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Preet81 Aug 6th, 2014 08:59 AM

London in 7 days - suggestion needed
 
We are going to London for 7 days. We are a couple in early 30s and our interest is inclined towards parks, events, shopping and landmarks etc rather than museums. Our hotel is near Hyde Park

I tried to consolidate a plan for our and is as below

Aug 29 - Landing at 9:20 AM - Planning to take a Hop on Hop off bus in the afternoon for London Key sites like Buckingham Palace,Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and the many bridges that cross the River Thames( Quick look)
. Dinner at at the Sherlock Holmes Pub, near Trafalgar Square

Aug 30 - Bus for a full day tour out to Windsor Castle( see change of guards here), Stonehenge and Bath

Aug 31 - A morning tour of the Tower of London
The afternoon visit to shopping areas including Portobello Market, and Piccadilly Circus.

Sep 1 - Westminster Abbey in the morning.
Head for the South Bank for a trip on the London Eye.

Walk along the South Bank Walk, heading towards Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. The Walk runs alongside the River Thames and we can see such sights as the London Aquarium, Jubilee Gardens, Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre, Tate Modern, and several bridges, such as the Millennium Footbridge and Waterloo Bridge

Sep 2 - Trip to the British Library in the morning, where there is a room full of literary treasures on display - is there a tea here?

For more shopping, go to Oxford Street.

Sep 3- British Museum in the morning , Visit to London Zoo, The Regent Park

Sep 4 - Visit Buckingham palace in morning, Hyde Park visit

At night, Take a dinner cruise along the River Thames

Sep 5 - Filght back to US in afternoon

We can not cover everything in the trip but please let me know if I am missing any garden , park or landmark in the plan which is a must watch. I have a couple of questions regarding this plan

Aug 29 as we land the same day, will be able to do sightseeing of all those key places in about half a day or should I give it 1 more day?

Will I be able to see change of Guards in Windsor castle( Aug 30) if we take a bus at 10 AM from near our hotel?

Should I buy a London pass or London for 2 . I have not bought any tickets yet except flight going to London and hotel reservation.

Are there any events during this time which I am missing?

Thank you so much in advance!

janisj Aug 6th, 2014 09:18 AM

I don't have time for a longer post right now since I'm getting late for an appointment . . . BUR two red flags right off the top

You get off the plane most likely jet lagged and immediately the next day leave London of a loooooooong coach tour. Bad idea IMO.

>>The afternoon visit to shopping areas including Portobello Market, and Piccadilly Circus.<<

Portobello Rd Market is on Saturdays and you are planning it for Sunday. And I wouldn't plan a shopping trip focused on Picadilly Circus.

The British Library is quite near the British Museum - I'd maybe combine them on the same day.

More later . . . and Do NOT but the London Pass!

nytraveler Aug 6th, 2014 09:27 AM

You seem to have a mania for the bridges in London. Frankly - they are bridges - nothing special. I can;t imagine going out of my way to see any of them (not like Pont Neuf in Paris). If you walk over one to get somewhere fine - but they really aren't "sights".

As for shopping. What do you want to buy - or are you just browsing. Prices in UK are likely to be much higher than in the US for the same thing (if that's where you are from). So if you tell us what you want and what price range (budget, moderate, luxury) people can reco areas and stores.

I love to visit Harrod's - not to buy anything except pasties or chocs in the food court - but just to see some of the luxury goods and interesting departments. Also nice place to have an afternoon tea. But you don;t shop in Picadilly Circus - except for post cards.

dwdvagamundo Aug 6th, 2014 09:41 AM

janisj is right on, as usual.

Why not substitute your Sept. 4 itinerary for your day of arrival: check into hotel, freshen up, have lunch, then walk around Hyde Park and take a look at the Palace. You can't get into Buckingham Palace, but there is a small art museum you can see.

Aug. 30: that is going to be a very long day trip. Have you booked this yet? I'd think about Windsor Castle with a trip to Hampton Court Palace instead. With seven days, you probably have time for another day trip in which you can do Stonehenge, Avebury (a better site IMO) and possibly Bath.

Combine British Museum and British Library in one day to make the time.

