The British capital is a buzzing hive of culture, with more than enough museums, monuments and Michelin-starred restaurants to work through on a visit. However, for a family visiting London with teenagers, the bucket list may need a little more consideration. Fortunately, the capital has ample to win over discerning adolescents.
Deep in the bowels of Waterloo Station, House of Vans is one of the capital’s hottest skate parks. A subterranean network of tunnels and passageways, it’s an atmospheric, ultra-hip hang out for skater teens. Boarding and BMX sessions are free, as are the hour-long Skate Skool lessons that come with board, pads and helmet. For entertainment off the ramps, grass roots culture buffs will love House of Vans’ photography exhibitions, independent film screenings and live music gigs.
Part chemistry lab, part ice-cream parlour, Chin Chin Labs serves up scoops of the capital’s coolest dessert. Hand churned with liquid nitrogen, this decadent ice cream comes in seriously wild flavours such as Pandan Leaf and Tonka Bean. The accompanying plume of nitrogen steam adds the kind of visual drama that Instagrammers adore, as does the piled-high array of inspired toppings such as truffle crumble and marshmallow fluff. Duck into the Chin Chin flagship in the heart of Soho or, for a more industrial vibe, seek out the lab in Camden.
Dragging your feet is not an option when following in the footsteps of wizarding legend Harry Potter. Located just 20 minutes from central London, the Warner Bros. Studios - home to the Harry Potter film locations - makes an enchanting day out in London with teenagers. It’s an invitation to marvel at Hogwarts’ Great Hall, Hagrid’s hut and Dumbledore’s office in real life. The original props and costumes from the films are on display too, as are creatures such as Basilisk and Buckbeak. Back in London, snap a selfie with the trolley on Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station and soak up the atmosphere at Diagon Alley in Leadenhall Market.
Camden’s Roundhouse hosts a slick series of workshops and creative projects for budding artists aged 14 to 19 years old. Spanning media, music and performing arts, rising stars can learn how to DJ, train as a circus artist, write and produce a radio drama and perfect some key hip hop dance moves. These lively Young Creatives sessions offer a compelling flavour of what it’s like to develop a passion into a profession, and are a great opportunity to connect with like-minded stars in the making.
With locations across London’s leafier districts, Go Ape offers energetic types a giddy opportunity to unleash their inner Mowgli. From zip lining through the treetops to negotiating the wobbles of sky-high rope bridges, Go Ape’s forest challenges are an adrenaline-fuelled opportunity for teenagers in London to let off steam. Not just for young explorers, its family-friendly courses deliver incredible views over London’s skyline while soaring above the trees at top speed.
Shopping in Camden Market is a rite of passage for teenagers in London. For decades, it has been the epicentre of youth counterculture, and its vibrant boutiques and eclectic stalls are resplendent with one-off vintage finds and edgy accessories. Leave the shoppers to reinvent their look and seek out one of the charming cafés dotted around the lock to soak up the area’s unique atmosphere.
A hotbed of cutting-edge culture, the Barbican is easily one of London’s edgiest arts spaces. For younger visitors, the Young Barbican initiative offers discounted access to youth-focused workshops, talks and events. Expect cerebral themes such as the future of AI and young love. Teens from 14 upwards can sign up to Young Barbican and experience an incredible program of music, fashion, theatre and photography events.
Grafitti enthusiasts should make a beeline for London’s trendy Shoreditch to spot tags and murals from the coolest urban artists. The best way to explore this hip corner of London is on foot. Snake your way through boutique gallery and café-lined streets that are the canvas for vast murals, spray-painted shutters and provocative stencil art by the likes of Banksy and Eine. With new visuals popping up daily, there’s always something fresh to discover.
Budding bakers are invited to roll up their sleeves and practise their confection-decorating skills at Biscuiteers DIY Icing Café. The byword in cute cookies, Biscuiteers leads the way when it comes to imaginative sugary treats. Classes are conducted by expert icers at Biscuiteers’ gorgeous Notting Hill and Battersea cafés. Under their guidance, learn how to perfectly pipe unique biscuits, taking home a tin to share—or not—with the family afterwards.
Neighbouring the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the Slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit takes thrill-seekers on a daredevil drop of 178m. Snaking its way around Anish Kapoor’s Orbit sculpture—a soaring tangle of red steel—the hair-raising slide is the world’s longest. It’s tempting to squeeze your eyes shut as you plummet down the winding corkscrew tube, but keep them open—you’ll catch brief snatches of London’s skyline through transparent panels before being submerged in darkness. For a more sedate ArcelorMittal Orbit experience, there’s a viewing platform at the top with interactive screens.