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Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace

I plan to visit both Westminster Abbey and Palace on one of my day in London. Planning to take tours for both to view from inside.

I am thinking to start early (9:00am) from hotel. Visit the gardens (Hyde park/Green Park) general strolling, , Wellington Arch and book 10:45am Palace hour tour.

Lunch at Harrods. (will there be enough time to do this?)

Book Westminster Abbey tour (13:30 - 15:30)

Evening just walking near River or by London Eye.

is this doable? any preference/advantage of doing any of them in morning/afternoon. i can switch them around if necessary.

we are staying in Premier Inn just by Abbey.

Thanks in advance

Sorry to bang on about this, but Westminster is a big part of London. It is also used colloquially in Britain to refer to the government. If you mean Westminster Abbey, please say so when you’re in London as you might otherwise be referring to the Palace of Westminster or Westminster Cathedral or just generally the Westminster area.

I think you’re leaving it really tight between the two (presuming you mean the Abbey) and it’s not a good idea to dart across to Harrods in between.

I’d book a much earlier Buckingham Palace tour OR do Westminster Abbey first thing. They’re two very major sites.

Posted by
1787 posts

I would reserve palace first thing and see grounds afterwards. You will enjoy the walking more when you aren’t watching the clock constantly. And that way you can adjust your time available better.

However, unless you eat really early you are going to be hard pressed to make it from Harrods to Westminster Abbey by 13:30. I would either skip a leisurely lunch or move Westminster Abbey reservation later.

Posted by
159 posts

With the timing, getting to Harrod’s and then getting to the Abbey would be impossible.

Could you do the Palace earlier to start your day? And which tour are you doing? There are three I believe (state rooms, royal mews and the artwork). All of those require different time commitments. The state rooms could take 2-2:30 hours.

The Abbey won’t take you 2 hours once you are inside.

Posted by
9919 posts

I agree - I'd get to the Palace first thing. They are timed tickets but it gets a bit crowded. You'll not have time to get to Harrods for lunch this day. I'd suggest the Cellerium at Westminster Abbey or getting a snack at the tea tent at the end of the Buckingham Palace tour. There are also some places you can grab lunch in between the two. I've not eaten there but I've seen people recommend The Laughing Hailbut at Strutton Ground which is not too far off the walking route between your Palace exit and Westminster Abbey.

BTW, while the place you enter for the Buckingham Palace tour is convenient (sort of to Westminster Abbey) the place where you exit is a long haul.

Here is a googlemap of the area. I tried to drop a pin in to the approximate location of where the back gate is and from there showed a route to Westminster Abbey. You'll enter up along the south side of the palace.

I see the Palace website recommends planning 2-2.5 hours for the tour and that is about right. I listen to the whole audio guide plus there is always a special exhibition that is not covered in the guide that you walk thru. I'm one to spend more time than average and I usually plan on being there for 3 hours.

Posted by
85 posts

Thanks all for your replies. I will reverse this itinerary. I will book 9:30 am Abbey tour and 2:45 Buckingham Palace tour. May be we can go to Harrods for lunch if we get free by noon from Abbey. if not we will have lunch near Palace.

Posted by
85 posts

okay...will drop Harrods for lunch. we will find a place near palace. Any suggestions are welcome !!

will just find couple of things to do near Palace before my i can go in at 2:45 pm.

Posted by
9919 posts

"Any suggestions are welcome !! will just find couple of things to do near Palace before my i can go in at 2:45 pm."

I am thinking you will not have all that much extra time. Westminster Abbey takes 2-2.5 hours, so if you are in at 9:30 you'll be out at 1200. You'll walk to find some place to eat, spend time eating then walk to the visitor's entrance at Buckingham Palace.

You ~might~ have time to:

-walk thru St James's Park
-Stop in at the Guard's Museum on Birdcage Walk.
-Loop around behind Westminster Abbey and see the Jewel Tower
-If you think you will have a lot of time, go to the Royal Mews (the stable for the Queen's horses and the royal carriages). There is a combo ticket for the State Rooms and the Mews. Personally, I don't think you'll have time for this.

