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EllieinNJ

Another darn London Itinerary

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Before I start I have asked this question on Trip Advisor and got plenty of different answers.  I originally planned on taking the 48 hr. Hop On Hop Off bus that included a Thames River cruise and some walking tours and getting on and off where I liked.  Most reviews said that the traffic was so bad it was faster to walk and also the lines at the different stops were so very long.  So now I had to do some quick research and come up with a three day plan before my cruise on Aug. 29th.

 

DAY 1 Arrive Heathrow 9:20am.  Take National Express bus to Victoria Coach Sta.  Walk to my hotel, Best Western Buckingham Palace Road.  After settling in, walk or take tube or local bus to either V&A museum or Harods.  Then walk through Hyde Park to Marble Arch and then walk to Selfridges.  Take tube or local bus (NOT WALK) back to Victoria.  Too ambitious?

 

DAY 2 Walk or take bus to Westminster Bridge, walk across to take a Megabus tour (2 hours) near the Eye.  Then take either fast clipper or Thames river cruise to Greenwich.  Do Cutty Sark boat and possibly Emerites Air Tram.  Take Light Rail back to Victoria and walk back to hotel.  Too ambitious?

 

Day 3 Walk to Buckingham Palace to see changing of the Guard.  Then on to Churchill War Rooms.  Then on to Trafalgar Square and possibly Covent Gardens.  Take tube or bus back to hotel.  Too ambitious?

 

Day 4 Walk to Victoria Coach Sta. to take National Express bus to Southampton.

 

Some said not to do anything indoors on arrival day so can just do walking and/or tube.  Many said the tubes are very hot and no A/C but others said the local buses were slow because of traffic.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Here's my random randomness:

 

Day 1 plan: Good if you choose Harrods over the V&A. I loved the V&A, but it is massive, and deserving of more attention than you probably can give it coming off a trans-Atlantic flight.The rest is good because it's quite flexible, and gets you outside which is good for getting over jetlag.

 

Day 2 plan: Also sounds very doable. I'm a big fan of the Thames Clippers - efficient, fun and easy to use. Also a fan of the Emirates Air Line - that is the correct name. Big plus is that if you have an Oyster card, you can use it for both of these.

 

Day 3 plan: Sounds good too. One thing I'd say is that don't be afraid to hop a bus at any point if your feet are suffering from all the walking - either get a good print bus route map to guide you, or use Google maps... or do what we do, hop a bus and see where it brings you 🙂 .

 

Assorted randomness:

 

-Yes the tube is generally faster than buses, but you see more stuck in traffic on a bus than in a tunnel underground

-You haven't mentioned it, but definitely get an Oyster card. This will be easy to pick up at Victoria station (you might need to go to the underground station ticket booth, rather than the train station, not sure - a local can confirm or correct me on this)

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Don't forget that taxis are a good alternative if you get tired. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, EllieinNJ said:

Before I start I have asked this question on Trip Advisor and got plenty of different answers.  I originally planned on taking the 48 hr. Hop On Hop Off bus that included a Thames River cruise and some walking tours and getting on and off where I liked.  Most reviews said that the traffic was so bad it was faster to walk and also the lines at the different stops were so very long.  So now I had to do some quick research and come up with a three day plan before my cruise on Aug. 29th.

 

DAY 1 Arrive Heathrow 9:20am.  Take National Express bus to Victoria Coach Sta.  Walk to my hotel, Best Western Buckingham Palace Road.  After settling in, walk or take tube or local bus to either V&A museum or Harods.  Then walk through Hyde Park to Marble Arch and then walk to Selfridges.  Take tube or local bus (NOT WALK) back to Victoria.  Too ambitious?  ...  Some said not to do anything indoors on arrival day so can just do walking and/or tube.  Many said the tubes are very hot and no A/C but others said the local buses were slow because of traffic.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 

Day 1 basically sounds like a good plan, subject to how well you respond to jet lag.  What I've finally realized (after several decades of dealing with jet lag) is that it my reaction to jet lag has more to do with the amount of sensory stimulus I'm subjected to--or, in other words, the amount of brain power I need to use--rather than whether my arrival day activities are indoors or outdoors.  The day I arrive in London after an overnight transatlantic flight, a literal walk in the park is, for me, a walk in the park (metaphorically speaking), whereas spending several hours giving my full attention to exhibits in a museum tends to make my brain go rather fuzzy by mid-afternoon.  Wending my way through Harrods and/or Selfridges while jet-lagged, my synapses likely would be overloaded trying to deal with too much stimulus (crowds, noise, a plethora of products for sale) at once.

 

(Personally, given the choice between the V&A and a giant department store on arrival day, I would much prefer to take my time sauntering through the former.  But I'm one of those men who has an innate aversion to department stores at the best of times, so perhaps take my advice with a grain of salt.😉)

 

Assuming your flight lands at Heathrow at 9 a.m. and you are taking a National Express coach to Victoria Coach Station, I wouldn't expect to arrive at your hotel much before noon, so you wouldn't get to Knightsbridge/South Kensington before 1 p.m.  (And, as my father used to say to me, "Don't forget to eat!") 

