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My London Itinerary! Does it Look Good or Not?

Hello Travelers, I am planning a 7 day trip to London for myself and my two friends who live in Northern England. I have spent about 4 months researching sites and times. Below is my final result, I wanted to have the opinion of seasoned London Travelers to tell me if it sounds like a good idea. The first day seems strenuous but I assure you I can handle it. I have opted to purchase the London Pass which will give me free access to all of the sites I have chosen and some additional benefits such as free and unlimited use of public transport. Also, I shall be utilizing the London Tube combined with a lot of walking to some destinations and the train from London to Windsor and Hampton Court. Anyone who has an opinion please give me your input! Thanks and Happy Travels!

Day 1- Westminster

• Westminster Abbey

• The Queen’s Gallery @ Buckingham Palace

• The Mall

• National Portrait Gallery and Trafalgar Square

• Covent Garden

• Whitehall

  • Possible Evening cruise down the Thames from Westminster to the Tower!

Day 2- The City and Southwark

• Tower of London

• Tower Bridge Exhibition

• Tate Modern Gallery

• St. Paul’s Cathedral

• Borough Market

Day 3- Bloomsbury and Westminster

• Harry Potter's Platform 9 ¾ @ King’s Cross Station

• British Museum

• Churchill War Rooms

• Houses of Parliament

Day 4- Side Trip/ Kensington and Westminster

• Hampton Court Palace

• Harrods for Shopping

• Evening ride on The London Eye

Day 5- Kensington

• Kensington Palace and Gardens

• Natural History Museum

• Victoria and Albert Museum

Day 6- Side Trip and Piccadilly Shopping

• Windsor Castle

• Return to London for Shopping over in Piccadilly

Day 7- Final Day

• Changing of the Guard @ Buckingham Palace

• Catch the train or plane to home or next destination

Posted by
2624 posts

I commend you for doing far more research for your visit than most posters who come here seeking advice. It seems you have really done your homework, and organized your days and areas of London very well! "My London Itinerary! Does it Look Good or Not?"--It is excellent. Probable best itinerary I've ever seen posted on this forum by someone coming here to ask advice on London.

Your first three days will be really busy, but that's how it has to be, to see a lot in a short period of time.

Day 4-After your return to London from Hampton Court, you may have some time on your hands in the afternoon. A walk-through of Harrods doesn't take all that long, unless you are truly shopping, making purchases, trying on clothing, etc. You may have time for one activity in the afternoon before your evening ride on the London Eye. Things not on your list you could add: Imperial War Museum or trip to Greenwich by boat.

Day 5: By far your most interesting item is the Victoria and Albert Museum. You could spend the entire afternoon here.

Day 6: After seeing Windsor Castle, you could spend some time walking around Windsor and Eton. Lots of places to eat lunch, walk across a bridge on the river, very interesting areas besides the castle.

Posted by
18 posts

Rebecca, thank you for commending me. Your suggestions are appreciated. As to Hampton Court and Windsor; I intend to immediately return to London after touring each. That way I will have the maximum amount of time the rest of the day for other activities and shopping at Harrods! I know Windsor is a wonderful town to visit. But, as Rick Steves says your Vacation time and dollar is important. I want to get the most experience I can out of each day. I have to keep in mind that hopefully one day I will get to return. If I do I will go back to those places and get the full town experience. Also, as to the Imperial War Museum and Greenwich; I originally planned to go to the IWM, but I was trying to minimize redundancy and shorten my itinerary to the things I definitely wanted to see, instead of mindlessly adding museums. Plus, I also had to consider how much time and effort it would take to get from one place to another. That goes for Greenwich as well. I would love to strattle the Prime Meridian but It will have to wait for later. Plus If I were to take that evening cruise, by the time I got to Greenwich the Observatory may be closed. Thanks Again Rebecca!

