Not all flights have to be non-stop.
Sometimes booking a flight that has a long layover can save you money on your flight, gives you time to stretch your legs and see a destination you have never seen before. In comes your guide to: 8 Hour Layover in London, England.
When flying cross country the odds are high that you’re going to endure a layover. At times it can be 2-5 hours or in some cases 5-24 hours. The beauty of booking your own flights is, most of the time you can choose and this is the best way to book your layover.
Recently I took a trip to Africa from Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA). The flight was long and I knew a 30 hour flight needed a long layover. Stopping in London seemed like a wonderful idea and really chopped up our flight for us.
If this also sounds like you, London is set up to host your long, 8 hour layover. This guide will show you the best of London in your 8 hour layover.
Guide to: 8 Hour Layover in London, England
Some airlines allow luggage to go from one destination to another, no matter the length of layover. Some airlines have a strict policy saying this is not the case and you have to claim your baggage and will have to recheck.
If your luggage goes from point A to point B without rechecking, you’re golden and you don’t need to worry about anything.
If you need to claim your bags from baggage claim, go to the correct carousel and collect your bags. Since there is an 8-hour layover, you won’t be able to check into your new flight or check your bags yet.
Excess Baggage Company is your solution. This company is located on the first floor before exiting the airport with your bags. Excess Baggage Company allows you to store your bags for $12.50/per bag for 3-12 hours.
This allows, no stress, no carrying bags, and no worries.
Train into downtown
There are a few ways to get to downtown London.
Taxi, bus, or private driver, but the best way is by train.
TFL Rail is a train that comes to the station every 30 minutes, this is the cheapest option, but slower. The ride takes about 30-40 minutes from airport to downtown, Paddington Station. Cost is $6usd one way, around $12 roundtrip.
The best option for the time is Heathrow Express. The Heathrow Express leaves from the airport every 15 minutes and takes 15 minutes to arrive to Paddington Station. The cost one way is $20, cost round trip is $38, but if booking with 3+ people, discount will be applied.
Express train is the best option for the allotted amount of time in London, the cost may be more but going to downtown and back you don’t want to sit in traffic, stop at every bus stop or worry about being late for check in.
The Heathrow Express takes you right to Paddington Station, your first stop and close to your first hop on, hop off bus stop.
What to do: 8 Hour Layover in London
Hop on, hop off bus is your best bet to get around London in 8 hours. The bus goes all over London, stops at all the main sites and allows you to get off and explore more or walk to another destination. The reason why I am recommending a big bus tour, because the sites are so spread out, walking all of it in 8 hours can be daunting. This will be the best guide incorporating the big bus tour and the sites you need to see.
Lets go Explore London
Where the express train will take you right to Paddington Station, the biggest part of the London underground.
Hop on the Blue Line, hop on and hop off bus, stop 33.
Madame Tussauds at stop 35 blue line
Madame Tussauds is the original wax museum, with now smaller wax museums world wide. Wax figures include historical and royal figures, film stars, sports stars, and famous murderers. Once done hop back on stop 35, onward.
Stop 5:Mayfair, is a transition site for the blue line and red line, get off the blue line and hop on the red line.
Hop off at Redline, stop 9: Trafalgar Square
The National Gallery, located in the Trafalgar Square, is the most popular art gallery in London. It is here that you can see British art from the 13th century to 1900. Hop back on the redline when finished.
Hop off stop 12: London Eye
Take a Ride on the London Eye .This one is a bit pricey, but for 30 minutes you get unparalleled views of London, overlooking Parliament and Big Ben. On a clear day, you will be able to identify most of London’s most famous landmarks. Cheaper to buy tickets ahead of time, online, than in person. 24.30 euros online, 27.00 on day of. Great way to relax for a little bit. Get back on red line.
Stop 14: Covent Garden
Explore the lively Covent Garden area, popular shopping and foodie spot. Stopover into cafes, watch street performers or buy a souvenir. Explore the colorful Neal’s Yard alley nearby. This is a hidden gem with artistic, colorful buildings. Once done exploring, hop on the green line this time.
Hop off at stop 47: British Museum
The British museum has been mentioned as one of the world’s best museums. This museum contains a massive collection of historical artifacts while Great Britain was a major world super power. Some of these artifacts dates back thousands of years. See a portion of the Parthenon, the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies, and hieroglyphics. It is amazing how much stuff the British gobbled up during their world rule. Get back on to the green line, northbound.
Stop 42: Kings Cross
Harry Potter fans? Platform 9 3/4, is right inside Kings Cross Station. This is one popular station for the epic picture of holding the cart into the wall. Hop back onto green line, southbound.
Stop 14, transition back to red line.
Stop 15: St. Paul’s Cathedral.
St. Pauls’ Cathedral is another very famous landmark. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the present day cathedral was reconstructed in 1697 after the Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed the old St. Paul’s Cathedral. The funerals of Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill were held here, as was the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
For another great viewpoint over London, climb 528 steps to the top of the dome, golden gallery. Buy ticket online to save 2.00 euros on normal price of 18.00 euros.
If you have your walking shoes on go to take a walk across Millennium Bridge. Built in 2000, the Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Thames River. It has been featured in several movies, such as Harry Potter and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Head back to stop 15, hop on the red line.
Over Tower Bridge, hop off at stop 16.
On the bus, you’ll go over the famous Tower Bridge and once at stop 16, can get off the bus and take beautiful photos. It’s medieval style makes many people think that is very old (it was constructed in 1894) but it was designed to complement its neighbor, the Tower of London. If you are interested, you can climb one of the towers for another bird’s eye view of London.
Across the street is the Tower of London. The Tower of London dates back to 1066. It was used as both a prison and a royal residence and now houses the crown jewels. For an educational, slightly gory look at British history, don’t miss the Beefeater tours held daily.
Again, if you have your walking shoes on, walk across tower bridge to Borough Market .This is foodie paradise and a giant market with food from around the world, a reflection of modern day London.
Once you have seen enough, hop back on stop 16, red line.
Hop off at stop 12: London Eye, again
Walk along the water way to Westminster Bridge, toward Big Ben.
When you see Big Ben, it really feels like you are in London. For a first-timer here, it’s thrilling to get that first glimpse of Big Ben (hopefully not under construction).
Turn around and don’t miss the Houses of Parliament. Sure, it’s great to see Parliament and its iconic architecture from the outside. But did you know that you can tour the Houses of Parliament and even attend the debates at the House of Commons or House of Lords?
Walk, 4 minutes, to Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey another of London’s most popular landmarks. This is where kings and queens are crowned, where famous people are buried, and where marriages take place. Hundreds of people are buried under the floor, including Charles Darwin, Chaucer, Mary Queen of Scots, and the past kings and queens of England. Prince William and Kate were married here in 2011.
Walk back across the Westminster Bridge to hop back on the redline, in the direction of Lambeth place, stop 19. Or could walk down Birdcage walk, 15 minutes, toward Buckingham Palace.
Hop off stop 20: Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the residence of Queen Elizabeth and a highly recognizable spot in London.
Would be a treat to see The Changing of the Guards. During the Changing of the Guard one soldier takes over from another. It’s a lot of structure and switching of hands, but another one of those classic British experiences. The schedule depends on the time of year, with daily performances during the summer months.
Walk through Buckingham Palace Gardens to hop on blue stop 24.
Hop off 25: Harrods
Harrods is London’s premiere shopping store. Seven floors and 330 departments are filled with luxury items to purchase, from all around the world.
Hop back on stop 25, when done shopping.
Hop off stop 28: Kensington Palace.
Kensington Palaca has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century, and is currently the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Princess Eugenie of York, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
Hop back on stop 28. Going back to the airport.
Back to stop 33: Paddington Station
After that 8 Hour Layover in London, it’s time to take the express train back to the airport to board the plane for the night, sleep well.
To mention on your 8 Hour Layover in London
- Eat Fish and Chips: Classic British food and can be found at any London pub along your hop on hop off bus.
- Red Telephone Photo Booth: These iconic photo booths are scattered throughout the London streets. Get a photo inside the booths while they last.
Don’t like the Hop on Hop off bus?
Let’s face it, not everyone likes the commercialized hop on hop off bus, or maybe this is your second time in London and you want to do something different. Check out these suggestions:
- Walking Tour: So many options for walking tours in London. After being on a plane all night before and going to be back on the plane later, walking tour may be just what you need.
- Sandemans: Free tour
- Tour for Muggles: Harry Potter Tour
- Hair Goat Tour: Photography Tour
- Liquid History Tour: Alcohol Tour
- So many more: Food tours, Street Art, Art Tours
- Kayak Tour: If adventure and different views are your thing, these Kayak Tours are for you!
Guide to: 8 Hour Layover in London, England
No matter how you spend your 8 Hour Layover in London, just remember to enjoy and take in the British history.
Have you been to London, what would you suggest to do on a 8 Hour Layover in London?
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