Begin with a plan! Here is one suggestion for an itinerary, followed by tips and links to make it happen!
The following itinerary is an excerpt from a chapter of Dr. Loe’s new Amazon paperback ($8.99) and Kindle ($5.99) book: “ONE PERFECT TRIP TO LONDON”. More info on Amazon or at this link:
Dr. Loe’s London Podcasts are now featured on her One Perfect Day in Travel podcasts 010, 011, 012, and 015. Check them out on the podcast/blog menu tab of this website or at this link:
20 Top London Sights in One Day (with Planning Tips)
7:30 am – Have breakfast in your central London hotel. (Feel free to contact email@example.com for hotel suggestions.)
8:30 am – Walk or take the Tube (subway) to the (1) Tower of London. The exact address is St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB, UK. When the ticket office opens just before
9:00 am – Buy your tickets or trade in your discount on-line vouchers that you bought in advance. See the “Tips For Making Perfect Plans Before You Go” section below for purchasing on-line vouchers and for some additional money-saving and time-saving suggestions.
9:00 am – Join the first (2) Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) Tour at the Tower. This is an excellent 60-minute overview tour. (Tours are offered every 30 minutes.)
10:00 am – Visit the (3) Queen’s Crown Jewels at the Tower. This is included with your Tower entry ticket.
10:20 am – Give yourself about 30 minutes to make your way to the (4) Changing of the Queen’s Life Guards Ceremony at Horse Guards Parade. To get there, walk 0.3 mile to the Tower Hill Tube Station (walking away from the (5) River Thames). Take the Circle Line in the direction of Edgware Road 6 stops to Embankment Station. Exit the station and walk toward the Thames. Walk with the Thames on your left toward Horse Guards Avenue and turn right. Walk about 0.3 mile along Horse Guards Avenue, crossing the large divided Whitehall street, to the ceremony around the back of the building facing Whitehall. See the exact map here: http://www.householddivision.org.uk/queen-life-guard
11:00 am – The Horse Guards Changing of the Guard Ceremony lasts about 25 minutes. While it is not the larger Changing of the Guard Ceremony that occurs in front of Buckingham Palace down the road, you will be able to get up close and personal with the horses and guards and this ceremony. (Ceremony at 11 am daily except on Sunday when it is held at 10 am.) When it is over (or just a few minutes before in order to beat the crowds), walk to your left with the park on the right about 1/3 mile to Churchill War Rooms. Note that you will pass Downing Street on your left about half-way between the Horse Guards and Churchill War Rooms. Look for (6) No. 10 Downing Street with the barricades for the security of the Prime Minister.
11:30 am – (7) Churchill War Rooms (exact address- Clive Steps, King Charles Street London SW1A 2AQ) is the underground bunker where Winston Churchill conducted most of World War II. When you visit the Communications Room you will hear a recording of one of the four broadcasts that Churchill made from here during the war. You will see where Churchill and his staff worked and slept, including the famous Map Room. Much of the museum is actually as it was left at the end of the war or restored to the actual state. See the “Tips For Making Perfect Plans Before You Go” section below to buy discount tickets in advance and to make sure you are able to get tickets for the day of your choice.
12:30 pm – Walk 0.6 miles to the (8) National Portrait Gallery. You will walk back the way you came along Horse Guards Road, with Downing Street on your right, toward the Mall. When you get to the Mall, turn right and walk to Trafalgar Square. Walk on the right side of the square along St. Martin’s Place and enter the National Portrait Gallery (free entry, free wi-fi).
1:00 pm – Lunch – Take the elevator or stairs up to the (9) Portrait Restaurant and Bar for good food and a great view of (10) Trafalgar Square. Before you leave you may want to visit some of the collection of portraits men and women who have and are shaping British history and culture from the Tudors to the present day, including a number of portraits of Princess Diana. See “Tips For Making Perfect Plans Before You Go” for a link to make your reservations for lunch in advance to make sure you get the time of your choice.
