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London Itinerary Help

ok...I'm putting it out there. Here's our London plan--please let us know which part or parts are ill advised. Thanks!

Wednesday--Land at Gatwick at 8am. Check into hotel near Victoria Station (we can check in early because we've booked it for the night before--long story). Shower and maybe nap. Double Decker Bus tour with at least a stop at Westminster Abbey. Evening Guided pub tour.

Thursday--Check out of cheap hotel near train station. Leave backpacks at left luggage at Victoria. Day trip on coach tour--Stonehenge, Warwick Castle, and Oxford. Check into new hotel that evening (note: hotels are already booked).

Friday--British Museum all day. West End Show and Dinner in the evening.

Saturday--River Rover Pass day. Tower of London first thing. 2:00 Henry IV at The Globe. Tate Modern--open until 10pm.

Sunday--Walk around in the morning--unsure of area. Afternoon--National Gallery/Trafalgar Square area.

Monday--Leave early on Eurostar

and then, three weeks later, without the husband....

Monday--Fly in to Gatwick at noon. Kew Gardens (is this possible?) and an evening show in London.

Tuesday--Day trip out of Victoria station again--Bath.

Tuesday night--train to Gatwick, Yotel.

Wednesday early--fly out of Gatwick.

Thanks in advance for the critique.

Note: We are in our 30's, will be traveling with only backpacks, and don't have lots of money but are not staying in hostels. We are teachers and, thus, huge nerds--for example, my husband has insisted on an entire day devoted to the British Museum ('it is the entirety of civilization', he proclaims!)

Posted by
10344 posts

"My husband has insisted on an entire day devoted to the British Museum ('it is the entirety of civilization', he proclaims!)"

That sounds about right. I like him already.

Posted by
2234 posts

Hi, Tracy. Here are my thoughts:

Wednesday - Are you flying in from the states? If so, I would not be able to stay awake for a pub tour that night. I'm a lot older than you, but I wouldn't have been able to do it in my 20's either. If you're flying in from somewhere in Europe, the day looks good.

Thursday and Friday look good. On my first trip to London I spent an entire day at the British Museum and loved it. In fact, I went back for another half day at the end of the trip.

Sunday -- I'd need more to do than that. If it were me, I'd want to see the Cabinet War Rooms, Imperial War Museum, V&A (quick tour), Harrods (quick tour) and St. Paul's. That might be too much, but I'd give it a shot.

Sorry I can't answer your question about Kew Gardens. I think Bath is a wonderful city to visit.

I hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
3428 posts

I don't know if there is a left luggage at Victoria- check that out. Sunday- I'd suggest Greenwich- lovely area, market on Sunday, great park. Don't think you can do Kew after your flight back on Monday- You won't really get into London untill about 2:00- then tube to Kew takes a bit, and you'll want to freshen up before dinner and theatre. I LOVE Kew and suggest you try to work it in- if Greenwich isn't what you want you could do it that Sunday. Just reverse things- do the National Gallery in the am then go out to Kew for a long leisurly afternoon.

Posted by
10957 posts

The train to Bath leaves from Paddington Station, not Victoria. (You can take the tube from there.)

Posted by
3580 posts

You can schedule coach (bus) trips to bath from the coach station at Victoria, and if reserved in advance can be very inexpensive. If you take the train from Paddington to Bath, you will probably want one going to Bristol or even Cardiff, with a stop at Bath. The train is faster but more expensive.

Posted by
463 posts

thank you everyone! to answer some questions, yes we are flying in from JFK, so probably the pub thing on the first night IS a bad idea! we can move that to thursday or saturday (likely saturday--thoughts?) and sunday does seem a little empty--i think my husband thought he'd need a whole day in the national gallery (we've spent entire days in the national gallery in DC), but perhaps i can convince him to add kew gardens in the morning (or afternoon--thoughts?) that day. and by 'convince' i mean 'tell him that's what we're doing'! that should balance out our museum fest nicely! we're going to be in paris for the two weeks following london, so we'll want to pace ourselves with the museums!

Posted by
332 posts

I would advise against a nap on arrival day. The bus tour is ideal. You may make it to the pub walk, I know I would an I am a generation older. Victoria station does have left luggage. Do not drag your husband to Kew Gardens. Go without him while he spends more time in a museum or art gallery than you want to. Not many people have the stamina to spend a whole day in the British Museum. Find a hotel in London instead of Gatwick unless it is impossible to make your early flight. Sunday morning? Consider a London Walk, http://www.walks.com . "Westminster and the West End" would be great.

