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24 hours in London for country bumpkins who've never been!

(25 Posts)
saresywaresy2 Sun 09-Aug-15 18:53:41

Hi,
Hoping someone can help with an itinerary as I'm going round in circles. Our kids are 11 and 8 and have never been to London. We live in the north and haven't been much in London ourselves.

In October we are finally going down for a weekend. The Sunday we will be busy with a sporting event, so we only have Saturday.

I don't want to do the Natural History or Science museum and don't want to go on London Eye. Changing of the guards is not on that Saturday.

The priorities are seeing the sights.

The children are train mad and will love the underground.

I also have decided that the Tower of London is a definite.

Questions are)
1) Duck tour or bus tour to see the sights? Which is best?

2)In the evening we want to do something. I really liked the look of the medieval banquet but because it is a saturday I'm worried it will be full of drunken stags and hens. Other thought is early tea at China Town followed by a show. Any thoughts?

3) How should we work our day? Some sort of tour in morning? The Tower in the afternoon? What else am I missing? Where should we lunch? Should we go to Covent Garden or Picadilly Circus? The Diana thing? I really haven't got a clue, but I want them to get a good feel for it all in all its flashy bigness!!!
Any advice will be gratefully received!

superram Sun 09-Aug-15 19:04:56

Go to the tower as soon as it opens and lookout for 241 vouchers from days out website.
Then do duck tour. I haven't heard of the medieval night but does sound a bit 18-30s.

Most restaurants do a pre theatre menu but be careful that,with a show, you are not trying to cram too much in.

superram Sun 09-Aug-15 19:06:49

.... Because the tower will get busy-Diana memorial is right at the other side of London and might be be a bit young for 11 year old. Might be nice just to walk along the South bank.

DragonRojo Sun 09-Aug-15 19:47:10

the Tower will take you 3 hours. After that, take the tube to Embankment and walk along Victoria Embankment to Westminster. See Big Ben, etc. Then walk to Buckingham Palace through the park and back up the Mall and Strand towards Covent Garden.

DragonRojo Sun 09-Aug-15 19:51:32

my suggestion involves quite a bit of walking but once you get to Covent Garden, you can get your energy back at the Magnum Pleasure Store (new ice cream place )

Imperial Sun 09-Aug-15 21:59:32

Get tickets for the Sky Garden - amazing views particularly over the Tower of London - and free

saresywaresy2 Mon 10-Aug-15 09:51:09

great advice thank you. going to do tower first thing, followed by sky garden if time and then walk along embankment. Any tips for nice light lunch spot along embnankment?

we will go for a duck tour after that - goes from eye at 2.30. after that i think we want to be heading to leicester square i think -m&m shop will impress them no doubt, then china town, then show.

Is it possible to get tube from london eye area, to covent garden and then walk to leicesetr square? This area of london i'm not sure about at all. I rememeber as a kid seeing the flashing blllboards and thinking - wow! Will they get that wowness from leicester square or do we need to be at picadilly circus?
Thanks

LadyOrangutan Mon 10-Aug-15 09:57:25

There are lots of restaurants along the embankment. there is a large cluster of them by the Southbank Centre with everything from smart brasserie (skylon) with windows that look over the river to a farmers markets with lots of food trucks at the back of the Centre.
I always think Ping Pong is fun for lunch. it can seem quite adventurous if the children haven't had dim sum before but there are lots of simple tasty things that they'll eat and it's a bit of a different experience.

LadyOrangutan Mon 10-Aug-15 10:02:56

Leicester Sq and Picadilly Circus are only a 5-10 min walk from each other so you can do both but the wow factor will come from Picadilly Circus.
You can get the bakerloo line from
Embankment (by the London Eye) straight to Picadilly Circus. Or the northern line from Embankment to Leicester Sq and walk in one direction to Covent Garden or the other direction to Picadilly Circus.

LadyOrangutan Mon 10-Aug-15 10:04:36

I would do the lights of Picadilly after the show.
You have a lot packed in! You'll be exhausted!

Cedar03 Tue 11-Aug-15 06:56:50

I'm not sure my 8 year old would care for Piccadilly lights. I'd do the Tower of London, walk across the river at Tower Bridge then stroll up to the South Bank. My daughter (8) went to HMS Belfast the other day and enjoyed it although you probably won't want to do that as well as the Tower. There's loads of restaurants there for a break. Or you can walk along the north bank of the river and go and see the Monument - fit people can walk up it.

There's normally things going on in Trafalgar Square and you can always pop in the National gallery for a quick visit if raining.

