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London itinerary planning

Hello - I'm planning a trip to london in mid-2021. I have a lot of sites I'd like to see and would like to "cluster" sites together to make the most of my time. Anyone have any suggestions of how to do this? For example, online maps or websites that will help me do this? I've thought about just printing out a map and marking the sites on that, but not sure that's the best way.

Thanks!

Posted by
2983 posts

You can play around with Google Maps to do that. It has a feature where you can mark favorite spots that you want to visit, and then save for future use offline. I'm sure other mapping sites have a similar feature.

Posted by
6699 posts

I like Here We Go maps for this purpose.

Additionally, you download the relevant area map (in this case, England) to your device, create your desired sites on top of it, and then when you are in situ, you have an offline map and walking directions so you can easily get around even without a roaming connection.

Posted by
19182 posts

London is probably too large to make it practical to print a map on an 8-1/2" x 11" piece of paper and mark it up. However, you can certainly try Googling tourist map of London and see whether there's something usable for your purpose.

You can buy a map of the city on Amazon.com or (probably) at a large book store if there's one in your area. If you know you won't want to work with a large map while you're actually on your trip, you may prefer to just go the electronic route rather than spending $10 on a map. I like to have both a printed map and an electronic one, but having an electronic map allows me to wait until I arrive in Europe and can (usually) get a free map from the tourist information office or my hotel.

For the electronic map, as suggested above, you can create a custom map with Google's My Maps feature. You'll need to set up a Google account if you don't already have one, I think, so you can save the map you've created and add to it as you continue to plan your trip. You'll definitely need the account if you want to build the map using a desktop or laptop computer and then have it available on the smartphone and/or tablet you travel with. I have built maps from scratch on the road, using a tablet computer, but it's easier to do it ahead of time on a desktop computer. Tweaks can be made via the tablet mid-trip, if desired.

One of our other posters started a thread about Google's My Maps back in 2019, for which I am very grateful, because I hadn't heard about it before:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tech-tips/directions-for-how-to-start-customizing-your-own-google-maps-fb81cadf-d3ab-438e-8c20-0760da6f6c8a

You may find the instructions in that thread not quite complete (or perhaps Google may have updated the user interface). I remember that I had to fiddle around with things a bit, but it wasn't terribly difficult. Just be prepared for the possibility of some trial-and-error at the beginning. If you Google Google My Maps you'll get lots of hits, one of which will probably get you over the hump if you run into a problem.

Posted by
5078 posts

The Rick Steves guidebooks (or also his ebooks) have handy maps that show major sights, which could help you determine places that are close to one another. Both the Great Britain and London-specific London books are worth considering.

The guidebooks also break down neighborhoods in London, so that could also help narrow down your planning.

Posted by
57 posts

Hi Dan,

You might consider looking at a Tube map and thinking about it that way. How many of the sites you are interested in are clustered around a particular stop? For example, from South Kensington you can see the V and A or Natural History Museum, walk up by Royal Albert Hall and into the Park or, instead, walk from the Museums to Harrod's. You probably want to do a day that offers a variety of sites both indoors and outdoors as well as stops for food. Another cluster might be centered around Bloomsbury - either Kings Cross or Russell Square station gets you: British Library's free gallery of "greatest hits," the British Museum, the Dickens Museum, Foundling Museum, Sir John Soane's House, a walk down Lamb's Conduit with Persephone Books, or maybe the new developments behind King's Cross for lunch? Sometimes you can find "tourist" maps produced by retailers that display all of their outlets as well as the major cultural attractions and transportation hubs. Some of these might be online. Enjoy!

Posted by
96 posts

Thanks for all of the great input!

Posted by
2101 posts

Try the website visitacity.com. I’ve used it for a few trips. It is pretty easy to figure out and gives you the map and Sights marked right in the screen. They have suggestions for sights and you can add your own in, like Your hotel, walking tours or restaurants. I also like that when you put in your hotel as the starting point every day, it lets you know the distance and time between each sight with options to walk, or public transport.

Posted by
3899 posts

I have the CityMaps2Go app and I love it for this reason - I can 'star' the sights I want to see and colour code them - restaurants, shopping, tourists sights, and where my room is located and mark public transport stops so they are easier to see. Then I can bring the map up and make sure I don't miss anything. I have the full up paid version - they have it for free every once in awhile. I've tried a few others - like pocket earth and maps.me, but I keep going back to CityMaps because it was the one I learned how to use first.

Posted by
1132 posts

To add to making the most of your time, I can suggest doing a walking tour with London Walks (walks.com). They take you on walks to famous sites and they take you through areas you would never know where there and explain what you are seeing. We always do walking tours and love the value.

Posted by
633 posts

You'll be surprised at how small the tourist part of London really is. One morning I woke up around 4:00 am with jet lag so decided to go for a walk. From our hotel near the British Museum I walked across the City to the Tower, along the Strand to Trafalgar Square, and back through the West End to the hotel. It took about 2 hours.

