How's this order of sights in London?

Old Mar 25th, 2014, 06:42 AM
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How's this order of sights in London?

Mom and I are finally leaving on our long-awaited second trip to England - in four weeks! It's time to nail down the London itinerary. The following are mom's top choice of things to do. We'll be in London 4 nights at the start of our trip, staying at Premier Inn County Hall. We'll be returning to London from a short tour for an additional two nights, so I've broken this into two segments. I'm really just looking for feedback on whether there's a better way to order these sights and if it all sounds easily doable.

4/25 Fri - arrival mid-day, check in to hotel and walk around Westminster. No real plan - just walk and deal with jet-lag, then get to bed at a reasonable time.

4/26 Sat - Walk to Buckingham Palace in morning, take time to admire views from St. James Park, then visit Queen's Gallery and Royal Mews. Figure each will take about an hour. Walk to Hyde Park Corner, catch bus to Kensington Palace, spend a couple of hours there. Take bus back toward Trafalgar Square for easy walk back to our hotel.

4/27 Sun - Train to Hampton Court Palace, spend better part of day there. Return to London late afternoon, go to Westminster Abbey organ recital in evening (5:45 pm)

4/28 Mon - EITHER: Visit Westminster Abbey upon opening (9:30), then cruise to Tower around noon and spend a few hours. Stop at Tower Bridge to see exhibit and views from walkway if we have time/interest (open until 6:00) - OR: Cruise to Tower in morning (but wouldn't get there until 10:30; opens at 10:00 on Mon.), then cruise back to Westminster early afternoon, visit Abbey and stay for evensong. Which would you do?

5/3 Sat - Visit St. Paul's in morning (would love to go to evensong, but they have a special service that evening instead), then leave afternoon open for whatever we feel like doing (National Gallery? Museum of London?)

Thoughts?
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 06:49 AM
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Seems like an extremely well thought out well-planned itinerary!

if you have never taken in a West End play then London is the place to do just that - get discount tickets at the discount ticket booth in Leicester Square on day of plays.
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 07:04 AM
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On 4/28 I'd go immediately in the morning to the Tower of London (maybe skip the cruise on this leg). The Tower can get crowded so the earlier you get there the better.

I hesitate to make any other suggestions as you are working from your mother's must-see list. But it's really hard to resist!
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 08:21 AM
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Go to www.daysoutguide.co.uk and get vouchers for the Tower and HCP. You will get two admissions for the price of one. This saves $25 on HCP and more than $30 on the Tower. St. Paul's is occasionally on the voucher list too.

Your ticket from Waterloo to HCP will enable you to use the voucher for HCP. For the Tower, get a single-day Zone 1-2 Travelcard at Waterloo or Charing X's manned ticket booth (whichever is closer to the hotel) for that day and present the card and voucher at the ticket booth at the Tower.

The "Tower can get crowded" meme is overstated. It's never really empty but we've been there at various times of the day and trying to beat the crowds isn't necessary.
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 08:25 AM
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I don't know that I would do Tower and WA on the same day as it seems a bit much. I think I would get to Tower early the day you planned. Then see what you feel like. You could always go to WA on your later day where you have left time open. Many on Fodors here rave about the verger led tours of WA. But I believe you have to book ahead. http://www.westminster-abbey.org/visit-us/tours.

Also on your first day your hotel is right there on South Bank with lots to see on both sides so great for a walk down one side and back the other.
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 08:45 AM
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I definitely would not take a boat TO the Tower. I'd walk across the river take the tube from Westminster and get to the Tower just before opening time. Then (an only if the weather is decent) take the boat back to Westminster and tour the Abbey by mid afternoon.

One note - Kensington Palace is fine but not really a 'must' for most visitors. If it is a must for you/mom then OK -- otherwise I might do something like the V&A or National Gallery instead.
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 11:43 AM
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Okay - Sounds like the best thing to do for that Monday is take the tube to the Tower and be there early, then possibly boat back to Westminster Abbey. Otherwise, I'm hearing that this itinerary is pretty workable, even if it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea.

PalenQ - Thanks for the tip on discount plays. We're keeping evenings open until we have a better idea of how we'll feel after a day's sightseeing, but will keep that in mind.

Thanks for the info on two for ones, BigRuss - I've definitely been looking at that.

Mimar - I wouldn't say we're totally not open to suggestion, but you're right - this is Mom's list that I'm working from. She's usually swayable, though, so if you've got a real goodie, throw it out there .

