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How would you group these sights for my London trip?

How would you group these sights for my London trip?

Mar 19th, 2008, 05:26 PM
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ShelliDawn, I plan to catch one of the tours of Westminster after my visit to the Parliament.

annhig, before I visit London we will be touring Bath and the Cotwolds including Blenheim. After touring Blenheim will Hampton Court be redundant?
InMiami is offline  
Mar 20th, 2008, 02:18 AM
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hi, inMiami,

no - H'Court is not redundant after Blenheim. they are completely different. apart from anything else, H'Court is at least 200 years older, having been built in the early 16th C by cardinal Wolsey, and then purloined by Henry VIII. AS well as the palace, there are formal gardens, a park, the famous maze, the orangery, a real tennis court,.. all in a beautiful position by the thames, hence the easy access by boat.

no reason why you shouldn't enjoy is as much or even more than Blenheim.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Mar 20th, 2008, 05:32 AM
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InMiami - I would add a few things to your list that can be fit in with others that you are doing. Somerset House is worth two hours in the morning or afternoon, and John Soames House, in the Holborn area is wonderful. Soames was the architect of the Bank of England, with an incredible collection of things from around the world as well as a marvel of architecture. From Somerset House, going out the back, you could easily walk to St. Pauls, and perhaps grab a London Walk, which are wonderful, for the areas around there. Also, if you do the parks walk - which is lovely to do - you would be from Green Park in close proximity to Spencer House, which has been restored from post world war offices to its previous splendor and the docents do a marvelous job guiding. I have walked from St. James's Park through Green Park and then through Hyde Park to Kensington Palace, a rather grim red brick pile, and the on to the V & A, but it's quite an ambitious walk. A previous poster suggested a stroll along the Queen's Walk on the south side of the Thames, and that is lovely to do. We went to the Tower, crossed to the bridge to the south side, lunched at The Anchor, then walked back along the south side to Westminster Bridge, crossed back over and went to Westminster - a wonderful day, with all sorts of buskers along the walk and a view to the City from that side.
sandra3120 is offline  
Mar 20th, 2008, 06:54 AM
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Have not read through all the suggestions but one point to bear in mind is the late night opening of Museums and Galleries, look on their websites. So a late afternoon arrival at one of these can continue into the evening, although not every exhibit is always available. Lots of small places that are worth visiting. Really depends on what you are interested in.
helen_belsize is offline  
Mar 20th, 2008, 02:18 PM
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I'm also a BIG fan of art and have been to many of London's museums. Here are a few of my observations:

The Tate Modern is in a wonderful building and I agree with janisj that the conversion of the space from a former power plant is well worth seeing. I didn't care all that much for the actual collection and I really dislike the thematic arrangement of the pieces of art.

On the other hand, my husband loves the Tate Modern and visits it every single time he is in London. The special exhibits are often quite good, but also usually involve a steep admission charge (of course the regular admission to the Tate, as with most London museums, is free).

We have combined the Tate Modern with a visit to the Borough Market and a walk along the South Bank.

The Tate Britain is brilliant! I did not have high expectations for this museum and was absolutely bowled over. The Turners are amazing, as janisj has mentioned. We took the boat between the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain (it also stops at the London Eye).

While on the topic of the Eye, we loved it - preordered the tickets for sunset and avoided waiting in the queue. What makes the view so outstanding is that it is over the river. Beautiful. The view from St. Pauls is also nice, as is the one from the restaurant of the Portrait Gallerz, but it's great seeing Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament across the river.

The National Gallery is one of the preeminent museums in the world for 'old masters'. In terms of art, it's head and shoulders above the V&A. Be aware that for the 'late hours' the museums typically only have a portion of the galleries open. Several times we found that the things we most wanted to see were not accessible in the evenings.

The National Portrait Gallery is next to the National Gallery and is worth popping in to see the time period or theme that interests you most. It's quite well done.

If you like the medieval period the Tower is a must and is also quite rewarding. You can't really do it justice in less than 3 hours' time, and that's a bare minimum, imo. Westminster Abbey is similarly amazing.

I don't recall the whole thread, but the Cabinet War Rooms are well worth a visit - give them around 2 hours (together with the Churchill Museum on the same premises). They are near Parliament and not far from the Abbey or even the National Gallery.
noe847 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2008, 11:28 AM
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samsmom1127 is offline  
Mar 25th, 2008, 11:35 AM
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Since this thread has continued I have one more question.

I have reservations at the Morgan Hotel across from the British Museum. (solid reviews on Tripadvisor and £105/night)

Can I walk to most sites or will I be using the subway?

I love to walk but as mentioned earlier time is a consideration.

If the Travel Pass is not the way to go should I purchase an Oyster Card when I arrive?
InMiami is offline  
Mar 25th, 2008, 11:49 AM
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You will be very close to Oxford Street with its shopping. You can walk to Covent Garden and the theaters and to Trafalgar Square along Charing Cross Road, so you can browse the book stores. I'm a mystery addict, so I really like the Murder One shop. We walked to eat at le bistro Savoir Faire on South Oxford, and to North Sea Fish and Rock and Sole Plaice.
carolyn is online now  
Mar 25th, 2008, 02:32 PM
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I stayed at the Morgan last spring, in one of the apartment suites. It's a great place, very well run and a good breakfast.