Posted by
18 posts

Thanks Ray, I knew that that day would be one of the biggest headaches to plan out and I know what I want to see. I think what I will do is to look through the museum's online guide and see what the essentials to see in the museum are, such as The Rosetta Stone, etc. I didn't want to use an entire valuable day at one museum. Thanks Ray!

Posted by
2624 posts

Vinnie, you are welcome! Glad to help! You are right; you should get the most out of your trip, and only you know what is top priority to you. Yes, I am sure you will return one day to London. I predict you will find London to be fascinating. Wishing you a great trip!

Posted by
18 posts

Rebecca, with not having been there yet, I already know that London is the Greatest City on Earth, in my opinion. I am really flattered that you found my itinerary the best that you have seen on London. That means a lot to a novice traveler like me. Thanks :)

Posted by
565 posts

It looks very well thought out. Just one word of advice, though: don't be upset if you don't get to everything on your list. There is a LOT of activity on your list and even the most energetic of us get insanely tired after a few days of whirlwind sightseeing. The British Museum can be very overwhelming and can have people pulling their hair out after a couple hours due to its sheer enormity. I have been in London twice for a total of twelve days and I still have never been to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Library, or the National Portrait Gallery. Be sure to add some downtime in a pub or two with a cold drink to just relax.

Posted by
18 posts

Emily! Thanks for your input. As to the energy required, that is why I made the first three days the busiest. Once I get there I want to do the tiring stuff first, that way once I do ware down after those three days, the rest of the sites and activities won't require as much effort and jumping. For example, on day four, if you look at it I am really only doing two things and I am mostly using transport for both. A long train ride to Hampton Court, a ride back, and just briskly strolling through Harrods and a calm ride on the London Eye. Also, on the first two days with being around Piccadilly and the hustle and bustle I personally asked Rick Steves and a London expert for some "break or leisure" ideas for within the hustle and bustle of that part of the city! I think maybe a nice cup of Tea at Fortnum and Masons or one of the pubs on Whitehall! I'll decide later! Thanks Emily!

Posted by
3895 posts

You may want to try and do one of the Yeoman Warder tours offered free at the Tower of London.
http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/stories/yeomanwarder
They last 60 min. We have been to the tower twice. Our first time (2008), we only had an hour before closing so basically saw the jewels and a very small bit of the rest. We decided last year to revisit, and got there about 10 min before a tour was going to start and joined in. Our warden was quite funny and we really enjoyed it. And we thought we'd only spend a few hours there - I think we were there at least 4 hours (actually, I just checked my time stamps on my photos and we were there almost 5 hours!). But we really went and saw everything, and did get caught up in a few lines...

After 4 visits to London (probably about 10 days all told) - I still haven't seen half of what is on your list! Every trip we hit the British Museum for a few hours and I still don't think we've seen the whole thing (but we do keep going back to the same exhibits), and the V&A you can kill another 3-4 hours there...

While over near Southwark, you may want to pop into Southwark Cathedral - we finally did it last year - about 25-30 min (or you can stay longer)...lovely...we did Southwark first, but just strolled along the waterfront over the Tower Bridge and to the Tower...

Posted by
18 posts

Nicole! I believe what I shall try and do is on the day I am going to the Tower, I shall get there early before they open. Rick Steves suggests going straight for the Crown Jewels when they open and then do a Beefeater tour later. That way I shall have the Jewels basically to myself then I won't have to wait in the dreadful line later. Thanks for your input Nicole!

Posted by
3895 posts

Since the tours run every 30 min, that's a good plan. I found the line moved at a good pace for the jewels, and there are things along the way to see. We were there early Sept last year (on a Monday) and prob hit the jewels around 12:30 - no line outside, and maybe 15 min shuffle to the jewels...

