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Forums » United Kingdom » London Itinerary and Questions


London Itinerary and Questions

by tbrown801 »

Hello, we are traveling to London for our first time. 

We are traveling with 1 adult, 1 Senior and a 16 year old. 

I would love some help with this itinerary.



Arrive at LHR – We land around 1 in the afternoon so we may just go to the hotel and do nothing, but if we wanted to go out I was considering the Notting Hill Carnival.  Maybe take the Thames Clipper in the evening if we don’t go to the Carnival.



Hampton Court Palace - On this day they are also having the BBC Goof Food Festival.  Would you go this day or switch with Friday?  Is the Maze and Gardens worth the extra price?



Tour Westminster Abbey

See Big Ben

See Platform 93/4

See the Shard

Go to either Camden Lock Market or Borough Market



See Changing of Guard

Tour Buckingham Palace I was thinking a 1:00 or 1:30 tour

See Piccadilly Circus

See Trafalgar Square



Stonehenge/Bath/Windsor Castle Tour



Tour Tower of London

Tour London Bridge

See Tower Hill

Thames Clipper



Fly Home


Would you recommend the Oyster Card or the Travelcard?

Would love tour guide suggestions for the Stonehenge/Bath/Windsor Castle Tour.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.


San Diego

RE: London Itinerary and Questions

by San Diego »

I hope I can point you in a few possible directions and also warn you off some of your ideas.

i assume from the late arrival in London that you are flying from the west coast, if so, the last thing you want to do is go to the Carnival, it is absolute mayhem, slightly less perhaps than on Monday when up to a million people will be on the streets, but nevertheless not something to consider when you are exhausted from travelling.

Hampton Court is an hour's train ride out of London, whenever there is a special event, and not only is there the Good Food show but Monday is a public holiday, it will be absolutely packed and very tiring. I would leave that to later in the week. London itself will be busy as it is the last week of the school holidays and many people travel from other parts of the UK for the long weekend. Seeing Big Ben is a 5 minute photo opportunity but it is on the other side of the road from Westminster Abbey so those fit well together, you could also take a river cruise from Westminster Pier or Charing Cross pier which is a 15 minute walk along Victoria Embankment. You mention the Thames Clipper, although they have by far the nicest vessels on the Thames they are a commuter service and do not offer a guided tour to tell you what you are seeing as you sail along, if you want a 'tour' in the real sense you need to use someone like City Cruises who will offer a commentary. 

I do  not know where you are staying whilst you are in London but 'platform 9 and 3/4 can be 'found' at Kings Cross station on the wall to the left of the ticket office. Having never read any Harry Potter I don't understand the attraction of seeing it and being photographed beside it. There is a baggage trolley seemingly coming through the wall and at peak hours someone hands out a scarf for particpants to wear and a professional photographer will offer to take a photo, no doubt at a very high price but at other times, you can just stand by the wall and take your own photographs.

Midweek I wouldn't waste time going to Borough Market for the food ( most stalls open Thur/Friday and Saturday) Camden Lock market is quite empty mid week and frankly most of what they sell is complete rubbish bought I am sorry to say by tourists, they can get 100,000 at the weekend, but mid week is even more of a waste of time.

Buckingham Palace is certainly worth seeing and you must book the tour in advance, most days are sold out (it is our Alcatraz as regards booking ahead) It is only open for 2 months a year, if you must see the Changing of the Guard, book a tour for 1230 or 1300 as the Changing at Buckingham Palace begins at 1130 and for most people all you see are other tourists heads in front of you as everyone strains on their toes to see what is happening.....

Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square are only a few minutes apart, PC has a few shops and electric advertisements  but the rest is just a traffic island, likewise Trafalgar Square is a large traffic island but with some great places ot visit around it such as the Natioanl Portrait Gallery. If you want to see a better Changing of the Guard you might walk down Whitehall from Trafalgar Square and see Horsegaurds Parade, you can get photos standing next to the guards on their horses very easily, a 6 minute walk from Trafalgar Square or Big Ben at the other end of Whitehall.

For you big day out you need to be aware of distances, Bath which is stunning and highly recommended is 114 miles from London, if you try to do too much you will have very little time there. I will admit I have never seen the attraction of Stonehenge, you cannot get close to the stones and yes, they may have been there millions of years but these are not the pyramids or even Mount Rushmore, they are random stones in a circle but if you must see them, you must. I also love Windsor, we are lucky enough to be able to visit any weekend we want and the castle is fascinating but you are planning a visit to the Tower of London, possibly the best use of three hours In London that I can think of,  so do you need need to see inside another castle? If the answer is 'yes' then the only way to do both in a day is by a tour bus but be aware of just how little time you may have at each point. If you just want to get to Bath, there are trains every 30 minutes from Paddington Station which take just under 1h 30 minutes and if you book in advance you can buy tickets from as little as £14.50 pp each way,  the later you leave it the higher the cost so even if you book it a day before it will be less than £56 which sesm to be be the cheapest return fare.

The station in Bath is close to the centre and there is a hop on hop off bus from outside the station to take you around the sites if you wish, all I can say is my Mom who passed at the end of last year enjoyed Bath more than anywhere else I took her in her 80's and would have loved to have spent longer than we could in the city. I wanted to take her to the Pump Rooms for afternoon tea where there is a small (very) orchestra playing while you nibble on scones and jam and sip tea but as someone who never had much money, she refused to allow me to treat her but I do recommend it.

If you want to fit all 3 into a tour then EvansEvans, Goldentours or Premium tours normally come highly recommended but it will be a 12 hour day on a bus.

When you arrive at Heathrow buy Oyster cards, they can be recharged as necessary but they guarantee you pay the lowest price for buses, the Tube and even a discount from Thames Clippers. you will never pay more than a maximum daily rate even if you use it 10 times a day, and you won't.

If you need any more help, please ask!

Jason Cochran

RE: London Itinerary and Questions

by Jason Cochran »

As the author of Frommer's' London guide, I would add a few things:

* Be careful about scheduling too much on the day you see Hampton Court. As San Diego pointed out, it's an hour's ride from central London, so by the time you've seen it, the prime touring hours are done for the day--you won't be able to see another major attraction that requires paid entry that day. You could see Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, though, as they're always open. And yes, the maze and gardens are worth it—the garden, in particular, is extremely old and is curated with as much care as the interior of the palace.

* When you say London Bridge, I think you mean Tower Bridge, which is right next to the Tower of London, so schedule those together.

* I fully agree that Camden Markets are now touristy and not essential and Borough Market must be done Thurs-Sat, preferably between 10 and noon before the crowds get intense. The Shard is very near Borough Market, so schedule those together, too.

* Combining the Tower of London with Bath would make for a miserable day and you'd be racing around, learning little. Stonehenge, too requires so much time to reach that you'd essentially lose a whole day, but you can combine it with Bath for a single breakneck day. 

* If I were you, I'd skip Notting Hill Carnival--it's extremely crowded and in the past it has not always been safe. Seeing the city on the Thames would be a much more refreshing way to acclimate after arrival.



RE: London Itinerary and Questions

by tbrown801 »

After much more review and reading all of the suggestion I have revised the itinerary as below.


Aug 28 Arrive - LHR at 13:30 check in at Holiday Inn Express Wandsworth/Boat Tour/Eat somewhere on the river /London Eye

Day 2 British Museum/Platform 9 3/4 Camden Market/Canal Boat to Little Venice/London Eye if we didn't do this the first day

Day 3 Windsor Castle see the changing of the guard

Day 4 Big Ben/Westminster Abbey/Buckingham Palace ( We won't be seeing the changing of the guard)/Piccadilly Circus/Trafalgar Square/National Gallery

Day 5 Stonehenge/Bath Tour we are using a tour bus company but haven't decided which one.

Day 6 Tower of London/London Bridge/Tower Hill / Borough Market/Shard

Day 7 Fly Home

San Diego

RE: London Itinerary and Questions

by San Diego »

That certainly is an interesting choice of hotel, Wandsworth does not normally appear on anyone's list of places to visit in London, the traffic outside is a bit like being next to the 405 south of LA but, it may suit you and it is just one stop from Wandsworth Road station to Clapham Junction where you can get the train to Windsor and Eton Riverside without going into central London at all. 

There are actually riverboats from a pier close to your hotel inro central London, they are intended for commuters so that the service into London only operates in the morning and back to Wandworth in the evening, there is no mid day service, you can find the timetable here

Have a wonderful stay



RE: London Itinerary and Questions

by mcleffler »

Good day everyone, 


Thanks for all the great tips here. Planning a 4-5 day trip and have a few questions. 
Arrive Heathrow - how to get to hotel?

We plan to go to the theatre (Palace). 
Our top touring spots may include Hop on off bus. 
Windsor Castle
Sunrise Stonehenge 
War room
What time will permit (Tate, British Museum, Covent Garden)

Given this plan, where should we stay? Need a very reasonable hotel/BandB (175-225). 
All advice welcome. 




RE: London Itinerary and Questions

by adriannecady »

In Bath, use madmaxtours; they are fabulous.

They have small vans and very personalized narration. I took the one to the Cotswold which was great. They also have one to Stonehenge and a village or two in the Cotswold.