England: London: Itineraries: A weekend in London: Suggested Itinerary
A weekend in London: Suggested Itinerary
An Indagare member recently traveled to London with her two young children and wanted them to experience all the highlights of the capital in one weekend. London is not designed for the time-poor; its sheer size and traffic clogged roads making it difficult to cover even the top-five attractions. However, this itinerary centers each day in a different neighborhood, taking in the attractions that are within walking distance or a short taxi ride.
DAY 1: SOUTHBANK
As an introduction to the city it doesn’t get much better than on the London Eye. Positioned on the bank of the river Thames, you will get a sense of the scale of the city, as well as a peek into the gardens of Downing Street. There are tickets available online that allow you skip the queue.
If you’re visiting the Tate Modern stop for lunch at the Tate Modern Café. Otherwise, there are many (good) chain restaurants all along the Southbank.
After lunch set your own pace with a walk around the Tate Modern, many of the floors are free and a lot of the exhibitions are interactive displays that will entertain children. To view What’s On for families at the Tate Modern, visit their site at: www.tate.org.
A great activity that will allow you to mix an adult art tour with something that kids love is to take the Tate-to-Tate Boat. The 220-seat catamaran—with exterior and interior designs by artist Damien Hirst—ferries passengers between Tate Modern and Tate Britain, in Pimlico. The boat runs every forty minutes.
Optional: London Aquarium Recently reopened after a big renovation and firm favorite with children of all ages.
DAY 2: THE MALL, HYDE PARK, SOUTH KENSINGTON
Buckingham Palace is closed to the public all year except from August to September when the Queen is away and the palace is open to the public. But you can see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace most days at 11.30 a.m. Check this month’s schedule.
Apsley’s at The Lanesborough is perhaps too formal for very young children but a special experience in a uniquely English establishment. For something more casual try Pizza on the Park (11 – 13 Knightsbridge) by Hyde Park Corner
After lunch enter Hyde Park at the South East corner and walk up Serpentine Road along the Serpentine (the famous lake). You can hire pedal boats or just have a coffee at the Serpentine Café. Pop into the Serpentine Gallery and check out the latest exhibition or keep walking to the round pond (beware the swans!) then onto Kensington Palace, which was home to Princess Diana. It is open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily and you shouldn’t miss the exhibition of Diana’s dresses, the King’s Gallery and tea at the Orangery.
Exiting Kensington Park Gardens, walk south down Exhibition Row and spend the afternoon in the Science Museum (with IMAX), Natural History Museum or the Victoria and Albert Museum.
DAY 3: REGENTS PARK and LONDON BRIDGE
There is a different pace to Regent’s Park and you are far more likely to see young families and arty twenty-somethings that crowds of tourists. If weather permits walk from the Boating Lake in the south west corner of the park up to London Zoo at the center of the northern end. From here you can walk up to Primrose Hill where there are fantastic views across the city.
Have lunch nearby at Gordon Ramsay’s York & Albany or Odette’s (130 Primrose Hill Studios)
Jump in a taxi and head South East to the London Dungeons, a great place for children with fun and eerie reenactments from London’s past.
OTHER OPTIONS: TOURS
The National Gallery, A World of Stories (Family Walk), 2 hours
As one of the greatest collections of western art in the world, the National Gallery is a wonderful repository of stories from the magical to the everyday, from the epic to the tale, from the imaginary to the factual. Tour this vast National Gallery with an family friendly art specialist who introduces children to the magical myths that inspired many of the museum’s paintings.
Tower of London Tour with a family friendly guide, 3 hours
Tower of London is most famous for three things: The Crown Jewels, The Beefeaters and the Ravens. In addition, it is infamous as a prison, hosting illustrious figures such as Sir Thomas More and Sir Walter Raleigh, and as a site of execution, witnessing the beheading of two of Henry VIIIs wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. However, with a history that spans nearly 1,000 years there is much than this more to explore and discover. If a tour of the Tower of London feels a bit too intense, another option would be to start with the Tower of London, continuing in the city and the area of the great fire of London (great fun for the kids), maybe including the Museum of London (interactive and perfect for learning about the history while having fun).
For more information on booking guides and tours please contact Indagare.
OUTSIDE THE CITY
Hampton Court Palace
Home to King Henry VIII and his beloved wife Jane Seymour (you can see their initials carved into one of the bricks), today Hampton Court is famous for the 17th century maze, ghost tour of the haunted gallery, and stunning riverside gardens. It is a quick 30-minute drive from Central London (avoiding rush hour traffic), and you can combine your visit with a walk through Richmond Park. Open from 10 to 6:
Have comments or suggestions? Members add comments or additions by clicking on the comment icon below.— Nikki Ridgway 10/27/2009