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Suggestions please: itinerary December 2012

Rotterdam, The...
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Suggestions please: itinerary December 2012

Hi all,

In December my parents and I will finally return to London. Our last visit as a family was back in 2001, and I guess a lot has changed since then! We will be in London during Christmas, which makes it all the more exciting, but also important to plan well ahead. Over the past few weeks I’ve already done a lot of research, but I hope you experts can help me improve my itinerary.

Our main interests are:

- Parks and gardens

- Neighborhoods with nice buildings and independent shops

- Modern art and architecture

- Interior design

- Local markets

- Cakes/scones (we usually don’t spend a lot of money on dinner, but enjoy a good lunch and are addicted to sweet stuff)

- Taking long walks

Day 1 (Friday 21st December)

- Arrive at 11.57am by Eurostar. Take tube to Lancaster Gate and check-in at our apartment.

- Hyde Park

- Brompton Road

- Coffee & cake at Jak’s (Walton St.)

- Shopping in Sloane Ave and Kings Road

- Christmas decorations in Duke of York Square and Sloane Square

- Dinner

Day 2 (Saturday 22nd December)

- Early visit to Portobello Road Market. Walk around Notting Hill

- Take tube from Ladbroke Grove to Royal Oak

- Walk through Little Venice. Stop for coffee & cake at Café Laville

- Follow Regent’s Canal up to Primrose Hill

- Explore Primrose Hill and enjoy lunch in this area

- Visit Camden Lock and Market

- Take tube to Goodge Street for the Alison Jacques Gallery

- Dinner

- Tate Modern (open late)

Day 3 (Sunday 23rd December)

- Tube and DLR to Cutty Sark. Visit Royal Observatory/Greenwich Park

- Lunch in Greenwich

- Take DLR and Overground to Shoreditch High Street

- Visit The Gallery in Redchurch St

- Brick Lane (food and street art), Spitalfield Market, Sunday Upmarket

- Whitechapel Art Gallery

- Dinner

Day 4 (Monday 24th December)

- Tube to Holborn

- Street art in Museum street

- Shopping in Soho, Seven Dials, Covent Garden

- Visit The Photographers’ Gallery in Ramillies Street

- Cript café at St. Martin-in-the-fields

- Inner Temple and Middle Temple Gardens

- Somerset House ice rink

- Christmas Carols at Royal Albert Hall in the evening (already booked)

- Dinner

Day 5 (Tuesday 25th December)

- Visit Peter Pan Cup Swimming Race in Hyde Park at 9am

- Walk through Mayfair and then via Green Park, Buckingham Palace and St James’s Park toward Trafalgar Square

- Visit Westminster Abbey

- Evensong 5pm at Westminster Abbey

- Walk back to apartment via London Eye, Hungerford Bridge and Piccadilly Circus

- Dinner at apartment

Day 6 (Wednesday 26th December)

- Kensington Gardens

- Kew Gardens

- Dinner at apartment

Day 7 (Thursday 27th December)

- St. Paul’s Cathedral (don’t plan to go inside, as we’ve been there before)

- Millennium Bridge

- (Re)visit Tate Modern

- Southwark Cathedral

- Borough Market

- Take tube to Bank. Walk around The City (Leadenhall Market, Lloyd’s, Gherkin) toward the Tower of London (don’t plan to go inside, as we’ve been there before)

- St. Catherine’s Docks

- Design Museum

- Dinner

Day 8 (Friday 28th December)

- Geffrye Museum

- British Music Experience

- Eurostar to Brussels at 17:04.

What do you think of this itinerary?

I have a list of other places I would like to visit, such as Richmond, Hampstead, Highgate Cemetery, Hampton Court and Windsor Castle, but I feel these places are best enjoyed in warmer weather or are way out of the city. Since days are short in December, I don’t want to spend too much time traveling around.

Thanks a lot for your help!

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1. Re: Suggestions please: itinerary December 2012

Hyde park has winter wonder land on in december a must to see and soak up the atmosphere. Also Harrods and Selfridges thier shops windows at xmas are some of the best.

Your itinery seems to be very much central london have you not thought about travelling further out even into Kent and Essex which are not far at all.

You can visit rochester and its Dickens history and museaums also there is the historic dockyard which has a lot to see and do. 50 mins on the train from victoria.


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2. Re: Suggestions please: itinerary December 2012

I think you've done an excellent job. It sounds like a great trip. Be flexible with weather given your outdoor activities and have a few contingency plans and you'll be fine. Not specifically knowing your ages, but since you say you are with parents, I find that Camden Lock / market is generally targeted towards a young crowd and is not quite authentic London anymore. You say you like independent shops / markets - on that Saturday you may want to consider Broadway Market instead - http://wp.me/p2r6no-av - its worth the journey and is less punk and incense.

On Thursday you are going to Borough Market - it starts around 11 and is not quite as busy as Sat - which opens at 8ish. So don't get there too early on Thurs. After, there's not much to see at St. Katherine's docks for a walk around - nice - but not special. Close to Borough Market is the George Inn (worth a look: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/george-inn/ ) and also the Old Operating Theatre - I think fascinating.

Rotterdam, The...
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3. Re: Suggestions please: itinerary December 2012

Thank you both for your suggestions!

@Kim: I added Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and the department stores to my list, good idea! I bet they're all very festive and beautifully decorated.

