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Plan a Excellent Week in London


We lately spent one week in London and, as you may think about from a journey planner, I spent a variety of time interested by our London itinerary earlier than we left. One factor that at all times surprises me about planning a visit to London is simply how a lot there’s to do within the metropolis. Whereas 7 days in London looks as if a very long time, you can be shocked by how shortly your time fills up.

With 5 days in London, you’ll have sufficient time to hit all the highlights if you’re sensible about the way you manage your time. Nevertheless, I’d suggest planning per week in London to depart a while for day journeys or specialty excursions as nicely. Based mostly on our personal journey, and my expertise planning a number of London journeys for different households, I’ve put collectively this 7 day London itinerary as your very personal cheat sheet to planning an superior journey.

Questioning how a lot a 7-day journey to London prices? Try my London journey funds information.

Kensington Palace London itinerary 7 days

7 Day London Itinerary with Household

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I’ve created this 7-day itinerary with London for households in thoughts, taking care to not overstuff the times racing from attraction to attraction. Belief me, it’s straightforward to fill each second of the day and nonetheless not see every little thing in London. However since that may make most children depressing, I’ve tried to steadiness out sightseeing with some downtime and included the must-see sights which might be interesting to households with youngsters of all ages.

We visited London with our teen (see extra issues to do in London with teenagers), however this can be a journey that may enchantment to school-age youngsters and tweens as nicely. In the event you do plan on visiting most of the sights and historic sights listed on this London itinerary, you might wish to have a look at investing within the London Cross.

Day One – Arrival

Girl and dad in a red telephone booth in London

If you’re coming from the US, you’ll doubtless arrive fairly early and have a variety of time to kill on not a lot sleep earlier than you’ll be able to verify into your lodge. Ideally, you may guide a room for the evening earlier than so as to verify in as quickly as you arrive, however at a minimal attempt to request early check-in.

We stayed in two totally different areas in central London, which I’ll clarify extra about later. The primary, the Royal Backyard Resort, was close to Kensington Palace and Hyde Park, with quick access to the Tube. The second, the Athenaeum Resort & Residences, was inside straightforward strolling distance to most of central London in Mayfair. For extra choices, additionally take a look at the high family-friendly accommodations in London on TripAdvisor.

In the event you determine on an condo rental, make sure to work out baggage storage with the property managers so that you don’t should lug your baggage round till check-in time.

In the event you do have to kill a while, a hop-on hop-off bus tour is an efficient technique to get a way of town with out expending an excessive amount of vitality.

You may also spend a while enjoyable in Hyde Park. In good climate, you may lease a pedal boat on the Serpentine. Younger youngsters will love the Princess Diana Memorial Playground, or you may take a tour of Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens.

We beloved staying on the Royal Backyard Resort, simply steps away from Kensington Palace. We spent our time till our room was prepared taking within the Princess Diana exhibit at Kensington Palace. That evening we took benefit of the lodge’s meals and flicks bundle to look at a film and order up a room service buffet of enjoyable treats.

No matter you do, don’t overdo it in your first day since you wish to save your vitality for the remainder of the journey. That is your day to get acclimated and hunt down these basic British experiences (like a household picture in a purple phone sales space!)

Day Two – Royal London

Westminster Abbey London

In the event you begin your day early, you may slot in lots of London’s most recognizable sights for a giant “wow” issue in your first full day. Begin off at Westminster Abbey, the coronation church since 1066 and the burial spot for a lot of of England’s most well-known authors, poets, and royalty, together with 17 monarchs. With over 1,000 years of historical past, this has been an vital historic landmark for hundreds of years.

It’s extremely beneficial to guide on-line tickets and ticket gross sales open up two months upfront. In the event you aren’t taking a formal tour, no less than lease an audio information so you may perceive what you’re looking at.

royal horse guards

Relying on how a lot time you spend in Westminster Abbey (allot no less than one hour) and while you began, you could possibly catch the Royal Horse Guard Parade. This generally is a good various or complement to the extra well-known Altering of the Guard (and it’s a lot simpler to get a greater viewing spot.)