 

The Underground (Circle Line or District Line) from Victoria Station (Underground station, beneath Victoria railway station, not Victoria Coach Station; a 10-minute walk from your hotel) to South Kensington takes only five minutes, so temperature or crowds shouldn't be an insuperable issue.  After a few hours at the V&A, the walk up Exhibition Road to Hyde Park is quite pleasant.  I also recommend a slight detour to see (from the outside) the Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial.

 

Quote

DAY 2 Walk or take bus to Westminster Bridge, walk across to take a Megabus tour (2 hours) near the Eye.  Then take either fast clipper or Thames river cruise to Greenwich.  Do Cutty Sark boat and possibly Emerites Air Tram.  Take Light Rail back to Victoria and walk back to hotel.  Too ambitious?  

 

Sounds eminently doable. Greenwich deserves at least a half day--not just for the Cutty Sark, but also to visit the Painted Hall, the National Maritime Museum, the Queen's House, the Royal Observatory, etc., and just to wander among Wren's magnificent buildings and through Greenwich Park, and to enjoy a meal and/or a drink at any one of several pubs in the vicinity.  (A couple of months ago, I ventured though the Greenwich Foot Tunnel for the first time. Not necessarily something I'd recommend, although the iconic view of Wren's buildings from across the Thames was certainly worth it.) 

 

Note: the southern terminus of the Emirates Air Line isn't located in Greenwich itself but in North Greenwich, a reasonably short ride by boat or bus from Greenwich.  I haven't done the aerial trip myself.  

 

Quote

 

Day 3 Walk to Buckingham Palace to see changing of the Guard.  Then on to Churchill War Rooms.  Then on to Trafalgar Square and possibly Covent Gardens.  Take tube or bus back to hotel.  Too ambitious?

 

Too ambitious? Not at all; in fact, a well-constructed itinerary.  (NB: It's Covent Garden.)

 

A couple of suggestions to add to this itinerary, if time permits and you're in the mood:

 

--- St. Paul's Church, Covent Garden.  17th-century church (ca. 1633) designed by Inigo Jones.  Among the notable/unusual features:  numerous plaques dedicated to famous actors who have had some connection to the church.  (You'll be surprised!) 

 

--- Somerset House.  (Even if it's just to pop into the main courtyard, right off The Strand, for a quick look-see.)

 

--- The Inner Temple/Middle Temple.  An oasis of calm, off Fleet Street.  I regard the Inns of Court as the anti-Covent Garden.  (CG being mobbed by tourists morning, noon, and night.  The courtyards and alleys of the Inns of Court feel like they're a hundred miles away, whereas in fact they're less than a mile from CG.)

 

Quote

 

Day 4 Walk to Victoria Coach Sta. to take National Express bus to Southampton.

 

Some said not to do anything indoors on arrival day so can just do walking and/or tube.  Many said the tubes are very hot and no A/C but others said the local buses were slow because of traffic.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 

On the whole, it sounds like a good plan for the time you have in London.

 

Buses can be slow-ish (but no more so than in NYC), but they give you an opportunity to see things you wouldn't see if you only take the Underground.  As for the Underground: as long as you avoid certain stations at rush hour(s), you shouldn't find it a problem.  On the whole, London Underground trains and stations are far more pleasant than their New York City counterparts.  However, many stations (particularly in central London) are quite deep underground (much deeper than typical NYC subway stations), with long escalators and often stairs as well as pedestrian tunnels.  For short-ish trips, I usually find it more convenient to walk than to take the Underground.*

 

I'm sure many of the regulars over at TripAdvisor have lectured you about Oyster Cards, contactless credit cards, and standing on the right on escalators!😁

 

*(During my time in London, I typically find myself walking anywhere from 9 to 16 miles a day; generally an average of 12 miles a day, if my pedometer is to be believed.😲

 

Edited by Post Captain

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5 hours ago, Post Captain said:

 

 The day I arrive in London after an overnight transatlantic flight, a literal walk in the park is, for me, a walk in the park (metaphorically speaking), whereas spending several hours giving my full attention to exhibits in a museum tends to make my brain go rather fuzzy by mid-afternoon.  Wending my way through Harrods and/or Selfridges while jet-lagged, my synapses likely would be overloaded trying to deal with too much stimulus (crowds, noise, a plethora of products for sale) at once.

I'm with you on this -- and I'm a female with no aversion to shopping or museums! I have to go for a walk outdoors after a TATL flight. My routine is usually a light lunch, a walk, a short nap with alarm set, a second walk, and an early-ish pub meal. 

I would also like to echo the Inns of Court  -- the Temple Church closed just as we got there --darn! https://www.london-walking-tours.co.uk/inns-of-court-tour.htm

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Funny story.  Hubby and I took a month long trip to Europe in 2015.  Only used trains and never had any issues until we got to our last country, England.  We got lost several times on the "Tube".  Couldn't get one damned person, even employees, to help us.  Most unfriendly people I had ever met. Only country that we visited that spoke English and we were unable to navigate it.  It's a complicated system for sure and we were exhausted.  We finally gave up and took a taxi.  I was bawling and tired.  That taxi driver restored my faith in the British.  He was wonderful.  It ended up being a great visit.  And that taxi drive fixed it all. 🙂

 

I'm a huge fan of the Big Red Bus in London.  Yeah, the traffic was slow but it gave us more time to get the lay of the land.  We were on the London Bridge for 10 min.  Got to look at it really well.  

