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5 days in London with two teens -- can you look this over?

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5 days in London with two teens -- can you look this over?

After perusing maps, TA reviews and this forum, I've come up with this preliminary itinerary. My two children (ages 15, 18) have never been to London. I'd appreciate your views re whether I'm cramming too much (or not enough) in any particular day:

Sunday, June 30: arrive 8 p.m. via CityJet from Deauville, Normandy, take cab from London City Airport to Arosfa Hotel.

Monday, July 1: Tube to Westminister (hopefully early to beat crowds), visit Westminster Abbey (take Verger-led tour); photos of Parliament, Big Ben; cross Westminster Bridge, walk along the Thames path, then visit London Film Museum (my son likes the movies), Dali Universe, ride the Eye, lunch at Southbank Centre, visit shops there and at Gabriel’s Wharf, then visit Tate Modern).

Tues., July 2: Take Warner Bros. Harry Potter studio tour (will likely sign up for 11:30 entry (which, as I understand it, means being at Euston Station at 10 a.m.) I'm guessing this will take most of the day?

Wed., July 3: Tube to Victoria Station, visit Westminster Cathedral, then go to Buckingham Palace for changing of guard (will verify presumed 11:30 a.m. start time -- too bad it's not open for tours);

then visit Churchill War Rooms; walk along Whitehall to Trafalgar Square; lunch at St Martin-in-the-Fields (or perhaps in St James's Park, as we must visit Duck Island); Ben Franklin's House for the Historical Experience, then a tour of the National Gallery. Shopping and dinner at Covent Garden.

7:30 p.m.: See The Cripple of Inishmaan at the Noel Coward Theatre (my daughter will enjoy seeing the real Harry Potter);

Thurs, July 4: Tube to Tower of London (hopefully get there early), take the free tour, then visit Tower Bridge, Borough Market, then cross back over and visit St. Paul's Cathedral. Dinner at Covent Garden somewhere;

7:30 pm: See Matilda the Musical at the Cambridge Theater.

Fri, July 5: Visit any key sights we missed Mon-Thurs. Otherwise, walk to and visit British Museum, Pollocks Toy Museum; after lunch, take tube and visit Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens; on return trip to hotel, do some shopping along Oxford and Regent streets (perhaps do the shopping before Hyde Park if the stores arent open in the evening).

July 6: Fly home from Heathrow.

My kids will surely want a double-decker bus tour and a boat ride somewhere along the way. We will likely skip the Kensington area museums because, excellent as they are, we have similar museums at home.

If we're missing something obvious, or packing too much in one day, I'd love your thoughts. Also, based on these plans, I do not know if sufficient 2-4-1 discounts would be available in July to make an otherwise inconvenient visit to a rail station worthwhile to buy a travelcard. Thanks in advance for your thoughts. .

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1. Re: 5 days in London with two teens -- can you look this over?

I personally think thats a hell of a lot to fit in most days. You can aim to do it but seriously doubt you will.

Victoria tube has a train station attached so you can get 2 4 1 tickets there

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2. Re: 5 days in London with two teens -- can you look this over?

It all looks a bit crammed to me - because I think that teens get tied up with shopping. Everything has to work a bit slower with them.

I have had teenagers on Oxford Street and it has literally taken a day to get along it - but you might be limiting their shopping experiences because of luggage allowances.

I think like the English poet

WHAT is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare?—

but of course you want to make the most of your trip. It is a difficult balance.

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Washington, D.C.
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3. Re: 5 days in London with two teens -- can you look this over?

Thanks for your thoughts. This is definitely not a shopping trip -- it's a sightseeing trip that will include some shopping to balance things a bit.

How would you suggest lightening the schedule? I could punt Westminister Cathedral and, for that matter, the Changing of the Guard on Wednesday morning, and perhaps move Westminister Abbey to that slot, which would also free space Monday morning? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.

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4. Re: 5 days in London with two teens -- can you look this over?

< (hopefully early to beat crowds) >

You'll be fighting it out with a couple million commuters

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5. Re: 5 days in London with two teens -- can you look this over?

You plan to visit Borough Market on Thursday? It is open (11am - 5pm) but I personally find it more vibrant and interesting on Friday or Saturday.

I think you're cramming too much in, to be honest. And I think you're underestimating the amount of time you'll spend travelling (there is no way to beat the crowds in London) and the amount of time you'll want to spend at some places (the British Museum and Tate Modern for example, deserve more than a cursory glance in passing). I also seriously wonder how you're going to find time to eat, sleep and go to the toilet in such a hectic schedule!

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6. Re: 5 days in London with two teens -- can you look this over?