The Queen’s Life Guard modifications each day throughout the Horse Guards Parade at 11:00 on weekdays and 10:00 on Sundays. The Horse Guards depart Hyde Park Barracks at 10:30 on weekdays and 9:30 on Sundays to trip to Horse Guards Parade through Hyde Park Nook, Structure Hill, and The Mall on their technique to the guard change ceremony.

The New Guard arrives at Horse Guards Parade at 11:00 am and the ceremony lasts about half an hour. The Outdated Guard leaves Horse Guards Parade at 11:30 and passes Buckingham Palace at 11:45 am. Simply make sure to verify the schedules upfront as they’ll differ by season and depend upon any royal appearances.

From there, stroll all the way down to the River Thames for a boat journey all the way down to the Tower of London. The London Cross will get you into Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, and features a Thames River Cruise, or you may simply purchase a hop-on, hop-off boat tour ticket.

Or, you may take a quicker water taxi utilizing your Oyster Card. An Oyster Card is a transportation move for the Underground Metro. You will get a Customer Cross and cargo it up relying on how a lot you assume you’ll use the Tube throughout your keep. Both means, arriving on the Tower of London through the Thames is paying homage to how prisoners or guests have been delivered to the Tower again within the day and it’s a cool technique to cruise by way of town.

Tower of London

I’d extremely suggest a tour of the Tower of London. I do know the primary time I visited, we primarily went to see the Crown Jewels and nothing else actually caught with me, however there’s a lot historical past there to take in. The Tower of London was constructed within the 1070s by William the Conqueror and has been a jail, royal armory, royal mint, and even a zoo.

For 500 years, the Tower was utilized by monarchs as an opulent palace, however at this time it’s extra well-known for a few of its most notorious prisoners and the mysteries surrounding a few of them. With all of the historical past, you may see why I like to recommend visiting with a information. Strolling round by yourself is okay should you simply wish to see the Crown Jewels or the Ravens, however the rooms are fairly naked with out the tales that fill them.

You possibly can at all times take one of many public Yeoman Warder excursions, however you might find yourself with a gaggle of 40 individuals. We noticed these across the grounds and I think about it will be very exhausting to listen to and see in a gaggle that giant, not to mention ask questions.

What we did was take a half-day tour that included Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London, which labored out nice. If you’re visiting London round Christmas, like we did, you may anticipate actually lengthy strains to get in. Fortunately your information can navigate strains and get you fast-tracked.

In the event you want lunch beforehand, take a stroll over to Leadenhall Market. This coated market is crammed with boutiques, retailers, eating places, and bars, and was even utilized in filming Harry Potter as the doorway to the Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley.

In the event you don’t wish to exit of your means, there’s additionally a small cafe on-site on the Tower of London that serves meat pies and small snacks.

Tower Bridge in London

After spending a few hours exploring the Tower of London, I’d suggest strolling throughout the Tower Bridge and visiting the Tower Bridge Exhibition. Tower Bridge is the long-lasting bridge that many people consider as “London Bridge.” As we speak you may stroll throughout the Bridge on high-level glass walkways for beautiful panoramic views.

You may also go into the magnificent Victorian Engine Rooms and see the engineering magic behind this landmark.

Day Three – Metropolis of London

Buckingham Palace changing of the guard

In the event you didn’t catch the Horse Guard Parade yesterday, be sure you get to Buckingham Palace early for the Altering of the Guard ceremony. Make sure you plan forward and verify the schedule, particularly if you’re visiting within the winter because the ceremony doesn’t occur on daily basis within the winter.

If the ceremony is happening at 11 am, I’d suggest arriving on the Palace NO LATER than 10:30 am (10:15 and even 10 am can be higher to get primo spots by the fence.) Count on massive crowds so control your youngsters and your purses/baggage.

Chances are you’ll wish to deliver a selfie follow take footage above the crowds. You may also collect by the monument throughout from the palace and nonetheless get a great view of the guards as they march in.

