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London Itinerary

My mom and I will be in London 25-28 April and are staying at the County Hall Premier Inn. My mom has specific sights on her wish-list, including St. Paul's Cathedral (including evensong), Hampton Court Palace, the Royal Mews, evensong at Westminster Abbey and a cruise on the Thames. We've been to the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey on an earlier trip, but both would enjoy exploring these again if time allows. Museums aren't high on her list, and neither of us is interested in shopping or theatre this trip.

I've devised the itinerary below with all of this in mind, and am trying to keep it as simple as possible. Mom is perfectly mobile, but I'm trying to keep to a pace that's more in line with her slower speed. I'd welcome feedback of any kind - too little? Too much? Doable at a reasonably slow pace?

Friday, 4/25 - Arrive at hotel by 1:00 p.m. I thought walking would be the best way to stave off jet-lag...cross Westminster Bridge, walk past Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, down Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, perhaps stop into the National Gallery and have something to eat at St. Martin-in-the-Fields café. Possibly ride London Eye that evening and call it an early night.

Sat., 4/26 - Bus from County Hall to Buckingham Palace, visit Royal Mews and Queen's Gallery if time allows (closest we're going to get to Buckingham Palace in April!). Walk through St. James Park to Trafalgar Square, catch bus to St. Paul's, tour and stay for evensong.

Sun., 4/27 - Train to Hampton Court Palace. Come back in time for 5:45 p.m. organ recital at Westminster Abbey.

Mon., 4/28 - Cruise from London Eye Pier to Tower of London, see parts we missed 3 years ago. Cruise back to Westminster in afternoon, tour Westminster Abbey and stay for evensong. Alternatively, we could cruise to Greenwich this day, which neither of us has seen, and try to get back in time for evensong at the Abbey.

I appreciate any and all comments!

Posted by
3319 posts

I actually think that your itinerary looks pretty good! With factoring in time to eat I think that this is very doable! Personally, I would opt for your first option on Monday. Greenwich didn't excite me all that much and I would choose cruising the Thames, the Tower, and Westminster Abbey over Greenwich any time.

Posted by
26053 posts

A couple of thoughts. Generally OK, maybe a little fettling to bring it up to fine shine.

You've left your big outdoors activity on the River to your last day, (maybe so that you could try to miss the weekend crowds at the Tower of London?), and appear to have made no allowance for the truly miserable weather that can blow in at the end of April. There's a reason that the Queen, whose actual birthday is the 21st of April, celebrates her official birthday in June.

You might be rewarded for leaving your days a bit loose and do those things that both of you want to do most first, or that must be done on a particular day, but keeping a weather eye open for bad weather coming. Usually the BBC on TV channel 1 between 5:30 and 9:00 each morning M-S (not Sunday) and between 6 and 7 pm M-F have a comprehensive weather slot in the news, first national then local to London. They will give very comprehensive information for the next 24 hours and look forward 3 days. They are usually pretty accurate, even down to when it may rain within an hour or two.

Plan your outdoor activities for when there is sun, or at least not rain.

The other point is that you can't get to Buckingham Palace by bus. There are no buses on Constitution Hill, the Mall, Buckingham Palace Road past Bressenden Place, or Birdcage Walk. If you look at a Central London Bus Guide you will see a big lot of empty around the Palace. You could take a 148 to Buckingham Palace Road and walk past the Royal Mews and the Queen's Gallery and then around to the statue of Victoria. The easiest is probably the Jubilee Line Tube 2 stops from Waterloo to Green Park, then upstairs and a straight stroll down the hill through Green Park. Or it isn't a terrifically long walk just over Westminster Bridge with its views, and through Parliament Square and down Birdcage Walk.

Good luck with your planning....

Posted by
112 posts

Thanks for that, Anita. I agree with you regarding the last day. I really only threw Greenwich out there because my mom has mentioned it. It seems one would need most of a day to appreciate its sights, and I think we could see and do a bit more if we stay closer in to the city, especially given our short time there.

