From the Natural History Museum to the British Museum, there are a whole host of places to visit in London which provide activities for kids. Most London museums offer special programmes of free activities for children and almost all are free to enter!
Whether you're looking for things to see at the V&A, exploring the gardens at the Horniman, or taking a trip of discovery at the Science Museum, take your pick of the top family-friendly museums in London 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 an activity sheet.
The British Museum
The British Museum is one of the world's greatest museums, showcasing objects from prehistoric to modern times. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone and the mummies in the Ancient Egypt collection. Entry is free but special exhibitions require tickets. There are free activity backpacks available as well as special events tailored towards children.
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. Entry is free for the main museum. There is a charge for adults entering the restored almshouse but entry is still free for children under 16. Download the fun activity sheets before you arrive.
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 for children. Children under 16 go free. Free audio tours are also available.
Horniman Museum and Gardens
The Horniman Museum is a children's paradise. As well as a fantastic programme of free activities for kids, 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. Entry is free, with charges for the aquarium and 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 exhibits for children to play on. Look out for Interchange, the children's interactive area. Free entry for under 17s.
Museum of LondonTake 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 MuseumIn 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 at pirates and steer a ship into port in the Children's Gallery. Entry is free and the museum also runs a programme of free family events at weekends.
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.