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Post deleted somehow! Reposting: Thoughts on London itinerary with two kids?

No idea why my post somehow deleted -- apologies to the few people who had already commented on the problematic Monday portion!

Hello fellow travelers! I'm in the process of figuring out our family's itinerary for our Europe trip this April. I've added, removed, changed, and bumped things around so much that I can hardly see straight anymore. I think I need to step back and get some input from others. If anyone has any thoughts about what I've got planned so far (in terms of things like, Am I missing anything that's a must-see? Do I have too much to do on a single day?), I'm all ears -- or eyes, as it were. (For what it's worth, our kids will be 14 and 12 on this trip.) Thank you!

March 31 (Easter Sunday)
- Arrive in London @1:30pm
- Walk through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens to Kensington Palace.

April 1 (Monday)
- Birdcage Walk: Constitution Hill to Buckingham Palace, then along The Mall to Westminster Pier; Horse Guards Parade
- River cruise: Westminster to Greenwich
- Royal Observatory/Greenwich Park: Meridian Courtyard, Weller Astronomy Galleries, Camera Obscura
- British Museum
- London Eye at sunset (7:30pm)

April 2 (Tuesday)
- Hampton Court Palace

April 3 (Wednesday)
- Westminster Abbey
- Wicked afternoon tea at The Clermont
- Wicked @ The Apollo Victoria Theatre

April 4 (Thursday)
- Tower of London
- Lunch at Leadenhall Market

- King’s Cross Station (Platform 9 ¾)
- Charles Dickens Museum
- Trafalgar Square (St. Martin’s Café in the Crypt for a snack)
- Covent Garden
- Walk through Leicester Square to Gelupo gelato for dessert
- Picadilly Circus/Waterstone’s Bookstore, tube home

April 5 (Friday)
- Oxford day trip

April 6 (Saturday)
- Harry Potter Studio Tour

April 7 (Sunday)
- Eurostar to Paris

Posted by
4471 posts

You have way too much on Mon April 1. I would forget the day trip to Oxford and go to British Museum on that day, along with anything else you didn't get to in London. I assume that the trip to Oxford was a HP thing, but the Studio Tour will be enough. In my opinion, the British Museum is one of the 3 must see sights in London.

Posted by
11368 posts

The British Museum was our 12 and 14 yr old grandchildren’s favorite site in London. We had to literally drag them out of there. It needs much more time that being on a day with so much else on your calendar.It seems to be given little importance in your itinerary. It needs much more time, at least a full half-day.
Westminster Abbey was a big favorite too. Our grandson said it was a combination of a history museum and a church.
Skip Oxford.
Favorite site in Paris was l’Orangerie with all the large Monet paintings of water lilies. They both had studied Monet in school and loved this site.
They loved London and did not want to leave to go to Paris. It remained their favorite of the two cities after visiting Paris too. They liked Paris but loved London. Food favorites for the kids:London, Fish n’ Chips, Paris, Baguettes.

Posted by
27407 posts

The British Museum is immensely popular (it's free/donation-requested, which no doubt helps); you won't believe how crowded it is. It may get marginally better late in the afternoon, and the second floor is never as bad as the ground floor. To preserve your sanity, spend a bit of time on the museum's website before your trip, figuring out your top priorities and a logical path to see them. Unfortunately, the Egyptian Gallery is a zoo, but you'll probably still need to see it because the children will insist. It's a great museum; too bad the entire world knows it.

There's a casual grab-and-go food source on the ground floor and a sit-down restaurant upstairs (reservation may well be needed). Somewhere, there's a pizzeria; I saw a sign for it but not the pizzeria itself. I can only vouch for the upstairs restaurant, which also does a nice afternoon tea. None of the food places stay open all the way until museum closing time, so don't dawdle if someone has the munchies.

Your schedule is really full, so I don't know where you'd fit it in, but London Walks has dozens of two-hour walking tours conducted by licensed, engaging guides. The cost is only 15 GBP for adults and 5 GBP for kids up to 15. The website is https://www.walks.com/. I have really enjoyed all the walks I've taken; I must be over a dozen by now.

Posted by
434 posts

We went to the UK when our kids were 18, 15, and 11. The BMuseum was a huge hit. Our daughter, 11, loved it so much that she and my husband returned a second time in our trip while the boys and I explored a new museum and area. Our daughter, 34 on Monday, just returned to the museum while in the UK this September. It was a requirement for her trip.

