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NFT: London trip advice

pjcas18 : 2/15/2020 4:42 pm
taking the family on a vacation this spring and trying to plan the itinerary.

Do most people visiting London take advantage of the London Pass to combine attractions they plan to visit?

Or do you just play things by ear and explore as you want?

We're usually beach people or spend our time in hockey rinks, but the kids wanted to go to Europe. I just don't like having set itineraries unless there's a reason to (like a Disney fast pass or stuff that sells out - for example).

So, just wanted to hear how most people explored London.

We're staying at St. Ermins in Central London (according to the hotel description), so I think most stuff should be accessible.

Thank you for any tips/suggestions.
It's been quite a while  
Gman11 : 2/15/2020 5:01 pm : link
since we were there - maybe 10-15 years ago, but we got a city map and rode the tube everywhere we wanted to go. If you go to Buckingham Palace to see changing of the guard, get there early or you'll have a hard time viewing. Sort of like getting a place at the curb during the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.

The changing of the guard isn't all that exciting, but at least you can say you saw it.

All the other attractions you can get to easily. If you don't want to take the tube there are many buses.
I went last Spring  
Eli Wilson : 2/15/2020 5:14 pm : link
I highly recommend Rick Steves book on visiting London. It was fantastic.

Also, make sure to visit Tower of London. That might have been my favorite site there to see.

Unfortunately Big Ben was covered in scaffolding so we couldn't see it.

When you're buying souvenirs, most places you can haggle for the price. Seems like an odd concept, but it's true.

Food wasn't great, but the beer was cheap and good.
I went this past summer  
Matt in SGS : 2/15/2020 5:38 pm : link
with my family (in between the heat waves, thank God).

I'd recommend buying tickets to some sights ahead of time to save time/money (ie- Tower of London, the London Eye, etc.)

If you want to see Chuchill's museum tour where he was stationed during WWII, you need to book it ahead of time. I wish I did that and it books quickly, so we waited on line for a long time hoping for an open slot that didn't come and we gave up.

One thing, not sure if you will be there on a Sunday, but that day they close the roads around Buckingham Palace. We did a bike tour called "Fat Tire" that was amazing. It's about a 3 hour tour where they ride around some of the parks of London and they take you to various sights. With the roads closed, you ride right past Buckingham. If you can get it for a Sunday, I'd recommend it. My kids loved that.

And don't do the hop on/hop off bus. Waste of money. The underground is super easy. Get an oyster card and navigate your way around that way.
Stay away from the bridge  
Sneakers O'toole : 2/15/2020 5:39 pm : link
I hear it's falling down.
This was the fat tire tour  
Matt in SGS : 2/15/2020 5:41 pm : link
group site that I used. They tell you interesting facts, know the right way to keep the group safe, they have bikes for kids. Like I said, I can't recommend it enough. We did the bike tour in London and Paris with their group this summer.
https://www.fattiretours.com/london?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIgoab_M_U5wIVF6SzCh0a1Q07EAAYASAAEgIDp_D_BwE - ( New Window )
Thank you for  
pjcas18 : 2/15/2020 6:18 pm : link
all the posts so far. I appreciate the replies.
Maybe itís not for kids  
Bill L : 2/15/2020 6:41 pm : link
But Westminster Abbey is the most awesome place Iíve been to in my entire life. The history and, especially, the people buried there took my breath away.

We saw a couple shows at West End and that was fun. The Tower was fun. Didnít go on the big Ferris wheel thing but Iím sure kids would love that.
Here is some advice  
superspynyg : 2/15/2020 6:57 pm : link
Donít got to Buckingham Palace sand yell Fuck the Queen!

Actually I thought the changing of the guard was very overrated. As was StoneHenge.
RE: Maybe itís not for kids  
Eli Wilson : 2/15/2020 7:18 pm : link
In comment 14811897 Bill L said:
Quote:
But Westminster Abbey is the most awesome place Iíve been to in my entire life. The history and, especially, the people buried there took my breath away.

We saw a couple shows at West End and that was fun. The Tower was fun. Didnít go on the big Ferris wheel thing but Iím sure kids would love that.


I agree Westminster Abbey was great. If you do go, buy the tickets for the museum on the upper floor. There is an original copy of the Magna Carta up there, plus some other cool stuff.

Also do the walk to the top of St.Pauls. That was awesome too.
I would avoid itinerary  
Vanzetti : 2/15/2020 9:20 pm : link
It rains a lot in spring. So when it rains go to the British museum. When itís nice, do outdoor stuff

I would also recommend the Thames walk on both sides. Very educational
And just a nice walk.

