london: itinerary


As I'm working on some posts for Barcelona, I thought I would share our travel itinerary from our trip to London, which includes aggressively nerdy notes from Rick Steves as well as our dinner plans for the day. I love a jam-packed schedule, and Nick loves whiling his afternoons away in a museum for hours on end, so we were out-and-about for most hours of the day.

Saturday 06:05 PM Depart ORD

Sunday

7:55 AM Arrive LHR

Lunch: Dominique Ansel bakery PM: Portobello Road Market Dinner: Lamb & Flag

Stay: Georgian House Hotel

Monday

AM: Churchill War Rooms

  • Underground WWII headquarters of Churchill’s war effort

  • Daily 9:30 to 18:00

  • Horse Guards change daily at 11:00

  • £19 includes audioguide

  • Tube: Westminster

  • Can buy ticket online in advance

  • People usually spend 2.5 hours here

PM: National Gallery

  • Remarkable collection of European paintings (1250 to 1900) including Leonardo, Botticelli, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Turner, Van Gogh, and the Impressionists

  • Free, £20 suggested donation, £4 audioguide (worthwhile), £1 floorplan

  • Daily 10:00 to 18:00

  • Tube: Charing Cross or Leicester Square

  • People usually spend 2 hours here

PM: National portrait gallery

  • Free, £20 suggested donation, £4 audioguide (worthwhile), £1 floorplan

  • Daily 10:00 to 18:00

Dinner: Dishoom

Tuesday

AM: Tower of London

  • Historic castle, palace, and prison housing the crown jewels and a witty band of Beefeaters

  • Tue-Sat 9:00-17:30; Sun-Mon 10:00-18:30, Nov-Feb closes 1 hour earlier

  • £25

  • Crown Jewels first: arrive before 10:00

  • Beefeater Tour & White Tower: One hour long & leave from just inside the entrance

  • Tube: Tower Hill

  • People usually spend 3 hours here

PM: Westminster Abbey

  • Britain’s finest church and the site of royal coronations and burials since 1066

  • Mon-Fri 9:30 to 15:30; Wed until 19:00; Saturday 9:30 to 14:30; Closed Sunday

  • £20, £40 for family ticket (2 adults + 1 child)

  • Ticket includes cloister and Audioguide

  • Evensong performances daily except Wednesday at 17:00

  • Most crowded every day at midmorning and all day Saturdays and Mondays. Visit early, during lunch, or late to avoid tourist hordes.

  • Can buy tickets online (no line-skipping October through March)

  • Tube: Westminster or St James Park

PM: Followed by Westminster Walk

  • Free Westminster Walk Audio Tour Download

  • Allow one hour

Dinner: Shoryu Ramen

Post-Dinner: Milroy’s for Whisky

Wednesday

AM: The City Walk

  • Allow 1 to 3 hours

  • Free audio tour download

AM: St. Paul’s Cathedral

  • The main cathedral of the Anglican Church, designed by Christopher Wren, with a climbable dome and daily evensong services

  • Mon-Sat 8:30-16:30

  • £18, £16 if purchased in advance on the website

  • Ticket includes church entry, dome climb, crypt, tour, audioguide

  • Rick has a free audio tour

  • Tube: St Paul’s

PM: Bankside Walk; then walk the Jubilee Walkway from the Millennium Bridge to the London Eye

  • Along the South Bank of the Thames

  • Allow one hour

  • Tube: London Bridge

Dinner: Churchill Arms

Thursday

AM: British Library

  • Fascinating collection of important literary treasures of the Western world

  • Mon-Fri 9:30 to 18:00, Tue-Thu until 20:00, Sat 9:30-17:00, Sun 11:00-17:00

  • People usually spend 3.5 hours here

  • PM: British Museum

  • The world’s greatest collection of artifacts of western civilization, including the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon’s Elgin Marbles

  • Daily 10:00 to 17:30, Friday until 20:30 (selected galleries only)

  • Free, but a £5 donation suggested

  • Least crowded late and on weekday afternoons

  • Rick has a free audio tour

  • Tube: Tottenham Court

  • People usually spend 2.5 hours here

PM: West End Walk to see Covent Garden and Soho

  • From Leicester Square to Piccadilly Circus

  • Allow 2 hours

  • Tube stop Leicester Square

Dinner: Burger & Lobster

Friday

AM: Changing of the Guards

AM: Victoria & Albert Museum

  • The best collection of decorative arts anywhere

  • Free, £5 donation requested

  • Daily 10:00-17:00, Fri until 22:00 (selected galleries only)

  • Tube: South Kensington

  • People usually spend 2.5 hours here

PM: Regent Street Shopping Walk

  • Mile-long walk from Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus, then up the street called Piccadilly and down the street called Jermyn

  • Includes Oxford Street, Regent Street, Jermyn Street

  • Consider teatime during / after

Dinner: The Victoria

Saturday

12:05 PM Depart LHR 03:20 PM Arrive ORD

Getting Around

  • We did the 7 day zone 1 to 2 travel card £33 with 2 for 1 deal

For more posts on London: