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Itinerary advice please

Hi, my wife and I are planning our first Europe trip together and we will be staying in London for 6 full days at the Lancaster Hall Hotel. We have put together a rough itinerary and would appreciate some help ‘fine tuning’. We’ve tried to group sites based on location so we’re not backtracking too much. We plan to buy a 7-day travel card for travel and will utilize the 2 for 1 offer. I’m also trying to balance out museums and sights so we’re not spending our trip indoors.

Day 1 - (Trying to keep day one somewhat simple and close to hotel)
- Flight arrives LHR at 8:45am
- Heathrow Connect to Paddington Station
- Drop off bags at hotel
- British Museum
- Picadilly Circus
- Possibly Kensington Gardens and/or Hyde Park if time permits since it’s a very short walk from hotel

Day 2
- Tower of London
- St Pauls
- Tower bridge
- Millenium Bridge

Day 3
- Arundel town and castle (Best method to travel to and from?)

Day 4 (Seems too busy. Suggestions on sites to drop?)
- Trafalgar Square
- Benjamin Franklin House
- Churchill War Rooms
- Westminster Abbey
- House of Parliament
- London Eye

Day 5
- Groupon Stonehenge and Bath tour
OR
- Groupon Cottswolds tour

Day 6
- Victoria and Albert
- Science Museum
- Natural History

Day 7
- Train to Paris

  • Are any of these days too busy or do you think we should add to any days?
  • Do you have recommendations on cheap places to eat?

Thanks!
Tyson

Posted by
1010 posts

You might want to consider a day trip around London, through Evan-Evans Tours. They do many tours in and around London. We have taken many of them and enjoyed all of them. You can go to Gray Line Tours or they subcontract the tours out to Evan- Evans in London. We highly recommend those tours.

Posted by
809 posts

I'm glad you're visiting the Benjamin Franklin house - we enjoyed it and appreciated the insight into a fascinating man. If the weather's not good, you may want to skip the London Eye. Also consider using London Walks for the Westminster Abbey tour [and other sightseeing]; they do a great job of conveying a lot of information in an interesting way AND you get to skip the line if you're with their tour. It looks as if they only do the Westminster Abbey walk on Fridays in the summer, so that may not work with your schedule.

For cheap eats, we've had good luck with the Pret a Manger sandwich shops sprinkled all over the place, and very fond memories of Gordon's Wine Bar, very close to the Embankment tube stop and not far from Trafalgar Square and the Strand. Daughter and I could get a plate with two or three big hunks of cheese, some bread, and a glass of wine for a very reasonable price; we usually took it outside since it's really crowded inside and we were usually heading off to the theater afterwards so didn't want to wait for a table. They have a large and interesting selection of cheeses. We also enjoyed a meal in the crypt under St-Martin-in-the-Fields; can't remember the price but it was cafeteria-style, not expensive, and reasonably tasty.

We found Gordon's in Rick's London book; if you don't already have that I recommend getting a copy soon. It's has a lot of suggestions on inexpensive but good food in a number of London locations. Have a great trip!

Posted by
10344 posts

The Victoria & Albert Museum, Science Museum, and Natural History Museum may be too much for one day. You will only have from 10 to about 5:45 (they may say 6 but generally the staff starts flushing visitors toward the exits around 5:45 or even earlier (the Science Museum may be open until 6 but I would figure 5:45).

You will have to allow some time to eat lunch and take a break from being on your feet. So that leaves you with roughly 7 hours of museum time, even if you arrive right at opening.

My wife and I were in London recently and only were able to see a portion of the V & A Museum in a full day, and only a portion of the Natural History Museum in a few hours on another day. I realize it's tempting to try to "see" all 3 on one day since they're located together. Just have in mind that these museums, and especially the V&A, are large and you will need to be very selective as to which 25% or 50% of them you visit if you decide to do them in one day.

Posted by
231 posts

Tyson,

You might want to make a walk in Hyde Park the first thing you do on Day 1. Being out in the fresh air and sunshine always does wonders for us in "resetting our clocks" to local time and warding off the worst of jet lag. I'd also take a look at the British Museum website if you don't have any idea of what you'd like to see there. You could easily spend a whole day or more just wandering around. We try to pick 3 or 4 things we'd like to explore, and allow time for interesting stuff we might run into between one exhibit and another.

