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Itinerary for a week in London

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Jan 15th, 2016, 02:37 PM
  #1
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Itinerary for a week in London

My husband and I are taking our 3 children (ages 8, 10, 12) to England in March. We will arrive on a Saturday morning, leaving the following Saturday morning. On past domestic trips, we like to keep moving and experience as many sights and attractions as we can. We might need to slow down just a little bit on this trip to accommodate some moderate health issues within the family. We definitely need to keep museums to a minimum and we like history and culture. Also, one child has a serious aversion to large crowds. We are staying at the Hilton Park Lane.

Here are the things we want to see/do:
Tower of London
West End Theater
Buckingham Palace
Windsor Castle
Afternoon high tea
Westminster Abbey or St Paul's cathedral
See impressionists at National Gallery
Maybe Hampton Court Palace

Here are my thoughts:
Tower of London - stay as long as we want to, and not rush at all, maybe use this day to rest a little before heading out to a show.

See Buckingham Palace (can't tour but can see changing of the guard if possible) and tour Windsor Castle in same day. Perhaps do this as a Royal London 3.5 hour tour, which also allows us to view Parliament and Big Ben area with guided narration and it ends in Trafalgar Square. Maybe come back to hotel on this day to rest and then have afternoon tea. Considering tea at the Grosvenor. (Any better suggestions?)

Take a tour of either Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's Cathedral with London Walks. (Which do you recommend?) Could do National Gallery also that day, I think.

I think Hampton Court Palace is located far away and will take a whole day, once we favor in transportation and meals. My children will LOVE the maze. What about the rest? Is it worth it?

We would also like to take some day trips, or a 2-3 day trip outside the city. London Walks offers several options. We want to skip Stonehenge and Bath this trip, unless you all advice otherwise and we might reconsider. We are more interested in:
Oxford
Cambridge
Cotswolds
York

My husband and I have been to all of the tourist spots and most of the places listed, but it has been 20+ years and now we want to take the children.

Can anyone help me organize an itinerary? Or tell me what I am forgetting?

After I get my days straight I am going to start looking at restaurant reservations and other details. Please send recommendations! We will eat sometimes on a low budget and other times high end. We like to experience it all.

As always, thanks in advance for your help.
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Jan 15th, 2016, 02:55 PM
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>>See Buckingham Palace (can't tour but can see changing of the guard if possible) and tour Windsor Castle in same day. Perhaps do this as a Royal London 3.5 hour tour, which also allows us to view Parliament and Big Ben area with guided narration and it ends in Trafalgar Square. Maybe come back to hotel on this day to rest and then have afternoon tea<<

This doesn't make sense. Are you saying seeing Buckingham Palace, Parliament/Big Ben and trafalgar Square the same day as Windsor Castle? The Castle is an hour west of London and not 'combine-able' with the others.

>>We would also like to take some day trips, or a 2-3 day trip outside the city. <<

You only have 6.5 days IN London so maybe you could squeeze in ONE day or half day trip, but not multiple day trips, nor a 2 or 3-day trip,
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Jan 15th, 2016, 03:31 PM
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As I mentioned above, the 3.5 hour tour offered by Royal London does list a tour of Windsor Castle, as well as seeing Big Ben/Parliament and Buckingham Palace (if the trip is timed correctly, also changing of the guard) and ending at Trafalgar Square. It is narrated at the portions that are not actual stopping points (i.e. Parliament). That is how I thought we would combine these attractions. Also note Trafalgar Square is where it ends, and we would be spending time on our own there.

We went to Boston in the fall and spent 4 days in Boston and took a day trip to Concord/Lexington and a day trip to New Hampshire. I am thinking of structuring this trip like that one. Except our days actually IN Boston were too packed, so I am trying to allow for a little more down time on this trip. The only reason I mentioned possibly a 2 day trip is because I know York or Cotswolds would require more than a day trip, and could possibly require more than 2 nights.
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Jan 15th, 2016, 03:53 PM
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Also Janis, if this is not do-able could you pleas suggest how I should do it, based on our "wish list" of what we'd like to see? And if we have time for only one day trip, what DO you recommend? TIA
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Jan 15th, 2016, 04:22 PM
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>>As I mentioned above, the 3.5 hour tour offered by Royal London does list a tour of Windsor Castle, as well as seeing Big Ben/Parliament and Buckingham Palace (if the trip is timed correctly, also changing of the guard) and ending at Trafalgar Square. It is narrated at the portions that are not actual stopping points (i.e. Parliament). That is how I thought we would combine these attractions. Also note Trafalgar Square is where it ends, and we would be spending time on our own there. <<

That is simply nuts. Windsor Castle is more than an hour by bus from central London (so 2+ hours round trip just 'bus time' - not seeing anything. Can you provide a link to the tour?