After the parade, stroll by way of the Mall over to Trafalgar Sq.. It’s at all times enjoyable to pose with the lions in entrance of Nelson’s Column. You may also cease on the Nationwide Gallery within the Sq. (admission is free!)

Trafalgar square fountains

From right here, stroll by way of Leicester Sq. (you might wish to take a look at the enormous Lego Retailer) and over to Covent Backyard for lunch and a few procuring. Strive Chez Antionette for recent soup, tartine, and charcuterie, or make a reservation at Dishoom for some wonderful Indian meals (you MUST attempt the Black Daal!)

In the event you aren’t too drained, proceed on to St. Paul’s Cathedral. You possibly can go to and see the place Prince Charles and Princess Diana have been married. St. Paul’s is open to guests Monday by way of Saturday. It opens for guests at 8:30 am on most days and 10:00 am on Wednesdays and the final guests can enter at 4:00 pm.

You possibly can purchase tickets proper up till the time of entry, however it’s endorsed that you just buy them upfront. You possibly can even climb to the highest of the Dome for views over London.

Day 4 – South Financial institution

London Eye

Begin your day at both Westminster or Waterloo station and get some good views from the South Financial institution facet of the Westminster Bridge of Huge Ben and the Homes of Parliament.

After catching your picture alternative, head over to the London Eye. I’d extremely suggest reserving upfront so you may skip the road while you arrive.

In the event you don’t wish to fear about arriving at a sure time, you may at all times purchase a Flex ticket that permits you to skip the road at any level throughout the day that you just reserved.

This might be a good suggestion to offer you extra flexibility to work across the climate. After we visited we booked a timed-entry ticket and it was nice to skip the road, however there wasn’t a really massive line anyway as a result of it was wet. The rain positively impeded our views from the highest, but it surely was nonetheless a enjoyable expertise.

Cease for lunch at Black & Blue close to Waterloo or Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe. In the event you can proceed to stroll alongside the waterfront, you’ll move the Millennium Bridge and arrive at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Shakespeare's globe theater from the outside

You possibly can cease in for a guided tour of this reconstructed theater or go to the Tate Fashionable museum.

Finish your exploration of the South Financial institution on the unbelievable Borough Market. Simply be sure you avoid wasting room after lunch to pattern a number of the tasty meals stalls and retailers. Borough Market is the oldest and largest meals market in London, with a deal with high quality meals, sustainable manufacturing, and social interplay. Close by, you may see filming websites for each Harry Potter and Bridget Jones’ Diary.

There are additionally loads of different issues to do on the South Financial institution, however some are actually touristy (e.g. SEA Life Aquarium) and these offers you a extra genuine expertise. When you’ve got some additional time, you might wish to attempt to catch the sundown from the viewing gallery at The Shard, a skyscraper comprised of workplace area, residences, and eating places and bars. The viewing platform is on flooring 68, 69, and 72, nearly twice the peak of every other viewing platform in London, providing 360-degree views for as much as 40 miles.

Day 5 – Museums and extra

British Museum London

There are numerous museums in London (and so many are free!) however one that you may’t miss is the immense British Museum. There are eight million artifacts to see, so it’s best to discover the museum with a information. I ought to acknowledge that many of those artifacts have been taken from their native houses and that’s one thing to discover as you speak to the youngsters about colonialism (and rewatch the museum scene within the Black Panther.)

If you’re visiting London with youngsters, ensure to discover a family-friendly information that may orient the excursions to seize the imaginations and spark the curiosity of youngsters of all ages.

Put aside no less than half a day to discover the museum. Afterward, cease into Hamley’s, the world’s largest toy retailer, to please the youngsters. Or, get pleasure from some ice cream sundaes on the Fortnum & Mason division retailer.

Pouring tea from a shiny pink tea kettle

As we speak can also be a great day to schedule an afternoon tea. In spite of everything, that could be a must-do when in London and there are such a lot of choices which might be kid-friendly. There’s the science-themed afternoon tea on the Ampersand Resort, the Arcane Wizard’s afternoon tea on the Wands and Wizards Exploratorium, and the Charlie and the Chocolate Manufacturing facility Tea at One Aldwych, together with many others.

Day Six – Procuring and Particular Pursuits

Warner Bros Studio Making of Harry Potter

You gained’t run out of issues to do with 1 week in London, however be sure you depart time for the belongings you actually get pleasure from. As main Harry Potter followers, we loved a day trip on the Warner Bros. Studio Making of Harry Potter tour. Between transportation and time on web site, this actually finally ends up taking almost an entire day out of your London itinerary.

Simply ensure should you plan on doing this that you just guide your tickets months upfront as a result of they promote out actually early!

We additionally spent a part of certainly one of our days taking a Harry Potter Black Cab driving tour to see all of the Harry Potter sights in London. See my publish about Harry Potter websites in London for my full assessment of each the Studio Tour (spoiler alert: completely a must-do for Harry Potter followers) and the Black Cab Tour (spoiler: just for true die-hards.)

If you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan, I’ve to say I discovered that museum fairly disappointing. There are such a lot of choices relying in your pursuits from a Beatles strolling tour, Dr. Who strolling tourghost excursions, a road artwork tour, and even a Paddington bear tour.

You might also wish to go to a number of the basic London department shops like Harrod’s or Claridges. And take time to go to the theater. This is also a great day to go to another London sights like Churchill’s Conflict Rooms, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Kew Gardens, or Nottinghill.

In the event you get pleasure from foods and drinks (who doesn’t?), you might wish to have a look at a gin tasting tour or an night SoHo meals tour.

Day Seven – Day Journey

Stonehenge England London day trip

When you’ve got one week in London, you need to have sufficient time to plan no less than someday journey. In style day journeys embrace Windsor Fort, Stonehenge, Oxford, or Tub. You possibly can go to Oxford or Tub as a day journey by practice by yourself, or guide a guided Stonehenge and Tub day journey.

We wished to do one thing on our personal however didn’t wish to drive. So we took a customized day journey with British Excursions to Stonehenge and Oxford. Our driver-guide Michael did a superb job explaining Stonehenge’s fascinating historical past and confirmed us all of the Harry Potter tie-ins at Oxford.

Stonehenge

Situated about 1.5 hours from London, a Stonehenge day journey is among the hottest for households. There’s simply one thing about these mysterious prehistoric stones that fascinates youngsters and adults alike — particularly households like ours which have a particular curiosity in sci-fi and fantasy. In spite of everything, isn’t it enjoyable to think about that these stones have been positioned there by aliens? (However don’t fear, they weren’t.)If you’re visiting Stonehenge by yourself, it would be best to spend a while within the customer heart to grasp its historical past. You’ll park on the customer heart up the highway after which take a shuttle over to the stone circle. You possibly can now not stroll proper up and contact the stones, as boundaries have been erected to protect this historic web site.

Our driver-guide Michael from British Excursions crammed us in on the historical past of Stonehenge on the trip up from London. We don’t actually know the aim of the stones, since they’re 5100 years previous (constructed across the similar time because the pyramids) and pre-date written historical past.

We don’t know what’s particular concerning the space, however now we have to imagine that the entire space was thought of sacred as there’s additionally one other mini Stonehenge close by. The smaller stones are 5,000 lbs. and so they got here from Wales 125 miles away. It’s mind-boggling to think about how the traditional Druids crafted and moved these stones when the wheel hadn’t even been invented but and there was no metallic but to make use of to form the stones. The bigger stones got here from solely 25 miles away however they’re tens of 1000’s of kilos!

Oxford

Oxford is one other nice day journey choose for households. There is sufficient to see that you might spend a weekend in Oxford. This college city is each quaint and wealthy in historical past. In hotter climate, households can get pleasure from taking a punting boat out on the river. However one of many major attracts for us (and different households) is that it was the filming web site for a lot of scenes within the Harry Potter motion pictures. In the event you go to by yourself, you may be part of a Harry Potter strolling tour. However since I advised British Excursions that this was vital to us, our driver information Michael was in a position to focus a lot of our go to on seeing these websites.

