I am will in London for a 32 hour layover. Staying at a hotel next to Heathrow. What is the best thing to do? I have never been to London.
You actually have a lot of time to see the City.
I personally would go on the London Eye to see a bird's eye view of the city and the Thames.
A visit to Covent Garden and Picadilly Circus is a tourist's Must Do.
Have a drink or meal at a pub and ride on the famous double decker bus.
And if you want, catch a show.
Our favorite place in London is the Tower. Very, very interesting and enjoyable.
Hard question to answer as there is so much to do, all of it worthy of your limited time. Basically everything depends on your interests, for such a short visit I would buy a copy of the "Top 10 London" guidebook and visit those sites that grab your attention-everything is well connected via the underground. When you arrive in London pickup a copy of the Time Out London magazine which lists has events listings and reviews of temporary exhibits.
Have to respectfully disagree with Michelle that Picadilly is a "must see". It's like standing in the middle of Times Square - tons of traffic, people, big chain stores and advertising billboards all around you.
If you do go, snap a photo and move on quickly - so many better things to see and do with your limited time.
Hi Jackie, Be sure to spend a few hours (or a day) in the British Museum; it's not to be missed.
I agree on the Tower of London!The crown jewels are there also. Depending on how much of a history buff you are...the Nat'l Portrait Gallery is great. It's behind the Nat'l Gallery.
For your whole day, I would see the British Museum and the Treasure Room at the British Library. They are both world class exhibits. Even better, they are both free so your dollar goes just as far as it did five years ago. The museum has the Elgin Marbles, Rosetta Stone, mummies, assyrian relics and much, much more. The Library has Gutenberg bibles, Magna Carte, handwritten Alice in Wonderland, Beatles, Handel's Messiah and so much more (for me amazing).
In the evening, I'd do a London Walks tour based on your interests. An alternative would be to get a half price ticket for a show.
For the half day, I would visit the Tower of London. So much history and the crown jewels.
Don't forget Westminster Abby!!
There's also the "Hop On, Hop Off" tour bus. It's a double decker, with the top deck being open air. It's an enjoyable way to see all the big sights easily, especially when you're short on time.
Jackie, I would suggest the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey. I wasn't impressed with Picadilly Circus, I felt it was a little on the trashy side, but I hate large cities, so as soon as my husband and our friend got their feel of it, I was ready to get out of there ASAP. Although its a big cliche, I would suggest the Big Bus Tours. They take you all the main attractions. You can get off and back on as your ticket is good for all day. I would also suggest Temple Church (if you have time, its hard to find).
I have been to London 3 times, and still consider the Tower a must-do each trip for any new traveling companion. Westminster Abbey is also high on the list. The Eye offers a beautiful view, but if I had my choice between a couple of amazing historic sites and that, I would choose the former, especially if you aren't going back (but that's me). I think you could easily do all three during this time frame.
If I were you, I'd prioritize and see the top sights that are most likely to have a long line first thing - it's been a long time since I visited and I used a tour company back then, but I'd imagine London Tower and Westminster Abbey get very busy and might have long entry lines. If you can buy tickets in advance for anything you decide to see I'd certainly do so. Then, if you still have time, I'd head to sights that are always open and don't require tickets or standing in line wasting your precious time (e.g. Picadilly Circus, Harrod's, etc). It will be very expensive, but I'd consider taking a taxi from point to point rather than the Tube to save valuable time, or the hop on hop off bus others suggested. What will you be doing with your luggage? If you store it at the hotel make sure you build in enough time to go back to get it before your next flight!
Remember to assume that you will be going back! Otherwise, you will be exhausted or miss your flight trying to cram too much in. I adore London but get just as much enjoyment out of watching people from a double decker bus as anything.
Jackie, the above link may help. Copy + paste this link into your Internet address box, then touch your ENTER key.
... Cheers! P
Hi Jackie, if I had only 32 hours in London I would see the major sights. One of the best things to do in London is people watching. Just feeling the energy of the city is amazing.
Big Ben & Houses of Parliament, Westminster is great, Leicester square where you can buy half price tickets to a show later (I recommend Wicked or Joseph), Trafalgar Square, London Eye, Covent Garden. Piccadilly is not a necessity, it is JUST like Times Square--but I love times square and often enjoy hanging around there. There is a nice little cafe inside Covent Garden that is great for a Jacket Potato with beans and cheese (an English regular!). I have done several museums and the cabinet war office and Churchill museum was one of the best. If you don't do a show in the evening, you can get a high speed ferry from Waterloo to the O2 center which is a nice ride on the Themes, and the O2 is a fun place to visit, get some food, etc. It's a fairly cheap ride too.if you need more advice ask me, I can help
purchase a day pass for transport and london is yours.
If you want to spend some time outside of the city you can take the train down to Brighton; 1 hr south of London. It is a funky sea side town, a nice afternoon trip down to see the North Sea and have great Fish & Chips on the promenade along the ocean...
The Tower, Westminster Abbey, and The British Museum would be my top three.
Hello Jackeie. If the flight arrives at Heathrow airport in the morning, after a night flight from the U.S.A., I would go directly to a hotel in London, check in, shower, and sleep for 2 hours. In the afternoon go to two places that do not require much time: Westminster Abbey (45 minutes), and the National Gallery (90 Minutes). If you can be in the National Gallery for only 60 minutes, go in the "OlD" art part of it. Some days the National Gallery is open until 7 p.m. People can walk between Westminster Abbey and the National Gallery (at Trafalgar square), on Whitehall boulevard. That is the "Westminster Walk" described in the books "Rick Steves' LONDON", and "Rick Steves' ENGLAND", and "Rick Steves' GREAT BRITAIN".
Jackie, I've been going to London every summer for the past 25 years, plus or minus one or two.
If you want to just get a feel for it and all the good sights, take the city tour bus and get off at a couple of your preferred sights. Do some research of sights that appeal to you. I wouldn't spend time in a museum unless that is your "cup of tea." The suggestion of taking a nap for a couple of hours many be a good idea. That way you can make decisions with a clearer mind. If the tour bus doesn't sound like a good option, pick only one or two sights and spend time in them before getting back to Heathrow, remembering things always take longer than you expect and traffic even on the Underground can take time. The time you arrive and must leave will dictate how much time you can actually spend in the city. Whatever you do stay calm and take in the life of London. Cheers!
In addition to all of the great suggestions above (The Tower is my "must see"), I would add that when I went to The London Eye, we reserved Fast Track tickets for about 10 pounds more than the regular price and bypassed most of the line. It definitely saved us time and allowed us to maximize our time both before and after. And...you get a discount for reserving online. Enjoy!
1) The Tower of London - The Beefeaters tour is excellant.
2) British Museum - This a world class museum my goodnes,, mummies, mosaics , the Rosetta Stone,, how could anyone imagine missing this to go to Piccidilly Square and see tacky neon signs or go shopping?!, that is wrong on so many levels.LOL
Previous two are my " must do's" , next two are if you have time " nice to dos" .
3) Westiminster Abbey- You only have so much time, but it is spectacular.
4) Portrait Gallery( this was a fave of mine, but I don't think everyone would love it the way I do) so it may be completely off target for some people.