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Old 05-03-2011, 10:19 AM   #1
sayhello
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Talking London "Must Do's"

OK, so I'm getting to the point in my planning (for my 3 days in London pre-Knights & Lights end of August/start of September) that I have WAY too many options and things I want to do! It's making it really hard to start really making any arrangements, since I really want to do EVERYTHING! (I already have my hotel room, but that's about it!)

I'm planning on spending one day at Hampton Court Palace (although I really have no idea if this is a couple of hours, or a half-day, or a full-day kind of thing). And I must go to St. Paul's cathedral, as we don't go inside of it as a part of the ABD.

So give me your suggestions! Things that I *MUST DO* in London! And please give me details of *why* it's a Must Do! If it helps any, I will be staying near Waterloo station, so transportation shouldn't be a big issue.

Thanks for any help you can give me!!!!

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Old 05-03-2011, 10:29 AM   #2
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We lived in England for three years (military) and some of my favs in London were:

seeing a show on the West End!! I saw so many shows and all were amazing There is a little booth in Piccadilly Circle to get cheaper tickets so you could always pop by there one night to see what they have (we saw Sister Act this way, though all our other shows we had bought tickets ahead of time). We saw Wicked, Phantom, Mama Mia *twice*, Hairspray and Sister Act. All were great!

We also did the London Zoo and that was a lot of fun! Oh and London Eye (the big ferris wheel thing)...

The museums ... we went to a few though I cannot remember which ones, but it was neat.

Also something we did that was SO fun ... we toured Buckingham Palace! In the summer when the queen is gone, they do tours of the palace and it was really interesting. Something I will never forget! Here is some info ... http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/de...=article&ID=30

Have a great time!!!
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Old 05-03-2011, 12:07 PM   #3
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Do visit the Tower--you will need about a half day there. There is a guided tour that is provided by the Beefeaters (they are in a Tudor-era uniform), and you get to see a lot of fascinating things including Henry VIII's armour, and the Crown Jewels on display. When we toured, to provide security for the jewels, we were warned not to take any pictures--to prove they meant it seriously, you could see a net just loaded with confiscated cameras taken from those who took pictures.
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Old 05-03-2011, 12:14 PM   #4
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Madame Tussaud's wax musuem is a must do, I know they are in a lot of cities now but the one in London is awesome. You'd swear some of the figures are going to start talking to you. Also I second Gray that the London Eye is well worth doing. Great panoramic views of the city and just an amazing experience. One other thing to do is be sure to have some of the fantastic English bacon for breakfast.
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Old 05-03-2011, 12:51 PM   #5
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I'm planning for July trip

Start at:

http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/desti.../brit_menu.htm

You'll also need to learn about the Oyster card, Heathrow Express, SIM cards, Real Ale, etc...

I'm planning a 1-week family trip in July. I've already done lot's of reseach, including exchanging letter with the Tower of London for tickets to the Ceremony of the Keys.

This will be my 4th trip to London. The last trip was in '97. This time we will be traveling with my daughter, 13.


-Paul
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Old 05-03-2011, 02:06 PM   #6
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I live just on the outskirts of London and work opposite Hampton Court Palace The Palace is beautiful, you can stay a couple of hours or make a day of it, there's glorious gardens too. There's some traditional pubs in Hampton Court if you fancy a pint of beer.

In London itself definitely do the Tower of London (and Ceremony of the Keys if you're able to get tickets), it's really stunning, so much history. Another great thing to visit (and it's free) is Borough Market, it's foodie heaven but only opens on certain days to the public, details here. I really enjoy looking around Fortnum & Masons too and they serve a traditional afternoon tea (don't both with the Ritz, way too commercialised). For museums head to The British Museum, it is absolutely amazing, the mummies are the no. 1 attraction there

Covent Garden is very touristy and nice to look around but I would avoid the restaurants as they really do cash in on tourists.

Westminster Abbey is lovely too.

There's so much to see and do in London, have fun whatever you decide to do
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Old 05-03-2011, 03:20 PM   #7
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Hampton Court: we trained out there and back and saw most of it in about 6 hours--but you could spend more time there

Tower: part of the ABD tour, as is Westminster Abbey

Maybe try to get inside Parliament--I've never been able to get inside (I understand it is open every now and then)

If you can swing a day away to see Bath and Stonehenge, definately worth it (Via Tours, I think, goes there--they have a few sunrise tours to Stonehenge too)

Tate Modern is walkable from St. Paul's (across the new bridge)--but definately see the British Museum if able!
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Old 05-04-2011, 10:13 AM   #8
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Don't know if it's part of the ABD itinerary, but the Churchill War Cabinet rooms were fascinating. My kids (12 & 8) were even very intrigued by that. We did the audio tour in about 90 minutes or so. It is right by Parliament & the Abbey.

We also did Hampton Court palace and loved it.

Another day trip we really enjoyed that isn't "mainstream" was Leeds Castle. It is a short train trip and taxi out there, and just beautiful. They have a super cool garden maze - my youngest found his way to the center in about 15 minutes and then had to vector in my DH & I. If he wasn't there helping from the "tower" in the middle, I think we'd still be there wandering in the hedges! They also did a falconry demonstration. Gorgeous grounds, and, being from Virginia, we were interested to learn about the ties between Leeds & various cities/counties here in the VA/MD area - Culpeper and Faixfax County!
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Old 05-04-2011, 10:46 AM   #9
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All of the above suggestions are fantastic. London is really a place you cannot do in a day or two, but need more like 2 or 3 weeks to get it all in. Anyway, one thing I have not seen mentioned is that if you are a history buff at all, then I would suggest a trip to the Imperial War Museum. I believe if you get there after 4 pm(?) you can get in for half price.
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Old 05-04-2011, 12:47 PM   #10
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Wow, this thread is making me think Knights & Lights is high on my list of things to do! Have a fantastic time, sayhello!!
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Old 05-04-2011, 01:09 PM   #11
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When we did Hampton Court, we were there about 6 hours, including lunch. This was plenty of time to see everything inside, but we felt rushed at the end and would have enjoyed more time walking around the beautiful grounds. The audio tour is quite extensive and takes time to listen to all of it. If you're more inclined to take a quick glance and move on, you won't need as much time.

We did everything we wanted to at the Tower in a morning (there right when they opened) and were ready to leave after lunch.

We spent an entire Sunday in the British museum and still hadn't seen all we wanted to when they kicked us out.

So excited for you - it's going to be a great trip!
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Old 05-04-2011, 02:05 PM   #12
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OK - well we are British but we go to London 2 or three times a year as 'tourists'. We go for up to a week at a time (only 2 nights though in a months time). We have been going for a while - we live a couple of hours away by train and trust me, the attractions would take you much much longer than the suggested 2/3 weeks to get around.

Our favourite things to do include :

London Zoo - hope to go again end May - it's worth it to walk through Regents Park when all the flowers are out.

Speaking of parks, we love to walk through Hyde Park - to see the Diana fountain (free attraction) or the adjacent St James Park.

Other free attractions included the museums - been to a few - favourite free one is Natural History Museum - wasn't so entralled with the British Musem - but maybe that's just me. Also love the Imperial War Museum - this is FREE - they only charge for special events.

Also been to Tussauds (good but very very crowded) go first thing in the morning - always discount vouchers about for this one. Right across the street is a little museum with a old style British 'bobby' stood outside - it's 10b (is that the right number?) Baker Street - Sherlock Holmes house (not really he was fictional but they've decked out the house like the books) - it's also right by the entrance to REgent Park (for the zoo)

Tower of London was OK to see once.

Agree with the shows - we love Wicked - seen 3 times - we've also booked in advance but you can go the booth that's been mentioned in Leicester Square - go early and you might score front row seats for as little as £25.