Posted by
18 posts

Emma, I am so grateful to have an actual Londoner's opinion in addition to everyone else. As to the London Pass, I am opting for that not only for its Transportation value, but also for its advantages such as fast track entry to a lot of sites namely the Tower and Westminster Abbey. I think for me personally it will pay off. If not, I looked at the Visitor's Oyster Card. I haven't made a final decision yet. The London pass covers every site I am going to and gives advantages to a lot of the free sites as you have stated. I will answer your concerns for each day:

Day 1- I included the mall because of some great photo ops I can get along the way (i.e. the palace, St. James's Park, Clarence House, St. James's Palace, King George VI monument, Admiralty Arch).

Day 2- I was going to go very early to the Tower to get in to the jewels first and then explore the rest afterwards. Then the Bridge, then walk along the Jubilee Walkway down towards the Tate Modern. I am still debating on whether or not to visit that because I am a novice when it comes to art. Walk along the Millenium Bridge to St. Paul's then take the Tube from St. paul's to London Bridge Station which ends up right beside Borough Market.

Day 3- I am an uber Harry Potter fan and so are my friends so I wanted to check out the Harry Potter platform and gift shop. For the same reason I want to cross the Millenium Bridge on day 2.

Day 4- I do think your suggestion sounds better. I think I will do the London Eye first! I was just trying to factor in how much time I would have at Harrods once back from Hampton Court.

Day 5- I definitely want to tour Kensington Palace. But the consensus is from everyone I have asked is that I should definitely cut the Natural History in favor of the V&A.

Day 6- There are a few places I have seen in documentaries about London shopping; for example Berry Bros and Rudd Wine Sellers on St. James's, Paxton and Whitfield Cheesemongers on Jermyn Street, and Fortnum and Masons, These three are close to me because I am a chef and want to check out some great food shops, this also ties in my wanting to go to Borough Market. The rest would be the normal places in Piccadilly like Lillywhites, Cool Britannia, and possibly that Liberty's that you described.

When I was researching restaurants and stuff I found The Red Lion on Whitehall. They had a good looking menu and I could easily stop there when I am in Whitehall on day 1. Another is definitely the Hard Rock Cafe. My former teacher says she always takes her students there when she takes high school students to London. My hotel will be in near the Victoria Station and there is a pub and restaurant right on the same street. It is called the Greyhound Pub and Kitchen. Thanks for your help Emma!

Posted by
18 posts

Emma, I think I will go for the Oyster Card, but I am wondering if it will cover my journey's to Windsor and Hampton Court? That is one of the reasons why I wanted the London Pass Travelcard, because it also covered transportation to those two as well as in the city itself. As for Borough Market I think I will go directly there after the Tower and Tower Bridge, that way I will somewhat still be there early, then take the bus or Tube to St. Paul's then go to Millenium Bridge. When it comes to the Harrods issue, I made that into one of the "return from a side trip" things because if I were to try to do it on the day when I go to Kensington and the V&A, I don't think I would have that much time to shop around because the V&A is so vast and so is Kensigton. If i went to Hampton Court early early in the morning and made it back by 1 or 2pm I virtually have the rest day to leisurely stroll around in Harrods and not feel rushed, I didn't want to rush it because I look upon Harrods as my most looked forward to shopping destinations. I did think of going to Waterstone's I just forgot to mention it. I love the restaurant ideas. I will defintiely be looking those up. Thanks Emma!

Posted by
18 posts

Emma, I totally agree with the Borough Market thing and I definitely am not going to cut Hampton Court short. It is definitely a great place. The one thing I don;t understand is the Oyster Card thing. Do you mean to say that you pay a one time fee of around six quid or is that the price per trip you take? The same for Hampton Court? More info on that! Also, how long would you say it takes to briskly walk along the Jubilee Walkway from Tower Bridge to Millenium Bridge?

Posted by
18 posts

Thanks Ray! I did think of taking a bus ride. I don't think I will have a destination to go to, I would just like to ride around touring the city. Thats what Rick Steves says to do. As for the Tower, I am taking Rick Steves advice. Get there early, shoot straight for the Crown Jewels where you will in theory have them to yourself and then take a Beefeater tour later!

