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Itinerary Advice?

I would appreciate some input on our plans for our upcoming trip. Our group is my husband and I, our 16 year old son , 13 year old daughter and my 76 year old mother. My mom and I went to England when I was about 10, so you can just assume that we know very little!

I am trying to plan days with some amount of sitting or riding. This will be helpful for my mom as well as my son who is an amputee. Both can travel safely on all kinds of terrain but any opportunity to enjoy a seat will be appreciated! If you see opportunities for sitting that I may have missed, that would be very helpful for me.

I would also like to book an afternoon tea if time permits. Also, if we can squeeze in the London Eye, that would be fun too! We are pretty open to suggestions and changes, except for the days we have already purchased tickets. (Mamma Mia, Stonehenge, Eiffel Tower.) We can definitely be flexible but I have found it helps our family to have a general plan prior to the trip with so many different opinions in three generations.

Sunday, May 28th Arrive London Heathrow 10:45 PM
Travel by car service from airport to condo near St Pancras Station

Monday May 29th Greenwich day
We are planning to use this day to acclimate also. Our tentative plan is to get a few groceries then take the Thames River Cruise to Greenwich. Our primary goal is the Royal Observatory but will try to see the Cutty Sark or other sites as time and energy permits. If we are all feeling up to it, we will stop for dinner somewhere in the Docklands area.

Tuesday May 30th
Tower of London
Our plan is to arrive before opening and see the Crown Jewels and tour the Tower. We are also interested in the Tower Bridge if there is time.
Mamma Mia 7:45

Wednesday May 31st
Hop on/Hop off Bus Tour
Churchill War Rooms-Tour
Parliament-Tour? Walk or Drive by?
Buckingham Palace-Walk or drive by
Big Ben-Walk or drive By
Westminster Abbey-Tour

Thursday June 1st Stonehenge Inner Circle Sunset Tour
We have a hired a car/guide for this day and we will meet the guide in Salisbury at noon. We can pretty much have the guide take us wherever we like from noon until the sunset tour at 7:45.
My plan was to arrive in Salisbury by around 10:30 and head to the cathedral to see the Magna Carta, then meet our guide. After that, we aren’t sure what to do next.

Friday June 2nd
Hampton Court Palace

Saturday June 3rd 12:30 travel by train to Paris arriving 4:00 Paris time
Travel to Hotel Eiffel Tower area
Eiffel Tower Tickets 8:00 PM

Sunday June 4th Versaille
I know everything says not to go on Sunday but that is really our only option.

Monday June 5th
Notre Dame

Tuesday June 6th 11:30 fly back to U.S.

Posted by
3566 posts

Monday May 29th Greenwich day--
I would start out early in the morning. Leave grocery shopping until you get back from Greenwich.
I would get breakfast somewhere, then walk down to the pier by the Tower of London.
Take the Thames Clipper boat (they take the Oyster card) to Greenwich.
You spoke of stopping for dinner somewhere in the Docklands area. There is really no need.
There is an excellent pub right behind the Cutty Sark.

The Gipsy Moth. Good food. Large terrace. Can be hard to get a table; very popular.
60 Greenwich Church St, London SE10 9BL, UK

About a block away, the Spanish Galleon serves very good fish and chips at a reasonable price.
48 Greenwich Church St, London SE10 9BL, UK

Then you could take the boat back to Tower pier, Tower tube station for the tube back to your apartment area,
stopping by a grocery before returning to your apt. for the night.

Wednesday May 31st
Hop on/Hop off Bus Tour
Churchill War Rooms-Tour
Parliament-Tour? Walk or Drive by?
Buckingham Palace-Walk or drive by
Big Ben-Walk or drive By
Westminster Abbey-Tour

About Wednesday, I recommend you do either Westminster Abbey first thing, or Churchill War Rooms first thing. They both get very crowded the later in the day you visit. Churchill War Rooms is small interconnected underground rooms, with a low ceiling. So when the crowd rolls in, it is very claustrophobic in there and elbow-to-elbow. Maybe do it first, then Westminster Abbey.

After both of those, Hop-Off-Hop-On bus tour. You know your ticket is good for 24 hours, don't you?
So, you can stay on for the full loop around, then get on again later.
Most of the HOHO companies have three different routes, meaning you will see different things on each route. The purchase of your ticket entitles you to go on all 3 routes, as well as a river cruise.
One good idea for lunch is to grab a sandwich to go, and eat it on the HOHO bus while you are enjoying the tour. Saves time.

