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Three Days in London

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Hi All

We have a very brief stay in London in April next year. We have pretty much only travelled through NZ & SE Asia before. We are a family of four, with two late teen daughters. We enjoy being active and are willing to give most things a go. We like the outdoors, museums (perhaps only one though) and quirky sights. We like markets, but mostly for wandering through as we are not big shoppers. We also like food! Street food, local food, unusual foods.

While we of course want to see some of the major sights, I have always found some of the best experiences are not in the guidebooks but are through word of mouth. So, what are the must see/do things you can recommend?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!
 

cove

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I really enjoyed the War Rooms and there are some castles to choose from to see how good it would have been to be either royalty or rich or both.
Went to Hever Castle in Kent and that was excellent.
 

dodgeyhack

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Borough market is great for food.
Portobello rd market is a nice part of the city and good for a wander and a look without buying anything. Close to Hyde park as well.
I'd also go to the Tower of London.
 

Ausbt

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Tower of London. Jack the Ripper walk was really good (ok, understand possibly not for the kids). Tate Gallery. But aside from that ...ahhh, London. I really don't like you. Sorry and all, but there are just so many more interesting places on the planet.
 
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Thanks for the great suggestions so far. Will have to look into the War Rooms - I haven't come across them before.

You are confirming some of my thoughts with Borough Markets and Tower of London. I have also looked at the Jack the Ripper Tour - could be fun (kids are 16 & 18 so plenty old enough!)

AusBT - London has never been top of my list to visit, but we are in Oxford for an event so thought a few days in London would give us a taste before going on with the rest of our trip. Maybe I will like it and want to go back....
 

Geegeela

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But aside from that ...ahhh, London. I really don't like you. Sorry and all, but there are just so many more interesting places on the planet.
I find that very intriguing, would you mind giving details of these places and the cluster of pleasures they have, as a city destination, that makes London inferior.

 

lovetravellingoz

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London: Great and cheap theatre scene (compared to Oz). Last 5 day trip I took in 5 very different shows! Most of the best deals are to be had by buying from the theatres own ticket offices, who will get you the best trade off of price versus view. Avoid the "cheap" ticket offices as they just sell the cheap up the back after adding on an extra 10% or so!! (( I have this so on 2 trips to London, and to NYC as well).

Jack the Ripper walking tour. Also there are many great "free" walking tours (not actually fee, you just tip at the end). Many different themes to suit your interest. (as attract many young backpackers, the guide patter should also suit your teenagers).

Enjoy a beer at one of the hundreds of old pubs.

The Tower of London is a must. The Beefeater guides are amazing and very funny too!

War Rooms were fascinating, but I suspect teenage girls, will be rolling their eyes in no time.
 

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Thought there were a few bells ringing. London in April, function in Oxford. My plans for that time are still flexible. I'm aiming to combine the thing with a quick DONE4, fly in on Wednesday from JNB, do the bus trip to the Cotswolds and leave on the Monday, when DL and I will head down to London, have a night on the town and part at Gatwick. She'll be heading back to NZ after a couple of years in the UK, I'll be looking to bounce around Europe and get a few SC there.

Newk will have advice on where to stay. He has a nose for fabulous little hotels. Me, I've always staid at a youth hostel - St Pauls is my favorite and I was there a few weeks back.

Things to do. Well, get Oyster cards to begin with. They'll give you access to tubes and buses. Riding on the top deck of a double decker is a great way to see Central London. They automatically give you the best fare for the moment and they cap out after a while to a daily rate. I've kept mine current for years now. Get you to and from Heathrow as well.

British Museum would be my pick if there is any interest at all in the grand cultural artifacts. Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon marbles, bulls from Babylon, Egyptian mummies, Viking gold and a bazillion other things. Otherwise Natural History - there are several complete dinosaur skeletons and tonnes of other stuff to look at.

Tate Modern is fabulous. Maybe not so much for the art, though there are some mouth-watering items in the collection. They also go in for vast canvases of crap, and after you've seen a few bedsheets smeared with housepaint at a half-million a pop you wonder about contemporary art a bit. The old turbine hall is huge and empty and handed over to installation artists to fill for a month or so. There's always something interesting in the space. The coffee shop has some of the best views of St Pauls available, looking across the Millennium Footbridge and above some of the surrounding clutter. The nearby Founders Arms has some great waterlevel views while you enjoy a pint and some cod and chips.

I love the walk to or from Trafalgar Square along the Strand and Fleet Street to St Pauls. Continue on to the Tower and walk across Tower Bridge. Two blocks down on the Tooley Street corner is the Pommeller's Rest Free House, a great little pub. Always worth while asking a local where they drink - you get to avoid the tourist traps that way.