Posted by
5694 posts

London is my favorite city on the planet. Each and every visit always find something new to see and explore.

All good advice re: mapping.

For me personally I find it a very walkable city and with an Oyster Card to use on a bus, tube or overground train, very easy to navigate when you get tired. Get a pocket sized tube at a manned station ( harder to find ) but often the map is on the counter. Very useful for route planning. Also review Timeout magazine online. Often you’ll find out about events or places you’d not even considered seeing. Somewhere like the Mercato Mayfair food hall or the Painted Hall in Greenwich.

Besides visiting the must sees you might also consider such intriguing places as:

Leadenhall Market the last glass covered market in London. Easy stroll from the Tower of London. It’s adjacent to The Gherkin so great dichotomy of architecture.

St Dunstons in the East church garden is also an easy stroll from the Tower. Nice place to sit and reflect.

Check the Tower Bridge opening times while your are there. https://www.towerbridge.org.uk/lift-times

Maltby Market which is easy stroll from Tower Bridge and if looking for a traditional pub experience, stop at the Anchor Tap.

Don’t miss visiting Spitafields Market. Great booths and if there on a Friday it’s vinyl Friday. Heaven for LP lovers. https://oldspitalfieldsmarket.com/events/vinyl-market

Richmond Park. It’s huge. Very relaxing spot to counteract the urban sights and sounds of London. Lovely waterside stroll to Ham House. Then walk back and enjoy a pint and a meal the White Cross pub. From Paddington Station to Richmond Station is a 1/2 hour tube ride.

Could also tube to Warwick Avenue Station the walk about Little Venice or better yet tube to Hampstead and follow Flask and Well walks into the Hampstead Heath. If interested arrange for a tour of Highgate Cemetary.

Guess my point is once you’ve visited Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square explore outside the city boundaries. Appreciate the variety of neighborhoods.

I also must recommend a visit to the Museum of London. Helps you understand the evolution of the city you are visiting!

Great city and when travel is once again safe, please enjoy your visit there!

Posted by
3306 posts

What I’ve been doing is locating the places I want on Google maps, then saving them. When saved as a “want to go” place, you can add notes, like address, opening times, entrance fee, etc. After you’ve saved all the places you want to visit, it will be easy to see the clusters. Then so you don’t have to use data on your phone, save a map of the London area for offline use. The saved places will still show up. Take a screen shot of the clusters and you can print out a series of street maps, but I’ve found that with the saved places, I seldom use the printed copies. Also, by saving the places, you select the place you want to go next, then hit the directions button, and you’ll get directions to your next stop.

Posted by
1664 posts

hey hey dan
you've gotten so many great ways about the maps and what you can do.
here's some other info about things to do, places to go and ideas to ponder.
wowcher.co.uk it's like groupon here in the states. register and go from there (some 2 for 1)
walks.com guided walking tours of london and beyond
freetoursbyfoot.com
visitbrighton.com seaside resort about an hour train ride from london
daysoutguide.co.uk funlondontours.com thames river cruise (speedy fast or relaxing) if a theatre show, leicester square sells cheaper tickets (officiallondontheatre.com) to see what's showing
virginexperiencedays.co.uk under experience
afternoonteaonline.co.uk b-bakery.com does a big red bus tour around london, tea or gin. there is a map of where they go. if you're interested
ginjourney.com/uk if you like gin, i do and we did an evening tour with 6 tastings at different pubs with the pub's gin, about 10 of us in a van. stopped for dinner (you pay your own). it was great
walkersquay.com, londonwaterbus.com or jasons.co.uk are boat rides down regents canal.
stmartin-in-the-fields.org have lunch in a crypt
streetsensations.co.uk/markets map of the markets in london
changing of the guard at the horse guard parade. buckingham palace is jammed packed crazy to watch, we waited which was a site to see but after we walked to the stables, close by, which was much much quieter.
thecrazytourist.com/best things to do in london
the mayflower pub, near rotherhithe train station, learning history about it.
aladyinlondon.com: travel planning scroll down to popular posts.
london film museum, near covent garden. last year when pandemic hit, was "bond in motion" original collection of all james bond 007. don't know if it's still there, worth checking if you're a fan
so much to see in do in london, can't do it all, you'll be back. wear comfy shoes, how many days and what time of year. enjoy this great and fun city. we did
aloha

Posted by
6752 posts

We use a Tube map as suggested by another poster. Group the attractions/ museums/ historic sites in relation to tube stations. London is very easy to get around once you buy the Oyster card for the Tube and buses.

Posted by
579 posts

We used the app mapstr. Once we plugged in the places we wanted to see, it would alert us if we were close to one. I also love Citymapper for directions. It was very accurate!