The View From the Shard is London’s highest view of the city, and a fantastic way to get your bearings. On a clear day you can see pretty much the whole of London.
From Shakespeare to Tolkein, The Beatles to One Direction, Robin Hood to Harry Potter and The Queen to Prince George, there is something to appeal to every visitor of every age in mighty England. And it is perfect for exploring with kids because it packs a lot into its compact si...
Not everyone in Australia is thrilled by the winter chill, and London is one of the most perennially popular destinations for families wanting to escape the Australian winter. It...
Every traveler recommends learning a bit about a place BEFORE traveling there. So, here are some bite-sized lessons, in the form of easy-to-understand infographics that young kid...
The east coast districts of Norfolk and Suffolk are great to explore with tiny tots in tow. There are plenty of pretty seaside towns and farming villages that are mostly flat and stroller friendly, and compact enough for little legs not to get too tired exploring. All along the coast you’ll find plenty of pretty beaches for building sandcastles, along with pebbly beaches perfect for treasure hunting, seaside resorts that are just made for families and the aroma of vinegar on hot, salty chips wrapped in paper. In Norfolk take a cruise down the Norfolk Broads past pretty villages, farms and old fashioned windmills or visit a working farm to meet and cuddle some of the cute critters. In East Sussex, Brighton offers a choice of beaches, sideshows and ice cream on the Palace Pier and, in Summer, the littlies will love the paddling pools at Kings Road playground.
There’s never a dull moment for kids in London. The hop-on hop-off double-decker London Sightseeing bus tour is a fantastic way to see the best of the city, and a free river cruise from Westminster to the Tower of London is included in the ticket. Some of the most popular attractions for kids include The London Dungeons, The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and the incredible London Eye, a 135-metre tall Ferris wheel overlooking the city. Museum fans will love The Natural History Museum, The British Museum, The National Gallery and Madame Tussauds. Other popular attractions include KidZania and its real-life role playing, and Shrek's Adventure where you can walk and ride your way through the Kingdom of Far Far Away. If the kids get bored of sightseeing then a trip to Harrods’ massive Toy Kingdom, with its big top, candy store, enchanted forest and alien space pod should up the excitement.
A nation of sports fanatics, Sporty kids will love England’s incredible sporting tradition and history. Opportunities to explore sporting history abound in London. Wimbledon is one of the most recognisable sporting venues in the world and should definitely be at the top of most Tennis fans’ bucket list. Cricket fans should make the pilgrimage to London’s 200 year-old Lord's Cricket Ground, home to the world's oldest sporting museum and The Ashes. Rugby fans are not forgotten either with Twickenham Stadium, the biggest dedicated rugby union venue in the world and home to the World Rugby Museum, one of the ultimate destinations in the world for fans. Wembley Stadium is one of the most famous sporting grounds in the world and the home of soccer and England’s National Football Team. The English are soccer mad, so make sure you don’t leave without experiencing the atmosphere of a game.
Potter loving teenagers will be in their element in England, where many of the scenes for the Harry Potter movies were filmed. Visit Platform 9¾ at London’s King’s Cross Station, the real Diagon Alley, the location of the Leaky Cauldron and London Zoo’s Reptile House where Harry first discovers his gift for talking with snakes. Outside of London, Alnwick Castle in Northumberland served as the outside of Hogwarts and the place where Harry first learned to fly his broom, and Oxford University was the setting for Hogwart’s Great Hall in the first movies. The ultimate spot for Potterheads though is Warner Bros. Studios where its The Making of Harry Potter Tour allows visitors to visit many of the original movie sets, including the recreated Great Hall, the Forbidden Forest, the Gryffindor Common Room and more, along with displays of costumes and props. And what better way to finish up than with a tankard of butter beer at the café?
England’s major cities offer extensive bus services, trains and taxis. To travel between major towns and cities, frequent flights are available between domestic airports and you’ll find most regional towns are accessible by slow but affordable bus services, or England’s more expensive rail services. England is reasonably compact and with so much to explore, hiring a car is the best way for families to see it all in comfort. Just remember that cars are a problem inside London and you’ll need to pay a congestion fee to enter, and parking is almost impossible. It’s better to use the very efficient tube railway system to get around the capital.