Depends on the stamina of your kids of course. We did a visit to the museum of London walked to the Tower to see the poppies and then back along to Waterloo for dinner at wagamama last October and that was enough for my then 7 and a half year old.

TobleroneBoo Tue 11-Aug-15 07:47:13

There is one station ( I think it's Covent Garden) which has three lifts to bring people up, otherwise it's hundreds of stairs. Lifts can get busy with a bit of a wait so maybe worth going to a nearby station and walking over

saresywaresy2 Tue 11-Aug-15 08:33:44

Thanks all, mine are fit little fell walkers, so i don't think the walking will be a problem, although i do remember a certain london fatigue :-) We'll maybe leave the lights till after the show and see if we can be bothered :-).

I like the sound of the Ping Pong restaurant for lunch but as we are going to go to china town at night (husband insisting - he has fond memories!) i think something different, so if anyone has any recommendations for other interesting lunch spots along the embankment that they won't have seen before in deepest darkest cumbria that would be good....

vestandknickers Tue 11-Aug-15 08:37:47

Las Iguanas on the Southbank is lovely. My kids love it and its a bit different.

The Hayward Gallery (also on Southbank) has an exhibition on at the moment that you leave by way of a giant slide down the outside of the building.

Have a lovely time.

maybebabybee Tue 11-Aug-15 08:40:30

any chance I can persuade you not to go to Chinatown to eat? so many other amazing (and much better), less touristy places to eat in London with kids, depending on what they like to eat.

I would really reccommend the duck tour, it was great fun.

If kids are train mad a good tip is going on the Docklands Light Railway - it has no driver and a clear front window so if you sit at the front you can pretend you are driving the train

I'm a Londoner and would never ever recommend anyone went to either Leicester square or Piccadilly circus, especially with kids, but I'm grumpy and you can ignore me smile

sleepwhenidie Tue 11-Aug-15 08:41:29

There are loads of places to eat, Giraffe, The Real Greek, Strada but also near the National Theatre (slight round the back) there are street food stalls which are v good, if the weather is nice you could get something there and sit outside. I'd suggest doing a bit of research on where to go in Chinatown, there are so many places and they're not all good smile - maybe a separate thread!

sleepwhenidie Tue 11-Aug-15 08:43:20

I x posted with maybebaby but she said what I thought to about Chinatown and Leicester Square!

neolara Tue 11-Aug-15 08:45:25

Go see Matilda..

franksidebottom Tue 11-Aug-15 21:46:53

Definitely try and get tickets for the sky garden, it's free and near the tower of London. Took my 13 and 7 year old at the weekend and they loved it. Fab views

ArcheryAnnie Tue 11-Aug-15 21:58:22

If you go to Chinatown, go to Wong Kei in Wardour Street. It's a London institution, but more importantly the food is good, fresh, plentiful and cheap. (If you don't finish it, ask for a container to take the remains away.)

vestandknickers Tue 11-Aug-15 22:01:51

Definitely go to Sky Garden. It's amazing.

If you're going for a proper meal in the evening, you'll probably only want a light lunch. I love Hoummus Brothers but you have to like hoummus! Or maybe Leon for a quick snack?

nancy75 Tue 11-Aug-15 22:07:59

Embankment tube is the other side of the river to the eye. If you have walked to embankment you might as well walk the extra 5 minutes to Covent garden or Leicester square - it would be quicker than getting the tube.
If you are doing leicester square, covent garden or Picadilly circus (honestly don't bother it is just a big road junction) do it all on foot, the tube will take you longer than walking.

China town is a dump by all means see it but don't eat there, wander in to Soho there are hundreds of great restaurants at good prices

saresywaresy2 Thu 13-Aug-15 12:44:30

Thanks v much for all of this, very useful information. I might be back to ask more before we go in October but v pleased to have the outline of an itinerary now.

NotCitrus Thu 13-Aug-15 13:07:00

Agree no point in Leicester Sq itself unless you really want to see a movie before everyone else at a huge price, ditto Piccadilly Circus though nearby are many great restaurants, wierd shops, the 6-floor huge Waterstones bookshop, and interesting architecture - Air Street was in the Harry Potter and other films.

Chinatown does have some good restaurants - Royal China is impressively huge and reliably good (just off Shaftesbury Ave). For quick lunches, LEON is fresh and tasty fast food.

Covent Garden is about 10-15 min walk from the South Bank, and walking over Waterloo Bridge is worth doing. Very tasty street food behind the National Theatre and a few such stalls now in Covent Garden but at much higher prices.

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