In case you follow my blog or Instagram account you might remember that my partner and father of my two kids works for a London based company. During the pandemic he worked from home entirely, but recently started to commute between London and Austria again. Over the early May bank holiday weekend we decided to take the two kids to London for the first time. We wanted them to get used to flying, as we will be flying to Canada this summer. And also for our nearly 3 year old son to get relate to the city and to make it easier while his dad is away from home. And all the hassle was worth it. We had a great time exploring London. In this blogpost I’ve compiled the best tips and tricks exploring London with two toddlers, while I will write a separate blogpost on travel tips with toddlers in general.
Getting around London
When exploring a big city with two small kids we were face with two major challenges: How to keep them from running around and getting into dangerous situations? and what to do, when one of the kids gets tired or wants to nap? (their nap times not being aligned). Especially, when I was on my own with the two. Therefore we usually take our small and foldable Babyzen Yoyo stroller for our son and a Ergobaby babycarrier for our daughter. I would also bring a diaper backpack that I could either carry on my back or pin to the stroller. With that setup I could easily walk around with the two kids under my control or being able to nap comfortably.
Exploring London by tube
Exploring London with kids has its challenges. Transport is one of them. The London tube network is one of the biggest in the world, however it is not very accessible for strollers (or handicapped people). Although most of the newer stations offer lifts, the majority of stations does not. (you can check out the accessible tube map here )But most of Londoners will be extremely helpful and offer to carry your luggage or stroller up and down the stairs.
Exploring London by bus
Our favorite way of transport in London was the famous red double decker bus. Our son knew about these busses from photos and videos and all he wanted to do was to ride on them. Preferable in the front. Luckily our Babyzen Yoyo stroller was super easy to fold and carry to the upper deck. That’s why we went everywhere by busw, even if it took longer.
Getting around London by taxi and Uber ride share
We used a taxi to get to and from the airport with all our stuff. A taxi is definitely the easiest option as legally you are not required to use a car seat for your kids. (even though it is much safer). In Uber etc. the general rules apply and you must have a car seat for your kids. Side note: For traveling with a car seat we bought this super light Maxi Cosi Nomad foldable car seat. (also available in light grey for summer). It super light and has hand luggage size. It can be used with the normal seatbelt of every car for kids from 1 to 4 years old. For older kids there are also other options like the Chicco fold’n’go or the Urban Kanga. These foldable car seats might not offer the same stabilty or protection compared to regular car seats. But in my opinion using one of these car seats is still way better than using no car seat at all!
Activities for kids in London
London offers some great activites for kids, indoor and outdoor. I have compiled our favorites below. Don’t forget: London also has great public playgrounds in every district!
The London transport museum
The London transport museum at Covent Garden was our favorite museum. Here you can learn about the history of transport in London and ride old tubes and busses. The facilities for kids (aka indoor playgrounds) make it the perfect bad weather activity. The queue at the ticket counter was quite long. but we got the annual ticket (for the same price as a regular ticket) an plan to come back soon. Side note: Another great activity in London is watching all the artists around Covent Garden with your kids.
Natural history museum
The Natural History Museum is another amazing indoor activity for kids. Why? watching all the dinosaurs and stuffed animals is just beyond exciting! For us adults is is also an architectural highlight.And don’t forget about buying enough dinosaur stuff at the gift shop!
The London Zoo
Going to the zoo is always great for kids. The London zoo not only offers that, but you can also visit Primrose Hill in Regent’s park or go on another boat tour through little Venice. Do you want more tips about London? Just leave a comment or send me a message!
Taking a river bus
Most people don’t know that there is actually public transport on the river Thames. Please find the map here! You can use the boat services with your normal oyster card. We live close to Vauxhall station, so next time we are in London we will definitely take a boat to Greenwich to visit the Royal Observatory and the Cutty Sark sailboat.
