Todd and I were blessed with the chance to travel to the UK this past July and we had a blast in London before heading to Scotland and Ireland. Here is what we did while we were there. We were exhausted everyday as we fell into bed but we also had so much fun. We felt like locals as we caught the tube and the bus everywhere we went and the people were so kind and helpful everywhere we went. So here it is… How to see the best of London in 5 days!
Day One: Arrive in London in the morning and buy a “LONDON PASS” and a week long unlimited “OYSTER CARD” at the airport upon arrival. We took the tube (underground subway) to the Marble Arch stop to our hotel… the Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott. It was the most amazing hotel and the hospitality was spectacular. After unpacking and getting settled, we took the bus to Kensington Palace and took the tour. Took a self-guided walking tour through Hyde Park. If I was to do it again, I would have done this walking tour (starting with 12 and working my backwards to 7)… that way we could have seen Albert Hall and Memorial, the Serpentine Gallery (one of London’s best-loved art galleries), Diana memorial fountain, Hyde Park, and the Apsley House. After that, we were jet-lagged and pooped so we returned the the hotel for dinner and an early bedtime.
Day Two: Started at Buckingham Palace and then to the Royal Mews (where they house the royal horses and carriages).
Leaving the Royal Mews, we took a taxi to Lambeth and ate at the Garden Cafe at the Lambeth Palace Gardens (it’s inside the little church). The cafe is owned by the cutest lady who has a small menu and it is delicious! We walked the south bank of the Thames (pronounced as tems) toward the Westminister Bridge where you get the best view of Big Ben and the Parliament. After crossing the bridge to the north side, go see Westminster Abbey (closes promptly at 3:30 p.m.) and you can visit the London Eye (although we decided not to). Returned to the hotel and changed clothes for dinner at Dascalzo’s and then to see the play “Wicked”.
Day Three: Took the tube to Wimbledon for the tour and lunch. It’s about a mile walk from the train station. Wimbledon had just finished the week before and this was one of my most favorite things we did on this trip. It’s amazing! We took the tube back into London to the Notting Hill gate stop and walked down Portobello Road in Notting Hill and did a little shopping and just enjoyed the fun colored doors, houses, and shops and people watching. We enjoyed dinner back at the hotel at the JW Marriott Steakhouse… they have a great wedge salad.
Day Four: We did a morning trip to do some genealogy site seeing. My dad’s family is from England and my niece, Whitney, did the research for me to see a couple of churches where my ancestors where christened. Today we went to Harrow on the Hill to see St. Mary’s church. After taking the tube back into London, we went to the British Library, had lunch at a local pub, and then to the British Museum. That night we went to see the play Matilda (great cast of kids but the least favorite of the three plays we saw).
There are some amazing writings here of The Beatles, Jane Austen, Dickens, and more. Also there are original scores from Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. I loved this!
Day Five: We took the tube to the Tower of London and took the tour. Doing this at the beginning of the day is the best and go straight to the building that houses the crown jewels. If you wait until later in the day, the lines get really long. Had lunch near the Tower Bridge and then did the tour of the Tower Bridge. You will see photos of some of the famous bridges in the world and the view is spectacular overlooking the Thames. Back on the tube to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Walking the steps to the top is definitely worth the sore legs… you get a 360 degree view of the entire city. We took the tube to the Oval stop to visit another family ancestral church, the St Marks church in Kennington. We wrapped up our day by eating dinner and seeing the musical “Once”. It came highly recommended from one of our friends and was my favorite of the three plays we saw. Warning: if you hate the “F” word as much as I do, be prepared to hear it about 15 times. That aside, it was still my favorite! We bought our Wicked and Matilda tickets before getting to London and then bought our Once tickets at 1/2 price after we got there.
I loved London and there were only a few things that I wished we would have had time for. I wouldn’t have changed going to see the church’s from my family history but you could substitute a few from my list the replace the time I spent doing that. I would have liked to have seen Harrods, tour the Shakespeare Globe Theater, take a river boat cruise down the Thames, tour Windsor Castle, and I would have spent more time at the British Museum. What a great trip… thanks Todd for taking me and thanks to Whitney, Holly, Lindsay, and Collin whose recommendations were impeccable! Oh yeah… and MIND THE GAP! Don’t know what that is? Found out HERE or ask Holly, she knows!
My summary for the trip:
Day One: Hyde Park walking tour, Kensington Palace,Albert Hall and Memorial, the Serpentine Gallery (one of London’s best-loved art galleries), Diana memorial fountain, and Apsley House.
Day Two: Buckingham Palace, the Royal Mews, lunch at the Garden Cafe and walk the south bank of the Thames, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminister Abbey and Wicked.
Day Three: Wimbledon, Portobello Road in Notting Hill (Portobello Market if there on a Saturday).
Day Four: Genealogy day, British Library (free), the British Library and Matilda. This is a day where you could add a few of the other things from my list.
Day Five: Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Abbey Road (if you’re a Beatles fan), genealogy time, and Once. This is another day where you could add a couple of things from my list.
My list that I didn’t see but will next time: Harrods, tour the Shakespeare Globe Theater, take a river boat cruise down the Thames, and tour Windsor Castle.
London movies that are fun to watch before you go: The Queen, King’s Speech, Young Victoria, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, Cranford Series, Lark Rise to Candleford Series, Notting Hill, What a girl wants, Wimbledon, Run Fat Boy Run, Sherlock Holmes, A Knight’s Tale, Love Actually, About a Boy, and Match Point.
Cheerio and I hope you love London as much as we did!