Posted by
3566 posts

Thursday June 1st Stonehenge Inner Circle Sunset Tour--
Glad to see that you will be seeing Salisbury Cathedral. It was one of the highlights of our trip to England last spring.
Salisbury Cathedral has a very good lunch cafe and I recommend that you get lunch there while touring the cathedral.
You can walk from the Cathedral across its front yard to the Salisbury Museum, a good place to spend some time.
You can walk from Salisbury Cathedral to some shops and restaurants in the downtown area in about 4 blocks.
The old center of Salisbury is small. Lots of interesting buildings to see.

Do try to get to Stonehenge before the visitor centre and museum close. They are great.
There is a small cafe in the visitors centre in case you want to buy a bottle of water or cola.
The gift shop has some unique items for sale of course with "Stonehenge" printed or embroidered on them.
These make good souvenirs or gifts for friends back home.
I had my eye on a lovely fleece sweatshirt with "Stonehenge" and the rocks embroidered on the front.
Inexpensive: baseball caps and T-shirts.

Posted by
3566 posts

Has your driver/guide mentioned where he will take you during the afternoon? My suggestion is that you ask the driver to take you to Avebury. This is an ancient village within another stone circle. Avebury stone circle dates from the same time as Stonehenge. The stones are not as tall, and they are arranged in a much larger circle.
Avebury village:,_Wiltshire
Avebury Stones:

Another town nearby that has an interesting cathedral is Winchester. Your driver may have enough time left to take you there.

On the outskirts of Salisbury is the ancient abandoned hilltop settlement called Old Sarum. Your guide may wish to show you this.

Just a few suggestions. Have a great trip.

Posted by
12 posts


Thanks for the advice. I could completely skip Stonehenge and the inner circle tour and be perfectly happy but my son and husband are excited to see it and we have already booked and paid for it. I agree we should arrive in time to see the visitor center because I think we will all enjoy that.

The guide mentioned Avebury, and some other possibilities for us to see. I think Lacock was one. He also mentioned Bath but I don't know if there would be enough time to do much there.

I thought the car and guide might help minimize some of the fatigue from standing and walking. We considered a bus tour but with a group of 5, the car was comparable in price and I thought it might be more convenient.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks for the advice about the Churchill War Rooms. I can see from the pictures that the space in there could get very crowded!
Eating in the hop on/hop off bus is a great idea!

Also, this plan has all five of us together 24/7. I know we will hit the big things together but we aren't opposed to going in a couple of different directions if that makes sense.

Posted by
5103 posts

I would suggest dropping Harrods. Why come all the way to visit an over hyped expensive department store? There is so much more worthwhile things to see and do whilst in London than to waste time wandering around Harrods.

Posted by
533 posts

JC and harley, I'm sure there are things that you like to do that other people think are a waste of time, too. :)

OP, if you want to see Harrods (no apostrophe), go ahead, and don't be ashamed. It is a London icon of sorts. I personally really like their food hall: A tin of loose-leaf tea makes a nice inexpensive little souvenir that reminds me of my trip for months to come. I've never been remotely interested in buying anything from the rest of the store, but I don't regret the time I spent seeing what it looks like.

Posted by
1205 posts

Quite right khbuzzard, if you've flown halfway round the world and want to see a specific something while you are there, then go see it. Amongst us Brits there may be an element of 'familiarity breeding contempt' on this. We visit London fairly often but on one of our early visits as a couple, of course we went to Harrods! And Fortnum & Masons! No real desire to rush back, but we went.

While I always say when travelling, 'you can't do it all, you have to leave something for next time' in the hope that we will be encouraged to return, if you have something on the list you really want to tick off, then go for it!


Posted by
3566 posts

Hello carj04. You have done a fantastic job of planning your trip. I think you and your family will have a great time!

I have edited my posts to give more details. So take a look at the pubs I added for Greenwich.
If you go to their websites, you can see their menus.

About eating a sandwich on the HOHO bus; grocery stores in London have very good pre-made sandwiches in the cooler/display case.
So it's easy to have everyone pick out a sandwich, buy a large bag of chips everyone can share, and drinks. There are small versions of the grocery stores everywhere in London. They also sell fruit, wine, miscellaneous items and Oyster cards.
There are numerous small parks in London where you can take your sandwiches and sit on a bench and eat.

