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What can you do in 4 hours in London?

Travel Forums Europe What can you do in 4 hours in London?

1. Posted by iloveflyin (Full Member 159 posts) 12y

Looks like I am closer to taking that utimate RTW trip in one weekend. I received my recall letter from AA 2 days ago, calling me back to work, after 10 months furloughed.
Sometime late march or early April, I plan to travel from DFW, Texas (friday after work) going to London, Tokyo, and back to DFW at approx. 330pm sunday. My plane will come in LGW at around 7:45am Saturday, and will leave at 2:30pm from LHR to Tokyo NRT. I will have to change airport LGW to LHR. However, in between time, anyone has any suggestion for sight seeing in London from around 8am to noon. I will bring only my tote bag, which include my camera, one set of clothings and toilettry.
By the way, if everything went well, I would arrive in Tokyo around 11:05am Sunday, and have until 7:10pm that evening to get on the plane, heading back for DFW. Which means I will have about 5 hours sightseeing Tokyo, and perhaps buying some electronic or camera gears if the price is right.

2. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 12y

Good luck with your plans.

To answer your question - have you ever been to London before?? If you haven't, i'd probably suggest different things to look at than if you have been before in such a short time frame. Alsom, do you have anything in particular you want to see/photo or anything/type of thing you aren't really bothered about?

As for other notes:
I must say that your timings strike me as being optimistic though. If your due to arrive at LGW at 07.45, you won't be in London by 8. even assuming you are on time, straight off the plane and through customsand out in 10mins, you still have to get out to the station, get a ticket (dedicated gatwick express is non stop, every 15mins takes 30mins - other fast services cheaper, more frequent, with 1 stop and take a bit longer and go to different parts of London) and get on a train, you are unlikely to be in London before 8.30-8.45. And i'd honestly think it would be a fair bit later.

Being in the business, i'm also sure you are aware how busy LHR is - even without anything to check in, don't cut your time too close or you have a 98% chance of missing the flight! Also, get the Heathrow express from Paddington to Heathrow. Paddington isn't the most convenient station in Cent London for the attractions, but is not bad and is easy on the Tube. he service is expensive, but quick and a heck of a lot more reliable than the tube which takes 3 times longer and at weekends is subject to engineering.

When you have the dates confirmed, drop me a message a couple of weeks before and i'll let you know what engineering/cut downs are being planned for that w/e you will need to avoid (i do allot of work with tfL so have more advance warning) - in all seriousness, if you hit the wrong weekend and the wrong route, you could easily spend virtually the entire time (or longer) just going from LGW to LHR without even stopping for a coffee.

3. Posted by iloveflyin (Full Member 159 posts) 12y

Hi gelli,
thanks for your response.
I took a trip w/ my teenage son to London in Feb 03 (freezing) for 2 nights. We stayed not far from Hyde Park, took one of those double deck tour busses with the open upper deck. My problem was that I didn't know, the same platform at the train station could be use for more than one destination. I don't have anything to check in just a carry-on tote bag. Instead of taking the train straight to LHR from LGW, I want to do some sight seeing, perhaps from 8 am to around 12 noon before catching the train from Victoria Station to LHR for the 2:30 flight to Tokyo. I might do that the last part of March, so I can see the cherry blossoms in Tokyo. I don't think I have time to get on one of those tour busses, but maybe catching the tube to a few places, and take a few pictures like Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, ect... From my plan, I should be in London on Saturday, hopefully less crowded. I'll post on this subject again the week before I take off.

4. Posted by lex (Full Member 32 posts) 12y

The tube on a saturday less crowded???!!! Good luck - there maybe fewer commuters but they are replaced by hordes of teenage shoppers, tourists (weekenders from the uk as well as abroad) and thousands of sports fans! It's easy to find your way around as they have funky little maps (courtesy of gelli perhaps?) with all the landmarks on so you can be as spontaneous as any tube delays/strikes/crowds will allow but i do think you're being a tad optimistic on having four hours!
It's a great idea and adventure though - best of luck!

5. Posted by Adibrown (First Time Poster 1 posts) 12y

OK as a born and bred Londoner I would suggest the following:

First of all go to Gatwick Airports train station and take the train to London Bridge. These run very regularly and are about half the price of the Gatwick Express, plus you get to witness the beauty of East Croydon!!!! They take about 30 minutes.

Arriving at London Bridge Train Station exit from the front of the station and walk towards London Bridge. You will see it, and no the one with the two towers is Tower Bridge London Bridge Station as the name suggests is actually situated by the side of the bridge. Anyway you are now South of the River and you should stay on this side. Take the walkway down the side of the bridge on to the pathway and look for a Thames Path sign (They are brown and have little acorns or Blue with white writing). Head towards Waterloo and Central London (West). As you stroll along the beautiful River Thames you will walk past Shakespeares Globe Theatre, Tate Modern art gallery, St Pauls Cathederal, The Southbank, a few small old British Riverside Pubs. To your right across the river you will see the tall tower blocks of the city merge gracefully into the old courtyards and palacial offices of the Inns of court. The very birthplace of the modern day judiciary system as well as Fleet Street the hub of the British Press.

Anyway this will take you along to Waterloo and Hungerford Bridge. Cross over Hungerford Bridge and to your left you can take in the wonderful sight of the Houses of Parliment and Big Ben. When you reach the other side of the bridge you will be in an area of London called Embankment. This area is usually quite bustling and it should be about 10am now so you will get a good vibe. Walk up from the embankment to Charing Cross Station. From here walk to the right and you will be in Trafalgar Square (Nelsons Column, Pigeons etc) you will also see The National Gallery and Portrait Gallery (free to enter and well worth a visit but on a Saturday it will be busy so we shall move on this time). Head North and you will find yourself in Leicester Square, from here head west again and 10 minutes later you will be in Picadilly Circus carry on West and you will walk past the Ritz etc and find yourself in Green Park. From Green Park Tube station take the picadilly line to Heathrow (This should take you 40 minutes).

There you go.
You would have seen the very best of London both old and new and had a nice 3 mile bracing walk.

6. Posted by iloveflyin (Full Member 159 posts) 12y

Fantastic! Thanks you guys!

I might follow Adibrown's suggestion. I guess by the end of march of April the weather should be much warmer than that cold cold February!

7. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 12y

Adi's suggestion is extremely good. The only think i'd add, is you must stop for a proper pint of English Ale in a proper British pub (probably one on the South Bank of the Thames somewhere) before heading out to Heathrow. Luckily, all trains go through East Croydon, so that is a modern wonder of the world that you will not miss regardless...

The only other thing i'd say is that the Hungerford bridge is possibly the least inspiring of all of them, but it is in the right place, so it makes sense. You could carry on slightly further to Westminster bridge (still not great), but takes you right past the Houses of Parliament etc, and then up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square and on as planned.

And Lex, yes, i'm afraid that a number of those maps are probably my fault, although i'm not sure we've had them described as "funky" before though. Cheers!