Globe was great

Brewdog in East Cheap near Tower if you want some good beer

Brick Lane. On weekends they have findoor food carts. Every ethnicity Nader the sun. Heat and not expensive

There is also a smaller one on Bsnkside. Great for brunch

I really enjoyed he bike share bikes. Riding along the Thames was great

Foyles Bookstore

National Gallery

I liked the London Museum. Great exhibit on punk rock

Tower
British Museum

But basically just walking around is great
Lived there for a bit  
Giantimistic : 2/15/2020 9:33 pm : link
My favorites
-Borough Market
-Kensington Gardens and other parka
-Tate Modern Art Museum
-what to eat: Full English Breakfast, jacket potatoes, Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding, Indian food and fish and chips and must have crumpets and tea.
-check out some of the nearby towns off the tube and their markets like Camden and portobello road
-globe theatre was pretty cool to see a show
-Covent gardens

If you take day trips look into megabusómuch cheaper than the trains. I loved York England. Also lived I. Manchester which I like better than London. If you can get to the Cotswolds that was very cool and relaxing.


Been there many many times, my favorite city  
PatersonPlank : 2/15/2020 10:17 pm : link
- First take the London tour buses (Original Tour or Big Bus), you can get them almost everywhere. What this does is give you a couple of hour tour of central London so you get a feel for the layout and sights. You can get off and on as you like. Also for the rest of your stay you can use these buses as transit for free' just jump on and jump off.
- You can actually do a walking tour from Trafalgar Sq, down the Buckingham, Westminster Abbey, Parliment/Big Ben, and back in 3 hours all on your own (stopping at pubs all the time).
- Definitely hit up some West End London plays. Its like off Broadway, maybe better. I believe there are 60 or so different play houses, all with famous plays and stars
- Definitely do a tour of the Tour of London. You can get off from the Bus Tours (See above), of for a really spectacular ride take a boat down the Thames to it. You pick them up from Big Ben.
- For an offbeat thing to do visit the London Dungeon. IT is a walk through the seedy side of London history. IT talks about the Tower of London and when it was a jail, torture tactics of the mideviel times, the fire of 1666, and Jack the Ripper. It ends with you being hanged.
- The War Museums are fantastic if you are in to that stuff
- The High Class shopping area is Regents Street (think live models, etc.). So if you're into this go here
- For a sports bar go to Rileys Sports Bar on Haymarket. Two floors, lots of TV's. Shows soccer and rugby in the morning, then NFL in the afternoon
- Chinatown is behind Leicester Sq (actually behind the casino), so if you want that food go there.
- The Tube goes everywhere. You can go anywhere in Zone 1 (central London) for 5 pounds).
- See a soccer match, its wilder than football. Arsenal, West Ham, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, and Tottenham are all Premier League teams in London
- Covent Garden is a nice outdoor shopping area to go to.
- All the pubs are great, some have really good food too. The pubs close at 10-11, then the clubs open. Some, like the Zoo Bar is Leicester Sq, offer both. So if you are in the Pub then you can go downstairs to the club.
- Pubs are all over the place, too many to discuss. Every corner has one.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot.
Lots of Typo's  
PatersonPlank : 2/15/2020 10:19 pm : link
I meant definitely do the Tower of London tour.

Also the self walking tour goes from Trafalgar to Buckingham Palace, to Westminster.

favorite pub foods  
gidiefor : Mod : 2/15/2020 10:35 pm : link
bangers and mashed -
toad in the hole -

WHen in London you have to go to a pub, drink a few pints, and have authentic British pub fare --
I've never been to London, but some of this video  
smshmth8690 : 2/16/2020 12:02 am : link
will make me get there eventually. It's a food related video from youtube. Hopefully if you watch, you will see something you'd like to try.
Tp 10 things to eat in London - ( New Window )
If the family is fond of Harry Potter  
PEEJ : 2/16/2020 9:24 am : link
a short train ride will take you to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter studios.
Highly recommend going out to Windsor Castle.  
Crispino : 2/16/2020 9:50 am : link
Itís the real home of the Royal family. Itís what your kids will appreciate as their idea of an ancient castle. And see if you can find out when they will have a changing of the guard there. Youíll be right up close and itís way cooler that Buckingham where they are so far away. They donít announce the changings there so youíll have to do a little digging to find out a day itís happening. Also, the Abbey there is amazing. Itís where Henry VIII is buried.

