Avoiding Queues at Popular UK Sites?

Sep 5th, 2007, 11:18 AM
  #1  
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Avoiding Queues at Popular UK Sites?

During our October visit to the UK, we will of course be trying to do as much as we can in our limited time. Are there "go-arounds" (like pre-purchasing tickets) to avoid the queues for the very popular attractions? I'm particularly interested in:

1) Tower of London. I heard that you can no longer purchase tickets at the Tower Hill tube station? Also, I've been planning to use the 2-for-1 discount, and don't know if that can be used for an advance purchase.

2) Westminster Abbey. We will likely be visiting the Abbey on a Saturday morning; planning to get there as early as possible. However, I've heard stories about queues being wrapped around the building, and would prefer to avoid this if possible.

3) Warwick Castle. If we get here, this will also likely be on a Saturday. I've heard that British school holidays take place in late October; will the castle be mobbed? I know I can pre-purchase tickets for this on the web site.

Thanks for any help!

azzure is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 12:18 PM
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tower of london--just be there when they open at 9am and you will have no problem--if you take the original bus tour, you can buy discounted tix from them and avoid the ticket line at the tower as well--not 2 for 1 but still a discount
keefmick is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 12:26 PM
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You can buy tickets for the Tower online -

http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/...admission.aspx

There's no mention of buying tickets at tube stations any more, but that's no surprise - electronic passes mean fewer ticket offices and staff.
PatrickLondon is online now  
Sep 5th, 2007, 12:49 PM
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hi, azzure,

good info from the others about the Tower.

as for Warwick Castle, you definitely want to buy in advance - it will be half-term and it will be busy - we went one Feb half-term and it was heaving.

in the same area, you might like to go to Kenilworth castle - more of a ruin, but very interesting - it was "one of the ruins that Henry [VIII] knocked about a bit".

regards, ann
annhig is online now  
Sep 5th, 2007, 02:00 PM
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we went one Feb half-term and it was heaving.

Translation please.

hopscotch is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 02:17 PM
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Hopscotch,

"Heaving" in certain UK dialects can mean

(1) Extremely busy, packed with people, hard to move without bumping into someone...

(2) Throwing up.

I think annhig was using the first of these.
Craigellachie is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 02:49 PM
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We visited all those sites on our trip to London in Sept 2006. We had purchased our Tower Tickets online beforehand, so now wait there.

There was no line at Westminster Abbey. We got there first thing in the morning and got right in.

We showed up to Warwick Castle about 20 minutes before it opened and got in line for tickets. We got right in and saw everything before lunchtime. Waiting in line was actually fun since they had people dressed up as hags & ogres scaring the children in line & playing music.
halfapair is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 02:54 PM
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twk
 
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When you go to the Tower, if you get there right at 9:00 a.m., not only will you see little or nothing in the way of ticket lines, but also, if you proceed directly to the crown jewels (saving they Yeoman Warder's tour for later), you will likely encounter no line there either. Then, after you've seen the jewels, you can pick up the YW tour and see the rest of the castle at your own pace.
twk is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 03:01 PM
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Thanks Craigellachie,

And what means one Feb half-term??

hopscotch is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 03:50 PM
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School break.
Carrybean is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 04:41 PM
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this may not be the very cheapest way - but it worked great. I purchased a fodors book and and international cell phone at home. I highlighted the places I knew I wanted to go but didn't know when exactly. (before lunch, after?) Some tickets to some places are for specific times. Then when we knew when we wanted to go I simply called the number in the book for advance tickets and made reservations for in one hour.(or whenever, we usually requested one hour.) We choose Madame Tussards for example, phoned our request (I think I put the tickets on my charge card), ate a nice lunch, picked up the tickets at will call, walked past a ton of people in line and, viola'! For us it was worth the few bucks for the phone call. Good Luck!
morgiesmom is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 10:02 PM
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<<< For us it was worth the few bucks for the phone call >>>

A FEW BUCKS!!! It should cost pennies
alanRow is offline  
Sep 6th, 2007, 09:56 AM
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We bought tickets to the Tower last month from the person who sold us the tube tickets at Heathrow. Could have been used at any time.

We walked right up to the main gate at 10 a.m. and went in (although the person at the gate said "I think you may need to trade these for real tickets at the ticket booth." But then he took pity on us seeing that that line was long and we had kids in tow. So perhaps others could help here.

DEFINITELY go to the Crown Jewels first and then do the YM tour. We did and walked right in. An hour and a half later, the line was out the door....and the line inside the building is Disneyesque as it winds around and around with some video clips to keep you busy.
ccrosner is offline  
Sep 7th, 2007, 10:42 AM
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hi, hopscotch,

sorry about the use of "dialect".

"heaving" does indeed mean very busy in that context, but can mean being sick.

"Half-term" refers to the one week hols that UK school kids have mid-term -and there are three terms during the year, so three half-terms too. they fall at the end of October, the end of February, and the end of May.

Just getting you into the "swing" of things.

"two nations divided by a single language".

regards, ann
annhig is online now  
Sep 7th, 2007, 03:38 PM
  #15  
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Thanks so much to all who posted. So it sounds like I should:

1) Get my Tower tickets at the tube station at Heathrow

2) Get to the Abbey before its 9:30 am opening time (shouldn't be difficult as we are staying nearby), and

3) Pre-purchase the Warwick tickets online. I am still a little unsure about Warwick Castle as some feel it is too Disneylandish, but will probably go anyway.

Any advice to the contrary will still be welcome!

azzure is offline  
Sep 8th, 2007, 08:27 PM
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>>3) Pre-purchase the Warwick tickets online. I am still a little unsure about Warwick Castle as some feel it is too Disneylandish, but will probably go anyway.<<

I had my doubts about Warwick Castle - it is a bit Disneyish - but Mr. Pickle wanted to go there, and I ended up liking it quite a bit more than I expected. It's an interesting way to see how a medieval castle would have worked.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Sep 16th, 2007, 06:02 AM
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It wasn't on your list of sites, but I highly suggest the British Airways London Eye (particularly after dark).

Buying tickets online and paying to skip the line on it was worth every pence!
asyouare405 is offline  
Sep 16th, 2007, 07:32 AM
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"Buying tickets online and paying to skip the line on it was worth every pence!"

I agree you should try to "fly the Eye" but IMHO it isn't a good idea to buy tickets before you get to London. The tix are for a specific day and time, and the weather makes a HUGE difference on the Eye. What if your advance ticket is during a driving rain - or w/ a low ceiling/fog?

I'd wait until you are in London and get an idea what the weather will be in the next day or so and then buy your tickets. You can buy them a few hours ahead by phone, on-line, or in person
janisj is online now  

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