London Itinerary - Too much?

Jan 29th, 2008, 09:51 AM
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London Itinerary - Too much?

My boyfriend and I will be traveling to London arriving on Friday, February 15 at 6:55am and leaving Monday, February 18 at 8:00pm.

This is my third time to London, but his first, so we are trying to cram in as much as possible.

We are in our twenties, have no problem waking up early and staying out late. We live in NY near all the museums, so hitting every famous musuem isn't that high on our list.

Please let me know if you think this itinerary is feasible. I'm unsure of how much time each place needs.

Thanks in advance!!

2/15 - Arrive 6:55am, if possible, sleep in hotel until 11:30am. Take the Orignal Bus Tour getting off at London Bridge, walking over Tower Bridge and touring Tower of London. Then we'll take the bus back and walk around Selfridges and Oxford Street, where our hotel is.

2/16 - Portobello Market, Leister Square, British Museum, National Gallery and London Eye (Remember, we won't spend that much time in the museums, I see 2 hours in each TOPS).

2/17 - Buckingham Palace for Changing of the Guards, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Hyde Park

2/18 - Shakespeare's Globe Theater, Tate Modern, St. Paul's Cathedral -- leave for Heathrow around 4:30pm.

I know it's a lot, but is it doable? What are we missing? We don't need to rest, we can do that when we're home!

Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!
cjacob is offline  
Jan 29th, 2008, 10:51 AM
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Your days are VERY full, but that's fine, as long as you're aware (which you seem to be!).

Day 1 - You don't say whether you've traveled internationally much other than your London trips, so maybe napping is your preferred method of dealing with jet lag. For me, sleeping as soon as I got there would not help. I'd drop my stuff off, freshen up if your room is ready, and head out. Otherwise I'd be groggy the rest of the time. But everyone deals with it differently.

Day 2 - it's "Leicester" Square, just in case you need to Google anything.

Day 3 - Many people say the changing of the guards is not that exciting; you wait a long time to not see much. I haven't done it myself so I can't comment from personal experience, but you might search on here for more opinions.

Day 4 - probably doable but very full, once more.

Hope you have a great trip and a couple days to rest when you get home!
jent103 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2008, 10:56 AM
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Leicester Square is just that - a square. I wouldn't go out of my way to see it. It has a couple of big cinemas, some tourist trap cafes and a bongo and fanny hammer shop.

Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Jan 29th, 2008, 11:02 AM
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<<< Arrive 6:55am, if possible, sleep in hotel until 11:30am >>>

Day 1 : So you are going to have 2 hours sleep?

If you get off at London Bridge you'll have a bit of a walk to the Tower of London. Why not get off at Tower Bridge instead

Day 2 & 3 : have you tried looking at a map? You are covering the same ground twice and travelling twice as far as you need to

Portobello Road, walk through Hyde Park, Harrods & Harvey Nicks would make a nice day as would London Eye, Buckingham Palace for Changing of the Guards, Westminster Abbey & Big Ben.

From Harrods you could also get the Tube direct to Leicester Square - though it ain't exactly a wonderful place so I'd just continue onto Holborn to go to the British Museum

Day 4 makes some kind of sense - but once again it's going over a similar area to another day - in this case day 1. Like I say - HAVE A LOOK AT A MAP
alanRow is offline  
Jan 29th, 2008, 11:05 AM
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I'm guessing the earliest you will get to your hotel would be 9am, probably later. Will your hotel have your room ready for you in the morning? That would be unusual.

What do you want to see at Leicester Square?

I love the National Gallery, but if you'd like a different museum experience,consider the National Portrait Gallery which is just around the corner. You can do a nice browse in an hour or two.
The British Museum and National Gallery all in one day would be too much serious museum for me, but that's me.

Enjoy your trip.
elaine is offline  
Jan 29th, 2008, 01:07 PM
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Thanks for your responses.

I did look at a map, but I thought that there was too much to cover in some areas in just one day, hence why we would need to return to some areas.

alanRow- I think I will switch my itinerary based on your Day 2 and 3, it makes more sense.

Not sure if we'll be able to get into the hotel early, most likely not, and then we could just see Changing of the Guard that morning and start the bus tour after that, that would free up some time later on.

Isn't TKTS in Leicester Square? We're going to try and see a show so that's why we would stop there.
cjacob is offline  
Jan 29th, 2008, 07:16 PM
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Your itinerary does have you hopping across town a bit, but I've seen much worse. And I agree that, for example, you couldn't fit the Tower of London in with your St Paul's/Globe/Tate Modern day.

The TKTS booth is in Leicester Square, yes. I should think you'd see all you want to see of the square while waiting in line.

The Portrait Gallery is great - I should have thought to mention that myself! The National Gallery is really nice, but if you go to the Met at all in NYC then I'd skip it and go to the NPG instead. It's just behind the National Gallery.
jent103 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2008, 07:39 AM
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How does this look?

Day 1: No resting at the hotel! Go to Buckingham Palace for Changing of the Guards then get on the Bus Tour and walk over Tower Bridge and tour Tower of London. Bus back to Trafalgar Square, walk around Selfridge's and Oxford Street.

Day 2: Portobello Road, Hyde Park, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Leicester Square and British Museum. (I just feel like we should do more than just shop on this day, is this doable? to all over the place?)

Day 3: If didn't see Changing of the Guards, do that, then Westminster Abby, Big Ben, National Gallery or National Portrait (What should we do if we already saw Changing of the Guards, can we fit London Eye in the afternoon or in the morning? Will this day be full enough if we don't add anything else?)

Day 4: Shakespeare's Globe Theater, Tate Modern, St. Paul's Cathedral
cjacob is offline  
Jan 30th, 2008, 08:12 AM
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I think the only part I don't understand is why you want to do the original bus tour to get from Buckingham Palace to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Unless I am thinking of it wrong the original bus tour maybe makes sense if you were doing a hop on on hop off circuit around the main sites, but I am not sure it is worth the month just from the palace to the tower. You can take the regular public bus (fare at most 2 pounds one way) and see the city that way between the two sights. Check out which suggests the 15 bus from Trafalgar Square (just east of Buckingham Palace) to Tower of London.
laurie_ann is offline  
Jan 30th, 2008, 08:30 AM
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"worth the month" should have been "worth the money".
laurie_ann is offline  
Jan 30th, 2008, 09:55 AM
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do you really want to stand (stand - not stroll or sightsee - stand outside for 1.5 to 2 hours, in Feb weather, to see the changing of the Guard?

On such a short visit - I honestly think that is a real waste of time.
janisj is online now  
Jan 30th, 2008, 10:36 AM
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I thought the bus tour (hop-on, hop-off) would be a good way to orient ourselves to the city. Is it not worth it? I'm happy to save the money if it's not!

I always thought of Changing of the Guard as quintessential London- I was in London when I was 12 or so and remember that experience vividly. Any suggestions as to what we should do instead of that?

If we can't get into our hotel room early, I thought it would be a "mild" activity to start our trip without making us have to think too much.
cjacob is offline  
Jan 30th, 2008, 12:00 PM
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I don't know - if it were me, and it's a typical cold February day, standing outside for two hours after a transatlantic flight would just make me realize how cold and tired I was!

Regarding the bus, I think the tour bus might be worth it if you were taking the majority of the tour, or maybe you had no idea how to get where you were going. Since it looks like Laurie's found you a pretty easy way to get there, I'd do that instead.

Your day 2 IS a lot of shopping, but if you (and your boyfriend) like shopping, that's probably fine. Just depends on you. My only concern is whether the "good" tickets will be sold out at TKTS by the time you get there, if you're following that order (although I understand your logic). I haven't done it enough to know whether that would be an issue, so hopefully someone else can weigh in for you.
jent103 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2008, 12:10 PM
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about the TKTS issue - don't worry too much about what time you get to Leicester Sq. There are tickets available right up to closing time and new tickets are released during the day. In fact, sometimes the TKTS selection is better mid day than it is at opening time.

Get there when you can get there - there is bound to be some show available that you want to see.
janisj is online now  
Jan 30th, 2008, 01:14 PM
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Good to know that TKTS won't be an issue, thanks! Will getting tickets on a Saturday night be harder than a different night though?

I was speaking to a friend who lived in London and she had a good idea for my first day: Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Big Ben, Harrod's, Harvey Nichols and Hyde Park.

She said Buckingham Palace and Big Ben do not take long if I don't wait for changing of the guard, and we would not really be shopping as the dollar is so bad, so it would just wind up being lunch in Harrod's and browsing at Harvey Nichols.

So I started to play around with the rest of the days and came up with the below:

Day 2: Portobello Market, Leicester Square (only for TKTS), London Eye, Tate Modern, Globe Theater

Day 3: Tower Bridge, Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral, then spend the rest of the afternoon walking around Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street

Day 4: British Museum and High Tea

Everything seems like it's crammed into 3 days now though. I did take out the Portrait Gallery though, not sure why, I just didn't see it fitting into any other day.

cjacob is offline  
Jan 30th, 2008, 01:30 PM
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B'ham Palace and Big Ben are not visits -- they are literally "walk by's" - and IF you take one of the H-o-H-o tour buses you will drive right past both of them.

If you still plan on doing the Eye - then Big Ben is directly across the river - no reason to go there twice.
janisj is online now  
Jan 30th, 2008, 01:40 PM
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It's true - you don't do a blessed thing at Big Ben except say "yep, there it is." It's a cool I'm-in-London feeling, but takes five minutes to get all your pictures and then you're done. Do you want to actually take the tour of Westminster Abbey? Or just see it? If you just want to see the Westminster area, put that with the Eye visit and go to the Portrait Gallery on day 1. It's a nice walk from Buckingham Palace.
jent103 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2008, 02:15 PM
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We have found that shopping is a great activity to do on arrival/jet lag day. Last March my daughter and I arrived similarly early (my 3rd visit to London). We dropped off our luggage at the hotel, and went out to breakfast. That's a great way to get started and we're always hungry even if we ate the am offering on the plane. Then we hit Bond Street (new and old), Oxford Street, Liberty (our favorite) before checking in and catching an hour nap at the hotel (we always nap on arrival day in Europe but never longer than 1.5 hours - works for us).

In general I like your friend's suggestion for day 1. It's great on the first day to get that jolt of "I'm in London!" that seeing Big Ben and Houses of Parliament gives. Although Westminster is right there (and the Portrait Gallery is not far) those are difficult things to do for the first day - too hard to focus on museums and history, imo. So I'd do the Westminster walking around, and some of the shopping areas on that first day, and return to see Westminster Abbey and/or Portrait Gallery on a later day.
noe847 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2008, 06:22 AM
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Thank you for your responses! I'm feeling much better about the trip and while I hate to have such a set itinerary, I needed to have a general idea of what to do within one day, so thank you for that!

Now it's on to restaurants...
cjacob is offline  
Jan 31st, 2008, 07:04 AM
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IMO there is nothing interesting about the Portobello market.
danon is online now  

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