Just walking along the Thames is a treat. Westminster Bridge to Blackfriars (either bank) is straightforward - and very touristy, with the London Eye. The booksellers under Waterloo Bridge are worth a stop. Downstream from there the riverbanks are more built up, but there are treasures to be found in the laneways. Southwark Cathedral, the Globe, the Golden Hind. Londonstone is on the north side, buried in the heart of The City, a Roman-era relic that was once the heart of London, now sadly diminished after two millennia and the Blitz, when it was blasted out of a church wall.

There are gorgeous little Christopher Wren churches scattered all through central London. One or two of them perched on glorified traffic islands in the middle of the busy Strand.

So many things to see. With three days you'll barely scratch the surface. Don't do everything. You can't. See one or two things a day and just walk about looking at stuff in between. Get off the main streets down side lanes and hidden treasures open up. Somerset House. Temple. Little parks and curious shops.

One thing I'd do if I were you is to give each member of your party half a day that's their own. They can go and see something (or some things, if they are close enough) they want and the rest of the family can follow along, gritting their teeth if need be.

Anyway, have fun. I'll see you in Oxford. I've got a room at St Hilda's.
 
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Thanks Skyring

Thought there were a few bells ringing. London in April, function in Oxford.
Yes :) We have had this holiday planned for quite a while (eldest daughters 18th present!) but when we were in Queenstown last year we were talked into adding Oxford as we were already going to be in Dubai - what's a few more hours on the plane?? We're doing a 140k (damn kids!) Oneworld Award.

So many things to see. With three days you'll barely scratch the surface. Don't do everything. You can't. See one or two things a day and just walk about looking at stuff in between. Get off the main streets down side lanes and hidden treasures open up. Somerset House. Temple. Little parks and curious shops.
This is exactly what I am planning - one or two of the big attractions, then just wandering around trying to find some hidden gems.

Anyway, have fun. I'll see you in Oxford. I've got a room at St Hilda's.
See you then! We have an AirBnb apartment only a few minutes walk from St Hilda's. Much more economical with four of us.
 

OATEK

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Thanks for the great suggestions so far. Will have to look into the War Rooms - I haven't come across them before.

You are confirming some of my thoughts with Borough Markets and Tower of London. I have also looked at the Jack the Ripper Tour - could be fun (kids are 16 & 18 so plenty old enough!)

AusBT - London has never been top of my list to visit, but we are in Oxford for an event so thought a few days in London would give us a taste before going on with the rest of our trip. Maybe I will like it and want to go back....
Borough Market is good fun, and there is a nice walk along the river to the Millennium Footbridge and across to St Pauls.

My daughter used to complain about the Jack the Ripper tours turning up late at night under her window in Hanbury St. But said that those on the tour seemed to be enjoying it.
 

amaroo

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We'll also be enjoying a few days in late April ... Absolutely love London!

Greenwich is worth a look .... ferry down the Thames, selfie on the Prime Meridian, Old Royal Naval College, Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark, plus more.... They even have a cable car these days.

Places To Go
 
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And, you could go up the Thames to see the slightly more rural areas, go through locks and end up at Hampton Court, King Henry VIII's palace and hear a bit of notorious history.

We'll also be enjoying a few days in late April ... Absolutely love London!

Greenwich is worth a look .... ferry down the Thames, selfie on the Prime Meridian, Old Royal Naval College, Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark, plus more.... They even have a cable car these days.

Places To Go
 

JessicaTam

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Skyring

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We're doing a 140k (damn kids!) Oneworld Award.
I've done three of those now. Once alone, once with my daughter, once (last month) with my son. Travelling with my kids (albeit they were both in their mid-twenties) has been a great experience.

I love showing off the places I've seen - so much more fun with a companion.
 

Skyring

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Maybe! Already got SWMBO locked in for an AFF do in IST.....not sure how I'd go geeing her up for a another one a few days later...
Romney and I will be in London on the night of Monday 13 April 2015. We'll both have non-AFF folk with us.
 
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amaroo

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Romney and I will be in London on the night of Monday 13 April 2015. We'll both have non-AFF folk with us.
Our itineraries will not merge ... we'll be in Istanbul/Gallipoli for the Dawn Service and arrive London on the 26th.
 
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That's a shame Amaroo - I have Greece and Turkey penciled in for April 2016. Would have been great if we were there later and could pick your brains :)

Thanks everyone for the suggestions - lots more reading for me to do.
 
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