We visited London again in November 2022 and took a boat to Greenwich and visited Cutty Sark and the Royal Greenwich Observatory. In addition we’ve visited the National Army Museum, which has a great indoor playground. You can find videos of our trip on my Instagram account: London part 1, part 2, part 3 und part 4.
Update no 2:
We visited London again in February 2023 right before our daughter turned 2 and needed her own seat. In the future we will probably use our British Airways Avios for reward flights from Salzburg or Munich as they have great deals available. But more in a future post.
This year our summer holidays will look very different than the years before. With all the COVID-19 restrictions and travel bans in place, we might not be able to go abroad for our vacations. But while we are a little bit sad about it, we are looking forward to spending out vacation in Austria. And I’ve got the perfect hotels for active foodie families with kids.
But htese hotels are not only great for Austrians while we have to stay in Austria. I highly recommend them to everyone once tourism is back to normal. Simply because I highly recommend spending your vacation in Austria. Our tourism offers so much more than the now famous apres-ski bars in Ischgl.
Why I love these hotels for Vacation in Austria
I am not writing this blogpost because I am getting paid for it. But because I really love these hotels. I’ve stayed there several times and I had a great time there. They offer great quality and service. The food there is outsanding. They are child friendly and also great for outdoor enthusiasts. lAll of these hotels are family owned and I know the owners personally. All of them live and strive for their family businesses and put a lot of effort into making their customers happy. I want them to stay in business and I can’t wait to spend my summer vacation in Austria these hotels.
Best for family vacation in Austria: Stanglwirt – Going / Tyrol
Even though the Stanglwirt is famous for attracting a celebrity crowd during the even more famous Kitzbühel ski race with its legendary Weißwurst-Party, it offers much more than that. It originated from a historic inn (Stanglwirt literally means “Stangl” – Inn) which has been around for over 400 years and is now a 5 star luxury ressort. It has it’s own organic farm (yes you can watch the cows during dinner in their cowshed restaurant) and its own Lipizzaner stud. And it offers a lot of different sport activities: horse riding, indoor and outdoor tennis, golf, hiking, fishing, skiing, swimming etc.
But in my opinion it has the best offer for kids of all ages. There is a special Kindergarden childcare service for kids aged one to three years old. For older kids they converted a small farm into their hotel childcare center (“Kinderbauernhof”). Not only can the kids can pet and feed the animals there, they also learn about them. So far I have not met a child who didn’t love playing with the animals. They also offer all the sports activities mentioned above, plus a huge children’s water world with a 120m long water slide. The children’s water world is separated form the huge adult only spa, which is also great if the parents need a break.
In case are coming with a small baby (like us) they have everything you need: a baby crib made from famous Zirben-wood, blankets and linens, a bottle warmer, nappy bin, and even a Nespresso machine for sleep deprived parents. But it is higly unlikely that you will not get any sleep as the hotel room furniture made out of Zirben-wood is supposed to give you the sweetest dreams.
And the food is also great too. Not only do they produce a lot of the food themselves, like cheese from their own farm. They also give every guest a loaf of home made bread as a good-bye gift. With details like that you can really see that the owners want you to feel at home at the Stanglwirt, which as been their motto for years. And it is definitely true. You come as a guest, and leave as a friend.
Best for golf vacation in Austria: Sportresidenz – Zillertal / Tyrol
For a very long time the famous Zillertal valley in Tyrol was known only for skiing and hiking. But this changed when the Schultz Group – which is owned by the Schultz siblings – built the Sportresidenz, an amazing 4 Star Superior golf ressort into the valley. Not only does it offer a great golf course, including the island green on the 18th hole. It also offers a beautiful modern alpine style boutique hotel. From every room you have a great view on the local mountain range.
