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Gatwick Layover - time for Tower of London?

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Sep 26th, 2009, 06:50 PM
  #1
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Gatwick Layover - time for Tower of London?

My flight arrival time at Gatwick on Wednesday is 9:55am, and my flight to Malaga departs at 5:30pm. By the time I get off the plane, collect my luggage and then store it, it'll probably be around 11am. The recommended check-in time for my flight is 3pm. Do I have time to see the Tower of London? If not, any recommendations on something else to see in London with such a limited time-span? I've never been there before.

On my way back home the following Monday, I'll have an overnight layover there. Staying in Horley and planning to explore the area near Victoria Station... Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the London Eye.
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Sep 26th, 2009, 07:07 PM
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You could just manage it. But remember you need to factor in the time to queue to leave the luggage and then queue again to collect it. Sometimes the line can be fairly long. So I'd plan on being back at LGW by 2:30 at the latest in case there is a hold up at left luggage.

You probably can be boarding a train into London by 11:30-ish.

So actual time IN London will be less than 2 hours (Approx noon to 2 PM)

There are trains from LGW to London Bridge which is about 15 minute walk from the entrance to Tower - a bit less if you can move fast. Leaving maybe an hour/90 mins IN the Tower.

If there is a queue for tickets at the Tower - you could be SOL. But buying a ticket ahead of time is awfully iffy - if your flight is late you couldn't use it.

All in all - a lot of to-ing / fro-ing . . .
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Sep 26th, 2009, 09:34 PM
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The railway station at Gatwick is at the South Terminal, which isn't really walkable from the North Terminal (used by BA, most other ordinary scheduled airlines - though not Aer Lingus - and Easyjet). The train that normally connects the two is closed till summer 2010: you've now got to allow 20-30 mins to wait for the replacement bus, have it take you to the terminal and get about.

Trains from Gatwick go to London Bridge (First Capital Connect) or to Victoria (Gatwick Express and Southern). Given the time involved getting to the Tower, queueing up and getting round it, alternatives might include:

- going to Victoria on your 6-hour day, and looking at Parliament and/or Buck House (all you can normally do there is gawp from the outside. Both are nearer Victoria than the Tower is to London Bridge). Do something else on your overnighter

- getting the FCC train on to City Thameslink, about 400 yds from St Paul's, and seeing St Paul's

- getting off at London Bridge and just walking along the Thames westward for half as long as you've got.
"Earth has not anything to show more fair" said Wordsworth about this, the world's greatest urban walk. He was 100% right.
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Sep 26th, 2009, 10:05 PM
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I was also going to suggest just walking through Southwark and along the southbank (which is probably what I'd do in this case). You could view Southwark Cathedral, the Globe, Tate Modern, the river, St Paul's - you wouldn't have enough time to go inside anything much. Maybe a quick pop into the cathedral or the Tate. You'd then either backtrack to London Bridge or hail a cab to Victoria for trains back to LGW
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Sep 27th, 2009, 08:35 AM
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Both my incoming and outgoing flights are at the South Terminal. Maybe I'll just play it by ear. By the time I get to London Bridge, if I feel I have enough time I'll take a shot at Tower of London (taking the risk that the queues may be too long). And if I get to London Bridge and feel I'd be cutting it too close (likely the case), then I'll walk westward as you've both suggested.

I have a ticket to Wicked at the Apollo for the evening of my overnighter so it makes sense to explore the area around Victoria Station that day.

Thanks for your help and suggestions.
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Sep 27th, 2009, 12:41 PM
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"I have a ticket to Wicked at the Apollo for the evening of my overnighter so it makes sense to explore the area around Victoria Station that day."

Not necessarily. Go where you want - no need to stick near Victoria that day at all. Unless you absolutely want to. Curtain is 7:30. You can go anywhere in the city, then go back to your hotel to freshen up, or have an early bird dinner, or anything. Anyplace in central London is an easy tube/bus ride from Victoria. I definitely would not base my sightseeing on where the theatre is . . . . (now for a matinee - that's different. But for an evening performance - uhuh.
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Sep 27th, 2009, 01:00 PM
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My hotel is in Horley, so by the time I fly in, check in at the hotel, and catch the train into Victoria Station, I'll actually only have a few hours before curtain call. And I'll want to grab a bite to eat too.

But yes, you're right - if I do end up exploring that area on my 1st layover, I would have more time to do Tower of London on my overnighter.
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Sep 27th, 2009, 01:12 PM
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I do have a question - I was going to ask earlier but now that you've raised it again . . . Is there a reason you are staying in Horley? Yes, I know it is close to LGW, but Victoria is only 30 mins from the terminal on the Gatwick Express. You step on the train at Vic. in the morning and step off in the terminal at LGW. It would save you having to dash back to LGW after the theatre.

I guess in the grand scheme of things it isn't that big a difference, but I personally would much rather spend the evening in London.
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Sep 28th, 2009, 08:24 AM
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My hotel provides free courtesy transportation to and from the airport as well as the rail station, so it's convenient. And my flight is early the next morning, and I'm not a morning person. So the less I have to deal with the better.

But of course a night in London would have been fantastic as well.
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Oct 8th, 2009, 07:00 AM
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Just an update. When I originally booked my flights to Malaga, I had a 3.5 hour window at Gatwick to catch my connecting flight. My flight times changed a couple months before I left, leaving me with 1.5 hours to catch my connecting flight. The cutoff for checking in baggage was 1 hour before the flight, so I was about 99% sure there was no way to make the connection. The flights were so cheap betwen Gatwick and Malaga (free actually - only had to pay the fees), I booked a later flight and held on to the original one too. Would have cost me exactly the same to just change my flight.

Somehow (and I still don't kknow how I did it) I actually made my crazy connection, so I didn't get the chance to go into London at all that day. But on my overnight layover I had just enough time to see Westminster Abbey, Parliament bldg, Big Ben, and take a ride on the London Eye. Then back just in time to catch Wicked at the Apollo Victoria. I missed Buckingham Palace, and I didn't have time to eat anything, but it was a great few hours in London.

Thanks for your help and suggestions!
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Oct 8th, 2009, 07:11 AM
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We stayed at a b&b in Horley the night before our flight back to the states. Nicest people - they make sure you get to Gatwick at the right time for your flight. Best breakfast I had anywhere in the UK. We walked around Horley and shopped a little and had fish and chips in a pub - was great. Horley is a small town but we enjoyed it.
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