Posted by
16 posts
  1. Take in an EPL match! Not sure where you folks are staying, but Chelsea has a home match against Man. United on the 3rd and Fulham has a home match against Newcastle on the 6th. Even if you’re not a big football/soccer fan, EPL matches are a great window into UK culture.
  2. Postal Museum.
  3. London Transport Museum.

Hope this helps and happy travels!

Posted by
45 posts

Thanks so much, everyone! We scratched Oxford and moved the British Museum to Friday instead. I so appreciate everyone's input!

Posted by
4471 posts

Another post reminded me of how much we enjoyed the zoo-and our daughter was a freshman in college on that trip!

Posted by
7011 posts

Take in an EPL match! Not sure where you folks are staying, but Chelsea has a home match against Man. United on the 3rd and Fulham has a home match against Newcastle on the 6th. Even if you’re not a big football/soccer fan, EPL matches are a great window into UK culture.

Yes, but it's just about impossible to get tickets to a Premier League game. And I don't think I'm exaggerating. It's more possible if you purchase a membership first but you have to get them early when they go on sale. That's not to say you can't get them later, but the odds are drastically reduced.

Posted by
27407 posts

The British Museum is open until 8:30 PM on Fridays. It got quieter in the late afternoon the one time I was there on a Friday. However, the food places did not adjust their hours for the late closing time. If you intend to take advantage of the late hours, plan to get something to eat right before you arrive unless you'll be there by 2 PM or so, in which case you should check the cafe closing times and take appropriate action.

Posted by
453 posts

At the British Museum I highly recommend what they call their "eye opener" tours focusing on one topic. Here is the link. https://www.britishmuseum.org/visit/tours-and-talks/eye-opener-tours. They are free. I especially enjoyed the Egyptian one and the Roman Britain one. They offer them certain days of the week and do offer them late on Fridays. The British Museum is free, so you can always do on Friday afternoon, leave to get a bite to eat if their cafe isn't open, and then go back.

Posted by
993 posts

Jenn,

The trip sounds amazing. You have already received some great suggestions, but having just been in London a few weeks ago, I have some practical tips that may help you in your planning, especially since you are traveling with two teenagers.

  • For your visits to the Tower of London and the British Museum go to the earliest entry time. you are going when the schools are out on break, so the good news is you are likely going to avoid all the school tours, but you won't be avoiding all the adult tours. For Tower of London, go first to the Crown Jewels to avoid the massive queue later in the morning and then take the Yeoman tour afterwards. The Yeoman tour is free, it is awesome, and then you can explore any other areas that you miss in the tour.
  • Travel time; in general, it takes 30 minutes to get from site-to-site in London (walk, cab, bus, or tube). I would map out the travel time and then add +10% for getting turned around, wait time etc. I would then look a the sites you are visiting and make sure the travel times work for you. Even though I did this in my December trip, my friend thought we were moving too fast and we had to pivot on some of our choices.
  • London Eye. I like your idea at arriving at sunset. I have been on the Eye a couple of times, most recently in the evening and you get the best views of the sites when there is light. The evening visit in December worked well for us because of the Christmas lights, but it was difficult to really see the other sites that weren't well lit.
Posted by
17 posts

If your children have any interest in Narnia, Harry Potter, or Wonka, Oxford would still be a worthwhile trip, including a tour of Christ Church College. Taking a punt on the river is also a fun family activity. Personally I enjoyed it more than Hampton Court and would swap those day trips. The HP studio tour would cover a lot of it, but there's something special about seeing the actual filming locations in situ.

On Day 1, consider popping into Harrods. Ride the escalators to the top and take in the over-the-top decor - it's like a Disney ride.

Leadenhall Market is small and was kind of a letdown for me. St. Katherine's Docks is a really pretty place to have lunch by the water and right next to the Tower. If you can get up extra early before catching the Eurostar, try fitting in King's Cross station so you don't have to travel there twice.

I have nothing against Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Leicester, and Piccadilly, but I found there's not a whole lot to do there. If you have time, consider crossing the river to Borough Market. It can get packed but maybe not so much on a weekday. It's like a maze and can be a lot of fun to explore. You could fit in a stroll along the river, past the Globe, a quick visit into the Tate Modern, and a walk across Millennium Bridge, then head up to St. Paul's. I recommend if at all possible going to the Sky Garden. We managed to get in without reservations at sunset, so if you find yourself in the area, give it a try, it's free. No matter what you end up doing, it sounds like a fantastic trip - have fun!