Due to laziness and/or the weather, we took the tube everywhere. It's only a minute's walk to the Tottenham Court Road station from the Morgan, and it's very easy to get anywhere from there.

You can buy an Oyster card at the manned booth in the tube station. I'd just get a pay-as-you-go Oyster and load 20gbp on it. If it runs out it's easy to top it up.

I like PAYG because I can't wrap my head around the exotic calculations necessary to determine whether a pass of some sort works out to be cheaper- the second I get a headache, the potential 5 bucks in savings has already lost its worth, lol.

Have fun planning and enjoy your trip.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Mar 26th, 2008, 12:53 PM
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Hi - I see you've got a lot of good advice already, but I thought I'd add a few thoughts! I've been to London dozens of times, and would recommend the Cabinet War Rooms, which is near Westminster Abbey. The addition of the recent Winston Churchill museum at the same site makes it a total Churchill experience. I agree with the walk from Westminster Abbey, through St. James park to Buck. Palace. Really great views along the way. I'd also recommend the London Museum as a great tour through the past two thousand years of London history. And the National Portrait Gallery as a good history lesson through paintings. If you're into literature, don't miss the paintings of the Brontes, and the sketch of Jane Austen, done by her sister. I'd also cast a vote for evensong at either Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's. If you can go when the boys choirs are singing (you can find the schedule on their web sites) their voices are sublime. And if you get there at least half an hour before evensong, you can usually get seats in the choir stalls which are magnificent. For a quick low-ish cost meal, the Cafe in the Crypt at either St. Paul's or St. Martin in the Field (at Trafalgar Square) serves pretty good food, in an atmospheric environment. Finally, I'd recommend the Kensington Roof Garden, near the Kensington High Street Tube stop. It's a three acre garden on top of a six story building. It always flabbergasts people when I take them there.
have a great time!
caroltheanglophile is offline  
Mar 26th, 2008, 01:12 PM
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Your list is very good and takes in some of my favourites. Westminser Abbey is at the top of the list for me. Normally I might cast a vote for the Museum of London too, but a good part of it is closed for renovations till 2009. We did the Buckingham Palace tour and thoroughly enjoyed it. The display this year sounds like very interesting too so I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

We also enjoyed the boat from the Tate Modern to Tate Britain after spending time at St. Paul's. Nice break and a different way to see the city.
If you do decide to have a day outside the city, I would also suggest either Hampton Court or Windsor Castle. They both have different things to offer but are easily accessed from London.

As long as the weather if fine, you can walk more places than you think by just looking at a tube map. Googlemaps are great since they show tube stops as well as the street names and sights, to give you a better perspective on distance. If you haven't been to London before I do like the double-decker tour tour bus (hopon/hopoff) initially as it does give you a great perspective that you don't get underground.
Tobie_T is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 12:18 AM
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September is a great time for London.

Someone said to pre-book London Eye - good advice, that queue can stretch for "miles"!

After your Westminster Abbey tour just pop in quickly (2 minutes) next door at the school (inner square with trees), I can't remember the name and the entrace's next to the shop. I found it a serene place and typically English.

After the Tower (loved the Beefeater guides, v.entertaining!) walk across the bridge (walking across the Tower Bridge is also an experience) to St Katherine's Wharf. It's a hidden little quay with small boats bobbing that I just love and there's a very nice tudor style pub excellent for a plate of chips and a beer (or something nicer!).

I see someone finally mentioned Trafalgar Square. You would pass it anyway at some point during your week there but if you have time, try and pause there for even just 15 minutes and watch the world go by and the pigeons looking for scraps. I used to work near there and would spend my lunch times just soaking it all in.

Leicester Square is walkable from there an very busy, quite touristy but usually something or someone interesting around and there's a nice ice cream place in the one corner.

No one's mentioned Madame Tussauds... not sure if you're into that but it features on most people's list and I enjoyed it - I think if you've been to one elsewhere don't bother due to your time constraints but if you've never been to one, it's quite fun! If you have time/budget.

Camden Town if you want to see London's weird people in a small geographical area, plus really cheap food at the street market, and browse the flea markets (very varied) - lots of vibe, and you can take a canal boat tour if I'm not mistaken from "Little Venice" - something I haven't done yet but want to. There's one of these trips that boats to the Zoo but I wouldn't really recommend the zoo.

On the topic of boats, I would really recommend to go on one at some point or another. As said before by someone else it offers a different perspective and if you think about the history around the Thames River, that alone makes it an amazing experience to think how the city has grown and changed. The guides can be very entertaining! The boat trip we took went to Greenwich (you can stand on the time line!) the museum itself is nice but the highlight was the boat trip. The naval museum is near there also.

I second the Tate Modern ... actually you can easily keep yourself busy for a whole week just visiting all the art galleries! Probably have to be a bit selective and once you're inside, keep an eye on your watch if you want to see other things because you can get lost (in time) in those galleries!