Borough Market may be more vibrant and interesting on a Saturday, but by 11.00 a.m., its usually so crowded you can barely move. Either arrive early (i.e., have done your shopping and be ready to leave near 10.30 a.m. or mid-afternoon, but that runs the risk of produce being sold out).

Changing of the Guard - in order to get a 'good' spot, you generally have to arrive well in advance, which use up time that could be spent elsewhere. Take a look at the clips that have been uploaded on various well-known sites and ask your children if its something they definitely want to see in person.

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7. Re: 5 days in London with two teens -- can you look this over?

Sorry to join the chorus but it is quite a lot. My advice is 'prioritise'. Just decide (however you choose) your must do's, your 'nice to do's if there's time' and your 'can be dropped's' for each day.

What might help is:

Day 1 - the Dali Universe closed some time ago, there are no shops on the South Bank really (other than those of the theatre complex) and those at Gabriel's wharf are missable.

Day3 - I would say Westminster Cathedral can be dropped. To see anything at all at the COTG (infantry) you need to be by the railings at 10.30 am, maybe 11 latest so it's a huge amount of time for one of the most disappointing 'attractions' (based on tourist response). If you want to see a bit of a Change, go to the Mall/Horse Guards for the Mounted (Household Cavalry) at about 10.45 am instead - watch them come along the Mall, follow them round to Horse Guards Parade for the 11 am change - you don't need to be up close - and then move on to your next thing. (You can alternatively get to HGP for abour 11.25 am to see them go after the Old Guard have swapped. No music but a bit more dashing. You can also wander round St James's Park/Duck Park in between - it's right next to the Parade Ground if you wish.

Day 4/5. I agree Borough is better on Fridays, so perhaps swap and do the Tower on Friday with lunch at Borough. I think on Thurs, if you do swap,you are going to have make a decision - BM plus shopping OR park and something else and allow a little down time. People pretty consistently underestimate the time it takes to get from A to B, the need for comfort breaks, or just being a bit tired or under the weather.

Having said that you'll still be able to achieve quite a bit.

Edited: 11 March 2013, 15:46
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8. Re: 5 days in London with two teens -- can you look this over?

Parkland has terrific advice, and lessens my typing considerably.

My comment was about Thursday--Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Borough Market--then St. Paul's Cathedral? St Paul's takes 2-3 hours to do properly, especially if you want to climb up the dome, explore the crypt, and see the main floor. And it has an early closing of 4:00. You'd want to get in sooner than that, though, because St. Paul's is closed to tourists at 5:00.

Push back Borough Market to Friday, and try and get into St. Paul's by 2:30 or 3:00.

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9. Re: 5 days in London with two teens -- can you look this over?

I agree with everyone else that you have too much to fit in. It's up to you of course, but I didn't find shopping on Oxford St/Regent St to be that good. We were there on a Sat, which probably didn't help, but it was really crowded (like it would take all day if you intend to buy anything) and there wasn't much that you couldn't get a home, probably cheaper once you figure in the exchange rate.

If you just want to window shop (or even buy things a little more interesting), check out Cecil Court, which has stores that are more interesting (IMO) than Oxford St and looks like Diagon Alley.

http://www.cecilcourt.co.uk/

I might also check out some of the non food markets. My daughter (now 15) liked the market at Greenwich. I've been meaning to take her to Camden Market, which is supposed to be good for teenagers, but we haven't made it there yet. She did get some boots during the after Christmas sales in York which were decently priced even with the exchange rate, but her favorite thing to shop for in London is used books. Just remember you have to carry them home again!

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10. Re: 5 days in London with two teens -- can you look this over?

We've just come back from a long weekend in London with my 16yr old son. We limited paid tourist attractions to a maximum of one a day and that was about right. We walked a bit, traveled by tube, for example tube to Leicester square, walk to Trafalgar square via National gallery, walk down past Household Cavalry and Downing street to Westminster. We could have gone across to the eye, but we decided that was too much.

St Paul's was a good 3 hours and that was with the top galleries closed. I think in early July there could be queues so it could take longer. Tower of London was another paid place we went to, the final one (in 4 days) was the monument, we climbed up there. We did shop on Regent's St and Oxford St, but not for too long.

We walked to look at the Royal Albert hall and the Albert memorial then caught a bus. There's just so many places like this to see that we hadn't time to take in all the main tourist sites. I remember in the Tower there was a French boy about 12 having a tantrum, he was just so fed up of tourist places, wanted some time for himself, to choose what he wanted to do.

We were going to visit London Zoo but it took us 2 hours to get there and the 100m queue put us off, so we went to Camden lock and market but my son wasn't too impressed.

The most important thing is what your teenagers want - can they cope with being organised all day, do they want to do the main tourist sites or do they want time to explore as well.

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