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London and Day Trips - What is really doable in 7 days/nights

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London and Day Trips - What is really doable in 7 days/nights

Old May 31st, 2011, 08:09 PM
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London and Day Trips - What is really doable in 7 days/nights

My family will be in London from July 28th to Aug 3rd -- 7 days/nights.

We would like to see the follow --
London proper - Abby, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, British Muesum (?), Shakespeares Globe Theater (for a day play) , National Gallery (?), St. Paul's Cath.

Day trips from London and back to London to see:
Warwick and Avon
Stonehenge and Bath
Windsor Castle
Oxford and Christ Church

What is the best way to fit this in 7 days/nights. I figure it will be a busy schedule
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Old May 31st, 2011, 09:09 PM
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OK - bit of a reality check is in order. You have a week in London, yet you want to spend 3 full days elsewhere and only 3 days IN London. You will spend HOURS just in transit on your various day trips. This will be exhausting.

(I'm not counting Windsor since it is just outside London and is easily done w/ enough time to do something else in the city the same afternoon/evening).

If you want to visit Bath and Stonehenge and Oxford and Warwick and Stratford --get OUT of London.

Only you can decide but your best options are either 1) stay the whole week and take one day trip. Or 2) spend 3 days/nights in London then rent a car and spend 4 days/nights out west.

One minor hint re the Globe -- going to a matinee really eats into your sightseeing time. If you attend an evening performance -- that will be after other sites are closed - and you'll maximize what you can do in a day.
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Old Jun 1st, 2011, 03:43 PM
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thanks for -- i figured the agenda was aggressive but wanted to get others insight -- have not been to the UK yet.

Renting a car is not a real option -- i do not drive well on the wrong side.

Qtn -- if one stayed in the Bath area for a couple of days/nights (some what in the middle of Avon and Stonehenge) and took the train from Bath to Avon and Salisbury (Stonehenge) would that work?
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Old Jun 1st, 2011, 03:53 PM
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You don't mean "Avon" -- it is Stratford-upon-Avon . . . Avon means something completely different. (Or Stratford for short - but that is also a problem because there is a Stratford in London)

Bath is a great base for Bath/Salisbury/Stonehenge. But it is not good/convenient for Warwick/Stratford. To get from Bath to Warwick takes almost 3 hours by train w/ 2 changes.
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Old Jun 1st, 2011, 04:58 PM
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If doing all those day trips by rail then by all means investigate the Days Out of London (or London and Beyond or whatever they are calling it now) railpass that lets you board any train anytime to those locations - even before the oft 9:30am cut off for cheap day return tickets (cannot leave Mon-Fri before 9:30am from London) and if you are going so far afield you may want to get an early peak period start - anyway check these sources for more on English trains and this railpass (cheaper than a BritEngland Railpass and covers all the destinations you mention - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com - click on Seat61's link to RailEurope for pass prices and if buying give Man in Seat 61 a cut that he gets presumably from RailEurope for carrying the RailEurope link on his web site.
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Old Jun 1st, 2011, 06:47 PM
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One option is to take a one day bus tours from London that go to Stonehenge Bath and Windsor.

If you want to go by train to Stonehenge you have to take a train to Salisbury and then a bus to Stonehenge.

You need to decide how much time you want to spend out of London.
A trip to Oxford is about a full day, traveling by train, going to some of the colleges, and then back to London.
Britrail's website will give you a pretty good idea of the travel time and costs.
Another option is the London Walks Explorer Days .. depending on when you will be in London there may be a day trip that would be suitable.
Since you have a short amount of time. and a lot to see in London, consider only taking one day trip out of the city.
If you go to the Globe... rent the cushions its well worth the extra money.
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Old Jun 1st, 2011, 07:10 PM
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"Britrail's website will give you a pretty good idea of the travel time and costs.

Uh - no. Britrail is a commercial marketer of rail passes. Nothing at all to do w/ the actual train companies. Their schedule isn't always accurate and all their info is slanted to buying their passes.

For times/prices -- use http://www.thetrainline.com/ or http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

And for good info about trains http://www.seat61.com/
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Old Jun 2nd, 2011, 02:22 AM
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You have way too much on your list. Personally I would skip Bath, Stonehenge, Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon. They are all nice places but the remainder of your list is better. It does depend a lot on your interests, maybe you're a mad keen Shakespeare fan or a college professor and Oxford is a must-see. Do a bit of reading online or in guidebooks and get a feel for what would be top of your list.

The Explorer Days mentioned above could be good, the walks in London itself are excellent, good value and you don't need to book ahead, just turn up and pay. Look at Day Trips from London on www.walks.com

The British Museum and National Gallery are fabulous but enormous and even if you spent all day in each, you'd only see a small portion. For a smaller, more manageable but still wonderful museum, check out the Wallace Collection. It's within an easy walk of Oxford Street or Marylebone High Street - both good for shopping, department stores on Oxford Street, smaller boutique type shops on MHS.

Kay
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Old Jun 2nd, 2011, 03:14 AM
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I'm a big proponent of planning an itinerary that fits YOUR style, tastes, capabilities, etc. And we don't know these much at all, so we can't speak to your exact tastes. You are wise to seek advice here, I think; I've planned 2 2-week long trips to the UK using this forum extensively and productively. I support a "busy" schedule if you want--ours certainly were! The idea of slow travel, meandering, lengthy stays is quite attractive, but that wasn't a good fit for us on our 2 trips. It sounds like you are up for busy, aggressive schedule too--within realism--

So my comments--you could obviously spend all your time in London and barely scratch the surface. But if you spent 4 of your days (don't count the first--don't know when you arrive and you need to not plan to "do" much except get setttled in) in London, you could pretty easily see all the things on your list above. I'd suggest you go to Westminster Abbey at opening time, then do area around there, then up Whitehall to the National Gallery/Trafalgar Square. Another day be at the Tower of London at opening; afterwards walk across the Tower Bridge, along the Southbank, to the Globe. (Agree that afternoon play is rather interuptive--is that negotiable? If not, then you could probably still combine the play with the Tower--or with St. Paul's) Another day be at St. Paul's at opening, then you have the afternoon for....? The Globe? You can go to British Museuem one afternoon--and maybe consider the British Library. That leaves Windsor as a half day or so.

Then for 2 day trips I'd pick Oxford (via a bus maybe) and Salisbury/Stonehenge (via train to Salisbury and coach/tour to Stonehenge). If you intersperse 2 day trips in your London days, then you run less risk of over-fatique. (If you want to see how we did these two day trips, you can look at my trip report http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-day-trips.cfm)

Warwick, Bath, and Stratford are also wonderful, but for a 1 week FIRST trip to the UK, I'd urge you to spend more time in London and not attempt more than 2 day trips. And Oxford and Salisbury/Stonehenge are, in my opinion, a bit more do-able in a day each.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2011, 03:36 AM
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no. Britrail is a commercial marketer of rail passes. Nothing at all to do w/ the actual train companies.>


Uh BritRail is the product of all of Britain's various privatized rail lines thus definitely has a lot to do with the actual rail lines - that said prices on BritRail's web site reflect fully flexible fares and do not reflect the myriad of various discounted fares you will see at sites like www.nationalrail.co.uk

but to say BritRail has nothing to do with the actual train companies is not correct - the body that sets prices for BritRail, etc is one that all British rail lines are a part of and actually run.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2011, 01:28 PM
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You could possibly twin Windsor with Oxford - if you really only want to see Chrit's Church in Oxford and a few of the main colleges - Windsor is just off the London to Oxford via rail line - change at Slough I believe or better yet take a direct bus from Oxford to Windsor, assuming there are such buses.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2011, 10:40 PM
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You haven't mentioned who is in your family. Our boys, 10 and 14, loved Warwick Castle where they could visit the dungeon and run around on the parapets. They didn't care so much for Windsor, where they had to stay with the group and look at paintings and furniture (their description), but girl children would love seeing the dollhouse.

All of us were somewhat disappointed with Stonehenge, where you can't get close to the stones. You can easily do two day trips out of London, one to Windsor and Oxford and another to Stratford and Warwick. I think you should concentrate on London, with a quick train ride out to Hampton Court perhaps, for the rest of the time.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 04:19 AM
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Agree with xanthippe, if you tell us who is in your party - any children? - our suggestions could be much more focussed. What are your interests?

the original plans had way too much. With children Warwick Castle and Hampton Court would be good day trips, but you could spend the whole 7 days in London.

Agree London Walks Explorer Days could be an option, if they fit in with your time in London. See Walks.com
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 04:23 AM
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No-one in the UK has heard of Britrail....
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 01:16 PM
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Well if it is a family that includes kids under 16 then all the more reason to consider a railpass if taking those day trips as each family member under 16 gets a free pass to match what the adults buy - and if there are more than two adults traveling on one pass then the 3rd thru 9th only pay 50% of what the first two pay - but this applies only to BritRail Passes like the BritEngland Pass and may make that a cheaper option than the Days of London or London and Beyond pass, whatever they are calling it this year as that caveat - Family free pass and Party Pass do not apply to that pass I believe.
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