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Seeking help with London Planning, transportation and schedule.

My wife and I are making making our first trip to Great Britain this summer. We will be flying from San Francisco to Copenhagen with a 22 hour layover which will allow a bit of sightseeing prior getting much needed sleep, then flying to Stockholm for another 22 hour layover, where we will be touring and staying with friends, then we fly to Heathrow and arrive at 1:00 PM on June 30. Our 21 year old daughter has been going to school in Sweden for the summer, and will be meeting us in London the day we arrive. She will most likely be flying into Stansted. Using Airbnb we have reserved a 1 bedroom flat near the Barbican station. We have no particular plans for our arrival day except for catching up with our daughter who we have not seen for 6 months. So am looking for suggestions for something to see or do on Monday evening.

Tuesday 7/1 - St. Pauls, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, National Gallery, British Museum. We know that we will not be able to see everything in the museums but want to get a taste of them anyway.

Wednesday 7/2 - Churchill War Rooms, Changing of the Guard, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court

Thursdsday 7/3 - Tower of London (at opening), boat to Greenwich, afternoon in Greenwich, boat or tube to Westminster Abbey for 5:00 Evensong service.

Friday 7/4 - Picking up rental car (looking for suggestions of where to pick it up) driving to Stonehenge, (would love to see Windsor Castle, if timing allows) then spending the next 2 nights in Bath.

So I'm looking for suggestions on the itinerary, what type of transportation tickets to use until we get a car, where to pick the car up. We would also like to see a play 1 evening, any suggestions for which day to do so?

Thank you very much for your assistance.

Posted by
340 posts

Your plans for Wednesday look troublesome from a logistics stand point. Hampton Court is a bit out of the way, and really deserves almost a full day by itself. Suggest you see the British Museum in its' place so you'll have more time there. Also unless you're really set on the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum is wonderful and near the other sites by tube that you have planned for the day.


Posted by
216 posts

As you're staying at the Barbican, don't miss an opportunity to pop into the museum of London. It's free, and it gives an outstanding picture of the city through time; from prehistoric settlements to the Romans, and from the Saxons through Renaissance to the present day, there are artifacts and life size representations of daily life in London. You'll see a roman coffin, plague tokens, melted items from the great fire, a prison cell, a Victorian shopping street, and The Lord mayor's gold coach.

Regarding a rental car, google the company of your choice (Avis, hertz, etc.) and look for a location near you so you don't have to trek out to Heathrow. I live near Paddington station and there are both Hertz and Avis locations on edgware road, although Hertz is much better as they're situated just outside the congestion zone.

Your Wednesday plan is rather ambitious. Hampton court is worth a day on its own, and you could certainly get by with giving Kensington palace a miss. The Churchill war rooms are fairly close to Trafalgar Square; you could move them to Tuesday and spend Weds at Hampton Court for the day, and then come back that evening for dinner and the theatre.

You can absolutely see the highlights of Windsor castle in about 3 hours; you'll want to go straight to the state apartments and Queen Mary's dollshouse to save time waiting in line. Then you can drive on to Stonehenge (you're required to prebook your ticket) and points beyond.

Posted by
16883 posts

As an alternative to car rental, you can take direct train to Bath and take a [Mad Max]( (most of the day) or [Lion Tours]( (half day) excursion from there that includes Stonehenge. Or you could take an [Evan Evans tour]( departing London Victoria coach station and running to Salisbury and Stonehenge, then leave the tour when it hits Bath.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks to all who replied, your comments have been very helpful. We are planning on keeping the car for 7 days once we rent it, after eventually turning it in at Edinburgh.