London is a huge sprawling city that has grown over 2,000 years, so it’s not surprising that it can be a bit of a monster to get around with kids! The great news though, is that it is so easy to incorporate “things that go” as part of your adventure, with London having some of the most unique public transport in the world!
Navigating London can be a challenge. London streets don’t move in any sort of straight line, and nor does the Tube. The city can also be very crowded and anti-stroller; but please don’t let this put you off. London is just one of those cities that needs a little more planning and consideration and you’re sure to still enjoy it.
By far the easiest way to get around London is using the expansive public transport network, managed by Transport for London (TfL). Before you get to London we recommend you familiarise yourself with maps of the various public transport networks.
These can be used as travel cards on all public transport services in central London and some National Rail (outer suburban and regional) services. You will need to load a pre-paid balance to use your Oyster card.
It helps to have the free Oyster app downloaded on your phone to manage your balance. Remember you must tap in and out on the yellow card readers every time to make sure you’re paying the correct fare.
Under 11’s travel for free on the Tube, DLR, Overground, buses and trams when travelling with an adult. 11-15-year-old visitors can get a Young Visitor discount to pay half the adult rate for 14 days. If visiting for any longer you can get them a Zip from Oyster photocard.
The London Underground, affectionately called “The Tube” is one of the oldest and most famous in the world. When it works well, its brilliant! When it doesn’t…
Services run frequently on all lines, some only minutes apart so you’ll never be waiting terribly long. Take care making your way through underground stations – we talk more about navigating stations with young children below.
Top Tip: The distance between stations on the tube map can be deceiving, often it is quicker to walk above ground.
Trains, Trams and Light Rail services
You name it, London has probably got it! Sometimes people don’t think beyond the Tube, but the extensive overground network should also be used in your travel plans. The best FREE app for calculating the quickest routes across town is Citymapper.
Double Decker Buses & London Bus Network
The iconic red double-decker London buses can be the perfect way to whizz about town with kids. London buses also use the Oyster card system where you must tap on.
Buses can be easier to navigate than the Tube when travelling with small children and strollers, although if the stroller parking area on the bus is full you may have to wait for the next service.
London Cabs and Private Hire Vehicles
The most famous of London taxis are Black Cabs, also called a Hackney or Hackney Carriage. They are renowned for their well-trained drivers who know every street in London! They are not cheap but you are guaranteed a safe and reliable service and run on a meter.
There are also a plethora of private hire cars licensed and regulated through TfL. Popular service Uber at the time of writing continues to operate in London, and there are plenty of other app-based private cab services you could try such as Addison Lee.
Using Strollers in London
London is far from the easiest city to navigate with small children. Remember whilst train stations might look like they are connected on a map, they can be vast places. Many sets of steps and escalators may need to be navigated to get from one platform to the next.
While an increasing number of refurbished tube and overland stations do have lifts installed, many do not. You will likely need to rely on the kindness of strangers to get up and down stairs at some point (note TfL staff are not permitted to help you carry a pram or stroller with a baby in it).
There is a great app parents should download before hitting the tube with a stroller called GoBaby (You can get it on iTunes UK store here).
Once you are above ground though and pounding the streets with your kids, you will be grateful for having a stroller with you.
Our best suggestion is to take something that can be folded quick and compact with one hand so you can easily jump on and off transport and fold it into a bus or cab if necessary. Don’t go too small and cheap though or you will find issues with navigating cobbled paths and high curbs. We recommend the Baby Jogger City Tour stroller for city travel.
Getting From London’s Airports to the City with Kids
The city of Greater London is massive, so it should come as no surprise that there are 5 major airports that service London. Most visitors’ journeys will likely start from one of the major airports at Heathrow or Gatwick, but there is also City Airport in east London, Stansted Airport in Cambridge and Luton Airport to the north. As there are many complex options you could take, we have given this subject it’s own page.
Arriving in London by Rail
The city is also connected to mainland Europe by the Eurorail which arrives into St Pancras Station in the north of London. This is a great connection point through to the north of England as well as the rest of the city.
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