On September 1, you can walk around near the Houses of Parliament while you're at Westminster Abbey.

No London Pass because most things in London are free. Do get Oyster cards when you get there for your transportation needs. No Hop on Hop Off bus needed, either.

Preet81 Aug 6th, 2014 10:00 AM

Thank you all for the replies.

When should I see changing of guards? does anyone know when is the ceremony happening in September? Where should I see it from - Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle?

ESW Aug 6th, 2014 12:15 PM

There is information about Changing of the Guard in Windsor here:
http://www.windsor.gov.uk/things-to-...-guard-p264351

and at Buckingham Palace here:
http://www.changing-the-guard.com/dates-times.html
Although this only lists August, in September it is on the even days.

Final choice may come down to which date you do either Windsor or Buckingham Palace and what time you are likely to be at either place.

BigRuss Aug 6th, 2014 12:29 PM

<<Should I buy a London pass or London for 2 >>

<b>Do not buy the London pass.</b>

Do not do the hop on hop off, there are various bus lines that will take you to see what you want like the # 9, 15, 136. They get just as caught up in traffic as the HOHO buses, but don't cost $35 per person.

The "London for 2" probably means the 2for1 offers, right? If so, do this:

(1) Go to www.daysoutguide.co.uk. Print every voucher offer that looks interesting. There is no limit.

(2) Bring passport size headshots of you and the other half of "we" with you to London.

(3) Purchase 7-day paper travelcard for each person (zones 1-2 only) at nearest NATIONAL RAIL station (Victoria, Charing X, St Pancras, etc) ticket booth. You will get a flimsy orange-ish paper card. Use that on the Tube and buses.

(4) Present appropriate voucher with you and travelcard at site covered by voucher program (e.g., Tower, Churchill War Rooms, etc).

Check Londontown.com and timeout.com for events.

Leave your Eye times open - London weather changes frequently. The Eye won't be fun in a rainstorm.

tom_mn Aug 6th, 2014 12:48 PM

London is super expensive so consider spending some days elsewhere, say on the sea.

Also I qualified for the 2-4-1 offers because I took rail to / from London from Gatwick (most land at Heathrow and tube it in and that doesn't work) but ended up not using any coupons. The only major attractions are the war rooms (still very pricy even at 2-4-1) and the the Tower but that offer is suspended mid-July to early sept.

Many London admissions are in the $30 US range but with half of Italy and a quarter of China vacationing there at any given time they can get away with it.

BigRuss Aug 6th, 2014 01:05 PM

<<Many London admissions are in the $30 US range but with half of Italy and a quarter of China vacationing there at any given time they can get away with it.>>

Well, there's a nice stereotyping.

jamikins Aug 6th, 2014 01:08 PM

London is not super expensive - the museums are almost all free and there are lots of inexpensive places to eat. I hate that stereotype.

janisj Aug 6th, 2014 01:19 PM

Back:

First of all . . . >>You can't get into Buckingham Palace,<<

<B>Yes you can! </B> It is open to the public in August and September. VERY HIGHLY Recommended.

http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/vi...kingham-palace

Please ignore suggestions to leave London - you have a very short visit. If you had 10 days.2 weeks then sure spend a few days out in the countryside. London does not need to be expensive - there are LOTS of ways to save a bit of ££.

Tulips Aug 6th, 2014 01:43 PM

Agree that London is not necessarily expensive. Many museums are free. Restaurants often have great deals, menus for around 10 pounds, tube and bus are not expensive.
I often buy things in London much more cheaply than in Belgium, where I live. That includes many cosmetics.

Portobello Road on a Saturday: go early and leave by 11 am. Friday morning is better.

The poppies at the Tower look amazing, go early so you can take photos before the crowds arrive.

janisj Aug 6th, 2014 01:57 PM

If anyone is interested - one can purchase a poppy (to be posted after the Nov. 11 commemorations

http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/...ondonRemembers

lavandula Aug 6th, 2014 03:27 PM

>Sep 2 - Trip to the British Library in the morning, where there is a room full of literary >treasures on display - is there a tea here?

