The Secret to Taking it Easy in London (& Not Missing a Thing)

Taking it easy in London and walking through Hyde ParkIf you have been following along, you’ll know that we are taking it easy in London and just doing a couple things a day. We want to enjoy being in London without running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Because that would be cruel.

Here’s how we spent a couple days seeing lots of sights in London at a leisurely pace.

 

 


Changing of the Guard

As Henry said, “It was overcrowded and underwhelming.” I think it would have been more impressive if we could have seen anything other than the heads of the people in front of us. We got there half an hour early during the slow season and still didn’t get great spots.

So, is the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace worth it? Probably. If you only have a day or two, I’d skip it, but if you have more time it might be worth seeing. I’m glad we went; I just wouldn’t go again.

TIP: The Changing of the Guard Ceremony only happens on certain days during the winter season. Check the website for details. Alternate viewing locations and tips for visiting with kids CAN BE FOUND HERE.

Trafalgar SquareTrafalgar Square is a good place to take it easy in London

We really enjoyed Trafalgar Square and had our lunch there. You can find a Pret a Manger or somewhere else to pick up lunch every ten feet. It’s a great place to let the kids run around and climb on memorials. No, really.


The Tower of London

We got to the Tower of London too late on our first attempt. It takes about an hour and half or longer to really appreciate, so we put it off for another day. On that other day, Finn wasn’t feeling well, so he and I hung out at the hotel and Henry and Anders visited the Tower of London.

To get the most out of your visit buy Tower of London tickets online. They are a little less expensive and save you time at the Tower. Then, check which tours and programs are happening that day. The Yeoman Tours (free) start on the half and whole hour and last 60 minutes. They give you a great overview of the history of the Tower of London. And take note of the Top Things to See and Do at the Tower of London.

WITH KIDS: There are a lot of programs specifically for kids and families at the Tower of London. In addition to the regular programs for kids, check out seasonal programs here.


British Museumkids activities at the British Museum in London

The British Museum on London can feel a little overwhelming. There is a lot to see and do. I’d advise going in knowing you won’t see everything. That way you can concentrate on a smaller section and really absorb what you are seeing. There are several tours each day (some free) that will help you narrow your focus or give you a great overview.

WITH KIDS: We grabbed one of the Activity Trails at the Family Desk. This booklet directed us to specific artifacts, gave a little explanation, and asked a question. This helped us concentrate on a few things and put them in context. The British Museum offers many kid and family programs. Like most of the kid activities we do, I got a lot out of this, too.

TIP: There are several cafés throughout the museum. Take a tea or lunch break during your visit to fuel up for the next section.

Chinatown London
Where to eat in Chinatown London

Aurelien Guichard from London, United Kingdom – Gerrard Street Uploaded by BaldBoris

We weren’t planning on going to London’s Chinatown, but a friend suggested we meet there for lunch. I am so glad. When you turn the corner into pedestrian-only street, the sky is filled with bright red lanterns. It was beautiful. We ate at London Chinatown Restaurant, which was hopping. And yummy. There are over 70 East Asian restaurants, shops, bars, and cafés, so you will easily find something you like.


Hyde Parkthings for kids to do in Hyde Park London

There is nothing that says “taking it easy in London” more than strolling through a park. One of London’s eight Royal Parks, Hyde Park is over 350 acres, so it’s a big one. There are a lot of famous landmarks in Hyde Park, including the Serpentine Lake, Speakers’ Corner and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. We walked through from one end to the other, just enjoying the sunshine. You could easily spend a day or two just hanging out in the park. There are several cafés, restaurants, and bars to keep your belly filled.

WITH KIDS: Rent a rowing or pedal boat to explore the waters of the Serpentine. Climb, slide, and swing in the Hyde Park Playground. Kensington Gardens is at one end of Hyde Park and home to the Diana Memorial Playground. A limited number of children are allowed in and it’s only open specific hours.

TIP: Learn more about Hyde Park history or natural history with one of the tours or programs. Or take a self-guided walk along the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk.

London Accommodations

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express and it worked out really well. Click the link below and search “Holiday Inn Express London – ExCel.”


See Our Whole Easy Going London Tour

How to plan a relaxing trip to London without missing the city's highlights.This article may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. You will never pay more when buying a product through our link. And we only recommend products that we truly love! Thank you! I appreciate your support!

30 thoughts on “The Secret to Taking it Easy in London (& Not Missing a Thing)

  1. Susan

    Love these tips! It really helps to have insider info – like the fact that it’s better to buy tickets online to the Tower of London or that the changing of the guard only happens certain days in the winter. It would be so disappointing to miss out on those things because you didn’t know better. Will be saving these tips for my trip to London!

  2. Debra Schroeder

    It’s nice to travel at a slower pace, especially when traveling with kids. That’s such a bummer that it was so crowded during the Changing of the Guards. Great reminder that it only happens on certain days in the winter. I loved the photo angle of your Trafalgar Square shot, nicely done.

