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London Jan 1- 6 Itinerary Help Please!

I've been struggling trying to tighten up our itinerary for a trip to London the first week of January (coming over by train from Paris). We are a family of four with kids ages 11 and 15. We are staying near the Gloucaster tube. Can folks advise on the below?

In particular wondering when would be a good time to fit in tea at the Wolseley, and whether British Museum and Westminster Abbey is worth it (especially for kids who aren't strong on history, religion or architecture). Also wondering if we should do Tower of London in the afternoon of the day we are seeing Wicked in the West End (as opposed to doing Tower of London in the morning. Since the two are in the same area - seems to make more sense to do Tower of London in the afternoon but am wondering about the crowds). And please feel free to suggest other things to do if you notice lag time in the schedule.

Sunday January 1 - arrive in the am, do the London Eye and a holiday lights bus in the evening?

Monday January 2 - Hyde Park Winter Wonderland - what else would be good this day - should we do the winter wonderland in the evening? We could do tea at the Wolseley in the afternoon but just seems awkward to eat before going over to the winter wonderland, where there will also be a lot of food to try.

Tuesday January 3 - We have tickets to see Wicked in the evening - 7:30 pm. Does it make sense to visit Tower of London in the afternoon instead of the morning for efficiency? (was originally going to do Tower of London in the morning, but now rethinking it)

Wednesday January 4 - Churchill war rooms. Should we combine with Westminster Abbey and maybe book a private London Walks tour?

Thursday January 5 - Harry Potter at Warner Bros

Friday January 6 - fly home (California)

Posted by
6670 posts

The Tower and the West End are on opposite ends of central London. I'd suggest the Tower in the morning, when it should be less crowded, leaving you the rest of the day for whatever you want until Wicked starts. Maybe you could check out Tower Bridge and/or take a boat ride back to the western part of the city.

Be flexible about the London Eye because you'll want good weather if possible.

If your kids "aren't strong on history, religion, or architecture," Westminster Abbey may be lost on them. It has a great deal of all three. On the other hand, it might be the best possible place for them to discover what's fascinating and inspiring about those subjects. Maybe they'll discover an interest in one of them. But you know them best.

Posted by
2599 posts

We took a London Walks tour of British Museum and found it was a really good way to see the highlights. It was about 2 hours long which I would think would be a good length of time for your kids.

We spent a long time in Westminster Abbey but am less convinced about it for kids. It tends to be crowded. We took a tour which was definitely worthwhile but might be less appealing to your kids. One thought I had was attend an Evensong service. We did this at St Paul’s. You get enjoy the music and worship and take in the church. In any case, I would not do Churchill rooms and a tour of Westminster abbey the same day with kids.

One museum we really liked was the London Museum. I think it is pretty child friendly too.

Posted by
27447 posts

The British Museum tends to be massively crowded these days, especially on weekends and when kids are out of school. Free museum = great family activity. It really is a wonderful place; I just want you to be prepared for the mob scene.

Posted by
31 posts

I agree with Dick from Olympia. Your boys will remember the exposure to the historical things you show them as they get older. There is a lot to see in the Churchill War Rooms, its rather visual and I think they would find it interesting. I went with my Mother, and it was very relevant to her, and we liked hearing the stories of the Women who worked there during WWII. If the Enigma Machine is on view make sure to see it. I was fascinated to see how small it is.
I see you arrive on New Years day, I think there is a New Years Day parade. The Hop on Hop off Bus is a great way to get an idea of the layout of London. The tickets last 24 hours - my Niece and I got off at the Tower of London, so that is handy. The bus will probably go by the sights you plan to see. And its fun to sit on the top! As you wander towards your Theater, Covent Garden is fun, and their Christmas decorations are beautiful. There is often a great performance, ie tumblers or acrobats etc, loads of fun to watch (there is a designated spot in the main area). The Transport Museum (in Covent Garden) might be fun if the boys like trains and such. Their gift shop is a nice place to pick up little gifts.
London Walks is spectacular, I've enjoyed all I've been on, I hope yours will be great.
Have fun

Posted by
344 posts

I do t want to sound pedantic, but in the UK it’s important that you use the correct name of the tube station your hotel is near - ie ‘Gloucester Road’, not just ‘Gloucester’, and similar for ‘Liverpool Street’ not ‘Liverpool’. Gloucester and Liverpool are both large cities elsewhere in England, and I once had to interrupt someone giving directions to an American who was asking how to get to Liverpool and was being sent to the city of Liverpool, not to Liverpool Street station as I realised they meant!

