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London Visit

Due to a flight change, we have an unexpected stop in London for 4 days for which I have only planned a trip to see the Harry Potter exhibit the first day. I'd like to show my daughter the Elgin Marbles; British Museum (is this the best for art?) Westminster Abby, London Tower, British Library, Shakespeare at the Globe, St. Pauls, a trip to Stonehenge (tour company or on own?). We'll be coming from Gatwick - any advice on where to stay - how to manage? Tried to read on transportation system but cannot seem to absorb! Thanks so much for any help - general or specific.

Posted by
237 posts

The British Museum is amazing but the National Gallery has better paintings - the collection is staggering. There are many areas to stay but I've stayed in the Belgravia section near Victoria Station and really liked it. Convenient for mass transit, nice little restaurants and stores in a pretty upscale area. Is walking distance to many sights including the Palace and Westminister Abbey. The train or coach from Gatwick to Victoria station would put you right there. Nothing beats the underground for ease of getting around but I also recommend taking some of the regular buses to get a feel for the city. Because the city is so large and you travel it underground I found it hard to stitch the various areas of the city into a whole. Get 2 Oyster cards for getting around the city - note that getting two separate cards from a machine may require two separate cards to charge. Put a balance on the cards and you can cash in the balance (and the card deposit) on your way out of town. Check the Globe schedule - when we were there the only available plays were in sign language or an obscure African language because they were doing a special "37 plays in 37 languages" program. You can always get a tour of the theatre but you're at the mercy of the schedule for plays themselves. London is a big, busy city - don't overplan take some time to relax and breathe. My $.02, hope that helps,

Posted by
180 posts

Get the Rick Steve's London guidebook. This answers all your questions including neighborhoods to consider staying in as well as museum tours and walking tours. That book is your absolute BEST starting place!

Posted by
4684 posts

The large number of foreign-language plays last year was a one off to coincide with the Olympics, but if you want to see a play at the Globe I would book asap - the Shakespeare performances in particular sell out fast.

Posted by
6334 posts

Concur with Nancy get the RS guidebook. Practical, useful. Get absorbed and understand both the tube and bus system are easy to navigate. For the 4 days you are their might be best to get the National Rail Service 2 for 1 deals. Read the archives here and the section in the guidebook about Oyster Card or Travel Cards. Which is the better deal. London is also a very walkable city. Globe performances are stellar but do book NOW. British museum is huge and can be overwhelming. Try to take in at least one evening song at either Westminster or St. Paul's. Money saver and a lovely ceremony to partake in. Since you are only there for four days and have already used up a day seeing Harry Potter, you need to know you'll also spend a day to get out to, see and return from Stonehenge. You'll need to prioritize. Having the guidebook and sitting and chatting with your daughter will help you do that. Great city. Too bad you don't have more time to explore it.