    1. Mel Post author

      We definitely plan our trips so that the kids get what they need, and we still get to the places the adults want to see. Fortunately, we all have similar tastes.

  3. Noemi of Pinay Flying High

    I’ve moved to London 6 months ago and I haven’t even scratched the surface of it. I visited Tower of London a few months ago but missed the Yeoman’s tour which I heard was fun and very informative. I’m planning to do it again and hopefully next time, I’d be able to join the tour. I haven’t visited the British Museum yet… Actually, I haven’t gone to any museums yet. Yaiks!

    1. Mel Post author

      Isn’t it funny how you don’t take advantage of things in the place you live? I think that’s pretty common. But, it is fun to play tourist, especially if you live in London!

  4. Flo

    This is a great guide to not driving yourself crazy when you’re traveling! I STILL haven’t seen the changing of the guards, but that just means I can save it for a future trip 🙂 Absolutely loved the British Museum and found myself spending hours and hours there!

  5. Jenn and Ed Coleman

    How can any mellow London tour not include Bob Marley’s house? It’s just around the corner from Buckingham Palace and James Park if I remember right. It’s been a while. Did you know that they just discovered a stash of Bob Marley recordings in a London Hotel?

    Nice post and good advice for finding a little down time in a busy city.

    1. Mel Post author

      That sounds like it needs to be on the list for our next visit! Very cool and we were so close! I hadn’t heard about the found recordings, but I’d like to hear those!

  6. Only By Land

    I’m from the UK and what I like about London is that tickets cost the same price for every nationality, I wish it was the same in every country! The changing of the guard is a little stressful as so many people turn up to watch it, I agree that it can be missed! It’s good that the British museum have activities and a program for kids, this takes care of them for a while!

  7. Cat

    What a relaxing way to explore London, yet not get super overwhelmed! I would be particularly interested in checking out the British Museum and visiting the Hyde Park. Great tip on checking the schedule for the Guard ceremony in the winter months – so people won’t go there and get disappointed!

  8. Vicki Louise

    This sounds like a great way to explore London, the city can feel quiet frenetic but it’s great you were able to take a step back and take everything at your own pace. As a Brit I’m quiet proud of the pomp and ceremony and whilst you only need to see it once – I definitely think it is something worth seeing (and I’m glad you got to see some of it from behind the crowd!). My tip would be to get there early and find a pot on the fountain directly across from the gates – that little extra height makes all the difference!

    1. Mel Post author

      I am glad we did see the Changing of the Guards at least once! We were standing exactly where you said, but still couldn’t see inside the fence. We did have a decent view of the road when they marched by.

  9. Samantha Sparrow

    As a London local, I still think you’ve managed to fit in so much in 2 days here. I’m really into the British Museum and could spend ages, so its good you got to experience the highlights. Hyde Park is my favourite of all the London green spaces, and I walk through it each day to get to work (but I never knew they did guided walks!).

    1. Mel Post author

      How lucky to get to walk through Hyde Park every day! And visiting the British Museum frequently, but in smaller doses, seems like a good way to do it.

  10. Dave @ Travel Transmissions

    There’s just so much to do in London. I personally find it hard to take it easy with so much on offer, but I gotta say you make it look pretty natural. I really like how you shared tips for traveling with and without kids 🙂

    1. Mel Post author

      I get hit by the FOMO, too :). Normally, we just spend more time in one place, but London was a little pricey for that.

  11. Ivy

    Aw I always love watching your videos because #familygoals. Good to know that the changing of the guards didn’t sweep you off your feet. We wanted to check it out the next time we’re in London but I don’t think we’ll have enough time since we’re only there for a day. Didn’t get to see Trafalgar Square last time though so we’ll be sure to check that out!

  12. Gareth

    I have to say, when I read the title of your post, I would pretty dubious that London and “taking it easy” could even go in the same sentence. That being said however, it does seem as though you’ve managed to hit some of the city’s many highlights and all at a manageable pace. And yup, London’s Chinatown is well worth the visit

  13. Julie

    I always have to remind myself to sightsee at a leisurely pace. I feel its more enjoyable and you get to see more without being rushed. Sometimes with limited vacation time, you just want to pack it all in!!

    1. Mel Post author

      I get that feeling of wanting to do it all, too! But when you have a leisurely pace, there is room for the unplanned and unexpected.

  14. Cassandra

    Oh I loved this! I always see so many city guides that really pack in so many things to do, see, try, etc – that I always feel so overwhelmed with everything. I loved this relaxed guide to seeing London! And loved the video!!

  15. sophie

    WOW! this is a great tip I would say. I am traveling to Brussels next week . I have heard that UK is not too far from Brussels. I think I would make my trip to london as well, and ofcourse your this writeup would be so helpful to not miss a single place in the city. thanks for sharing! Cheers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *