How to Maximize a Layover in London

January 27, 2013, In: Travel Near & Far

This is the first post in a series I wrote about my first European adventure back in the fall of 2012. Our trip began with a long layover in London, England and ended in Paris, France. This is a recap from our short visit to England and shows you how to maximize a layover in London. You can find the other posts here.

Our 2-week trip to Europe involved several planes to get to our final destinations. In fact, because we booked our flights with miles, we had to travel on 3 planes both to and from Europe. While this was really tough on the return trip, it resulted in a 7.5 hour layover in London on our way to Rome. Yay! It allowed us to add another country to our trip for practically nothing!

Our plane landed in London at 10:45 am and we decided to book a round trip ticket into the city on the express train. This saved us a little travel time although it was more expensive than the regional train (but totally worth it). 

Paddington Station London

Upon reaching Paddington Station, we found a place to store our luggage (for a price) and headed off to the loo (bathroom for us Americans). We were both a bit surprised to discover that you had to pay 30 pence to enter the restroom through a turnstile. Thankfully there was a very nice lady in front of me that gave me the necessary change.

When I was finished I discovered Brett had not been as lucky with kind strangers so I proceeded to beg for another entrance fee for him. Ha! Thank you to those wonderful ladies! Since we were only planning on being in London for a few hours, we really did not want to get pounds and relied on using our credit card everywhere that day.

First stop on our whirlwind tour was a walk through Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace. It was a predictably dreary day in London and for a while this was our view…

Visiting London in the Rain


But, by the time we arrived at Buckingham Place, the rain had slowed and we were able to get a few photos and see the famous balcony.

Buckingham Palace

Then it was off to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. It’s a beautiful building and sits right on the River Thames, across from the London Eye. It’s amazing to think of all of the history that has happened here.

Westminster Abbey

After lots of walking we grabbed lunch before heading back to the airport. Of course, I had to order the fish n chips. Yum!

London Fish N Chips

All in all, it was a great stop and looking back at the pictures makes me really happy we did it. However, it did make us a little tired for the next few legs of our trip. (Well, that and a late support request for our business. But, I’ll talk about that in my post for Rome.)

London Photo Booth

For those of you traveling to London, remember that it is an expensive city. Not only are the prices high, but the exchange rate is not in our favor (if you are coming from the U.S.). We are definitely interested in returning one day, but will probably plan to visit in the summer when the weather is hopefully better. That said, be prepared for wet weather and bring an umbrella or rain jacket.

What are your favorite tips for visiting London? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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