Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

First time to London - itinerary advice please

First time to London - itinerary advice please

Dec 5th, 2015, 08:09 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,571
>>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!!!<<

The Jack the Ripper tour is in the East End --The Hotel is in a beautiful area. Close to St. James's Park, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace. No way you'd confuse the two
janisj is online now  
Dec 5th, 2015, 08:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 30
Cool janisj!

We just received an email and our tours just got pushed forward a day. Haha they forgot it was a holiday! Thought it was just me forgetting thigs like that. Now we have evisceration on Sunday and exhaustion on Monday. The bright spot is that makes it easier to schedule when you don't have a lot of options! Kidding!

Really...wow...now it's harder. I've got only got five days not falling on a holiday and one of them is a Sunday.

Okay re-revising my revisions now.
g8travels is offline  
Dec 5th, 2015, 09:34 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 30
Boxing day is a big shopping day!! We can shop Oxford, Covent and Notting Hill! Walks.com have walks on Christmas. Very nice. Looks like those days can be put to fantastic use! Less crowds too I hope?
g8travels is offline  
Dec 5th, 2015, 10:04 PM
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 126
Have a look on the Time Out London and Londonist web sites for ideas about all things Christmas in London, including suggestions of things to do on Christmas Day itself. (e.g. https://londonist.com/2015/11/what-s...stmas-day-2015) Definitely book a Christmas Day meal in advance.

As others have advised, there is no public transit on Christmas Day, and some sights will closed 24, 25, and 26 December, so please do check individual websites for opening times and hours, to avoid disappointment.

If a Jack the Ripper tour is a must, the London Walks ones led by Donald Rumbelow (apologies if I've got his name wrong) seem to rate better than some of the others on offer. I have done several London Walks and have been pleased with all of them.

Unless you absolutely must see Stonehenge, I would consider skipping the coach tour, as I fear you will see little beyond motorways and the inside of the coach, and just go to Windsor or Oxford on your own. Windsor is especially easy and the castle is magnificent, but of course Oxford has its charms as well.

You might consider attending some sort of performance while in London. My first choice is always theatre (not musicals), but there is something for everyone, from opera to comedy to dance to cinema to live music of all descriptions.

I hope you enjoy your trip.
KyraS is offline  
Dec 5th, 2015, 11:23 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 841
"Best place for high tea?". I doubt you want "high tea", more like afternoon tea I would imagine:

Hooameye is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 12:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,298
For tea check out www.afternoontea.co.uk
jamikins is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 02:02 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 5,436
I would advise against Oxford Street on Boxing Day. Unbearably crowded.

Portobello Road Market is closed on the 26th, some shops may be open in Notting Hill.

As others have said, Windsor/Stonehenge/Oxford in a day is a lot of time on the bus. I would skip Stonehenge, and go to Oxford by train or bus on your own, for a day.

I cannot see the attraction of a tour about a serial killer, but the Ten Bells Pub is nice, and there's Spitalfields market opposite. There are plenty of restaurants, in case you want to book one for after your tour. There's also a branch of Hawksmoor nearby; excellent steakhouse.
Tulips is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 03:04 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,515
Oxford Street on Boxing day, aaargh

Most of the museums are free so you can do half an hour or a full day, they are warm and the cafes are normally great so use them.

Pubs, just a note, you order at the bar and you pay then and there, if you are eating in a pub it can vary (ie pay after you eat for the food) just don't expect table service if you are drinking.
bilboburgler is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 05:35 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 327
This is a great time to visit London even with all the early closings and public transport issues. London is so festive at Christmas, just walking around and taking in the lights and Christmas windows is fun.

Some things to look into for your family:
- Somerset House skating rink...even if you don't skate it looks beautiful at this time of year and there's a small art gallery for your daughter to take in. One Aldwych is a great hotel across the street from there with a nice bar for a respite before wandering up into Covent Garden - also beautiful around Christmas. Lots of shops, restos, pubs and entertainment in this area
- Mayfair, area around Fortnum and Mason and Bond Street...great shopping area, slightly calmer than Oxford Street. Hunt out some small pubs in sidestreets, plenty of posh afternoon tea options and the Royal Academy for your daughter's art interests. Jermyn Street is just below F&M for your husband if he's interested in shirts at all.
- Elizabeth Street. Small quiet shopping Street in Belgravia. Beautiful Christmas lights and independant expensive stores. A higher end pub called the Thomas Cubbit and a good well priced italian restaurant Oliveto
- if your husband really wants a small out of the way pub, tell him to search for the Grenadier or try to find the Old Mitre
- Christmas Day will be very quiet. A rare chance to feel calm in the city and a good day to test out the bikes for a ride around town

I arrive Dec 19th and depart Dec 30th. Love London at Christmas. Maybe we will bump into each other! Enjoy!!
kmowatt is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 05:40 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,571
You (seriously) do not want to be w/i a mile of Oxford Street on Boxing day . . or Harrods, or any other shopping area. On a typical Saturday say you can barely walk on Oxford Street. On Boxing day it would be the worst crowd you have likely ever experienced. Absolute HELL.

