24 hours in London with teens?

Feb 27th, 2008, 06:23 AM
  #1  
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24 hours in London with teens?

I have been to London several times but have been asked to plan a 24 hour stopover for a group that is mostly teenagers. They will be arriving early in the morning at Heathrow and will depart at noon from Heathrow the next day. We are hoping to stay at a place close to St. James Place tube station so we can walk to many things.

What's your best ideas for cramming the sights of London into 24 hours? Especially since most are 15-25? The budget is rather limited, about $100 each not including their hotel. Thanks!
PWAbbott is offline  
Feb 27th, 2008, 07:10 AM
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Thousands will cry "Hop-on/Hop-off Bus!"

But I don't agree. What you get for your $35 is transport between sights, a couple freebies, and audio guides (sometimes live).

You can buy the transport with a TfL Bus Pass for £3.50. Two days will cost £7, but you get 48 hours whereas the tours are two partial days. If you load your bus pass on an Oyster Card, each day's fare is capped at £3.

Add the "freebies" at will.

For guides - get brochures free at TICs.

Tour map: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloa...al_bus_map.pdf (download, print out, and study).

Geographical map: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/centlond.pdf (free on paper at any tube station).
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 27th, 2008, 10:02 AM
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I like your idea except for the fact that I will not be with the group and no one will have been to London before. The first time we were in London we appreciated the on/off bus just for the convenience but I'm not sure it is worth the price? Perhaps if I typed up my own guide using the bus maps you have provided?
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Feb 27th, 2008, 10:15 AM
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Are these kids who are used to using buses at home? If riding buses and reading route maps are second nature to them - regular tfl buses would be fine.

But I know if they were teenagers from my suburb for instance, few if any would have ridden anything other than school buses and never been on a train of any sort. So they would have a hard time learning the London transport system in 24 hours.

If the hop-on-hop-off tours are beyond their budget - consider one of the London Walks- they won't see all of London of course, bur they are only £6 and you might even be able to get a discount if you contact them.
janisj is online now  
Feb 27th, 2008, 10:37 AM
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These are not city kids! Perhaps the hop on/off bus is a good use of money. I like the idea of the london walks too. What about specific places to actually go to? I'm suggesting a walk from our hotel to Buckingham Palace, up the mall or through St. James Park to Admiralty Arch, Trafalgar Square, St. Martins-in-the-Field, National Gallery, then down Whitehall to Big Ben, Westminster, and Parliament. What else?
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Feb 27th, 2008, 11:16 AM
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Your walk is a good route - then from Big Ben across the river to the Eye. Not necessarily to ride the Eye - but for the great views across to Big Ben/Parliament. Then along the south bank. Usually lots of kids around there and even some skate boarders. Tate Modern, views of St Pauls, etc.

Then they can walk across the Millennium bridge and catch the tube back to the hotel -- or if there is still time keep walking along the southbank to the Globe and eventually Tower Bridge.
janisj is online now  
Feb 27th, 2008, 12:31 PM
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Normally I don't think that I would be an advocate for the hop on/off bus, however in this case there may be some advantage. If you plan out ahead of time what bus route they will be taking, and give them a map of the route/bus stop locations/descriptions of sights at each location, then the teens can pair up and travel in small groups to the sights they really want to see. Some may be desperate to see the Tower and the Crown Jewels, others Shakespear's Theater, Westminster Abbey, etc. Especially since they are not city kids, this would give them a great opportunity to learn about bus routes/maps and navigating the city on a basic level.

One specific suggestion that my teens loved this past summer was the Churchill War Rooms. The museum was so interactive and really fantastic!
Momof3sons is offline  
Feb 27th, 2008, 01:14 PM
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If you plan out ahead of time what bus route they will be taking, and give them a map of the route/bus stop locations/descriptions of sights at each location, then the teens can pair up and travel in small groups to the sights they really want to see.

And they can't do that with city buses? Why not?

p.s. After you have seen a sight, you can wait for up to 40 minutes for the next tour bus (we have). City buses come by every 5 or 6. If you want to maximize your sightseeing time TfL buses are a no-brainer.
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 27th, 2008, 02:43 PM
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OMG, R -- you have actually taken a H-o-H-o!? I am shocked

But even you must admit (though we all know you won't) the regular TFL buses will be confusing to kids who have not ridden public transport before. And w/ no commentary they will not know what they are riding past. AND - the visibility from inside a TFL bus is not so hot, so even IF they do know where they are - they won't see much of anything. AND, AND - anyway - just not a great choice for young adults/teens out on their own for the first time in a city as big and complicated as London . . . .
janisj is online now  
Feb 28th, 2008, 11:50 AM
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Bus questions aside, what do you think most 15-25 year olds would like to see and do in London in a 24 hour time period?
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Feb 28th, 2008, 11:15 PM
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More or less exactly the same as 35-45yos.

