Purchase tickets for the London Eye in advance and consider splurging on a fast track ticket. Have water and snacks handy for long waits. The Southbank area is very congested. There are long lines for rides and restaurants, especially during the summer.
Good to know
The ticket office for the London Eye is about a block away from the attraction. Lines may be overwhelmingly long, both at the ticket office and the London Eye entrance. Fast track tickets will save you time from waiting in the queue but cost more.
Visit the London Eye as early as possible. Our first day attempting the London Eye was late in the afternoon. We did not purchase tickets in advance and the wait was 2 hours. We were told by an employee to come early the next morning for tickets. We had no problems the next day around 9 a.m. to purchase tickets at the ticket office.
Try riding the red double-decker buses. They are inexpensive, very easy to catch and the kids love them. The Tate Modern is free admission except for special exhibits. Children under the age of 12 have free admission for the special exhibits. Advance tickets purchased for the London Eye are cheaper than at the ticket office but you may risk waiting in the rain to get on the ride.
About This Day
Southbank London is the place where all the London images that are usually seen in movies or on television live. Treat the whole family to the signature London experience: Ride on red double-decker buses, listen to Big Ben on the hour and be in awe of Westminster Palace’s beauty and quality of detail. But before all that, see the city from on top of the London Eye.
The London Eye is Europe's tallest Ferris wheel at 443 ft (130 m). But it is actually a slow moving observation deck that offers one of the best views of the city. Each capsule fits up to 25 people, with seating in the middle. Our girls loved being able to walk about within the capsule and use the interactive tablets to discover what the names of the buildings and sights are below. Parents can take advantage of the view and tablets by visually mapping out itineraries and their distances. For example, we were able to see how far apart some locations were. We made changes accordingly - and gave our kids a London cab experience or two.
TIP Try to buy tickets in advance and consider a fast-track tickets to cut down the line to get onto the London Eye. It is not a good idea to have your family wait in line if you do not have tickets. The ticket office is about a block away from the attraction and lines may be overwhelmingly long, both at the ticket office and the London Eye entrance. No food or drinks are allowed in the capsules.
Across the bridge from the London Eye are many of London's most iconic attractions. Do a self-guided family tour of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Palace and Westminster Abbey. The beauty and intricate detail of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and all of Westminster Palace made my history talk a bit more exciting than usual and not once did I hear, "What are we doing next and how long is it going to take?" And I got to take at least a quick glance into beautiful Westminster Abbey.
DIRECTIONS Right across the bridge from the London Eye is many of London's most popular historic attractions.
TIP The Big Ben area is quite crowded and very busy. Keep small kids close. The Parliament side is much more relaxing - just stare at tall statues and the beautiful architecture while grabbing a snack or lunch.
Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, the Tate Modern is one of world’s largest modern art museums. There are many interactive and inspiring ideas for families to explore. Ask at the information desk for suggestions that will interest children. We had meant for only a half day visit to the Southbank area of London but ended up staying close to a full day, mainly at the Tate Modern. If kids need a break, the family can use the lift or climb 10 floors to the top at the Tate. There, everyone can marvel at 360-degree views of London.
DIRECTIONS The Tate Modern is about a 20-minute walk from the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, but you can also take a red double-decker bus there. They are inexpensive and very easy to catch near the Victoria Embankment.
TIP The Tate Modern is free admission except for special exhibits. Children under the age of 12 have free admission for the special exhibits.
The Tate Kitchen and Bar has a beautiful sky view of London. It is an excellent spot to grab a cheese plate and cocktails and talk about what you’ve seen. The menu consists of seasonal produce and offers bar snacks, lunch options and hearty dinners with desserts and cheese.
DIRECTIONS Tate Kitchen and Bar is on the Bankside of the museum, on Level 6.