to discover things to do in London with teens, but there’s so much choice! That’s where the London City Card comes in.
This multi-attraction pass allows you to visit two of the capital’s best attractions. See the Crown Jewels and school your teenagers on England’s bloody history at the Tower of London, then scale the city’s tallest building with The View from the Shard experience. The pass also includes 24-hour access to a hop-on hop-off cruise on the Thames, and an audio guide so you can take a self-guided walking tour around town. They’ll be all tuckered out after all that adventure!
Looking for something a little different? Try the Greenwich Bundle to climb the famous O2 And a dose of history at the Old Naval College’s Painted Hall.
6. Feel the rush with an epic speedboat ride
Sure, a cruise on the Thames is enjoyable. But your teens need excitement. They need exhilaration. They need a break from scrolling Instagram! Luckily, there are some white-knuckle Thames excursions that will do just the trick.
Thames Rockets have been serving up incredible, award-winning speedboat adventures in London since 2006. Take a jet-powered 50-minute ride along the river with an expert skipper, who’ll combine fascinating factoids with whooshing twists and turns. You’ll see loads of London sights – Big Ben, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and many more.
7. Visit the Victoria & Albert Museum
If your teen thrives on being creative or regularly pores over fashion magazines, they’ll absolutely love the Victoria and Albert Museum. The world’s largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design houses countless creations from wild runway looks to historic smartphone apps like Flappy Bird – yep, that’s a part of cultural history now.
8. Go back in time at the Natural History Museum
Your teens might resemble something from a zombie movie when they wake up for school each morning, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like to learn.
With an abundance of free museums in London, getting schooled won’t cost you a dime, ahem, tuppence. Visit the Natural History Museum, with its vast array of Earth and geography-themed exhibitions, and its famous earthquake simulator.
The Natural History Museum is one of the most famous institutions on Earth – with everything from enormous skeletons to relics of long-buried civilizations. You can even pore over chunks of the moon brought home by NASA’s Apollo 17.
9. Take on the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide
Everyone loves slides – they’re one of life’s great pleasures! And The Slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit is one of the best slides on Earth!
At over 114 meters high and with impressive views of the city, the slide attached to the UK’s tallest sculpture draws thrill-seekers from all over. That’s 22 meters taller than the Statue of Liberty – imagine if she had a slide attached.
Your descent from the top involves a 12-spin corkscrew and a 50-meter run back to the ground – your teens will thank you for the opportunity!
10. Test your intelligence with Sherlock: The Official Live Game
If your teens fancy themselves as the detective type, there’s no better option during your London day out than this Sherlock Holmes-themed escape room.
The pipe and the deerstalker are optional, but the fun is guaranteed! This mystery experience was designed by Sherlock series creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, and has immersive content from stars of the show, dreamy Benedict Cumberbatch included.
You and your inquisitive teens will have an hour to solve the clues and make your escape. The game’s afoot!
Fun things to do in London with teenagers out and about
11. Take them to a trendy restaurant
Nothing spoils the holiday mood quite like a hangry teenager. Ward off those grumpy groans and hunger pangs by treating them to a cool dinner spot they can brag about to their friends. Try Inamo, a chain of swanky pan-Asian restaurants, which makes great use of cool technology. Not only can they order their dinner from touchscreen tables, but they can also control the lighting, play retro games, make digital table art, and even watch the chef prepare their food with a kitchen cam. Oh, and the food is also to die for!
12. Splurge on afternoon tea
If afternoon tea is more, well, your cup of tea, we recommend the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed tea at One Aldwych, which serves treats straight out of Roald Dahl’s classic story – only your little darlings won’t turn into a giant blueberry.
Sometimes though, the only meal you need is cereal – many teens are aware of this fact. So, score a parenting win by dining in a unique, first-of-its-kind restaurant, Cereal Killer Cafe. This all-day breakfast joint offers too many types of cereal to count. From American sugar bomb classics to more exotic and nutritious fare.
If you’re looking for something quaint and oh-so London, take afternoon tea aboard a double-decker bus or enjoy a guided tour of Shakespeare’s Globe with afternoon tea in the Swan at the Globe restaurant.
13. Shop till they drop
When in doubt, some retail therapy is always the answer. Teenagers love spending money, especially if it’s not theirs! We recommend starting with shopping mecca Oxford Street, where you’ll find shops like Primark, Lush, Topshop, and Miss Selfridge. Is your kid’s style on the edgier side? London is full of hip, alternative markets featuring thrift and vintage stores, such as Covent Garden, Old Spitalfields, Camden, Greenwich, and Petticoat Lane.
Add some of these excellent London attractions to your itinerary, and your teen will end the day with all the mental stimulation (and food) they need for a sound night’s sleep. Then, you can hit up that rooftop bar with a clear conscience (and rosé)!