From the Natural History Museum to the Geffrye Museum, London has a whole host of museums that are perfect for children. Most offer special programmes of free activities for young visitors and almost all are free to enter!
Whether you're looking to soak up some culture at the V&A, explore the gardens at the Horniman, make it educational with a trip to the Science Museum, or just want to treat the kids to an entertaining day out in the capital, take your pick of the top family-friendly museums listed below.
Bank of England Museum
Teach your kids the value of money the fun way at the Bank of England Museum. Look at gold bars dating from ancient times – and test your strength by trying to lift one – hear unexpected tales about the Bank's ghostly nun, and find out how the pound sign was developed… Admission is free and includes a museum guide.
The Geffrye Museum
Take your kids on a walk through time and explore the history of English interiors at the Geffrye Museum. Set in 18th-century almshouses, the museum also boasts a walled herb garden and award-winning period gardens, and runs Saturday Specials for kids. Entry is free, with a charge for the restored almshouse.
Step aboard Europe's largest preserved WW2 warship and experience the legend that is the HMS Belfast. The ship has nine decks steeped in history, from the Captain's Bridge to the sailor's mess, and offers hands-on activities and workshops for younger visitors, plus regular family-focused special events. Children under 15 go free.
Horniman Museum and Gardens
The Horniman Museum is a children's paradise. As well as a fantastic programme of free kids' activities, it has an aquarium, a hands-on centre and a Nature Base, complete with live animals, plus 16 acres of beautiful gardens perfect for picnics, or when little explorers need to let off steam! Entry is free, with charges for some exhibitions.
London Transport Museum
The London Transport Museum hosts exhibitions connecting transport with the history of London. Inside you'll find more than 80 vehicles, including a red London bus and the world's first Underground train. The galleries are full of interactive exhibits for young people to play on – including real buses and trains! Free for under 16s.
Museum of London
Take the kids on an unforgettable journey into the story of London's past – from a time when lions roamed Trafalgar Square, through the city under Roman rule, to the 21st century capital: there's something for all ages. Don't miss the Galleries of Modern London, too. Entry is free, as are family events at weekends.
Museum of London Docklands
At Museum of London Docklands kids can explore the history of the river Thames, discover the fate of captured pirates and take cover in a WW2 bomb shelter. Let them loose in the Mudlarks Gallery with a soft play area for younger children and interactive exhibits for older kids. Entry is free, as are family events on Saturdays.
National Maritime Museum
In the heart of Greenwich, the National Maritime Museum offers plenty to engage and entertain young minds, from loading a cargo ship and firing a cannon to manoeuvring a ship into port using the interactive simulator. Entry is free and the museum also runs a programme of free family events. Some exhibitions require tickets.
Natural History Museum
Meet a life-sized blue whale, a roaring T-Rex and a gigantic crocodile; the Natural History Museum has something to keep all young visitors entertained. Delve into the Darwin Centre, get hands-on at Investigate – the science lab for 7-14 year olds – or get shaken up in the earthquake machine. Entry is free, some charges apply.
Museums in London don't get more family friendly than the Science Museum! Trace the history of the space rocket, meet Sir Isambard Kingdom Brunel and catch a 3D movie; all for free. There are galleries for under 5s, the Pattern Pod for 5-8-year-olds and Launchpad, a hands-on exhibition for teenagers. Some charges apply.
V&A Museum of Childhood
Take a trip down memory lane and keep kids entertained with a visit to the V&A Museum of Childhood. Join in with free daily activities, from storytelling to treasure hunts, or explore the collections of rag dolls, teddy bears and dolls' houses dating from the 1600s. Entry is free, some charges apply.