There is a cafeteria - not a picturesque tea room - at the British Library. Prices are quite reasonable for London, food is good cafeteria standard. I think outside there is or used to be a tea cart.

Lavandula

lavandula Aug 6th, 2014 03:34 PM

http://www.bl.uk/whatson/planyourvisit/fooddrink/

Lavandula

Preet81 Aug 6th, 2014 03:57 PM

Thank you all for your suggestions.

I made some changes as per the advice.

Aug 29 - Landing at 9:20 AM - check in - relax - Hyde Park visit in the afternoon

Aug 30 - A morning tour of the Tower of London , The afternoon visit to shopping areas including Portobello Market, and Harrods.
Piccadilly Circus in the evening

Aug 31 - Buchimgham palace in morning (see changing of guards),
Visit to Brick Lane/Spitalfields Market
Dinner at at the Sherlock Holmes Pub, near Trafalgar Square

Sep 1 - Westminster Abbey in the morning.
Quick look of Big Ben, Parliament
Head for the South Bank for a trip on the London Eye.
Walk along the South Bank Walk, heading towards Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
The Walk runs alongside the River Thames and we can see such sights as the London Aquarium, Jubilee Gardens, Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre, Tate Modern

Sep 2 - Day trip to Windsor Castle ( using public transport)
At night, Take a dinner cruise along the River Thames

Sep 3- Trip to the British Library & British Museum - Afternoon tea at british meuseum
Visit to London Zoo, The Regent Park
Night experience of London eye

Sep 4 - Madam Tussaud, Camden Market

Sep 5 - Flight back to US in afternoon

Please let me know if this looks doable. Thanks!

Can you suggest me any more places where its lively in late evenings

janisj Aug 6th, 2014 04:37 PM

You have to decide how important Portobello Road is to you. It is not a good Saturday <i>afternoon</i> activity.

The way to see/shop at Portobello Road is to get there VERY early in the AM (Unfortunately this will be you first full day in London and <i>early</i> may not be easy.) - like 8:00 or 8:30 and be out of there by 10:00AM. After about 9:30 it just becomes unbelievably crowded - too crowded to see anything really and way too crowded to walk comfortably. This may give you an idea. Both of these were taken fairly early in the day before it got REALLY crowded.

http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/med...5ecb993bfc.jpg

http://cdn1.images.touristlink.com/d...et_400_300.jpg

If you can't get there early - I personally won't go at all.

I would ditch both the zoo and aquarium. And I enjoy zoos/aquaria. The London zoo is OK but not really world class and takes a lot of time. The aquarium is definitely meh . . . IF you've been to any other good aquariums.

Preet81 Aug 6th, 2014 04:45 PM

Thanks jainsj, I will skip Portobello Market, Zoo/ aquarium.

What else can you suggest me for Saturday afternoon / evening?
Any suggestions for nightlife? Clubs?

janisj Aug 6th, 2014 05:04 PM

>>Any suggestions for nightlife? Clubs?<<

Are you interested in theatre? Scores of plays/musicals running in the West End and elsewhere.

I would not do Harrods on Saturday. It gets crowded every day - but on Saturdays it can get so over-crowded that TFL actually closes (temporarily) the exit from the tube station. I might pick one of your weekday mornings to hit Harrods.

I see your plans are light on museums or galleries -- I would ditch Mme Tussauds and add something better like the Victoria & Albert or National Gallery or Imperial War Museum (just re-opened after major refurbishing and the WWII Centenary).

I would also ditch the dinner cruise. Most are over priced and the food is underwhelming. I'd take a daytime boat trip instead and then have a very nice dinner (on land). will cost less by far, you'll see more and eat better. After visiting the Tower of London you could take a boat from Tower Pier to Westminster Pier.

Preet81 Aug 6th, 2014 05:31 PM

We are not into theaters. Can you recommend any places to spend Saturday evening / night?

latedaytraveler Aug 6th, 2014 05:56 PM

Hi PREET81,

You folks will have a great time in London. I loved the BRITISH LIBRARY tour which is offered weekdays at 10:30 AM (11:30 on Sundays) and 3PM for £8. The place is huge and the information is fascinating.

As suggested above, forget the zoo and aquarium.

maxima Aug 6th, 2014 06:41 PM

you can very easily take a train to Windsor from London, from Paddington Station, you will have to change at Slough, where you simply walk over to another track for the train to Windsor. the trip is about 30 minutes each way, and there are frequent trains. its a very short walk into the center of town and to the castle.

the british army sets the schedule so its subject to change but here is a Windsor Castle Guard Mount Time & Schedule

The ceremony, usually, takes place in the Castle's quadrangle at 11:30am
There is no guard change on Sundays
You will need tickets to get into Windsor Castle.

Days Windsor Castle Guard Change Occurs

Windsor Castle Guard Change Schedule

August: 2nd - 4th - 6th - 8th - 12th - 14th - 16th - 18th - 20th - 22nd - 26th - 28th - 30th

janisj Aug 6th, 2014 06:57 PM

>>you can very easily take a train to Windsor from London, from Paddington Station, you will have to change at Slough, <<

Or you can take the train from Waterloo and not have a change. The Paddington and Waterloo trains arrive at different stations in Windsor but both are walking distance to the Castle.

tom_mn Aug 6th, 2014 10:51 PM

The cheapest ride on the tube is $7.50, decent hotels start at $280 for a small room, and for a family if 5 to ENTER Westminster Abbey (no tour) is $90. Bargains everywhere in London I guess.

Tulips Aug 6th, 2014 11:22 PM

The tube costs 7 pounds for the day, if you start after 9.30 am - off peak cap for zone 1 and 2, so you will not spend more than that if you use an oyster card, which everyone who has done a tiny bit of research would know.
https://www.tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-pay.../price-capping

British museum, national gallery, V&A, natural history museum, tate etc are free. If you have a few higher cost sites, on average you will still spend less than in NYC. The Met is 25 dollars.

London is a huge city, property is expensive therefore hotel prices are high. Compare this to NYC, which is not cheap either. For a family of 5 I would always opt for a flat, rather than hotel.

Tulips Aug 6th, 2014 11:32 PM

If you want to go shopping on Saturday afternoon, go to Marylebone High Street. Go to the Wallace Collection nearby for tea, it has a wonderful restaurant.

Whatever you do, stay away from Oxford Street on Saturdays, it's hell.

You can visit Portobello Road any day of the week, there are still antique shops and other shops and cafes. The stalls are only there Friday and Saturday. And even on Saturday, move away from Portobello for a block or two, to Westbourne Grove and Ledbury Road, and the crowds are gone.

tom_mn Aug 7th, 2014 12:03 AM

Off peak day pass for tube was 8.40 last month.

There's a lot to see in England that will be less crowded and less expensive than London and little is more than a 3 hour train ride away.

I'm still recommending 2 full days in London than some time elsewhere.

Josser Aug 7th, 2014 01:10 AM

The OP definitely says that they are wanting to visit London. Somebody has already given good advice about the 2 for 1 offers. I'm disappointed that you haven't come up with a cunning plan to circumvent those tube and entrance fees. Weren't you planning to smuggle one of your offspring into a hotel room in a rucksack?

Tulips Aug 7th, 2014 01:19 AM

8.40 is the peak rate per day. Children under 11 travel free.
Westminster Abbey is 44 pounds for a family of 2 adults and 2 children.
You can take the train to somewhere else, but trains cost money too. And there is just so much to see and do in London.

Sure, you can spend a lot of money in London, but you don't have to. I get a bit tired hearing that London is super expensive. A Starbucks cappucino in Antwerp costs about a euro more than it does in London, for the smallest size.

Josser Aug 7th, 2014 01:22 AM

Have you considered Greenwich? You can get to it by boat.
You can also get there via the Docklands Light Railway. The Foot Tunnel is an interesting bit of Victoriana. From a website

"You can walk under the river to Greenwich through a foot tunnel from the north side of the river at Island Gardens. Some of the best views of the Old Royal Naval College are from Island Gardens which is also the last stop on the DLR before Greenwich, so it is possible to get off here and enjoy the view and then walk through the tunnel to Greenwich. "

Josser Aug 7th, 2014 01:25 AM

The website I quoted is http://www.imvisitinglondon.com/greenwich.html

jamikins Aug 7th, 2014 04:32 AM

You can also take an overland train to Greenwich from London bridge either direct or with one stop.

