3-4 hours in London

Aug 17th, 2007, 12:07 PM
  #1  
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3-4 hours in London

My husband and I have a layover at Gatwick on our way back to the U.S. from Spain. Neither of us have ever been to London, and we both dread the idea of sitting in an airport for half a day, so we are hoping to dash into town for a few hours to see what we can. We have 3-4 hours early on a Monday morning. Any suggestions?
mpenny is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 01:05 PM
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The ride in from Gatwick to the center of London will take at least a half hour then of course you will need time to get back through security before your flight. You do the math to see if you can make it and how long you will have.
AisleSeat is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 05:09 PM
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It doesn;t sound like you may not have enough time - since if you need the airport you will have to go through the whole security thing again. How many hours total do you have?
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 05:39 PM
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You may or may not have 3-4 hours. What time do you land and what time is your onward flight? Then we can give you realistic adivice . . . .
janisj is online now  
Aug 17th, 2007, 05:49 PM
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I think your time would be better spent at the airport...there is lots of shopping and many restaurants.
margyb is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 11:59 PM
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Once you've done the sums:

- there are a dozen or so trains an hour from Gatwick into London. Take either the Southern (cheaper, stops once or twice) or Gatwick Express (pricier, less crowded which matters at rush hour but not at any other time, and takes five mins longer than Southern) to Victoria. Take no other train.
- calculate what train (must be same company) you need to get back on time, then plan to get the one before
- Victoria's a few hundred yards from Parliament (northeast) and Buckingham Palace (almost due north).
-print a map from the web (such as by inputting SW1A 1AA to www.multimap.com) then walk the triangle. At a decent clip, one hour walk plus whatever dawdling you do.
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 07:48 PM
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Thank you all so much for your feedback! Our flight arrives just after midnight Monday morning, so after a quick nap I think we could be out of the airport by 6:00am. Our return flight departs at 12:20pm. Is this a ridiculous idea or what?! Any further suggestions are more than welcome.
miche2911 is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 08:29 PM
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Unfortunately the numbers don't work out very well. The Gatwick Express train takes 30 mins and you need to be at LGW by about 0930. So if you did leave LGW at 0600, you'd be at Victoria Station a little after 0630 and you'd have to be back on the Gatwick express to the airport by 0900. So you'd have a grand total of 2.5 hours free in london. And if you spend 10 or 15 minutes getting from Victoria to anywhere interesting and back again - you are down to 2 hours. At 0700 when nothing is open.

As much as I adore London, I'd use the time to get a good night's sleep and relax before boarding another long flight.
janisj is online now  
Aug 20th, 2007, 08:36 PM
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Thanks, janisj. I was afraid of that, especially in light of the very early morning hour. I suppose if we find it completely impossible to rest at the airport, we could stroll around for an hour or two simply to kill time, with no goal of seeing any sights. Sometimes it's fun to walk amongst the locals for a bit, though! I appreciate everyone's input and feel better equipped to venture forth if we decide to do so. Thanks, gang!
miche2911 is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 08:41 PM
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And flanneruk, thanks also for the detailed info. I've printed the map (just in case). I appreciate your time and help.
miche2911 is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 10:00 PM
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It's very unlikely you really need to be back at Gatwick at 0930: what does your airline actually say, and can you have checked in online to postpone your trip back to Gatwick still further?

Nothing in my suggestion needs things to be open. Trains run through the night. The only real problem is that before the end of October this silly Summer Time nonsense means it gets light late, and after October, when we go back to proper timekeeping, nature this far north makes it get light still later.
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 21st, 2007, 07:11 AM
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Since we are only laying over, we won't need to check in - our luggage, etc. will be checked through to Atlanta. We just have to worry about the security lines once we return from our jaunt around the city. I would be happy to walk around a bit, find a cup of tea and a snack, then head back. What time does it actually become light in the AM?
miche2911 is offline  
Aug 21st, 2007, 07:18 AM
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Any time from 0330 to 0800 depending on the date.
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 21st, 2007, 08:04 AM
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OK - back to my calculations - you really will have a bit more time. Your bags and boarding cards will be taken care of so you really don't need to be at LGW 3 hours early. However - 2 hours is still advisable. one hour might be enough, but security queues can be quite long (or sometimes not bad). Unfortunately you won't know which is which until the day.

What time of year is the trip? For me, the amont of daylight would be a major determining factor. Also the weather - I personally wouldn't want to do a walk around if it is pouring down. But a nice morning in the summer - sure, it is rushed but doable.

If you want to walk from Victoria to Parliament/Big Ben - it is just under a mile. Buckingham Palace - a bit less than 1/2 a mile.
janisj is online now  
Aug 21st, 2007, 11:25 AM
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We will be there in two weeks - so current time and weather conditions, roughly. Thanks!
miche2911 is offline  
Aug 21st, 2007, 12:04 PM
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well - close to current daylight maybe - but "current weather conditions"

There really is no way to know what sort of weather you'll have. I'd play it by ear - if the weather is decent/semi-decent the night you arrive, plan on going into the city early in the a.m. If it is stormy - maybe just fall back on Plan B and have a good night's sleep forget about London this trip..
janisj is online now  

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