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Updated itinerary for week in London in April!

Oh, folks. I have reorganized, shuffled, revamped, switcharoo-ed, and finagled this itinerary so many times, my brain is shutting down! I have definitely crossed over into the "overthinking-it" camp. I want to make sure we're striking a balance between seeing/doing not enough and seeing/doing too much (I realize that does not set me apart from others, haha). Travelers will be myself, my husband, and our two kids (ages 12 and 14). We will be in London the first week of April, which is also school holidays in the U.K. Here's where I've landed so far. Thoughts?!

(I know we're missing things--Tate Modern and St. Paul's come to mind--but I don't want to cram too much in. I'm also somewhat conflicted about doing the London Eye on our first full-day evening because we might be tired, but it also seems it might be a fun first-day thing to do, and my kids will be psyched to be going on a "ride" anyway. Open to people's advice on that!)

Sunday:
- Arrive at 1:30pm at Heathrow
- Get to home in Clapham and settle in
- Walk around the neighborhood, dinner, and then early to bed

Monday:
- Bus 88 from Clapham Common to Horse Guards Parade to (hopefully) watch the ceremony there
- Walk along The Mall to Buckingham Palace, then back through St. James Park to Westminster Pier
- Thames River Cruise from Westminster to Greenwich
- Lunch and afternoon in Greenwich (Cutty Sark, Meridian Line)
- Check out Graffiti Tunnel if there's time (my son would love it), then London Eye at sunset

Tuesday:
- Hampton Court Palace day trip

Wednesday:
- Westminster Abbey (Verger's Tour if we can)
- Afternoon tea at The Clermont
- Wicked matinee show
- Dinner at Lime Orange, then back to house to do laundry

Thursday:
- Tower of London
- Leadenhall Market for lunch
- Husband and kids: Madame Tussaud's; me: Savoy Theatre to see Plaza Suite show
- Leicester Square/Picadilly (Waterstone's bookstore; daughter wants to go)

Friday:
- Charles Dickens Museum
- Covent Garden/early 4pm dinner at Dishoom Covent Garden
- British Museum 5pm-ish to 8:30pm (or whenever we feel done)

Saturday:
- Harry Potter Studio Tour 10am
- Romeo and Julie at the Shakespeare Globe at 7pm

Whatcha think? Missing anything crucial? Too much or not enough on a given day? Open to your wonderful insights!!

Posted by
894 posts

Good to see you're taking an 88 bus. It's one of the best routes to see things from and is fun to ride all the way to Camden, which doesn't fit in your plans. What time are you aiming to be at Horseguards for? I'd imagine it might be quite a busy bus for people going to work from south London. Riding after 9:30am it should be quieter. Remember to sit upstairs and snag the front seats whenever you can.

I think you will have some time on your hands on Tuesday after Hampton Court. I think you would be able to make a call whether to head straight back into town from there and do something fun, or go back to Clapham and relax.

Posted by
45 posts

Gerry, you're the best! And you'll be happy to know we snagged that home exchange in Clapham (in case you couldn't tell from our itinerary). :)

As I understand it, the horse guard thing happens at the top of every hour, right? I think we're going to just see if we can see it whenever we get there -- we'll let the kids (and us) sleep in a bit if need be.

Posted by
894 posts

Ah yes! I've seen the videos of the ceremony but not actually caught it in person. The horses and guards are something to see at any time though.

I think the thing I learned from watching the videos of Horseguards is to approach the guard like they're a human being, and the horse like it's a real animal. So many people walk up for pictures with the guard and barely acknowledge their presence. A simple "hello" and some acknowledgement that they're in control of the horse before getting too friendly with it is enough. They might be on orders not to speak, but they're still listening.

As far as horses go, a flat upturned palm offered to the horse just under its nose is the way to introduce yourself. It will check if you have any food, but it's the best way for a horse to get your scent and relax. Try to stick to patting the neck if you can. It's not always the best idea to pat a horse on the nose, or get your hand in its face to pat it, especially a horse you don't know. Pat it on the neck or don't bother. Don't touch the reins. This might be old news to you if you've been around horses at all!

Posted by
45 posts

It's all news to me -- but it didn't even occur to me to go up to a guard OR a horse for a meet-and-greet or photo! Ha!

Posted by
894 posts

Yes, approaching the guard and horse at Horseguards for pictures is allowed. You may need to muscle in a little with the other visitors but following my tips above sets you apart from the majority it seems. A kind word or two to the guard and a sensible approach to the horse would get you a nice picture I think.

Posted by
581 posts

Jenn, we saw the Changing of the King’s Life Guard ceremony at Horse Guards Parade but it is only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11 am. It was great fun and impressive to watch. Not sure what takes place hourly.

