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1st time in London - 5 days

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1st time in London - 5 days

Hi guys,

Me and my husband will be in London next Saturday for 5 days and it's our 1st trip to London.

I'm trying to get ideas on major things we want to see and do, and I'm already lost......

Can someone help in finding what is definetely "a must". I know everyone is different but I appreciate any input.

I don't want to waste any time in figuring out what to do while we are there, so try to come up with the busy schedule:))



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1. Re: 1st time in London - 5 days

What will count as must-sees are things that interest you and your husband. Having said that, some of the basics are.....

First off, buy yourselves Travelcards. The cost for a seven day card for zones 1 and 2 is £22.20, and they're worth every penny. Should you wish to travel outside zone 2, you can either pay the excess fare or go by bus, as Travelcards can be used on buses in all six London zones with no extra fare required. Get a tube map (small, pocket sized) and a Central London bus map, if you think you'll use the buses a fair amount. Both are free and available in racks at tube stations.

Visit the newsagent and buy a copy of Time Out magazine. There are numerous listings for what's on - everything from walks, lectures and funfairs to info on museums, shows, the cinema - it's a wealth of information.

Now. You may or may not want to take a hop on hop off bus tour. With a Travelcard you can more or less zip past the major sights yourselves, but having a guide and a set route might be what you fancy. The cost is about £18, and the ticket is usually good for 24 hours. If the fare includes a river trip, you may want to add this, as it's a nice treat if the weather is good.

If you want to see the Tower of London, you may want to go early in the morning on one of your days, as it can take a while to explore. Advance purchase tickets may be available at tube stations and at London Travel Information Centres (at the tube station at LHR T1,2,3 and Victoria station, amongst other locations). You may want to combine the Tower and St Paul's, as they're not too far from each other.

Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, the British Library, the V&A, the National Gallery, the summer show at the Royal Academy - all of these may appeal. Some are free, some charge admission for certain shows - that info will be in Time Out.

Would you like to see a show? You can get a lot of advance info at www.theatremonkey.com - both on the theatre itself as well as the performance. Depending on what's on, the half price ticket booth at Leicester Square could be worth the trip.

If you're keen gardeners, you may want to visit Kew or Hampton Court. Getting to Kew requires a trip on the tube to Kew Gardens, and Hampton Court is either a three hour boat ride from Westminster or a 40 minute train trip from Waterloo. If you'd rather see Windsor Castle, trains run frequently from Paddington.

Just a few ideas for starters. See anything that interests you?

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2. Re: 1st time in London - 5 days

Thanks for the tips:)

Question re. thearters: I found a website: lastminute.com and they have tickets for shows and dinner for £19.99 only.

When you refer to the booth that sells 50% off tickets, would they be even chipper than this price?

Also, did you use London pass, as I'm trying to combine attractions to make it worth but can't really decide yet...

thank you so much for your help!


Huntsville, AL
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3. Re: 1st time in London - 5 days

Hi Olena!! You'll Love London! Hope it cools down for you! :)

Below is the "itinerary" I prepared for my trip in September...granted I'm taking 3 children for a history tour but I'm going to enjoy it as much as they....below is a list of "must see's" from our perspective and a list of other mentionables I've gleaned from past visit and reading way too many trip reviews! :) Never can prepare enough! :)

1. Tower of London...discount tickets at 2 for 1 entry uk

2. British Museum....free

3. National Gallery....free

4. Victoria & Albert Museum (only if you're really into museums...you'll get a lot out of the top 3)....free

5. Buckingham Palace (August/September you can actually buy tickets to see the inside of the palace...the tours go every 15 minutes and you can buy them ahead of time...you might want to check out the website and see about purchasing them now and picking up tickets there if you're interested)...small charge

6. St. James Park/Hyde Park....love strolling around the parks with a picnic, just people watching and enjoying the quiet

7. The London Eye...more for touristy tourists...a 30 minute ride on a ferris wheel that gives you a great overview of the town...2 for 1ticket coupon

8. London walks....pay for a walking tour...many different themes but you get a neat perspective on interesting takes on London...google London walks and you'll find several

9. Sir John Sloan museum....an architect whose home is open for FREE and is kept most like it was in 1853...near the British museum so you could add that one in when you see the British Museum

10. The Cabinet War Rooms...only if you're interested in Churchill WW2 history...my family is!

11. Tate Britain/Tate Gallery....more art museums..but might be more your taste...I'm not into modern art but would love to see Tate Britain...

