WWII sites in London

I'm trying to make up for having to cancel the Normandy portion of a trip I'm planning. My daughter's friend was really hoping to see the beaches and museum there. Problem is we have a limited budget and we arrive Paris May 27th and leave for London on May 29th. It's too much to do with 5 people in basically 2 days. IMHO. I am hoping there will be sites in London that we could see and that she will find just as interesting. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Posted by AKF
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
191 posts

Another vote for the Cabinet War Rooms...I'm not really a war buff, but I think we spent 4 hours there, including the Churchill museum...also, it's a 2-4-1 spot, so if you get travelcards for the day, get the ones from the National Rail as opposed to the Tube if you can...

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
13199 posts

You are correct in your assumption about Normandy. The beach areas is massive and ready cannot be seen in a day from Paris. But London has some great sites related to WWII. The government war rooms are a great tour. The War Museum south of the central city is a gem for people interested in what war time London looked like and especially how the people lived.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10673 posts

Probably the #1 WWII draw in London is the Cabinet War Rooms, which is basically Winston Churchill's London equivalent to Hitler's bunker in Berlin... but unlike Berlin, Churchill's bunker remains intact. And as long as you're in the area, you can stop at the nearby Guard's Museum. This museum is dedicated to the entire history of the Palace Guards, but has a section on WWII, and it's small enough that it doesn't take much time to visit. The Imperial War Museum, although also not soley dedicated to WWII, has many exhibits from that era.

Finally, as you walk around London itself, keep your eyes open. On many of the older stone buildings, you can still see signs of the patch-work done to repair damage from the Luftwaffe Blitz.

Posted by Joel
Tempe, AZ, USA
995 posts

Dawn - Imperial War Museum London is a great place to spend some time. The last time I was there I lost all track of time. My wife had to have me paged so we could leave.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
13199 posts

Tom, thanks for posting the correct name for those places. I could not recall the exact names.

Posted by Dawn
17 posts

Thanks for the great ideas! I feel better now about not being able to take her to the beaches in Normandy.

Posted by Susan
Atlanta, Ga, USA
1552 posts

We had been to London many times and most major sights but not until a trip last fall did we visit the Cabinet War Rooms. It is a must see IMO--especially if you are a Churchill fan. In a glass case Churchill's toy soldiers and baby rattle are on display. As another poster said, four hours can easily be spent there. Now I have to visit Chartwell.

Posted by Geor
Seattle, Wa, USA
268 posts

Besides the Imperial War Museum and the Cabinet War Rooms, I enjoyed visiting the National Army Museum which is located in Chelsea near the Thames. Admission is free. Here is a description of the museum from its web page:

The National Army Museum’s purpose is to explain the impact that the British Army has had on the character of Britain, Europe and the world. A visit to our website or Museum will show you how the actions of a few can affect the futures of many, and how Britain’s past has helped to shape the world – the world today and in the future.

The NAM has always offered its exhibitions, galleries, and a public events programme to the public free of charge. It communicates the importance of the history and heritage of the British Army through its contribution to the delivery of the National Curriculum and life long learning, to the education and inspiration of servicemen and women, and in explaining to the widest audience the importance of the role the Army plays in the global community. An important aspect of the Museum’s work is to support the remembrance of those who have lived and died in the service of the nation.

Somewhere in London is a battleship which is part of the Imperial War Museum.

Posted by Carroll
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1485 posts

I haven't been to Normandy yet, but am hoping to go in the fall. Based on what I have read, I don't think there is anything in London that can substitute for the D-Day beaches. However, if your daughter's friend is a WWII buff, he/she will love the Cabinet War Rooms. I thought it was fantastic, since they left it as it was during the war. The Imperial War Museum is also very interesting.

Posted by Dawn
17 posts

Thanks to everyone for your help. I'm hoping we can hit the Cabinet War Room and that she'll enjoy it.

Posted by Laurel
Arlington, WA
878 posts

Dawn, Though it's not in London and time is probably a large factor, Bletchley Park on my list of WII places to see. I do not know how easy it is to get there but it shouldn't be too hard, it's a fairly popular place. Transportation to Milton Keynes should be straight forward enough, but after that I don't know.

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
2582 posts

Another possibility is the Royal Air Force museum at Hendon in the suburbs of London (Northern Line to Colindale station)

Posted by George
Parma, Ohio, United states
3 posts

I went to Bletchley Park in 2003, so I made a quick check on the websites to see might still be true. (But check anyway on the websites.) I took a train from Euston Station, London to Milton Keynes. There is a paved path from the Car Park (aka Parking lot) at the railroad station to Bletchley Park. It is a 5 minutes or so walk through a wooded area. The path comes out just before the main entrance to Bletchley Park. There is an admission fee to the site. It is a privately supported facility. Bletchley Park has it's own web site, which has a lot more on it since I looked at in 2003. In 2003 they had started on the construction of a Bombe, a code breaking machine. I do not know if they completed it. All the originals were destroyed after World War II. Bletchley Park was one of the major secrets of World War II.

One other World War II related site is Duxford out side of Cambridge. It an interesting aviation museum worth an all day visit. In my 2003 trip, I found out Duxford also had a Museum of Land Warfare. It is a building with artillery and vehicles of WW I and WW II set up in dioramas. There a walkway down the center of the buildings that allows to you look down on everything. There is an admission fee for Duxford. In 2003 there was a free bus that ran from the Cambridge railroad station to Duxford. the musueum opened at about 10 AM but the bus started runnig about 10:30 AM. Duxford also has a website connected with th Imperial War Museum.