Best of London in 7 Days Tour 2012

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St. Paul's Cathedral

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Whitehall

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Tower Bridge

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British Museum

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Windsor Castle

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Buckingham Palace

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Westminster and Big Ben

You'll get all this!

During your week in London, you'll tour The Tower, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's, and the Churchill War Rooms. You'll see priceless art and artifacts at the National Gallery, British Library, and British Museum. Your guide will take you on neighborhood walks, a Thames cruise, and a train trip to Windsor Castle — and you'll have time to rub elbows with London's colorful street life and pubs.

  • An extra-small group, limited to 20-24 people — less than half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of London come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 14 group sightseeing events • London neighborhood walk & Tube orientation • Westminster Abbey tour • Thames River cruise • Tower of London "Beefeater" tour • Westminster Abbey tour • Whitehall walking tour • Churchill War Rooms • National Gallery tour • St. Paul's Cathedral tour • "City" walking tour • Windsor day trip • Windsor Castle tour • British Museum tour • British Library visit...and more
  • All group transportation, including a 7-day transportation pass (bus + subway), and train trip to and from Windsor
  • 6 nights accommodations in a memorable, centrally-located hotel
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides
  • Free stuff including Rick Steves' London guidebook, map, day pack, moneybelt and earplugs
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2012
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above

Daily itinerary

Daily Activity Key

  • Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
  • Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
  • Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.
Day 1: Arrive in London

We'll meet at our hotel in central London around 3 p.m. this afternoon to get acquainted. Then we'll set off on a neighborhood walk, Underground/Tube and big red bus orientation, followed by dinner together. Walking: light.

Day 2: Westminster Abbey and the Tower

This morning we'll tour the majestic Westminster Abbey, where England's kings and queens have been crowned and buried since 1066. A thousand years of English history lie within its stained-glass splendor and under its stone slabs. Then we'll hop aboard a boat on the Thames and cruise past monuments, skyscrapers, and cathedrals on our way to the Tower of London, the city's historic "tower of power." We'll join a Yeoman Warder "Beefeater" for an entertaining tour and a peek at the legendary Crown Jewels. We'll finish the day with a traditional fish-and-chips dinner. Boat: ½ hr. Walking: strenuous.

Day 3: Whitehall and the National Gallery

We'll take a history-laced walking tour along Whitehall, from the Westminster Houses of Parliament to the Renaissance-inspired Banqueting House, punctuated by the smartly-dressed, stony-faced Horse Guards. Then we'll get the inside story on the London Blitz and Britain's leadership during WWII on our tour of the Churchill War Rooms. This afternoon, we'll learn about the adventures of Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square and have a guided tour of the National Gallery's masterpieces, including works by Leonardo, Botticelli, Turner and the Impressionists. This would be a perfect evening for the theater (book something in advance from the Colonies or pick up a ticket in London). Walking: strenuous.

Day 4: St. Paul's Cathedral and the City

This morning we'll tour England's national church — Christopher Wren's majestically-domed St. Paul's Cathedral — and hear how local "fire watcher" volunteers saved this symbol of British resolve during the bombing raids of WWII. Then we'll continue on with a walking tour of the City, the oldest part of London and now its financial heart. After our pub lunch together at the Counting House (an elegant former bank), your afternoon is free to enjoy one of London's many museums (perhaps the Victoria & Albert Museum) or take a leisurely stroll through one of the many beautiful parks. This is another good night for the theater. Walking: moderate.

Day 5: Historic Windsor Castle

Today we'll catch a train and head out of town to Windsor Castle, the largest and oldest castle residence in the world. We'll spend the morning touring the Royal Family's castle, ornate St. George's Chapel and the surrounding park. The remainder of the day is yours for poking around the quaint town of Windsor or for more sightseeing back in London. Train: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 6: The British Museum and Library

This morning we'll dive into the treasures of the British Library, including the Magna Carta, Gutenberg's Bible — even Beatles lyrics! Then we're off to tour the British Museum and the chronicle of Western Civilization — the Elgin marbles, Rosetta Stone, mummies and more. The rest of your afternoon is free for the Imperial War Museum, shopping around Covent Garden, or other sightseeing. Tonight we'll meet for our "last supper" and raise a toast to London and new friends. Cheers! Walking: strenuous.

Day 7: Tour Over After Breakfast

Following breakfast, we'll say our goodbyes. Heathrow and Gatwick airports can be easily reached by Tube, train or bus from our London neighborhood. For those not ready to return home yet, London is a great jumping off point to Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam and many other exciting destinations. Cheerio!

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Rick Steves tours are physically active!

This is an integral, essential part of the "back door" experience. On our Best of London in 7 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...

  1. Carry your luggage up several flights of stairs to reach your hotel room.
  2. Be on your feet for up to 3 hours walking and standing, both inside museums and outdoors in all weather conditions (hot sun, rain, etc.).
  3. Sleep with no (or weak) air conditioning and street noise in some hotels.
  4. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate around the city on your own.
  5. Be able to climb many flights of stairs in and out of the London Underground system.