 

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Trains on the Circle/District/Metrolpolitan lines are air conditioned.  The DLR (for Greenwich) is not, but runs mostly above ground so ventilation is fine.

The Emirates cable car isn't in historic Greenwich (it's in North Greenwich, which is a different area) and getting over to it will chew time.  If I had limited time it wouldn't be top of my list, I'd spend more time in the hostoric core of Greenwich but obviously some others disagree.

If you have a contactless card (all new Amex cards have this) or ApplePay / GooglePay then that's all you need for transport - you only need oyster if you don't have one of these. Never buy a cash fare in London - the price structure makes these terrible value to nudge you to electronic payment.

The "walkit" website / app is very good for giving you accurate walking times, much of central London is very walkable.

The bus tours (any operator) will probaby get stuck in traffic in some areas.  Major construction projects near the Bank of England mean the traffic in that area barely moves - get off and walk.

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Thanks guys.  Your suggestions are great.  My DH isn't into churches or museums so that's why I'm so light on them.  Also we were there 30 years ago and did the Tower, Abbey etc.  I just received my new Capitol One cards with the contactless symbol on the back.  Hope these work like the Oyster Card.   

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On 6/26/2019 at 11:29 AM, EllieinNJ said:

Before I start I have asked this question on Trip Advisor and got plenty of different answers.  I originally planned on taking the 48 hr. Hop On Hop Off bus that included a Thames River cruise and some walking tours and getting on and off where I liked.  Most reviews said that the traffic was so bad it was faster to walk and also the lines at the different stops were so very long.  So now I had to do some quick research and come up with a three day plan before my cruise on Aug. 29th.

 

DAY 1 Arrive Heathrow 9:20am.  Take National Express bus to Victoria Coach Sta.  Walk to my hotel, Best Western Buckingham Palace Road.  After settling in, walk or take tube or local bus to either V&A museum or Harods.  Then walk through Hyde Park to Marble Arch and then walk to Selfridges.  Take tube or local bus (NOT WALK) back to Victoria.  Too ambitious?

 

DAY 2 Walk or take bus to Westminster Bridge, walk across to take a Megabus tour (2 hours) near the Eye.  Then take either fast clipper or Thames river cruise to Greenwich.  Do Cutty Sark boat and possibly Emerites Air Tram.  Take Light Rail back to Victoria and walk back to hotel.  Too ambitious?

 

Day 3 Walk to Buckingham Palace to see changing of the Guard.  Then on to Churchill War Rooms.  Then on to Trafalgar Square and possibly Covent Gardens.  Take tube or bus back to hotel.  Too ambitious?

 

Day 4 Walk to Victoria Coach Sta. to take National Express bus to Southampton.

 

Some said not to do anything indoors on arrival day so can just do walking and/or tube.  Many said the tubes are very hot and no A/C but others said the local buses were slow because of traffic.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

We are doing something similar that you have proposed.  After some research on Trip Advisor, we  are going to take a train to Victoria Station rather than  National Express.  It was strongly suggested on Trip Advisor by locals not to take the bus to Victoria Station because  the traffic is awful . They said it's more cramped and after a long flight we'll  appreciate the train ride more, There's no need to take the Express train as it's not much faster and not worth the extra $$. We are are leaning towards taking an all day tour on Evans Tour that encompasses all the main highlights the day after arrival.  We'll be tired  so this way  all we have to do is show up at the meeting point. Our  tickets for the various places will be purchased and we  don't have to worry about getting lost and wasting our time. It includes a cruise on Thames .This goes against trip advisors recommendations, but sounds like a plan for us. The second full day we are there, we are going to wing it, go to Harrods, and see some things  that we saw on the tour that we'd like to see up close and personal. 

Then next day we are taking International Friends to Southampton with a stop at Stonehenge. They  have pick up at hotel which is a plus. I hope your enjoy your trip 

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1 hour ago, wendyp247 said:

After some research on Trip Advisor, we  are going to take a train to Victoria Station rather than  National Express.  It was strongly suggested on Trip Advisor by locals not to take the bus to Victoria Station because  the traffic is awful . They said it's more cramped and after a long flight we'll  appreciate the train ride more, There's no need to take the Express train as it's not much faster and not worth the extra $$.

 

That sounds much more like advice for a Gatwick arrival, rather than Heathrow.

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On 6/26/2019 at 4:29 PM, EllieinNJ said:

DAY 1 Arrive Heathrow 9:20am.

 

3 hours ago, wendyp247 said:

Yes I am arriving at at Gatwick 

 

Then your advice regarding transfer to Victoria will be of little use for the OP 🙂

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Thanks for the correction I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone 

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