Posted by
463 posts

ha ha--i love the comment about not dragging my husband to kew! ha! sorry i'm actually laughing! what you don't know is that--and i LOVE my husband of course--he's, well, what i call 'just straight enough--but no more'. he LOVES places like that. but i'm thinking that maybe i don't NEED to go to kew. i've been reading some lukewarm reviews online. also--he has a full day in london when he returns from paris (i continue on to barcelona alone) so perhaps he could return to the british museum if he needs more time (and from what i'm figuring out about it, he will!) oh and as for avoiding stayinga at gatwick--my flight leaves at 6am. i'm staying IN gatwick! again--thanks for all of the help! and good to know the bus tour/pub tour thing was a good idea. i fear a nap might turn into 'sleep all day', which wouldn't help jet lag AT ALL! i've never dealt with jet lag of that nature before, so probably trying to sleep on the flight over and then staying up all day is the best idea. plus i'll be so pumped to actually be in london, i don't see how i'd sleep!

Posted by
3428 posts

Tracy- don't let those reviews throw you. Kew Gardens are wonderful!!! We have been in summer and winter and enjoyed it. There is soooo much to see. Talk about the "entirety of civilization"--- they even have a preservation project where they are gathering seeds, etc. from endagenered plants all over the world and cryo-freezing them. Well worth at least 1/2 day if not more. We like it as a break from the city hustle and bustle- and museum legs. Also, their shop is really nice. I've found some wonderful, unique souvieners there at reasonable prices. And my hubby loves Kew as well. He is a great amature photographer and has gotten some really awesome pictures there.

Posted by
809 posts

Here's one vote in favor of a nap the first day - it's not just the jet lag, it's that you've likely only gotten 2-3 hours of sleep on the plane. I have found if I get to the hotel about 11 or noon and set the alarm for 1-2 hours, it really helps; my first few visits I was just shaking with fatigue on arrival. I would echo that the pub walk should be saved for another night [even with a nap], so you can get to bed early. Do you have your show for Friday night already picked out? There's a great website, theatremonkey, that has reviews of shows, good discount offers, info on seats and getting to each theatre... we have found it very useful. If you can't find a deal on a show you want to see at that website, you could check the TKTS half-price booth website and just see what shows they offer; they have a range of prices and shows. Have a wonderful time!

Posted by
463 posts

OP here...revised plan...

Wednesday...Land Gatwick at 8am. Travel to hotel, check in and grab a snack. Double Decker bus tour (suggestions of companies? and then dinner.

Thursday--National Gallery/Trafalger Square area in the morning, Kew Gardens in the Afternoon. Possibly a show that night.

Friday--British Museum all day. West End Show and Dinner in the evening.

Saturday--River Rover Pass day. Tower of London first thing. 2:00 Henry IV at The Globe. Tate Modern--open until 10pm.
(NOTE--thinking of switching Thursday AM with Saturday AM--so switch tower of london and national gallery. thoughts?)

Saturday NIGHT--pubs around our hotel, the hoxton (supposedly there are good pubs in that area?)

Sunday--Day trip on Stonehenge Tours to Bath and Stonehenge at Sunset (husband insists on this)

Monday--Train to Paris

and then, three weeks later, without the husband....

Monday--Fly in to Gatwick at noon. Free time to do whatever I want in the afternoon/early evening (suggestions?) and an evening show in London (wicked).

Tuesday--Day trip out of Victoria station again--Oxford, Stratford, and Windsor Castle

Tuesday night--train to Gatwick, Yotel.

Wednesday early--fly out of Gatwick.

Posted by
518 posts

If I had taken a bus tour on the day I arrived from the US, I would have been miserable and asleep on the bus. You do not want to sit down that first day. Keep moving. If you want to see Westminster, walk there to see it. Just being there is enough to keep you awake IF you keep moving. And -- no shower, no nap. It will be last thing you do that day. So long as we keep moving, the first day out is one of the best.

Posted by
27436 posts

A couple of thoughts Tracy.

First, assume you will return. My goodness you're doing an awful lot!

Second, if you don't have lots of money, do you know how much London theatre costs? (lots)

Third, I don't believe you have said when the trip will be, but if it is summer, do you know when sunset is at Stonehenge? We're in Birmingham, in the centre of England, and in late June the sun rises around 4 am and sets around 11pm. You may be back late from Wiltshire.

