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Please critic my itinerary for London

My husband and I will be arriving Heathrow September 23 (wed)at 11 am for 6.5 days visit.

Day 1: Upon arrival plan to take bus to apartment which is near Goldhawke. After dropping off luggage will take bus to Kensington Palace to purchase Historical Royal Palace membership. Then visit Kew Gardens (cannot buy HRP membership at this location). Then begin bus tour to familiarize ourselves with where tourist sites are located.

Day 2 (thu): take London Walks tour to Bath departing Paddington RR.

Day 3 (fri): tour Westminster Abbey with London Walks, walk past Big Ben/Parliament, visit Buckingham Palace, and maybe Banqueting House (using HRP), visit V&A since it is open late.

Day 4 (sat): tour St. Paul's using their tour, British Museum with London Walks.

Day 5 (sun): go to Sky Garden and then London Tower using London Walks,(use HRP) visit Tower Bridge, visit Greenwich.

Day 6 (mon): train to York departing Kings Cross at 8am. Already purchased tickets for £13.

Day 7 (tue): Hampton Court (use HRP) and Kensington Palace (use HRP). Depart early the next morning. Would like to visit Portobello Market and Borough Market.

I would appreciate critic of this itinerary and suggestions. We plan to use bus as much as possible. Will purchase Oyster card upon arrival at Heathrow.

Posted by
914 posts

A quick critique...
You're packing a lot in.
Do you sleep well on planes? A red flag to me is that I personally think you're doing too much the first day. Kensington, Kew & bus tour on jet lag? I'm a proponent of taking a break/2-hour nap first day, but there are others here who will tell you to push through. Up to you, but I'd say give yourself some leeway the first day that you might not accomplish all those goals. Also, can you visit Kensington on the same day you purchase your HRP or is that just not possible? Lovely area but you're backtracking to return there later in the week and Kensington and Hampton Court aren't exactly near each other. I'd think about that one. Also, York is a full day. Again, don't know your age, ability, interest and energy level, but I'm just saying, navigating the Tube & train stations, walking around York--it's not complicated but take into account that just traveling can tax energy. I've never been to the markets, but I'm sure others can offer advice on those and there have been other threads with comments on Portobello Road.

BTW, Do you mean Goldhawk Road station? Otherwise, the other Goldhawk I'm seeing is closer to Milton Keynes.

Posted by
27426 posts

Are you intending to explore York as only a day trip? Or have I missed an overnight there?

Posted by
119 posts

No jet lag as we are arriving from week in Ireland. We could tour Kensington the first afternoon as it appears to be close to our apartment near Goldhawke Road Tube. Kew Gardens appears fairly close to our apartment and my husband is interested in gardens. I was trying to fit it in, allowing for first day in London while familiarizing ourselves with modes of transportation, and getting a feel for the neighborhood where we will be staying. Not sure if we have enough time in the afternoon to accomplish both. Also, visiting Kew Gardens does not seem to work with other days since the London Walks tours we are scheduling are for specific days and times. It would be ideal to do Kew Gardens and Kensington or Hampton Court and Kew Gardens on our final day in London but KG calendar shows it will close the last weekend in September. We are over 60 but very fit and able to travel to and from York in one day. One concern I have is how much extra time to allow, due to early morning commuters, for travel to Paddington RR on day 2 before 9 am to meet up with London Walks and also on day 6 traveling to Kings Cross by 8am for train to York. Thank you all for your suggestions.

Posted by
119 posts

I made an error in my response. It is the Palace at Kew Gardens that closes on September 27; hence, trying to schedule Kew Gardens and Palace on September 23. Perhaps I could plug it in on Saturday afternoon after British Museum. That would put us close to apartment and local restaurants on Saturday evening. Maybe we should go to Kensington Palace on first afternoon and then try local bus 15 loop and perhaps make reservation for Sky Garden for that evening. Comments please.

Posted by
2900 posts

Kensington Palace is not all that great. Hampton Court Palace is better, in my opinion. If you had to opt for one or the other, I'd choose Hampton Court Palace. And I see no mention of Windsor Castle on your schedule. London Walks has a tour going out there, or it is easily done on your own. Windsor Castle is spectacular.

On day one, when you visit Kensington Palace to purchase Historic Royal Palace membership, you could do your tour of Kensington Palace, and have that done. You could then begin your Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour around the city to get an overview. Save Kew Gardens for another day. The complete "loop" on the HOHO bus tour lasts two hours. You could then use the HOHO bus for transportation around London for a 24-hour period. A Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour comes with a narration by a guide (or some buses on tape) so you know what you're seeing, and some history. The HOHO 24-hour ticket includes a boat ride on the River Thames, a good way to see the sights from a water view.

