In true Harry Potter movie (and Harry Potter play) fashion, this post on a four-day itinerary in London for Harry Potter lovers was split into two parts. Click here to read Part One—where I covered the itinerary for Days 1 and 2, including an afternoon high-tea bus ride, the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play, and Buckingham Palace—or read on to learn about the itinerary for Days 3 and 4!
Day Three (Thursday):
We began our day with breakfast at our hotel and packed sandwiches and snacks for lunch. Then we walked to Victoria Coach Station, where we hopped on a bus that took us outside of London proper.
We were headed to Watford, to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. The tickets that we purchased included the round-trip bus ride from London, which was worth it because we didn’t have to find our own way up there, plus they had an added benefit that the bus showed a Harry Potter movie on the TVs.
The tour was incredible! It was self-guided, so you could take as much or as little time as you wanted to look at the artifacts and read their plaques. You were able to walk through actual movie sets, see real costumes and props, and feel like you were immersed in the world of Harry Potter. Every place you looked was a photo op.
Before the self-guided tour begins, an employee brings everyone through an introductory room where an awesome short documentary plays (sort of like how they do at theme parks). Then an employee guides the group to the “front entrance” of the tour, which is the doors to Hogwarts Castle’s Great Hall, and asks if anyone is celebrating something special. Hubby and I were there on our honeymoon, of course, so we were selected to push open the doors to the Great Hall and begin the tour for everyone!
We visited the Studio during the special Goblet of Fire exhibit and also really loved the unique and scary Forbidden Forest section. Halfway through, there is a nice courtyard where you can purchase lunch on site (nothing special) or relax and eat the lunch that you packed (which we did).
There are photo opportunities with green screens where you can dress up and have staff take your photo (for purchase). There were several shops within the experience where you can buy souvenirs. The shop at the end has the most variety.
It took us approximately three and a half hours to complete the tour, then we headed back to London.
We arrived at Westminster Abbey right after a mass had started. Staff at the door said that we could enter, but we had to stay for the duration of the mass. We were not really dressed appropriately for mass, so ultimately we decided not to enter. I would have liked to have seen the inside—maybe on our next London trip! The outside was beautiful though. We popped into The Westminster Abbey Shop and supported the church by purchasing several souvenirs. They sold the most beautiful hand-sewn Christmas ornaments.
We walked up a block or so towards Big Ben, which was unfortunately covered with construction scaffolding. We crossed the Westminster Bridge halfway to get a good angle for a photo. We then walked back toward Big Ben (as opposed to crossing the bridge fully). The London Eye Ferris Wheel is on the other side. You could ride the London Eye then cross back. We both had no interest in the wheel, and the rest of our day was planned to be on the same side of the River Thames, so we decided not to cross.
We continued our walk up the Victoria Embankment and River Thames. We stopped for a short sit at the Whitehall Gardens, then we continued on to find an Indian restaurant called Strand Tandoori on Bedford Street. The place doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it has 4 stars and the service was good. The tikka masala and saag were both really tasty.
After dinner, we hadn’t really planned anything else for the night, so we began our walk towards the direction of our hotel. We stumbled upon The National Portrait Gallery which had free entry, so we decided to go in. What a great find! Not only did the gallery have many older portraits and busts, it also had a whole wing with many modern pieces of royals I could recognize. I’m so used to seeing the more recent royals in TV and movie dramatizations, but seeing their real portraits was quite special.
After we finished, we continued around the building and realized the back of the museum is Trafalgar Square. Several artists set up chalk sidewalk art that was really impressive. We watched one artist for a bit as he drew up flags for each country. People would put coins on their country’s flag.
We got totally mixed up and lost on our way back to the hotel (which isn’t always a bad thing!) and stumbled upon the Kingsman Suit Shop, just like the movie! We couldn’t believe it existed in real life. The shop is on James Street if anyone is curious and wants to check it out. It was closed, so we couldn’t go in, but I took a picture of hubby in front. See? Getting lost can be fun! The route back took us way too long due to road closures for an upcoming event, but we eventually made our way to the front of Buckingham Palace and walked through the tulip garden surrounding Victoria Memorial.
A few blocks later, we were back at our hotel room. We walked over 20,000 steps that day!
Day Four (Friday):
We had to wake up very early on day four because we were again headed outside of London proper. We ate breakfast, packed lunch, and, you guessed it, walked a few blocks to Victoria Station.
This time, we were headed all the way to Amsebury to see Stonehenge. The tour tickets included round-trip coach bus transport for the hour-and-a-half drive, entry to Stonehenge, and a handheld audio guide. You can select the bus pick-up time. We picked first thing in the morning, so we could maximize the day and get back to London in the afternoon.
The bus dropped us off at the gift shop area where we boarded a smaller shuttle bus that took our group over to the actual historical landmark. From here, we were each provided our headset and were free to roam around and listen to each chapter of the audio guide. I’m a huge history buff and found the information to be interesting. All I had known when we booked Stonehenge was that it was a wonder of the world, 5,000 years old, and a World Heritage Site. What we learned from the guide far exceeded my expectations.
The site was gorgeous, with the morning sun shining through the strategically-placed stones. Since the site became a World Heritage Site in 1986, on a regular tour you can no longer get close enough to touch the stones. I was still surprised how close you could get from within the rope barrier though. There are tours that have special access allowing guests to go inside the inner circle, but these tours are not during normal hours (they are dawn and dusk tours with smaller groups). They also don’t run every day, so if you are interested then do your research ahead of time!
On our drive back into town, we decided to get off the bus early, which allowed us to get off close to our next destination: the Natural History Museum. Entry into this museum is free. The exhibits I found most interesting were minerals and the vault with sparkling gemstones, meteorite and star specimens, dinosaurs, marine invertebrates, and the blue whale skeleton. The architecture of the building was also very impressive with beautiful stonework, stairwells, and windows.
We headed up the block to Harrods department store. General shopping for things we could buy at home is not really our cup of tea on vacation. However, we visited Harrods because it was founded 170 years ago, it is the largest department store in all of Europe, and everyone we know suggested we go. I don’t think we even saw one whole floor into Harrods before we left. It was a very unique store. We went from an Egyptian clothing section into a chocolate confectionary section. The store has eight floors with over 330 different departments. You would need a day to see it all—and as I said before, I don’t shop like that on vacation. But if shopping is your thing, then definitely plan a longer trip to Harrods.
We ended our last night in London with a four-star dinner at St George’s Tavern on Belgrave Road. The upstairs was very busy, but they took us in the basement which had a nice ambiance. We started with soups, then I ordered a steak and chips and hubby ordered a burger topped with pastrami and chips. It was a nice way to end our time in England.
Departure Day (Saturday):
We woke up, ate breakfast, did last minute packing, returned the keys at the next-door building, then boarded a train to bring us back to Heathrow Airport. This was really more of a travel day, so we didn’t count it as a day in London. Something I will note is that we are Priority Pass members and have access to airport lounges all over the world. Heathrow has four terminals with lounges. The terminal we were flying out of (Terminal 4 SkyTeam Lounge) was really clean with varied food and drink options, and it had a nice ambiance with a green garden wall. This was one of the nicer lounges that we experienced on our trip.
What’s the only thing I felt I missed out on?
We never made it to Kings Cross Station. Any true Harry Potter fan knows that Platform 9 ¾ is where the students would enter to get to the secret Hogwarts Express train platform. Well, Kings Cross Station has an actual 9 ¾ sign, in tribute to Harry Potter’s popularity, with the trolley going halfway through the wall. Jump up in the air as you snap a photo and it looks like you are on your way to Hogwarts! They also have a Harry Potter Shop. The Studio Tour in Watford and theme park in Orlando both recreated Platform 9 ¾ as well, so I didn’t miss the photo op there. It would have just been cool to see Kings Cross in person.
Final Attraction Itinerary:
- Tuesday: B Bakery High Tea Bus Tour
- Wednesday: Buckingham Palace, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Play Parts 1 and 2, Primark, Dinner at Rock and Sole Plaice
- Thursday: Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, River Thames, National Portrait Gallery, Kingsman shop, Dinner at Strand Tandoori
- Friday: Stonehenge, Natural History Museum, Harrods, Dinner at St George’s Tavern
As Harry Potter super-fans, we felt like we got in as much Harry Potter as we could, while still capturing some of the main highlights of London. We did spend two half-days outside of London proper, but that was because those activities really interested us. Don’t be afraid to hop on a bus tour that takes you away from the hustle and bustle. If Harry Potter isn’t really your thing, or if show tickets are sold out, then there’s loads more to do in London, some free, and some ticketed. So do your homework and plan an itinerary. Overall, we felt like four days was the perfect duration to see a lot of what London has to offer.
And that concludes Part Two of the 4-Day Itinerary in London for Harry Potter Fans! If you missed Part One of this blog post, then click here to catch up! Don’t miss out on my Pro Tips for choosing hotels and attractions in Part One!
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