You can go on a Ghost Walk or a Jack the Ripper walk - ran by UK TV celebrity Richard Jones - both were excellent and a great way to spend an evening. We are also doing a Harry Potter walking tour - seeing the sights in the books - it's a daytime tour and we have this planned for a months time.

We love the London Dungeons - gruesome but great fun and not far from Waterloo.

We also went on a sightseeing bus tour last time (January) but it was freezing - you'll have better luck in August.

If you have only got 3 days though, I wouldnt stray too far from Central London - theres loads to do there - I think Hampton Court is a bit of a way off and that's only 35 mins by train from Waterloo. I could go on about Windsor Castle and theme parks reachable by train but I wouldnt recommend in a short trip - you'll just have to go back again. I probably missed loads out anyway - do a search on London Pass if you're planning to do lots of attractions and see if that's worth buying.
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Old 05-04-2011, 02:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gray2402 View Post
We lived in England for three years (military) and some of my favs in London were:

seeing a show on the West End!! I saw so many shows and all were amazing There is a little booth in Piccadilly Circle to get cheaper tickets so you could always pop by there one night to see what they have (we saw Sister Act this way, though all our other shows we had bought tickets ahead of time). We saw Wicked, Phantom, Mama Mia *twice*, Hairspray and Sister Act. All were great!

We also did the London Zoo and that was a lot of fun! Oh and London Eye (the big ferris wheel thing)...

The museums ... we went to a few though I cannot remember which ones, but it was neat.

Also something we did that was SO fun ... we toured Buckingham Palace! In the summer when the queen is gone, they do tours of the palace and it was really interesting. Something I will never forget! Here is some info ... http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/de...=article&ID=30

Have a great time!!!
The ABD does go see a show in the West End (Lion King), but I'll check out the discount tickets, that would be a nice thing to do in the evening! And I do love Zoos. I assume the London one is pretty old? I'll check it out!

Thanks for the link to the Buckingham Palace tours! Some of those look really cool. I'll definitely check them out. Too bad that evening one isn't available the days I'll be in London on my own, or the day we have an evening free.

Thanks!
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Old 05-04-2011, 02:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gigi22 View Post
Do visit the Tower--you will need about a half day there. There is a guided tour that is provided by the Beefeaters (they are in a Tudor-era uniform), and you get to see a lot of fascinating things including Henry VIII's armour, and the Crown Jewels on display. When we toured, to provide security for the jewels, we were warned not to take any pictures--to prove they meant it seriously, you could see a net just loaded with confiscated cameras taken from those who took pictures.
The Tower of London is included in the ABD tour. I'm really looking forward to that. And I would also like to do that nighttime tour they have. Good to know they're serious about the camera thing. They were pretty serious about no pictures in the Sistine Chapel, too!

Thanks!
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Also check out my ABD/DCL Mediterranean Magic Trip Report! (2010)
NOW POSTING! My DIS Unplugged London/Paris/Disneyland Paris Trip Report! (2011)
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Old 05-04-2011, 02:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddG View Post
Madame Tussaud's wax musuem is a must do, I know they are in a lot of cities now but the one in London is awesome. You'd swear some of the figures are going to start talking to you. Also I second Gray that the London Eye is well worth doing. Great panoramic views of the city and just an amazing experience. One other thing to do is be sure to have some of the fantastic English bacon for breakfast.
It's the original Madame Tussaud's. Thanks for the reminder! I definitely will add that to my Must Do list! And for sure the London Eye!

Any place in particular you suggest I get some of that fantastic English bacon? Although I am staying at a B&B in Winchester before heading to London. I imagine I could get some of it there!

Thanks!
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My Taming the Last Frontier ABD Alaska Trip Report! (2009)! 7 parts, pictures, stories, & more impressions!
Also check out my ABD/DCL Mediterranean Magic Trip Report! (2010)
NOW POSTING! My DIS Unplugged London/Paris/Disneyland Paris Trip Report! (2011)
Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)
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