Nov/Dec trip to London

Hi, I am arriving in London on November 29th for a 2 week much needed vacation. I had arranged to stay in Canary Wharf but following a 2 week hospital stay I had to change my plans because of, but have now booked an adorable historic converted bakery in Winchmore Hill. :) Now I'm starting the research to see what I can see and do in those two weeks, and what will actually be 'open' at that time of the year. I did check into going to Salisbury and Stonehenge, and looked on 'London Walks' web site, but they don't do tours after the end of September. :( Because of the obvious cost involved I'm not going to be hiring a car, I much prefer to either walk where I need to or get the train/buses.
I'm not into shopping (shock, and will be enjoying taking leisurely strolls around where I'm staying, but would love to see some of the historic architecture if I can (which is why I would love to see Salisbury Cathedral) I'm into churches, castles and other historic buildings, so hoping someone has some suggestions. :) Oh and if there are any Dr Who/Torchwood fans out there, maybe some suggestions for those as well.. lol :)

Posted by Leslie
Spokane, WA
270 posts

Linzi, not sure where you saw your info on the London walks, but they do tours year round. Currently, on their website ( only have their summer schedule but it shows the Salisbury/Stonehenge scheduled through Oct. 30th. The winter schedule will be out closer to the end of Oct, but if you email them, they can probably tell you what days that particular tour will be on.

Posted by Linzi
Litchfield Park, Arizona, USA
92 posts

Thanks Leslie, I never thought of I just saw the dates and thought that was it.. :) That's what I get for thinking. I have made the site a favorite so will check it for the Winter schedule :)

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2584 posts

London is fine in November and December. Curious why you choose to stay in Winchmore Hill. Easily 45 minutes outside of London. Was it the price? The charm of the accommodation? Budget wise and time wise going into London and back to Winchmore Hill on a daily basis is going to be costly. Especially as the days are shorter in the Winter months. London Walks are a stellar way to see sites. The Salisbury/Stonehenge trip is well done but consider training or busing to Salisbury and staying the night as well. Public transport in London is readily available (bus, black cabs and the Underground) but it is an easily walkable city.

Posted by Linzi
Litchfield Park, Arizona, USA
92 posts

Hi Claudia, The reason I chose the location was a bit of everything..the charm of the old bakery, the price and how helpful and lovely the owners have been with regards to all my questions. I'm using to travelling by bus and train so the 25-30 min train journey the owner quoted me isn't that much :) I wanted to be close enough (and for me it's close enough without being too far) that I can get to where I wanted to go and not be so close to the hustle and bustle. :)

Posted by Rosalyn
1529 posts

Despite the hordes of tourists that descend on London and its environs, it's mostly a place where people live and work. Therefore, most of what you will want to see, will be open. London is loaded with historic buildings, more than you'll be able to see in 2 weeks. Think St. Paul's, Westminster Cathedral, Tower of London, Houses of Parliament. Going a bit further afield: Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, Dover Castle, Greenwich Observatory, Royal Naval College (the chapel has a beautiful interior with amazing Addam plaster work), and on and on. We lived there for a year; did a daytrip almost every weekend; and there's still stuff we never got to. I had a book about walking in London. You could check bookstores. I think it, or something similar, is still available. The good thing about such a resource is it helps you to organize your walks efficiently so that you cover places at the same time that are close to each other.

Posted by Linzi
Litchfield Park, Arizona, USA
92 posts

Thanks Rosalyn :) Exactly ! There is so much to see and do and so many beautiful buildings to see, so thanks for the advice on the walking book, will definitely look out for something that might help organize my time so I get to see as much as I can. The benefit I face right now, is that if two weeks isn't enough I can hang around for another couple if I want, just have to watch the pennies. :)

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
5050 posts

Remember at that time of year, you're close to the winter solstice, so the days will be very short. And, at that latitude, it never gets very bright even at midday. That was my experience when I was in London in December 1985. And I was used to a Philadelphia winter level of light; coming from Arizona, you'll find it quite dark. As long as you're prepared (I wasn't), you can adapt, but it does mean that the time for taking leisurely strolls while it's still light out is reduced. Everything is "open," just like in the US, as it's the run-up to Christmas. Most of London's classic attractions are indoors anyway, so just bundle up (when walking between them, or seeing Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park) and enjoy!

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

Concur with comments; day tours to Stonehenge are throughout the year. Alternatively, Salisbury is easy to get to by train, and the Cathedral is very convenient to the train station. just remember it is going to get light late in the morning, and dark early in the afternoon

Posted by jill
10 posts

Think about a day trip to Bath, very easy by train, and a lovely city. See the Baths, take a walking tour with a local guide and enjoy the architecture and the local history. They also have a small theater if you stay late, buy tickets at the box office before opening for a great discount. I saw a Noel Coward play and it was a nice evening out. Also, you may want to purchase the London Pass with the travel option. While it seems expensive, if you plan to see many sights this will save you lot of $$$. I bought a 7 day pass for my first trip to London and it paid off. You will go to many "smaller" attractions that are covered by the pass that you might not see otherwise.

Posted by Linzi
Litchfield Park, Arizona, USA
92 posts

Thank you to everyone for all your wonderful advice. :) all the tips and ideas are making me really excited to be going. I will definitely look into the London Pass because as was mentioned it will pay off in the long run. Hopefully some things might also be discounted for the Winter months. I just know my camera is going to get a work out lol. Thanks again!

Posted by Linda
Bromley, Kent,, UK
1759 posts

The travel card sold with the London Pass covers all zones and is rarely good value for visitors, especially first timers, who tend to concentrate on places within Zones 1 and 2. So if you do buy the Pass buy your own travelcard. Also, if there are two or more of you, look at this site for alternative means of discounted entry tickets. Depending on where you visit it can work out cheaper. In Nov/Dec lines are rarely an issue and everbody has to go through any security checks regardless of type of ticket/pass held. Have a look at the site nearer your date bacause more places are included during the winter months. The major museums and galleries are free.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
12608 posts

I'm surprised to see you say you may use the London Pass. I'd advise you to look very very carefully at what benefit you may gain from it. There have been many discussions here at the Helpline about it in the past - you can use the search facility to find them. Remember that virtually all of the major museums and many of the smaller ones in London are free, and that the travel portion of the Pass may be more expensive than you need. Then again, staying in the back of beyond at the end of zone 4 as you will be, maybe it will be of some use. For comparison, a 7 day Travelcard for unlimited use of all buses and trains and Underground within zones one to four is £41.80.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
5607 posts

There are Christmas markets at that time of year too. I just don't know how to find them. Friends of mine took me to one, years ago. I also came upon one on a day trip from London to Bath.

Posted by Anna
Lawrenceville, Georgia
693 posts

Linzi, check out this website:
It's an illustrated travel guide to Great Britain, broken down into counties, cities, etc. Also, here's a particular blog that is fun and interesting to read (retired Engl. professional couple making trips around the UK; he's documenting it all in photos.) Here's the website for the blog. You'll have to scroll down past entries to find a really informative one for London.