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Itinerary for London

London is coming at the end of a 2 week tour-de-force through the UK. Soliciting feedback on our final three nights...

Day 1 (Thursday):

12:30 Arrive from York at Kings Cross Station and take tube to Bayswater Station (lodgings)
13:30 Drop bags at lodgings and take tube back to Tottenham Road Station / TKTS to buy tickets for play
14:30 Take hop on hop off bus tour
17:30 Dinner somewhere near play house and see play afterwards

Day 2 (Friday):

09:00 Tower of London Tour (pre-purchase tickets? skip the queue?)
12:00 Lunch near tower (St. Katherine Docks/Burough market)
14:00 Long walk past monument / across Southwark bridge / past Globe / across Millennium bridge / past St. Paul's to British Museum area (just outside photo ops - I know we're probably missing a treat with St. Paul's)
15:30 A little shopping near British Museum (seems to be a shopping district to the west
17:30 Enter British Museum (have dinner - advance reservations - at Great Court restaurant) - tour Museum until close at 20:30

Day 3 (Saturday):

08:00 Be in line at Westminster Abbey for 08:30 entrance (pre-purchase tickets?)
10:00 Go to Wellington Barracks to watch the new guard form up - after they leave walk across St. James Park - see the horse guard and the end of the ceremony at St. James
12:00 Lunch in Westminster Area
14:00 Churchill War Rooms (pre-purchase tickets?)
16:00 Walk up Westminster past Big Ben, to Trafalgar Square and St. Martin in the Fields
19:00 Dinner someplace nice (recommendations?)

Day 4 (Sunday):

Depart early from Paddington to LHR for flight home

Posted by
11929 posts

I would pre-book entrance to Westminster Abbey to be sure of getting in early without a long wait in the queue. The opening time on weekdays is 9:30 (9:00 on Saturdays).

You can book on the official site here:

https://www.westminster-abbey.org/

They offer 2-hour long slots for entry; you came in anytime during that 2-hour period and stay as long as you like. But it gets more crowded as the day goes on, so I suggest booking the 9:30 to 11:30 entrance time, and arriving there to queue by 9:15 (we went earlier and were near the front of the line, which was nice).

We added a visit to the Queen’s Jubilee Galleries upstairs which was well worth it.

As Londoners that looks a great albeit rather hectic 3 days!!

What are your food preferences and we can suggest a number of quality restaurants? We've worked in central London in retail and restaurant property for over 20 years so we like to think we have some stop tips!

Paul & Nicki

Posted by
8 posts

I should identify that I'm traveling with my wife and two adult children (23 and 21). We like most things. My wife is the pickiest and doesn't like sushi and is only ambivalent about Indian. Something classically British would be great, but not essential. As it is our last night, I'm thinking Michelin star level places, but lesser-known gems are always welcome.

I should have also added that we are traveling in late May (these are the last 4 days of May). We'll have breakfasts sorted easily enough. I'd love recommendations for:

  1. Some place good in the west end near the theatres that understands how to get you finished in time for your play.
  2. Confirmation of The Dickens Inn (St. Katherine Dock) for lunch (or recommended alternatives)
  3. A nice lunch place in the Westminster area
  4. A nice dinner place (above reference last night in town) either in Westminster area or better towards our lodging which is just north of the west end of Hyde Park (Kensington?)

Also, if there are sights along the way from Tower of London to British Museum that I've missed, please mention them and I would love confirmation that there is interesting shopping in that area.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Posted by
18158 posts

There's a very nice ceramics gallery across the street from the British Museum. It's Contemporary Ceramics at 63 Great Russell Street.

You definitely need to pre-purchase tickets for the Churchill War Rooms, but I don't think you've allowed enough time there. The situation is this: The sight is a combination of the underground rooms used for wartime planning, etc., and the modern Churchill Museum. The planning rooms are nothing much to look at and in my view are seriously not worth the quite high admission fee. The Churchill Museum section is very good for those interested in Churchill's life and the war years. I really enjoyed that part. I believe I spent more than four hours at the sight in total. Crowding doesn't really affect your ability to see the displays in either section, but it will slow your progress through both sections. I'd recommend either allowing considerably more time (if you have a real interest) or skipping the whole thing (if you do not).

The British Museum is a monstrous place. Three hours for dinner and the museum will allow you to see very little of it, so spend time on the museum website in advance to decide what few sections you are most interested in. Otherwise, you can waste a lot of time just meandering from one section to another without seeing much of anything. During the daytime the museum is shockingly crowded; I hope it is better at night. The worst area seems to be the Egyptian Galleries.

You can take a look at the TKTS website early in the day to see what was available, at least as of the morning. I assume plays don't get added later in the day. Do note the prices; a lot of the things listed are at full price. Arriving in the afternoon as you are may mean slim pickings. I never got to the booth early in the afternoon, but there was nothing much available at a discount late in the afternoon. Perhaps the odds are better since you're traveling in May,. Vacation time is precious, and the best-reviewed plays seem to sell out before curtain time, at least in August/September (when I visited London in 2017-2019). If I'm going to pay full price, I see no reason to waste time going to the TKTS booth

Google Maps gives a couple of proposed walking routes between the Tower of London and the British Museum. Smithfield Market is not too far north of the northern path.

I have taken a lot of London Walks and enjoyed them all. Some are themed; others introduce you to a specific neighborhood. They are great spur-of-the-moment activities because you just show up at the designated Underground Station and pay the £10 fee. The schedule of walks can be found here: https://www.walks.com/. Since you're traveling in May, you'll have to use the calendar on the website. The downloadable calendar in .pdf form is for the winter.

Posted by
5520 posts

A few thoughts about the 3 day itinerary.

Why are you going to the Tottenham Square Station in order to walk to the TKTS booth? Both Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square stations are closer.