>>Also Janis, if this is not do-able could you pleas suggest how I should do it, based on our "wish list" of what we'd like to see? And if we have time for only one day trip, what DO you recommend? TIA<<

Sorry but your wish list is simply too long to fit in your time frame. You need to cut several things and then we can help you organize things efficiently.

>>Oxford
Cambridge
Cotswolds
York << is a full week right there.
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Jan 15th, 2016, 04:33 PM
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Thanks, Janis for all your help.
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Jan 15th, 2016, 05:07 PM
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I would choose to see Westminster Abbey over St. Paul's if I could only go to one.

You can easily walk by the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace to see the outsides. Probably you should skip the Changing of the Guard because it is very time consuming. If you don't get there quite early, there is too big a crowd to see anything. We once stood along the edge of the park and watched the fresh Guards marching toward us and turning right toward the Palace.

With the children, Hampton Court Palace may be your best day trip.
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Jan 15th, 2016, 05:38 PM
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Good to know about Changing of the Guard, Carolyn! Also glad to have the nod to Hampton Court. This is one place neither my husband nor I have been, so it will be fun for all of us. Thank you!
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Jan 15th, 2016, 06:23 PM
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I personally would probably choose Westminster Abbey over St Paul's, but perhaps with the children, would go to St Paul's and climb the dome. You can't lose either way.

I would skip the tour and just go to Windsor on my own. It's a very easy train trip out of London. Why on earth sit in traffic on a coach, when you could take the train? Much more fun. This way you can spend as much or as little time as you wish, and the Castle is amazing.

Having said that, with kids, I'd probably choose Hampton Court Palace over Windsor Castle, although yours are old enough that perhaps I'd let them choose. It is definitely worth it. In addition to the maze, don't miss the Tudor Kitchens and any live tours/demonstrations/events they have going on that day. This is also an easy trip by train from London.

If you are definitely seeing the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace, have a look at the Historic Royal Palaces website and see if a membership will save you money.

You don't have time for more than one (possibly two) day trip(s) outside the city and you certainly don't have time to spend two or three days outside of London. I hear you that you like fast-paced, but don't make it punishingly fast with kids.

The National Gallery is lovely and has great Impressionist art.

You might consider a quick trip through the National Portrait Gallery, to see portraits of some of the famous people you're learning about. For example, if you choose Hampton Court Palace, you might have a look at the portraits of the Tudors.

Sorry to be critical, but you don't want afternoon high tea, you want afternoon tea. This could be fancy, at an hotel, or not so fancy, depending on what you want to spend and what experience you're looking for. Fortnum & Mason do a nice job as well. Also, many places will offer a cream tea (pot of tea, a scone or two and jam and cream) for much less money, so if a kid gets hooked on scones and cream, don't feel like you have to do the full afternoon tea all over again. You may want to book this in advance.

If there is a particular show you want to see, I'd also suggest booking tickets to that in advance.

Good luck with your travel planning, and I hope you enjoy your holiday!
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Jan 15th, 2016, 06:38 PM
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Kyra, this is incredibly helpful. Thank you for setting me straight about afternoon tea - I definitely want to call it the right thing! I will look into several different places and see if we can find something wonderful.

Thank you for the suggestion to look into a membership at Historic Royal Palaces website. I will follow that lead.

We don't want to do several trips - just one for sure, and maybe two.My husband and I have seen all the ones listed but we can't decide which to return to with children. If you had to choose one day trip, which place would you choose?
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Jan 15th, 2016, 06:50 PM
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High tea is not afternoon tea - it is a sort of supper eaten at home instead of dinner - and I don't know if it is something that is even done any longer.

What you want is afternoon tea (little sandwiches, scones and tiny pastries) which can be uber expensive in a luxury hotel or much more moderate in any number of places. Richoux has a number of outlets for a more casual tea that kids might prefer.

As for Hampton Court, yes it is very worthwhile. Just check to see what is happening the day you plan to go. They usually have a number of docents dressed in period costume and demonstrating how life was lived in Tudor times. (Make sure the kids know something about Henry 8 and Elizabeth.

I would not do changing of the guard if you have a child that doesn't like crowds - esp at that time of year which may be rainy/chilly. Better to visit the Royal Mews - carriages and stables for the royal horses use din parades, etc.

