What to do in an 8-hour layover in London?
Are you in London only for a long layover? And you still want to visit the city but you are unsure how to do it and what to do with your luggage? Here is how to do it!
A long layover can either be a pain because you will die of boredom or you can use them to your advantage by visiting the city you are in (if you have enough time of course). In our case, we decided to catch a glimpse of London, (we were on our way to Bulgaria & Greece) even though we had to change airports and do all this in 8 hours.
Pro tip: a good time management of your London layover is key! Remember that if you leave an airport, you will have to go through security and customs (if you are an international traveller) so be sure to keep at least 1 hour to do all of these processes. Also remember that you need to be on time for your next connecting flight, so at least 1 hour before your boarding time. Use this tool to plan your transportation time, it will tell you if there are delays or how long it will take you to get to the attraction that you want to visit.
If you need to change airports, worry not, the transfer is very easy. If you are in London Heathrow airport, you can take the Heathrow Express (faster but more expensive) which will take you downtown. The other option, the cheapest option, is to take the Piccadilly line which will get you to Central London. The Stansted Airport has also an express train which works the same way. You take this train at the London Liverpool Station from where you can get access to the underground. For all your transports, I will suggest to buy a one-day pass directly at the airport. There, you will get unlimited entries to the tube for £26. If not, you can consider buying an Oyster card, these two options will allow you to save some time while purchasing your tickets.
If you have your luggage, there are a few spots around the city where you can leave them. The rates change by how long you leave your bags and how many you have. Don 't worry, your luggage will be safe since the luggage drop looks like an airport security, they scan your bag and store it at the back. Here is a complete list of the places that you can leave your baggage. Also, be mindful of where you leave your baggage, do you need to go back to this station to pick it up? Are you going to have enough time?
Psst: British call baggage storage “left luggage” so don’t be confused.
Visiting London in less than 8 hours
London is one of those cities that have so many things to do! Choosing what to do in a few days can be difficult so planning what to do in a long layover can be even more difficult! Here are multiple ideas, depending on your time and liking.
For the London first-timers, leaving your baggage at Victoria station is extremely convenient since you are right in Central London with its main landmarks, the Buckingham Palace and the Big Ben. If you are lucky enough, you might catch the guards change. Jump back to the underground and head to the London bridge station to see the iconic Tower Bridge. Then, should you have time to take a break, simply grab a beer in a London pub or go for tea time.
A sightseeing bus tour is always a good plan since it will give you a tour of the city in a short time. This way you are sure to see all the main spots like the London Eye and Westminster Abbey. Or better, why not experience an Afternoon Tea in a double-decker bus while visiting London’s best attractions? If you are a Harry Potter fan, you can also do a Harry Potter tour which will take you to some of the filming locations for the movies.
Another great itinerary to do is to go to the St Paul's Cathedral, one of the most famous and most recognizable sights of London, cross through the Milenium Brigde and have a drink at the World’s best 50 bar, Lyaness. The cocktails are refined and original, plus the views from the bar will give you great snapshots of the city! From here, walk through the South Thames banks, an entertainment and commercial district.
If it is not your first time in London and you have already visited all of the above, then why not go to a museum? Did you know that the Capital has more than 200 museums? With these many expositions, I'm sure you will find one of your liking. One of main museums are the British museum, Tate modern and Natural history museum. If you want to visit a museum, beware that some have huge waiting time and you need to be aware of your limited time. You also have to see if your tube station is not on the other side of the city.
If you are a foodie and you have been to the capital several times, why not indulge in some of the many and trendy city Markets like the Borough market? This way you can eat delicious food and forget about the airplane food that you will have to eat in some hours during your next flight. Also, don’t forget to have a real fish and chips during your visit! If you are looking for all the busly action that the capital has to offer, then head to Covent Garden located in West End,. This is the district of the theatre and entertainment area. This area is full of stores restaurants and bars. It also have a car-free Piazza, and much more! Another great idea will be to go to the Sky garden bar where you can see the city from above! My biggest tip for this attraction is to book for the bar at a specific timeslot, this way you will not wait in line. I was pleasently surprised that the drinks were not more expensive than in other parts of the city.
London can be very expensive, even for a couple of hours; here are 20 free things to do in the city. Parks are a good free option and seeing a little bit of nature is always pleasant after long flights. Hyde Park is one of the most famous parks in central London and its home of Serpentine Lake and The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. If you are a Peter Pan lover then visit his statue at the Kensington Gardens.
If you are unsure if you have time to achieve all your stops, just ask the nice people at the information desks, they will be able to assist you more on your specific needs.
So what are you doing during your next layover in London?
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