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7-hour layover in London

dallas
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7-hour layover in London

Two of us will arrive at the Heathrow airport at 12:30pm on May 16th, our connecting flight to Cape Town doesn't take off until 9:30pm on the same day. Exclude the arrival custom and check-in time for the next flight, we will have about 7 hours. Since it only takes 15 minutes to get to downtown London via the Heathrow express. We plan to store our carry-on luggage at the airport and then take the Heathrow express to downtown. What should we do to get ourselves a nice sight-seeing tour in 7 hours? Should we purchase the "Original London Tour" ticket, hop on and off or just purchase a day bus pass at the station and create my own route? Any advice? Thanks in advance!

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1. Re: 7-hour layover in London

The major flaw in your plan is that the Heathrow Express won't take you to 'downtown', but to Paddington which isn't on the Original Bus Tour route , and is a fair way from the centre. It also takes more than 15 minutes.

However, if you land on time, clear Immigration and baggage reclaim etc, you should be looking at getting the Piccadilly Line Underground to Westminster with an easy cross platform change to the eastbound District Line at Hammersmith by around 2pm. Journey takes an hour so let's say you're getting on the tour bus around 3pm.

You need to get back to Heathrow, collect your stowed bags and check in for your CPT flight by 6:30pm so you will need to leave Westminster by 5:15pm. This gives you 2 hours to explore

The bus might not necessarily be a good option as a loop can take more time than you have, so I would suggest a walk from Westminster Abbey and Big Ben through St James Park to Buckingham Palace, down The Mall to Trafalgar Square then down Whitehall back to Westminster

Don't dawdle now!

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2. Re: 7-hour layover in London

'Since it only takes 15 minutes to get to downtown London via the Heathrow express.' Two things: London does not have a 'downtown' as in your country. And the HEX runs just four times an hour with a terminus at Paddington, not at all handy for most of visitors' London.

Far better to take the Underground, with a one day Travelcard costing just £8.90, and make your way to the city centre rather than Paddington station.

Passport control, storing your bags at left luggage and making your way to the Undergroundcould take about an hour if not a bit longer. Heathrow stations to Westminster will take about 45 minutes; LHR to Tower Hill will take an hour. You will need to be back at LHR no later than 1930 to collect your bags from left luggage and go through Security before departure to CPT, and that will mean leaving the city centre between 1830 and 1845.

You will have about three or four hours in the city centre if all goes well. Rather than spend a great deal of money on the HEX and hop on hop off tickets, use the one day Travelcard on the Underground and London's red buses to do a bit of sightseeing. Let us know if you have a wish list and we can suggest how best to travel from point to point.

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3. Re: 7-hour layover in London

You need to subtract five hours from your overall layover time to give you your useable time in central London (that includes the tube rides to and fro). And if using left luggage at Heathrow subtract a further 40 minutes. So that gives you about 3hr20.

I'd not use a HOHO. Here's a traveler article from wirewiper on how to spend about 2 hours around Westminster and Buckingham Palace. For the additional 1hr20 you could take the number 15 bus from Trafalgar Square to Tower Hill (via the Royal Courts of Justice and St. Paul's), and view the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Then head back to Heathrow from there.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g186338-c195392/Londo…

The tube journey from Tower Hill to Heathrow is easy. A westbound District line train posted as Richmond or Ealing Broadway, change (cross platform) for a Piccadilly line train to Heathrow.

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Dallas, Texas
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4. Re: 7-hour layover in London

Alternatively, you could visit Windsor Castle: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g186216-c184679/Unite…

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dallas
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5. Re: 7-hour layover in London

Many thanks everyone for doing the reality check on my layover schedule and great suggestions! Thank you, USBusinessTraveller and TexScott for the central London and Windsor Castle layover tour articles. They are very helpful! A trip to central London takes much longer time than I thought. I guess Windsor Castle is probably a better and less stressful option for us. However, taking a peek at those famous sites in central is very tempting. One more question, if we go to central, we need to head back to the airport around 6pm on a Friday, will the tube be very crowded?

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6. Re: 7-hour layover in London

'...if we go to central, we need to head back to the airport around 6pm on a Friaday, will the tube be very crowded?' Perhaps.

But millions of people use the Underground every day, at peak hours as well as at times where they may be one of two or three people in a car. Those who do not wish to travel with a great many new acquaintances will either travel at another time or use another mode of transport. Choose a Piccadilly line train with the destination of LHR T1,3 and T5 and enjoy the journey.

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7. Re: 7-hour layover in London

6pm on a Friday is peak rush hour. Trains will be packed but its unusual not to be able to get on one, especially without big cases

You'll probably have to stand for a while

dallas
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8. Re: 7-hour layover in London

That is good to know! Thank you!

Surrey, United...
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9. Re: 7-hour layover in London

I would say with counting your travel time on the tube back and fro - you will have 4 hours in total to play with.

what I would do is take the Piccadilly line train from Heathrow straight to Green park station and walk to Buckingham palace :) (if you wish you can also hire Barclays bicycles right outside green park station and cycle you route) from Buckingham palace I would walk/cycle to piccadilly circus and then onto leicester square to trafalgar square and then to embankment river side (for london eye and south bank) and to westminster (houses of parliament) (where you can dock you bicycles back and then from there take the district line train towards earls court and change onto piccadilly line again to heathrow.. 6 pm would be a rush hour but without any luggage you shudnt have much problem (might not get seat to sit tho)

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10. Re: 7-hour layover in London

I second this suggestion. You'll have more time and accomplish more with less time in transit