Some will love the history, some will loathe it. Ditto for high fashion, pubs, Michelin-starred restaurants or just walkinmg around.

Did you have the same tastes at 25 - or 15 - as everyone else your age?
flanneruk is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 11:32 PM
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Will you be the only guide for this group? Leading around a large group will be difficult. I like the idea, already suggested, of dividing the group up into smaller units, based upon what they'd like to see. They can all take the HOHO bus (certainly recommended for first-timers in such a large city). Some may want to wander around the South Bank, others over to Covent Garden, or the Churchill War Rooms. Maybe some will want to shop along Oxford Street, or wander through St. Paul's. Just sitting in Hyde Park or St. James Park for a while is a treat. You can all meet up for a meal in the evening.

The HOHO bus tour often includes a short cruise on the water. I bet they'd love that. Come to think of it, the London Duck might be another tour idea.
Merseyheart is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 06:50 AM
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Merseyheart: The OP writes "I will not be with the group and no one will have been to London before" - so no the OP will not be guiding them and it sounds as though the group will be on their own . . . .
janisj is online now  
Feb 29th, 2008, 06:59 AM
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Consider hiring guides! Break the group into age groups. The 25 year olds will probably want to sample the pub scene, the 15 year olds London McDonald's.
GSteed is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 08:18 AM
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Don't buy a HoHo bus pass and then waste hours of it cruising up and down the Thames. (BTW, the bus pass is not a '24 hour' pass, because they only operate 12 hours a day.)

Either schedule the boat trip for late in the day after the terrestrial sights are closed - or buy a buy a bloomin' ticket (1/3 off for TfL passholders) and climb aboard.
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 08:35 AM
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I wouldn;t do any HOHO bus. I would give the members of the group a list of possible sights with some basic info. Let them divide into groups based on what they want to see. give them publis trasnti info on how to reach those places.

(Unless they're mentally handicapped dealing with public transit is VERY easyt to figure out - esp if they;re traveling in small groups.)

That way they will get to actually see a few thing they care about - rather than just look at the outside from a bus window.

Assume all will want a pub crawl and put together a couple of lists of places, including 1 or 2 that serve decent inexpensive meals (the 15 year olds can have a soft drink while the 16 plus have a beer with their dinner).
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 08:41 AM
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nytraveler: I would definitely agree w/ you IF the kids were from NYC or Chicago or San Francisco or someplace like that. But the OP says "These are not city kids!"

We tend to think how easy public transport is in London - but I know for certain that lots of kids/adults who have never ridden buses/subways back home would have a heck of a time figuring it out.

I have taken enough adults to London to know it takes "transport virgins" at least couple of days to get the hang of it.
janisj is online now  
Feb 29th, 2008, 08:53 AM
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To use a Ho/ho bus, I find the stop that has the bus route number displayed on it. It will usually be co-located with TfL routes.
I get on the bus and show my ticket to the driver.
I find a seat if I can.

To use a TfL bus, I find the stop that has the bus route number displayed on it. It will usually be co-located with Ho/Ho routes.
I get on the bus and show my ticket to the driver.
I find a seat if I can.

My fifteen-year old had the difference nailed in five seconds. Others may travel with less intellectually-gifted companions, I suppose, but people, this is not rocket science. Here's a TfL sign with BigBus on it:

http://www.theoriginaltour.com/files/llbwkegcjz.jpg

By the way, the tours run every hour. So unless you time your visits to a gnat's ass, you're going to gain an intimate familiarity of them. City bus: every 4-8 minutes.
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 04:49 PM
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you are making thing up as you go - they do not run every hour. The frequency of the H-o-H-o varies and they run as often as necessary to accommodate customers. They do not turn folks away because the buses are full - they run more buses. On a summer weekend they run every 5 to 10 minutes - on a Feb Thurs, maybe every 30-35 minutes.
janisj is online now  
Mar 1st, 2008, 09:49 AM
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the OP reposted: Bus questions aside, what do you think most 15-25 year olds would like to see and do in London in a 24 hour time period?

I have the same dilemma - let us figure out how to get from point A to point B, but what sites would be fun for an 18 year old, a 17 year old and a pair of 13 year olds? And, what pubs near public transportation do you like? I know we will want to hit one.
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