12. Houses of Parliament....fun to sit in while they're in session...but think they're on holiday in parts of August, so you might need to check on that

13....should have snuck this at the top.. a PLAY!!! Go to leicester square and go to tckt and see what day of discounts you can find...Billy Elliot is supposed to be great....we're seeing Mary Poppins..so much to choose from!

Hope this helps!


Day one..(reading from my index now...pitiful)

arriving at 7am

Take Gatwick Express to Victoria Station..buy travelcards

Check-in at hotel

Hyde Park/Kengsington Gardens bus around town....stop at Hamley's toy store for fun


Tube it to Leicester (Blue line)

National Gallery

Eat somewhere

Mary Poppins at 7:30

Day two...

Walk to National History Museum

Victoria & Albert Museum...must see those clothes! :)

eat lunch

take tube to Holborn to see

John Soane Museum then

British Museum (it's open late tonight so we can take our time)

Day three

Buckingham Palace 10:15 appt. time


Play at St. James Park (son loves birds)

National Gallery if there's time

Cabinet War Rooms

Day 4

Tower of London (Tower Hill tube exit) get there at opening

Take a boat cruise (hop on/off 2 for 1 off 2 for 1 entry site) to the

Globe Theater....then cruise over to London Eye...then hit Cabinet War rooms if we missed them yesterday

Day 5

Attend services at St. Paul's Cathedral

Go to the Museum of London and maybe walk around the historical business district...just a lazy day or a pick up day picking up things we may have missed..it's Sunday so not much open later..

Huntsville, AL
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4. Re: 1st time in London - 5 days

Oh! Meant to add you might like to attend Evensong at either Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's Cathedral...usually held at 5pm most evenings....a wonderful 30 minute choral presentation in an unbeatable setting! :)


Huntsville, AL
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5. Re: 1st time in London - 5 days

Olena! Hey jumping in again....I don't think the London pass is worth it...you can easily fill your days up with GREAT free events...

British Museum, National Gallery, Natural History Museum, Sir John Sloane Museum and you can get 2 for 1 entry coupons at


for other venues that you may attend. You just register and print out the vouchers and use them as you go...they ask for a date you plan to attend but on the coupon there is not date listed..you will need to show a travelcard to let these vouchers work, but being there 5 days I'd definitely buy the 7 day travelcard...it's less hassle than pay as you go and you get the benefit of using the 2 for 1 vouchers...I've printed out over 12 coupons...even for city cruises hop on/off while touring around the Thames. Also some vouchers for eating places and theater tickets...so be sure to check them all.


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6. Re: 1st time in London - 5 days

Olena - Get to your local bookstore and buy a good guide to London - I recommend the Rough Guide to London ... but if that isn't available, try Fodor's or Rick Steve's - and they browse through it for things that are of interest to you. Museums, shows, shops, etc.

Plan on lots of walking, whether you use the tube or buses, there will still be plenty of walking ... so bring along at least 2 pair of comfy shoes.

Have a fabulous trip!

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7. Re: 1st time in London - 5 days

Olena, most people who see the National Portrait Gallery are blown away by it. It's just around the corner from the National Gallery, admission is free and I recommend it highly. Let us know, on your return, whether you got a chance to see it and what you thought. They say that the best things in life are free. And this is definitely true of the National Portrait Gallery. You can end up spending a fortune to see Madame Tussauds ; but it is truly a pale reflection of the concentrated brilliance of the National Portrait Gallery.

Stanley, Falkland...
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8. Re: 1st time in London - 5 days


There's a current thread on lastminute.com. You've got to ask yourself... what am I going to see and eat for less than £20 in London? It may be a wonderful night out or it may not. You are not going to much cheaper than that.

I, too, suggest you invest in a guidebook. Take a trip on the London Eye. and a river cruise. Walk along the South Bank and aroound Covent Garden. Enjoy.

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9. Re: 1st time in London - 5 days


I thank you so much for input, everyone.

You are really helping and now I start making my list with the help of your great tips.

Any food tips? (restaurants and just something unexpensive for a bite)

You guys are so great, I can't thank you enough!


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10. Re: 1st time in London - 5 days

Olena, you'll find lots of tips on this thread: