Last Updated on March 9, 2022 by Louise
Looking for a family city break in the UK that’s perfect for kids and adults. Look no further. We have 8 suggestions for you.
We’re so lucky in the UK. There’s a diverse number of cities to choose from. It’s difficult to come up with a definitive list of the best 10 cities but whatever your opinion here are 8 really good ones to visit.
Clifton Suspension Bridge (image Flickr Creative Commons)
Bristol is a great city for families because there is so much for kids to do and much of it is free or reasonably priced.
Free museums with activities for kids include M Shed, which tells the story of Bristol from prehistoric times to the present day. There’s also the chance to see a dinosaur at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and discover the amazing animal adaptations section which is an interactive family area.
Bristol is also home to We the Curious, a science museum based on Bristol harbourside and kids can enjoy climbing aboard the SS Great Britain which also has lots of hands on activities.
Many families will love to venture across the Clifton Suspension Bridge or climb up Cabot Tower in Brendan Hill Park. Both attractions have amazing views. Or clamber down the Giant’s Cave which opens out onto a cliff face and gives spectacular views of the Avon Gorge. You can find out more about these activities in our article on things to do in Bristol with teenagers.
There’s also Bristol Zoo and The Aquarium for young animal lovers.
I really could go on and on with things to see and do. Bristol is a brilliant city for families. It’s not too expensive and it’s massively underrated. This is why it makes it to the number 1 spot on our list.
For more information, check out Visit Bristol.
York is an amazing city for kids and adults of all ages. One thing I love about York is that it’s compact. If you don’t mind a little walking and stay in the city, you can park your car and not look at it again until you go home. You can also use the hop on / hop off bus if you have little kids or walking is not your thing.
For younger kids, there is the Railway Museum which is free. Young kids will love seeing the trains, using the outdoor play area and hopping on the road train. Under 5s will enjoy the indoor play area too. Other fab attractions include York’s Chocolate Story and Dig where children get to dig and become trainee archaeologists.
York is steeped in history. Take your kids to at least one section of the York Walls if you can. Historical attractions which are great for kids include the Jorking Viking Centre where you go on a ride through an old Viking village. York Castle Museum is also fantastic for bringing history to life with a reconstruction of a Victorian Street, old toys and a jail.
If they love Harry Potter, a visit to the Shambles is a must. It’s said to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films. There are also four Harry Potter themed shops you can visit.
Older kids and teens will enjoy climbing the tower at York Minster and the thrilling experience at York Dungeons. Read about more amazing things to do with teenagers in York.
We love York. It’s one of the best cities in the UK for a family weekend away.
Edinburgh Castle (image Kara Babcock)
The capital city of Scotland is jam packed with things to do for kids including the iconic Edinburgh Castle. It’s an amazing city. It’s easy to walk to almost any site or activity or catch and Uber, cab or bus.
Some highlights include the National Muesum of Scotland which is free to enter and has lots of cool interactive exhibits. Another top attraction is Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions. There’s also the Museum of Childhood with lots of hands on activities. Or why not visit Dynamic Earth and journey through the creation and development of the planet.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, enjoy a free Harry Potter tour. Find out about JK Rowling and her time in the city that inspired her.
Get kids moving and climb Arthur’s Seat just outside Edinburgh for some fantastic views. For more stunning views climb to the top of Carlton Hill.
My kids by the Millennium Wheel
London needs no introduction. It’s one of the hardest city’s to write about as there is so much to see and do, it’s difficult to know what to write first.
The best thing about London is that it can be inexpensive. It’s possible to spend days sightseeing and visiting attractions without spending a penny. Some of the best free attractions for families include one of the free museums such as The Science Museum, The Natural History Museum, London Transport Museum or the Museum of London. The museums often have lots of events to entertain the kids, so check out their websites to see what’s going on. Young kids will also love Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial playground.
Visit one of the many Green parks for a picnic and an ice cream. One of my favourite is Greenwich Park where you can get amazing views of the city and also visit the free National Maritime museum.
If you’re planning on sightseeing, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace are a must for first time visitors.
Some other top attractions include:
The Tower of London Kids will love climbing up the towers and seeing the crown jewels.
Tower Bridge is great and you can walk over a glass floor and see the river and cars below.
Some top tips. London is big. Do your research and plan your day before you come. Book what you want to do in advance. Don’t plan to see everything, just pick a couple of highlights – you can always add stuff to your itinerary if you have time. And enjoy!
The capital city of Wales has so much to offer for families.
Cardiff Bay is jam-packed full of attractions. There is a man-made beach and a fun fair that children of all ages will enjoy. They will also love a trip to Techniquest on Cardiff Bay, which is science fun for all ages. Hop on a boat ride on the aqua bus and visit the Wetlands Nature Reserve.
Cardiff Castle is in the centre of Cardiff and a great way to introduce kids to some history. Older kids will enjoy the views from the top of the Norman Keep. Another splendid castle is Caerphilly Castle (it’s about 15 minutes out of the centre) but young kids will enjoy the space there. Climb the towers, stroll along the ramparts, throw coins into the wishing well and look over the battlements.
Other gems are St Fagans Museum on the outskirts of Cardiff and the National Museum of Wales which is free.
Portsmouth (image Evgenii)
Portsmouth is known for its maritime heritage and historic dockyard. There are numerous museums and other attractions kids and families will love in this city.
Older kids will love to climb the Spinnaker tower. It’s 170m and gives you the south coast’s most spectacular views (25 miles views over Portsmouth Harbour, the South Downs and the Isle of White).
Southsea beach is less than a mile from Portsmouth City Centre and stretches from old Portsmouth to Eastney. Here you can sit on the beach, visit the amusement parks, watch the cruise ships, play some crazy golf and lots more
The Blue Reef Aquarium is another top attraction on Southsea beach. If you want to introduce kids to some history, a visit to the D-day museum gives them another perspective on World War 2. There’s audio visual presentation and it’s told through the personal experiences of people who were there. Also find Cumberland Natural History Museum.
Other beaches near Portsmouth include West Wittering Beach and Hayling Island beach.
Durham (image James Stringer)
Durham is a compact and beautiful city with lots of history and things to do both in the city and the surrounding areas.
To get the best out of Durham, visit the city but also plan a couple of trips out of the city too.
Visit the beautiful Durham cathedral. Older kids and teens will love to climb to the top of the tower and see the fantastic views of all of Durham. There’s a trail for younger kids (where they find the seashells in the cathedral) and you can explore the surrounding woodland paths and riverside trails around the castle. Also, join a museum tour and find some locations where Harry Potter was filmed.
Next to the Cathedral, you’ll find Durham Castle which was also a palace and is now the university but you can enjoy a tour here. Durham museum has activities and trails for kids over the summer holidays and kids can do brass rubbings as well.
If you don’t mind venturing out of the city, young kids will love Diggerland which is just 5 miles away. And a 20 minute drive away to Beamish will take you back in time at the Beamish Living Museum. A little further out there is also the railway museum which has free entry. In the opposite direction, find Seaham Beach.
Plymouth Hoe (image by Herry Lawford)
Another maritime city that is ideal for a visit with kids is Plymouth.
Some kid friendly attractions include The Box, an interactive arts and heritage centre that explores natural history, contemporary art and the city’s maritime history. You can also go undersea at the National Maritime Aquarium (which is the UK’s largest aquarium). Climb Smeaton’s Tower (which was a lighthouse) for an incredible view at the top.
If you like National Trust properties, Saltram is a great National Trust property on the edge of Plymouth with a beautiful house to explore, a den building area, woodland walks, a pump track and children’s trails. There’s also Buckland Abbey.
There’s no beach in Plymouth, but it’s only a 20 minute drive to the beaches at Bovisands and Wembury.
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