Has anyone been to London lately? Travel advice needed
Post ReplyPost New TopicPosted 2/5/2013 by JRussell in NSBR Board
 

JRussell
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Posted: 2/5/2013 7:12:34 AM
We will be in London this summer for about 4 days and then we'll take the train to Paris. I haven't been to London since the '80s so I have questions.

I'm traveling with 2 teens and want to be as cost effective as possible. Is the Travelcard for zones 1-3 the best bet for traveling? We will probably be staying in the Kensington area. We will be taking the tube from Heathrow so do we buy a zone 1-3 card with an extension?

The kids want to go to the Warner Bros Studio to the Harry Potter studios in Watford. This is a separate train altogether, correct?

What are the best sites to see? I'm thinking that my 13 yr old would love the Tower of London.

Is it worth booking a tour of staterooms in Buckingham Palace or is a visit to the main gates and a photo enough? This will be in August.

What about visiting Parliament? There is also a bus trip to Stonehenge and Bath.

So much to do but I'd like to pick a few exceptional places per day in the same area so they don't get overwhelmed.

Also, do you think the London card worth it? I need to figure out where we are going and the costs

TIA


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dottyscrapper
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Posted: 2/5/2013 7:57:11 AM

We will be taking the tube from Heathrow so do we buy a zone 1-3 card with an extension?



Heathrow is in zone 6 of the London Underground.

travel info from Heathrow to central London


I'm traveling with 2 teens and want to be as cost effective as possible. Is the Travelcard for zones 1-3 the best bet for traveling?


Transport for London link


The kids want to go to the Warner Bros Studio to the Harry Potter studios in Watford. This is a separate train altogether, correct?



Yes. I would recommend pre-booking otherwise you won't get in.

link


What are the best sites to see? I'm thinking that my 13 yr old would love the Tower of London.



I think the Tower is a must for everyone

link to other attractions that you might find interesting


Is it worth booking a tour of staterooms in Buckingham Palace or is a visit to the main gates and a photo enough? This will be in August.




Not sure about the teens depends on their interest but I'm sure you would find it very interesting. More so this year as there's an exhibition of the Coronation included.

Pre-booking is a must.

booking link



What about visiting Parliament? There is also a bus trip to Stonehenge and Bath.




Yes you can visit inside Parliament too, well worth it and very interesting. Parliament won't be sitting in August but the building itself is facinating.

again it need to be pre-booked

Stonehenge & Bath.....although very interesting and Bath is a beautiful city but if you're only in London for a short time I wouldn't bother as there is too much to see in London. Both are quite a distance from London.



So much to do but I'd like to pick a few exceptional places per day in the same area so they don't get overwhelmed.

Also, do you think the London card worth it? I need to figure out where we are going and the costs



You'll find a lot of info in the links I've given above. I hope it helps to make you visit to London a really memorable one and that you have a super time


Marzbar71
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Posted: 2/5/2013 8:22:48 AM
I was there a little over a year ago and stayed in West Kensington - which was in Zone 2. We bought a Zone 1 and 2 pass which got us everywhere we wanted to go and then just bought one time extensions for the trip to/from Heathrow.


Marzee

JRussell
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Posted: 2/5/2013 10:26:45 AM
Great advice, thanks so much.

I'm going to book Harry Potter as soon as the travel agent calls confirming our hotel booking. We have our flights

I always buy tickets online, well in advance. Skip the line tickets are so valuable.


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Roundtwo
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Posted: 2/5/2013 10:53:19 AM
Dottyscrapper has you covered but I just wanted to add my two cents on the tour of the Palace. I have done the tour a few times and it is really quite neat. You will be given your own headset and you can wander through at your own pace so if someone is not really interested in a particular section, it is easy enough to move through a little quicker.

The end of the tour is out the back of the palace and while you can't wander the grounds like you can at the Garden Parties, it is still a beautiful stroll along the small lake and out the back gate.

A neat place for lunch while in London is in the Crypt at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square. The price is really reasonable and the food is really good. There is also a nice gift shop with some very different items including some brass rubbings.

Enjoy your trip!!







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Posted: 2/5/2013 10:56:51 AM
Went last summer with my sister and 5 kids aged 11-16. We were very surprised that our tour of the Buckingham Palace staterooms was unanimously the kids favorite place that we visited. We ended up wishing we'd booked the additional tour of the kitchen, garden and coach house.

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Posted: 2/5/2013 11:12:10 AM
The Tower of London is not to be missed!

I also loved Westminster Abbey and Stonehenge, but I'm a huge history buff.

UkSue
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Posted: 2/5/2013 11:35:52 AM
You can go to the top of the Shard now, and get a fabulous view across London. My son loves the cable car across the thames and the Duck tours, which uses amphibious vehicles. It's a good time to visit as hopefully it will be a little warmer.

For your own enjoyment, try to go to Liberty store and maybe to covent garden- as there are street artists I am sure your children would enjoy that too!

Be careful with pricing in some of the restaurants and when buying souvenirs . It disgusts me how some tourists get ripped off by some of the venders overcharging and giving the wrong change.

Have fun in my home city!


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JRussell
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Posted: 2/5/2013 11:44:34 AM
thanks!

One more question....is there a benefit to having the Oyster Visitor card vs the Travel Card? Can I buy an Oyster card in advance and use it for our journey from Heathrow to London downtown via the tube?

SuzastampinCTMH
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Posted: 2/5/2013 12:21:49 PM
Don't miss the London eye and a boat ride down the Thames. We made our reservations online, months in advance, as we wanted to start the right up in daylight and then came down as the lights came on in the city. Beautiful!



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Posted: 2/5/2013 1:01:25 PM
I'm totally watching your answers and may have to ask you how it went afterwards! We are planning to go to London and Dublin with Gage when he graduates (2015). So hearing the ideas about teens and London will really help! We plan to take in a soccer game and a concert. We have some family there so we will be doing some visiting as well.
I hope you have a blast!! I'll be watching for your updates- when are you planning your trip?



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JRussell
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Posted: 2/5/2013 1:39:29 PM
We leave July 30 for 9 days. We will also be taking the train to Paris for 4 nights and then fly from Paris back to Toronto.

We had another much, longer vacation planned for this summer but it just wasn't working out in terms of timing and dh's holidays.

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Posted: 2/5/2013 2:08:27 PM
I didn't read all the posts but I would think teens might enjoy going to Greenwich. You can reach it via a train ride. I think they call it the light rail. It was more like the El here in Chicago.

The museum at the top of the hill was pretty neat and being able to stand on the Prime Meridian was also kind of cool. Plus walking-up the hill and through the park to top was nice. I found it pleasant way to be outside and enjoy the day while still seeing something "important" to the area.

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Posted: 2/5/2013 2:23:14 PM
DH and I will have one afternoon and one full day there this June. SO unhappy that we don't have two full days, but he wants as much time as possible in Africa. We're trying to figure out what to do.

This is our third trip and we did the usual stuff the first two times. The only thing in London we want to see that we haven't is the Churchill War Rooms. But he wants to take the train out of the city. On our last trip, we were going to go to Bath but had to cancel. So it's stay in and ride the buses, which we love to do, or take the train out.

Have fun! It's one of my favorite cities, if not the favorite.


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Posted: 2/5/2013 2:32:57 PM
DH and I took our then 16 yo DD to London summer of 2011. We were there for 3 days then took the train to Paris for 3 days. We went at the beginning of June.

My DD really enjoyed the Tower of London. She complained about having to wait in line to see "some church"(Westminister Abby), but once inside she really enjoyed looking for all the famous people buried in there. She really wanted to see a show in London so we saw Shrek the Musical. She loved walking over all the different bridges and through Picadilly Circus.

She like riding the Eye. We were able to time it to ride during sunset. We also took the boat to Greenwich which she enjoyed, but not so much the walk up the hill. She liked trying Pub food - mushy peas, bangers and mash, fish and chips. She also got a kick out of every time she was told to mind the gap riding the tube.

We went to the British Museum and it was overwhelming for her. She wanted to see Buckingham Palace, but it wasn't open to the public when we visited.

I'll be watching this thread. DH and I are going back at the end of September for 4 days.


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dottyscrapper
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Posted: 2/5/2013 2:55:32 PM

One more question....is there a benefit to having the Oyster Visitor card vs the Travel Card? Can I buy an Oyster card in advance and use it for our journey from Heathrow to London downtown via the tube?



The day travel card would be better for the teens as there isn't a visitors oyster card for children ( under 16). It depends really how many journeys you are going to be making daily to warrant the cost of a day travel card as it's unlimited travel.You can get a day one or a 7 day one. Whereas you have to pre load an oyster card so you need some idea of how many journeys you are going to make with it to compare the cost.
You can use the oyster card from Heathrow to central London provided you use the underground ( Piccadilly line)

Here's a link to the comparisons for the two tickets. Don't forget that there's two prices for a travel card - anytime travel and off peak restricted ( no travel during the rush hour...before 9.30am etc)

ticket comparison





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Posted: 2/5/2013 3:05:27 PM
I keep reading this thread and it's making me homesick, even though I was just an ex-pat and it really wasn't my hometown...

Anyway, the boat trip to Greenwich is a good deal - you can go by River Bus and even though it really isn't a tour, the crew gives a good commentary along the way. Once at Greenwich, you can check out the Camera Obscura, the Prime Meridian, the Painted Hall (another one of Wren's designs) and a statue of General Wolfe.

If your kids like history at all then they will probably really like a visit to the Churchill War Room that Jen mentioned - I found it so incredible that they just went home when the war ended and left things pretty much as they were that day in the Cabinet War Room. Definitely worth a visit.

I also really liked visiting Fortnum and Mason - you have to go to Harrods just to see the place of course, but Fortnum and Mason was my favourite place to browse and even occasionally buy a thing or two. Their window displays are really cool too.








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JRussell
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Posted: 2/5/2013 3:58:48 PM
I just found info about a free walking tour by Sandemans New Europe-London. It receives excellent reviews on Trip Advisor. Free tours mean that you pay a tip at the end. This hits the main sites downtown.


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Posted: 2/5/2013 4:43:06 PM
I'm English but live in MI. We spent 5 days in London last August. We loved the Tower of London although the line to see the Crown Jewels was ridiculously long. There is a Wetherspoon's pub just opposite the tube station which is great value and sells typical British 'pub grub' and has a great view of Tower Bridge.
We also did a self guided Harry Potter walking tour which took us through Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Scotland Yard, etc. you can download and print it before you go and do as much or as little as you like. We loved it.
We didn't do the London Eye but we've done it before and would recommend it. Book ahead though!
We saw Shrek the Musical and enjoyed it. It's right near Coventry Garden so that's a great place to look around.
We thought about going to Leavesden Studios but it was sold out in advance. It's also way out of central London.
I would suggest staying in central London for all four days. There is more than enough to do without venturing out to Stonehenge, etc.


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