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London - help with 2 day itinerary in July

Looking for itinerary help for two days (Saturday to Monday) in London in July 2020. We are a family of 5 (kids age 16,14 and 11) from the US. We land in Heathrow and have a two night stay in an Air BnB booked for Kensington. I am sure we will be tired when we arrive but would like to fit in as much as we can. Kids would love to see the London Eye & Buckingham. We may split up the family and take my youngest to Warner Bros studio to see Harry Potter tour as she is a fan, while the older two children soak up London. Any travel tips would be much appreciated.

Posted by
8815 posts

Get the RS London guide book. Very practical and informative for first time visitors.

Use the search engine on this website.

Besides Harry Potter, the Eye and the Palace what are other interests?

Review all the London Walks.

London Theatre is fantastic. 1/2 ticket booth is Leicester Square is worth investigating for Same day tickets.

Theatre is a great night out with family. Musical, drama or comedy. As your dates draw closer check here:

Street markets will be of interest. Portobello on a Saturday is quite the spectacle. Camden Lock market and The Stalls. Spitafields is also fun. Truly think all would enjoy wandering about Brick Lane too. Borough market for food stalls. Research:

Tower Bridge Experience if no one has a fear of heights.

London Olympics tours.
Thames River Cruise
Horniman Museum
Museum of Water and Steam

Posted by
1329 posts

While I love theatre, Sunday is pretty much a dark day for most shows.

First, I’d make sure you can drop the luggage off at the Air BNB early.

Harry Potter needs to be booked early. If the other kids don’t want to go, that’s fine, just let them know they can’t change their minds.

Buckingham Palace won’t be open, so a walk by won’t take too long.

I’d leave the London Eye decision for the weather.

Things close early on Sunday so if there are shopping plans keep that in mind.

Posted by
1097 posts

I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan. That being said, I’m not sure I would dedicate an entire day out of two to visit the studios, especially since it is everyone’s first trip to London. (The studios are north of the city and require a train and then a bus ride.) There are so many amazing attractions in London proper that you can’t possibly begin to even remotely scratch the surface in two days. Have you seen Rick’s recommended Westminster walk? Kids enjoy Westminster Abby, walking past the Prime Minister‘s house, and then ending at Buckingham palace. I would skip the Churchhill war rooms unless they have a deep level WWII interest. kids also absolutely love the Tower of London. I personally think the London eye is exceptionally boring. It is a very slow enclosed ferris wheel and you are stuck on it until you get back to the bottom. But I do understand when kids have their minds set on doing something.

Posted by
847 posts

First thing you should do is make sure you can drop your bags at your B&B when you arrive. If you either arrive late or can't drop your bags then you don't have "2 days" in London, you have only 1.

Maybe you could bring your daughter to a few of the Harry Potter sites in central London - not as 'good' perhaps as the studio tour but less time . Here are some suggestions -

With max one and a half days you really don't have time to go "into" much of anything but fortunately you can "see" so much, soak up so much London, just by walking around. I also wouldn't book organized tours - those also take more time than seeing things on your own and by doing it on your own you see what YOU want to see. All the major guide books (Rick's is good) have 'walking tour' suggestions you can adapt to what you want. And how much walking your family is able to do.

Starting in Kensington walk through Kensington Garden/Hyde Park over to (and through) Wellington Arch which is where the guards and horses pass on their way to Buckingham Palace. No you probably won't run into them but it's the route they take. You'll see Buckingham Palace (do not bother to wait around for the changing of the guard, not worth the time, it probably won't fit with your time frame anyway). Then you'll walk through St James Park, London's prettiest (I think). Some great water birds in/around the lake. The "mall" is the red street just beside St James Park, goes through Admirality Arch into Trafalgar Square - most impressive in London (I think) with Nelson's column surrounded by giant lion statues, fountains, with the National Gallery on one side, St Martin's in the Field Church on another (which many churches in America were based on). This is about a 3 mile walk so far.

From there you can wander through atmospheric streets full of pubs to Covent Garden (site of opening scene in My Fair Lady) with several markets (more touristy than veggies or flowers as back in the day, but fun to wander through). From there walk along the Strand past the Royal Courts of Justice, several historic churches and buildings, "The George" (very British pub where Shakespeare apparently went), next door is the original Twinnings tea building. Just past there is the entrance to "the city" (so far you were in "Westminster". It's called Temple Bar and is marked by a statue of a griffin. It's where the term 'passing the bar' for lawyers comes from. Almost opposite this is Middle Temple Lane which leads to "Temple Inn" with the round church, middle temple hall, etc. Very old London, beautiful architecture. Obviously would mean more if you read up on it.

Continuing east in less than a mile you'll come to St Paul's Cathedral. Turn right beside St Paul's to cross Millennial Bridge , next to which is Shakespear's Globe Theater. You are now on the south bank of the Thames. Nice riverside walk. Continue east and you'll come to Southwark Cathedral and right behind it, Borough Market, probably the best market in London. If you want to see Leadenhall Market (Harry Potter site, cool looking building but just a few sedate restaurants in it, ) then cross London Bridge (bridge itself is boring) and go north a few blocks. Otherwise continue on the south bank till you get to Tower Bridge - that's the one you've seen a million pictures of. Right next to the tower of London. If there is any site you should go "into" I would say it's the Tower of London.

This entire walk will be at least 5 or 6 miles depending on how many detours you take but it's very doable in a full day, or split it between your day and your half day. You'll need a map obviously to follow but this walk takes you past many iconic London sites. The only main thing you are missing is Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliment and London Eye, Depending on time either walk west along the south bank till you come to them or take the tube to the Westminster stop.

Posted by
598 posts

I agree with Kelly that the Tower of London is a great stop for all ages. You can spend most of the day there, but I'd also suggest the Museum of London which is near St. Paul's Cathedral. So if you split Isabel's walk into two days you could add the Museum of London as a detour when you get near St. Paul's. Particularly useful if it's raining. The Roman gallery is fabulous, but I was surprised by how interesting I found the prehistoric section.

Posted by
119 posts

If the youngest is a Potter fan then split off and take her there, the 20 minute train ride and shuttle bus are all part of the visitor experience, be certain to take the fast train from Euston station
and book the WB tickets well in advance , they sell quickly and July is school holidays.

I still like the London Eye, it was originally called the Millennium Wheel, needs a clear weather day ideally, large enclosed glass pods that you can walk around in, you are not strapped into a seat.
At night when illuminated the Eye is quite striking.

Buckingham Palace exterior is underwhelming in daytime , at night the exterior is illuminated, more interesting are the State Rooms, inner courtyard and rear grounds, but these are not open in July.

Green Park, the St James's area, the long avenue at Kensington Palace Gardens, are still lit by gas street lights, take an evening stroll through these.

A river boat ride would be good, a different view of London.

Ride the top deck of a public bus, don't bother with a hoho.

Posted by
31 posts

I would suggest the Eye and a cruise on the Thames River. It's fun for all ages and informative.

Buckingham is a tourist spectacle and in July will be mobbed with other tourists. I would skip that for more family friendly sights. A walk by Buckingham is just as nice. FYI...Harry Potter will be crowded as well. Get there early.