A plush teddy bear dressed as a Beefeater or Royal Guardsman, can make a great gift for tiny tots. A model of one of England’s famous red double-decker buses makes a good memento for kids who love anything on wheels. Britain is the land of Harry Potter, so Harry Potter related souvenirs like wands, books and trinkets are the ideal souvenir for your little Potterheads. Union Jack everything. The British love their flag and you’ll find it plastered over key rings, toys and just about anything you can imagine. What could be more English than a good cup of tea! Perk up your family’s day with a souvenir tea caddy.
British food sometimes gets a bad rap, but your kids are almost guaranteed to love it. Head to restaurants, pubs, and markets for the best fish and chips, sausages and mash, pork pies, Cornish pasties and bacon butties (a bacon sandwich). Those families with a yearning for a bit of spice needn’t worry because in multicultural Britain you’ll find a diversity of food from all over the world, and excellent spicy Indian curries can be found just about everywhere. Kids will also appreciate the English love of sweets. There are decadent high teas stacked with pretty cakes and scones with lashings of jam and cream, sticky Chelsea buns studded with currants, sugar and cinnamon, Bakewell Tarts with layers of jam and frangipane in a shortcrust pastry, and Eton Mess, essentially a cup of smashed meringue, fruit and whipped cream.
England’s health care is of a good standard with professional medical staff available at hospitals and medical centres in most cities and towns. Australia has a reciprocal health care agreement with the United Kingdom and Australian visitors are entitled to receive necessary immediate treatment under the National Health Service (NHS) for up to six months. All nationalities receive free emergency treatment at accident and emergency departments of NHS hospitals but you will be required to pay for any private treatment. We recommend all travellers have adequate health cover in their travel insurance. Food and water standards in England are extremely high and travellers only need to take the same precautions they would at home. No vaccinations are required to enter England, however we do recommend that every member of the family should be up-to-date on routine vaccinations before any family holiday.
With a history dating back thousands of years, England is a country packed with a multitude of traditions, both conservative and quirky. Some English people can seem a little stiff and overly polite at first while others may address you with terms of endearment before you’ve been introduced. It’s not unusual to be called dear, dearie, duck, guv, son, or even treacle, by total strangers. Unfailingly polite, they form orderly queues and make a habit out of apologising. The English people have a high regard for manners so remember to say please, thank you and excuse me and, when you are eating out or are a guest in someone’s home, keep elbows of the tables and eat with a knife and fork. With a Monarchy that is almost 1000 years old, it’s well worth trying to catch the pomp and ceremony one of the many royal events conducted throughout the year.
England is not the cheapest place for a family holiday. While hotel prices can be high, in rural areas bed and breakfasts and cottages can provide a cheaper option, and Airbnb can provide a great budget option for families looking for unique places to stay. Transportation is unavoidable and while getting around the country is relatively easy, it can be quite expensive. Food lovers will find dining out to be surprisingly costly but if you stick to good old fish and chips and local pub meals you can bag a bargain. It is also a great idea to hit the supermarket to stock up for cheap and cheerful DIY Meals. Tipping is not compulsory but is appreciated. Around 10% in restaurants and teahouses with table service and for taxis is about average. The good news is that many of the great museums and galleries are free, so there’s plenty to do that wont require a big expenditure.
Fish and Chips is one of the most quintessentially English dishes, loved all across the country. The first fish and chip shop was opened in London in 1860, quickly becoming popular and taking off as England’s favourite take away. Typically, the dish consists of hot battered cod with chips, often served wrapped in newspaper and sprinkled with malt vinegar. Different areas have their own favourite accompaniments including mushy peas, pickled onions, gravy or even curry sauce!
Football is the national sport of the United Kingdom, and fans take their dedication to their favourite team very, very seriously. Most cities have their own team- or even two, as historically there would be one team for Catholic supporters and one for Protestants. The beautiful game can be traced back through England’s history all the way to medieval times and is still just as beloved today.