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Could use a 3 day London itinerary

Staying in Covent Garden. Arrive Sat morning, leave for Paris Tuesday AM. Definitely want to hit Tate Modern and National Gallery in addition to Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, as many main London historical sites as we can. Two 14 year olds in tow.

Does anyone agree that Sky Garden could be a good (faster, free) alternative to London Eye? Or is London Eye a must?

thanks!

Posted by
2834 posts

I agree about the Natural History Museum. If they haven't been before, British Museum (mummies!) would probably be of more interest to them than 2 art museums. Or be democratic-there are 3 of you-let each person choose a museum after reading descriptions in a guidebook.

Posted by
25 posts

My girls are interested in art, fashion, music and British/London history. Also will probably enjoy shopping and eating in cool neighborhoods/local businesses. Shoreditch/Clerkenwell? I guess everything!

I appreciate the comment about Natural History museums. We had a great one we frequented in NY.

Posted by
1173 posts

The Victoria & Albert museum has a wonderful gallery of fashion and has other galleries your daughters would love. That would be first on my list to go to. There is also the the Tate Britian which I enjoyed more than the Tate Modern but if they do like modern art than it is the place to go. What month are you going. Walking along the Tower Bridge is very nice. The Tower of London is amazing and if you are not in London in Aug through beginning of Oct Buckingham Palace is not open to the public. I would suggest getting your ticket in advance for Buckingham Palace as soon as you can.

Selfridges is a wonderful department store, and I went to a lovely resturant in the store for lunch that was excellent. As is Harrods and their food hall and of course Fortum & Mason where I went to tea this year and loved it. A play would be a wonderful thing to do in the evening. I saw Wicked last year and Aladdin this year and loved both! Maybe taking the big bus tour is a good idea to see the sites as you are limted in time. Covent Garden has the London Transport museum that I enjoyed seeing this year.

St Paul's Catherdral is amazing to see.

The Sky Garden looks amazing but I have not been to it and it is high on my list for my next trip to London.

Hope this helps but the Victoria and Albert museum is a must see for the fashion and jewels! They have a wonderful gallery full of jewels that is breathtaking.

Posted by
94 posts

We were in London this past December/January. We did an eating London tour in the East End which was fun and in a cool, diverse neighborhood that your girls might enjoy. We did a couple fun London walks too, Jack the Ripper and Magical Mystery Tour (if they’re into the Beatles at all). We didn’t do the Eye or Sky Garden so can’t comment on those, the weather wasn’t that clear so it didn’t seem worth it. Enjoy!

Posted by
5689 posts

Check dates for the free Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Absolutely gorgeous at night.

Remember daylight hours will shorter. By 4pm it will be dark. Plan accordingly. Xmas lights on Oxford and Regent streets are lovely.

With their interests and the short period of time you have please consider:

1.) forget the London Eye. Tate Modern is a matter of choice, I’m not a fan unless I need a loo as I walk along the Thames Path.
2.) Camden Lock Market, Portobello Road
And Brick Lane markets. All intriguing but given the popularity of younger Royal Family members visit Portobello Road early then walk into Kensington Gardens to see where William and Kate, Harry and Meghan live. Although I suspect they’d also love all the Camden Lock and Brick Lane Markets offers as well. Research.
3.) Definitely see theatre one night. See what’s available via The Leicester Square half price ticket booth. Can look on line now a days. Tickets are for same day performances.
4.) take them to Liberty. You’ll not have seen a department store like it. And if you must, Harrods but I think Selfridges far more impressive.
5.) Tower of London. Go early and head straight to the Crown Jewels.
6.) I always recommend the Museum of London as it explains how the city your are touring became London.
7.) there are often free musical concerts in churches
8.) SANTA runs should be occuring. Silly fun to watch and the runs are always for charity. Check to see when the Christmas Pudding run is scheduled at Covent Garden.
9.) TIMEOUT London online is a great resource

Have a wonderful trip. Great city to explore and enjoy!

Posted by
8387 posts

I'd probably add Westminster Abbey. Either do the Verger Tour (an extra 5£) OR have everyone download the Westminster Abbey app onto their smartphones AND remember to take headphones/ear buds. There are SO many famous people buried here. Even if they aren't "science-y" they've heard of Isaac Newton and the newly interred Stephen Hawking.

