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London Itinerary - how to make it better?

Will be visiting London with family this summer staying at Kensington area. Hv been doing some research and would like to seek for advice how to make the itinerary better.

Mon: Arriving in the afternoon, Knightsbridge area

Tue: See Changing of the Guards & visit States Room at Buckingham Palace; walk around Westminister area to take photos of the landmarks; see 4 o'clock Parade at Horse Guards (how's this parade? pls advise)

Wed: Tower of London; Borough Market; Tower Bridge

Thu: Either Cambridge, or Oxford + Bicester Village

Fri: River Thames Cruise to and from Greenwich (mainly to see Meridian line); London Transport Museum, Convent Garden, British Museum (open till 2030)

Sat: Trafalgar Square / National Gallery / Picadilly Circus / Regent or Oxford Street / Soho / Leicester Square (mainly walk around & window shopping)

Sun: Chelsea Stadium Tour / Leaving

Seems there may be spare time on Tue & Wed, but busy on Fri & Sat. How to rearrange?
Have been thinking of another day trip to Stonehegne / WIndsor, but seems can't make it.

Comment & advice appreciated. Tks in advance.

Posted by
4674 posts

My personal suggestion, to make Fri and Sat easier, would be to see the Tower of London on Wednesday morning (Tower Bridge is nearby but not worth a huge amount of time), walk back along the river to Borough Market for lunch, and then go to Greenwich since you say you don't want to spend a lot of time in the museums there. You could save further time by coming back from Greenwich by train or DLR instead of going by boat both ways, which I don't think is particularly rewarding.

Posted by
17 posts

Tks Philip.

My plan to Tower Bridge originally include visiting the Exhibition and see through the Glass Floor, does it worth?
That's why i thought i may not hv enough time to go to Royal Observatory with last admission at 1630.
But if the Exhibition / Step inside isn't worth going then I''go to Greenwich after Borough Market as u suggest. Int his case, which way is faster? Going by boat or train or DLR?

Tks.

Posted by
644 posts

yan, basically your trip looks good, but I might suggest a few tweaks.

Tue: I wouldn't do CoG and HGP. If you don't mind crowds and waiting, do CoG, if you like smaller numbers and minimal waiting, do HGP. They are not the same, but even the much smaller HGP 'ceremony' is interesting to watch.

You could add in here a FREE visit to the Sky Garden in the 'walkie talkie' building. It's free but you must book online in advance. Note: Airport security rules apply, and dress code is smart casual, but well worth a visit for the views. If you book a table at one of the Restaurants, obviously the you pay for what you order. If you visit the Garden for free, you can still use the Sky Pod Bar without a reservation, but may not be given a table, no big deal if just having a coffee.

http://skygarden.london/

Wed: ToL at opening time to minimise crowds, walk over Tower Bridge and 0.5m along the South Bank to Borough Market. Getting there around midday for lunch, it will be super busy, it always is. So you basically have the afternoon free here. As per suggestion above, a River Taxi from Bankside (by BM) to Greenwich is a great idea if the weather is nice. If not nice, maybe drop the London Transport Museum in here, as Covent Garden isn't too far away from BM, walkable for sure.

You could add Vinopolis if doing the BTM, if the world of wine interests you.

http://vinopolis.co.uk/

Also, you're basically at Shakespeare's Globe here, so could take 30mins for a look.

Thu: Oxford/Bicester makes much more sense than Cambridge/Bicester. Bicester is just shopping, high priced clothes at reduced prices, but still not cheap imo.

Maybe forget Oxford/Bicester and do Windsor Castle instead, closer, cheaper to get too and ultimately more fun I'd say.

Fri: looks good, if moving either Greenwich or BTM to Weds.

Sat: looks good, TS, PC and LS are basically walk throughs taking 30min at most.

Sun: looks good.

All in all, one of the most sensibly planned trips I've seen on here.

Personally, I'd do the Tower Bridge glass floor and not go inside the Royal Observatory, you can still see the Meridian Line from outside, and there is a path in front where you can take pictures straddling the ML. The River Taxi will take a touch longer (30mins trip time by boat) than the DLR but all said and done, you talking a few minutes in it, and the RT is much more fun, and good value if you get a return ticket.

Posted by
6847 posts

You have planned your trip well, and I agree about your staying in Kensington area or Bayswater which is close by. Access to the Underground is great from there.

Your local itinerary is about hitting every tourist sight. I try to roll with the flow when visiting a large city, as my feet cannot always keep up with my schedule. Just learn quickly how to handle public transit and you can see so much more.

Posted by
17 posts

Tks all for your replies.

I'll study further for public transport arrangement, and also those new sites suggested by Mike.

By the way, Mike mentioned the Meridian Line can be seen from outside the Royal Observatory. In this case do we need to pay the entrance fee? Pls advise.

