When there’s so much to see and do in London, not to mention the surrounding area – is seven days really enough time to take in the hustle and bustle of the great city of London? The honest answer is no. BUT…it is possible to enjoy your time, even include some day trips and consider it the Perfect. Trip. Ever!
I’ll show you how (this is my itinerary for an upcoming trip my mom and I plan to take next year).
One of the first things I would recommend is that you don’t fill your days with activities, sights and tours. I know, I know…but it’s London and there’s so much to see and do...trust me – just don’t!
I’ve been to London a few times now and I still haven’t been able to check off everything on my ‘must see/do’ list. My first trip was pure craziness with every hour full and a schedule I struggled to keep. My second time blew past me with day trips and tours and meetings. My third trip was much more relaxing once I realized that despite all the craziness of what London can be…you really do enjoy it more when you take your time to savor it.
My mom is the type of traveler who likes to take her time. The fact she has bad knees contributes to that as well. Which means filling our schedule only ends up leaving us disappointed because either we rushed through it all and my mom is in so much pain afterwards she can’t walk or we only get to one or two things on our list and feel like we wasted a day.
The secret – I’ve learned from traveling with her – is to not rush at all and it’s become my favorite way to travel now!
And so, my working itinerary:
Day 1 – arrive via early flight. Take the train into the city, leave our luggage at our hotel and head to the Portobello Market. Considering it’s known as the worlds largest antique market – I think we could take our time and really enjoy our day there. We’ll eat cupcakes, look at antiques, buy some books, eat tons of food and stop for tea. Once we’ve walked along the Portobello Road, we’ll hop on a bus and do some sightseeing – giving our feet and knees a rest – before we find an old pub to relax in for a pint of beer and some food.
Day 2 – we’ll head to Buckingham Palace and watch the Changing of the Guard before we walk to Westminster Abby. We’ll stop for tea, find some bakeries, take lots of photos and take our time with all the sights in the area. There are a lot of free walking tours you can check out and follow along which is what our goal will be for today.
Day 3 – we’re going to give my mom’s knees a bit of a break and take a Cotswold Mystery Tour. I’m actually really excited about this! One of my mom’s favorite things to do drive the countryside and with this tour, that’s exactly what we’ll be doing.
Day 4 – it’s all about a proper English tea and Kensington Palace today! We’ll visit the palace, stop at the Orangery for tea, walk the grounds and then maybe head to one of the many free museums throughout London (something I’ve yet to do but always wanted to). The Natural History Museum would be nice or even the Victoria and Albert Museum. We’ll also follow along a free walking tour of the area and take tons of photos!
Day 5 – we’ll have another break from all the walking and take a Bath/Stonehenge Tour. There are so many tours you can do – from private tours to large bus groups. I’ve done the big bus tour and it was great but busy and rushed and I know my mom’s knees won’t handle all that. So – I found the perfect option for us (link above). We’ll drive the country side again, go on our own timing, do what we can do or want to do and stop at England’s oldest pub while we’re at it (something that is on my mom’s bucket list). While we’re in Bath – we’ll stop at the bath’s and grab a pint at Bath’s smallest pub, the Coeur de Lion. This intimate and traditional pub is too cozy to miss.
Day 6 – today is all about the Tower of London – and of course, a walking tour of the area that we’ll again do on our own. We’ll also book the Afternoon Tea Bus Tour via B-Bakery which is on my own ‘must do’ list.
Day 7 – before we head to the airport we’ll make sure to have a nice and relaxing breakfast, use transit to head to anything we really wanted to do but didn’t (like Harrods maybe?) or just walk in one of the many parks we’ve seen. We could also grab a taxi and ask to do one final tour of the sights before we get dropped off at the airport. It’s our last day – which means we’ll take it easy.
You’ll notice that each day wasn’t full of activities. We will explore the city on foot and by transit but there is time for us to stop and smell the roses, take in the sites, shop, sit…anything we want to do can be done before we have the time for it.
I love to take the bus tours when in a large city so we’ll do that as well. There’s a few reasons why I love these tours – it gets you off your feet, you’re able to see everything and you can hop on and hop off at will. The only thing I’d mention however is to note when the tour ends…it would suck to be waiting forever at a bus stop only to realize you missed the last bus by 5-10 minutes.