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fourfortravel Apr 5th, 2019 01:32 AM

London Assistance, Please
Dear Fodorites.

DD and I are heading first to Dublin for a Trinity College tour later this month over the spring break, and then will drop into London for 3 days so that DD can visit with friends at ICL and ASL. Originally a friend was to join DD but that plan collapsed last evening. Of course DD can travel by herself, but since I'm paying for the hotel and her flight, regardless, what's another flight, right? :lol:

This will be my third visit to London. All of the major sites have been seen, including some further afield sights (Oxford, Bletchley Park, Windsor Castle), though I do plan to drop into the V&A because I love it so. Exploring markets is another priority. But aside from that, what hidden gem parks or museums or neighborhoods have you encountered that warrant my time? Could I visit Cambridge as a day trip? Is it "worth" the day trip to visit Highclere Castle for this Downton Abbey fan? Are there particular hikes with scenic opportunities?

In advance, thank you.

bilboburgler Apr 5th, 2019 02:06 AM

Yes Cambridge works as a day trip.

The canals of London are an interesting hike. You could walk out to a station and catch a train back to save on boredom but there is a lot of "interesting" life along the canals and rivers. just to make the point there are more than 250 art institutions in London. I like the Brunel and the Museum of Water and Steam, but each to their own. Something about "when you are tired of London you are tired of life" :-) .

fourfortravel Apr 5th, 2019 03:41 AM

I know, I know, I could research each of the 250 museums in London, but the personal commentary and suggestions here are helpful. With appreciation for your post, bilboburgler I can cross Brunel off the list, and place Museum of Water and Steam as a "perhaps." The Regent's Canal looks like something my camera and I would appreciate, too.

Dukey1 Apr 5th, 2019 04:18 AM

Fourfortravel, good luck with this.

fourfortravel Apr 5th, 2019 04:41 AM

Not certain of what you mean, Dukey1. Am I asking too much and/or being too lazy with my travel planning? I can read every "London Off the Beaten Path" article out there, but sincerely would prefer to read personal recommendations. :)

vinonobile987 Apr 5th, 2019 04:46 AM

Maybe my thread (4th trip to London) will help you. I have received really good recommendations and am counting days.

Cambridge is perfectly doable as a day trip and it was one of the best day trips we had done. Another favorite is Dover Castle (be ready to spend a whole day there). And have you been to Bath?

Fra_Diavolo Apr 5th, 2019 05:01 AM

You might enjoy the quirky Soane's Museum.

Or maybe the Courtauld Gallery

Tulips Apr 5th, 2019 06:04 AM

Mary Quant at the V&A has just opened. And the Dior exhibit is gorgeous but sold-out I think. If you want to see both, then get a membership to the V&A.
And the jewellery gallery is reopening this month too; plenty of reasons to go!

bilboburgler Apr 5th, 2019 06:06 AM

Yep the Soane is a good trip.

Fourfor, ah I understand I thought you might be an engineer. :-)

If you do Cambridge, see if you can allow a bit of extra time to see Ely, small but perfectly formed Welcome | Visit Ely

Odin Apr 5th, 2019 06:28 AM

Winchester, Cotswolds, Blenheim Palace, Hatfield House and St Albans, Columbia Road Flower Market, Portobello Market, Whitstable, New Forest & Beaulieu (Bucklers Hard & surrounding area) not sure which ones you have already visited.

texasbookworm Apr 5th, 2019 08:48 AM

Might check out what LondonWalks has on offer while you are there London Walks "London's best guided walks" Time Out - London Walks

Trophywife007 Apr 5th, 2019 10:44 AM

Not a hidden gem and it's probably too late for this trip since they sell out far in advance but the Ceremony of the Keys is uniquely British...

travelhorizons Apr 5th, 2019 10:56 AM

Do a walking tour of the street art in East London (starts out near the Tower of London). If you go with a good guide/historian, you'll learn a lot about this area that is now becoming gentrified. I found this tour online — I did it with a private guide and found the experience fabulous, but this could work out for you too.

Here's an idea of what you can see...
an example of street art in East London

elberko Apr 5th, 2019 10:57 AM

I enjoyed visiting Highclere Castle a few years ago. I assume you have checked if it is available during your time in London?

TDudette Apr 5th, 2019 12:21 PM

I second the Courtauld Gallery, 4forT. The Tate Britain if you want to see art. Have a great trip.

PalenQ Apr 5th, 2019 12:59 PM

Cambridge is a sweet day trip - about an hour be frequent train from Liverpool Street Station. for funk take the famous punts around the backs of the college quads

and be sure to hit the Bodlian Library but nice walks along river or through colleges if open to public (weekends best for that) - an American military cemetery is not far south of town.

for some off the beaten path things - this thread a little old but the general things are the same.

I enjoyed walking down the street full of South Asian stores and restaurants from the train station though not the quickest way.