We've done a day very similar to your Day 2. Started out at Tower of London when it first opened, visited Tower Bridge, walked up the other side of the Thames and had lunch at The George (mainly because it was my son's birthday and he was interested in the history), then crossed Millennium Bridge back to St. Paul's.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
221 posts

For Arundel, you can get a DaySave pass on Southern Railways for £15 each. You can travel as much as you can on the Southern network after 10 am, so you could catch the 10:02 out of Victoria and be in Arundel by half 11. You have to purchase the DaySave at least a week ahead of time.

http://www.southernrailway.com/tickets-and-fares/ticket-types/daysave-off-peak/

Your hotel is very close to Hyde Park and that would be a great place to go for a walk after you arrive. You'll enter the park at Italian Gardens and if you wander along to the left you'll be heading east towards Marble Arch and Oxford St.

For cheaper eats, most pubs do decent meals. There's a Wetherspoons at Marble Arch (the Tyburn) and they have nice pies and curries. On Thursdays they do a deal where you get a curry and a pint for about £8. There's also a small Sainsburys grocery store at Marble Arch where you can pop in and pick up some sandwiches for the day. In fact, you can find decent sandwiches, drinks, snacks, etc. at almost every grocery store - Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsburys, and some that aren't grocerys - Marks & Spencer, Boots. There's a Nisa local around the corner from your hotel - they're more of a 7-11 style; convenient and you're paying for it.

You're also not too far from Mickey's Fish and Chips on Norfolk Place by Paddington Station. And one station to the west along on the Central line takes you to Queensway (your station will be Lancaster Gate), where there are a ton of restaurants of all types.

Posted by
10344 posts

Dave makes a good point: The British Museum is massive and often very crowded, and might not be the best choice on your arrival day.
Or not, depends on how relaxing you want your first afternoon to be. Some travelers do better with outdoor/walking activities with fatigue on the arrival afternoon.

Posted by
97 posts

I agree wholeheartedly with hitting Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park upon arrival. My wife and I did that on a recent trip to London and found it an excellent way to fight the jet lag and just generally begin to gather a lay of the land. Day 4 is definitely overcrowded. I would move the Franklin House to another day -- the other locations are fairly close to each other, making for easier visits. Also I highly recommend the Churchill War Rooms and its adjacent museum. Also consider the noontime concerts at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square.

Posted by
6336 posts

Another vote for walking through and around Kensington Gardens after you've checked into your hotel. Great way to take in the sights and sounds of London as your body adjusts time wise. Clears your head as well and allows your ears to adjust to the cacophony. It's nearly a straight shot from your hotel through the Gardens in route to the Albert Memorial. From there you could easily walk over to the Natural History Museum. If you're hungry Bospherous Kebabs on Old Brompton Road which is a couple of blocks past the Museum hits the spot. Personally and as you're a first time visitor, I'd walk through the park to the Memorial, turn left and follow the path through the trees which parallels the Carriage Road. About 5 long blocks up there's an exit out on to the Carriage Rd then over to Knightsbridge Road. It's near the end of the Serpentine. Believe it's Albert Gate. Once you hit Knightsbridge turn right, walk past the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and you'll find the Knightsbridge Underground station. (If you're shoppers Harvey Nichols is there as well). Take the BLUE line, the Piccadilly line 2 stops to Green Park, exit, Mind the Gap and then hop on the GREY line, the Jubilee Line, to Westminster station. 1 stop. Exit into the modern looking Westminster station and follow signage to EXIT 1 which says Westminster Bridge, London Eye. Walk out the exit. Across the Thames you'll see the London Eye, to your right will be the Westminster Bridge and if you turn to the stairs leading up to the bridge and look up you'll know your not in Kansas anymore. Always a wonderful way to start a London adventure. Climb the stairs and enjoy yourselves. The Red Lion pub where barristers, lords, and government employees mingle is on Whitehall as you head toward Trafalgar square. Depending on your stamina and by using the tube you can see a lot in a day. Great city. Enjoy!

Posted by
691 posts

I would swap out your Arundel day for something else closer to home. You're going to spend a lot of precious sightseeing time in transportation. We spent a week in the Kent area and decided it was too far for us to drive. We saw plenty of other worthwhile sights. I imagine that once you're in London, you'll just want to browse the neighborhoods a bit more. Basically, we've found that you can do about two museums a day plus a walk in a park, neighborhood, meal in a pub, etc. You're paying a lot of money to stay in London so enjoy it. Come back another time and tour the countryside.

Posted by
993 posts

I know there must be a good reason why Arundel is on your list. But check on the castles hours before you go. We were there on a Saturday, albiet a few years ago, and it was shut!! Still, we liked the town very much but were disapointed to not see the castle. We were traveling by car.

I also think your Day 6 is a bit full.

Day 5: I'd go for the Stonehenge and Bath tour. The Cotswolds need more than a Day trip. Mind you not that Bath doesn't, but Stonehenge only takes a few hours giving the rest of your day to Bath.