Oxford was referred to as Oxenford (the place oxen crossed or forded the Thames to be delivered to market), but it surely turned a spot for research after college students have been thrown out of the Sorbonne in France due to a warfare within the 1200s. They got here to Oxford to check and it grew till it was granted standing as a College. As we speak, the College of Oxford has 38 particular person schools.

There’s a lot to see in Oxford you may actually spend no less than a full day however our Oxford tour began off at New School, the place Michael identified the Cloisters, which have been used for a lot of hallway scenes within the Harry Potter motion pictures. You may also see the tree the place Draco Malfoy was become a ferret.

After lunch we visiting the Nice Corridor at Christchurch School, which was the place they filmed scenes for the eating corridor at Hogwarts. And the staircase was the place McGonagall greeted all the primary 12 months college students within the first film. One thing about it simply makes you wish to placed on a gown, head into the library and begin learning (magic or one thing else!)

Christchurch College Great Hall
Oxford Christchurch Nice Corridor

Oxford is such an exquisite place to go to for these with a literary bent. Well-known authors like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Lewis Carroll and others have frolicked in Oxford and it’s enjoyable to observe of their footsteps.

Visiting each locations was a full day, departing at 8am and returning to our central London lodge by 6pm. In the summertime, it will be mild longer and sights would keep open later. If that was the case, we’d have included a cease within the village of Lacock within the Cotswolds, one other Harry Potter filming web site.

So there you may have it, a London itinerary with 7 days jam-packed full (however not too full) of enjoyable!

Attending to and round London

Girl pointing to an underground map at Notting Hill Gate station

Most airways from the USA will fly into London Heathrow (LHR) airport, though you might discover some that go into London Gatwick (LGW.) If you’re on the lookout for low cost flights to London, you might wish to have a look at low cost airways like Play Airways by way of Iceland, or use miles and factors on JetBlue or American Airways (or different OneWorld Alliance Members.)

We really discovered low cost flights (below $500 per individual simply earlier than Christmas) on Aer Lingus by way of Dublin. Whereas it took a little bit longer, it was price the price financial savings and when you’ve got extra time, you may at all times mix a visit to London with 3 days in Dublin.

In the event you fly into Heathrow, the quickest technique to get to Central London is on the Heathrow Specific practice. This high-frequency practice service offers a 15-minute journey from London Paddington Station to Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3, with an additional six minutes to Terminal 5. A free switch is offered to Terminal 4.

Alternatively, the typical worth of a cab from Heathrow to central London is £90. If you wish to organize a non-public switch as a substitute of ready in line for a cab, it’ll solely value a little bit bit extra.

When you arrive in London, it would be best to discover ways to use the Underground metro to get round. The “Tube” as it’s referred to as in London is straightforward to navigate. The Underground is split into 9 zones and all of central London is roofed by zone 1. There are 11 Tube strains in all, so that you simply have to determine the road you wish to take, the endpoint of the route wherein you’re touring, and the station you wish to get off at.

The Tube fare is determined by how far you journey, the time of day, and the way you pay. The Oyster card or contactless funds are the most affordable technique to pay for single fares. An grownup money fare on the London metro for a single journey in zone 1 is £5.50. The identical Tube fare with a Customer Oyster card, Oyster card or contactless cost card is £2.40. 

A Customer Oyster Card is a smartcard that permits you to pay for journeys on the bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, River Bus, and most Nationwide Rail companies in London. You set cash in your Customer Oyster card and use it to pay as you go. You should purchase the Customer Oyster Card earlier than you journey and will probably be delivered to your house and able to use while you arrive.

The place to Keep in London with Youngsters

Observe: We acquired a media bundle on the Royal Backyard Resort and hosted keep on the Athenaeum, all opinions are my very own.

Statue and Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace

Royal Backyard Resort

The Royal Backyard Resort is situated simply outdoors of Kensington Gardens, nestled between Hyde Park and Millionaires Row on a sought-after piece of actual property on Kensington Street. With some rooms overlooking the park, the placement actually presents the very best of each worlds.

It’s handy to all main sights (Tower of London, London Eye, and so forth.) with the Kensington Excessive Avenue tube station only a five-minute stroll from the lodge. But you even have the peaceable views of the park with quick access to enjoyable and play. It’s a five-minute stroll to Kensington Palace and simply 10 minutes to the Princess Diana Memorial playground. The Royal Backyard lodge even presents loaner scooters to households that wish to spend time having fun with the park!

The Royal Backyard Resort décor has the texture of an upscale enterprise lodge – clear and fashionable and not using a ton of persona. We stayed in an Government Room and it was surprisingly spacious for the three of us. I didn’t have an opportunity to tour different rooms however the Government Room with a king-sized mattress and full pullout couch mattress is loads of room for a household of 4 with two babies or a household of three with a teen.

The toilet was additionally fairly giant with each a bathtub and stand-up bathe. After all, it at all times makes me completely satisfied when a lodge presents a heated towel rack, robes, and slippers – particularly after I wish to heat up after a cold, moist day exploring London. Among the different luxe perks that I appreciated have been the turndown service with complimentary bottled water, complimentary shoe shine, and no extra cost for breakfast room service – this actually helped us get out the door on time within the mornings!

Since we stayed for 4 nights, we had time to get pleasure from all three of the Royal Backyard Resort’s eating places. The child-friendly Park Terrace restaurant presents fairly views and a beneficiant breakfast buffet (so it pays to guide a bundle that features free breakfast), in addition to choices for lunch and tea. Bertie’s Bar presents mild bites, good for while you want just a bit snack after indulging at excessive tea. For a splurge, the Min Jiang restaurant on the tenth flooring presents genuine Chinese language delicacies with stunning views over Hyde Park.

Athenaeum Resort & Residences

Bedroom bed and chairs at the Athenaeum hotel and residences

For the latter a part of our keep, we converted to the Athenaeum Resort & Residences, on Piccadilly within the Mayfair neighborhood. This can be a nice location within the coronary heart of London, simply a few minutes’ stroll to the Inexperienced Park tube station. Buckingham Palace, Fortnum & Mason division retailer, Hamley’s toy retailer, and Trafalgar Sq. are all inside a five-to-ten-minute stroll.

The Athenaeum actually prides itself on making you are feeling at house. Each time we walked in, it was “Welcome house Mrs. Gruber” and after we left “Have a great day Mrs. Gruber.” The deluxe rooms are a bit tight for a household of three when you deliver within the rollaway mattress, however the Athenaeum additionally presents household rooms and luxurious serviced residences with fully-equipped kitchenettes.

The design and decor are luxurious and trendy, whereas nonetheless feeling comfy and child-friendly. The foyer is small however a comfy spot to get pleasure from a cup of tea and watch the foot site visitors alongside Piccadilly. It was particularly stunning all decked out in its Christmas finery.

Simply off the foyer is 116 on the Athenaeum, that includes native produce from impartial farmers throughout the UK for a contemporary tackle basic British dishes. We had dinner on the restaurant on our second evening and loved the braised venison shoulder, Dingley Dell bacon chop with bubble and squeak, and the parsnip and cider soup. For pickier eaters, there’s additionally a youngsters’s menu.

Arthur the teddy bear and a note at the athenaeum hotel

Upstairs, it was all about consolation. Our deluxe room was cozy and the lavatory was additionally a lot smaller than the family-sized toilet on the Royal Backyard, however the decor and touches have been all about fashionable luxurious. You couldn’t beat our views over Inexperienced Park and, for overlooking Piccadilly, the room was surprisingly quiet.

The Athenaeum additionally offers the facilities you’ll anticipate from a luxurious lodge — robes, slippers, turn-down service, a espresso maker, and a mini-fridge with free espresso, tea, milk, juice, and water. With such luxurious comforts, stand-out service, and a handy location, I’d have beloved to remain even longer on the Athenaeum.

On the lookout for extra info?

If you’re planning a visit to London, make sure to additionally take a look at these posts:

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Planning London travel? Use this 7 day London itinerary to figure out where to stay, where to eat, and things to do in the city. #london

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