You know as a teen, you just want to hide away in your bedroom, listening to music with the Do not Disturb sign on, but sometimes it’s worth opening the door to adventure to foreign lands.
London is NOT the boring destination your parents keep trying to take you to. Take it from my teen, who did not complain once on our two week trip to London.
She smiled a lot, took lots of photos, laughed and even said, ‘London is awesome!’ several times and “This has been my favorite family trip” (and she has been traveling constantly since birth). And if there is also a tween in your family, they will love it just as much as our 10 year old.
London is the perfect destination for teenagers because of its shopping areas, famous movie locations, world-class museums, ancient history (that includes royalty), outstanding views, high teas, and endless things to do that will suit any teen interest.
During our London vacation, we set out to find the best experiences in London for the teens in any family.
There are so many things to do in London and places to visit in London that your teens will love – I think Kensington Palace, Covent Gardens, Tate Modern, the British Museum and London Parks could make this list but we’ve narrowed it down to Kalyra’s top seven recommendations for London with teens.
Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour
For all Harry Potter fans, this tour of the Warner Bros Studios is the closest you will get to being a part of the films.
This was our teen’s favorite London experience. It was also our tween’s favorite thing to do. I think it could have possibly been mine as well.
The Harry Potter tour at the Warner Bros studio gives you a magical close up look into how the movies were created and filmed.
For an extra fee, you can purchase an audio tour, which guides you through the studios, giving you lots of behind the scenes information about set creation, production challenges and successes, and stories about the actors.
I was the only one who got that and I really enjoyed it, especially the videos which allowed me to see the sets come to life in each appropriate movie scene.
It takes around three to four hours to walk through the whole tour, which features sets, costumes, props, and butterbeer from the films. Plus there are interactive exhibits to experience from green screen broomstick rides to jumping in a few of the vehicle props.
The tour starts off in the set of the Great Hall in Hogwarts, and from there it is a self guided experience through the Wizarding World.
Kalyra’s favorite parts were seeing the costumes on models of the characters, and walking through the Forbidden Forest.
And weirdly, like I did when I first walked into Hogsmeade in Universal Orlando Resort, tears pricked my eyes when I walked into the room showing the model of Hogwarts Castle.
There is just something so magical about the Harry Potter world that will live on forever and across all ages. It is the ultimate experience in London for teens – well for kids of all ages.
This experience was hosted in part by Visit Britain.
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The London Bridge Experience
The London Bridge Experience is an interactive history tour that explores the dark past of London’s most famous bridge. Making this experience more real is that this attraction is actually under the London Bridge!
Live actors take you and your group through these dark rooms underneath the bridge that are filled with artifacts and spooky stories about the fate of traitors, Jack the Ripper, haunted churches, and more.
In the traitor room, an actor displays ripped off heads on sticks and a medical table where he cuts up body parts of traitors.
But the most fun, and scary, part of the attraction is the final room of the tour, where a barman tells the story of Jack the Ripper before leading you into a haunted maze.
In the maze, we had to navigate our way through dark rooms while being chased by actors dressed as pigs and a lady with a chainsaw.
We laughed and screamed and tumbled out of there saying, “That was so much fun!” Even Savannah, once she got over the terror of it, said she was glad she did it.
While scary at first it was one of the best attractions in London, and is a thrilling experience for older kids who love Halloween.
It was also a great way for kids to learn more of the history (although darker) of London. I think it gave us a perspective that, although the world feels grim, at least no one is being hung, drawn and quartered with their heads left on display as a warning on London Bridge anymore.
This is a top thing to do in London for teens with a sinister edge!
- The London Bridge Experience is included in the London Pass by Go City. (Discount pass to save you money on tourist attractions.)
- This combo ticket also includes entrance to the equally thrilling London Tombs
- The London Dungeons is also a similar experience you can have that’s near the London Eye. Book here.
The London Eye
One of the most famous attractions in London, with some of the best views of the city, is the London Eye on the River Thames.
It is the tallest observation wheel in Europe and a great way to see different viewpoints of the famous buildings in London, like the Big Ben and House of Parliament.
The capsule you sit in moves slowly enough that you get time to enjoy the experience and get good photos.
There is also an option to get private capsules, which is what we did. For the regular ride you will be put with another group of people.
It is a more fun way to look at London’s scenery instead of going to regular viewpoints, and having to climb a lot of stairs. We know most teens are afraid of movement!
Teenagers will love this more relaxing London experience. I’m sure their friends back home will be jealous of their TikToks and photos.
Covent Garden is a popular shopping destination in the West End and so a perfect London experience for teenagers who love fashion and beauty stores.
There is also a good number of dining options, with food halls and restaurants scattered throughout the area, which makes the garden a good place to spend a few hours of your time if members in your family want to go shopping.
Stores range from big name brands like Apple and Tiffany and Co to local independent stores.
Some stores, experiences, and eats teens may love include:
- Kick Game specializes in rare and exclusive sneakers and apparel.
- Glossier beauty supply store.
- Venchi was our place to stop for ice creams.
- You can even indulge in world-famous chocolates from the likes of Godiva and Hotel Chocolat.
It can get busy, so try to go at a time when people may be at work and school, and with some COVID protocols still only allowing a certain number of people in stores at a time, there can be lines you’ll have to wait in.
That being said, it’s still a good way to spend your time and can give you a feel for London’s food scene and what luxury fashion it has to offer.
It is also next to other tourist attractions in London, like Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Soho and the West End theater district.
Don’t forget to spread out across the central Covent Garden marketplace area to explore the surrounding cobblestone streets and side alleys for other secret gems!
We found Cecil’s Court and Goodwin Court both of which are said to have inspired Diagon Alley. I thought Goodwin’s Court was more like it. Let me know in the comments what you think.
Book Loving teens will love Cecil’s Court, it is lined with book shops and antique stores filled with magical literature and bric-a-brac, which is one reason it’s been connected to Diagon Alley.
You’ll also find brand stores like Doc Martens, Urban Outfitters, and Brandy Meville that teens will love. Kalyra bought a cute skirt from Brandy.
When you need a break, head to Lamb & Flag for a family pub lunch in the oldest pub in Covent Garden. (this was one of our favorite London pubs)
For families with diverse culinary tastes, you may want to eat at the Seven Dials street food market. However, I found it very lacking in gluten free options so watched my girls eat before our show in the West End.
Another shopping area teens in London may love is Oxford St. You’ll find more recognizable brands here and can often pick up good shopping deals.
Be warned, this is one of the busiest streets in London, especially on a weekend, so be prepared for shoulder rubbing. This was one reason, Kalyra preferred Covent Garden.
The daily Camden Markets is also fantastic for shopping and a unique London neighborhood and cultural experience. Read our guide on how to enjoy a day in Camden Town. (includes a Regent’s Canal ride)
West End Theatre / Musicals
London is renowned as one of the best places in the world for theater. (Ignoring COVID, there are over 40 theater venues in the West End performing to over 14 million every year. It is the largest theater scene in the English-speaking world.
Teens will love the variety of musicals on offer, some of the most popular ones being the Lion King, Wicked, Les Miserables, and Hamilton. (I saw Les Miserables and Saigon when living in London)
On this family vacation to London, Kalyra, Savannah and I went to see Matilda in the Cambridge Theater, while Craig caught up with his old North Sydney Bears teammates in Chelsea.
Matilda the Musical is based on the Roald Dahl book and movie, which was fantastic. Most of the cast are young children, who are very talented.
It is a funny musical directed towards younger kids, but I would recommend it to all ages. I absolutely loved it. There was a trio of twenty-something males behind us who laughed louder and more often than anyone else in the theater!
Kalyra chose this theater production and did the research to find the best price tickets and booked it while we were in London. We booked through LondonTheatre.co.uk.
I recommend booking as far out as you can, as we got some of the last tickets. But, since it was a small theater, all seats had great views, and we somehow ended up with seats near the front, and for what we thought was a great deal.
Seeing any musical at the West End is highly recommended to any family that needs a break from the stress of visiting all the tourist attractions.
I’m glad we added this it our London itinerary in the last minute as our teen said it was one of her favorite London experiences.
Tip for Buying Tickets:
You can snag cheaper West End theater tickets by opting for stand by tickets, which you buy on the day at the venue. Of course, you run the risk of missing the show, but if you are okay with just experiencing the West End, rather than being passionate about a particular show, this is a great way to save money.
You can also get last-minute tickets from the booths on Leicester Sq. However, I did not see any of these booths on our visit. Not sure if it’s because travel had just restarted after the pandemic.
The day we arrived in London we went to the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington for afternoon high tea. For any traveler, especially teens, interested in English culture this is one of the best things to do in London.
It is alleged that afternoon tea began in England in 1840, by Anna Stanhope, the Duchess of Bedford. As dinner was served late in the evening, this was a way of satisfying her hunger pains mid-afternoon. It became a fashionable form of entertainment and over the years it became an experience for more than just the wealthy.
Some also say the French started it. But, let’s not get involved in that battle.
For now, we’ll celebrate the English tradition of high tea, named so for the high tables it’s served on.
The Ampersand Hotel has a few themed high tea options, including ones for kids and gluten free eaters! We chose the award-winning Science Afternoon Tea in the Drawing Room of the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington, a fantastic for teens especially.
This English high tea features multiple experiments you can do with your food. You can make your own lemonade, look for fossil biscuits, and enjoy the billowing smoke as a waitress pours water over the dry ice that is on your dishes.
It is a cool interactive version of a high tea, and it is also very tasty.
I was very impressed with my gluten free versions and the gluten free scones with clotted cream here is a deliciousness I’ll never forget.
Just as impressive is the elegant interior design of the Drawing Rooms with its scarlet and blue velvet armchairs, floral wall paper, and quirky animal prints cushions and large Victorian windows bringing in the afternoon light. You will feel part of the British aristocracy who live in this area of London.
This was a great first London experience for us and set the tone for the family joy that was to come. You can see our Reel here.
You’ll find plenty of high tea opportunities in London and further afield in England. We LOVED our high tea experience at Victors in Oxford
This experience was hosted in part by Visit Britain.
Visit the House of MinaLima
As you’ve discovered from this post so far, teens love Harry Potter – well most anyway. Devout Harry Potter fans will want to stop in at The House of MinaLima.
This gallery and store, situated in the heart of Soho, showcases the graphic art of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films, all of which was exclusively designed by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima.
We added it in on our last day exploring London city and I’m so glad we did. It was incredible!
It’s only while exploring the Wizarding World art on display here that you realize just how much these graphic designers are responsible for the magic of the Harry Potter films.
The first floor is filled to the brim with the graphic designs from the movie which include posters, newspaper articles, train tickets, insignias and more.
There are plenty of these magical items available for purchase including prints, notecards, journals, wallpaper and posters.
You can also get illustrated copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Kalyra really wanted to get the Black Family Tree Tapestry wallpaper, but opted for the Sirius Black wanted post instead (her favorite character).
Downstairs is the gallery, which will make you feel you’ve been transported to the Wizarding World. The wall is covered in the Black Family Tapestry wallpaper, the Marauder’s Map covers the gallery floor, and Hogwarts letters flood out of a decorative fireplace.
I absolutely loved this store! And we had a special treat while inside, Miraphora Mina was actually in the store. We weren’t brave enough to stop her and say hi – teens may not have developed the confidence for that yet!
This is a completely FREE London attraction for teens – well except for the shopping they’ll want to do
Harry Potter Walking Tours
For more magical fun, you may want to join this Harry Potter themed walking tour across London. Find out which Hogwarts House you belong in and test your Harry Potter knowledge. Stroll down Diagon Alley, visit the Leaky Cauldron, and See iconic London sites such as Borough Market, The London Eye, and Trafalgar Square. Reserve your spot here.
Useful London Resources
- GO CITY PASS: This discount attraction pass is a must It will save you money on London’s top attractions. See more here.
- Want to live and work in London, but aren’t sure how. Let Global Work and Travel Help – click to read the full post!
- Where to stay in London – budget to luxury London accommodation [includes the 3 hotels we stayed at (and loved)]
- Tips for getting around London
More Content from our London Trip
- Why we loved our trip to London
- 2 days in Bath (itinerary)
- Top things to see and do in Oxford
- Is the London Eye Worth it?
- 15 of the best views in London (from above and below)
Comment: Have you been to London? Do you have any other tips for things to do in London for teenagers? What makes it great? don’t forget to add in your tips!