Posted by
7011 posts

Well, I would never go on the London Eye myself (too costly and I have a fear of heighyts), but just a note that if you do decide to go, make SURE you book your tickets online, rather than paying for them when you get there. I think it's a difference of £12 to pay when you get there.

Posted by
894 posts

Not sure what takes place hourly.

The horses do a one hour shift and then rest I believe. The have a short ceremony where one takes over and the other dismounts and leads the horses away.

Posted by
45 posts

Oh, great to know! So sounds like there's a "main" ceremony at 11, and the other top-of-the-hours are more informal, if I'm understanding correctly. We'll shoot for 11am!

Posted by
6690 posts

There is also the formal Dismount Parade at 4pm, the end of the horses day, when the mounted sentries are replaced by dismounted ones for the night. Since 1994 this has just been a piece of tradition carried on by the orders of the late Queen but had been a 100 year punishment, when the guard were found drinking and gambling one day in 1894 so a daily 4pm inspection was ordered, which you still see today.
Also the gates are closed at 8pm, and opened for the day at 7am. At those times the guard switches from 2 to 1, then 1 to 2 respectively.

Posted by
1172 posts

Nice places to wander are Abbeville Road in Clapham Common and if you’re passing through Clapham Junction walk along to Northcote Road which is a busy high street with a lot of cafes, restaurants and upmarket food shops. Nice places to find a bite to eat and see how the (pretty wealthy) locals spend their time.

Posted by
4292 posts

I hope you enjoy Hampton Court as much as we did, it was a full day and we spent 6 hours there. Is your lunch at Leadenhall Market on Thursday a late lunch? We also spent about 6 hours at the Tower of London.

Posted by
18 posts

I haven't been to London yet, I'm planning a trip in May. Your itinerary doesn't say exactly what time you're heading to Greenwich but it looks like the afternoon. I think you can make it work but it looks a little tight, the trip to Greenwich will take a bit and from what I've read it looks like you'll want 60 to 90 minutes at the Cutty Sark and 2 to 3 hours at the Royal Observatory. It is also about a 15 minute walk between the two museums per Google and both close at 5:00 pm with last entry at 4:15 pm. Just some considerations so you can make sure you have time to see everything you want to while you're there!

Posted by
1002 posts

Sabrizz - you've missed out what I regard as the most impressive sight in Greenwich - the Painted Hall at the Royal Naval College, London's equivalent to the Sistine Chapel. You don't need a huge amount of time but it all adds up. There's also the National Maritime Museum, where you can lose another half a day. There's enough to see that. is you add a one way cruise on the Thames to get there, takes up pretty much a whole day.

Posted by
6 posts

Hello, used to live in Bellingham, small world.
A thought, we took our teenage grand daughter to London and on the first day we https://www.facebook.com/VisitLondonThingsToDo
Thames Rockets, which combines a lovely trip on the Thames but also includes a high speed rollicking fun in one area as well. Our grand daughter loved it and helped keep us awake and happy. We also did the London Eye and it is very slow and was easy to sit back and get sleepy. Have a great time, whatever you choose to do.
Catherine

Posted by
894 posts

If your daughter likes large bookstores, the one to check is Foyles in Charing Cross Road. It's maybe ten minutes or so walk from Waterstones in Piccadilly.

4pm for Dishoom and 5pm for the British Museum is ambitious. You may find British service slower than that in the US. Only allowing an hour for a dinner that you're paying a lot of money for seems a bit of a waste to me. Maybe eat somewhere cheaper and faster if you're on a schedule? I think if you want a dinner service over and done with in under an hour anywhere in the UK you would be best to alert the wait staff to this when you take your table.

Friday evening should, in theory, be one of the quietest times of the week to see the British Museum though.

Posted by
18 posts

Johnew52 - Agreed, I was just listing the 2 things in Greenwich the OP had listed and it seems tight for an afternoon. I'm planning a whole day in Greenwich for my upcoming trip and even then it seems difficult to see everything within the time things are open without being in a mad rush!

Posted by
45 posts

Thanks to you all for your input! At the risk of making you all go bananas on me, I must say that Greenwich is probably our lowest priority. My kids don't care one bit about ships, naval history, or observatories. I honestly planned Greenwich for that afternoon so that if we were too tired/not feeling up to it, we could skip it and not be missing something we feel is a "must do." I also just thought the longer river cruise (Westminster to Greenwich) might be better than a shorter one, but maybe not?

I guess another option would be to take a river cruise to Tower Bridge, then get off and go visit Borough Market and then walk back along the South Bank...

As far as our Dishoom/British Museum schedule, you're right Gerry, it's feeling tight. Maybe a 4pm dinner and a 5:30 British Museum time slot. Still quasi rushed, but gives us a bit more breathing room.

Posted by
1002 posts

Greenwich would be ahead of much else that you’re seeing but it’s your trip, not mine so no problem!