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First time visitors to United Kingdom/London

First time visitors to United Kingdom/London

Old May 13th, 2000, 03:48 PM
Tony Tessier
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First time visitors to United Kingdom/London

My wife and I and our two teenage daughters are planning a first time trip to the United Kingdom next year. We have 2-3 weeks to spend. We would like to see England and Scotland on this trip. Despite reading a lot of travel guides & other information, we are really uncertain as to where to go, what to see ("must sees"), where to stay, etc. We do not like organized tours as we like to do things at our own pace. If we stay in London for 7-10 days, which area is best to stay in? We are not looking for the cheapest or the most expensive, just something clean, air conditioned, and convenient. What about apartment rentals? Which tours are best in to take in London. Can you take day tours outside the city to see various sites? What is the train to Edinborough like? What tours should you take there. Other than London, where should we spend most of our time? All information, hints, etc. would be appreciated. Thanks
Old May 13th, 2000, 06:18 PM
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You might check with Nick Price of Price Apartments in London (he;s got a web page) - we recently stayed in one of his studio flats on Balcombe St. (near Baker St. & Regents Park). Nick has a newly remodeled two bedroom flat at 31 Balcombe tho - we saw it and it is quite nice. It also has 1 bathroom with glass shower stall and another small bathroom with just a toilet and sink - with 2 teenage daughters it might be worth looking into, just having that extra sink & mirror might be worth it He charges 789 pounds for 7 days. I am not associated with Nick in any way, but we've gotten to know him via rentals, and this apartment might be good for you. If you do contact him just let him know that Lori and John mentioned him to you. It's about 3 blocks from Baker St. (several Underground lines, several bus lines) and one block from Marylebone Station (Bakerloo line). There is a small supermarket in the neighborhood and many places to eat, a Boots (drug store), ATM's etc. on Baker St. Nick also acts as an agent for other flats but his new one is really nice for the price. I'm not sure about a/c tho - we go in April and it's not an issue! Some of his other flats (Delany Court) may be an option for you too. He also has an associate who will pick you up at the airport for 30 pounds - it's wonderful to come off a long flight and not have to hassle your way into town with luggage and Michael is a great guy as well with a dry sense of humor!

Day tours are abundant - from Marylebone you can go to Warwick Castle very easily, from Waterloo Station you can go to Hampton Court. There are too many day trips to go into, everyone has their favorites tho. You can even do a day trip to York from Kings Cross Station if you so desire. Look at the GNER (Great North Eastern Railway) website for times/prices/etc. A must is a week long Travelcard - probably as first time visitors the Zone 1 card will be fine - it's a true God send, you can jump on and off buses, in and out of the tube and not worry about paying each time. You do need a passport sized picture tho and the passes are available for purchase at most tube stations.

We do not do organized tours anyplace so I understand that thought completely!

You might want to get tickets to The London Eye ahead of time, it's well worth it and it is a new attraction in London. I would imagine the Tower would be on your list of things to see, as well as Buckingham Palace. Museums are abundant, the British Museum is great, but we like the Museum of London very much as well. The V&A Museum is also worthseeing. Your daughters might enjoy Kensington Palace, Diana's former home. They also might enjoy some time in Harrod's - everyone loves the Food Court there. Windsor is also a favorite day trip altho it gets very crowded out there.

I would definately get your girls involved in the planning to avoid any "this is boring" days (hopefully they are not that kind of kids tho)! They might enjoy Camden Market - a giant flea market held most days (but really in full swing on weekends) - lots of young people, lots of all kinds of people, lots of merchandise and a fun time. It makes a nice break from heavy duty sightseeing. A canal ride back from Camden Lock Market through Regent's Park to Little Venice is also nice (and easy on the feet if you need a rest). There is just so much to do you cannot go wrong with anything.

I've probably rambled on too much already, sorry! Don't over plan tho, planning is good, but allow some time to just turn a corner and go down a side street - sometimes those end up being the best times of all.
Old May 14th, 2000, 05:35 AM
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I can second the recommendation for Nick Price Price Apartments(www.priceapts.co.uk/) we used his service last December and he was a pleasure to deal with. While in London I recommend the Original London Walks (http://london.walks.com/) walking tours. Their guides are excellent and they have such a large selection of tours that you should be able to find something of interest for all members of your family.

