9 of the best London travel guides
When we were living overseas we would return to the UK regularly and would spend a lot of time in London where my family live. Over the years we bought or were given a number of books about London that were brilliant at both getting the kids excited about exploring the capital and teaching them something about their ‘home’. There are so many family guidebooks out there catering to all ages; some are stories set in London, others are true travel guides, highlighting the capital’s main sights. There are guidebooks that focus on London’s quirky past and picture books with illustrations so beautiful that you just want to have them on your bookshelf. The following are what I think are some of the best books about London for children – and their parents! They are perfect for planning your next family trip together or just a great way to explore a bit more of your hometown. If you have any favourite books about London with kids, please do let me know in the comments below.
This Is…London, by Miroslav Sasek
We’re big fans of the This Is… series in our household and the London edition is one of our (completely unbiased!) favourites. Beautifully illustrated, the book highlights London’s main monuments, parks, buildings and more, all accompanied by Sasek’s trademark lively text. What I love about this book is that it’s not just fun to read but it looks wonderful on a bookshelf, too!
A Walk in London, by Salvatore Rubbino
We were given this book when we were living overseas and used it to explore London on our trips home to see families. The book shares a mother-daughter day trip to the capital and takes in all the big ticket sights including the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, Saint Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. It’s particularly great for younger kids who will love the colourful illustrations and the fold out surprise!
Maisy Goes to London, by Lucy Cousins
My daughter used to love the Maisy books and now Sam, the youngest, has taken over her collection of books detailing the adventures of Maisy the mouse and her buddies. This is a great book for toddlers, the text is simple, the illustrations bright and bold and the stories full of good humour. This particular book is a brilliant introduction to the capital for younger kids.
City Trails – London, by Lonely Planet Kids
Moira Butterfield (Author), Dynamo Ltd (Illustrator)
I love these City Trails books by Lonely Planet. Not only do these travel guides tell you about the main sights and attractions, they share some off-the-beaten-path, lesser known destinations. Filled with fun, quirky and unusual facts, my kids think they’re a lot of fun and really enjoy this London version.
Family Guide London, by DK Travel
A London family guidebook written with kids firmly front and centre this is a great option for families visiting the capital. The guide is helpfully organised around major sights for you to plan your day and includes family-friendly restaurants, age-suitability, maps, activities for rainy days and more. There are also games and quizzes every chapter to keep the kids busy on tube and bus journeys!
Horrible Histories Gruesome Guide: London, by Terry Deary and Martin Brown
The Horrible Histories series are superb at bringing history to life and in this guide to London they share the most gory stories about the capital. Learn what caused the Great Stink of 1858, who were the flying dustmen (and why were they feared) and all about London’s largest toilet! If you’ve got tweens or young teens, this is a fabulous book to get them excited about visiting London.
London for Children, by Matteo Pericoli
Surely one of the prettiest books about London for children is this wonderfully illustrated hardback book. London for Children follows a continuous 20-mile journey along the north and south banks of the Thames, a task that took the author two years to complete. Not only is the design beautiful, the book is filled with fun snippets guaranteed to hold all kids’ attentions – such as the story of the polar bear that used to fish near the Tower of London!
Paddington’s Guide to London, by Michael Bond
No trip to London would be complete without some time with the capital’s most famous bear so what better way to wander the city streets than with Paddington’s Guide to London? What’s really lovely about this book is that in addition to working as a travel guide to London, it also teaches you more about some of the destinations that Paddington explores in his adventures. Not surprisingly, you’ll find the best places to get marmalade too!
The London Eye Mystery
Less a guidebook but a thrilling mystery that will appeal to older kids. Salim boards the London Eye but never gets off again so it’s up to his cousins Ted and Kat to find him as they follow a trail of clues across London. Definitely one to get kids excited about a trip to London!
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