48 hours in London for first timers

May 19th, 2014, 06:55 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 11,468
Map your interests. That might help you see what you can and can't see. Also, it may open up some opportunities for other visits while you are "in the area" anyway.
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May 20th, 2014, 02:33 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 4,464
Hi madforireland! I see you are a Canadian– from where?. I spent more than half my life in Toronto and then in Victoria.

I strongly urge you to trim one night from Dublin. Dublin is my home town, and I visit regularly to see family, but would not be there that much but for family. Its a sweet small city, and has some nice things to see, but doesn’t hold a candle compared to London, where I live, which I think is the finest city in the world IMO.

When I used to travel from Canada to London, I would fight the jet-lag and do almost a full day in London on the first day. If you have two teenagers, then you are clearly young enough to do this. This is clearly easier when flying from the East Coast (the West coast can be a killer).

If the weather is fine, I suggest spending most of your time walking (your guide books should have suggested walking tours).

For the major sites, it is imperative you get an early start and be first in, as it can get very crowded, although late June is not so very bad. Hopefully, its not a weekend.

This website is your friend – you can find your way all over London: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/

I offer this itinerary, my favourite parts of London, but should warn you, that I am a WALKER, and its nothing for me to walk 9 hours a day, so this itinerary may be pushing it.

Day One (arrival): Knightsbridge and Chelsea – POSH London

Given your hotel location, I would suggest staying local-ish for day one.

Take the 74 bus (or you can walk it in 25 mins) to the Victoria and Albert Museum (one of the finest in decorative arts museums in the world). The kids might prefer the Science Museum or the Natural History Museum – both are great. Spend some time in one or two.

You will start to flag in the afternoon, so have a leisurely lunch in the area. Eat protein, which helps me recover from jetlag.

Then explore the area (its like a massively bigger and far wealthier version of a combination of Yorkville and Rosedale – where the well-heeled live), including Harrods, Sloane Street and Square, down the King’s Road, through Chelsea.

Have an early dinner in the area (Indian or Thai perhaps to blow the cobwebs away) and treat yourself to a taxi back to your hotel for an early night. Taxis in London for four people often work out reasonable, and on the first day, don’t deny yourself.

Day two: The River and the Parks

I love the river – its the heart and soul of London.

Start with the Tower of London first thing – really stunning and the kids will love it. Then, hop in the Clipper boat at the Tower (http://www.thamesclippers.com/), and travel up the river as far as it goes on the East side, to get the best view of London IMO – The magnificence of London is best appreciated from the river (and its is CHEAP!) and get off at London Eye.

Do the London Eye (http://www.londoneye.com/), but be prepared for long line-ups if it is the weekend. You might also want to check out the London Aquarium if you have time (http://www.visitsealife.com/london/ - Have not been, but some like it; let the kids decide).

Its only a 15 minute walk from there to Westminster Abbey, which is a ‘must see’, and worth every penny.

At some point between the Eye and the Abbey, you need to consider lunch. You probably don’t want to waste time in a restaurant when there is so much to see. You may just want to pick up a sandwich at one of the many sandwich shops (Pret a Manager, EAT are very good and healthy offerings).

At this point, its probably about 4-5 pm. Praying the weather is good for you, this is a wonderful time to walk through some of London’s parks, and toward Buckingham Palace. Head toward St. James Park, wander around, and then onto the Mall, where you get a great view of Buckingham Palace. Not sure what the opening times are for Buckingham Palace, but if open late, you may be able to visit (book ahead before you leave).

If your can’t visit, then keep walking, through Green Park to Hyde Park Corner. Make a decision about dinner and theatre. You can dine in and around there, or jump on the underground back to our hotel to rest a bit and dine locally, or head back to the theatre district for a play, or both.

Day Three: Explore the British Museum and Bloomsbury, Regency London and Oxford Street, maybe Marylebone

Up early again, and straight to the British Museum (http://www.britishmuseum.org/), which is overwhelming - I could pitch a tent in the foyer and spend a week there, so it is important you decide what you want to see. I also warn you it is tiring, as the marble floors kills the feet and back, so you need to time-box to about 3-4 hours. The problem is that it is tough to leave it. The highpoints (for me) are the Elgin Marbles (from the Parthenon), the Egyptian rooms (there are MANY) including the Rosetta stone, and the Assyrian rooms, but you must decide, as there are so very many treasures.

Have lunch in the area, (or maybe wait till you get to Oxford Circus), and explore Bloomsbury (again, your guidebook should provide a walking tour).

Then head West, by foot, bus or underground, to Oxford Circus. You can head south down Regent Street, visiting Liberties of London (iconic) to Piccadilly Circus (I have never seen the charm of this).

Then walk along Piccadilly (West). First stop will be the Burlington Arcade ( http://www.burlington-arcade.co.uk/), then the Piccadilly Arcade (http://www.piccadilly-arcade.com/. Then Fortnum’s (http://www.fortnumandmason.com/?gcli...FZQZtAodBUIAVA) – you will love this emporium. There is nothing like it in Canada. Buy tea and macaroons.

Then, up Bond Street (one of the loveliest shopping streets with excellent designer shops), where you can admire the shop windows, until you reach Oxford Street. The turn left on Oxford Street to Selfridges (owned by Galen Weston (Holt Renfrew) and run by his daughter). It is a very impressive department store, and boasts the biggest shoe department in the world.

Now, this is a bit of a ‘girl’s tour’ , so your husband and kids may lose interest. Instead of this, you might consider Buckingham Palace, if you did not see the day before.

You could also consider heading up to Marylebone, which is a nice ‘village’ (and has some very good restaurants (I can recommend one in particular that serves excellent pizza and pasta) within walking distance of Oxford Street, to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum and Madame Tussaud’s (don’t let the purists discourage you – as a teenager, I absolutely LOVED it!). You might consider sending your husband and the kids off there, while you enjoy the ‘girl’s tour’.

Dinner is sorted: you must go to Chinatown and enjoy really good Chinese food, on a par with anything in Toronto or Vancouver – I promise, you will not be disappointed, and this will be your last chance to get any really good exotic food, as you will be spending the next 10 days in Ireland. I recommend ‘Gerrard’s Corner’, restaurant (http://www.gerrardscorner.co.uk/emain.htm - corner of Wardour and Gerrard’s Corner). I was introduced to it by a Foderite expert (Kavey), and have been going for years, and it never disappoints.

This is how I would spend three days in London, as I hope you will consider adding a day from your Dublin trip. I know I have ditched some of your ‘wants’, and did so because to make best use of your short time, I think you need to concentrate on ‘areas’ and not spend time in the underground, trying to cover this vast city.

Hope this helps.

Best regards ... Ger
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