A London Duck Tour With A Toddler

I spent a lot of time thinking about things to do in London with our 5 year old and 2 year old boys when we were there on a mini break in February. Open top bus tour? No, it would be too cold in February to sit on the top deck (which we would inevitably have to do). Boat tour? Maybe, but would be it be too long for their short attention spans?

Then I remembered about the funny bright yellow vehicles which I had seen taking passengers around the main sites of London before diving into the River Thames. The London Duck Tour? Yes, that would be perfect for our boys. It would combine a bus tour and a boat tour with a bit of adventure – and I knew they would be really excited about driving into the River Thames!

Rosalind from the London Duck Tour

Our Duck, Rosalind!

The London Duck Tour takes passengers on a 75 minute ‘Amphibious Adventure’ around London, including the excitement of driving off the road into the river. At just over an hour long, the tour is fast moving, exciting and just the right length of time to keep even the most fidgety toddler happy.

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The tour starts from Waterloo station near to the London Eye. Passengers board the ‘Duck’ and are then taken on a tour of main highlights of any trip to London including:

The House of Parliament and Big Ben
Downing Street
Horse Guards
Trafalgar Square
The Ritz Hotel
Green Park
Buckingham Palace
Westminster Abbey
M16 building

London Duck Tour with a toddler

Big Ben from the Duck!

The tour is accompanied by a knowledgeable and fun tour guide, who was full of useful (and useless) facts which appealed to parents and toddlers alike. Her knowledge and love of London was infectious, and the tour was pitched at just the right level to keep us all entertained.

The Ritz from the Duck!

Passing the Ritz on the Duck!

It took about 45 minutes to get round the sites above, before we arrived at the MI6 building at the Vauxhall part of the river. Our driver got us into position (pointing down a one way slope into the river) before he hopped out, and another driver who was qualified to drive a boat jumped in. The excitement was rising now, as the boys realised that this was the time our ‘bus’ was going to go in the river.

‘Are we going to sink?’ the 5 year old asked?

‘Are we going to go splash?’ the Toddler asked?

After a quick safety demo, we were zooming down the slope into the river Thames, and powered by the large propeller at the back of the Duck, our ‘bus’ had turned into a ‘boat’.
The tour continued down the river for about 15 minutes before turning at the Houses of Parliament and coming back up to MI6 and out of the river. Then it was about a 5 minute journey back to the Southbank where the tour finished.

Big Ben from the London Duck Tour

Big Ben from the Duck!

London Duck Tour: Toddler Friendly?

In my opinion, the London Duck Tour is fantastic for older toddlers who can sit still and like
watching things out of the window. Younger toddlers, or toddlers who have just started walking, might not like sitting down for an hour and may get frustrated because there isn’t anywhere for them to safely toddle off to. There aren’t any enclosed windows on the Duck so parents will have to keep a good grip on little ones who like climbing.

The London Duck Tour in the River

The Duck in the River

Our whole family loved the London Duck Tour, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to families wanting to do something a little bit ‘different’ in London. The tour is just the right length of time for toddlers and going in the river was really exciting for all of us (not just the kids!).

In the river!

In the river!

London Duck Tour With A Toddler: Top Tips

There is no toilet on the Duck, so it’s best to go beforehand at the free toilets in the Royal Festival Hall (less than 5 mins walk away)

No food and drink is allowed on board.

Get there about 15 / 20 minutes beforehand, as when it comes to boarding the tour, you are able to get on the Duck in the priority order of who checked in first.

The tour has open ‘window’s’ so wrap up warm.

Buggies aren’t allowed on board, but they can be left at the check in desk.

Prebooking online is recommended as the tours do get busy. Go to London Duck Tours to book.

The prices as of Feb 2016 are as follows:
Adults – £24
Children (1+) – £16
Under 1’s – Free

The tour is not recommended for children under the age of 3, but passengers under 3 are permitted to travel at parent’s discretion.

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  1. I have seen this so many times when visiting London and have always wanted to have a go. We have a 3 year old and an 11 month old so we may have to wait. Looks like you had a wonderful day #Daysoutwithatoddler

  2. A really fun experience for your little ones! I went on this years ago when my niece and nephew were younger (they’re in their 20s now!). I must put it on the To Do list for my LO. #DaysOutWithAToddler

  3. I currently have a 3.5 year old whose favourite imagination play is to be a car that turns into a boat or a submarine. Can you imagine his face if he was on a bus that turned into a boat?! He’d flip out with excitement!

    This is such a brilliant thing – I have no idea when or how I’d pull this one off but I must! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    I love the different approaches your boys took when wondering what would happen when the boat went in the water. So funny! Great tips too – very useful to know things like there are no windows (eep) and no toilet!
    Thanks for linking to #daysoutwithatoddler – see you next month!

  4. Thanks a lot for your comments! I have to say that the Duck Tour was our favourite thing from our London trip – it was so much fun! The tour guide was great too and really knew how to interact with the kids. Definitely give it a go next time you are in London.

  5. You really should – my toddler loved it! It was just the right length of time too – not too long for them to get bored.

  6. You should definitely give it a go – it’s great for little ones (and adults!)

  7. I’ve seen the duck tours so many times in London but never been. I think my toddler would love it


  8. I cannot believe that I live in London and it had never even occurred to me to do this with my daughter – as she’s nearly four, it sounds perfect as long as I can convince her we wouldn’t sink! Definitely a really fun way to see London’s sights too. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  9. Great post! I’m thinking about taking my son on a duck boat tour in Boston either this summer (he’ll be nearly 1) or next summer. Maybe I’ll wait until next year so that he can interact more! #citytripping

  10. I’ve never actually done one of these tours…although I have been on an open top bus tour – this looks like great fun though and you get some brilliant views from the river. I find the guides are fab on these type of tours though and love all their facts. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

  11. Thanks Elizabeth! I’d definitely recommend the Duck Tour- the tour guides are full of interesting facts and really know how to interact with children.

  12. I’d love to know if / how you get on on the Boston Duck Tour Elizabeth! I bet it will be great whatever country you do it in!

  13. I still need to go on one of these! It blows my mind a little bit how they can go on land and water – amazing #citytripping

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