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6 day itinerary for first-timers in May!

Stamford...
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6 day itinerary for first-timers in May!

Please critique my itinerary! Is it too packed and does it make sense geographically? Hotel location is near Waterloo Station. Traveling with my husband, his parents and 3 siblings (twenty-somethings) -- Itinerary is just a guide, I'm sure we may switch some things around or play by ear. Since we are a large group (7), I imagine we may split up if not everyone wants to see a particular museum, etc. The parents definitely won't be going on the bike tours...

Also open to any suggestions for food! Not locked in on any of the restaurants listed. I appreciate any input you all might have! Thanks in advance!

Friday:

- Arrive at Heathrow 6:30am

- Drop off bags at Park Plaza Westminster London Bridge

- Go to Waterloo Station to get paper travel cards

- Walk along South Bank to Borough Market

- Explore Borough Market

- Take River Cruise from Tower Bridge to Westminster Bridge (or walk?)

- Check in to hotel

- Hop on hop off bus? (or do this on Monday?)

- Shopping/wandering around Sloane Square

- Dinner

- London Eye after dinner if weather permits

Saturday:

- Portabello Road

- Walk through Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park

- V&A Museum

- quick stop in Harrod's

- Lunch

- Houses of Parliament Tour

- River Thames Evening Bike Tour (4 hours)

Sunday:

- Tower of London

- Walk through Covent Garden, Picadilly Circle

- The British Museum

- Afternoon Tea at the Wolseley (or somewhere else? would need to fit party of 7 comfortably?)

and/or Sunday Roast at Hawksmoor Seven Dials in the evening?

Monday:

(is it better to do Hop on hop off on this day instead? or does that not make sense since our hotel is 'close' to Buckingham Palace anyways?)

- Buckingham Palace for changing of the guards

- Lunch

- WB Harry Potter Tour

- Dinner at Jamie's Italian in Covent Garden

- See a show?

Tuesday:

- Westminster Abbey Verger Tour 10am

- Lunch

- Tate Modern

- Royal London Bike Tour

- Dinner at Tayaabs?

Wednesday:

- St. Paul's Cathedral

- Museum of London

- Lunch at Barbacoa

- Walking tour of Royal London?

- Afternoon tea or dinner?

Thursday:

- Check out

- Take Eurostar to Paris

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Melbourne, Australia
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1. Re: 6 day itinerary for first-timers in May!

Monday - WB Studios, do you realize you need to book in advance, you can't buy tickets at the door, to arrive by train journey is from Euston Stn to Watford Junction then bus to Studio. Most allow a good half day or more, so if doing Buckingham Palace you will not benefit much from the Hop On Hop Bus that day.

Ottawa, Ontario
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2. Re: 6 day itinerary for first-timers in May!

Hmm, the first thing that pops out is Sloan Square. What takes your fancy about Sloan Square shopping? Yes, Chelsea is a nice area, but unless you have a special reason why you'd want to go there I wouldn't go out of my way. I go there when in London but only for the Satchi Gallery, and too meet friends. There's nothing special about the shops apart from maybe R. Soles the shoe shop, but that's really only because of the name. You'll find better shopping elsewhere.

The other thing I noticed is that you are going to be in the same area several times but on different days. While you are at the Tate Modern it's only a short stroll across the Bridge to St. Paul's, or another short stroll up further up the South Bank to Borough market & the Tower of London.

What I'd think about doing on the Friday is to not worry about walking down the South-bank or Sloan Square, but after you drop off your luggage, take the HOHO bus then (weather permitting). This will give you a better idea of where you are and where you want to be from the start. I'd say the earliest you'll be at your hotel would be 9am, so you take the bus and get off when and wherever you like. Please note that with the HOHO bus, the Original Tour actually comes with a free cruise, Westminster - Tower hill. You could take the cruise from Tower Hill to Westminster and get on the London Eye in one fell swoop.

Harry Potter? Why? This will take up some valuable time. You must be avid fans.

Also note, Buckingham Palace is also very close to Hyde Park\Kensington Gardens walk that you want to do.

One other thing. You mentioned a show on Monday. Make sure you know what you want to see and check in advance as some theatres do not have a performance on a Monday. For example the Lion King.

I'll leave you with that for now as I'm sure you'll have plenty more suggestions coming up. Enjoy your trip, just don't rush it. If you don't get to see what you want, make sure you go back again.

U.S. expats
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3. Re: 6 day itinerary for first-timers in May!

Saturday:

- Portabello Road

- Walk through Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park

- V&A Museum

- quick stop in Harrod's

- Lunch

- Houses of Parliament Tour

- River Thames Evening Bike Tour (4 hours)

================================

What can I say? This is not possible. Getting through the crowds even to the half way mark at Portobello Road, and spending even a minimal amount of time there, and then struggling back against the tide, as it were, will eat up a lot of your time. Having a pleasant stroll after this in Kensington Gardens will probably bring you to lunchtime--you won't have time for the V & A (which can take hours) let alone a "quick" stop at Harrods.

Unless you *really* want the Portobello Road experience skip it. If you do, keep it, but eat there. Skip the gardens and go right to the V & A. Tours for Parliament are timed--what time are your tickets? The V & A is not anywhere near them....