Old May 15th, 2000, 04:26 AM
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Hi Tony
If you are interested in my London notes which include sightseeing and daytrips, feel free to email me.

There is a lot of valuable information on this Forum, if you do a search on words that reflect your interests
(e.g., London, Edinburgh, etc) you will
get a lot of help.
Old May 15th, 2000, 05:25 AM
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We never do organized tours, either. But early in your London stay I would recommend a tour on one of the double decker buses. You can hop on and off at any stop, and the driver points out the sights as you drive by. It is an excellent way to get an overall picture of the city. Since you have some time, I would recommend that someone in the family be appointed to read "London" by Rutherford for the historical perspective, and why things are the way they are.

It sounds as though you want to spend a few days in the countryside also, and if you do I would recommend the Cotswolds. Stow-on-the-Wold or Chipping Camden would be good bases for seeing the Cotswolds, with lots of nice hotels and B&Bs. You will need to rent a car or hire a taxi, for train and bus service won't do in the Cotswolds.
Old May 15th, 2000, 06:59 AM
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WE did OUR 1st trip to London last Sept.
and I am a history buff, but I have to
second the open top bus tour, they are very good, We did the cotswolds and drove to Edinburgh, Can't wait to go again, have Fun!
Old May 15th, 2000, 07:56 AM
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Answering only the last part of your query, the train to Edinburgh only takes about 5 hours, and unless you specifically want to see places on the way, I would recommend it as a mode of transport.

Edinburgh is a small user friendly city with hop on hop off bus tours if you want to see round the places worth seeing, and if you want to do tours outside the city there are a number of operators- LRT, Rabbie's Trail Burners and Haggis Backpackers for 3. they all do trips from half a day to three days.

Or you could hire and drive; or you could take train trips- certainly Glasgow is easily doable by train from Edinburgh.

Please ask further questions.

Old May 15th, 2000, 11:08 AM
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Check out the following website:


It lists universities in London that rent out their dorm rooms (residential halls) each summer. Rooms vary from single to double to family/group size.

BTW, I recommend you see the Yorkshire Dales area of northern England. Beautiful countryside with lots of little villages and scenic walks.

Check out the Forbidden Corner in North Yorkshire (http://www.yorkshiredales.net/visit/...rner/index.htm.) It is an interactive folly with mazes,secret doors and underground caves. You get a map and must solve riddles to enter other areas. A great place to take the family!

The city of York is also very nice.
Old May 15th, 2000, 11:18 AM
David White
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Well, you are on the right track, at least. Many people wait until the last minute to start planning their first trip to the UK and they also make th mistake of trying to see too much in too short a time. Your 2-3 week timeframe, with 7 to 10 days in London, will give you a chance to explore.

I would suggest that you stay in as central a London location as you can afford. Hotels are expensive in London, and finding an air-conditioned hotel that can accomodate a family is a real challenge. You CAN use the Tube (subway) to reach the major tourist attractions from less central hotels, but you'll end up spending a lot of your time commuting.

I would suggest looking in Mayfair, Westminster, and other central London locations. If you stay in Paddington/Bayswater, Earl's Court, Kensington (at least the western part of it), you'll be away from the main tourist sights.

If you really have 7 to 10 days to devote to London, I don't think you need to take any organized city tours...you've got time to see the city on your own. You've probably even got time to do some side trips to Windsor, Hampton Court, Kew, and other nearby locations. All of these can be easily reached by train in 30 minutes or so from central London. Just a little further afield, you can see Bath, Oxford, Stratford Upon Avon, York and a whole host of other places by train.

Don't rule out renting a car and driving outside of London (not in the city though). You could take the train to Oxford, then rent a car and drive through the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

Edingburg was not the highlight of my trips in the UK--some may disagree--but it is a good jumping off spot to see some of Scotland.

I'd also consider touring the Lake District (Cumbria) if you want to see some beautiful countryside. The southwest coast (Devon, Cornwall) is also a beauty spot.

This does precious little to narrow down your list of "must sees", I admit. But it does give you some idea of areas to consider.

Finally, since you are traveling with teenagers, feel free to look at my website:


it contains information for families traveling to London.

Enjoy your trip!

David White

Old May 16th, 2000, 07:53 AM
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I took my teenage daughter to London in April and am in the midst of typing up notes to pass on to others. It was my sixth trip to England, but my first with one of my children.

E-mail me directly if you want to get my notes. It will spur me on to complete them!

Old May 17th, 2000, 04:00 AM
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The "must see" in Scotland is the Highlands, the area North (& West) of Glasgow, stretching to the top.
Although there are other beautiful areas(Perthshire,the Borders,Dumfries,Western Isles)this is the sine qua non.
From Edinburgh bus tours are easy to find, from Glasgow (40 mins train from Edinburgh) trains are the thing.
Head for the Isle of Skye.(now bridged to the mainland)
This HUGE site is a real gem, has everything, especially detail on the Highlands:
Old May 20th, 2000, 12:02 PM
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The train to Edinburgh from London is fast and direct. Book your tickets a few days in advance to save money!

Other must sees are:
The Lake District (Cumbria) - beautiful scenery and lots of English Heritage - you would need a hire car to do this effectively though. There are lots of guest houses that you could find on the net for places to saty here (try www.lastminuterooms.com).

Alton Towers - a big fun park, ideal for a couple of days visit if you have spare time.

Scotland is great - Edinburgh has a large Zoo, but you can easily explore the rest of Scotland from Edinburgh should you choose. I suggest staying at the Edinburgh Capital Moat House if you go, my fiance and I stayed there last year and found it very comfortable and the food and leisure was excellent.

They are just a couple of suggestions of what to do while you are there, many foreigners just look at London but there really is much more to England!

You probably won't find much air conditioned! We dont need it over here!

Have fun!
Old May 22nd, 2000, 09:44 AM
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Hi ...

Not sure that I would spend 7-10 days in London ... maybe 2-3 .... hire a car & go around England/Wales/Scotland ... maybe Isle of Wight ... Cornwall/Devon are very nice ...
Alton Towers is excellent ... don't go at a weekend ... to busy .... there is a hotel there you can stay at ... Alton Towers is like Bucsh Gardens ....
If you want any info about places to visit, then contact me ... I live in England
Old May 31st, 2000, 01:24 PM
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i like the bloomsbury area the best... close to tubestops..theater..resturants,
the city is easy to get around waking, just make sure your shoes are REALLY comfortable!
take in the usual "tourist" sites.. the tower, kensington..national portrait gallery.. walk along the thames, its really lovely.
check out a britrail pass for your daytrips..best way to go. i really enjoyed windsor, hampton court.. your daughters will like the maze there. york is a must see... it is what americans think an english city should look like.. you can shop in the shambles..and canterbury was another favorite.. basically, i loved everything over there.. i'm sure you will too!
Old Jun 2nd, 2000, 07:37 PM
Dave Hutchinson
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Tony..Here is a laundry list of my London favorites..Both wax museums (Madame Toussad's and Rock Circus), Cabinet War Rooms, Tower of London, a boat ride on The Thames, the parks, Buckingham Palace, the theater. The train ride from London to Edinburgh is wonderful. Plan a stop in York on the way. You might like to check out my recent England photos at www.CrazyAboutTravel.com . Have fun! -Dave-
Old Jun 7th, 2000, 10:59 PM
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Unless you're going to do a lot of train travel, I wouldn't recommend a Britrail pass. We bought return (round trip) tickets for Windsor for L6 (about $10) and return tickets for Hampton Court for L3! In both cases, the castle was just a short walk from the train station. I've read (on this site) that you can get the best price by buying same-day return tickets a day in advance. Rick Steves has good advice (with charts) comparing the cost and the time involved of bus travel vs. train travel and whether it is worth it to buy a Britrail pass.

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