The Tower is a must.
And when you do Westminster, pay for the enhanced tour. They take you in parts of the Abbey and show you things you wonít see any other way. Itís fantastic.
Highly recommend going out to Windsor Castle.  
Crispino : 2/16/2020 9:52 am : link
Itís the real home of the Royal family , and its only about 40 minutes from London. Itís what your kids will appreciate as their idea of an ancient castle. And see if you can find out when they will have a changing of the guard there. Youíll be right up close and itís way cooler that Buckingham where they are so far away. They donít announce the changings there so youíll have to do a little digging to find out a day itís happening. Also, the Abbey there is amazing. Itís where Henry VIII is buried.

The Tower is a must.
And when you do Westminster, pay for the enhanced tour. They take you in parts of the Abbey and show you things you wonít see any other way. Itís fantastic.
RE: Been there many many times, my favorite city  
MM_in_NYC : 2/16/2020 9:56 am : link
In comment 14811939 PatersonPlank said:
Quote:
- First take the London tour buses (Original Tour or Big Bus), you can get them almost everywhere. What this does is give you a couple of hour tour of central London so you get a feel for the layout and sights. You can get off and on as you like. Also for the rest of your stay you can use these buses as transit for free' just jump on and jump off.
- You can actually do a walking tour from Trafalgar Sq, down the Buckingham, Westminster Abbey, Parliment/Big Ben, and back in 3 hours all on your own (stopping at pubs all the time).
- Definitely hit up some West End London plays. Its like off Broadway, maybe better. I believe there are 60 or so different play houses, all with famous plays and stars
- Definitely do a tour of the Tour of London. You can get off from the Bus Tours (See above), of for a really spectacular ride take a boat down the Thames to it. You pick them up from Big Ben.
- For an offbeat thing to do visit the London Dungeon. IT is a walk through the seedy side of London history. IT talks about the Tower of London and when it was a jail, torture tactics of the mideviel times, the fire of 1666, and Jack the Ripper. It ends with you being hanged.
- The War Museums are fantastic if you are in to that stuff
- The High Class shopping area is Regents Street (think live models, etc.). So if you're into this go here
- For a sports bar go to Rileys Sports Bar on Haymarket. Two floors, lots of TV's. Shows soccer and rugby in the morning, then NFL in the afternoon
- Chinatown is behind Leicester Sq (actually behind the casino), so if you want that food go there.
- The Tube goes everywhere. You can go anywhere in Zone 1 (central London) for 5 pounds).
- See a soccer match, its wilder than football. Arsenal, West Ham, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, and Tottenham are all Premier League teams in London
- Covent Garden is a nice outdoor shopping area to go to.
- All the pubs are great, some have really good food too. The pubs close at 10-11, then the clubs open. Some, like the Zoo Bar is Leicester Sq, offer both. So if you are in the Pub then you can go downstairs to the club.
- Pubs are all over the place, too many to discuss. Every corner has one.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot.


this is a very good list. i'd especially recommend the self paced walking tour mentioned. your hotel is in westminster already so you're in the middle of those things.

additional things to consider, not knowing the age of your kids:

1. stonehendge / roman baths day tour
2. poppies for fish and chips
3. do a high tea at somewhere tony. i did at brown's. it's an experience.
4. st johns restaurant for some true old school british cooking.
5. churchill war rooms musuem. you can layer this into your walking tour.
6. veeraswamy for amazing indian. their plain roast chicken is just ridiculously tender and moist. other things great too.
7. dinner by heston blumenthal. get the meat/fruit pie.
8. when are going? maybe try to get to a soccer game.
9. evening/pre-dinner cockatil at top of the shard. best view of london you'll ever get. there's a secret menu (reduced price) menu if you say you work for a company that's located in the shard.
10. pick yourself up a pair true english shoes on jereymn street. i prefer cheaney because for their mix of quality and reasonable (relative) prices, but trickers, crockett and jones, and others warrant attention. these are shoes/boots for life if you take care of them, so factor that into the prices.
11. harrods. it's the original and will make your wife happy to go there.
12. again, how old are the kids? maybe think about the original madame tousads wax museum.
13. st paul cathedral and it's whispering gallery - pretty cool.
wow this is awesome  
pjcas18 : 2/16/2020 10:31 am : link
thanks everyone. thank you all.

going in April

kids are 17, 17, and 12.
One more comment regarding food:  
PatersonPlank : 2/16/2020 11:23 am : link
The Indian food is great. India was a colony of England for a long time, so many India folks live here.

Many Pubs have really good traditional English fare (some of the best meals I have had were in Pubs). Things like Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash, Steak and Ale pie, mushy peas, and Sheperds Pie.