Fourth, after you get back from France, do you really think that the Tuesday holds up? You could spend an entire day in Oxford, and well over half a day at Windsor Castle. Two or three hours should do Stratford-upon-Avon. I guess you will be on a coach trip. About 3/4 of an hour on the coach to Windsor, I'd guess an hour or an hour and a half from there to Oxford, perhaps an hour and a quarter from there to Stratford and at least 2 hours back. That's minimum 4 to 5 hours on the coach for all three stops.

Best of luck, but I think you may end the tour one tired bunny.

Posted by
463 posts

yeah, i realize it is a lot, but that whole 'assume you will return' thing implies that there aren't scores of other countries all around the world that i want to visit! also--i plan to be very tired when i get back! the good part is i have three weeks off from work after returning--i'm a teacher and don't start back until september. and the travel is in july/august (mid july through mid august for london, paris, and barcelona in that order), so yes, we might not be at stonehenge for sunset, but it is the 'sunset tour', which just means we'll be there 'after it closes' or whatever the tour promises. it is the ONE thing my husband has requested for the entire trip (well, that and 'can we please just sit in a park and eat bread and cheese for at least one day?' for the paris portion!) as for 'too much', i have backup plans--the national gallery (husband's pick) and kew gardens (my pick) can be deleted to make more time for things we want to do more (the tower of london, and all of the typical 'touristy' locations that will be covered by the double decker bus tour that we may or may not take--that's just kind of there as a placeholder for the lot of it). would deleting those two things make it more do-able? and the coach tour on my last day there could be replaced by a day of 'just go to one of those places' day--my pick would be oxford by train.

Posted by
157 posts

I think it sounds amazing, Tracy! You are going to have a wonderful time. You can always make adjustments as you go along if you are overly tired or running low on money. We always over-plan and have things we are okay with dropping if need be.

Do you have a blog? I'm gonna start one and would like to follow a few like-minded travelers on their blogs.

Posted by
463 posts

cindy...do i have a blog? ha ha ha! yes, yes i do. it is one of my obsessions. :-) www.elbodans.wordpress.com it is ad-free and only for my amusement and other people's information. and good to hear that other people also 'over plan'! i'm sure that no matter what we do we'll have a great time, but i'm also of the mindset that i'd rather have too much to do than find myself somewhere amazing not knowing WHAT i want to do, or worse, how to get there or when to go! i recently planned (in my head) a day trip to NYC--only a two hour bus ride from where i live--to visit the met. i planned to go on the monday of easter break. i found out--by accident--on easter sunday that the met is closed on mondays. that would be a huge duh! imagine doing that with the louvre--showing up on tuesday to find it closed!

Posted by
970 posts

The bus tour on the first day is a good idea. Be prepared to be zombies by the end of the evening’s pub crawl. Better to catch a cab sometime midway and hit the hotel for some sleep.

Thursday: If it was me, I’d spend a full day in Oxford.

Friday: The British Museum runs a restaurant and a cafeteria-style cafe that are better choices for lunch than most places in the neighborhood. Don’t confuse them with the large but usually busy snack shop on the main floor. Dunno if it is “the entirety of civilization’, but is really big. Easy to get lost in it, too. Carry cellphones so you can chase each other down if you get separated.

Sunday: If you are anywhere near the Thames, that’s a good place to walk. If you’re not close, get close. Take the Tube to Westminster Station, walk across Westminster Bridge, walk north (to the left) by the London Eye and as far as you want along the South Bank. Stop for refreshments and munchies. If you are feeling energetic, cross to the opposite bank and keep going until you get to the Tower and London Bridge. Google “London walks” for walks.com, a very respected outfit that runs a bunch of walks around the city.

Buy a Travel Card or an Oyster Card for the Tube (almost everyone buys an Oyster Card). Don't quibble about which is cheaper. Not worth the brain cells. Don't be afraid to flag down a cab when your feet are tired. Worth every penny at the end of a long day (and when the Tube is SRO.)

Posted by
970 posts

Oops, just saw your revised itinerary. Doesn't look bad at all.

I stayed at the Hoxton for 8 nights last October. Nice place. It's bar was always busy and noisy at night.

Pubs: Bunches all over the country. Just walk in and look around. If it doesn't appeal, keep going. Pubs are a personal taste. Some nice ones in Oxford.