Tks.

Posted by
644 posts

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

Don't look at the photo's if you want to keep the surprise for when you visit.

...

Yan, if you're interested in seeing the 'museum' aspect of the Observatory, yes you need to pay to go in. If you're happy to stand 30 feet from the 'official' spot, and look through a fence, then no need to pay... which is what I did.

The Meridian Orb inside the fence...

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/407083253790134539/

Where you can take picture for FREE, you can see the Meridian Orb just behind the fence above....

https://geocass.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/dsc_0137.jpg

What you can see from outside the fence for FREE...

http://www.panoramio.com/photo_explorer#view=photo&position=21&with_photo_id=266929&order=date_desc&user=33966

Posted by
132 posts

I agree with others about the tower bridge and Greenwich. The bridge is worth seeing, but it does not take very long. It is fun to walk across and look out. We struggled to find things we were interested in at Greenwich, but everyone is different. We decided it wasn't worth paying to go into the museum to stand on the line on the ground that marks the Meridian when we could see it through the fence and you can tell where it would extend and you can walk across that. Some people would find it worth it though. We had planned for more time at Greenwich than we spent, so we ended up having a bit of free time that day and found a museum we hadn't planned on going to. I'd also take the boat there one way, then train back.

Also, I really enjoyed Horse Guards, but I like horses and pomp and circumstance. Some small children looked like they were getting bored, and my husband got antsy towards the end when we couldn't tell how much longer it was going to go. Overall, it was neat to see and I thought worth it. It also did not take a ton of time, maybe 45 minutes to an hour, and there is a lot in that area to see at the same time.

Posted by
2900 posts

You wrote, "Have been thinking of another day trip to Stonehenge / WIndsor, but seems can't make it."
In my opinion, Windsor Castle should be put somewhere on your schedule, and something else bumped. Windsor is truly great.

"Fri: River Thames Cruise to and from Greenwich (mainly to see Meridian line)"
If you are doing the trip just to see the Meridian Line, I would skip it. I would start out very early in the morning to make the train trip to Windsor. Hopefully you would arrive before the crowds get there. You can finish by lunchtime, then train back to London, and pick up your schedule with the things you had planned to do that afternoon. If the trip to Greenwich is important to you, you could do it that afternoon.

Personally, I like to spend more time in Windsor, walking around, not being in a rush to get back to London. But you seem to have a lot on your schedule you'd like to do.

Other days that have some time to fill are Tuesday and Wednesday. You may want to consider the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tours, for picture-taking purposes and an overview. Your ticket is good for 24 hours. During that time, you can hop off the bus anywhere you wish, take photos, hop back on the next bus that comes along. If you stay on for a full loop around the city, it takes two hours.

This is a good way to see all the sights in the city. Walking everywhere is great if you have the stamina, but sometimes your feet wear out after walking and standing for hours. Some people will chime in here (as they always do) and say "Oh, but the bus tours get stuck in traffic." Yes, that's true. London traffic often comes to a stand-still. But it just gives you longer to sit and admire the buildings. Traffic does move on.

For just transportation, not a narrated tour, the ordinary city bus lines and tube are the way to go.

The HOHO bus tour includes a ticket for a ride on the river on a riverboat. Just a sightseeing tour, with narration, to see the sights from the water.

The HOHO bus is a good way for tourists to make sure they've "seen it all", a drive by of all the sights, even the ones they do not wish to visit and go inside. Good photo opportunities, as you are up higher than just standing on street level. You can also see into some of the private gardens that are behind the walls of some expensive townhouses.

Posted by
2900 posts

You also mentioned Stonehenge. If you are really wanting to see it, the best way is with the tour company London Walks. Here's their website:
http://www.walks.com/Standalone/Stonehenge__Salisbury_Tour/default.aspx

Note they only go on certain days.

You know Stonehenge is a good distance from London, right? So you would devote a good bit of time to getting there and getting back.

London Walks has a trip to Oxford, and a trip to Cambridge. These trips with a guide are possibly the easiest way for you to do those two locations. Because you have a guide, you will have an organized walk around, with a narration of what you are seeing.

Posted by
40 posts

I agree with Rebecca. Find a way to see Windsor Castle. It is better than Buckingham Palace.
After you arrive Monday, spend the evening walking around Buckingham Palace and Green Park/St. James Park. This will help reset your body clock and reduce jetlag. Then you can skip further touring of the Palace. Changing of the Guard is a letdown for the amount of time that it takes in the middle of the day.

You'll want to do Westminster Abbey and perhaps the Churchill War Rooms.
Your Saturday is not full since the only true sight is the National Gallery. Would be easy to add War Rooms here or to do the Gallery early and run over to see Guard Changing about 10:15.