How would a first timer see London?

Old Aug 31st, 2000, 10:36 PM
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You can certainly see a lot in and around London in 5 days. Your first day can be spent walking from Buckingham Palace through the wonderful parks toward the Thames, Big Ben and Parliament. Another day you might choose to see the Tower of London in the morning and spend the afternoon walking around a very different area like Chelsea or Oxford Street. After those two days you will really feel that you've seen the best of tourist London and you'll still have three days to see more-- museums, other great neighborhoods. Try to spend one day outside of the heart of tourist London. We stayed in London for two nights this past summer and spent the better part of one day in Hampstead, Highgate and wandering on Hampstead Heath. It was our second trip to London and the only reason we didn't get to Hampstead the first time was that there was a subway strike on the day we planned to visit. This time we stayed in Hampstead to make sure we saw the heath. Both are very beautiful neighborhoods and a quiet change from the center of the city. One of the best parts of London is the parks-- Battersea, Regent's park, Kensington Park, Hyde... Get a good map of London and try to mark out areas close to each other that can be seen in clusters. Think about what you've always dreamed you would see in London. Write that down and then look up those things in guide books and make up an itinerary with that in mind. With leftover time fill in extra things. That might make the planning less overwhelming.
Old Sep 1st, 2000, 03:10 AM
Ben Haines
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Dear Ms Conner,

You've had heaps of excellent advice. I'll just add a list I have on disc of very central hotels, which as has been said let you take a break, pop back to dump things, snooze before theatre, and so on. A pound is about $1.70.

I must say, it delights me to find Fodors people writing of my city with stars in their eyes. Please write if I can help further. Welcome.

Ben Haines

Hotels on Strand and Westminster Bridge Road
Travel Inn County Hall. 62.95
Royal Adelphi Hotel. From 45 or 80 inc breakfast
Strand Palace Hotel. 159 to 199
Also at discount 57 any date in August
and 66 Fridays to Sundays all year
Discounts also on
and on
Charing Cross Thistle Hotel. 190 to 255

Old Sep 3rd, 2000, 07:13 AM
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Old Sep 3rd, 2000, 07:36 AM
A local
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I hate to nit-pick with Ben's great advice, but 1 = about US$1.5 these days, due to strong dollar. Great news for US visitors to the UK, but not so good for Brits like me who are addicted to visiting the US.
Old Sep 3rd, 2000, 05:33 PM
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A good way to start & get a nice overview of the city is to use one of those 'hop on, hop off' bus tours. It's actually a fairly competitive business - there's one that's called "The Big Bus" and another called "The Original London Sightseeing Tour" and possibly another company.
A recent poster raved about their experience using The Big Bus. When I was in London (Nov. 98), I used the Original London Sightseeing Tour and was quite satisifed with them.

As for the timing of your visit, the weather in London is fairly moderate throughout the year in that it usually doesn't get extremely cold in winter, not oppressively hot in summer. And most all the time, you should have an umbrella handy. I was there during the first week of November and thought the temps were great for running around (temps about 58 during daytime). And actually only had 1 full rainy day during the period - the rain was more of a "misting", rather than a downpour. Additionally, the advantage to selecting November is that airfares are cheaper after November 1st. They go back up for a period around Christmas / New Year's and then return to low rates through January, February and early part of March.
Old Sep 3rd, 2000, 09:34 PM
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We will be going to London for the first time, and on a budget. From our research these were the things we came up with (maybe someone else would come to different conclusions)...

It was cheaper for us to put a trip together ourselves and we tend to be independent travels.

We wanted to stay in a B and B, in hopes that the hosts could give us suggestions and we could get a better idea of what it would be like to live in London.

We also studied several books at our local bookstore (take a notebook and write down web sites that you can check at home), buy the book you use/like the most. We particularly liked "Europe for Idiots" for the planning information. "Rick Steves London 2000" it has allot of budget ideas for food and accomodation, along with the sightseeing information. Fodor's London.

we also used this web site and "grafetti wall" for the countless reviews or helpful suggestions/comments of other fellow travelers.

Take the information that best suits you and your likes write it down organize it and then put it to work for you. (we found some things just felt right) I'll let you know how it works when we get back. Have a grand time!

Old Sep 7th, 2000, 10:18 AM
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you can see alot in a week... the city is very easy to get around.. you can use the tube or just get a street map and enjoy the city that way. you will love it.

be prepared for LOTS of stairs.. in the hotels, resturants and the tube stations. something we americans are not used to!

we did not arrange for any tours.. it was more fun to just pick a different direction each day and head out the door. invest in some guide books and do a little research before you leave.. you will have a wonderful time.
Old Sep 8th, 2000, 11:06 AM
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Hi. I just got back on a whirlwind trip to London - 3.5 days in the city. We had a 4 day tube pass (subway) and a good pair of shoes and we saw almost everything that we wanted to see - and it was a long list. With 7 days, you will be able to do day-trips outside of the city as well. Definately get a good guidebook and pre-plan what sites are on what side of the city. While in London, the subway map is invaluable. Their signage is pretty good throughout the city and, like you said, they speak English so you can always ask for help.
Old Sep 8th, 2000, 11:09 AM
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To find airfares, check out the web:,, are 3 good places to begin. A lot of internet sites can also help you with hotels - discount prices, etc. I would rely on travel books or people's advice to help you sort through the plethora of hotel choices, however, so you don't wind up in a dump or in a bad area.
Old Sep 12th, 2000, 12:41 PM
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I made my first trip to England a couple of years ago. Never having been to Europe before, here are some things I learned/used:
1. Get the VISITOR card before you leave. It is only available to people outside the UK. allows free access to the tube & buses.
2. Victoria station is a very convienent place to stay - biggest bus/tube terminal, lots of tours take off from nearby, Buckingham palace only blocks away.
3. Do the Hop-on-off tour - Definitely spend time at the TOWER of London - very cool.
4. Take a day trip to BATH (1 hr by train) It is so worth it. Free walking tours by local residents.
5. Don't plan too much on each day. Go for 2 (3 max) things in a day, and then have a list of "if we have time" items. That way you won't feel pressured to fit everything in.
6. See a show.
7. If you have time Day trip to Cardiff (1 hr by train) cool castle
8. Get one of those laminated STREET BY STREET maps of London. One side has the streets & the other a tube map.

I have found the EYEWITNESS TRAVEL books by DK publishing to be very helpful.They give full color pictures and cut-aways of castles etc. They also give great advise for travelers. They also make good keepsakes of the trip. I revisit my England book a lot, and have loaned it out to other friends making the same trip.

Have Fun.

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