You are going to have so much fun in London that I'm guessing you will be back! :)

Posted by
1741 posts

Only thing I can add is that you have a late arrival at LHR. If your flight is delayed or the passport control line is long, it may be well after midnight when you get to your condo. You may want to check that late check in at the condo is not a problem or otherwise make arrangements.

Posted by
12 posts

I appreciate all the replies and tips!

My mom went to Harrods in the 80's when we visited England and she had in her mind to buy a special something from there. I think we must have been there during the heat wave of the century. It was so hot, she had to leave the store without trying anything on! I don't remember the Harrods incident but I do remember, it was HOT and there was no air conditioning in most places. I had brought ONE pair of shorts which I washed in the tub every evening. So..,we are making a second attempt at Harrods this summer for my mom! This might be a time we split up and some of us go to different things.

I spoke to the condo owner and they have an after hours check-in procedure.

This is all good advice. Thank you!

Posted by
3566 posts

I don't see any museums on your trip plan. Maybe that is because your group doesn't care for museums--some people don't.
But if you have extra time anywhere, like the afternoon after you visit Hampton Court and Harrods, I suggest you may enjoy a visit to The British Museum and/or The Victoria and Albert Museum (the V&A). There are many other museums in London that I think you may enjoy, but I don't know if you like museums.

Posted by
12 posts

Ugh! I'm not sure how I left out the British Museum! I would love to visit many others but that is the one we agreed on.

Hmm...I'll have to see where that might fit in. We may need to drop something else.

Posted by
37 posts

Hi There,

How lovely that you can make this trip together as a family. You'll be creating lovely memories.

I have four suggestions about your itinerary.

First, considering buying memberships in Historic Royal Palaces ( rather than day tickets. Membership will get you into Hampton Court Palace – and into the private members' room, which is a small and special place to rest for a few minutes, I love it. It also gets you into the Tower of London and you don't have to stand in line with the people buying tickets. You do have to stand in the same queue as everyone else for the Crown Jewels though.
You can purchase membership at the palaces, you don't have to do it before you go, but you can also purchase online.
With the membership you have free access to three other places in London. I suspect you will not be going to Kew Palace, but you may decide to have a peek at Kensington Palace, and also the Banqueting House if you are walking past – it's on Whitehall on the same side as Big Ben, and easy to pop into as you walk from Big Ben to Trafalgar Square.

Second suggestion is to leave yourself the entire day for Hampton Court Palace and don't rush back for Harrod's. Hampton Court is big, lovely, interesting, and surrounded by gardens. There are free audio guides – even if you don't much care for them, I'd suggest using the audioguide at least for the Tudor Kitchens, which you can do at the start of your visit. The place where you pick up the audioguides is also where they can tell you the secret code to open the door of the private members' room. I don't want to oversell this, but it is a welcome resting place and gets you inside one of the former "Grace and Favour" apartments for a peek.
If you end up eating on site at Hampton Court Palace, the Tiltyard Cafe is the better choice. You can pack a lunch with you, you don't have to buy it there.

If you are finished at Hampton Court and want a pleasant way to end the day, you might consider dinner at a riverside pub either near the palace, or in one of the nearby places (Kingston-upon-Thames, or Twickenham, or Richmond-upon-Thames). All of these are connected to the palace by bus, and then you can get back to your condo via London Underground (Tube) or train. Of the three, Richmond is my favourite. It's the last stop on the District Line of the Tube and would be your shortest ride home.

Final suggestion: If you are at Westminster Abbey as planned, check out St. Margaret's Church and the Jewel House while you're there. (Go into St. Margaret's; Jewel House you can go in, small admission charge, but if you are pressed for time just have a look at the outside.) I thought the interpretive signage at Jewel House was good because it shows how the cathedral and the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament building now) used to relate to each other when all the walls were still standing and there was no highway cutting the site in two. Inside St. Margaret's there is a particularly good memorial to a Tudor "Beefeater", and you will see how little the uniform has changed over the hundreds of years when you are at the Tower of London.

Hope you have a fantastic time!



Posted by
30 posts

We will be in London the same week. I discovered that Parliament is in recess that week and so you can purchase tickets for a 90 minute guided tour if you are interested. I am looking forward to it.