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First time to London - itinerary advice please

First time to London - itinerary advice please

Dec 5th, 2015, 02:14 PM
  #1  
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First time to London - itinerary advice please

My DH and DD (18 yrs) will be traveling from San Francisco to London the last week of December (23-30). We are staying near Westminster Abbey at the Hotel Ermin. Can anyone give us some "Not to be missed" things to do in or near London for first timers? Thanks so much in advance! ANY advice is welcome even if not related to Christmas!
g8travels is offline  
Dec 5th, 2015, 02:41 PM
  #2  
 
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Be sure to take rain gear and dress warmly. The weather can be a real b$tch at this time of year.
Bedar is offline  
Dec 5th, 2015, 03:13 PM
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We have traveled to Europe often but only hit London 2014 for a few days.
A big hit was a play in the West end with dinner before at Hawksmoor Seven Dials.
We also enjoyed Covent Gardens, and St. Paul's Cathedral climb to the top, and Tower of London.

We would like to return for so much more, museums, shopping,etc. A few days was not enough. Yes, England is more expensive with the pound exchange We always lean towards Paris BUT we definitely want more London now that we've seen a bit of it.

I'll be interested on your take on London and watching for a trip report.
We like to take our granddaughter to such places. she also loved London & Paris & talks about it all the time.

BTW, we atayed near Westminster, right across the bridge at Park Plaza and found it to be an excellent location---but what do we know having only been there once, maybe there are better locations.

Chrismas in London sounds like a dream!
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Dec 5th, 2015, 03:17 PM
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See: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ndon-paris.cfm

EVERY guidebook to London and England has "not to be missed" type lists. Or use the Destinations tab above.

Many places will be closed Christmas Day and some the day after. Check the Transport For London site for transport stoppages. Make reservations for meals Christmas Day.
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Dec 5th, 2015, 04:15 PM
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There is no public transit Christmas Day and no much on Boxing Day (Dec 26) and everything is closed 25 and a lot on 26. Make your meal reservations in advance so you are not shut out (ask your hotel for help if you need to - but don't wait).

Check with London Walks to see what they may be offering on the 26th - not sure about 25th.

As for major sights just a quick look above or in any guide book will give you the top 10 or 15 or 20 London sights. Make sure you get a good street map of the city (very big with sights all over the city) and of the tube (what they call subway) which you will need to get to and fro many places.

If you give your interests people can point out specific things you may like
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 5th, 2015, 04:27 PM
  #6  
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Thanks very much everyone! Hubby dropped the surprise two days ago!! My xmas present. I am scrambling to plan, pack, buy presents, put up decorations, find a house sitter, ect!! Very excited!

Been to Europe multiple times but never London. We do plan to dress in layers (used to it living in SF) and will bring warm gear. ; )

We have purchased Lonely Planet and FODORS (of course) but it is overwhelming! The todo's in London alone would take a year!

We do have two tours planned: 1; Jack the Ripper walk and 2; Westminster, London Bridge all day tour. I don't know when we will ever visit this beautiful city again (this is a surprise trip from husband) so really want to soak as much in as possible.

Are there any Christmas sights we can do on Christmas eve and day?

Best place for high tea? Meals?

Best shopping district? Shopping centers?

Thanks everyone so much!!! Again ANY advice is appreciated!!
g8travels is offline  
Dec 5th, 2015, 04:29 PM
  #7  
 
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We've stayed at St. Ermin's a couple of times and liked it a lot. I hope you enjoy it, as well.

I don't know where your interests lie, but one of the first things we did was to visit the Tower of London with the Crown Jewels, etc. I've also noticed that the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open for tours, but you'd need to book quickly. I don't know what the schedule is for Changing of the Guards, but I'd advise skipping it this time.

There are tons of things and the problem will be narrowing down your options.
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Dec 5th, 2015, 04:40 PM
  #8  
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I just saw the last post while writing my reply. Yes I will tell you about us! My hubby and I are in our late 40's and live in San Francisco. We love traveling and both have been Europe (France, Belgium, Ireland, Prague, Austria and Germany) many times but never England. This trip was a Christmas present and I found out two days ago. We love museums, architecture, history, and LOVE eating. ; )

We are pretty conservative (no nude beaches) but love to try new things (bungee jumping). We most likely will not be visiting the UK anytime soon as our next three trips are already planned.

Thanks!
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Dec 5th, 2015, 04:40 PM
  #9  
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I just saw the last post while writing my reply. Yes I will tell you about us! My hubby and I are in our late 40's and live in San Francisco. We love traveling and both have been Europe (France, Belgium, Ireland, Prague, Austria and Germany) many times but never England. This trip was a Christmas present and I found out two days ago. We love museums, architecture, history, and LOVE eating. ; )

We are pretty conservative (no nude beaches) but love to try new things (bungee jumping). We most likely will not be visiting the UK anytime soon as our next three trips are already planned.

Thanks!
g8travels is offline  
Dec 5th, 2015, 05:07 PM
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Well I would bag London bridge unless you are fascinatied by the mechanism. My must sees are:

The Tower
British Museum
National Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
Westminster Abby
Hampton Court Palace (a day trip - make sure the docents will be recreating Tudor life)
Covent Garden
A couple of shows
A boat ride if the weather cooperates
V&A
Tate and Tate modern
Museum of London
Churchill's War Rooms

and a ton of others based on how fast you move. Have a look at the Michelin green guide which rates sights by * and also tells you how long a visit will take

No nude beaches in London or bungee jumping either

Have DD look at the Let's Go student guides so she can identify where to meet local students in bars or cafes
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Dec 5th, 2015, 05:19 PM
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While Christmas TIME is a great time to be in London (see the thread I linked above for some suggestions), Christmas DAY is not. Also, Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, is traditionally a holiday in England (Scotland celebrates New Year's Eve more than Christmas). AND this year Christmas is on a Saturday, I suspect a lot of places will be having a three or four day holiday. In fact, I just checked the V&A, my favorite London museum, and it is indeed closed for three days.

Aside from the sights - and walking around London is always good value - I would check transport and restaurants carefully.
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Dec 5th, 2015, 05:24 PM
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Great!! I will add the British Museum, National Gallery and Museum of London. Will each place take all day or can we do half days? One of our all day tours will cover Westminster Abby, Palace, Tower and bridge. We plan to get our fill of shows in New York as we will be there for three days prior to arriving in London.

Daughter is an art student so she is easily pleased thank goodness!! We travel at a fast pace when doing this type of travel. We like to have a few really nice meals planned (usually dinner), otherwise we love food trucks or street food!

I will take the advice and begin an itinerary. I will post it here and if you could let me know if it is realistic it will be greatly appreciated as much as I really appreciate all your advice!
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Dec 5th, 2015, 06:01 PM
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>> Hotel Ermin<<

Have only skimmed responses -- but in case it hasn't been mentioned the name of your hotel is the St Ermin's.

>>Well I would bag London bridge unless you are fascinatied by the mechanism. <<

Nyt -- London Bridge doesn't have a 'mechanism -- that would be Tower Bridge.

g8travls: >>Westminster, London Bridge all day tour<< Please give us a link. I sort of doubt London Bridge is predominantly mentioned in the tour description. Also - can imagine needing/wanting an 'all day tour' for this area. London Walks has a great 2 hour walking tour of Westminster. London Bridge is a different area.

I would definitely forget about the Jack the Ripper tour. Not a single location still exists --- and do you really want to spend the Christmas holiday hearing about poor women being disemboweled? Not pleasant - plus the current residents really resent having tourists gawk.

Also -- you will want to book any special meals ASAP - like NOW. Many of the really good restaurants book up well ahead over the holidays. I am in London the 26th - the 1st and one of my 'special' dinners the only opening they had over 3 days was a single 10PM booking. and that was 3 weeks ago.
janisj is online now  
Dec 5th, 2015, 06:07 PM
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I believe I have a workable rough draft of a schedule. I still have to research restaurants so I can make reservations. I believe I've left a loose schedule with hopefully enough time. My husband loves pubs so we will try to visit one every day! Please critique and let me know if I can squeeze more or if I'm out of my mind. Thanks again everyone!! I can't believe how nice everyone is!

