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Pre London Tour Suggestions

We will be arriving several days before our RS Best of London tour in September 2016. This will be our first RS tour and first time in England. Flying from Seattle, we anticipate jet lag the first day and are looking for good "first day" suggestions to get acclimated. Most of the top things to see in London will be covered by our tour. I recently received my 2016 London RS guidebook and it's been fun looking at all the possibilities. With so much to see, I am even more convinced that a guided tour with the RS organization was the way to go for us. We will be staying near the Earl's Court tube station. On our second day, we are thinking of exploring Greenwich, as my husband is a maritime lover and this area sounds perfect for that interest. Our tour starts on the third day, but not until the afternoon, so we will have that morning as well. Would love input on the Greenwich area and good first day activities. Love the travel forums, so many interesting travel perspectives!

Posted by
544 posts

Even if it's rainy I'd suggest walking the south bank of the Thames after dinner on the day that you arrive. It's good for your jet lag to stay up if you can. There's a walking tour in the London RS guidebook called "Bankside" that you could do, but I would probably leave the book and just enjoy the walk and the views for your first day.

Posted by
3145 posts

Are you taking the British Airways flight that arrives around noon? By the time you go through passport control and get into London, it will be around 2 and hopefully you can check in to your hotel.

We like to take a quick shower and then get a light lunch (pick up something at Pret a Manger). Then a walk on the South Bank path as suggested above. We walk as far as the Tate Modern and go in for a short look around (admission is free). And then cross the pedestrian bridge, with a stop in the middle to admire the view. You might make it in time to go to Evensong at St. Paul's if that interests you. Try to delay dinner til 7 or so and stay up until 9.

Think about taking a river boat to get to Greenwich as suggested above.

Posted by
1625 posts

You can always do a Walk with the "London Walks" company. We did two of their walking tours and loved them both. They have a website where you can read the descriptions of the walks and then you just show up, pay and off you go. One of my favorites was Highgate, which ends at the Highgate Cemetery which you can then tour on your own and this walking tour was one of the highlights of our vacation. Or you can do an open air market and buy some gifts and eat there. I regret that we did not ride the London Eye. Next time!

Posted by
14098 posts

On your arrival day I would probably walk to Kensington Gardens, depending on where exactly near Earl's Court you are staying and especially if you plan to go to Greenwich tomorrow, lol. I agree that the Greenwich trip would be good for the next day.

On your Sunday (the day the tour starts) you could consider doing the V&A museum which will be not too far from your hotel. Or, you could also consider doing a tour of Buckingham Palace as the State Rooms are usually open in September along with the Queens Gallery and the Royal Mews. Here is a link to the exhibition for the Queens Gallery for next Fall. To me including the Queens Gallery with Buckingham Palace is only good if you are interested in what is showing. It is a small gallery and this is all you would see altho it looks like there is another small exhibition as well.

Info about visiting the State Rooms:

Posted by
2252 posts

Since your husband is a maritime lover, I think the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich would be a perfect place for you to visit. It's also a nice river ride down the Thames and lovely walk up the hill to tour the interesting Royal Observatory. We very much enjoy our visits there and a day trip to Greenwich is often on our agenda when visiting London. For your first (arrival) day, I personally love the idea of a walk along South Bank. Lots to see and some wonderful historic pubs to stop in along the way.

Posted by
128 posts

As always, great response from readers on this forum. Thanks for the great ideas. We will get into London around 3PM, so will definitely plan on staying up as long as we can. Happy travel to all!

Posted by
2782 posts

RS tours are great, but you could do it on your own for a lot less money. Enjoy London, it's the greatest city in the world.

Posted by
919 posts

Yes, I'm sure you can do it cheaper, but I took the RS London tour on my third trip to England after two do-it-yourself family trips. Loved it. So far, it's been my favorite out of the RS tours I've taken. I second London Walks. Really enjoy their offerings. The Royal Mews is interesting and fairly low key--may be worth considering. Have fun!

Posted by
2455 posts

I was on the RS London Tour this past May, and also arrived about 1 1/2 days early. I stayed in a hotel on the Southbank and spent all my time wandering that area -- took a Globe Theater Tour (and later in the week was a groundling there for Merchant of Venice), went to the Tate Modern, wandered all the way down to Tower Bridge, and then in the evening all the way back to the London Eye all illuminated. Great area, lots of people of all kinds out walking and enjoying themselves. I also went to the Imperial War Museum before meeting up with the tour group. Later in the week I also went by boat to Greenwich, and returned by way of the Docklands. Great city, London, so much to see and do!

Posted by
7175 posts

So much to choose from that isn't included on the tour ...

Tate Britain Gallery
Tate Modern Gallery
Imperial War Museum
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Borough Market
Victoria and Albert Museum
Kew Gardens
Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park
Hampton Court Palace
Royal Greenwich
London Eye
Shopping Streets - Oxford St / Regent St / Piccadilly / Bond St

Posted by
2788 posts

I signed up for the RS Portugal Tour in May of next year at the end of November. Since then I have received several mailings and e-mails related to that tour. In one of the mailings was a listing of places that the tour did not visit. This way we can check them out when we arrive several days before the tour begins. I hope that you will be getting the same type of list. If you do not get such a list I might suggest that you call the RS Travel Desk to get that information.

Posted by
3428 posts

Greenwich is great on a Saturday. There is a really nice market there. And the park is lovely, you could pick up some handy lunch items at the market (they had food stalls and a few food trucks when we were there). If you just want to walk around and people (and dog) watch, that's the place to head. If you decide not to do the boat, you could take the Docklands train or the tube. If you take the tube you can walk over to Greenwich - UNDER the Thames! Or do it on the way back. If your tour doesn't include a trip to Windsor, that is also a good place to visit for a full or 1/2 day. Easy to get to by train- they go about every 1/2 hour from Paddington, with one easy change at Slough. Kew Gardens is also nice. Can go by Tube, with a short walk from the station to the garden's entrance. It is lovely any time of year and their shop is one of my favorites.