We are arriving at 6:30 am on a Thursday on an overnight flight from Toronto. We plan on going to the hotel (Earl's Court area) and either getting in to our room or just dropping the luggage off. We have London passes for 3 days so I don't want to use it that first day - I want to use it the rest of the time we are there. Can anyone give me guidance on what to do that first day -- we have tickets to see a show that evening at 7:30. I really don't care if I have to pay admission to something that is on the London Pass that day -- I just want to maximize our time and still have dinner and see the show!
Some travelers find it's a real effort to go to a show on the night of their arrival day, after an overnight flight.
Many travelers like to walk around outside on their first day, especially walking around by later afternoon, when some people start to feel tired on the first day.
We didn't want to go that night but it was the only night we could get tickets! Where do you suggest we walk?
Oh dear, you just might need coffee, or something, on that first night.
Where to walk? Well, you're in luck, London has many places to walk.
Earl's Court is far enough out (we stayed there last year) so that you'll want to take the Underground to a station near Hyde Park. Then head over to Kensington Gardens, then Green Park and St. James's (yes, that's apparently the spelling) Park.
Have you looked at London Walks website? London Walks. I think your London Pass gives you a discount on London Walks tours. They have some great walking tours. RS has a walking audio tour also.
You won't be able to check into your room until early afternoon, usually 2-3pm, but of course you will be able to leave your luggage. You didn't mention which time of year you'll be here, that would effect my suggestions, but walking, sunlight and fresh air will help you. Hope you're not too tired to enjoy the show.
Would suggest eating light and healthy before the show, so as not to compound your tiredness... Japanese food is perfect for that, doesn't have to be Sushi, they do lots of other lovely dishes, and somewhere like Wasabi, outlets everywhere, is pretty cheap. Pret-a-Manger also do light, healthy food. If Japanese, be sure to get some Chicken Yakitori. Yo Sushi is great fun with the food on the conveyor belt whizzing past your table, and you can just take what you like the look of. They also have hot food on the menu which needs to be ordered.
Assuming your arriving while the weather is good, a walk through Hyde Park, stopping at the Lido Café by the Serpentine for a 'Full English' and a cup of tea (you might need a hearty breakfast, and the effects will have worn off in time for the show). Then onwards through Green Park, past Buckingham Palace, through St. James's Park towards Big Ben and jump on a River Taxi to Greenwich. Lots of fresh air, river oxygen, brisk winds and sunshine (hopefully) and you'll be ready for anything.
Use Google Maps satellite image. Type in Big Ben, London. Once the image appears you'll be able to see how close many of THE sites are.
Once you've dropped off your luggage, why not check out your surrounding neighborhood on foot. Locate the closest Bank ATM, grocery store and for coffee the local Caffe Nero, Costa coffee or, boo, hiss, Starbucks. If hungry have a bite with your coffee. Or buy picnic lunch staples, pre made sandwiches, crisps, fruit at the local Sainsbury, Tesco, Pret a Manger to take with you. Just don't eat on The Tube!
I'm assuming you'll need to get your Oyster cards so head to the nearest tube station, purchase your cards and off you go. Take the District Line to Westminster Station, Mind The Gap, exit the train, follow signage to Exit 1. Walk outside. The Westminster dock and Thames will be in front of you. The London Eye across the river. Turn right and look up. Climb the stairs and begin your exploration on foot.
Or walk along the river embankment. Fabulous WWII memorial to be found there. This an especially pleasant stroll if the weather is nice. If you purchased sandwiches, crisps and fruit, sit on a bench, eat your meal and watch the river traffic. A bit further up just before the Jubilee bridge, turn left and walk a few blocks into Trafalgar Square.
Can either do this or as others have noted take advantage of walking through and around Hyde Park, Green Park and St. james parks. Buckingham Palace is between St James and Green Park. London is great to explore on foot. Google maps satellite view is a great travel tool. Use it. Enjoy your stay!
Thanks so much for all the replies! We are going mid July so I am hoping the weather somewhat cooperates! What are your opinions on the hop on hop off buses? Is it worth doing?
Definitely worth doing, so much to see. Don't ignore sun screen if it's hot.
If don't feel like walking then the hop off and on bus would work but why spend the money? Merely a personal opinion. Maybe because my flights are from California and I'm tired of being seated and cooped up with others that I prefer exploration on foot!
I'd also opt for a river cruise to the hop on and off bus. Different perspective of London from the Thames and much more relaxing as you aren't stuck in London traffic which can be miserable.
Once you've dropped off your luggage see how you feel and proceed. Have fun!
Being that you are staying in the Earl's Court area, you are within walking distance (or the #7 Bus) to several good museums (Natural History, Science and the V&A - which are free). Or, if the weather is nice, head over to Hyde Park and enjoy people/place watching and take in the Lady Di memorial.
I estimate it will be late morning (close to noon?) before you get to your hotel and you probably won't be able to check in until 2:00 or 3:00. That means you'll need to come back to the hotel to check in and get your luggage out of storage.
In short, you may not have as much time burn before your dinner and show after all.
My favorite walk in London is from Trafalgar Square to Big Ben (stay on the right side of the street as you walk towards Big Ben). You may cover this in your other sightseeing.
That's a very short walk :o) 5 mins at most.
5 minutes!?! You must channel Usain Bolt.
No way that is a 5 minute walk for first time visitor. Especially when tourists stop at the Horse Guards or peer at Number 10 Downing Street, or stop to photograph the memorials in the roadway as well as Big Ben in the distance. Heck waiting for the light to change at Trafalgar Square in order to cross the street to start down Whitehall takes up at least 3 of those 5 minutes! :-)
Lol, point taken. I take 5 mins as being a local, i'm regularly there and don't stop to look at anything, i'd say i've seen it all before, but maybe i've missed it all before. I'll slow from a sprint to a jog next time i'm there... Promise!
I'm aware/becoming more aware, that i take a lot of what London has to offer for granted.
Just be sure and factor in that you, or your traveling companion may be jet-lagged that day & not feel like doing anything!! At least rest a bit before the dinner and show!