Besides golf there are a lot of other activities: skiing on the slopes, hikingthe local mountains, cycling, paragliding, smimming in the infinity pool and relaxing in the “cloud 7” spa. But I highly recommend this hotel in early spring: in the mornings you can go skiing in the Hochfügen Ski ressort, wich also belongs to the Schultz group, and in the afternoon you can play some golf. And afterwards you can relax in your hotel room in your personal infra red sauna cabin, and have an amazing meal at the hotel restaurant, or a nice glass of wine at the bar.
Best for mountaineering in Austria: Gradonna – Kals / Tyrol
The 4 Star Superior Gradonna in the small mountain village Kals in East Tyrol is another gem of the Schultz group. It offers the same benefits of all their hotels and ressorts:
interesting architecture and design
gym and fitness area
In this hotel you even have the option of staying in a hotel room or your own personal chalet.
But for me the biggest bonus of this remote hotel is the proximity to Austria’s highest mountain, the Großglockner. You can see this majestic mountain from the village of Kals. And if you are up to it, you can book a tour guide and summit via the “Normalweg”. Usually it is a two days trip. On the first day you climb up to the Erzherzog Johann Hut, the hightest mountain hut in Austria. After one night in the bunk beds you summit in the morning and then decend again. If you are an experience moountaineer who is used to climbing with crampons, you might be able to do it on your own. but generally I would recommend booking a local tour guide.
I climbed the Großglockner in 2017 and it was a once in a lifetime experience. I highly recomment it as a vacation in Austria to everyone who is fit and loves mountaineering. And spending a few relaxing days at the Gradonna hotel afterwards is a real nice treat.
Best for Spa & Wellness: Edelweiss – Großarl / Salzburg
The Edelweiss hotel in the Großarl valley is a true family business. Founded as a small hotel by Grandma and Grandpa Hetteger, who also raised 11 kids while running the hotel, it has seen a steady expansion and modernisation.Today 14 family members work in the family business.
The most recent expansion has made it the perfect spa getaway. With several indoor and outdoor swimming pools, saunas and several beautiful relaxation areas it offers everything you could with for. Especially the relaxation areas are perfect, if you want to cuddle up during a romatntic weekend trip with your significant other. In case you feel a bit more adventurous (or have adventurous kids) there are several waterslides. Trust me, you don’t want to stop sliding because it is so much fun.
(c) Edelweiss Großarl
The breakfast buffet is probably the biggest one I’ve ever seen, and the food is delicious. The hotel lobby and the hotel bar is absolutely stunning. It is just perfect to try a glass of wine from their extensive wine cellar. And if you feel like working out you can either use the hotel gyom or go hiking and cycling the beautiful Großarl valley.
(c) Edelweiss Großarl
Best for foodies and party people: Hotel Aichinger – Nußdorf / Attersee
Hundred years ago the painter Gustav Klimt always spent his summers at lake Attersee and painted its turquoise waters. No surprise that is is still a great place to spend a vacation in Austria. And the hotel Aichinger is probably the best place to do it. Its origins trace back more than 200 years, but it has been fully renovated and refurbished in recent years without loosing it’s traditional charm. Run by the Aichinger family you still feel that it is a true family business, with all of them workiong actively in the hotel and restaurant. Grandma Aichinger was the main chef whos cooking skills earned them two hats at the Gault Millau rating.
(c) Hotel Aichinger
It also has two bars: the Mayer’s bar wine cellar bar, and the famous American bar. Even though both of them will be unfortunately closed this summer due the Coronavirus Pandemic, they offer a great alternative: as of May 15th they will open their new beach bar “Achterdeck” directly located at their private beach at lake Attersee. A great way to enjoy the clear waters of lake Attersee, the beautiful scenery and a glass of delicous Austrian wine.
(c) Hotel AIchinger
The area around lake Attersee is also great for hiking and cycling. Or for some sightseeing at Salzburg, Bad Ischl and the famous Hallstatt Village. And when you’ve need a bit more down-time, you can also relax at their small hotel spa, or at the hotel pool.
(c) Hotel Aichinger
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