We will arrive (jet lagged) in London on Friday morning, May 1. Our plan for that day is to do some fairly low-energy activities, such as a Big Bus tour, and then the next day, begin a week of sightseeing in and around London. High on our priorities are the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace changing of the guard or horse guards, St. Paul's Cathedral, Harrods, Kensington Palace, National and Portrait Galleries, Westminster Abbey, Churchill War Rooms, British Museum, British Library, concert and/or worship at a church, and and afternoon tea. Here is my question: In planning the itinerary, I'm trying to schedule visits at times of less crowding. That said, what would you nice folks recommend we do on Saturday and Sunday?
One neat Sunday thing to do in London is to head to the Columbia Road flower market. It'll be quite colourful and bustling in May. The shops are all open along the market and you can have lunch there. It's only on Sundays and usually goes 'til 2pm or so. Columbia Road is in the East End, so after you're done, you can walk down Brick Lane to Spitalfields. Or finish the afternoon at the Museum of London.
For your first day, you may want to consider taking a walking tour rather than riding the bus. I find when I am jet-lagged, walking around is far better than sitting on a bus. It is easy to doze off when you are really tired. You might see if London Walks (www.walks.com) has something you are interested in.
For either Saturday or Sunday, any of the museums or the British Libary would be fine for visiting as you generally can walk right in. The Cabinet War Rooms and Kensington Palace are also unlikely to have a long queue.
If you like historic homes, I'd recommend a visit to Spencer House on Sunday. It is only open on Sunday, so a lot of people miss it.
What are your thoughts on visiting the Tower of London on Saturday? I believe Rick Steves advises against it on Sundays.
Of those options, maybe St.Pauls, possibly the portrait galleries.
Other options would be markets, if that appeals to you. Portobello is best on Saturday, I enjoyed Camden Lock and the Stables on Sunday.
Best is something outdoors, the Kew Gardens or Hyde park would also be good.
The Tower of London is the one place where you will have to queue, regardless of the day of the week. Personally, I'd probably avoid a weekend and do that on a weekday.
Another good way to spend part of a Sunday afternoon is walking in the parks (any of them), then go to the British Museum for a couple of hours.