The HOHO bus tour goes right past past Big Ben/Parliament, Buckingham Palace and all the major tourist sites. That way, if you don't have time to walk by them or actually go in them, at least you've had a drive-by good look at them.

Posted by
7124 posts

This might work better, noting Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is on 'even' days in September.
Also, Kensington Palace on arrival day, and Kew with Hampton Court.

Day 1 (wed): Upon arrival plan to take bus to apartment which is near Goldhawke. After dropping off luggage will take bus to Kensington Palace to purchase Historical Royal Palace membership and tour the Palace.
Day 2 (thu): take London Walks tour to Bath departing Paddington RR.
Day 3 (fri): tour St. Paul's using their tour, British Museum with London Walks, visit V&A since it is open late.
Day 4 (sat): Buckingham Palace for Changing of the Guard at 11am, tour Westminster Abbey with London Walks, walk past Big Ben/Parliament,visit Banqueting House (using HRP),
Day 5 (sun): go to Sky Garden and then London Tower using London Walks,(use HRP) visit Tower Bridge, visit Greenwich.
Day 6 (mon): train to York departing Kings Cross at 8am. Already purchased tickets for £13.
Day 7 (tue): Hampton Court (use HRP) and then visit Kew Gardens (use HRP).

Posted by
823 posts

Val,

My first suggestion concerns your transport from Heathrow into the city. I would consider taking either the Heathrow Connect (cheaper/slower) or Heathrow Express (more expensive but faster). Both go to Paddington where you can transfer to other tube lines. Both these options are MUCH faster than taking a bus into the city...

I love Kew Gardens and we spent the better part of a day there. It is immense, ~300 acres, and contains an older royal palace. There is a lot to see but keep in mind that tube trip is almost an hour from Kensington area (depending on tube changes, etc.) It's probably not something you can do in an afternoon if you plan on seeing other venues.

I have been on the double-decker tour bus circuits and found them only marginally helpful in getting the lay of the land. The traffic in London is horrible. Your timing suggests you'll be getting on one during the evening rush so you can expect to be sitting in traffic more than actually moving. I would save the money on this one. A better option might be to take an evening Thames River cruise...

Check the travel times to Hampton Court Palace using the Transport for London web site (or Google/Bing Maps). You might determine it's too logistically difficult to see on the same day as another major venue.

Do you plan on touring Buckingham Palace to just doing the walk-by. If you want to tour it, purchase your tickets in advance so you have control over the day/time. If you only want to do a walk-by, I also suggest the Royal Mews (right around the corner) and the Guards Museum. If you plan to observe the changing of the guard (I haven't compared their schedule to your itinerary), I suggest visiting the Guards Museum first thing and then watching the guards form up (guard mount) next door and then following them down Birdcage Walk as they march to the palace. Chances are, unless you get to the palace gates obscenely early and camp-out, you won't be able to see the actually changing of the guard anyway (throngs of people arrive hours early to get their spot).

I’m not sure I understand why you are using a tour to visit the British Museum – it’s free and the galleries exhibits are very well documented. BTW – I have been to some pretty big museums but this place tops them all. We were there for half a day and only scratched the surface. My suggestion, get on their web site and plan out which galleries interest you the most. You can’t see the entire place in one day so don’t even try.

Portobello Market was a great experience but if you're a foodie, Borough Market is the place to go. Borough Market pairs up well with St Paul’s because there is a bus line running between the two. Either way, plan on getting for lunch. (The paella at the Portobello Market was out of this world!)

You might also want to consider the Museum of London – well worth the time.

If you have a functional smart phone (with data plan), the Transport for London (TFL) web site trip planner is indispensable for getting around.

Good luck and have fun.

Posted by
14773 posts

From the Borough Market website:
Open for lunch Mon-Tues 10 to 5
Full market is open Wed-Thu 10 to 5, Fri 10 to 6 and Sat 8 to 5

I'm not sure what that means, but a wild stab - most of the market will be closed on Tuesday.

You can find information on each vendor - including what their days and hours are on the website.

Posted by
239 posts

Kew Gardens is a day in itself, certainly no less than half a day. Similarly, trying to fit Hampton Court and Kensington Palace into one day will mean you don't see enough of either. I'd suggest dropping the day-trip to Bath--you'll spend as much time travelling as sightseeing--and spread the other things out a bit.

Posted by
644 posts

Borough Market is open Mon/Tues... but not all the stalls.

Posted by
295 posts

Just a couple of suggestions for York since I was just there. I would highly recommend the Castle Museum. Excellent museum with costumes, furniture, prison, great re creation of Victorian streets. Skip Jorvik. Minster is a must and evensong if you have time before returning to London. Amazing tea/lunch stop is Betty's. That leaves time to walk the wall and the Shambles.