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One evening in London

Hi -
Our airline changed our flights coming back from Italy in October and we now will have a night in London and wondering what we should do. We land at 2:30pm at Heathrow on a Saturday and depart the following morning at 9:30am. We'll likley sleep at a hotel near the airport and realize we'll be limited in what we can see and do, but would love some suggestions.

Thanks,
Sara

Posted by
824 posts

Sara,

If you're the sort who isn't bothered by a nice long walk, I suggest taking the tube (or Heathrow Connect/Express) to Paddington and then walking towards Buckingham Palace. Hyde Park is just lovely... If you're really adventurous about walking, you can continue all the way to the river and take a ride on the London Eye. Once you've had a nice pub dinner, you can take the tube back to Heathrow and your hotel.

Personally, I would stay in the city versus at the airport and just take an early train back to the airport in the morning.

Posted by
16894 posts

See https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/audio/audio-tours/london to download audio walking tours and maps that match up with the versions in Rick's London guidebook.

If you were staying at the airport but wanted to go to the theater in London, the last Heathrow Express departure from London Paddington station is about 23:25 (I'd take a taxi there from the theater). If you stay in London, perhaps near Paddington station, the earliest departure of the Heathrow Express is about 5:10 on Sunday morning, reaching Terminals 2 & 3 in 15-20 minutes.

Posted by
1379 posts

Research the tube schedule and stay at a hotel in central London which allows you to get up and get right on the tube to Heathrow the next morning. Never again will I stay at a Heathrow area hotel unless I have an early am departure.

Posted by
16936 posts

I like the idea of the Heathrow Express to return to the airport---it is much faster and more comfortable than the Tube---especially during morning rush hour. We found it nearly impossible to get on the Jubilee Line with luggage at 8 in the morning. After three trains went by with absolutely no room for us to board, we went to the far end of the train and waited two more trains before we could find room to board.

Posted by
4 posts

If you're ok with heights, I'd go on the London Eye. It doesn't cost the earth, doesn't take long but you'll see all of London from the top if the weather is clear.

Posted by
8884 posts

For one night in London I'd certainly not go to theatre, especially if you've never been to London.

Instead, once you've dropped your luggage take the hotel's free shuttle back to Heathrow. Follow signage to the Heathrow Express. Use your debit card to purchase roundtrip fares. Board the train and in 15 minutes you will arrive at Paddington Station. Go to the Ticket office and get your paper Travelcards so you can use the Tube.

From Paddington Station you are going to take Underground (Tube) train via the Bakerloo (Brown) Line to Baker Street (Enjoy the Sherlock Holmes tiles) and hop on a Jubilee Line Tube Train ( Grey) and take it to Westminster Station. Exit (Mind The Gap) and walk out into Parliament Square and see iconic London.

From here you can choose to walk up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square or walk up Birdcage Walk through St James Park to see Buckingham Palace. Depends on daylight and your choice of what it is you wish to see. You could also leave Parliament Square and walk over the Thames via Westminster Bridge and ride the London Eye.

Personally I'd walk up Whitehall past the Horse Guards and #10 Downing Street to Trafalgar Square (Lord Nelson's Column, the Lions, National Gallery) up past St Martin's of the Fields toward Leicester Square then head on over to Covent Gardens for dinner. Or if you simply want to keep exploring instead of heading to Covent Garden walk a bit further and turn Left on Shaftesbury and head toward the bright neon of Piccadilly Circus and into SoHo for dinner. You can plan your walking routes by looking at Google Maps Satellite view.

Then hop on the tube and head back to your hotel.

Enjoy your evening in London!