Please help tweak my London trip!

Jul 2nd, 2011, 08:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 15
Please help tweak my London trip!

Hi Everyone,

My friend and I will be going to London in a few weeks. We are staying at a hotel near Paddington Station.

I have been reading through so many books, posts on this website and other websites, that I am getting slightly overwhelmed with the different suggestions about how to spend our days. I was hoping you might be able to help me plan out my itinerary in a way that makes the most sense. I have layed out a plan, but if any of it doesn't make sense, I would welcome your suggestions.

We are not big museum people, we would prefer to just walk around and see the sites. We are in our early 30's and are on a budget so although we are willing to splurge on important things, we need to keep everything at a reasonable price.

I would appreciate any suggestions on how to make this a better itinerary. also suggestions on where to eat nearby the places we will be would be great. We are not bar or club people and we are not big drinkers. Any suggestions on what to do on Monday morning before we leave would be great as well! Thank you so much in advance for any help you can give us!

:0) Joanna

arrive at Heathrow at 7:50 am
then I was thinking we could do one of the double decker big bus tours to get an overview
then maybe st. pauls
westminster abbey evensong
(I was thinking we would go to the st pauls or westminster evensong for free... and then pay to get into the other...should we pay to get into st pauls or westminster?)
walking tour of westminster area (parliment, trafalgar sq, etc) from rick steves book (rs)

thames river cruise
changing of the guard at buckingham palace
lunch in st james park
west end walking tour (rs) including leicester square, covent garden, soho
tea at the orangery- I read that this was lovely and also reasonably priced
bankside walking tour (rs)
london eye

stonehenge, bath and windsor tour (my friend really wants to see stonehenge)

tower of london
covent garden or camden market
british library
harrods and hyde park

Mon- depart Heathrow at 2pm
jhgreen is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2011, 09:11 AM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 950
I think your itinerary looks "do-able" for the most part. I don't think you've crammed too many thing into each day, except for maybe the last day. You need to look at a London map and see how far apart each of these things are and take into consideration the time it will take to get to each place. The Tube is great (of course!) but it can be time-consuming. So make sure you group your activities geographically so you don't need to go from one end of the city to the other.

If you're doing a walking tour on Saturday that will take you through Covent Garden, then you don't need to go back to CG on Sunday. As you do your walking tours make sure you take time to enjoy each place and spend a little time there.
halfapair is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2011, 09:59 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,336
You haven't really crammed in too much -- but there are a few problems I see:

Day 1 -- Awfully full for an arrival day after an over night flight. If you land @ 07:50 you probably won't be to your hotel until about 10:00 or even a bit later. By the time you freshen up and unpack it will nearly be lunch time. Walking around or the H-o-H-o bus, a couple of meals, and evensong would be about the limit for most jetlagged folks.

As for which one to do evensong and which to tour -- IF you have to make the choice, I'd tour the Abbey and do evensong at St Pauls. Main reason being you can see more of St Pauls from the seats -- To really see the Abbey one need to walk around.

On Fri -- if you take a cruise first -- you won't get to the Palace in time to see the Guard Change. Plus Paddington to the river to the Palace to Soho/Covent Garden to the Orangery to Southwark/Bankside to the Eye to Paddington has you to-ing and fro-ing across London 4 times in one day.

On Sunday -- The Tower and lunch will take at least 3.5 hours including travel time (and likely more), spending time in Covent Garden and/or Camden market plus the British Library will fill the rest of the day easily. I doubt you'll make it to Harrods. It closes at 6PM and you'd want to be there by 4:30 or 5PM at the latest.

I think you need to factor in a lot more travel time in your planning -- Paddington is quite far from many of the places you are visiting.
janisj is online now  
Jul 2nd, 2011, 10:01 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,336
That first sentence should have read >>You haven't really crammed in too much, but things are not grouped well and timings need to be adjusted. Here are a few problems I see: <<
janisj is online now  
Jul 2nd, 2011, 10:24 AM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 89
You will love London. We just came back from our second trip there as our son lives there. This time we also did Regents Street and saw Selfridges- a beautiful department store, and just seeing Regents was fun. We love Covent Gardens and Carnaby- ate there and that was fun. The only thing I would definitely add to your itineary is one night or afternoon if there is a matinee at the Theatre to see Les Miserables or Phantom or Wicked. It will be money worth spent and you will never forget seeing a musical in London. We love it! If you want a special place for lunch or dinner (expensive bu soooo worth it) try J Sheeky's!! Have fun!
Meme5 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2011, 11:35 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 15
you are all absolutely right! when I look at the map, I don't know what I was thinking! Here is a revised plan, I hope it makes more sense...

arrive at 7:50 am
double decker bus tour (can we hop on at a stop near paddington do you know?)
maybe lunch in hyde park and a walk around
rs west end walking tour including leister square, covent garden and soho
dinner and back to the hotel

changing of the guard/buckingham palace
lunch in st james park
westimster abbey
rs walking tour around westminster
london eye
rs bankside walking tour

Tower of london
St Pauls
river cruise

Stonehenge, Windsor, Bath tour

something in the morning before our 2pm flight?

where do you recommend I fit in the Orangery? And I would like to go to a market, I've read about Camden or Portabello Rd...
jhgreen is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2011, 01:25 PM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 289
Our Favorite market is Borough market-- mostly food oriented-- great place to pick up a bite. Website will have directions

Link for one of the two HOHO bus tours

Link for the blue and red routes with the blue route stopping at Paddington.