Posted by
15717 posts

On Jan 2, you are close to Harrods and you might want to go in to see this huge store with all the decorations. Also within walking distance of your hotels, and on the way to Winter Wonderland, is Museum Row.....Natural History museum, Science museum, V & A museum.

On Jan 3.....Tower of London in the morning. Possible stop at Hamley's on Piccadilly, tea at the Wolesley, Wicked.

Forget the British Museum and Westminster Abbey if your kids would be bored and if they are not interested in history, religion or architecture. Are you sure they wouldn't be bored with the Churchill War Rooms? That being said, a lot of famous people are buried inside Westminster Abbey which the kids might find interesting.

London Walks offers a Harry Potter filming locations walking tour in London but on Saturdays. This might be a good one if you want to book a private tour.

Posted by
4482 posts

I think kids would enjoy the British Museum-mummies, Rosetta stone that hopefully they will study in school, large Assyrian lion statues. I took our daughter there when she was 4. I would leave out Westminster Abbey.

Posted by
6822 posts

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland was very busy the times we’ve walked through it. When you go, select a spot you all can meet in case you get split up. How long you’re there might be determined by the weather and temperatures. I doubt you’ll be there more than a couple hours. In addition to the displays at Harrod’s, Selfriges has had nice window displays. At night you could also walk down Oxford street to Regent St., to Carnaby St. to see the lights and people watch. Liberty is nice to walk into while at Carnaby St. You could end at Piccadilly Circus.

Since you intend on visiting the Wolseley, Fortum & Mason normally has nice Christmas displays. Nearby is the famous Paxton & Whitfield cheese shop. It holds the Royal Warrant for cheeses. Also nearby is Burlington Arcade. It’s ice to walk through.

Since somebody is a Harry Potter (HP) fan, maybe visit Leadenhall Market. It stood in for Diagonal Alley in the first movie. While in that part of town, get free tickets to the Sky Garden. There are some great views of the city from it. A touristy HP platform 9 3/4 is at Kings Cross station if you happen to be near it.

Posted by
1549 posts

We insisted our kids invest time into researching what they found interesting in the effort to insure they had influence on the itinerary. We made clear their research efforts would be incorporated into the trip itinerary and were rewarded with their findings. Our youngest is a "foodie" who located several interesting restaurants we would have not considered. One was a huge success, the other not so much, but their "lets give it a try" mentality helped create a "nothing ventured, nothing gained" attitude for later trips. Our oldest focused on "tea, quilts and vintage shops", all representing shared interests within our family. She helped weave into the daily itinerary several stops within a few blocks of where we were already going in order to check out these interests. We had great fun checking out these places and found the shop owners quite engaging (leading to a great pub recommendation).
So toss the kids into the research mix and use a base of common daily family interests to explore the same in London.

Posted by
37 posts

Thank you everyone!

I see a suggestion to do the Wolseley on Tuesday January 3 - but it feels like it makes a lot more sense to add the Wolseley on Wednesday January 4, where the only thing we currently have planned is the Churchill War Rooms (and maybe Westminster Abbey but prob not). Also the Wolseley seems on the map to not be that far from the Churchill War Rooms. Do others agree?

Posted by
6822 posts

The Wolsey is just under a mile from the Churchill War rooms with Westminster Abbey 2/10 of a mile further. We only list the things we want to do. We do them depending on the weather, so keep your plans fluid.