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Plenty To Do In London, No Matter Your Age

Gary Bembridge
Walking the streets of London is the best way to see the city ... and that might include the fictional Diagon Alley, on the Harry Potter studio tour.

The Going Places mailbag – OK, fine, it’s an e-mail inbox – brought us a nice note this week, from a listener with a pressing travel question.

Abe in Redmond writes: “I am taking my 11 and 13-year-old boys to London in August.... I am curious about the less-obvious places you like to visit in the city.”

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley took his then-13-year-old son to London last summer, and he offered some advice:

Do It On Foot

The double-decker tour buses are nice if you’re tired. But the best way to see London is by having the freedom to move wherever you please.

For a walking tour, check out a company called London Walks. They have ghost tours, a Jack the Ripper tour, and a Harry Potter-themed walk past filming locations from the movies based on J.K. Rowling’s books.

Or, wander on your own along the Thames and take a ride on the London Eye, too.

Along the Thames, you’ll find the Globe Theatre. It’s worth a stop to see a play or to go through the museum and learn more about William Shakespeare. Not far from there, you can tour the London Prison.

For a dose of history, see the Churchill War Rooms.

And of course, there are museums.

“Don’t overdo it” on the museums, Brumley said. “Spend an hour, introduce them to as much as possible and get out of there.”

The British Museum will be great for kids. The National Gallery – full of portraits and paintings – might try their patience.

The Pounds Add Up

London can be pricey.

“Ungodly expensive,” Brumley said. “It’s painfully expensive.”

But there are some alternatives. For food, look to street vendors – especially in the summer – and enjoy a picnic in a public garden or park, or along the Thames.

For lodging, try AirBNB, or stay at a dorm. The University of London is among the many schools offering accommodations for visitors.

“They’re simple accommodations, but (The University of London is) dead center” in the middle of popular attractions, Brumley said. “And it’s a fraction of the price of a hotel.”

Abe’s Itinerary

Abe, our traveler from Redmond, has built an eight-day itinerary that includes Trafalgar Square, the British Museum, rides on “the tube” (London’s subway), and even a day built in for playing things by ear – with some suggestions, of course.

“Abe, you’ve done a wonderful job,” Brumley said. “I don’t see anything I’d take out.”

Have fun, Abe.


"Going Places" is KPLU's weekly exploration of travel topics, ranging from far-flung destinations to nearby escapes. Matthew Brumley is the co-founder of Earthbound Expeditions on Bainbridge Island, which provides small-group travel to clients including KPLU. Have a question you'd like answered? Leave it in the comments below.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.