London tin under 12 hours??

Old Sep 21st, 2022, 09:23 PM
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London tin under 12 hours??

My teenage daughter and I have a 12 hour layover in London in February. Any suggestions what we can do to make the best of it and enjoy the city?

thank you
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Old Sep 21st, 2022, 10:27 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. Big question . . . which twelve hours?? What time do you arrive, what time is the flight out? Makes a big difference what one can do if its 0600-1400 vs. 1130-2330.

Which airport? Are you arriving at the same airport as departing?

Assuming for the time being both flights are in/out of LHR -- 12 hours on the ground nest you a LOT less than 12 hours. Probably 2+ hours on arrival for Immigration/customs/leaving your carry-ons at left luggage. Then count on at least an hour to get anywhere in central London, and hour back, and another 2+ hours at LHR for security/retrieving carry-ons/etc. So 12 hours quickly becomes about 5.5 or 6 hours free on the ground.
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Old Sep 21st, 2022, 10:29 PM
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Welcome to the Fodors Forums. We removed the Trip Report tag and added United Kingdom.
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Old Sep 21st, 2022, 10:33 PM
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Bus to Windsor, cake, see the castle, home
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 04:25 AM
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Clarification—-
the layover is in Heathrow
from 9 in the morning till 9 at night

I figured I don’t have all day, but was wondering if we could get a bit of London experience
whatever that might be
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 06:48 AM
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9AM - 9PM is about the best possible time span. Only fly in the ointment is a lot of long hauls arrive in the morning so immigration queues might take longer - hopefully the e-gates are working.

What class are you flying? If in Business/premium cabin that helps because you get off the plane first and have expedited immigration.

But let's assume Coach and lets say it takes 90 mins from touchdown (could be more or less) and another 30 mins to get to Left Luggage to drop off your carry-on . . . we are now around 11AM - three viable options:

1) take a local bus or taxi Windsor (its about 7 miles away) and spend the afternoon seeing the Castle plenty of time to tour the State Rooms, stroll along the river, have a nice lunch and early/light dinner. Head back to LHR around 6PM.

2) Take the Elizabeth Line to Tottenham Court Rd and walk south into Covent Garden/Trafalgar Sq or north to the British Museum. Elizabeth line back to LHR around 5:30 or 6PM

3) Take the Piccadilly line to Green Park, walk across the parks, see Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards, Big Ben etc. Tube back to LHR around 5PM

There are a ton of other options but these three are easy and doable in your timeframe
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 06:53 AM
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Let's run it backwards. After you are done in London, you will have to return to Heathrow, pick up your left luggage, go through boarding security procedures, and not miss your plane. You also might want food. So, at least 1 hour to get back to LHR, 1/2 hour to pick up your luggage. 2 hours for security. an hour minimum for margin of error, totals 4.5 hours, means leaving London no later than 4:30, which means getting back to LHR at a high traffic time. Add another 1/2 hour for that and maybe another 1/2 hour margin of error time. So now you leave London no later than 3:30.

Now run this from the top. Plane arrives on time, deboarding, passport control, baggage retrieval (oops, I bet you are using carry on only, right?), checking bags at left luggage, 1.5 hours minimum. Get to London, another hour, minimum. Get oriented and get to your first destination, whatever that may be, 1/2 hour minimum. So you start doing things at noon. Ooops, you need lunch. So you start doing things at 1:00.

So you have 2.5 hours to do things in London. The overhead of non-touring things is 9.5 hours of the 12 hours. If anything is a bit late or there is any problem or you get caught in traffic or a Tube diversion or closure, and your plans are moot.

Others here will say you can do all of this in less time, and maybe you could. What is your risk tolerance, where failure means missing your onward plane?

Now, if instead you stay in Heathrow you can stay inside the security zone, shop, eat relax.

It's your choice.

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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 07:01 AM
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AJPeabody: If this is a connection (i.e. same ticket) they won't have to collect any checked luggage.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 07:01 AM
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Definitely not the first class 😅

anyway number 3 sounds lovely!
does any of these scenarios include the overpacked book shops and lovely tea places?
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by TZC View Post
Definitely not the first class 😅

anyway number 3 sounds lovely!
does any of these scenarios include the overpacked book shops and lovely tea places?
OK -- here is another option. Take the Tube from LHR, exit at either Leicester Square or Covent Garden stations. There are several bookshops, antiquarians, map shops etc in and around Charing Cross Rd/Cecil Court/nearby streets. Plus tons of restaurants/afternoon tea options, pubs, street performers in Covent Garden, etc. Plus it is just around the corner from Trafalgar Square. Then it is a straight shot on the tube back to LHR from Covent Garden, Leicester Sq, or Piccadilly Circus stations.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 07:34 AM
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You're talking about a connection 4+ months in the future. The arrival and departure times of both of your flights are not very likely to remain as they are today, so have a plan (or two) but realize you may not be able to do much of anything if your connection time shortens significantly.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 10:51 AM
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I like Janisj’s last option. How much time you allow yourself to get back for your LHR flight depends a bit on your risk tolerance. What happens to you if you miss your flight?
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Old Sep 23rd, 2022, 08:20 AM
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Layover from where? I ask because of possible jet lag may affect your plans or our suggestions.
It gets dark around ± 5 o clock in the afternoon during that month. Times obviously vary from day to day.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2022, 10:42 PM
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For a trip in February you can buy the super cheap Heathrow Express tickets. £11 each round trip and you can get to Paddington very fast. From there, Elizabeth line to Tottenham Court road will be super fast and from there you can walk to Covent Garden, Charing Cross, etc.

https://www.heathrowexpress.com/tick...o-save-money#/

if you do have to retrieve luggage, that can take some time. There are storage places at the airport, check your terminals, if you are departing from a different terminal, take your luggage there for storage.

Heathrow has e-gates, so assuming you are coming from the US or one of the other countries that can use them, immigration does not take that long. And in February you could probably get a decent price on a hotel to freshen up and have a place to rest if you need to. If you decide on the Heathrow Express there are a lot of places to hang out in Paddington Basin (bars, cafes, restaurants on boats) before your return to the airport. There is also a nice pub IN Paddington station.

Definitely plan to be back at the airport three hours before your flight. You may breeze through in February, but better to be safe than sorry.
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Old Sep 24th, 2022, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by rialtogrl View Post
For a trip in February you can buy the super cheap Heathrow Express tickets. £11 each round trip and you can get to Paddington very fast. From there, Elizabeth line to Tottenham Court road will be super fast and from there you can walk to Covent Garden, Charing Cross, etc . . .
The Hex and transfer at Paddington will be obsolete by the time they travel -- from early November The Elizabeth line is scheduled to open straight through (even Bond Street is supposed to be open)
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Old Sep 24th, 2022, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
The Hex and transfer at Paddington will be obsolete by the time they travel -- from early November The Elizabeth line is scheduled to open straight through (even Bond Street is supposed to be open)
even better!
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Old Sep 24th, 2022, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by rialtogrl View Post
even better!
yeah - I'm looking forward to it in December. Won't help me much on arrival since I'm staying the first 3 nights in St James's just south of the Ritz (or maybe that's still considered Mayfair??? ). So might as well take the tube to Green Park. But my last night I'm staying all the way out east in Stratford and I'll be able to take the Elizabeth Line all the way through to LHR. Fingers crossed it actually does open as scheduled.
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