London stop

We are starting our tour in London, with free time the first 2 days. This is our first trip. Very interested in history so the Tower is a must, Big Ben photo and what else can we pack in? We are active 50 year olds so getting around isn't a problem. Our hotel is in the north end of London. Also, getting around town -oyster cards for two days/how much to put on them-maybe just 1 day oyster card the other day double decker bus jump on/off.Thanks everyone!

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
2846 posts

If your tour includes the Tower, don't bother doing it on your own first. Check to see what is included and then let us know what else you might be interested in seeing. Do you go to Windsor? If not, that would be well worth at least 1/2 a day and easy to do on your own. Again, if your tour includes an orientation, why do the hop on/off bus? Use the time to see things that aren't on the tour.

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2010 posts

Concur. if the Tower is included in the tour use the other two days to see places not on the tour itinerary. You could spend a day at Hampton Court. Visit the Museum of London. Visit Greenwich. Enjoy one of the London Walks.
www.walks.com. Walk along the canals in Maiden Vale. Visit the half price ticket booth in Leicester Square and see theatre one night. LOTS to see and do.

Posted by Ken
Spring, Texas
599 posts

Everyone has their favorites so I can only give you mine. Check what's included in your tour and go to what's not on it. I'd say things to definitely see include the Tower (as you mentioned), Westminster Abbey (consider Evensong), St Paul's and the British Museum (in that order). Hampton Court, Windsor and Greenwich would each eat up half a day or more. They're nice but may not be effective use of your limited time. Pick up the Rick Steve's London book and see what interests you. As for your oyster cards, you could just buy 2 day passes for zone 1&2 and not have to worry about anything. If you are going around London in buses and the tube, you'll max out the daily charges anyway. If you don't, they money savings would be trivial. The hop-on-hop-off bus isn't really a good way to get around London other than the actual tour which didn't impress me. It does get you a boat ticket to Greenwich but it's an expensive way to get it if your tour has a driving tour of London included.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8742 posts

Our hotel is in the north end of London How far north? London doesn't have a district known as north end. If it is beyond zone 2 a zone 1-2 Travelcard will be less useful.

Posted by Jim
Crystal Lake, IL, United States
29 posts

Sherrell, If you're both interested in history, I would also suggest the Churchill War Rooms and Museum.. If you're interested in doing a day trip - you might consider Canterbury and/or Dover Castle.. A few weeks ago we did the day trip to Canterbury and Dover Castle.. We had enough time, although I could have made an entire day of Dover Castle.. Another excellent castle near London is Bodiam Castle. It's a very picturesque, late-Medieval period castle, completely surrounded by a moat. If you think you're ever going to return to London, I'd consider getting a regular Oyster Card. I still had mine from 5 years ago and I just had to reactivate it - it still had a couple of pounds on it. The underground is a great way to get around the city and is very easy to figure out. I started out with 15 pounds on my.. It's easy to check the balance and easy to reload the card using machines that are in every tube station. Regards from a fellow "active 50 year old" (almost an active 60 year old). Jim

Posted by Stacey
Kansas City
112 posts

We spent 6 hours at the Tower of London and needed every bit of it to see everything. We are very into history too, and a tour might not spend that kind of time there. You might keep that in mind depending on how badly you really want to go there and what you want to see. Hampton Court Palace is also fantastic for history lovers. We spent the entire day there, open till close, and we had to skim over some of the things we left for the end of the day. There is a lot of Tudor history there. I wouldn't pass that up. Is there a certain period in history you tend to prefer?

Posted by Marty
Rockville, MD, USA
70 posts

If you've got half a day and like planes, try the RAF museum in Colindale. It's a tube ride (to Zone 4) followed by a longish walk. Or for something in town, the Museum of London is fascinating - nice displays on the Ice Age, Roman Britain, and the Tudor period. I'm assuming your tour will cover the "must see" attractions. If it doesn't, see the advice of those who posted above this one.

Posted by VS
Palo Alto, CA, United States
556 posts

I recommend the British Museum, for a unique look at objects from world history. It's near Tottenham Court Road tube stop, but it may already be covered by your tour. My wife and I spent five hours there less than a month ago; it was my third visit but I just could not help myself. First time I ever even made it to the second floor, and it was great. Likewise, Tower of London was good for five or six hours as it was on our first visit in 2000. I would also highly recommend the National Gallery, though the history connection may not be as obvious. National Portrait Gallery has more of a history connection and you can have a nice visit there in an hour and a half. You may not have enough time but on the history front, I recommend the Cabinet War Rooms/Churchill Museum. For that matter, and right in the same area, is Westminster Abbey that has quite a lot of history too. You might consider a day pass for transit, it's very liberating to be able to grab any train or bus any time, without any marginal cost. You can see plenty just taking major city bus routes, as Rick says. In London and Paris both, if I can be above ground and see the sights I do on the bus rather than the Underground/Metro. My wife used to like the hop on hop off tours, myself less so, and we tend to take city buses when we can these days. Great to be above ground; some of those Underground lines must be 300 feet underground.

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

While you're getting that Big Ben shot, remember that the clock tower is part of Parliament's buildings so have a stroll there. And just across the street is Westminster Abbey. You'll also be at one end of Westminster Bridge, so you can walk across the Thames and check out the South Bank. If you walk south along the Thames for a half mile or so to Vauxhaul Bridge, you can look left across the river at MI5 headquarters. (Looks kinda zigguraty.) No tours, I believe. The British Musuem is fantastic but so large and extensive that you might let it suck up too much of your 2 allotted days. The lobby, though, is well worth the visit. (There's a pretty decent restaurant at the top of the stairs/elevator.) The exhibit rooms look like traditional museum exhibits. The British Library, down the street a bit from King's Cross, is a good visit, too, for history buffs.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
680 posts

Since you are interested in history, St. Mary's Church, Putney is one of the most (historically) important places in England (and the wider English speaking world); although it is not in the "north end".