You may also have a problem with crowds at the Tower - although perhaps not at that time of year.
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Jan 15th, 2016, 07:17 PM
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I agree Hampton Court is a good day trip option, and a fun chance to take the train.

Oxford is another possibility for a day, especially if anyone has literary interests in C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, even Harry Potter. Pretty much walking involved though, I suppose, if you want to tour many of the colleges and museums. The bus is a good way to go there, can pick you up at various points around town, and takes you right into the center of things in Oxford.

I'd probably choose Westminster Abbey over St. Paul's. The crowds at changing of guard would I think push it past point of diminishing returns for your family.

Lots of nice places to have afternoon tea, from modest and homey to posh and crazy pricey. It might be fun to make that one of your splurges. Brown's or some such.
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Jan 15th, 2016, 08:25 PM
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Consider The Orangerie at Kensington Palace for afternoon tea-you can go on the bus and the children cam play in the gardens and there's also an outside area if the weather is ok.Also surrounded by gardens for the children to play in.You can book online
I would definitely go to Hampton Court palace -by train and i think theres also a boat trip-if that still exists you could do one way.Also a nice little cafe in the garden for the children.
Tower - if your child doesn't like crowds not sure about this unless you get there very early.
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Jan 15th, 2016, 09:19 PM
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You may find that you and the family will experience jet lag and may need a day or two to recover.

Hampton Court would be a good day trip. You can easily take the train.

Windsor is also an easy trip by train, but once there you have to follow the route inside the castle, there is a lot of walking and no place to sit down and your children may not find it all that interesting.. lots of furnishings and art works.

London Walks are very good. You may want to consider their trip to Greenwich.. you go by boat, then walk through some of the historic areas and when the tour is done you can explore it own your own.

Check out the National Gallery's website and see what programs they have for kids.
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Jan 15th, 2016, 10:07 PM
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Just a note -- you say you want to visit the National for the Impressionists.

There is also a terrific Impressionist collection at the Courtauld.
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Jan 16th, 2016, 06:03 AM
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Hi, Sanibella.

For your day trip, you mentioned the Cotswolds. I took this tour and really had a lovely time. Very little walking with lots of breaks, if that is desired. However, this is a very relaxed, maybe more adult way to see the Cotswolds (with lots of wonderful food), so you'll have to gauge if right for your kids. But I saw lots of beautiful Cotswolds villages, received lots of local insight from the drivers, and the chance to spend time in a thatched roof cottage was so nice.

It's called the Secret Cottage Tour and it can be done in 1 day from London. You and the family can take the train to Moreton-in-Marsh in the a.m. The tour picks up at the train station, and drops you off there. Now that I think on it, the minivans held about 7-8 people (including driver), so a family of 5 would only have to share with a 2-3 strangers.
http://www.cotswoldtourismtours.co.uk

I put some pics up on my blog. Just an idea for you.
http://www.susannelord.com/blog/2015...secret-cottage

Also, I believe London Walks offers a Cotswolds tour, but I can't speak to that. (Though I have enjoyed every London Walk I've been on.)

Have a wonderful time in England!
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Jan 16th, 2016, 07:41 AM
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Don't have insight for your questions, just a comment! My boyfriend and I are traveling to London from Boston for a week, probably leaving around March 25th. It will be our first time overseas! So excited. We plan on hitting up a lot of the same attractions, and we are also going to spend a day in Paris. How exciting for your children! Many memories will be made!
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Jan 16th, 2016, 08:19 AM
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I cannot thank you all
enough for these wonderful suggestions. I appreciate the specifics about a possible day trip, about afternoon tea (got it!), and the choices we might need to make considering crowds (this can be a big issue at times). I can't wait to further research the tours and pics! Thank you all so much. I am sure I will have more questions but you all have given us a great place to start!
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Jan 16th, 2016, 01:33 PM
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One more idea, one of my favorites and an afternoon to watch London go by: the Thames Clipper commuter boat that zips along without commentary. You catch it at the Embankment or other piers, ride to Greenwich past St. Paul's, the Tower with a glimpse of Traitors' Gate, under the Tower Bridge. So forth! Once at Greenwich, the Maritime Museum would be fun for a family. If you felt up to the climb, there's the chance for straddling hemispheres.

There are tour boats, too, with commentary and probably a better view from the windows, but some of us enjoy clipping pace.
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Jan 16th, 2016, 07:52 PM
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Oh, Stokebailey, this is a great suggestion. Thank you!
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