Posted by
250 posts

Have to second what Emma says about the Oyster card. It really is the cheapest way to get around. I was going to and through London for years before I moved to the UK. I bought one and just kept it. Of course, I also adore London, so I was always going to go back. :)

A couple of minor notes - I use Kings Cross on a relatively regular basis. When you do the Harry Potter thing, if you go during the heart of the day, there very well could be a decent sized queue. If you make it towards the end or beginning of your day, you may be able to enjoy it a little less harried. The store is generally open 0800-2200, except on Sunday when its 0900-2100. The store even has a website:

http://www.harrypotterplatform934.com/

On getting around London - the Tube will get you pretty much everywhere. Once you are comfortable getting around (doesnt take long) figure out which bus goes close to where you want to go, and which buses get you back to your hotel. London is quite walkable if the bus doesnt get you quite to your destination. If you can, try and get the very front of the upper floor of the bus. Its a fantastic way to see the city.

On the Tower - depending on the time of day and when you go, there can be quite a queue for the Crown Jewels. On your Tower day, go early if you can, and make a beeline for the Jewels, then enjoy the rest of the Tower.

Posted by
4527 posts

The London Pass travel option does include travel to Windsor despite it being outside of the normal London zones etc. There is a special arrangement to use the trains from Paddington only. This s the only exception.

Whether it makes overall financial sense is another matter, especially with the duration at maximum being 6 days.

Posted by
18 posts

Thanks Tom and Marco!

Tom- I will defintiely be considering the oyster card. As for the King's Cross, the more I think about it I have another idea. Instead of going there on day 3 then the British Museum, I think I will wait for my last day. The reason being is that on my final day I am going to be departing from King's Cross station to take a train up to Sunderland, Northern England. I will get to the station early before my train leaves and check out Platform 9 3/4.

Marco- Thanks for you advice as well. Windsor is the only disadvantage of opting for the Oyster instead of London Pass. The one thing I did notice though is that if you get the 6-day pass with travelcard you get an additional 7th day of travel free if you purchase the 6-day option.

Posted by
2624 posts

Vinnie, consider the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour, as mentioned in Rick Steves London guidebook. Your ticket is good for 24 hours. The first thing you want to do is to board the bus, and do a complete loop around their London route; takes two hours. That way, you will get a look at all the tourist sights. A ride over Tower Bridge gives you a great view of the river. If you are on the top deck of the bus, you have a great view into a lot of gardens and private fenced areas of townhouses in posh areas. It is also relaxing, because you are seeing a lot, and not having to deal with walking or the tube.

A long ride on the HOHO bus is a great place to bring along a sandwich, chips and drink. Eat your lunch while enjoying the sights. You can also get off the HOHO bus anytime you wish, see a sight, then hop back on the next HOHO bus that comes by. Very convenient. Your HOHO ticket also includes a boat ride on the river; a pleasant break from being inside museums all day. Interesting to see the great sights from the water.

Posted by
18 posts

Rebecca, what a great idea. I never considered a nice ride though the city! I will definitely try and do that!

Posted by
18 posts

Emma! I just had a look at the London pass Website and now it is saying that the London Pass comes with an OYSTER Travelcard and it pretty much explains everything you told me about the capping of the prices at 6.40 and so on! Take a look...https://www.londonpass.com/london-pass-prices.php. If they are offering a new Oyster Travelcard maybe I might as well get that option. I guess they changed their travelcards since I last looked at the website! Because before it was a regular travelcard!

Posted by
18 posts

I was intending to go for the 6 day pass as I shall be there for 7-8 days. The one big change I noticed is that since they are now using the Oyster Card instead of the old card is that it doesn't cover the transport to Windsor. The old card did cover it. I think since we spoke yesterday, my decision has pretty much been made for me. I get the London Pass and and Oyster Card!