Arrive Tuey Dec. 22 - non day
Get to know neighborhood

Wed. Dec. 23 - Museum of London
St. Pauls
Hit as many pubs possible
Eat fish & chips

Thurs. Dec. 24 - Are museums open XMas eve?
Tower of London
Westminster Abby
Hit as many pubs possible

Fri. Dec. 25 - Walk about

Sat. Dec. 26 - Walk Dickens East London
7:00pm Jack the Ripper Tour
Pubs

Sun. Dec. 27 - All day tour - Windsor, Stonehenge and
Oxford
Pubs

Mon. Dec. 28 - V&A
Thames River (weather permitting)
Pubs

Tues. Dec. 29 - Harrods
Shopping day
Pubs

Wed. Dec. 30. - Pack & Leave
g8travels is offline  
Dec 5th, 2015, 06:18 PM
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You need to check the places you want to see - and eat - individually. For instance, both the Tower and the Abbey are closed on the 24th. All these places have web sites.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 5th, 2015, 06:35 PM
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Yes! You are correct on both counts! Hotel is Ermin, part of the Marriott chain. My husband booked us a tour for Windsor, Stonehenge and Oxford (he called it the all day London Tower tour - haha - so wrong) and I mistakenly believed it to be the tower, bridge, etc.

To be honest I'm just so happy and grateful to be able to travel with my family. I'll be happy with whatever is available! I will try to begin making reservation tomorrow with your advice in mind. Thank you!

Too late hubby already booked and paid for the Jack the Ripper tour. At least it will give us the opportunity to walk the neighborhood! I understand it is very pretty.

I'm sure we will be able to squeeze in one or two other places to visit as I have left a couple of days easy for that reason. We'll walk the town Christmas day. It will be a nice way to see the city. We definitely will do a few walking tours. River tours during winter? Are any enclosed? If not we'll skip it and walk it instead or is it a must do?
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Dec 5th, 2015, 06:41 PM
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You won;t want to do whole days in any of those museums - although the British and V&A might allow it. Much better to visit the website before and pick out what you want to see in 3 hours or so - and then take a break for a walk or meal or whatever. Otherwise you will be museumed out very quickly.

London is usually not that cold and if you get days without rain I would visit a few of the local parks - Green, St James, even a little of Hyde Park.

Can't see how you can visit Windsor, Stonehenge and Oxford in one day - just the trekking to and from will take much of the time. And with it getting dark at 4 pm you have very limited daytime hours for the trip.
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Dec 5th, 2015, 07:46 PM
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>>Hotel is Ermin,<<

It is the St. (as in Saint) Ermin's, not the 'Ermin'. It is a very nice property.

>>At least it will give us the opportunity to walk the neighborhood! I understand it is very pretty. <<

Unfortunately not. It is is a not at all scenic part of the the East End.


>>Can't see how you can visit Windsor, Stonehenge and Oxford in one day -<<

It is a commercial coach tour and they do squeeze in all three. Like this one http://www.viator.com/tours/London/W...d737-3858EE065
janisj is online now  
Dec 5th, 2015, 07:55 PM
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Thank you nytraveler! Are Windsor, Stonehenge and Oxford very far apart? Wonder if they'll just drive through shouting the names of the buildings while driving 75 mph! lol!! It would be out of Harry Potter!!!! Seriously...it really is an all day tour and we've pre-paid. *sigh*

Totally great we can do the museums in 3-4 hours! I'm going to re-arrange the schedule with this info. The parks are a great idea (rain or shine) for Christmas eve, day and after! Thank you so much!!! Think we'll tour shops Christmas eve!

After reading the advice so far I am a lot less intimidated by London. It seems a very walkable city. We live in California so distance isn't a problem and we're used to congestion and crowds.

Thursdaysd: Took your advice too (Thank You) and looked up closures. I have taken this into account rearranging the itinerary. Thank the gods you mentioned it!
g8travels is offline  
Dec 5th, 2015, 08:00 PM
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Thanks janisj! Hope I pass the spelling quiz while wandering the hotel hall so as to avoid the horrible neighborhood of the East End!! Lol!!!
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