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London River Cruise--combine with what sites?

London River Cruise--combine with what sites?

Old Jul 3rd, 2011, 08:53 AM
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London River Cruise--combine with what sites?

DH and I are going to London in three weeks to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my 30th birthday. We will be there a week. We have a private walking tour set up for the day we arrive so we can get our neighborhood (Sheraton Park Tower in Knightsbridge) bearings. We'd like to do a river cruise down to Hampton Court Palace, tour that, and come back. Any recommendations for best company/time that one? Can this be easily combined with the Tower/Jewels and the Eye? Any and all advice is most welcome. We get the best ideas from other Fodorites!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2011, 09:30 AM
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I don't have any comments on tour companies.

I would recommend that you be at the Tower of London at opening time one morning and go first to the Crown Jewels before the lines get long. I wouldn't combine the Tower with an out of town trip.

You might post your itinerary ideas and be prepared for lots of suggestions! As you plan, think about planning only 2-3 "major" sites per day and maybe have a couple "might get to it" ideas. Get a good map/use googlemaps/look at walkit.com to see where things are and group by area.

(My top things IN London are the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and surrounding areas, St. Paul's and the surrounding areas, the British Museum and British Library, all the bridges, all the parks. We stayed very near your hotel in a B&B and loved that area. Lots of shopping (even if it's just window/gawking sort--rather expensive but it doesn't cost to look!), lots of pubs for less expensive eating and a taste of neighborhoods, easy access to transport. Are you coming into LHR and riding the Tube? It's a straight shot on the Piccadilly line and is your cheapest option. That's what we did.)
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Old Jul 3rd, 2011, 10:01 AM
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"We'd like to do a river cruise down to Hampton Court Palace, tour that, and come back. Any recommendations for best company/time that one? Can this be easily combined with the Tower/Jewels and the Eye?"

It really isn't a good idea to taker a boat TO Hampton Court Palace. The river is tidal so times do change -- but in general the trip upriver to HCP can take an hour longer than the trip back from the palace into central London.

If you take a boat to HCP you can't get there before lunch time -- so it is better to take the train first thing in the morning and a boat back into town if the weather is nice.

Really no way you can combine HCP and the Tower of London on the same day -- w/ or w/o a boat trip.

You don't need a "company" -- you simply take the train to Hampton Court and then after visiting the palace, decide if you want to take the train or boat back. You might not want to be stuck on a boat for 3 hours in rain / wind . . .
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Old Jul 3rd, 2011, 10:06 AM
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meant to add -- if you want a 2nd site to fit in on a HCP day -- pick any of the semi-minor places on your wish list. A morning trip to HCP and boat back will get you to Westminster by late afternoon - so the Eye, or Covent Garden, or something else could fit.

If you don't take a boat back - then you can be back in town by mid afternoon and could maybe do the Imperial War Museum, or National Gallery or ???
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Old Jul 3rd, 2011, 10:16 AM
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I think you need to check a map. Although these sights are along the river they are in opposite directions.

Agree to take a train to Hampton court and the boat back to waste less time. But these are outside of London to the west. The Tower of London is IN London - but far to the East of where you're staying. And to see the Tower - which gets incredibly mobbed - you should be there whn it opens at 9 am.

There really is not time to see both in one day.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2011, 11:44 AM
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Ooh, all good info--many thanks! Texasbookworm, you mention pubs--any favorites?

Tentative itinerary:

Arrive Wed, July 27, private walking tour in afternoon; early dinner in pub, bed early to recover from redeye.

Thursday: In town sites

Friday: Hampton Court Palace; theatre that evening (we have tickets to War Horse)

Saturday: Paris day trip

Sunday: whatever in-town stuff we missed earlier (museums); birthday dinner reservations at Zaffarano.

Monday: more in-town stuff.

Tuesday: depart
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Old Jul 3rd, 2011, 01:59 PM
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We stayed in Belgravia in a B&B off Kinnerton Street, about one street away from your hotel; it's like a block off Knightsbridge and feels like miles away. I have heard they like to think of the area as a sort of village inside London and it felt rather like that (although very toney in general, but we did have good room rate). We frequented 2 pubs on Kinnerton--The Nags Head says it's the tiniest pub in England and the Wilton Arms was also great; they had the attraction of each being about 2 minutes from our rooms, but we also liked being where tourists were not. The food was decent, too. (I'm not a beer/ale drinker at all but I still enjoyed these pubs.)
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Old Jul 3rd, 2011, 02:25 PM
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Many of the major sights in London are either on the riverside or within a few hundred yards of them. If you get a good map of London it will show you where things are and you can plan appropriately. London also has a fairly comprehensive ferry system up and down the Thames as well as a number of private tour companies - all of these run from various piers.
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Old Jul 4th, 2011, 08:21 AM
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Thank you so much! AlanRow, we love taking river cruises in any city that has one, because we like the perspective from the water, so this is very helpful to know it's readily available and easily done.

Texasbookworm, thank you so much for the pub recommendations--we'll definitely go to both and raise a glass to you!
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Old Jul 4th, 2011, 09:27 AM
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These are some of the main boat services in London:
Westminster-Tower-Greenwich
www.royalriverthames.co.uk
www.citycruises.com
Westminster-Kew-Richmond-Hampton Court
www.thamesriverboats.co.uk
Fast catamarans to Greenwich and beyond
www.thamesclippers.com
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Old Jul 4th, 2011, 09:54 AM
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Thank you so much, Geoff!
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