These might give you an idea:



janisj is online now  
Dec 6th, 2015, 05:58 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,484
Actually, I doubt you want to be there before Christmas either! At least not on foot. I don't shop on Oxford Street, but I like to ride down it on the top deck of a bus (NOT a HoHo bus, just a regular London bus). That way you can admire the upper stories of the buildings, which haven't been changed the way the ground floors have, and at this time of year you'll be up close to the decorations.

A-mazing pix, janisj!
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 06:46 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 30
Thank you so much again! Everyone is so incredibly nice and helpful! Unfortunately, my husband who has surprised me with this holiday prebooked and paid for both tours.

Ha! Janisj: photos are great! Looks crazy fun people watching! Looks like San Fran with tourists! We too stay away from those areas here so thank you for the warning!

Kmowatt: thanks for the great ideas! We're there from 22-30. Absolutely!! It would be fun!!! I'm looking into your ideas and switching things around a bit.

Found we can do many walks from walks.com or self guided walks. We also found Trafalger Square is a great area to sight see and walk!

I usually do a rough itinerary. It's usually just a reference for what I really want to see and to make sure I don't leave something out due to excitement of the trip. It seems this one is a bit looser so we can feel our way through the holidays in London.

Although we live in San Francisco and it is beautiful here we do not have the history of Roman Roads or buildings. Even the architecture is fun to just look at since we don't have anything like that here. I'm posituve we will have the time of our lives in a beautiful city even if crazy crowded, closed, congested or otherwise!

I've revised our schedule and decided other than what we've purchased tickets for, I've written down all names and will "play it by ear" so to speak. We've decided unlike our other non-beachy vacations we'll do what we

Day1: Westminster Abby
Buckingham Palace
National Gallery

Day 2: Shopping and walking

Day 3: Walk Trafalger Square
St. James
Leicester Square

Day 4: Kew Gardens
Covent Gardens

Day 5: V&A
Walking tour (JR)

Day 6: All day tour

Day 7: Unplanned

Day 8: unplanned
g8travels is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 06:53 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 30
Oops sorry everyone my comments got posted without finishing. Of course it is 6 am on Sunday too. Haha!
I am taking what advice everyone has given me and made the schedule somewhat flexible so we can just have fun without worrying about what we may miss! We'll just have to figure a way to squeeze it into another trip! We're planning Spain fall 2016 maybe we can add a week in London. This way if we miss something this time we can catch up this fall.

I cannot imagine we will see anything close to what is available in London the short visit we are there but a taste is better than nothing!! : )
g8travels is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 06:53 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,484
What are you shopping FOR? Things may or may not be a good buy depending on what you're looking for.

I don't think I'd do Kew this time of year - it's a slog to get to, it's expensive, and it's winter. If you want to go out of town a bit I'd head for Hampton Court.

Never found anything of interest in Leicester Square except the TKTS booth.

Did you look at the "London at Christmas" thread I linked above? Several "only at Christmas" things you should consider.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 07:15 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 30
Shopping for fun or window shopping only. We decided to buy ourselves what we want while we are there or back here when after Xmas sales are on! More people watching really. I did try to look at the link but I get redirected to Page Not Found. I did find other reviews from people traveling in London during Christmas and found some fun things to do.

Another alternative would be to hire a personal guide for the last two days to take us around. Daughter's idea. We did this in Vietnam and Thailand last year and was great!
g8travels is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 07:32 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,484
That's odd, the link works for me:


Rather than/in addition to paying a guide, you could try this:


Haven't used it in London, but worked well in Chicago, Buenos Aires, Kyoto and Bucharest.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 07:34 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,515

is a much better shop with a hint of class
bilboburgler is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 07:49 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 327
Forgot to mention the Christmas Market on the South Bank...easy to get to across the bridge from the Parliament Buildings and then walk east from there...it's not really my thing, but it's fun to walk through...good food and drink along the way!
kmowatt is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 07:52 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 4,420

Kew is one of the least expensive attractions, the normal entrance fee is only £10, if you want to see the Christmas attractions then yes, it's a bit more expensive.


There is ice skating at Hampton Court at the moment and the palace is beautifully illuminated.
Odin is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 08:02 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,484
@Odin: Looks like they've reduced the price for the winter season. Last time I checked, NOT during winter, Kew was 25 GBP.

@bilbo: I like Liberty's too, but I visited early December last year, and it was absolutely packed.
thursdaysd is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:19 PM.