Awesome! You’ve just landed at Heathrow! Welcome to the UK Are you on your way home or on the next leg of your journey?
Which ever it is; you have a 6 hour layover and you are wondering what to do with the time on your hands. Assuming your free time is the whole 6 hours I would suggest that you take yourself on a quick adventure and visit London, because it is so beautiful this time of year it would be a shame to miss it!
Start your adventure from Green Park and visit Buckingham Palace to see the fabulous flowers and then take a walk to Big Ben & Houses of Parliament; here goes:
Buy a one-day travel card for zones 1-6 at Heathrow Underground Tube station, cost approx £6.50 or £4.50 I am not sure exactly, this will allow you unlimited travel from Heathrow to Central London and back again.
Hop on the Piccadilly Line which runs from all Heathrow terminals. Allow an hour for the journey and go to Green Park (it’s direct).
Get off at Green Park and take the left hand stairs out, then at the top turn right (Green Park will be on the right and the road on your left). Walking straight ahead with the road on the left you will see the world-famous Ritz Hotel; stroll along the sidewalk/pavement to the end and back…you might even pop in for a quick look.
Then walk back towards the tube station, and at the gates turn left into Green Park (the gate is a couple of yards from the station exit). Stroll along the Queen’s Walk through the park till you reach The Mall, passing some wonderful Georgian Houses (behind high walls), Lancaster House and Clarence House on the left. A diagonal walk through the park will take you to see the Canadian Memorial. Once through the park and at The Mall and on the right you will see Buckingham Palace. = approx 15 minutes stroll.
Before leaving the area be sure to look at the fabulous fountain just in front of the Palace where you will see Queen Victoria on her throne staring straight ahead along towards Admiralty Arch and Trafalgar Square.
Then take a walk along The Mall towards Trafalgar Square. On your way take a diversionary stroll through St James’s Park.
It is beautiful any time of year and the gardens are magnificent. = 45minutes or so.
When you reach the end of The Mall, look to your right and you will see Horse-Guards Parade as well as the WW2 Bunker just before you reach Admiralty Arch. Be sure to look out for the statue of Capt James Cook.
Walk through the arch and into Trafalgar Square, spend 15 minutes or so if you wish to look around: surrounding Trafalgar Square are South Africa House, St Martin-in-the-fields Church, The National Gallery, and Canada House. While at Trafalgar Square be sure to take a quick look into The National Gallery and if you have a chance do cross over the road and visit St Martin-in-the-fields Church.
Then with Nelson’s Column behind you and passing the statue of King Charles I on his horse, head along Whitehall (main road) towards Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (Westminster Palace) = 15 minutes or so. A pointer for direction is that Lord Nelson on his perch (column) faces towards Big Ben and Houses of Parliament along Whitehall (name of the road),
Along the way and on the right hand side you will pass the Horse-Guards that stand sentry to the entrance of Horse-Guards Parade – (take a quick walk through the arch into Horse-Guards Parade), then continue your journey and along the way you can see the various monuments and memorials that line Whitehall, a number of quaint London Pubs and you will also pass No 10 Downing Street on the right hand side of the road.
When you reach the intersection, there before your very eyes will be our world-famous and fabulous: Big Ben.
Behind the clock tower is of course Westminster Palace aka The Houses of Parliament. While there, be sure to cross over to Westminster Abbey (looking towards the right), for a quick tour of the grounds. In the centre is Parliament Square – Statues on Parliament Square include Winston Churchill and President Abe Lincoln.
After visiting the Abbey, return to Big Ben, and walk up to the bridge (Westminster Bridge) The scaffolding has been removed and you can now view the whole palace alongside the river.
At that point you would be able to see the London Eye and the Aquarium to your left. = That whole excursion will take 60 minutes or so.
On the corner of the bridge and high up on her plinth is a wonderful sculpture of Queen Bodeciea and nearby is an ice-cream stand where you can buy a double cone soft vanilla ice-cream with flake for approx £2)
If you want to and have the time, take a walk along the Embankment (with the river on your right hand side), towards the next bridge (Hungerford Bridge ), you will enjoy the RAF (royal Air Force) monuments alongside the river bank as well as a gorgeous view of the London Eye and the Aquarium. = 45 minutes.
At Embankment Station there are a number of coffee shops where you could stop off and have a cuppa. = 30minutes or so. If not and its a hot day, then have an ice-cream instead If you have time climb the stairs onto the bridge, it holds a magnificent view of the river towards the London Eye etc.
If at this point you have used up approx 4-5 hours you will need to hop onto the tube at Embankment station, allow at least an hour and 15 minutes to get back to Heathrow. Take either the Circle Line or District Line towards South Kensington station. Change at South Kensington station to the Piccadilly Line for Heathrow. Allow at least an hour for your journey (maybe add an extra 15minutes to your time to be on the safe side).
so in summary:
Heathrow to Green Park = 60 minutes give or take
Green Park station stroll through Green Park to Buckingham Palace 15 minutes
Buckingham Palace through St James’s park to Trafalgar Square 45 minutes
Trafalgar Square visit (also National Gallery & St Martin-in-the-fields) 60 minutes
Walk to Big Ben and Houses of Parliament 15 minutes
Time at Big Ben and perhaps Westminster Abbey 60 minutes
walk along the Embankment (the London Eye will be on your right hand side) to Embankment station 45 minutes
stop for coffee (or not) 30 minutes (you may by this stage need to just hop on the tube for your journey back to Heathrow)
Take Circle/District Line to South Kensington station 15 minutes
at South Kensington change to Piccadilly Line for Heathrow and allow 60 minutes at least for the journey to your terminal.
I have allowed extra time for each leg of the excursion, so you may find it takes a bit less for each. It’s up to you how long you want to take at each place. However if by the time you get to Big Ben and your time is running out, then hop on the tube at Westminster station and take the Jubilee line to Green Park station and change there for the Piccadilly line to Heathrow. Again that will take approx 60minutes. Also factor in time for asking directions or studying the tube line directions at the stations if you are not familiar with the system The staff at the station are exceptionally helpful.
Good luck and have a fabulous trip….. let me know if this works for you.
website for the London Underground tube system, which will allow you to check for any changes to services or possible delays etc