Last minute trip to UK - please help

Old Jul 30th, 2011, 07:22 AM
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Last minute trip to UK - please help

Long story short, we found some very good airfare to London at the end of August/beginning of September and are contemplating booking a 10 day trip. This is very impulsive and not much time to plan, but we would like to make this happen. We have been to the UK several times and have spent a lot of time in London, not much in the countryside outside of the train from Paris-London whizzing along.

The plan would be to spend 4-5 days in London - we would probably use Priceline and get a 3-4 star in Kensington or Mayfair. We haven't been to the gardens, the zoo, might focus on outdoor stuff. What will the weather be like in early September?

After London, we will stop in Oxford, we have a friend's son at the university there. Where should we go after that? Not interested in driving in the UK, we will probably train it. Is BritRail a good option or would we be better off with public buses? Maybe see Windsor Castle, Stratford upon Avon, Stonehenge, that kind of thing. We like to structure our touring so that we have a couple of "down" days in between hard sightseeing in which to relax and chill out.

Any suggestions on hotels, restaurants, sightseeing, etc. would be very helpful and appreciated. Thanks!
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 07:50 AM
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Weatherwise - no one can tell. We had lovely weather in April this year (high 20's celsius) and pretty much all of July has been grey and barely hitting 20. I would plan for low 20's, some sun, some rain, and some in between - not much help, but the UK weather is pretty changeable.

I cant really help with the rest as I dont travel using buses or trains in that manner. We usually rent a car to do several days outside of London. Hopefully someone else will chime in. Oxford is beautiful, and

Woodstock is a nice village just outside Oxford which is accesible by train.

Check out www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times. It looks like you can get from Oxford to Salisbury with a change in Southhampton in about 2 hours. One idea would be to stay a couple nights in Oxford, then train to Salisbury (lovely town with lots to see...the cathedral holds the best copy of the MAgna Carta, also Sarum is up on the hill...) and then you can take the bus to Stonehenge easily. Then travel back to London/the airport for your flight home.

One thing you might think about is heading out to Oxford right away. That way you can put all of London at the end to make it easy to catch your flight...that way you dont have to worry about getting back to London the night before and spend another night in London...

Happy PLanning!
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 08:02 AM
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Thanks for the web site and your suggestion, it's a good one and makes sense. It looks like you can take the train directly from Heathrow Airport to Oxford without having to go into London? Ifour planes arrives in the early morning, would an early afternoon train make sense?
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 08:12 AM
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Not interested in driving in the UK, we will probably train it. Is BritRail a good option or would we be better off with public buses? Maybe see Windsor Castle, Stratford upon Avon, Stonehenge, that kind of thing.>

IME trains are more comfy than buses though buses may be cheaper but often also take longer to get there. If you want to train to places like you mention it is easily done - I would use London as a base so you do not have to relocate - always a hassle IMO - and there is a railpass called the Days Out of London pass that you may want to investigate (not sure of current name - could be London and Beyond as they keep changing its name!) But it gives you a certain number of unlimited calendar days of travel on any train in a wide area surrounding London, including all the places you mention (well Salisbury for Stonehenge - a short bus ride from Salisbury station - and do not neglect seeing the fabulous city of Salisbury as well, esp its awesome cathedral) - Oxford, Windsor and even as far as Stratford and Bath (another gem - to me England's finest regional town outside of London, along with York - and with the pass you can literally just show up and hop any train anytime - you can often get discounted tickets but often they restrict you to leaving London weekdays after 9:30am and for long day trips like Stratford you may want to leave earlier - any train anytime - the pass also includes a round trip train transfer on the Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick Express trains that can be used anytime - and these trains are rather pricey - but check fares also at www.nationalrail.co.uk which gives you schedules and fares for any train ride in Britain - again there are some nice discounted fares but read the conditions as often they have restrictions and may be specific only to one train, etc. Anyway you have all the various fares there to compare with the pass - again pass can be used on any train anytime and such fully flexible fares are often really expensive.

for loads of great info on British trains check out these fantastic IMO sites - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and especially www.seat61.com - check the latter's link to RailEurope to check on current prices of the Days Out of London pass.
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 08:36 AM
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PQ, thanks for the info! Is this what you were describing? http://www.raileurope.com/activities...=cpc&WT.srch=1

I couldn't find it on the Seat61 site, but I saw it on RailEurope. It includes admission to 70 sites and the tube, local buses, light rail. However not the express to Heathrow.
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 09:21 AM
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No not the London Pass - that is something strictly for London that many folks here who have analyzed it say is not worth it for the average tourist - yes many things are covered but things that most tourists will not do.

I guess RailEurope does not sell BritRail Passes - and the London Plus Flexipass - that is the name is a BritRail Pass - under that umbrella - I just checked www.budgeteuropetravel.com and saw the prices on there and the official name!

The London Plus Flexipass would probably not be a good deal unless you were doing the long Stratford trip or at least two day trips - Windsor and Oxford are short and cheap trips so if those two pass may not be worth it - but if going to Stratford and Salisbury the pass should be a good deal - especially for the flexibility to leave before 9:30am and hop any train - like returning from Stratford - when you are done you head to the station and just hop on any train to return.

But the London Pass for most is not IMO a good deal.
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 10:18 AM
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if you're arriving at LHR in the early morning, you should easily be able to catch a train to Oxford by lunchtime. it might be easier [though not necessarily cheaper] just to get on the first train that arrives after you've cleared passport and customs.

after Oxford you could do a nice trip exploring the Cotswolds, but that is undoubtedly easier by car; there have been some threads about doing it on public transport, however. or get the train to Bristol - a great city strangely ignored by most foreign [and local] tourists. you could return to London easily from there via Bath if you liked.
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 10:27 AM
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You can not get a train from LHR to Oxford. There is excellent bus service from LHR and the trip takes about 80/90 minutes. If arriving at Terminal 5 simply head straight out the doors after exiting customs to Bay 11. For all other terminals go to the Central Bus Station LHR, Bay 14A (I think). You can buy your ticket on board. Buses run about every 30 minutes.

www.oxfordbus.co.uk/theairline

From Oxford you can get (by train) to Salisbury via Basingstoke which will probably be your best option, or there are direct trains to York. The York trip takes about 3-3 1/2 hours. Sorry I can't help with rail passes, but I seldom find BritRail a bargin.
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 10:45 AM
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"<i> It looks like you can take the train directly from Heathrow Airport to Oxford without having to go into London?</i>"

No you can't. It is either a train into London and then another one to Oxford - or - a bus to Reading and a train from there. As historytraveler says, it would be easier and faster to just take a coach (bus) from LHR to Oxford.

Woodstock (Blenheim Palace) doesn't have train service, but there are frequent buses from Oxford.

I wouldn't bother w/ a rail pass, except for a train up to York none of your train journeys would be very long or very expensive.
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 10:59 AM
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york?

where did that come from?

too far IMHO if you want to fit in everything else.
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 11:08 AM
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"<i>york?

where did that come from?</i>"

Just because historytravel mentioned York --- not necessarily a recommendation.
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 11:22 AM
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I'm passing the <I> hot potato </I>regarding a visit to York. I think Pal mentioned York. A great place, but I agree not the best choice with a limited amount of time.
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 11:30 AM
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OK -- I don't often read looooong posts about rail passes and such. Eyes tend to glaze over a bit. Sorry for putting the 'blame' on you instead of where it belongs
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 11:31 AM
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Just checked and my link to <I> the airline </I> doesn't work. However all other information correct. Try www.oxfordbus.co.uk
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 02:03 PM
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Just got done doing research this afternoon and figuring out where outside London we want to go. Here is a list (in no particular order) of places we would like to visit:

Oxford
Warwick Castle
Stratford Upon Avon
Stonhenge
Bath
Hampton Court Palace
Windsor Palace
Salisbury

Question #1: Should we just rent an apartment in London for the 9-10 days we will be in Britain and do day trips by rail/bus OR should we head out on the road staying a night here and there? If none of these places is more than 2 hours ea way by train, I am leaning toward an apartment as packing/unpacking and spending ea night in a strange bed sounds like a hassle. If yes to a hotel or apartment, where would you look?

Question #2: how do we figure out a BritRail pass or some kind of Flexpass to take us to the places named?

Question #3: any interesting places near the ones mentioned that we should not miss?

Question #4: in which order should we plan to visit the above sites?

We would like to do the sightseeing mentioned in 4/5 days and spend 4/5 days visiting London proper. Any accommodation, restaurant, sightseeing tips/tricks would be helpful. Thanks!
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 02:17 PM
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Wow! Just got done pricing (1 adult, 1 college student) London FlexPass on BritRail for 4 days, Heathrow-Londdon express roundtrip, starter OysterCard and some kind of insurance (is this necessary?)and it's like $625. Almost a third plane ticket! Does this make sense?
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 02:21 PM
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just a couple of quick comments right now -- Hampton Court is <u>by far</u> easier to visit from central London than from any of your other destinations. And Windsor is also basically a half day trip from central London and back. So you really are only trying to organize:
Oxford
Warwick Castle/Stratford Upon Avon (these 2 are only 7 miles apart)
Salisbury/Stonhenge (only a few miles apart)
Bath

Oxford is an easy day trip from London. So is Salisbury/Stonehenge. So maybe plan on 7 or 8 days based in London and pick up those day trips while there. Then an overnight 1.5 days in Stratford/Warwick and an overnight 1+ day in Bath.

From Bath you can take an express coach to LHR to fly out.

(or possibly one less day in London. Train to Oxford, spend the day and then train to Stratford or Warwick that evening and spend the next day Stratford/Warwick. Then train to Bath.)

You won't need any sort of Britrail pass. Are you 'of a certain age'? There are senior discount passes.
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 02:23 PM
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oh --didn't see your last post --at your ages senior passes of course aren't applicable.
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 02:25 PM
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Salisbury/Stonehenge, Hampton Court and Windsor Castle are each long half-day trips from London easily accessible by train (5-6 hours including transportation from London plus sightseeing)
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 02:31 PM
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what jj said.

i like the train to oxford - stay a few nights - train to Warwick [stay at least a night to see the castle and the lord Leycester hospital] train to Stratford [again, at least a night to see it all, and what about getting tickets for the theatre?] train to Bath idea.

but I would still put london at the end of the trip.
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