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3 Days Advice

Need advice for London for 3 Days-

Must See: Tower of London-skip the line tour/private tour?
Westminster Cathedral- know we need tickets.
a pub or two
St. Paul's Cathedral

Should we take a Hop on Hop off bus? Really need suggestions. Thanks.

Posted by
8866 posts

Well lets see….

When are you going?

What are your interests?

Where will you be staying?

Been going to London since 1972. Happy to share intel…and make suggestions …

Posted by
4586 posts

I'm quite sure Rick addresses a trip of this length, what do you think of his recommendations?

Posted by
11368 posts

Three days is four nights, correct? That is how you calculate days.
Do not take the Hop on Hop Off bus in London as you will sit in traffic! Use the Tube to go from one area of the city to another. Buy an Oyster card to use fill and use on Tube and buses.
Tower of London, buy tickets in advance online. No tour needed.
Westminster Abbey, buy tickets in advance online.
Instead of St. Paul's, I would add Churchill's War Rooms. It is near Westminster Abbey. Buy tickets in advance.
Check to see if Buckingham Palace is open for self guided audio tours while you are there.If it is, book a reservation.
Do you have your hotel booked? Then search for pubs nearby. Your hotel can help you with this.

Posted by
4292 posts
  • I found the Tower of London to work fine without an organized tour except for the Beefeaters tour that comes with your entry; it's well worth it. I also wouldn't worry about skip the line. We were there in a mid-September and arrived about a half hour before opening and were 2nd in line to buy tickets. I'd head straight for the crown jewels so you don't have to wait in line. Nearby for a photo-op is a guard in his bearskin hat, a crowd gathers around him a bit later when things get busier.
  • I did take a London Walks tour to Westminster and really enjoyed that. I was blown away when we saw Elizabeth 1st's tomb.
  • There is a pub on the South side of the Thames just down from London Bridge called the George Inn. A sign outside says the current building dates back to 1676. It's said that Dickens and Shakespeare used to drink there.
  • Traffic is silly in London, I'd avoid the hop on/off bus and walk our take the tube.
Posted by
694 posts

On my very first visit to London we took a Hop On Hop Off bus. Traffic was slow and heavy and we lost time in traffic and waiting for the HOHO busses and I didn't feel like it was worth the money. Much faster using the tube, the bus and just walking. Now I never recommend it. The Transport for London official website has a very useful journey planner, which will show you your options on how to get from place A to B. Here is that link TLF Journey Planner

Lots of great sites to see and things to do so it is a good idea to research and know what you are primarily interested in seeing. I like your three choices above, but I personally would suggest you also consider the British Museum, (there are many excellent museums in London), possibly a theater show, a daytrip to either Windsor or Hampton Court. Maybe a visit to Kew Gardens or Greenwich? Borough Market, the Imperial War Museum? If you have three nights and just two full days, then skip the daytrip and just stay in London. Also check the local events calendar to see what is happening in the city while you are there, maybe a festival, or concert or parade that would be neat to go see.

Posted by
470 posts

The George is said to be the last galleried pub in London. It is owned by the National Trust.

Posted by
7618 posts

Just to clarify, London has Westminster Cathedral, which is a 120-year-old Byzantine-styled Catholic church a block from Victoria Station train/Underground terminal, with a really tall, elevator-served bell tower (free for church, charge for bell tower elevator, no advance tickets required); and Westminster Abbey that people are describing above, a Gothic-style Church of England church that’s 1,200 years old and charges for tickets. Both have their own Websites.

To skip the Abbey’s ticket-buying lines once you get there, buy timed-entry tickets on its official Website, .

For The Tower of London, you save a few £ by ordering your ticket ahead of time, and you can print your ticket at home, or go up to the Groups ticket office at the Tower and collect it there, .

Posted by
1625 posts

I can't recommend highly enough doing a few London Walks. We have done the Westminster Abby, which included a stop to see the changing of the guards and The Highgate One, which ended placing us right at Highgate Cemetery which was so cool to tour.
We spent a full day just walking through Kensington Gardens, touring the palace, having tea at The Orangery then heading over to Hyde park and discovering little parks within the park, like Diana memorial playground children's park and the Italian gardens.

Posted by
3059 posts

I’ve taken the hop on hop off bus tour twice and Suki is right you’ll sit in traffic most of the day. It’s a full day but you do see London’s top attractions and would know what areas to check out afterwards. I would not get off unless you need to, otherwise, I would ride it for its entirety and the next day visit the areas you want to explore i.e., Covent Garden for example.
A better way to see London’s greatest hits is to take his self-guided walking tours found in his London guidebook. You’ll see more on these tours than the bus. Rick Steves Pocket London guidebook (4th edition) is all you would have time for and features his Westminster and West End walks, both are good. If you take the Westminster walk visit the Churchill War Rooms (buy tickets before leaving home) and if you take the West End walk, see a play that evening.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you so so much for the very thorough extensive advice. It is appreciated more than you know.

Posted by
4471 posts

With only 3 days, I would get Rick's London guide and spend my time on the things that most interested me. Too much traffic in London to do HOHO bus-and I have done this and liked it in Bath and Edinburgh.

Posted by
8866 posts

Get an Oyster Card or set up Apple Pay on your phone. Tube from wherever you are staying to Westminster. Exit the tube train, Mind The Gap and follow signage to exit the station. I like exit 4 which takes you out of the station to the Thames Path and Westminster Bridge. Climb the steps. Elizabeth’s tower ( still in scaffolding) with the Big Ben Clock ( I believe now visible) will be in front of you. Cross the road at the light. Take you pics of the Parliament building then cross the next street and walk along the sidewalk to the front of Westminster Abbey. If you have reservations for the Churchill War Rooms, walk back to the Winston Churchill Statue and turn left. Cross at the light heading toward the Ghandi statue and turn left. Walk to the end of the block and turn right. You will see people waiting to enter the War Rooms. You’ll also the beginning of St james park and Birdcage Walk. Birdcage walk is a nice way to stroll to Buckingham Palace.

Remember changing of the guards is usually at 11:30am.

Either choose to try to watch ( always extremely crowded ) or simply wait till the ceremony in front of the palace front gate concludes and watch the Royal Guards march back to their barracks.

As far as pubs by Parliament Square try the Two Chairman, Grafton Arms, The Old Star or The Albert.

Pubs NOT by Parliament Square but worth a visit, The Globe, Carpenter’s Arms, and Prince of Wales on Wilton Road.

After seeing The Tower of London try the Princess of Prussia pub.