These London hacks keep costs down and joy levels high - for everyone.
Commonly thought of as the European city of choice for partying 20-somethings on a working holiday visa, this awe-inspiring city is an exciting destination for families, too - where insider knowledge will save you a tidy buck as well as a lot of whinging.
Sightseeing around this magical city is exhilarating, but can also be exhausting, with youngsters and teens likely to drop first. London's ancient and epic transport system can get you from A to B in a flash, but there is a lot of walking and standing that you may not have even thought about, such as the gazillion steps through the tunnels down to a tube platform and back up again at your destination.
The solution? Think bus! Hopping on a big red London bus is a must and has the added advantage of boarding at street level (pram friendly). It also gives you time to relax while enjoying the views from your seat as you crawl through the city to your destination. Kids under 16 travel for free on all London buses (11-16 year olds need a photo oyster card from Transport for London's website) saving you a fortune on the open bus tours.
Buckingham Palace - The Mall - Big Ben - Southbank: Take the Piccadilly line and arrive at Hyde Park Corner before strolling down Constitution Hill to Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard. Then saunter through St James Park to get up close with the incredibly tame squirrels before arriving at Big Ben and the River Thames. From here cross Westminster Bridge and wander along the Southbank past the London Eye soaking up the atmosphere, stopping to refuel at a riverside cafe. Had enough walking for one day? Hop on the Uber Boat by Thames Clipper from Westminster Pier that will shuttle you back down the river in a novel fashion, avoiding all traffic lights.
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Where you base yourself in Britain's sprawling capital is key to optimising the joy and minimising the misery when travelling with youngsters. Think "central" rather than the south-western boroughs traditionally favoured by Antipodeans. Basing yourself somewhere in the City of London or Covent Garden areas means a single bus trip or a short tube journey to the main sights and attractions.
Where you base yourself is key to optimising the joy and minimising the misery.
Budget hotels such as the Premier Inn and Travelodge have compact yet comfy family rooms in great locations throughout the city. If you are like us and you consider a hotel with a pool a prerequisite when travelling with kids, for that 4pm pre-dinner respite, try Leonardo Royal Hotel London, St Paul's. It's tucked away on a side street metres from the grandiose cathedral, and nothing says "Good Morning London" quite like stepping out the hotel's doors and seeing the cathedral loom above you in all its glory.
A multicultural city designed for throngs of people offers a plethora of cheap, delicious and convenient places to eat. A visit to London isn't complete without a meal at one of Brick Lane's Indian restaurants. In London's East End, a stone's throw from Liverpool Street Station, Indian restaurants sit cheek to jowl with enthusiastic employees kerbside jostling for your business. Our approach is always to seem undecided in order to get the best deal; they are especially keen to throw in a few extras for larger groups. A fun, delicious and good-value experience.
Traditional pie and mash shops are cheap and cheerful, and are dotted throughout the city offering hot pies covered in salty green liquor (gravy). Try a jellied eel if you dare! Traditional pubs are also aplenty and usually offer filling and comforting family favourites. Work your way through the classics such as toad in the hole, steak-and-kidney pie, fish and chips with mushy peas or shepherd's pie washed down with a glass of ale or a cloudy cider for the adults.
"Boring!" is not a word you want to hear on your much longed for holiday to the British capital and these two museums are anything but. The London Transport Museum in Covent Garden is a kid-focused interactive centre all about the history of London's Transport System. Grab your punch card and explore the three levels, marking off your card as you go behind the wheel of an old or new London bus or tube. Free for those 17 and under but you still need to book online in advance.
The Young Victoria & Albert Museum, the little sister of the Victoria & Albert Museum, in East London is a whole museum for kids, young people and families. It's free and there are loads of interactive displays so you won't have to say "don't touch" once.
In London's north-west you'll find Parliament Hill, where a gentle walk to the top takes you to a height of 98 metres, making it one of the highest points in London. It's a great spot to enjoy your sandwiches from Marks & Spencer and the views of the city, giving the kids the opportunity to let off a little steam, if they have any left.
For another park-based vista, visit Greenwich Park in London's South East. Head to the top of the hill after hopping from the Eastern Hemisphere to the West across the Prime Meridian Line that slices through the park marking 0 degrees longitude. Soak in the soul-stirring views from the top on a late summer afternoon for an unforgettable memory from your trip of a lifetime.
Pictures: Getty Images; Unsplash; visitlondon.com/Jon Reid