London is one of the most frequently visited cities in the world, and a very common airport for layovers.
To really make use of your layover, try to have at least 6 hours. From those 6 hours you have, subtract 2-2.5 hours to get back to the airport and check in for your flight. This still leaves you with about 3.5-4 hours of full “free” time. So what shall we do?
1. Get Into the City – Take the Tube from the London Heathrow airport into the city, following the signs. Ask an attendant if you have questions on how or what to purchase. There are one way or round trip options from 8 British Pounds and up, depending on where you travel to. If you have money to splurge, cab it.
2. Buckingham Palace – Take the Tube to Hyde Park Corner or Victoria stations. Both will leave you equal walking distance to the palace. The Changing of the Guards occurs daily at 11:30am in the summer months (June through August) and every other day otherwise.
3. Explore the Buckingham Gardens and Memorials – Whether you get off at Hyde Park Corner or Victoria, you can walk to both stations and see what’s around. Hyde Park Corner leaves you by the Buckingham Gardens and memorials, and it’s a nice touristy walk.
4. Check out the District of Victoria– The station is one of the main hubs with plenty or shops and theatres and restaurants. You can find local coffee shops and bakeries and main stream vendors. Take a break and stop in for something to eat and chat with the locals.
5. Get a Manicure – Wanna refresh after all of that traveling? There are salons all over the city so you can stop off for some pampering.
6. Walk Around! – London is a walking town, so get some exercise, girl! Since you’re already near Hyde Park Corner and Victoria, wander through these neighborhoods and check out St. James Palace, Westminster Cathedral, the Guards Museum, theatres, local school and local businesses. Don’t forget to take pictures!
7. Take the Tube to Picadilly Circus Station – This will require more travel time – up to 20-30 minutes extra each way. If you’re a quick walker, you may want to visit this area. It is the busy square with even more shopping than Victoria and has plenty of billboards. This is the place to go to if you have an evening layover and want to stop somewhere for a drink or nightlife.
8. Pre-Plan Your Layover: Have something in particular you want to see? Have your heart set on a cup of tea and some curry? Looking up train times and printing maps from Google make exploring much easier. Since you know how long your layover is, pre-plan to make the most of it! It will save you time from finding attractions, especially if you mark them yourself on your printout.
Can’t leave the airport? Don’t sweat it! Just walking through the shops and restaurants at Heathrow will introduce you to foods and new shops. Don’t forget to check out the fancy lox and caviar!
Have you spent a layover in London? What did you do?