London advice 2 1/2 days

Ok, so I've had great help from my RS meeting group, yet I'm still struggling with timing for our London trip. It seems like everyting closes so early and it seems difficult to get it all in. What I don't want to do is run site to site. I want plenty of time in case we love something so we can fully enjoy it, but then also get to what we want to see. We are staying near the British museum. We arrive Thursday afternoon probably around 12:00. Then leave for the airport Sunday early am. My thoughts: Thursday- check into hotel, lunch- St. Pauls Cathedral, open until 4:30 dinner and maybe do a London Walk/Ceremony of keys? Friday- Tower of London 9:30-2:00 Lunch British Museum- open until 8:30 Saturday- Westminter Abby 9:30-?
Spend rest of day- Buckingham Palace, Parliment, Big Ben, Churchill War Rooms (open until 6:00), Trafalgar Square, take a boat ride down the Thames Any thoughts? Would you do anything different?

Posted by gone
2081 posts

hi, imo i would go to the TOL first thing any AM. WMA would be the next day in the AM. The British Museum is HUGE and sooo cool. I spent 4+ hours there and didnt see all i wanted to see. St Pauls wasnt busy either. note. any of the walks and such can be done at ANY TIME! Churchill War rooms didnt have a line to get in or were that busy when i was there last march. I didnt go to Parliment, or Buckingham Palace or watch the changing of the guards. So Plan your TIME well, where you go first and what in the general vicinity so you dont have to bounce back and forth across london. edit, forgot to add, for the TOL, make sure you go see the crown jewels first since that is were the line is. happy trails.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
1626 posts

I think you have a sensible plan for the limited time you have in London. I haven't been to the Ceremony of the Keys so don't know how much of the Tower you get to see, but maybe it would suffice for the Tower. If not, getting there when it opens is the best idea, and you can save a lot of time if you can bear to miss the crown jewels.

Posted by Nancy
London, UK
170 posts

Just be aware that you need to apply for tickets to the Ceremony of the Keys well in advance of your trip.

Posted by Cynthia
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
1280 posts

Switch Friday and Saturday. Sometimes the Abbey is closed for special events - if you have it planned as your Friday event, you can always reschedule it to Saturday. (You should be able to check for special event closings on their website a few days before you visit.)....You might want to consider visiting the Victoria and Albert museum. It's very eclectic; near Hyde Park so you can combine it with a visit there, and it's in the same end of town as the Abbey. We walked between the two (about 1.5 miles I think); interesting walk through some of Belgravia.....Consider dinner at either the National Portrait Gallery or the Tate Modern. Both have view restaurants with mid-price menus; restaurants are on top of the museums. Reserve ahead and specify that you would appreciate a view table......Be sure you have comfortable well-padded walking shoes - Paris and London are REALLY hard on your feet - all that walking on concrete sidewalks.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
1221 posts

Thank you, yes I did send for the tickets for the Ceremoney of the Keys, but don't know if we will get them or not. We will be doing the Tower Friday morning, so the keys ceremony will be just an added evening thing to do, it won't be our only Tower experience. This trip is mainly for my 88 year old dad. He wants to see the British Museum and the Tower of London the most, other sites are secondary. I was thinking that it would be good to do the BM on a day where they are open late so we will have more time, and also want plenty for the Tower. If I switch Friday to Sat then we will be limited with the BM closing at 5:30. But, I would hate to miss Westminster if they happen to have a special event!!

Posted by Leslie
Orange, USA
159 posts

I think your plan is sound. You can check the calendar on the Westminster Abbey site to see if they have any special services planned for the Saturday you'll be there. I know we knew pretty early on that we couldn't attend the Sunday morning service when we were there since it was a special Battle of Britain memorial service by invitation only, so we attended evensong instead. Also be aware that even though the British Museum is open late on Fridays, it doesn't mean all the galleries are open later. (We made that mistake with the V&A.) Their website has a list of which galleries remain open past regular closing time on Fridays. There's so much to see that it helps to visit the site and figure out where you might want to do ahead of time. Then you can see if those galleries are open late and, if not, visit them earlier in the day before they close. Have a lovely trip.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
13908 posts

The British Museum is somewhat comprehensive and extensive - it takes an age to get around the place. As it doesn't cost anything to enter the British Museum (leave donations as you are inspired to) you could have one run through, do something else and then as energy replenishes, return.

Posted by janice
greensboro, United States
4 posts

I love your plan but I would try to fit in the London Eye. We just got back last week and it was truly something special. We rode it on a rainy day and our photos are still amazing. Remember to buy your Oyster Card. If you haven't used it yet, the tube is very easy to learn and ride. We felt safe and never got lost. Cheers!

Posted by Matt
Washington, DC, USA
571 posts

The Ceremony of the Keys is certainly no substitute for seeing the Tower fully, but it is an interesting experience so I think your father will enjoy both. One note of caution. I'm not sure where you're arriving from (are you coming straight from Calif. to London?) but participating in the ceremony involves a bit of standing around....waiting outside for the gates to open (don't be late!), waiting to be admitted in, waiting for the guards to appear and start the ceremony. If you've come from a long flight, it might be tiring at the end of the day to witness the ceremony. You might want to wear comfortable shoes, have a caffeinated beverage with dinner, and make a bathroom break before you arrive at the Tower so that you're alert and comfortable on Thursday evening.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

You're all screwed up. Day One: If you're staying by the museum, do that the first afternoon. Go back later if you need another dose - - but after a couple or three hours, you're exhausted for one shot. There's a slew of places for supper right nearby. Day Two: Be at the Tower when it opens. You'll be done in three hours, including the armor collection and a snack/coffee. St Paul's is just up the road, do that next. Now it's early afternoon. Have reservations for a Duk tour. That'll get you the river ride and the drive-bys of Parliment, Big Ben and a bunch of other stuff (but not Buckingham). Have Eye reservations for a bit after the ride on the amphib (they're a five-minute walk apart). Now go by Buckingham, which you missed, and go have supper. Day Three: Start at Westminster - - you need two hours, max. The War Room are five minutes away - - that's another hour, and it still isn't noon. Trafalgar is a ten-minute walk. You've got a half day left over and haven't been rushed. If you don't get to the Keys ceremony it's no big deal. End of tactful reorganization.

Posted by j.c.
NC, United States
868 posts

Ed's given you a useful, compact itinerary. People seem to think the Musuem is either fascinating or boring. I'm in the fascinating camp. It is certainly very large. Lots of steps, but elevators, too. Time spent plotting out your visit beforehand, either online or when you arrive, will be well spent. The Museum houses a simple coffee/snack line, an OK and hard-to-locate cafeteria, and a decent sit-down white tablecloth restaurant. (The latter is accessible by elevator from the main lobby, in case you don't want to wander the neighborhood.) Remember, unless you manage to book tickets in advance, you will not be doing any indoor sightseeing of Parliament. It, and Big Ben, are directly across the street from Westminster Abbey. (Very busy area.) The area is served by the Westminster Tube station. Parliament sits on the Thames and at Westminster Bridge. River cruises are available along the steps of the bridge. You'll see the signs. If you don't have time for the cruise, walking across Westminster Bridge and then north by the Eye and along the South Bank is a great way to spend a few hours. (In the evening, as well.) Buckingham Palace is impressive. I've never been inside because the lines can be long. Don't be shy about springing for a cab to save time, or tired legs and sore feet.