Nigel - I'm so glad you chimed in. You're right - I really haven't taken into account bad weather. The last time we were in London (mid-May 2011), we were fortunate enough to have beautiful weather, so I'm afraid we're a bit spoiled. Thanks so much for the tip on the BBC weather forecasts.

You are also correct in assuming we've planned a Monday visit to the Tower to avoid the weekend. Also, if we want to tour St. Paul's and attend evensong, it has to be Saturday, and if we want to tour Westminster Abbey, it has to be Saturday or Monday. Everything else is pretty flexible. I checked the City Cruises website and it appears that their fleet has "all weather" seating, so I'm not sure rain would affect us too much that day - although I do realize that the Tower complex involves a lot of going outdoors between buildings. I'm actually more concerned about Hampton Court Palace. Is most of the activity there indoors? I'd read about the beautiful gardens, but I suppose one only hangs out in them if it isn't chucking it down with rain.

We'll definitely come up with a list of alternate activities. We found on our last trip to England that it worked best to have a general idea of what we wanted to do, then choose from our "to-do" list each day based on weather, energy level, mood, etc. London's just especially tricky because there is so much to see, and I want to make sure we fit in the things Mom most wants to see,so your suggestion of doing them first is completely sound. Thanks!

Posted by
112 posts

Oh - meant to add, Nigel - thanks for that info on buses (or lack thereof) to Buckingham Palace. I'd seen a map showing 148 and couldn't quite work out where it ended up in relation to Buck. Palace, so your explanation helps. I'd prefer to walk from our hotel myself, and if the weather's nice and Mom's up to it, we will probably do that.

Posted by
714 posts

Hampton Court is mostly indoors (aside from shortish walk from railway station). The gardens are lovely but April you may be in that time between the lawns of daffodils and the tulips just coming out - depends on how cooperative the weather is. The formal gardens are lovely and can be viewed from the upper floors of the later part of the Palace.

Just pack a raincoat and buy a cheap umbrella there and you will survive the rain just fine.

Posted by
112 posts

Thanks Leslie - The umbrella and jacket are definitely on the packing list!

Posted by
132 posts

I agree completely with Anita. the plan sounds like a good pace. I was also underwhelmed by Greenwich. We were done after about 45 minutes. To us, it wasn't worth the time it took to get there other than to say we had been and know we weren't missing anything. I'd choose a repeat to the Tower of London over Greenwich any day. Also, we loved Hampton Court Palace. We spent the entire day there. Enjoy!

Posted by
1068 posts

Sorry, but I must disagree with those who were underwhelmed by Greenwich.

The town is very cute and has a lovely ancient church (St Alfege - definitely worth a pop-in), a delightful little museum dedicated to fans (purportedly has a very nice tea service, but I haven't partaken), an old market hall (like a mini Covent Garden), and the actual Cutty Sark to recommend it, at the very least. And the Old Royal Naval College buildings are lovely! We spent more than an hour exploring the Naval College right off the bat - so that "exhausted it in 45 minutes" might not hold true for you.

Then there's the Royal Observatory, where I happily spent an hour without even paying to go inside!

If you want to see Greenwich, perhaps tube there early morning and spend a half day. You'd be able to get back to central London well before evensong, and could even fit something else in that day, later afternoon.

Posted by
511 posts

I really enjoyed Greenwich, but didn't get there until my fourth trip to London. We got a late start, took a cruise from Westminster Pier and returned via light rail and tube. The Cutty Sark was more interesting than expected and the Royal Observatory had an absolutely fascinating exhibit on Longitude. We were there four hours and saw about half, so I plan to go back.

It was a cold and rainy Sunday in late March. There's a longish uphill climb to the Observatory - I recommend doing that first while you're fresh, especially if the weather is ugly.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
112 posts

My mom and I have discussed whether or not to include Greenwich, and although we both think it sounds like a nice day trip, we have decided to skip it this time. Since we only have three full days in London and are planning to spend one on a day trip to Hampton Court, we would like to stay closer in for the other two days. Thank you, though, for all of your comments! I suspect we'd enjoy Greenwich - just not on this trip.