Archive | January, 2014

London {3 Day Itinerary}

1 Jan

During our trip to Europe in October of 2013, my husband Andrew and I visited London, Paris, Cinque Terre, and Rome.  Months of planning went into our trip, especially concerning what we were actually going to do while we were visiting.  There’s so much to choose from!  Because there’s an endless array sights to see and things to do, I highly recommend planning your days before you arrive.  As first-time visitors, we wanted to utilize our time to the fullest, and make sure we didn’t miss something important.  I know that some people advocate the “wander and you’ll have more fun” method, but for us, we were less stressed knowing that we didn’t need to figure-out what to do.  And our itineraries were designed with wiggle-room and down time, so that we could do some impromptu things, and not get exhausted.  I hope the following is very helpful as you’re planning your own trip!  Warning: our itineraries are very active, mostly based around walking.  Expect to be on your feet for most of the day!

3 Days in London

TIPS FOR LONDON

  • Some people don’t recommend the Heathrow Express because it’s spendy and avoidable {you can take the Tube from Heathrow}.  However, as first-time tourists, we found it worth the convenience.  If you land at Heathrow Airport, the Express is a train that goes straight into London, without any stops or connections {unlike the Tube}.  We departed at Paddington Station, just 6 blocks from where we were staying.  It was worth it for us!
  • Buy a National Rail Pass to take advantage of the 2-4-1 deals at tourist attractions.  If you buy this specific train ticket for the Tube {you’re going to be buying Tube tickets anyway}, you’ll be able to buy 2-for-1 tickets at a lot of the landmarks you’ll be visiting.  It’s a better deal then “The London Pass”.
  • Download the London Tube app.  You’ll be able to chart all of your Tube directions, and it’s really easy to read and follow.  Don’t bother charting your course on a paper map when you can just punch in your destination and let the app do the rest of the work!
  • 5 general tips for traveling Europe.

DAY ONE

Andrew and I arrived in London after an all night flight from the States.  We had an entire day ahead of us, but we were tired from sleeping on a plane, and the huge time change.  It really screws with your body!  Don’t underestimate the exhaustion that comes along with hopping forward 8 hours.  Because we knew our first day would mostly be orienting ourselves and checking-in to our flat {rented through Airbnb, I highly recommend it!}, we purposefully planned to do some low-key sight seeing.  That’s why we started with…

These low-key sights were the perfect way to start our stay.  We experienced walking around London, got some fresh air to keep us awake, and we were able to move at our own pace.  Plus you can royal watch at Kensington Palace for Will, Kate, and baby George!

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{walking through Hyde Park}

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{Queen Victoria statue in front of Kensington Palace}

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{Kensington Palace, Hyde Park}

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{Sunken Garden Pond, Kensington Palace, Hyde Park}

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{The Albert Memorial, Hyde Park}

DAY TWO

Get your walking shoes on!  We started our day by visiting…

Both of these sights fall into the 2-for-1 deals that you’ll receive by buying a National Rail Pass, so take advantage of that perk and hit them up first.  The Tower tour lasted a couple hours, so we got there right at opening, so that we were out by lunch.  We passed Tower Bridge as we grabbed some fish and chips on our way to St. Paul’s Cathedral, where we spent another couple of hours.  By the time afternoon rolled around, we’d been walking and standing for hours, so we unwound by strolling along the Thames to see these sights:

  • London Eye
  • Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament
  • Buckingham Palace
  • 10 Downing Street
  • St. James Park
  • Wellington Arch

All of the sights above are places we walked by, but didn’t stop to experience.  They’re iconic picture spots, and close enough together to walk from one to the other.

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{Tower Bridge}

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{St. Paul’s Cathedral}

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{Parliament & Big Ben}

DAY THREE

Due to the time change and our exhausting day yesterday, this day was probably the hardest on our bodies.  But we forged ahead, because day three brought us to…

The reason we grouped these together?  Westminster Abbey doesn’t fall into the 2-for-1 deals, so you’re going to have to pay full-price for that visit.  But the public London museums, like the National Gallery and the British Museum, offer free admission!  So this day was pretty much a wash in terms of paying for tickets.  Westminster Abbey was amazing–and not exactly what I expected.  After watching the royal wedding on TV a few years ago, it’s funny to realize that the space is actually pretty darn cramped.  There are tombs and monuments and statues everywhere…literally, in EVERY CORNER.  It’s a crowded, claustrophobic space {to say the least}, and that’s not the sense you get when watching a wedding unfold on TV.  But it was amazingly beautiful, and incredibly cool to see the tomb of Queen Elizabeth I.

The National Gallery was like walking through an art history textbook.  You’ll feel like that a lot while touring Europe, but there’s no other way to describe it.  We passed through Convent Garden on our way to the British Museum.  Convent Garden is trendy, quirky, and full of interesting shops to check-out.  We sat in The White Hart Pub for a while, the oldest licensed premise in London {since 1216!}.  It’s on Drury Lane, which might sound familiar 🙂  Andrew is a lover all things Egypt and ancient, so we stopped by the British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian artifacts, and other antiquities.

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{Westminster Abbey}

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{Sightseeing in London!}

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{The British Museum}

LEAVING LONDON

On our fourth day in London, we departed from St. Pancras Station to catch the Chunnel over to Paris.  Of course, we detoured a bit to swing by King’s Cross Station where we took of picture of Platform 9 3/4.  It’s in front of a Harry Potter merchandise store, and the queue to take a picture was very long, but it was fun to see!

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{Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station, London}

That sums up London!  Please feel free to leave a comment or email me if you have further questions.  I’m happy to help!

Cheers!

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