2:00 pm – Walk 0.7 mile back the way you came through Trafalgar Square, turn left on Northumberland crossing over the Thames at the pedestrian (11) Jubilee Bridge and then turn right and walk toward the London Eye.
2:30 pm – Ride the (12) London Eye. See the “Tips For Making Perfect Plans Before You Go” section below for a link to purchase your discounted tickets in advance and to make sure you get the date of your choice. Be sure to use the Fast Track entrance and show your voucher that you bought online in advance.
3:30 pm – When you get off the Eye, continue walking on the same side of the Thames one more block, with the Thames River on your right, to the Marriott County Hall Hotel on the same side of the Thames just before Westminster Bridge. Enter on the left on Westminster Bridge Road without crossing the road. Have (13) Afternoon Tea at the Marriott County Hall looking across the Thames and (14) Westminster Bridge at (15) Big Ben and (16) Parliament. See the “Tips For Making Perfect Plans Before You Go” for a link to make your reservations in advance.
4:30 pm – After tea, walk back to Westminster Bridge Road and cross the Thames at Westminster Bridge. Just after you cross the bridge, where you will see Big Ben on your left, turn left on Abingdon Street, and take the first right on Parliament Square to Westminster Abbey. Enter on the left. Arrive no later than 4:50 pm, and let security know you are there to attend Evensong at (17) Westminster Abbey in order to be admitted for no charge and with no wait.
5:00 pm – Attend Evensong at Westminster Abbey and hear the choir sing at the daily service.
5:30 pm – Walk back toward Big Ben. Just across the street, you will see the Westminster Tube Station. Take the Jubilee Line in the direction of Willesden Green one stop to the Green Park Station where you will switch to the Piccadilly Line in the direction of Heathrow Terminal 4 for 2 stops to Knightsbridge Station. Walk 0.3 mile down Brompton Road to (18) Harrods Department Store to shop for an hour. (Note – Harrod’s closes at 6 pm on Sunday, so you will need to skip Evensong at Westminster Abbey if you want to shop at Harrod’s on Sunday.)
6:00 pm – Shop at Harrods, the essential London shopping experience. Harrod’s has over 300 departments and 32 restaurants. Do not miss the food hall to see the cheeses, meats, chocolates, and pastries. At the Harrod’s shop, there are a number of items with the Harrod’s logo, as well as souvenirs.
7:00 pm – Take the Tube from Knightsbridge Station in the direction of Cockfosters for 4 stops to Leicester Square (or to the nearest (19) Theatre District stop) to get to your selected theatre. Plays generally begin at 7:30 pm or later. See the “Tips For Making Perfect Plans Before You Go” to see theatre options and/or to purchase your theatre tickets in advance to save time and to have the best choices.
9:30 pm – Have dinner and drinks in (20) Leicester Square or in nearby (21) Piccadilly Circus or (22) Covent Garden after the play. (Email me for suggestions!)
Options: London Walks – Instead of a play, take a London Walks walking tour to top off your night. Various morning and afternoon tours are also offered, including pub walks. Check out www.walks.com for choices. All walks are £10 cash. No reservations are needed. All walks start and end near Tube stations.
Note that the (23) Natural History Museum, the (24) Victoria and Albert Museum, and the (25) Science Museum are all within walking distance of Harrod’s. So, if you have more days, the Knightsbridge area is a great place to spend at least one-half of a day. Contact me for details!
Tips For Making Perfect Plans Before You Go
1 – Make sure you have at least one ATM card. Alert the bank(s) via email on their secure website that you will be in the United Kingdom during your travel time and will be making ATM withdrawals there. Also, ask your bank how much in the equivalent of UK “British pounds sterling – £” you should be able to take out from the ATM at one time. You will withdraw this amount at the airport when you arrive. Keep their response. Be sure you know your ATM PIN.
2 – Determine which credit cards (at least 2 so you have an alternate) that have NO FOREIGN CONVERSION FEES that you will use in the UK. Alert both credit card companies through the secure website email option on your credit card online site that you will be traveling in the UK during the dates you will be traveling. Keep their response.
