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London and side trips

I plan on staying in london from sept 2 thru the 6th. I do arrive on the 2nd at noon. I have been to london before so a have a basic lay of the land. My plan is after we (wife and i) check (at LSE) in is to do the london eye and the walk to traflger square. Head back and hit the British Library. Get to bed early and get up early take the hop off hop on bus tour and hit some of the tourist sites...tower of london, st pauls, british portrait museum, changing of the guard at buckingham.
On sept 4th,
This is where i am not sure, i would like to head outside the city to bath or maybe stone headge, is it possible to do both the same day?

On the 5th, and the morning of the 6th
I have left open, any sugestions? I know the wife will want to hit Herrods to do some shopping. Not hig on my list but there it is.

I plan on leaving on the train to Paris on the afternoon of the 6th. I could leave a day earlier if needed.


Posted by
1063 posts

" I know the wife will want to hit Herrods to do some shopping." :-)
I've always called it Horrids. :-)

Posted by
2239 posts

On our first trip to Europe (this goes way back), we spent two weeks in London and did six or seven day trips. One of them was this: We took an early train to Bath and spent the morning there. We had enough time to tour the Roman Baths and abbey, walk around a most of the town. and have lunch. We rented a car there and left early afternoon for Glastonbury, and spent maybe an hour or so there -- just enough to see the highlights. From there we drove to Stonehenge, arriving late afternoon. It really doesn't take long to see it; we probably spent less than an hour there. Then we drove to Salisbury and toured the cathedral and not much else. It was a long day and kind of expensive since we paid for a train ticket and rented a car on the same day (we didn't want to have to drive out of London). But it was one of our favorite days of the trip. Of course, I wished we could have had more time in Bath, but I was happy we got to see it. I wouldn't want a whole trip with days like that, but an occasional packed day like that is fun and worth it, IMHO.

Posted by
5490 posts

I would just focus on Bath, particularly if you have had a manic 2 days beforehand with no time to get over jet lag. Go by train from London Paddington in c 1.5 hours. It will be expensive if you travel before 9.30am.

As already mentioned, Stonehenge was built for car access, not public transport, as Salisbury rail station is 10 miles away! There is a bus service that links the rail station and Stonehenge that takes 30 minutes each way. They recommend a short 2 hour or half day tour, so you need to work out if you have time to do this and Bath. There is lots of great independent shopping in Bath, so I would make a day of that if I were doing the day trip.

Most Brits these days consider Selfridges on Oxford Street to be THE store to visit, not Harrods. Both have great food halls.

There are some great walking tours of London if you had enough time on the 6th.

Posted by
3 posts

I have done Bath and Stonehenge in one day twice.

The first time we took a motor coach tour with a large group and a guide. There are several companies that leave from several of the major hotels every morning.

The second time we opted to hire a driver from International Friends (recommended by Rick Steves Book). He took us around to both Bath and Stonehenge and we didn't have to deal with a large group and could make our own schedule. We could have even made Windsor Castle that day (the driver offered) but we were too jet lagged and opted to return to our hotel. International Friends also do small group tours that I believe I remember offered Bath-Stonehenge tours.

Stonehenge is really a must see in m book but it is a short visit so if you are going to the trouble of getting out of London you probably would want to add on Bath or Windsor.