I'm not sure yet about visiting places outside of London. As there's plenty to see within the city, I prefer not to 'waste' time by traveling to other areas. Moreover, I've already been to quite a few places outside London (although those were also mostly large cities: Birmingham, Coventry, Leamington Spa, Liverpool, Manchester, Bolton, Newcastle upon Tyne and Edinburgh). I would love to visit Cornwall, Cotswolds and the Lake District in the future, but preferably in spring or summer.

@AlbionbytheSea: let's hope the weather will cooperate :) Last Christmas I spent in Paris, where it was unseasonably warm and sunny, but I guess we were lucky. Although London weather will probably be not much different from the weather here in The Netherlands. Rain or cold doesn't bother me thát much.

I'm btw 25 y/o and my parents are in their 50s. You're so right about Camden: we went there in 2001 and even then my mum hated it. Too crowded, too much 'punk'. I just thought Camden Lock would be nice and the tube station is located in Camden, so those are the main reasons to visit. We won't stay there for long I guess.

Would you say Saturday is a better day to visit Borough Market than Thursday? I like busy places, but not when its so crowded that you can't move. Will check out the George Inn, thanks!

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4. Re: Suggestions please: itinerary December 2012

At that time of the year, I think Borough Market would be more enjoyable on Sat than on Thurs. It will definately have more 'buzz' and crowd.

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5. Re: Suggestions please: itinerary December 2012

I wouldn't bother with the Winter Wonderland. A lot of carnival type rides, mulled wine and sausages, and the type of "crafts" that you generally see all year. There are better Christmas sights.

If you are keen walkers, consider talking a guided walking tour of London.


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6. Re: Suggestions please: itinerary December 2012

I agree with Laura - WW would not be a great choice esp if you are used to Christmas markets on the Continent. I think you'll have to play parks by ear at that time of year, but St James's Park is worth a visit, and do check times of Evensong and whether you can visit Westminster Abbey on the 25th - it is showing Evensong at 3 pm for example and is not usually open to visitors on days of worship.

If you like modern architecture you might want to find a guided walk round the City where there is much to see, and you should enjoy the Shard (London Bridge) although the Observation Gallery is not open to visitors till February 2013.

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7. Re: Suggestions please: itinerary December 2012

Thanks for your replies!

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland may indeed be as tacky as those Christmas markets we've seen in Amsterdam for the past few years, but since it's free anyway I will just have a look around to see what it's like.

I would love to do a guided walking tour, but my mum only has a very basic knowledge of English so I'm not sure whether she'll enjoy it.

@parklandwalk: I checked the WA's website and it states that the Abbey will be open for visitors on 25th Dec from 9:30 am - 3:30 pm. The Evensong (quire) will start at 5pm. I understand that last year there was no tourism allowed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so I guess this year the Abbey is one of the very few London 'attractions' (sounds a bit weird) which will be open on the 25th.

I think the Shard looks amazing and I was extremely disappointed to find out that it's not open yet. Guess I'll have to come back in spring 2013 then :)

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8. Re: Suggestions please: itinerary December 2012


Your Sunday itinerary is a LOT of ground to cover in 1 day considering that most people spend a whole day at Greenwich what with the Cutty Sark, Observatory, Maritime Museum, Markets, Park, Painted Chapel etc... Anyway thats up to you.

My advise if NOT to get the tube and DLR to Greenwich though as the DLR is brutally slow. Instead get the Jubilee from Bond St to London Bridge and catch an Overground train to Greenwich - which takes 6 minutes. These are not shown on the tube map - know idea why, but are frequent and fast and included in standard travel cards.

Also after Greenwich, grab a cab to New Cross or New Cross Gate to pick up the Overground to Shoreditch High Street - a 15 minutes direct train to Shoreditch, After Spittlefields market, Sunday Up market and Brock Lane, contiune your walk northwards to Columbia Road flower market. A real East End gem.

Have a blast!!

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9. Re: Suggestions please: itinerary December 2012

"Day 3 (Sunday 23rd December)

... Take DLR and Overground to Shoreditch High Street"

That's a good route. However, if you are prepared to take a slightly longer one for a great view over London, you could try the new cable car over the river Thames from North Greenwich to Royal Victoria station, and then an overground train to Shadwell and another overground train to Shoreditch.

If you're on vacation and not in too much hurry, it might be a nice experience.

The Queen's House in the Naval Museum has lots of paintings from the Dutch Wars in which England came second. :-(

Edited: 18 October 2012, 18:06
Rotterdam, The...
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10. Re: Suggestions please: itinerary December 2012

Great to hear some more suggestions.

For travel to Greenwich I used the TFL journey planner, which showed two options from Lancaster Gate: (1) tube + DLR and (2) tube + Overground rail. Both options take 40 minutes, because the latter involves 3 interchanges, so I'm not sure which is the best to pick. May be I should decide on the day itself depending on possible delays/construction works on either route. It's weird indeed that the Overground rail to Greenwich is not shown on tube maps!

Now I'm considering visiting Greenwich on Friday (instead of the British Music Experience), since we'll have more time then. Although I have already visited some sites in Greenwich back in 2005, the Queen's House sounds quite interesting, and adding that to the Observatory, park and markets may indeed be too much for half a day :) Tough decisions, lol.

The cable car also looks kinda cool. I'll try to combine it with a visit to the British Music Experience, although I'm not sure when. London is too big and there are too many options. 8 days aren't enough to see it all :(