Edited: 26 February 2014, 04:31
Stamford...
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4. Re: 6 day itinerary for first-timers in May!

TY! Haha... Sloan Square - a friend told me enjoyed shopping in that area because she thought it was less touristy, quaint, and made her feel like a local. Didn't do any research on that one! Will probably skip unless i happen to bump into the area :)

Where are the best places for shopping? Everything I read says Harrod's is more of a just to see it place and that Oxford St. gets too crowded? Is that accurate?

Hmm yes.. Harry Potter sounds like it would be a hike.. I'll see if any of the siblings are dying to go, otherwise sounds like we'll probably skip that too or definitely plan ahead and carve out time if we decide to go.

Good tip about checking when the shows are playing... Sister-in-law sounded like she had Lion King in mind - whoops!

Detroit, Michigan
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5. Re: 6 day itinerary for first-timers in May!

London is a huge city, and while it is easy to get around, it does take time to get from one attraction to the next. You can realistically plan 2 major sites per day, with a few nearby walk-by/photo op sites along the way.

Your arrival day, you will probably be arriving at your hotel by about 9 am. Your plans look OK through Borough Market - it would probably be early to mid afternoon by this point. Just when jet lag and lack of sleep really start to kick in. At this point you may want to make your way back to the hotel, settle in, have dinner, maybe walk around the area or do London Eye (seeing Big Ben/Parliament lit up at night is spectacular.)

Saturday - There's no way you'll be able to do all this in one day. As mentioned, Portobello Road will be extremely crowded and even getting there very early, it would be mid morning before you'd be leaving. By the time you walked through Kensington Gardens, it would be about lunch time. In the afternoon, I think you will need to pick between the V&A and the Houses of Parliament tour. And I can't imagine going on a 4 hour bike tour after being on your feet all day.

Sunday - I would take the Thames cruise from Westminster to Tower of London, tour the Tower, have lunch then head to the British Museum. Afterwards, head to Covent Garden to Piccadilly Circus. Have dinner or afternoon tea. The Wolseley has mostly smaller tables for two or four, but may be able to seat 7. I'd definitely book ahead and pick a later time. Or maybe check out nearby Fortnum & Mason for tea.

Monday - the Harry Potter Studio is not in central London so it will take a good portion of your day to get there, do the tour and get back into London - if you leave in the morning, you won't be back in to London till mid to late afternoon. And be sure to book ahead and do try the butter beer.

If Changing of the Guard is a must, it will take pretty much half a day. If you want to actually see the guard change, you will need to get to the palace gates early to stake out a spot. It will be about noon-ish by the time you are done. You could maybe move this to Tuesday, then walk through St. James's Park and do Westminster Abbey in the afternoon.

Wednesday - if you actually want to go into St Paul's Cathedral and take the tour or climb to the top of the dome, there is no way you'll also be able to do Museum of London before lunch. You could do London Museum in the afternoon - or take the walking tour.

London, United...
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6. Re: 6 day itinerary for first-timers in May!

Don't do afternoon tea and Sunday dinner at Hawksmoor on the same day, you'll explode!

Afternoon teas come with lots of dainty sandwiches and cakes, you'll actually be quite full after eating one.

Ottawa, Canada
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7. Re: 6 day itinerary for first-timers in May!

Yes Peonies, Harrods is very much a place to be seen, and yes Oxford Street is very busy, but from Selfridges down to Oxford Street, then down Regents Street to Picadilly is where the best central London shopping can be done. Selfridges is akin to Harrods, but i prefer it. Not as austenatious as Harrods. I actually worked there on my summers when I flew to London from Canada during the summer breaks. It also has American history as it was built by an American, who is poorly portraid by the actor Jeremy "cardboard" Pivens in the TV show. It depends on what you are looking for as there are a lot of not so good shops in that area as well. Sloan Square, while yes it's a nice area of London, and you might not feel like so much of a tourist, it's mostly boutique (i.e. Expensive) type stores. It's home to Harvey Nichols which has been there since 1880. But, you are in London, where ever you go, it'll be busy but there will always be shopping. Chances are, you won't just bump into it though unless you are lost. You have to make the commitment :-)

I'm with Kaybe, 2 sites a day is a good way to look at it. If you are lucky there will be a third close by. the HOHO bus would be a good way of seeing what you want in a short period of time, being a newbie. Be aware, the museums in London could take hours to go through, oh, and they are free. The British Musem on it's own could take a few days so maybe look ahead and figure out what you'd like to see and go right to it. If you don't youi'll wander and get lost. Trust me.

And finally, Enjoy.

Cardiff, United...
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8. Re: 6 day itinerary for first-timers in May!

Hmm, put it this way, I was already thinking 'that's too much for one day' and then I got to 'lunch'! I contracted jet lag just reading day one.

Major pruning required. Two destinations per day as suggested above is a good rule of thumb and then allowing time for wandering, strolling and pausing!

Stamford...
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9. Re: 6 day itinerary for first-timers in May!

Thanks so much for everyone's input and feedback. Very helpful! Yes, I have some major pruning to do :) Luckily I find trip planning enjoyable -- can't wait until May!!!

Stamford...
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10. Re: 6 day itinerary for first-timers in May!

and kittyl48, I definitely don't want to see anyone in my family explode!!! Will rearrange to avoid that :)