3 – Check with your phone carrier to determine if you want to have free or cheap voice calling and for your text and Internet service charges. If you are traveling from the US, and if Verizon is your carrier, consider buying one month of international service. If you are with T-Mobile you will have free texting and Internet, so you may want to skip voice service. You can always use Face Time or Skype for voice calls when you have Internet service.
4 – If you are flying in to Heathrow, consider buying Heathrow Express tickets to Paddington Station in advance for £22 and then walk or take a taxi/Uber for a short distance to your central London hotel. Book at www.heathrowexpress.com Be sure to print out your emailed tickets. If you are flying in to Gatwick, consider buying Gatwick Express tickets to Victoria Station in advance for £17.80. Walk or take a taxi/Uber for a short distance to your central London hotel. Book at: http://www.gatwickexpress.com/en/tickets-and-fares/buy-online-and-save/
5-Do as Londoners do and use the Tube! Consider buying a discount London Visitor Oyster Card so you can travel on the Tube (subway), buses, etc. without having to deal with exchange rates, etc. while traveling in London. You can only buy it in the US. It will be mailed to you, so it is best if you can order this six to eight weeks in advance of your trip. Buy at this link: https://visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/london-visitor-oyster-card/ You will also show the pass to get discounts at all of the locations in this link: https://visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk/~/media/files/pdfs/voc-booklet-2016-17.ashx Remember when using the Tube to look for the name of the last stop on the line and get on the Tube going in the direction of that endpoint to make sure you are headed in the right direction. You may want to buy a good Tube map before you go at Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Here is the online link to the official one: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/standard-tube-map.pdf
6-Consider buying a discounted Flexi Fast Track ticket for £34.95 each (10 percent discount) for use any time on the date you want to ride the London Eye. Ideally, buy two months in advance at this link (to make sure that passes for your date are still available, especially if you are interested in the Wine Tasting or any other special events listed under the Experiences tab on the London Eye website): https://www.londoneye.com/tickets-and-prices/fast-track-tickets/
7-Consider buying your discounted £21.00 Tower of London ticket vouchers online at this link: https://ticketslive.hrp.org.uk/hrp/b2c/index.cfm/calendar/eventCode/TADM?_ga=1.2131 15476.1189336225.1483371172
8-Consider booking your tea tickets for Afternoon Tea at the Marriott County Hall looking out across the Thames at Parliament and Big Ben to secure your preferred date and time by booking in advance here: http://www.marriott.com/hotel-info/lonch-london-marriott-hotel-county-hall/afternoontea/ t2fyie7/history.mi
9-Consider buying tickets in advance to Churchill War Rooms to ensure entry on your preferred day. Print your £19.00 discount tickets online here: http://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/churchill-war-rooms/tickets-for-iwm-churchill-war-rooms
10-Make your lunch reservations at the Portrait Restaurant and Bar overlooking in the National Portrait Gallery overlooking Trafalgar Square here: http://www.npg.org.uk/visit/shop-eat-drink/restaurant.php
11-Consider buying your play tickets online in advance for the evening of your perfect day. http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/buy-tickets/ Or, to save some money and if you have the time, when you get to London head to the official TKTS discount Leicester Square ticket booth. It opens at 10 am on Monday through Saturday and at 11 am on Sunday. Buy discount tickets (using Visa or MasterCard) for a play for 24-48 hours in advance. Use this link to see what plays are available at the current time: http://www.tkts.co.uk/whats-on-sale/
Dr. Loe’s London Podcasts are featured on her One Perfect Day in Travel podcasts 010, 011, 012 and 015 here:
Check out Dr. Loe’s Amazon author page for current publications at: https://www.amazon.com/Cindy-Loe-PhD/e/B06X3TQ3DP/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
One Perfect Trip to London (Kindle book and Amazon paperback)
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Itineraries can be customized and designed for most cities in Europe and the United States. Customized itineraries are designed to incorporate your needs and wants with suggested hotel and dining options that suit your taste. If you have questions or would like an itinerary, just send me a message. Let us do the planning for you, so you can make the most of your perfectly planned vacation time! firstname.lastname@example.org