Posted by
171 posts

Contrary to what most have said, I would encourage you to stay in London. You seem to have plans for only one day in London which is a very short time to spend seeing much in a city as large as London. Here is just one walk you might consider. Visit the Tower as your first stop on Sept 4th and after you visit the Tower, walk across the Tower Bridge. Visit Borough's Market (bring a camera), it is a food and people scene. Lots of people enjoy grabbing something there for lunch; you should too. Try Scrumpy! Stop at Southwark Cathedral, whose history dates back to before 1086. Then set off on foot down Bankside/Jubilee Walkway ...stop at the Anchor and have a half pint, right on the river with outside seating. (btw, all this walking is on a pedestrian only wide walkway) How about a quick visit to The Golden Hinde, a replica of the famous ship of Sir Francis Drake (c 1577) Walk by or stop in the Globe and also the Rose, two theaters from Shakespeare's time (the Globe is a recreation and does have tours and performances). Walk on to the Tate Modern.....not my fav but it is free and you are there so spend 1/2 hour looking around. Look at the Millenium bridge or walk over to St Paul's. Just past the Tate is the Bankside Gallery, which sells paintings, large and small, inexpensive and very expensive, lovely stuff and perhaps souvenir material. Stroll on. See the iconic OXO Building. and BlackFriars' Bridge. A little further look across the River to the gardens of the Inner and Middle Temples....the legal center on London at the Inns of Court. Haven't been.....try a tour from More on them later. Admire the elaborate lamp posts (with cod). As you get closer to the EYE, all kinds of things are happening on the Walkway, seemingly anchored by the SouthBank Center. Look down the River on the other side and enjoying the views as you get closer to Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament and, of course, Big Ben (we know, the bell is Ben, the tower is really the Queen Elizabeth Tower). Ride the Eye or cross the bridge and 1. stop at St Stephen's Tavern Pub, serving real ale and right on Bridge St 2. get on a boat running back up to the Tower so you can see it all from the water, 3.go on to Westminster Abbey, 4 take a pre-arranged tour of the Houses of Parliament,

For heaven's sake, take some London walks. They are very inexpensive, they have a full and amazing schedule, you don't have to reserve, just pick what you want and show up at the meeting spot AND they cover small areas giving you a view you would never have otherwise I love illegal London (the Inns of Court), Old Westminster and the City.

Stay in London and get to know it.

Posted by
6272 posts

While the better half is shopping at Harrod's you could enjoy walking around the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Feed the ducks.
Or walk a bit farther to either the VA, Science or Natural History museums. Or wait patiently in the food halls while she spends some money and then explore the above sites together. Personally I'd investigate taking the London Walks weekend tour to either Stonehenge or Bath. Nice, organized, informative and cost affective way to see them. If you arranged your schedule that way you'd have more time to appreciate London and take your time seeing the Tower, St Paul's, the changing of the Guard and the National Gallery. Would even be able to see Westminster Abbey and visit one of the wonderful markets of London.

Posted by
10344 posts

I like the last 2 posts. Just because a day-trip might be physically possible doesn't automatically mean it's a good idea to recommend to someone else.
There should be a balanced judgment given here, IMO, and with more than one viewpoint expressed.
And IMO there is nothing wrong with giving a candid opinion, based on judgment and experience, that says that just because someone can think up physically possible daytrip, that it's necessarily a good thing for them to do, given their other options on how to use up their energy and money on a trip.
There's so much to be seen in London on a very short trip.

Posted by
100 posts

You have Sept 2 and 3 well planned...for the 4th and 5th there's certainly enough major sites left to fill one day, but I strongly recommend the Evan-Evans bus daytrip to Windsor Castle/Bath/Stonehenge. Why drive when someone else will do it and tell you what you're seeing??

As for the other must-do's and must-see's in London, I'm sure you'll also walk by Picadilly Circus, Big Ben, Covent Garden. Westminster Abbey is an essential tour! If you like military history there's the Churchill War Rooms and the Imperial War Museum south of the river. Everyone raves about the British Museum but to me it has one problem: there's nothing British about it! I happen to be a big fan of the Royal Mews...a worthwhile hour tour, right next to Buckingham Palace.

While your wife shops, you can talk a walk to Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens and see Royal Albert Hall and the memorial to Prince Albert across from it.

And if you like beer, consider taking a cab to Chiswick and the tour at Fullers samples!


Posted by
2906 posts

On the 5th, see Westminster Abbey and the British Museum; two of the essential sights in London besides the Tower Of London.

You mentioned the "British Portrait Museum" in your original post. I believe you are thinking of the National Portrait Gallery. It is located at St. Martin's Place, off Trafalgar Square, adjoining the National Gallery, which is also a great place to spend an afternoon. National Portrait Gallery's website is here:

Look at the website www.walks for the London Walks company. They have day trips to Stonehenge and many other locations. They also give interesting guided walking tours of different sections of London.

Take a day trip out to Windsor Castle. Not far by train. Spectacular! Well worth the short trip by train. Also a short train ride away is Hampton Court Palace, which at one time belonged to Henry the 8th. At one time, Windsor belonged to him, too. He is buried there, in St. George's Chapel. Don't know how much you are into British history, but these are two great day trips.