Other HOHO is called Original Tour
gh21 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2011, 03:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,831
OK, keep "tweaking". You are being teachable and that is good.

I don't think you can really understand how spread out London is and how long it actually takes to do stuff and travel between until you've done it.

My completely biased and personal opinions:
Day 1: You say "we would prefer to just walk around and see the sites." Well, I suggest you skip the bus thing and just walk around. I know some suggest such a bus as an "overview" but you don't have much time at all and I think you'd be better off getting to know a smaller area by walking around, like in Covent Garden/Trafalgar Square/Soho, etc. Even though you are young, you are probably going to have some jet lag and you need to walk. Also as said above you won't be at your hotel for several hours (2-3) after you land.
a. How are you getting from the airport? Tube? Car service? Plan for one of those--either of which will take about an hour.
b.Have you arranged to drop your bags or have early check-in? Room PROBABLY won't be ready before noon. Do check or you will be dragging luggage!

Day 2
I'd go to Westminster Abbey the first thing, avoid lines. I'd say re-think the changing the guard thing. I've heard to get a decent view you have to go way early and stand around a long time. What a waste for a brief view of some pageantry when there's so much other stuff to see! See the Abbey and the area around Westminster, then St. James park and SEE the outside of Buckingham Palace and the area. That leaves plenty of time for the Eye and a Southbank walk.

Day 3
That's about right. Be at the Tower at opening. If it's a decent weather day, climb to the Golden Gallery in St. Paul's and see the city laid out below you!

Day 4
If Stonehenge is the main goal/destination, I'd rethink adding 2 other major destinations. Maybe you've found or booked a tour that does all 3. If not, I'd suggest you rethink this. Salisbury goes well with Stonehenge. Bath is really worth a whole day all by itself. Anyway, I'd reconsider trying to do all 3 unless it's a done deal.

Day 5
You need to be at Heathrow probaby BY 11 am; arriving by noon might find you've shaved it fairly close. (Others may respond with stories of successful boardings with less time at LHR before their flights--it can happen, but I hate risking missing my flights). So if you have say an hour to travel TO LHR, you have to leave your hotel by 10 or 11 probably; you don't really have a morning as nothing much opens, except parks and just walking around areas, very early.

London will leave you amazed and awed. Just continue to tweak; look seriously at those maps, use something like for London or googlemaps to plan itineraries and see how long getting from place to place actually takes. Enjoy!
texasbookworm is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2011, 03:22 PM
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That is much better-- yes, there is a H-o-H-o stop right outside Paddington.

As for the Orangery -- you are staying w/i walking distance of it. If you want to eat there, I'd do it on day one. Either during the H-o-H-o tour (you can get off near Kensington Gardens - there are stops on both sides of the park) and then get back on and continue, or before joining the tour. Kensington Gardens falls near the end of the loop if you start at Paddington -- so it depends on what time you are ready to go whether to eat first or ride around first.

Hyde Park and Kens Gardens are really just one HUGE park so you can eat at the Orangery instead of in Hype Park.

Click on the link on this site and you can download the Big Bus route map (both companies have almost identical routes)
janisj is online now  
Jul 2nd, 2011, 03:30 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,336
Oh didn't see tbw's post.

I agree that walking might be better than the H-o-H-o -- but it is pretty much a wash. The H-o-H-o will at least let you view things you won't have a chance to visit. But walking is a great way to clear the jet lag --unless it is bloody hot or freezing/pouring down.

If your flight is at 2PM --you really don't have time to do much other that maybe an early morning walk. If you are staying at Paddington, there is the advantage of the train to LHR-- but you'll still want to be at the airport before noon. So maybe pack, check out, leave the bags at the hotel, walk through the park or Little Venice, back to the hotel and on to LHR.
janisj is online now  
Jul 2nd, 2011, 05:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,831
Oh, I forgot; when I was there a couple weeks ago as a group leader for 9, I chose to have us tour Westminster Abbey and try to make it to an Evensong at St. Paul's as we wouldn't have time to tour both. That's what we did. But if you have time to see both, do that. For a first such a short visit I probably wouldn't try to schedule a 5-5:30/45 Evensong just to be able to see a little bit of St. Paul's. It was a marvelous thing for us, a good bit of quiet for the kids, but we were in London over 3 days total (not counting our arrival and departure days) and I'd toured St. Paul's 3 other times personally and we were also back around St. Paul's including the Millennium Bridge 2 other times during our London days. I see in your revision you've dropped the Evensong in favor of going inside St. Paul's-I think this is a better idea for you this trip.
texasbookworm is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2011, 04:21 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,704

I concur with Texasbookworm about the changing of the guard. IMHO it is over-rated given the time needed.

Start with the Abbey and walk up Whitehall (with a good tour book) to Trafalgar -- lots to see, including the horse guards, which will get you much closer to the uniformed soldiers...and that guard changes, too (not sure what time - I think it's 11 am).

NOTE: This is a tight schedule, since the Abbey opens at 9:30. You have to decide if and hour is enough there -- it might not be.

After lunch and the Eye (with pre-purchased tix, of course) then to Harrod's. This is out of the way -- probably best to cross Westminster Bridge, then tube (via Green Park) to Knightsbridge.

These are just suggestions. To be honest, I haven't looked too closely at the time involved.

One other thing to think about as a "grouping":

Cruise (Westminster Pier to Tower)
Tower (This takes a lot of time - probably the best sight in London)

ssander is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2011, 05:13 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 15
thanks so much everyone! i am taking notes!
jhgreen is offline  

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