I second Covent Garden area for a browse around or just a walk through.

The Natural History Museum is great but if you don't have time just try to walk/bus past there - it's a beautiful building.

I second the hop-on-hop-off bus tour on your first day to orientate you, DO GET one with a live guide not radio guide system.

To experience life as a Londoner, you must try to have a beer or something at a local pub, it's a bit different from the inner city pubs... and also for lunch, buy a sandwich and go and sit in one of the parks to eat it there along with the office workers...

I lived there for 3.5 years and you've made me all nostalgic!

It's a wonderful city so rich with history. If you just walk around the streets with no agenda you'll have a rich experience too. I love the little specialist shops - often they have a basement level and the old buildings that they're housed in (like around Notting Hill area) full of character. Then there are of course the bigger specialist shops - try to visit Harrods just for the experience (expensive) and of course it's so well known.

I could go on and on!!

Have a great trip and do try and pause to drink it all in!

WilmaW is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 08:29 AM
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"Someone said to pre-book London Eye - good advice, that queue can stretch for "miles"!"

Actually not that great an idea to book ahead of time IMO . . . Riding the Eye is very weather-dependent. What if the day/time you pre-book is rainy/foggy/low ceiling? Much better to wait until you are In London and get a handle on the weather. You can always ring up the Eye and book by cc the morning of the day you want to "fly the Eye".
janisj is online now  
Mar 29th, 2008, 05:55 PM
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jonmck is offline  
Mar 29th, 2008, 07:40 PM
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don't skip st. paul's!! and definitely go to the whispering gallery and the top to see the views!!

worth the cost.

take the walk through st. james park - it was the highlight of our 3 day trip. brilliant. many types of water fowl that we don't have here in the US.

the british museum and V&A need to be seen in the day- we went after 5 or 6 pm, when admission was reduced or something, and only the ground levels were open. we were quite bummed!
raspberryberet is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 02:47 AM
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The BM and the V&A are both free, and some galleries are open late on Thursday and Friday (BM) and Friday (V&A).
PatrickLondon is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 03:15 AM
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Great thread. Bookmarking
glenn_col is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 07:39 AM
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Nobody's answered your question about the Oyster Pass. I can't authoritively either since the whole thing confuses me and my information seems to be out of date. Here's the horse's mouth: www.tfl.gov.uk

Your choice is between a 7-day Travelcard (under Season tickets at the TFL website) and an Oyster card loaded with x number of pounds. (Note 1 and 3-day travel cards are limied to off-peak hours. Not so the 7 day card. With your long list of sights, you'll probably be traveling in peak hours.)

We had a travelcard for zones 1 and 2 loaded on an Oyster Card with a few extra pounds for trips beyond zone 2. Somebody else on Fodor's said you can no longer buy a travel card loaded on an Oyster Card. I don't find that limitation on the TFL site.

Whatever you do, don't buy single tickets. It's L4 for a single ticket on the tube. You will probably be using the tube for at least 3 trips per day. The 7-day Travelcard is L43.

Since you will be there over a weekend, it may be that some of the tube lines/stations are closed for maintenance. Workers will help you find a bus alternate.

Finally you have a lot on your list. Maybe you won't make it to everything. But do try to go to the theatre one night. That's one of the joys of London. And I second the recommendation of Original London walks. Great way to see different parts of the city.

Mimar is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 11:11 AM
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Mimar, actually I had resigned myself to just buying an Oyster Pass but your TFL site does bring up some questions.

For £24.20 I can get a 7 day pass for Zone 1+2, this seems like a good deal.

How would I pay for the train/subway from Heathrow to central London?

What is your suggestion?
InMiami is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 02:38 PM
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Would recommend going well ahead of opening time if you hit Westminster Abbey or the Tower of London, as the ticket lines can get very long at both; making each of these your first thing to visit on that particular day isn't a bad idea. In fact, it's wise to get tickets to the Tower of London ahead of time.

In my experience, taking the Tube between the Tower of London and St. Paul's isn't especially direct. The #15 bus, however, does run directly between these two attractions. And I'll echo those who say St. Paul's is well worth spending the money on.

If you've got serious sightseeing stamina and are able to keep rolling along all day and evening, it might be worth checking out some of the museums in the evening. If memory serves, the British Museum is open late Thursdays and Fridays, Tate Modern is open late Fridays and Saturdays, V&A is open late Wednesdays and the last Friday of the month, National Gallery is open late Wednesdays (check first on all these, though). Note, however, that the the British and V&A Museums don't open all their galleries in the evenings.

If you decide to squeeze in a couple of excellent smaller museums, you might consider choosing from the Cortauld Gallery, Wallace Collection, Sir John Soane's Museum, or the Cabinet War Rooms. Another possibility is the Banqueting House.

Also noted that you left off Madame Tussaud's. That's a very wise decision, as it's horridly expensive, ragingly cheesy, and hopelessly (and inexplicably) crowded.
bachslunch is online now  

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