Posted by
2624 posts

I agree with Rebecca, it looks great. The only thing I would say is, on day 5 when you go to Kensington Palace make time to go to The Orangery to have tea. It's so beautiful in there and the food is great.

Posted by
4527 posts

Yes I see the Windsor exception has now gone. This happened since the last time it came up in January. I was surprised it was there and not so surprised it has gone.

Posted by
40 posts

I think the London Pass offers the option of buying it with or without the travelcard. Remember that you have to travel to the Leicester Square area (actually right behind the National Gallery) to pick up the London Pass. They don't open until about 9:30 so it can delay the start of the day. Best to stop in when your nearby on a day BEFORE you plan to activate and start using the pass.

I just returned Monday from 9 days London/Paris with my family. Suggestions to make your itinerary more efficient:

Day 1 - replace the Queens Gallery with the Churchill War Rooms and view of Parliament. You don't want to backtrack if possible.
Day 3 - Add the British Library instead of the War Rooms here.

Day 7 - Give up Changing of the Guard if you need to. It's a bit over-rated and takes a lot of time in the middle of the day.

You could save money on the London Pass if you group the sites closer together. I only had the 2-day Pass and used it for Westminster Abbey, War Rooms, Tower and Windsor. You will also need it for Hampton Court and perhaps the cruise. Everything else is free or not covered I believe.

Personally, I think you're going to overload on palaces and museums. Instead, I would suggest a walk through Hyde Park. A theatre night or Royal Albert hall performance

Posted by
18 posts

Mark! Thanks for your input. As to the London Pass, I won't have to go to Leicester Square to collect it as I can have them ship it to me. That way once I land at Heathrow, I can use the Oyster Card to actually get into London, and I can hit the ground running once checked into my hotel. As to my actual schedule, on Day 1, I probably will do the Churchill War Rooms while walking down Whitehall. I am moving Covent Garden to another day. Day Three, I am going to keep the same: Brit Museum and Parliament! The British Library I can probably stop in and see while heading to King's Cross on Day 7. And for Day 7, yeah I have decided that the Changing of the Guard, while a great spectacle is too overrated to spend my last morning in London. Plus, that day I will have to get to King's Cross to catch my train for the north and see Harry Potter's Platform 9 3/4 so I probably would not have time for the changing of the guard. I worked out all of my sites so that they would be covered by the London Pass by either entrance or advantage to a site. I would prefer to load up on palaces and museums because I am not a theatre or play type of person I never have. Although Rick Steves makes it his point to see a play while in London, I have no desire to do so. Thanks Mark!

Posted by
10 posts

Hi Vinnie,

I am traveling to London this June with my 20 year old niece. We will be there for nine days and I know I will not be able to do everything I would like to see. I guess that is the way with most places we visit for a short time. One thing I wanted to mention, although, seeing how thoroughly you planned, you probably already considered it, but we are going to do the Harry Potter tour. I know I will have to give up some of the "classic" London sights but we are also big Harry Potter fans and I would love to see all the actual sets that were used. The tour gets great reviews on Trip Advisor and we can't wait to check it out.

Just wanted to put that out there in case it was something you weren't aware of.

Patricia

Posted by
54 posts

Hi Vinnie-Just a couple of comments to add to the loads of other great advice you've gotten:
1. Re: The British Museum. Rick's guidebook has a selfguided tour that takes you to 3 or 4 of the absolute highlights, and can be done in a couple of hours max, even if you're taking your time. Definitely reccomended. Also, there's this from their website: http://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting/planning_your_visit/object_trails/1_hour.aspx

  1. Re: Tate Modern. Honestly, I would skip it, in favor of more time at an attraction you care more about. My husband and I went on our last trip, and we're passionate about art, including modern, and we were underwhelmed. There's some good stuff there, but there's also lots that's not as important. I also didn't think they did as good as job as the vast majority of London museums in explaining/curating the collection in a way that put it into context, especially for a self-described novice.

Just my two pence! Have a great time!