London Day Tours

Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 06:22 PM
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London Day Tours

You all helped me with my hotel, now I could use some advise on day tours. Just wondering if there are any particular tours companies that are better than others. We definately want to do a Stonehenge tour. I see Golden Tours has a Stonehenge, Bath and Salisbury for 60 GBP. Stonehenge Tour Co. has Stonehenge, Salisbury, Sarum Castle and Avebury with lunch for 64 GBP.
I am also interested in the Golden Tours Greenwich, Leeds Castle, Canturbury and Dover tour for 50 GBP. Any recommendations on these tours? Is it better to book from home?

We are also definately doing the one day Paris trip on the Eurostar on our own.

Thanks
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Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 09:59 AM
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We have done a couple of Evan Evans tours in the past but now just get a good guidebook and hop on a train to wherever we want to go. Last fall, for instance, we went to Canterbury, saw the cathedral, ate at the Weaver's House, and joined a city walk from the Tourist Information Center.

If you want to do a guided tour, I don't think you need to book ahead. Your hotel will have plenty of brochures from different companies, plus you can Google them and look at them on the internet.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 11:37 AM
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It is totally up to you but I would avoid the Kent tour like the plague. (Greenwich, Leeds Castle, Canturbury and Dover tour for 50 GBP)

Consider:

- By "Dover" it means a glimpse of the White Cliffs in the distance. It doesn't include a visit to the Castle.

Leeds Castle is, as castles go, pretty small potatoes. Really nice gardens/grounds, nothing much else. Mainly a venue for weddings and conferences.

They just drive through Greenwich - not stop and tour anything. And besides, Greenwich is IN London and easily reachable by tube, DLR or river boat. The old description for this tour omitted any mention of Greenwich - but since you do drive through - it is now "included"

At least they don't charge a fortune - but you would be in the coach about 6 hours and out seeing things less than 5.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 01:33 PM
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Hi, Canon - when is your trip?

Despite what Janisj says, leeds Castle is stunning in the summer, but you need to check how long you get in each place with any of these tours.

also, you may find more specialised ones either in the net or when you get here - eg tours of gardens in kent, specialised tours of stonehenge and avebury with someone who can interpret them, etc.etc.depending on your interests, you may want more depth or an overview.

Stonehenge, Bath and salisbury in a day seem like a lot to me, but it depends how long you get at each.

Good luck with your researches.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 03:51 PM
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With all due respect - the gardens are very pretty indeed, but there is nothing at all "stunning" about the castle itself.

The gardens, lovely though they are, are not even the best gardens in that part of the country -- by a fairly long measure.

Unfortunately Leeds castle's main claim to fame is its amazing marketing department. There is an advert for it in every tube/train station in London and many people think it is the best/only castle worth visiting. And they co-promote w/ all these away day train trips/bus tours so they make it easy to get to. But it still doesn't make the castle anything special.

As I said the gardens are lovely -

But what the hey - w/ that itinerary you'll probably only have time for a bit of the grounds and the castle shop.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 03:58 PM
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We arrive March 27 and leave April 4. Are the tours with Golden Tours overviews with large groups?

Thanks
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Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 04:09 PM
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Golden uses full sized tour coaches.

When you read the tour description be sure to understand the difference between "see" and "visit". In tour-speak, "see" means seeing the site from inside the bus, "visit" means getting out of the bus. Per Golden's website, the only visits on that entire day's tour are Leeds Castle and Canterbury. Everything else is a "drive by".
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Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 04:44 PM
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We really enjoyed the Astral Travels inner circle Stonehenge Tour. It included a visit to Bath and Lacock.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 05:01 PM
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You should realize that thee multi-stop tours give you very little time to see anything - esp when they include the "optional" stops for morning coffee, lunch and afternoon coffee. (They do this since no one will just let them pull in with a whole bunch of folks for a potty stip -as well as the kickbacks.)

To do one destination you are better off doing it yourself - by train or car - or even boat for Greenwich or Hampton Court Palace.

