A Few Hours in London

I have a 7 hour layover at Heathrow later this month. Does anyone have any recommendations of what I might see? I've never been to London. Thanks.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2899 posts

Nigel - Will the bridges be closed to pedestrians as well? I've seen the bridges closed to vehicle traffic for events but I would think it would be tough for Londoners to get around if they couldn't walk across. Judy, in any case, another option would be to go one more stop to Embankment. From there, there is a pedestrian bridge (the Golden Jubilee Bridge) over the Thames. The steps are on the tube side of the Embankment, so even if they have the roadway along embankment closed, I would think you would be able to cross the river there ... but I'd check the list of closures.

Posted by Judy
Georgetown, TX, USA
12 posts

Actually, from my reading, there are a lot of pedestrian roads and bridges that will be closed that day. It's cycling day! Thank you all for your thoughts. I think I will stay away from the city after all. My timing is off!

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Judy, I hope others who know the exact timing will add their two cents, but it takes a lot onger to get into London and back than you may think, and could leave you with little time to see anything while there. Just going through passport control can take an hour if other large planes arrive at the same time. Then you have to pick your transport into London. Heathrow Express is the fastest, but it is expensive. A single return ticket is £34. Make sure you buy it before you board, or it will cost €5 more. The Tube is cheaper but takes considerably longer. However, it could get you someplace closer to the sights you want to see than the HE, which ends at Paddington. You could walk to Hyde Park from there, but not any of the major sights. By the time you exit the plane, walk to the passport control, get through the queue, head to transport and get into London, you have used two hoursor more of your layover time. You need to allow an hour to get back, and another two ( or three for a flight to the US) for the return. All that could leave you with as little as an hour to spend seeing London. I hope someone has better news for you, maybe using the Tube to get to a central place where you could see lots of major sights at one stop. Then it might be worth it.

Posted by Judy
Georgetown, TX, USA
12 posts

Thanks so much for your thoughts. I don't suppose there is anything worth visiting in the Heathrow area??? Judy

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
6839 posts

Instead of heading to London consider the nearby town of Windsor, home of the famous castle of the same name. It borders the airport and is easily reached by taxi. With seven hour you have just enough time for a quick visit.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
780 posts

Another suggestion often made is Osterley Park and House, which is 5 or 6 stops on the underground to Osterley depending on the terminal you are flying into,and around a mile walk. May depend on the weather as to this being a good idea, as well as time of day.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

You also need to consider what you will do with your luggage id it is not checked through.

Posted by Judy
Georgetown, TX, USA
12 posts

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll check out both. Luggage won't be an issue as my terminal has a "left luggage" office. Judy

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3409 posts

If you plan to leave your luggage at the "left luggage" office, be sure to factor in the time it will take to retrieve it, if you do end up leaving the airport for a while.

Posted by Judy
Georgetown, TX, USA
12 posts

Yes, I've factored in the left luggage time (outside the 7 hours) so that won't be an issue. But I've just run across one. It seems there's a big biking rally day in London on the day I'm there and most of the above ground transportation and many of the roads are going to be closed, even for pedestrians to cross. Also, I forgot I was going to be at Windsor Castle in September on a different tour. So, that leaves ONE option near Heathrow. Any other ideas out there? Thanks, in advance. Judy

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2899 posts

You aren't going to have much time, but If you really want to go into London, I'd take the tube to Hammersmith, change there for the District Line (other side of the platform) and continue to Westminster. Exit at Westminster and walk across the bridge. You can then walk east along the Thames. The transportation is about an hour each way, but this gives you a chance to see some of the iconic London sights like the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, the dome of Saint Pauls and the Tower Bridge.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Laura came up with good directions to get to some of the main sights ( Westminster and a Thames bank walk) by Tube. If you are going to take the time to exit and re-enter that airport, you might as well spend a little extra transport time and get to some sights worth seeing, rather than someplace "nearby".

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8756 posts

I believe that that is the day that the 11 main Thames bridges will all be closed as well.

Posted by j.c.
Cary, NC, United States
842 posts

Killing time at Heathrow: Park yourself in a decent restaurant and eat and drink, slowly. With 7 hours, you have time to take the train, or bus, or cab, to another terminal where you can sample its culinary delights. A good, thick, book, will help, too.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3205 posts

Just a thought, but if it were me, I'd go to Windsor even though you'll be there on a tour in Sept. No harm in going twice. Beats hanging out in a airport for 7 hrs imo.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3509 posts

I was just going to suggest Hampton Court as an alternative. I took a quick look on the internet, the #111 bus goes from the Central Bus Station at Heathrow. It looks like the buses run about every 10 minutes and the ride is just over an hour. On the Palace website, it says you should allow 1.5 hours to return to the airport, and that there is a mini-cab service to the airport from the taxi station at the Palace (so maybe that would be faster). Their site also says there are "some lockers where hand baggage and small rucksacks or overnight bags can be left. They are off Clock Court and a £1 coin is required to use them. The coin will be returned to you after use."

Posted by Judy
Georgetown, TX, USA
12 posts

Thank you all for your ideas. It gives me a lot of food for thought. I was looking on the rail lines from Heathrow, and found Hampton Court Palace. It's a place that's not on my tour and nearby. Has anyone been there? Your thoughts?