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3 Days in London - August 2010 - Itinerary Critique

I think I have my London itinerary done, but wanted some input from the London pros. We are arriving at Gatwick at 7am and we hope to make it to Victoria Station by 8:30am and ck our bags there. Let me know what you think.

Day 1: 9:30am-Churchill Museum & Cabinet War Rooms; 11:30am-Buckingham Palace for Changing of the Guard; 12:30pm-Ck into Hotel/Lunch; 2:30pm-Imperial War Museum; 4:30pm-National Gallery; 6pm-Dinner; 7:30pm-Return to Hotel

Day 2: 7:30am-Breakfast; 9am-Tower of London; 12pm-Museum of London; 1pm-Lunch; 2pm-Beatles Walking Tour; 5pm-Harrod's; 7pm-Dinner; 9:30pm-Ceremony of the Keys; 10pm-Return to Hotel

Day 3: 8am-Breakfast; 9:30am-British Library; 11am-British Museum; 2pm-Ck out of Hotel/Lunch; 3pm-Bus to Stansted for flight to Rome

Posted by
780 posts

This is cramming way too much in. I have been to London 3 times and still havent seen everything.
Like Rick says, always assume youll return.

What about getting the local feeling? Do you have time to just wander the mews and old neighborhoods and find the little corner pubs? If thats not your thing, fine, but if you really want to feel the heart of London, its part of it.

Day 1 is always the worst day ever, standing around waiting for the changing of the guard with jetlag and lack of sleep really sounds bordering on torturous to me. And its overrated. Same with Ceremony of the keys. Alot of standing around and waiting for things!

Think about the travel time between each thing. You would need to get to Buck. palace by 10 am at the latest to even be in the area to even see through the gates. Which would cancel out going to Churchill museum & War rooms since youd need to get on travelling by 9:30 to get to Buck. palace by 10ish. And youll be standing there waiting until 11:30. Tired, hungry, jetlagged and bored. Then itll still be a while for the sha-bang to be over.

Day 2 - The tower can take even an hour just to get a ticket for admission, then wait an hour or so just to get in and the tours can total at least 2, 3 hours at minimum. So if you do go at 9 am, you probably wont even be leaving it before 2 pm. I would scratch the Beatles walking tour and do it another time with your own map you can get off the internet.

Day 3 - British Museum. I went there 3 times for about 2 hours each time and have still just scratched the surface. Same with Harrods. HUGE area to cover.

SO this can work if you just want to tick a box to say Yea been there. But for a complete fulfillment, I think youre wayy to focused on the museums and galleries. Each of my trips I have saved something for next time becuase I didnt want to rush anything and not get the full enjoyment.

Posted by
155 posts

I guess I should add more detail. This is my 2nd trip to London and I have a 3rd planned for next summer. I always assume I'll return. I've already seen the Changing of the Guard; Tower of London; British Museum; and Harrods. I just want to see them all again. I will probably go to the British Museum every time I go to London.

Day 1 is never the worst day for us, we like to hit the ground running and not stop til evening. Having seen the Changing of the Guard, there is no way I would get there at 10 and wait til it's over. After we're done at the Churchill Museum, we will head over to the Palace and catch a few minutes of the guards marching down The Mall.

Travel time is already figured in, the times I've listed will be the time I begin at that specific site. Obviously, this itinerary is not set in stone...if we decide to spend more time someplace, we'll adjust...just like every trip.

I've done the Tower and I loved it, but can't even imagine being there for 5 family would kill me! And cutting out the Beatles walking might as well bury me right son is a HUGE Beatles fan and although we don't usually do guided tours, I've read that this one is great.

Harrods is not a place for us to sightsee, but to shop and possibly eat...again hubby and son won't last more than an hour or two in there.

I thought the Ceremony of the Keys sounded different and special...but I'll have to do some more research to find out if it's just standing around and waiting. I thought it was only 30 minutes once it began.

We love to travel and always include special things geared toward each family member. As long as we all have a good time, I am fulfilled...but complete fulfillment??? Not sure if London can do that for me. ;)

Posted by
780 posts

Sorry about that, it didnt state that you already figure travel time into it and that you had already seen all that stuff.

