Only 2 full days in London- lots of q

We will be staying in Victoria area (district?), and hope to see Tower of London, Nat'l Maritime museum, Westminster Abbey. Maybe St. Thomas in the Field- Thames clipper. Is the London Card a good option? What about the Oyster?
None of the 4 of us has been there before. We will leaving home early next week, so don't have time to do much more research. Also, had some difficulty booking tickets on line.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
683 posts

London Card - do you mean London Pass? The two day version (without transport) of that costs about £60 for an adult. It will save you about £20 at the Tower and another approx £20 at the Abbey. It won't save you anything at the National Maritime Museum since that is free anyway (but other attractions at Greenwich, like the Cutty Sark, do charge). So you are some way from breaking even, but it does also include an all day hop on-hop off City Cruises boat ticket (a rival, but similar thing to the Thames Clipper service), which you could use to get to/from and between the Tower and the Maritime Museum. You've still not actually broken even, but if you added one more attraction you would be in "profit". If I were you, I would plan to see the Tower and Maritime Museum on the same day as they are (relatively), nearby each other. St Thomas in the Field? Do you mean St Martin in the Fields? It is in Trafalgar Square. You can walk there from Westminster Abbey. Victoria is central and you could probably walk from your hotel to Westminster, but you will want transport to Tower/Greenwich (which could be the boat service, above, or use the tube). You'll presumably need transport to/from the airport? If you clarified, it would be possible to advise on the transport card you should get.

Posted by Kristen
Chicago
270 posts

I am also going to London for to days in September and I did buy the London card. I did the math and I will just about break even. However, you do not have to wait in line at some places (you get "fast tracked"), including the Tower of London. To me, that was worth it. Have a good trip!

Posted by Pat
Renton, Wa
10 posts

Hello Keith, and thanks for your response, Yes, I did mean to say St Martin. We do need to figure out transport from Gatwick airport to London (we will be spending our first night at Wotton House after flying in from Copenhagen), and then from Victoria area to Heathrow for daparture. The 4 of us all plan to use only carry-on luggage. Trying to figure out best way to go. Will arrive one day, then have 2 full days, with departure on the 4th day. Thinking a hop-on tour would be good for an orientation kind of overview? Maybe even on the first day? Thinking we would like to see the National Gallery, and the British Museum. Maybe get to the British Library that has the Magna Carta, etc.? Also the Maritime museum and the Churchill war rooms? Do you think we can manage most of this? Which would require pre-purchasing tickets? Weather? Last week in May? We live near Seattle, so are used to rainy Springs!
Thanks so much for your information and interest!

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

Ouch! You've got some spots that take a lot of time. The British Museum can take all day, a rush-through maybe a couple of hours. You can walk the War Rooms in less than an hour. I've never seen lines, but I travel at odd tomes and have only been in there once. The Tower is always a mess and needs at least a couple of hours even if you skip the area with all the armor. Whatever you can do to schedule this would be a neat idea. I'd say that the real time-gobbler is going to be the National Maritime Museum. If you skip the Cutty Sark, the Observatory, and everything else; the museum takes a couple of hours and it's at least a half hour away from anyplace else by tube/dlr/mule/etc. No need for advance tickets, however, for anything in Greenwich. I'm not sure what the Thames Clipper is, but if its that water bus, you might kill two rocks with one bush. If Westminster and Saint Paul's aren't on your list, that's a double screw-up. Adding the ferris wheel would make it a triple. Some time you're going to want to eat in those couple of days.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

You can't 'do' a museum in any amount of time. I've had back room access to both the French and British maritime museums and spent days doing research until my eyes bled. I've also had unsupervised, after-hours access to the National Museum in Cardiff working on another project. When I took a buddy to the Tower of London, I didn't know that they'd moved all the weapons up to Leeds. Off we went and he spent a day and a half studying whatever he wanted to study. The same idiot spent from opening to closing at the British Museum and blew the rest of London so we had to go back the next year. Wife One went in, looked at the Rosetta Stone, and was back out in ten minutes while I sat on the wall and held the junk. I spent three hours in the Pencil Museum in Keswick while Wife Two fumed. If a neophyte wants to see only the big three in the Louvre, I can get them in and out in thirty minutes. If they want more time, they're on their damn own. The extremes are unimportant, however, when somebody is on a tight schedule with unspecified interests. You have to make a gut-shot based on your own experience and the interst shown by others you've taken there previously. A best guess is better than an 'I dunno', especially when somebody's directly soliciting advice.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

In the opinion of most who have weighed in here, the London Pass is not worth buying. Even if you find it works moneywise for the things you intend to see (and it probably won't), you have to consider how many things you can actually do in the allotted time. A few years ago, I had a friend come from Spain, and we were considering buying a Chicago Pass for our time there. Even though it looked like a good deal, we realized that we simply couldn't get to enough places to make it pay for itself. We ended up buying regular admission to the places we actually wanted to see, and we saved money. Because so many things are free in London it doesn't usually work out to be an advantage to have the pass.

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

Pat, the best way to get from Gatwick to Victoria is by train, the Gatwick Express: Non-stop from Gatwick to Victoria Station, every 15 minutes. Out to Heathrow, you can take the Heathrow Express from Paddington Station. Also non-stop, also about 15 minutes. Heathrow has multiple terminals and the train stops at each. (The URL is: www.heathrowexpress.com. For some reason, I can't include the link here.) Take a cab from Victoria to Paddington, or, maybe the Tube. It's walkable, but it isn't exactly just around the corner. Unless you know that your hotel/B&B is located close to Victoria Station and you arrive armed with a good map, it might make sense to grab a taxi, just to avoid wandering around looking for the place. For 2 days on the Tube, I'd just buy Oyster Cards. They are dead easy to use. You can buy pay-as-you-go cards and add value if you deplete them. The rules and regulations surrounding fares are mind numbing, so it's almost impossible to determine in advance if an Oyster Card or a TravelCard is going to be cheaper unless you know exactly when and where you are going beforehand. Life is too short to sort it out. And, you'll want cards good for Zone 1 and Zone 2. Almost all the usual sites are in those areas. (That Transport for London site has all kinds of good info on it, too.)

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

Oh... check the Abbey's visiting hours, just in case.

Posted by Pat
Renton, Wa
10 posts

Thanks fo everyone who has responded. So much good information will really be a great help.