Do download the Westminster Abbey app before you travel and tuck your earbuds in your purse. It's much easier to listen to it on your phone than carry around the big audioguide. Both are free.

Places to eat:

-The Laughing Halibut as mentioned before and I ~think~ there are some other eateries around there.
-Pret a Manger - there is one near Westminster Abbey down Broadway.
-I've seen some mention the restaurant at the Methodist Central Hall across from where you'll exit Westminster Abbey but I've never eaten there
-Down closer to Victoria Station there are a couple of new mall/office buildings with a number of eating places. There is a Zizzi's that's pretty fast.
-There are a number of pubs in the area as well - I'm not much on pubs so maybe someone else can steer you there!

Posted by
608 posts

We just did these two today, and it was a full day. We did Buckingham Palace at 930 and also took a look at the gardens and the mews, and we were done at about 12. We got grilled sandwiches from The Sandwich Shop on Dacre Street (they were delicious!) and ate them on a bench in St. James Park. We then walked to Westminster Abbey, which took a while because the roads were really crowded. We had to wait in line to get into the Abbey for about an hour. We had hoped to make it to the 230 verger tour, but we got in just a bit too late so we made do with the audio guides. It was a bit crowded, which made it difficult to follow the audio tour, but we still enjoyed it. I'm not sure what time of year you will be there, things might be a bit easier if it isn't busy season. I feel like it always takes much longer than I expect to get from place to place in London, so I would minimize switching areas often if possible.

Posted by
9919 posts

Tamara! Wow, that shop looks good! Lots of pictures on Trip Advisor and some shots of their menus. Adding to the perpetual list for "next time I visit London".

Posted by
159 posts

Between Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace
Shake Shack
The restaurants at The Rubens hotel
The Phoenix Pub - very good
Bag O Nails - think it’s a chain but fine

Everyone is telling you to bail on Harrod’s and they’re right. That being said, the ONLY redeemable part of Harrod’s to me is the food court. It’s unique and if you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit. It’s jusr out of the way

Posted by
267 posts

I'm glad you changed your plans for the Harrod's trip, it's a massive place, not a quick lunch place. I've gotten food there that was not all that special anyway. If you're looking for a place to eat in the Mayfair neighborhood where the Palace is, I learned the hard way to see what the prices are Before you sit down. My daughter and I wandered into what we thought was a pub there in Mayfair for lunch, and after nibbling on the bread, saw that everything on the menu was at least $60 per person! We ordered soup to watch our waistlines (we told the waiter, who knew exactly what had really happened :) and ate, left, and did not have to do any dishes. :) Just tread carefully... And have fun!
I think St James Park is much more convenient than it would be to get over to Hyde Park (tho it's a great place and going there perhaps another day will be great), and there are some good pubs on the other side of St James Park too.
Have a great time,

Posted by
85 posts

I re-read this whole post again. I think everyone was suggesting me to go for Palace first thing in morning and visit Abbey in afternoon. Not sure what I read and understood when i mentioned that i will reverse my itinerary.

thank you all for your wonderful suggestions.

I do want to spend some time in gardens around Palace (Hyde Park/Kensington gardens). if i do Palace first (just State Room tour) and Abbey in afternoon, i will have to go back in same area later in evening. how much time is needed approximately for stroll across both parks. My hotel is just across Abbey.

And thanks again.

Posted by
9919 posts

You can do it either way. The park that is more or less between Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace is St. James’s Park. It has more flower displays that maybe Hyde Park so maybe that will work for you. Hyde park starts at the far end of Buckingham Palace and the Kensington Gardens is at the far end of that.

To me it’s hard to give you a time frame because you can use them as short cuts to walk thru between sights to get you away from the traffic.

I just plotted a walking route on Googlemaps from the front of Buckingham Palace to Kensington Palace thru Green Park, Hyde Park and Kens. Garden and it says it’s 2 miles and takes about 45 minutes.