Pre Tour

Getting ready for your Rick Steves' tour can be overwhelming, so we've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.

Sightseeing On Your Own

If you arrive in London before your tour begins, use Rick Steves' London guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.

Here are a few suggestions for sightseeing in London that we will not do as a group: London Eye (observation wheel); Houses of Parliament; Tate Galleries (British or Modern); Imperial War Museum; Shakespeare's Globe Theatre; Victoria & Albert Museum; Kew Gardens; day trips to Cambridge and Oxford.

Many tour members like to attend a play or a concert while in London (see Rick Steves' London guidebook for details on how to buy tickets). Your guidebook will also have plenty of ideas for any extra time you may have and your guide will be happy to help you with post-tour plans.

Transportation

London is a major transportation hub, making additional travel before or after your tour quite easy. Many budget airlines also serve London. Both London and Dublin are about a $100, one-hour flight away. For current deals, see www.cheapflights.co.uk. (Note: prices are shown in pounds; multiply by 1.6 to convert to US dollars.) Also ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines. For links to helpful rail and air websites, go to www.ricksteves.com/plan/links and look under "Transportation."

Read Rick's Guide to Eurail Passes and decide if your travel plans merit a railpass (or contact our Rail Department for advice at rail@ricksteves.com or 425/771-8303 ext. 214). Britain has some of the highest per-mile ticket prices in Europe; advance-purchase, US-only railpass deals can help keep your costs down.

Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your tour hotel, as well as contact information for your hotel in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.

For information about traveling in Britain, please see Rick Steves' Great Britain guidebook. If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email tour@ricksteves.com.

Weather

London can be sunny and warm in mid-summer, but cool temperatures and rain are always possible. With appropriate clothing, even the occasional shower won't slow you down.

For more specific weather information, see www.weatherbase.com or www.weather.com.

Packing

For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.

Tour Guide Raves

Tom Hooper

"Tom was ABSOLUTELY wonderful!!! He not only showed us London but made it come alive. His quirky sense of humor and his knowledge really made the tour enjoyable. There were several times we would ask him about politics, customs, or local ways and he always took time to explain things so we really felt we were not just seeing London but actually a part of it."

— Myrna in Mesa, AZ

"Roy was a delightful guide. He led our group with enthusiasm, knowledge, humor and genuine kindness. He may be the most calm man I have ever met, and is clearly an expert at what he does. Can't say enough good things about Roy."

— Sarah in Denver, CO

Favorite tour memories from recent alums:

"It was all a 'wow' moment! Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral, Windsor Castle, The National Gallery, Churchill's War Rooms were standouts. I also especially enjoyed striking out on our own for the London Eye, and taking in Evensong at Windsor's St. George's Chapel."

— Douglas in Portland, OR

"It was one 'wow' after another! — Thames River ride; Tower of London; Westminster Abbey; British Museum; Windsor Castle; and all points in between — loved everything. And we had a great tour guide."

— Nancy in Lubbock, TX

"My favorite moment was the cruise on the Thames! I loved seeing the important sights from the river and especially enjoyed the Tower Bridge."

— Janice in Mulberry, AR

To see more comments on Rick Steves' tours, read through our tour member reviews.

Videos & More

This region is rich in history, art and culture. To help you get the most from your trip, we've put together this collection of travel resources from Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, as well as recommended books, films and music.

Watch

Rick Steves' TV Clips & Shows

(For more Rick Steves' TV clips on this region, visit Rick on YouTube.)

Films
  • My Fair Lady (1964)
  • Mary Poppins (1964)
  • A Hard Day's Night (1964)
  • Elizabeth (1998)
  • The Queen (2006)

Listen

Rick Steves' Radio Interviews

(For more radio interviews on this region, see Rick's Audio Europe™ files for iPod, PC & MP3.)

Rick Steves' Audio Tours
  • Britain: Westminster Walk, British Museum, British Library, St. Paul's Cathedral, City of London
Rick Steves' Audio Europe™
Music
  • Pop/Rock: Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elton John, David Bowie, Police/Sting, Coldplay, Amy Winehouse
  • Composers: Andrew Lloyd Weber, Edward Elgar
  • Light Opera: Gilbert & Sullivan

Read

Rick Steves' Articles

(For more articles on this region, see Rick's Best Destinations.)

Books: Non-Fiction
  • Rick Steves' London
  • London: The Biography — Peter Ackroyd
  • Elizabeth's London — Liza Picard
  • Letters from London — Julian Barnes
  • 84 Charing Cross Road — Helene Hanff
  • A Traveller's History of London (Traveller's Histories Series) — Richard Tames
Books: Fiction
  • Pygmalion — George Bernard Shaw
  • The Jeeves series — P.G. Wodehouse
  • A Study in Scarlet — Arthur Conan Doyle
  • London — Edward Rutherford
  • Rumpole of the Bailey — John Mortimer