Plus it's where Will and Kate got married!

I'd do a precision strike at the National Gallery. Get a map at the front entrance (1 or 2£ I think) and head for the Impressionists. (Hint - up the main stairs and to the right) Maybe head thru the rooms of British painters like Constable and Turner, then have the guards point you toward the rooms with the Rembrandts. This may mark me as uncivilized but I've taken people there who were not terribly in to art and if you're not careful you'll get bogged down in eras that are not as appealing to them.

Posted by
36 posts

Sounds like a great trip. Staying at Covent Garden seems perfect for nightlife.
I agree the V and A museum would be a must for 14 year old girls. While in the neighborhood seeing Kennsington would be great. Portableo Road is not that far away either and only interesting on weekends. Hyde Park also sounds fun at that time of year.
The Tower of London with it's history and crown jewels may be good too. And the Tower Bridge is right there.

If the play "SIX" is still playing at Covent Garden Get tickets ASAP. It is a pop group of 6 women that star as the wives of Henry the 8th. They tell their stories in pop songs. Very energetic. Seeing a show once should be a priority and not as expensive as the US.
Taking the tube to different parts of London will be important to keep exhaustion at a minimum.
If I were going inside a church I would do Westminster Abbey rather than St Pauls. Get tickets before you leave. If you are seeing any Palaces in France I would not worry about Buckingham Palace. The outside is OK and the changing of the guard is fun but requires a lot of time and energy if it is not a priority.
I recommend each girl picks their one "must see" and you plan your travel around them. London is not big and everything looks really close on a map but it is dense and not easy to navigate by foot.
I did not do the London Eye but I understand it depends on the weather and fog. May not be worth giving up something else to do.
If shopping is a priority for the girls, let them research where they want to go. Covent Garden has great artsy things. It would just depend on what they are looking for.
Remember about jet lag on your first day and plan for outdoor activities that day if possible.
Planning then being flexible will help.
Have fun!

Posted by
853 posts

If your girls are interested in British/London history, then of course the Tower of London might be a favorite.
Check online and see if you can get tickets for the Changing of the Keys Ceremony. Late at night when they actually lock up the tower. The "Beefeaters" (guards) do the same ceremony that they've been doing for a couple hundred years. Even during WWII. My boys loved this.

Also the Churchill War Rooms were interesting for History buffs.

Have a Great time with your family!

Mimi

Posted by
2834 posts

Best place for London history is Museum of London near St. Paul's. Would they enjoy going to tea? I agree that Changing of Guard is not a priority.

Posted by
653 posts

You have already received some great advice. Here are a few things to add.

Have a great trip,
Sandy

Posted by
257 posts

London Eye is not a must, I found it took me farther away from the sights I wanted to see. Sky Garden's on my to-do list for next time, seems good, might need reservations for dining.

The trick for you will probably be Sunday, there seemed to be a lot of things closed on that day.

If the girls were ever/are connected to Girl Scouts, the World Centre Pax Lodge is in Hampstead, and it's directly behind Air Studios, famous for being the recording studio that does movie soundtracks, Harry Potter, Kung Fu Panda, etc. The girls might want to see it.
Or they could watch the videos I took of our tour. Air Studios doesn't give tours, but since we were staff at Pax Lodge, they made an exception for my daughter as her going - away present. :)
https://www.youtube.com/user/luckygirl137/videos?shelf_id=3&sort=dd&view=0

Have a great time, bus 24 goes to most of the historic stuff, have fun!
-Alison

Posted by
26013 posts

If the girls are Harry Potter fans and you want to go on the studio tour you need to get tickets now - or a few months ago. It fills up very fast.

If you mean this November, like next month, the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London is almost certainly impossible. It books up a year ahead. I'm a member and still never win the ticket lottery.

Sky Garden is free enough and I like it very much indeed, but unless you will be in The Square Mile, The City, anyway it is a bit out of the way. I personally think that the London Eye is over hyped but I'm from here (lived 50 miles closer to London when I was a kid) and years ago when it was new and British Airways I went. Twice. But then again in the intervening years I've never been again.

What I love are the older iconic landmarks. I love seeing St Pauls - I was thrilled this afternoon as I arrived at Waterloo Station from Hampton Court Palace to see St Pauls shining across the river. The new stuff, like the Houses of Parliament or any of the tall buildings are of less interest to me. Tower of London, but not so much Tower Bridge - although everybody should see it even if it is very new. I love St Brides and St Lawrence Jewry. And Borough Market and Southwick Cathedral.

Posted by
134 posts

My girls (ages 13 and 9) and I enjoyed the London Eye. I understand people who feel it's overrated, and I can see not wanting to wait in a long line for it. I booked my tickets the night before, but I really didn't need to because when we got there, there was almost no line. It was a cloudy day during the week (I forget which day) in early June. Although cloudy, visibility was good. The view was great and we were very glad we went.

Posted by
740 posts

The London Eye is a must do. Just show up at 10 am. You are determinateing the common experience of two 14 year-olds. They get to say they road the Eye.

Posted by
40 posts

Windsor Castle. It's lavish on the inside and you can do the audio walking tour.

Posted by
11266 posts

Everyone is different. For me, the London Eye was not only not a "must," it was a "must avoid!" So, if you and your kids want to do it, do it; if you skip it, there are certainly plenty of other ways to spend the time and money.

I did enjoy the view from the top of the Tate Modern on Saturday night (free). The art in the Tate Modern itself was much more of a mixed bag for me.

I enjoyed the Brick Lane Market on Sunday, and I think you and the kids would too. Nearby is the Old Spitalfields Market, now with lots of trendy eateries and shopping. Both were hopping and lots of fun; if you or the kids want a break from historical stuff, this is a great glimpse into modern London.

In addition to the Tate Modern and the Sky Garden (which I didn't do), there are free views from the top of the One New Change mall. But in general, London's skyline isn't as impressive as you'd think a world class city's would be; that's why I wouldn't focus on seeing it, but rather the spectacular specific attractions themselves.

The National Gallery, for me, is fabulous; I go every time I'm in London. Room after room of masterpieces; it's not one of those museums with only a few good pieces and the rest second-rate stuff. It's the only place where a Vermeer could get ignored (when I went last time, I was the only one in front of them!) So it is important to be choosy, and focus on which periods, artists, and/or pieces you want to see, to avoid overload.

Posted by
1 posts

I recently returned from two weeks in England, spending the last 3 days in London. I purchased a one day hop on hop off bus tour and although very "touristy" it was a great way to see everything London has to offer in the way of sights as well as get oriented to the city in one bang. It gives the freedom to get off and see whatever place along the way you want at that moment.

Posted by
18 posts

Some points/suggestions given your limited time (some of which may already have been suggested):

  • The Tower (not the Tower Bridge) is IMHO the one thing you have to visit, if you can only visit one thing. Do not miss it. Great for all ages. And you'll get a great view of the bridge from the Tower.
  • The Tate Modern is overrated...lots of empty space but not nearly as much decent art as the National Gallery (old masters) or the Cortauld Gallery (late 19th-mid 20th c) or the Portrait Gallery (the history of the UK to the present in portraits.)
  • Just look at Buckingham Palace as a walk-by in St James's Park...don't waste time on the changing of the guard.
  • Take the RS self-guided walk from Parliament Sq to Trafalgar Sq (or v.v., I forget which direction it runs, but you can do it in reverse). You'll see the Horse Guards to whom you can get really close...unlike guards at Buckingham.
  • Westminster Abbey and/or St Paul's - pick one if you find yourself running our of time.
  • Do not waste time on the London Eye. It's very nice, but there are better ways to spend you time.

The RS walk (if done from Trafalgar to Parliament) --> Westminster Abbey --> Thames cruise from Westminster to the Tower --> Tower make a good, really full day with no wasted time...start the walk early to arrive at the Abbey when it opens.

SS

Posted by
18 posts

...and I forgot to agree with an earlier poster that the Museum of London is a great museum for all ages.

SS

Posted by
18 posts

If like most 14 year old girls they like shopping for clothing, Primark is a must.

Posted by
361 posts

I dont think the London Eye is a must see- in my opinion- I think its better to take a boat ride on the Thames- walk thru St. James Park, Ride the Tube to The British Library, see Buckingham and Kensington Palace, The Tate Museum, London Bridge, and The Tower- Harrods, Big Ben, St. Pauls, Westminster Abbey, and stroll thru Chelsea.

Happy Travels💫✨