London Layover Guide

A London layover was the perfect way to experience solo traveling for the first time. London is the one city that I always dreamed about living in someday. Of course I know that my preconceived notions and hearsays mean nothing unless I experience the place itself.  And so as I planned my trip to Dubai, I looked for a flight with a long layover in London.

london1

View of Thames River during my bus tour.

Layover Tips:

1. Make sure you have enough time to do whatever it is you want to do. Always give yourself extra time once you arrived in Heathrow or Gatwick. Consider delays or long lines at customs as well as time looking or figuring out transportation. Research train schedules ahead of time and avoid taking the cab as much as possible! Traffic will eat up your time and not to mention, cabs are very expensive.  I had a seventeen-hour layover which gave me more than enough time to see Central London. I hate rushing so I made sure to give myself ample time.

2. Stop by any of the tours/excursion kiosks, they are all over the airport. I was by myself when I went to London so it was great that I can just pick an excursion that best suit my needs and my availability, and of course budget. I also took my time with looking through the different activities/excursions.

3. Hop on/Hop Off Bus

bus1

For me, the best way to see London in a day and as a solo traveler was the hop on/hop off bus. I love these buses! Whenever I get the chance, I prefer to take this form of transportation around a city like London, Athens and NYC. I was able to see all the sites I wanted: the London Bridge, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Picadilly,  Trafalgar Square, Baker Street, Notting Hill and many more! The best thing is you can hop off to any place and walk around or eat at a pub then just hop back on at bus stops. The ticket is usually good for two days so it’s even better if you are staying there for another day.  I took the Big Bus Tour and it costs about £32.00 (which is about $51).

london

london eye

The London Eye

4. Take the Overground rail outside the city for some scenic countryside views. If you have time, and would like to see what is outside Central London, just take the overground to be transported to a less hustle and bustle scenery. It was nice to just relax and have my eyes enjoy the greenery around me the farther away from the city I got.

5. EAT, DRINK and BE MERRY! Be sure to eat before you go back to the airport. There are a lot of pubs and interesting restaurants that you can stop at during the bus tour. Don’t wait last minute to eat at the airport.  I was at Heathrow and it was VERY crowded. There was barely a place to sit down! And most of all, Heathrow didn’t have many restaurants inside and the food market has long lines. So go have some fish and chips and a warm beer at Toff’s at Muswell Hill when you get the chance!

Jen is a Chicago-based traveler and a full-time Director of Development for an arts & culture organization. Originally from Connecticut, she created Angel of Wanderlust as a place to share her travel stories and photos with friends and family. Now, it is a place for adventurers, explorers and dreamers. Its purpose is to inspire and encourage people to see the world and achieve a better work-life balance.