To me the tours make sense only if it goes to 2 places you really want to see that you can;t do by train due to "you can;t get there from here without 3 changes". Don;t try to do more than 2 places in one day - you simply won;t see much of anything.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 05:02 PM
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Sorry -

Don;t book any bus tour until you get there.

First, you hotel may have better options for you.

Second, you want to go only on good weather days - not sit in a bus watching the rain for 8 hours.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 05:33 PM
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Janis, if Leeds Castle isn't that impressive, which castle would be a better one to see?

Thanks
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 06:35 PM
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All the places you've mentioned ( with the exception of Leeds, (and I have to agreee with janis on this one) are doable on your own, from London via train/bus.It'll require some research on your part but by planning your own itinerary, you'll see more for less money than you will with any tour.If you need help in this respect, I'm sure all follow fordites will provide all the information you'll need in planning your own tours.

If you decide to go with a tour company be sure to read the fine print to determie what you'll actually see and how long you'll spend at a sight.Be wary of any tour that tries to cover too many places in one trip.Unless,of course, you'll be happy with just a glimpse.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 06:44 PM
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We also went on the Astral Travels inner circle Stonehenge Tour. It included a visit to Bath and Lacock.
We were there at sunset and it was very nice that you can go and touch the stones. Yes Bath was rushed but we felt that it was worth the rushness to see stonehenge that way

Melissa



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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 06:56 PM
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Canon-
I just was on the Golden Tours tour of Canterbury,Greenwich, etc. last year and we had a very amusing, knowledgable guide and I've taken Golden in the past for Stonehenge,Oxford,Stratford and so on.
The tour is worth the $ but Greenwich is a drive by as Janis said, you stopped at the beach at the White Cliffs for 10min., you see the castle at the top of the hill, Canterbury was lovely and completely doable on your own as already mentioned.
My mother and I thought that Leeds Castle was completely a waste as it has been redone inside in the 1920's fashion by the last owner and really ruins the expections of what the inside of a castle would look like.
Having said that... we were there last March and it was bitter cold and we couldn't walk the grounds so that part of the trip was a bummer.
As far as Canterbury Cathedral goes, I much preferred York Minster which is a 2hr. train ride from Kings Cross station and York was a much more intact town architecturally speaking as compared to Canterbury.
But hey, if it's been your dream to see all these places then I'd say go for it.
We're considering booking an Astral Tour this time to Glastonbury Abbey and Avalon.
But, I loved Stratford upon Avon and most on this forum don't so take this all with a grain of salt.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 07:01 PM
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Canon, forgot to mention that Hampton Court, while not a castle, is incredible, I've been 3x's and would still return given the chance. You can also get there quite easily on your own. Check it out www.hrp.org.uk.
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Old Mar 15th, 2007, 06:54 PM
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I am still trying to decide on my Stonehenge tour. I was going to go with Astral for the Stonehenge, Bath and Locock mostly due to smaller tour groups but they just raised thier prices from 60GBP to 75GBP which got me searching for a cheaper tour. Through Premium Tours, we can do a special access at sunset for 75GBP but the group size would be up to 53 people. I have read the reviews on this site about the Astral special access but I couldn't find anything about the large groups. Has anyone does the "touch the stones" tour with a large group and any recommendations for a small group- reg tour or large group- go behind the ropes.
Thank you
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Old Mar 15th, 2007, 07:33 PM
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Canon: You don't have to pay a tour company to get inside access. English Heritage offers it - detail here http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.878

Morning access would require you to stay overnight in Salisbury or nearby to get there in time. But evening openings are doable as a day trip and will give you enough time to catch a train back to London.
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 06:17 AM
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hi, Canon,

the info you've received about visits to Stonehenge has certainly come as a surprise to me [a"Brit"].

I've driven past it loads of times, but never thought to stop as I didn't see any point of just wandering round the field.

now i know that it's possible to get up close, I'll be thinking about arranging a proper visit.

so far as i know, the ability to visit stonehenge in this way is not widely known in the UK - thanks jansis for diseminating this information.

regards, ann
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