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London: How much of this is do-able in a day and a half?

My boyfriend and I will have a day and half in London (first trip) and want to know how much of the things we would like to do/see/experience are possible in a day and a half. We are set to land at Heathrow at 11:00 am in early September and have the rest of that day, the entire next day, and possibly a few hours on the 3rd day. I know it will be nearly impossible to do and see all the things listed which is why I am asking for assistance. I listed below in order of importance:
London Eye, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Afternoon Tea, Millennium Bridge, Cruise of the Thames, Wellington Arch, Trafalgar Square, Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace..

Posted by
359 posts

Suzann, with the right order and a bit of research, you can do them all and a bit more in your time frame. In two's and three's, most are within 'spitting' distance of each other and a few could be considered just a walk by/photo op. There's other choices but I'd recommend 'sleeping' in the Victoria area when considering your sight choices. With a bit of a nap at some stage, you could do Big Ben, Royal Mews and Buck Palace the day you arrive; save PM tea for day two when you're not so jet-lagged. I expect some of this site's regulars will come up with a great itinerary(s) to consider.

Posted by
390 posts

By the time you get through customs, get luggage, and catch a train/tube, it will be around 2 p.m. before you get to your hotel to check-in. You'll probably be exhausted, so I'd take a relaxing walk around the West End - see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly, and Buckingham Palace. Sounds like a lot, but everything is very compact. Get dinner at a pub, and then do the London Eye in the evening. (Nice around sunset), and maybe a stroll along the south bank after dark.

Day 2 - Go to the Tower of London/Bridge in the morning, have lunch near the Tate Modern/Millenium Bridge. Take a cruise down the river then have tea around 3-5 p.m. Maybe dinner and theatre in the evening?

Day 3 - if you have time, take an early morning stroll through one of London's many wonderful parks.

Several of the things you lised aren't really sights you can "do" - they're more things to see. i.e. Big Ben, Arch, Buck House, Millenium Bridge, etc. which saves a lot of time!

Posted by
1806 posts

It's a lot to rush thru, but seems pretty do-able. Personally, I'd skip tea w/ limited time. High tea done properly can take a few hours. Honestly, it's tea, sweets & sandwiches. A waiter in a tux at any Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons in America will serve you the same tea for far less money.

Do London Eye only if not raining or foggy & around sunset for nicest view. Doesn't take long-1 trip around. Arrive Tower of London when it opens first thing. Go straight to Crown Jewels to avoid crowds, then do Beefeater Tour. You could easily spend 4 hours here if you tour all buildings & walk the walls. Millenium/Tower Bridge? Snap a few photos & move on. Trafalgar Square? Same unless you are going to the museum (then 2 hours minimum). You cannot climb Big Ben as an overseas tourist (see Parliament tours book up fast & takes time to get thru security-get tickets early. You need timed tickets for Mews & Palace. Changing of Guard is every other day in September.

Posted by
15568 posts

For the one full day, look into taking the hop on-hop off bus. It will give you an orientation of London, goes past just about everything you want to see with commentary, and you can hop-on and hop-off all day long.

The day you land you won't be 100%. It might be the perfect time for the afternoon cruise and Afternoon Tea. Leave the sights, and added commentaries, to the next day.

Everything you wrote is doable because much of it is just "oh, there it is, take a photo, move on."

Posted by
89 posts

I think Jennifer's suggestion would work really well. The only thing I would add is take a half hour nap when you check into your hotel. When I went to France a couple years ago I ended up with a two night (day and a half) stay in London. On our full day we saw Buckingham Palace, the Globe Theater, Millenium Bridge, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, stumbled across the Tour of London bicycle race, the Winston Churchill museum, and had dinner at a really good Indian restraunt. My friend and I had planned to do a number of things that first afternoon, but we were so exhausted we ended up only seeing a one of them, Neal's yard, going to dinner, and turning in early. A short nap can be a great help (a long one can be worse than not napping at all).

Posted by
125 posts

Thank you to everyone who replied! I thought everything I wanted to do/see was possible I just didn't want to rush it. Thank you again for giving me the reassurance.

Posted by
29 posts

I would certainly try to add Westminster Abbey. It very close to Big Ben/London must see would be:
1) Westminster Abbey
2) Tower of London (incl "Ceremony of the Keys")
3) Buckingham Palace/Chg of the Guards

You'll have good views of Tower Bridge from the Tower of London. The tube can get you around to these sites vert well.