Laurie_ann - I should mention that we've been to the Tower before, so we may pass on the Yeoman Warder tour and not spend as much time as we would on a first time visit. But there were things we felt we missed the first time and both wanted to visit again. We're definitely considering the verger tour at the Abbey, so I'll check their website on booking ahead. Great idea about walking along the South Bank that first day...

Janis - I have heard that about Kensington Palace, and we weren't even considering it until Mom read up on it a little. She's really interested in the historical links (Victoria, etc.), so now it's in. Unless she changes her mind. I'm hoping to visit the National Gallery on the Sat. that we're back in London, after St. Paul's. I totally hear you on the Tube vs. boat suggestion for the Tower - thanks.
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 11:54 AM
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Depending on what time you arrive on Friday you may be able to fit in a lot of what you have allocated to Sat - would free up probably half a day on Sat to do something else of interest...
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 12:41 PM
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http://www.tkts.co.uk/leicester-square/

discount tickets booth Leicester Square - right in the heart of the West End Theatre district. Always been happy with the seats i've gotten there even though you never know what will be offered until that afternoon.
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 01:26 PM
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Perfect - thanks PalenQ for that link!

Jamikins - We arrive around noon (allowing for time from Heathrow), so we probably could fit some of that in. I was kind of assuming we shouldn't try to be ambitious that first day, but on the other hand, we'll be excited and we will have time, so maybe we'll do more than I think. I would think a walk through St. James Park to get a look at Buckingham Palace at the very least (we somehow missed it before, and my mom really wants to lay eyes on the place), so that would be a good time to visit the Mews and Queen's Gallery if we felt like it since those don't seem very time-consuming.

I planned the Tower and Abbey for Monday solely based on thinking they'll both be extremely busy on the weekend. Is that necessarily true?
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 02:25 PM
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Yes that is good logic...try to hit the tower first things then head straight for the Crown Jewels...then circle back and pick up the warder tour (free) at the front gate. You should have the jewels slimiest to yourself as opposed to standing in a huge line!

You may want to hit Westminster abbey first thing on Saturday to avoid all the crowds of Monday afternoon or later on Saturday. Try to book a verger tour! http://www.westminster-abbey.org/visit-us/tours
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 04:16 PM
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One note of caution about the discount tickets booth, the official one not the commercial agents in adjacent stores. If you get there after the line has thinned out, you may be thrilled to see seats available in the front or second row of a theatre. They may not be so great. Sitting so close to the lip of the stage, your line-of-sight could focus on the cast's kneecaps, or just the side of the kneecaps if you are far stage left or right. That's why the seats are available last-minute. Further back offers better views.
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 05:03 PM
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>>They may not be so great.
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 07:29 PM
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Thanks for the info on theatre tickets. It would be fantastic to see a show, but we've not put any thought into it. I'll have to see what Mom might be interested in, but I'm still thinking we'll keep it kind of loose until we get an idea of how tired/adventurous we'll feel in the evenings.

Here's a slightly revised itinerary taking into account some of your suggestions:

Friday (arrival day) - Have a nice walk through St. James Park to Buck. Palace and Royal Mews, visit Queen's Gallery if we feel like it (not as important)

Sat. - Visit Abbey first thing, then Kensington Palace in afternoon

Sun. - Hampton Court Palace and organ recital at the Abbey

Mon. - Tube to Tower first thing, then something else... river cruise if it's nice, National Gallery, sights along South Bank...

We could leave St. Paul's for the Saturday of our return to London, then have another free afternoon. We both like the idea of leaving some free time to do whatever we feel like.

Look any better?
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 07:56 PM
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Looks very nice and a pace that allows free time for other discoveries . . .
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 08:17 PM
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Thanks Janis
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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 12:23 AM
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Great plan!!
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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 06:46 AM
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Thanks Jamikins - I appreciate your help!
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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 07:23 AM
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Should you run out of things to do AND enjoy gardens, the Garden Museum/Museum of Garden History is a short walk away in Lambeth Palace Road. They do garden tours as well.
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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 08:57 AM
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<They may not be so great. Sitting so close to the lip of the stage, your line-of-sight could focus on the cast's kneecaps, or just the side of the kneecaps if you are far stage left or right. That's why the seats are available last-minute. Further back offers better views.>

Maybe.

Five rows back at Billy Elliot was a steal for the 1/2 price.
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