Preet81 Aug 7th, 2014 05:22 AM

Is the dates for changing of guards different for Buckingham palace. Acc to the site

August: 1st - 3rd - 5th - 7th - 9th - 11th -13th - 15th
17th - 19th - 21st - 23rd - 25th - 27th - 29th -31st

at around 11:15.

So I plan to do the below on Aug 31

Buchimgham palace in morning (see changing of guards),
Visit to Brick Lane/Spitalfields Market
Dinner at at the Sherlock Holmes Pub, near Trafalgar Square

BigRuss Aug 7th, 2014 06:57 AM

BTW, when we went to Windsor we were able to buy ticket vouchers for 3 quid off entrance price at Waterloo when we bought our train tickets. The vouchers meant we skipped the L O N G line outside the ticket booths and just went to the ticket holder line where we exchanged the vouchers for actual ducats.

You need to reconfigure your itinerary. <b>Do the Tower on Sept 4 because you can use the 2for1 admission then</b>. Don't do Madame Tussaud, a ton of money to look at wax figurines. Yawn.

If one or more of your "we" is a man, then go to Jermyn Street for shopping because it has stuff he can buy without breaking the bank (unlike Harrods).

And if you ever pay retail price for the Tube, you're a complete fool. Just use the 2for1 information I gave you earlier.

janisj Aug 7th, 2014 08:18 AM

<B>Preet81: </B> >>at around 11:15.<<

Just so you understand that does NOT mean getting there at 11:00 or 11:15. One needs to be there at least 90 minutes before if you want to get a good view point. And then stay right there for the next 2 hours+ - w/o moving.

<B>tom_mm:</B> You have been there once, made some unfortunate choices, and have a bad taste in your month about the costs. (It probably got you off in a bad frame of mind from the get go when you were taken to task on here for asking about 'sneaking' a child into hotel rooms). Yes, traveling w/ a large family can be expensive anywhere, but if you had used these forums more we could have given you all sorts of good advice. I understand you were annoyed -- but you missed out on a LOT of help (like that taking buses in cheaper than the tube)

tom_mn Aug 7th, 2014 08:21 AM

My info is correct, 8.40 is the off peak (not full) price of a one day tube travel card, and also the family of 5 for Westminster Abbey being about $90 if one of the children is over 15 since family tickets in UK never cover 16/17 year olds, who are charged the full adult admission or sometimes student reduced rate. Interesting contrast to say Paris where children under 18 get into most places free with a parent.

I realize the OP will ignore my advice but others do read these for info also.

A last comment is that the British Museum does not have AC so it's rather like a steam room on a warmish-not-even-that-hot day. I suggest that if you want to last more than 90 minutes wear a speedo and flip flops-- that's what I did.

Tulips Aug 7th, 2014 09:15 AM

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms...s-jan-2014.pdf

Oyster pay as you go daily price cap 7 pounds for zones 1 and 2, bus and tube.
Using only the bus is cheaper.
Walking in your flipflops and speedos is cheaper still.

tom_mn Aug 7th, 2014 09:55 AM

Wow, one day travel card actually 8.90.

FYI: I had a free place to stay and skipped W Abbey and the M Eye which would have been +$200 for 5, still enjoyed short visit. London much improved over last visit in 80s when it was a polluted and dirty and faded imperial capital with a lot of dog poop and bad modern architecture. Now a really impressive city but I prefer other parts of England.

janisj Aug 7th, 2014 10:15 AM

Are all your kids between 11 and 18? If so the Abbey would have been £18 + £18 +£8 +£8 +£8 =£60. If one is under 11 would have been £52. If you stayed 'free' as you claim, IMO it is criminal you didn't go inside the Abbey. You saw it 30 years ago but your kids didn't get the chance.

janisj Aug 7th, 2014 10:16 AM

but let's not hijack Preet's thread commenting about tom's ill-informed advice . . .


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