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20 hr layover - London - Suggestions?

Good morning!

On our way back from Rome, my husband and I will have a 20 hr layover in London (Heathrow Airport). I was curious if anybody had suggestions on the best things to see/do to take advantage of the time there. We arrive at around 4:00 pm and leave the next day a little past 12:00 pm.

Thank you so much!

Posted by
738 posts

We had a similar layover in Dublin . We did the Hop-On Hop Off bus - which gave us a great overview of the city. In London, i would do the same.. or see if you can evening tickets for the London Eye. cam walk around Westminister Abbey, Big Ben, then along Thames.

Posted by
4482 posts

Go to a play or sometimes museums have night hours.

Posted by
6113 posts

You should be out of Heathrow between 5-5.30 pm if your flight is on time. Allow 60-90 minutes to get into central London, so you have time for a meal and a walk round some of the sights. The following morning, you will need to be at Heathrow at 9am and it will take you an hour to get there, so you don’t have time to do anything unless you are a very early riser.

Alternatively, head to Windsor, although you will be too late to visit the castle, you could grab dinner and have a walk round the town and park.

Posted by
520 posts

Personally I'd try to do a play, although maybe not spend too much in case your plane is delayed. What about getting the standing tickets at the Globe theatre. They are about 5 pounds. St Martin in the Fields also has a number of evening concerts if you like classical music. I'm not sure the cost in the evening, we saw one at lunch, but it was free.
Alternatively if the weather if nice you could stroll through all of London's lovely parks.

Posted by
8884 posts

Here’s my idea but necessitates booking things now.

Book a room at the Hilton at Paddington Station.

Book Paddington Express tickets now to garner any sort of savings.

15 minute train ride from LHR to Paddington. Walk outside to hotel, check in, drop off bags and head right back out.

Probably about 6 or 7pm by now. Walk towards the Pride of Paddington pub a block away. On the same side of the Road as the Hilton is an HCSC Bank ATM. Gets some pounds.

Cross the road, and turn left walking back towards the Hilton to the Paddington Underground Station. Get your Oyster Card there ( 5 pounds refundable) Put 5 pounds on it and take a Bakerloo line train to Bakers Street Station. Mind the Gap exit the train and then get a Jubilee line train to Westminster.

At Westminster exit the train and walk outside to Parliament Square. Houses of Parliament always look lovely at night Unfortunately the iconic tower with Big Ben is in scaffolding.

From here a couple of walking routes: People will be out so safe walks.

Cross over Westminster Bridge walking towards the London Eye or walkup Whitehall to Trafalgar Square and then over to Covent Garden. If you like Indian food Punjab is very good. It’s purple can’t miss it.

Head back to Paddington Station Underground via the tube. From Covent Garden underground it’s a Piccadilly line train to Piccadilly Circus then a Bakerloo line train to Paddington. Another 20-25 minutes

If still awake have a pint at the Pride of Paddington or Sawyers Arms.

Next morning get up early 6:30 or 7am and walk over to the Italian Gardens in Hyde Park. Enjoy a morning coffee there or walk along the path adjacent to the Serpentine past the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain and have a coffee and a nosh at the Lido Cafe. You’ll enjoy seeing the waterfowl, joggers, walkers, swimmers and dogs.

Head back to hotel by 8:30am, retrieve luggage and hop back on an Heathrow Express train to LHR and your flight home.

That’s what I’d do during a 20 hour lay over. See some iconic sites and enjoy the ambiance of London.

Posted by
6823 posts

We always stay by the Gloucester tube stop. There are plenty of hotels there. It’s easy to reach from the airport and easy to get back to the airport. Assuming you’ve never been to London, you could take the tube to Tower Hill to view the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. They will be closed so you’ll only see the outside. From there take the tube back to Parliament (Big Ben and the tower are currently covered in scaffolding) and Westminster Abbey At a minimum you would have seen a couple of the major tourist sights. From there you could wander around Covent Garden or Piccadilly Circus and find a place to eat and relax.

Posted by
274 posts

It's super close by and you'll save at nearly 2 hours of time by not traveling to and from central London.
There's a theatre in Windsor, right on the river. They also give night tours some of the time. That might take some planning. There could still be the horse and carriage rides along the Long Walk, depending on the time of year. It's gorgeous, you'll see lots even from the outside. I always travel with a small monocular (half of a binocular, Celestron that makes telescopes also makes them, bought mine on Amazon), so I can see lots more from a distance. There's good shopping, nice riverside stuff, cheap for a taxi ride from the airport (we could see the castle when we were landing at Heathrow, planes fly right over it).

If you do buy tickets in advance to see Windsor Castle, buy them directly from the castle's web site. I overheard a guard telling a tourist that since he bought his ticket from another agent (like London Pass or something, I couldn't hear it too well), that he could not get admitted to the castle after 3PM. Probably not necessary to go in to the castle; you could get some fun in and see some sights from outside, get some rest, and not worry since you'll be so close to the airport too.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
15 posts

Thank you all so much for the advice and suggestions - this is wonderful and will definitely help us! We definitely don't want to miss the opportunity of exploring but definitely want to be conscious of a realistic travel timeline.


Posted by
5688 posts

You might also consider taking one of the London Walks Evening Walks.

The challenge with theatre is that you don’t want to buy your ticket in advance in case your plane is late. You could head to the TKTS booth at Leicester Square to see if ther are any last minute discount tickets after you arrive.

On short trips, I often stay at Earl’s Court which is about 40 minutes by tube and easy to get to/from airport as its on the Piccadilly Line. Both the Premier Inn on Knaresborough Place and The Nadler Kensington are good choices close to the tube station.

Posted by
6671 posts

My first instinct was to discount the chance of doing anything worthwhile since your 20 hours includes a night's sleep and the need to be at the airport 3 hours ahead of your flight home. But Claudia's plan is brilliant! Note that it's the Heathrow Express, not the Paddington Express. Buying Heathrow Express tickets online well in advance can make them very cheap, and you're committing only to the dates of travel, not specific times.

If the Hilton is too pricey, there are lots of other hotels in various price ranges within a few blocks of Paddington -- none as convenient though.