Kathie Apr 5th, 2019 02:09 PM

The Courtauld Gallery and the Wallace Collection are both worth your time if you haven't been to these. I have spent countless hours at the British Museum, and can always spend even more time there. When I go, it is with a specific idea in mind (South Indian Sculpture, Assyrian antiquities, etc) I also spent a couple of wonderful hours in a small museum on the grounds of the University of London in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art. This is an exquisite collection of Chinese ceramics.

historytraveler Apr 5th, 2019 02:10 PM

Pal, just so there is no confusion, the Bodleian Library is located in Oxford not Cambridge.

historytraveler Apr 5th, 2019 03:06 PM

If wanting nice walks within London travel out to Hampstead Heath ( via Tube ) and Hampstead village. The village is very pleasant but the heath itself covers some 800 acres with many paths winding their way through varied woodland. You can easily visit Kenwood House on the north side of the hearth and nearby is the Spanish Inn is a wonderful pub/ restaurant, with plenty of old world ambience.

PalenQ Apr 5th, 2019 03:22 PM

Yes loved walk from Hampstead downhill all the way to London proper if I recall correctly - hit Karl Marx' grave in Highgate Cemetery on the way and Kenwood House and then right down to some soccer fields. Great views when on a crescent of all of London is laid out below.

janisj Apr 5th, 2019 05:25 PM

Several good suggestions above. I personally do a day trip to Highclere or Cambridge with so little time in London. But either could be doable.

Some others:

•. Highgate East Cemetery up to Kenwood, down to Parliament Hill and lunch in Hampstead and visiting 2 Willow Road would be a lovely day -- about a 90 min to 2 hour walk plus touring time at Kenwood and 2 Willow Road. I wouldn't continue all the way down into central London - there is too much to see/do just in Hampstead.

Willow Rd is quirky - they don't prebook so what I would do is walk there from Parliament Hill sign up for a tours an hour or so later, go to lunch, then return to the tour. Tours are at 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm -- or you can you can explore on your own after 3pm. They allow 10 or 12 people in every 20 mins so there is often a wait in the afternoon.

• Eltham Palace! Fabulous place with a lovely garden too. You can get there by train from central London and a 10 minute walk

• The Painted Hall at Greenwich has re-opened making a half day in Greenwich a good option.

rialtogrl Apr 5th, 2019 11:24 PM

Unfortunately, the Courtauld Gallery mentioned above is closed for renovations.

A small museum I really enjoyed is the Handel and Hendrix museum -

The Dior exhibit at the V & A is indeed sold out but I went there last week to ask about buying a ticket onsite. They told me they release some timed tickets for the same day at 10am, but the queue starts forming at about 8:30. They also release some tickets on the website on the 15th of every month. Not sure it will work for you (or even if you are interested!)

I agree with the Shoreditch recommendation especially if you like street art, and it is not far from Spitalfields in the case you want to explore that market.

KayF Apr 5th, 2019 11:43 PM

A day trip to Brighton by train would be good, especially if you are keen to see the Royal Pavilion. It is amazing inside. I was going to suggest the Wallace Collection too, it's a small museum that is more manageable than something like the British Museum which can be overwhelming.

Greenwich by boat to see the Thames Barrier, get the DLR back. Kew Gardens?


Tulips Apr 5th, 2019 11:46 PM

The Painted Hall in Greenwich is gorgeous, and that alone would be worth the trip - alongside the other sites there and the boat to/from Greenwich.

fourfortravel Apr 6th, 2019 09:04 AM

And…just like that the plan has changed again. DH has decided to come along, too.

Thank you to all those who offered ideas; I have been poring over them. Of course there are too many to fit into our days allotted; I just want to have a list at the ready.

The Museum of Water and Steam has been higher-prioritized. (DH is the engineer. I am a biochemist and but an engineer-by-marriage).

Dover Castle intrigues both of us, so it’s in. We are morning persons, so catching an early train is not an issue.

Will consider the V&A annual pass for myself to see Dior; DH is passing on V&A altogether.

Highclere Castle is out. Not enough time on this holiday. And, Ceremony of the Keys is entirely sold out over our stay, darn.

Ely and Eltham Palace both sound delightful! They are now on the list. Ditto for The Wallace Collection.

Cambridge sounds worthy of a day trip, too. Kew Gardens, also.

Regent’s Canal walking is on the list. So is Hampstead Village. Hiking and Wandering is what we do so very much of in Austria.

How to prioritize the markets? We have visited Borough. Columbia mightbe fun if I could bring home a lovely bouquet. Mostly I like to photograph beautiful scenes and purchase unique food items at markets when I am outside of Vienna. Antiques don’t appeal to me, but great people-watching/scenery does.

One more question (for now). We have recently returned from a trip to Pakistan wherein our taste buds were overwhelmed with delicious food. If you could enjoy one Indian/Pakistani meal in London, where would you dine? Either lunch or dinner works, and the budget is entirely flexible when it comes to delicious food.

With much appreciation, Four.

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