I travel alone so I get to spend as little or much time as I want at any place I choose.

I cant imagine being held back by being outnumbered by everyone else! Maybe I am just selfish, but my husband is English, and has lived in London so he really gets no enjoyment out of going there, and now it is my favorite place to visit! We went together once and he was grumbling like a bored kid the whole time. lol.

Rome is on my next itinerary!

Posted by
345 posts

It doesn't sound entirely unreasonable, although I couldn't fit things into your timeline... I spent at least 3 hours at Cabinet War Rooms, 3-4 hours at Imperial War Museum, National Gallery I've spent all day in the past, 3.5 hours Tower of London. It's all about your interests... and if you have kids that you're dragging along, I can see why you've planned shorter times... and if you've been to these places before.

My only issue... no trip to London is complete without a walk along the Thames, and a play!

Posted by
2157 posts

Cindy, This is a pretty tight itinerary, but if I were going to be in London for just three days, I would plan something similar. I really enjoy running around trying to see as much as I can. I can't do it for days on end, but I think I could manage this itinerary just fine. It always helps to be flexible. If it were me, I would choose Westminster Abbey over the Changing of the Guard, the V&A or Tate Modern over the National Gallery and a play over the Ceremony of the Keys (which I've never done; I just love the theatre in London). But I'm not going on the trip you are. Have a great time!

Posted by
155 posts

I go back and forth about seeing a play. I'd really like to fit one into this trip, but this is a trip for my boys (hubby and son) and I've really let their interests guide my planning. If I decide to nix the Ceremony of the Keys, maybe I could find a play they would like.

I'm willing to drop the Changing of the Guard and the Museum of London to allow more time at the Churchill Museum and Tower of London. I'm thinking I may leave the boys at the Imperial War Museum and go to the National Gallery on my own, so that they can take their time.

Posted by
319 posts


You might get more helpful info if you could be more specific with your questions. You asked the board "what do you think?" and then told the first poster why every one of her suggestions won't work for you.

Is there something specific you'd like help with?

Posted by
806 posts

I really enjoyed the Ceremony of the Keys - it's about 30 minutes of walking around in the Tower with a Yeoman warder who has great stories to tell. My teen daughter and I had such a great time with our warder that we came back the next day for another tour in daylight. Of course we also enjoy the theater, so it's a difficult choice. Check out the Theatremonkey website or to find out what's playing that might interest your family. You have a lot of energy - that's way more than I would attempt on the first day - but more power to you if you can do it. Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
1 posts

To save some time you can buy tickets for the Tower of London online before you go. Also you will want more than two hours at the Imperial War Museum. The Museum on London deserves way more than an hour of you time! Have a great trip!

Posted by
3419 posts

What are your kids' ages? If they are teens, your family might enjoy We Will Rock You. It is all of Queen's music- we have seen it more than a dozen times- but hubby is the world's biggest Queen Fan.

Wicked might be good, too, esp if they have seen Wizzard of Oz. Depending on how tired you are, you might could do a play on the first night- but it would be pushing it. Have you requested your tickets yet for the Ceremony of the Keys- though they are free, you have to get those in advance by mail, can't get them there. Personally, I'd skip Harrod's and the Changing of the Guard. Also- is your hotel close to the British Museum? It can take ALOT of time- you can loose track of time quickly there.

Posted by
991 posts

Cindy, I try to hit the ground running as well and after many trips to London I still try to visit old "friends" as well as finding some new ones. Day 1:I think I'd lose the Changing of the Guard and the National Gallery and take the Tower Bridge Tour. Fascinating for kids and adults. Great views. It looks like you only have one night to see a play if you wanted. Browns Restaurant on St. Martins Lane gives good value for the pre-theatre crowd. It would be harder for me to give up the ceremony of the keys. I'm trying to design an itinerary for us and our 9-year old grand-daughter so I'm very interested what other people traveling with children think would. Laurel

Posted by
8 posts


I would say that your biggest flaw is Day 1. There is no way you will get to Victoria Station by 8:30. It is a 45 min. ride into London on the Gatwick Express and that is non-stop. You will not get off the plane, collect bags, get through customs, buy tickets to London on the train and be there by 8:30. You had better calculate conservatively 10:00.