We arrive at our hotel in South Kensington on Weds., April 20 mid-afternoon and depart on a bus tour on Saturday AM, April 23. On the theory that we will not return, what should be included in our very quick 2+ day itinerary? We're in our mid-60's, very physically fit and love history. Thanks! Sharon
Not sure of your taste in sites since history is a broad area but, - keep in mind that open late on Friday are Vicotoria and Albert, Tate Modern, and National Gallery of Art. So you have Wed late pm/evening, all day Thursday and all day Friday. How about - Wed later pm/evening: Harrods foodcourt for an early dinner and then go the Hard Rock Cafe store and take the Vault tour where you can rip a tune or two on Hendrix flying V. - Thu start with the British Library, go to the British Musuem, and then the National Gallery of Art. - Fri (possibly book ahead) Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, walk up to Trafalgar Square, head west to Picadilly Circus while stopping at 3 Saville Row and then down to the Queens resident. Vicotoria and Albert before dinner and Tate Modern after dinner. Also consider Churchills War Bunker for Friday. Enjoy,
If your arriving at your hotel directly after your flight from the US, give yourself a break and take it somewhat easy. Since your staying in South Kensington (very close to where my husband and I have stayed before and will again this fall), I would go to Kensington Palace and then take tea at "The Orangery" right next door. And just to say you did it, go to Harrods Department Store (it's open until 8 PM) and have a look around before dinner. You might want to start your Thursday early with a hop-on-hop-off bus tour just to get an overview. We are also history lovers, so we visit the Victoria and Albert Museum every time we're in London. I think you would also enjoy the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Churchhill's Cabinet War Rooms, the National Portrait Gallery, and St. Paul's. If you can squeeze it in, a river cruise on the Thames down to Greenwich and back is nice also. Two and 1/2 days is just enough time to scratch the surface of London, and still allow time for eating and sleeping. But as everyone says - PLAN ON COMING BACK. Have a wonderful time:-)
For history you must start with Westminster Abbey- all the people buried there. In that vicinity you can do Churchills War rooms; Big Ben and Parliament Buildings; Horse Guards, Trafalgar Square (National Gallery if so inclined). On the other end of town (next day) Tower of London (really old history); Tower Bridge; St Pauls (English heros memorials). Walk back from St Pauls along Holborn (via Lincolns Inn) to Fleet street and Strand. Ancient round Templars Church is behind Lincoln inn (lawyers digs). This is one of my favorite walks (not on most tourist routes) to get a flavor of the real London. Near St Pauls there are many old Wren churches or walk back along the South Bank past the Globe theater, old George Inn (one of few galleried inns left)
I love history too, and I LOVE London. I'd recommend the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey minimum. If you like museums go to the British Museum.
My advice is not to give you answers, my advice is either buy or borrow (libraries have them, maybe even in the Bay Area) Rick Steves' London. In there he outlines all the major tourist attractions, gives 1 and 2 day itineraries, and provides all the information so that you can pick those things most interesting to yourselves.
Off the beaten track and very interesting: Whitechapel Bell Foundry Home of the Liberty Bell and Big Ben!! Directions; Take the tube to Whitechapel, exit the tube and turn to the right...about 3 - 4 blocks, past the old hospital, ...small building appearing the same as whe Queen Victoria visited in the early 1900's...not that much there to be honest, but the people are very friendly and well worth the effort to see it!
Once again, Nigel has given great advice. Rick Steves London guide is a must for you. If you read it from cover to cover, you will discover your very own "must do" list personalized to your interests. Personally, my "must do" list for the first full day (Thursday) would be: 1. Tower of London-Get there early morning when they open, to avoid the crowds. 2. St. Paul's-(About 15 blocks west of the Tower) 3. Museum of London (About 3 blocks north of St. Paul's). These 3 are all located within the area of London known as the old City of London. Then, moving across town, 4. The British Museum is open late on two days, Thursday and Friday. Also, admission is free, which means you can drop by for a few hours, then leave and come back another day to continue. A person could spend days in the British Museum and still not see it all, so look at the museum map when you get there, and zero in on what you most want to see. On your second full day, I would see: 5. Westminster Abbey-This is a "don't miss it" site. Some of the other sites mentioned on this board are located in this area, so you could then move on to those. The key to seeing a lot in London in a short amount of time is to group your sites so you know which sites are close to each other. A real time-saver.