The comment above on an English Breakfast is spot on. Different than what we have, but really good. Eggs, ham, tomatoes, toast, baked beans, etc. Need to try it.
I always say ďDishoom!!!Ē when people talk about going to London.  
Jim in Hoboken : 2/16/2020 2:58 pm : link
I say get the London Pass but download it or get it mailed. It was a pain in the butt picking it up in a random booth near Chinatown. It allows you to skip the line at many attractions. Westminster Abbey is an exception but it is worth the wait no matter how long the line is. Get the version with Oyster card because the subway is expensive.
It's bee. A while for me  
FJ : 2/16/2020 5:10 pm : link
2 of the things I really liked:
London Walks - a few hours touring a specific area or theme (eg, the Beatles) with knowledgeable and entertaining guides. I've done lots of these over the years. Walking gets you so close to the sites.
Half price ticket booth at Leister Square. Like the TKTS booth in NYC. When I used it, it woul open around 11 am to get tickets for that nights plays or musicals.

Definitely go to Westminster Abbey and Wal across the Tower Bridge.
It's bee. A while for me  
FJ : 2/16/2020 5:11 pm : link
2 of the things I really liked:
London Walks - a few hours touring a specific area or theme (eg, the Beatles) with knowledgeable and entertaining guides. I've done lots of these over the years. Walking gets you so close to the sites.
Half price ticket booth at Leister Square. Like the TKTS booth in NYC. When I used it, it woul open around 11 am to get tickets for that nights plays or musicals.

Definitely go to Westminster Abbey and Wal across the Tower Bridge.
Depends almost entirely on your children and their interests.  
CT Charlie : 2/16/2020 10:03 pm : link
How old are they? What is their stamina, their tolerance for walking, their interest in... history, the arts, pop culture, etc.? For most of their lives, it was almost impossible finding things that would work for the four of us because our two daughters (and my wife and I) are so dissimilar in these kinds of situations. Even though our daughters are only 2 1/2 years apart.

My older and I have similar interests, and when she was in 8th grade we spent 2 weeks in England and Wales, and we loved it. In London, some of the highlights for her were: 1) hop-on/off Big Bus tour 2) 3-hour walking tour of all the places where Harry Potter stuff was filmed, 3) walking across the Millennium Bridge from St. Paul's Cathedral to the Globe theater (and tours of both places), 4) touring the Royal Mews (carriage house) at Buckingham Palace -- from carriages to royal claret colored Bentleys... 5) Royal Museum 6) British Museum, 7) National Gallery. If my wife and younger daughter had been with us, the only thing among these that they would have enjoyed, would be the Royal Mews.

Again, it depends on your children. My 8th-grade daughter and I probably would say the top two things we saw were the John Harrison clocks at Royal Observatory in Greenwich (where you can stand in both hemispheres) and the lifeboat that Shackelton used in the greatest rescue in the history of exploration. (The James Caird, at his public school, Dulwich.) But she is a sponge for all things geeky. She LOVED the Harry Potter walking tour, too, though I was bored.

Know thy children, and plan accordingly.
RE: Depends almost entirely on your children and their interests.  
gidiefor : Mod : 2/17/2020 6:29 pm : link
In comment 14812313 CT Charlie said:
Quote:
How old are they? What is their stamina, their tolerance for walking, their interest in... history, the arts, pop culture, etc.? For most of their lives, it was almost impossible finding things that would work for the four of us because our two daughters (and my wife and I) are so dissimilar in these kinds of situations. Even though our daughters are only 2 1/2 years apart.

My older and I have similar interests, and when she was in 8th grade we spent 2 weeks in England and Wales, and we loved it. In London, some of the highlights for her were: 1) hop-on/off Big Bus tour 2) 3-hour walking tour of all the places where Harry Potter stuff was filmed, 3) walking across the Millennium Bridge from St. Paul's Cathedral to the Globe theater (and tours of both places), 4) touring the Royal Mews (carriage house) at Buckingham Palace -- from carriages to royal claret colored Bentleys... 5) Royal Museum 6) British Museum, 7) National Gallery. If my wife and younger daughter had been with us, the only thing among these that they would have enjoyed, would be the Royal Mews.

Again, it depends on your children. My 8th-grade daughter and I probably would say the top two things we saw were the John Harrison clocks at Royal Observatory in Greenwich (where you can stand in both hemispheres) and the lifeboat that Shackelton used in the greatest rescue in the history of exploration. (The James Caird, at his public school, Dulwich.) But she is a sponge for all things geeky. She LOVED the Harry Potter walking tour, too, though I was bored.

Know thy children, and plan accordingly.


Charlie -- you have an 8th grade daughter? How is that possible? What is the world coming to?
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