Use the tfl.gov.uk website. Helps plan routes and will tell you if tube lines are disrupted.

Depending on your Bayswater Area Accommodation location you may choose to use the Queensway station and the Central Line. If you use Bayswater and the District and Circle line trains make note that on weekends there is always maintenance occurring on those lines.

Personally I’d skip the Hop On Hop Off bus tour because of the traffic grid lock but if that’s your travel preference so be it.

Instead I would consider either walking from the TKTS booth past the National Gallery to Trafalgar Square and walking over to Covent Garden to get lunch or use your Oyster card and take the 5 minute tube ride from Leicester Square to Green Park Station. Exit, and stroll through Green Park to Buckingham Palace.

If walkers from the Palace stroll along the Mall to Trafalgar Square then down Whitehall to the Banqueting House. Tour. Then dinner and theatre.

Yes near the British Museum is the Brunswick Center but what are you shopping for?

Why not experience Selfridges? 15 minutes via tube from Tottenham Court Road Station.

I add seeing Leadenhall Market Place to your meanderings near St Paul’s. It’s next to the Gherkin and is the last glass covered market in London. Trust me you can’t miss the Gherkin. You can even see it from the Tower of London.

Now I’m really confused by your asking for a restaurant near where you are staying which I thought was the Bayswater neighborhood. Then you mention Kensington. Are you referencing ( asking) for a restaurant in that neighborhood?!

With your Oyster cards and the Tube you can go anywhere. Thus my recommends for a nice meal on your final night would be:

Tudkin which is Malaysian and is within walking distance of Paddington Station. It’s small and reservations are needed.

Brawn or Brat n Shoreditch. Brawn is the Small plates concept. Two stories. Pricey. Reservations.
Brat is grilled food highlighting fish. Pricey. Reservations.

Check the London Eater website for places to dine. I find a new spot to dine on every trip by researching it.

Lastly in the Westminster area why not experience Strutton Ground Market? Google and see if it would be of interest to your family.

Great city. Walk it. Enjoy it.

Posted by
2643 posts

I would allow at least 5 hours to tour the British Museum

Posted by
176 posts

Hi,

For Friday, I’d make the following suggestions:

  • walk across Tower Bridge and then west to Borough Market for lunch (as opposed to St Katharine Docks)
  • After lunch proceed west past the Globe to cross Millenium Bridge as you’ve stated, then you can carry on with your walk which I’m guessing will take you down Fleet Street - lots of interesting history and architecture there, especially the Inns of Court
  • at the conclusion of your walk, head straight for the British Museum. As others have said, it’s huge. When you say shopping area to the west of the museum, I’m guessing you mean Oxford Street which is absolutely not worth your time - it is truly one of the worst places in London in terms of crowds and commercialism. Nothing you can’t see back in the US. If you really want to do something of the shopping variety in that area, I suggest Liberty which is a classic department store in a lovely building with a haberdashery department that is fun to explore to see the Liberty fabrics. But it will take you way past the British Museum so you’d need to backtrack. Honestly I’d just skip the shopping though if I’ve misunderstood your plans on that do clarify!

For dinners, my go-to spot for dinners in the West End/near Trafalgar Square is Maiden Lane which has a number of options: Polpo Covent Garden (Venetian), a tapas place, a wine bar, Rules (an historic London restaurant), and some others. I’ve had a good pre-theatre meal at Balthazar. There are a couple Barrafina locations (trendy tapas spot) in that vicinity. Often though I just eat in Soho which is usually convenient enough to the theatre and has more exciting restaurants. Some that might fit the bill for a special occasion: Social Eating House, Sussex, Lina Stores (the restaurant, not the deli), Dean Street Townhouse....for something nearer to Bayswater, The Shed is supposed to be good (I’ve eaten at one of their sister restaurants but not The Shed itself).

Posted by
120 posts

Pre book everything. Seriously.

British museum? Download Rick’s VERY high level tour of. I used it and I hit all the highlights. It was great and tidy. There’s so much there. Well worth a visit. 1 hour for dinner and 2 hours for Rick’s audio guide will be fine.

Eat at Borough Market. It’s special.

You’re not leaving yourself enough time at the Tower Of London. If you want to see the whole “castle” and see the gems and see the private buildings and see the Crown Jewels and do a beefeater tour (you get the idea), 3 hours may not cut it. I’ve seen the line for the Crown Jewels be an hour long. Two hours at the Tower is just enough time to get in, see the perimeter through the suggested tour route and maybe sneak into one of the buildings. That’s it. Throw a beefeater tour on top and you’re at 3 hours.

Funky shopping in Camden town. Out of your way though.

Churchill War Rooms absolutely necessitate a prebooking. You won’t ever get in otherwise with your schedule. Know that the space is cramped and there is lots of foot traffic down there. Expect to have a slow go and you won’t be able to take it all in within 2 hours. Too crowded.

Lunch at Borough Market is 45 minutes. Tops. Unless you want to explore. And that’s fun too.

You have time after lunch for St Paul’s unless shopping is super important. You can do the church and the catacombs in 90 minutes. No problem.

Posted by
1680 posts

Opinions always vary, but for me Tower of London deserves 5-6 hours.

3 hours for British Museum is pretty short as well. I'd study up in advance and prioritize what to see. Since you're walking past St Paul's on the way to the museum, you may want to look into the Museum of London instead. It doesn't get the love that the British Museum gets but we enjoyed it more.

Check out London Walks for a tour of Westminster Abbey. I really enjoyed the way our guide brought the history to life.

Definitely prepurchase for the War Rooms. It wasn't on our priority list but we had some free time and thought we'd check it out. There were 2 lines. One long line to get in and an even longer line to buy tickets for the privilege of standing in the other line.