London Day Trip

Feb 3rd, 2007, 07:32 PM
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correction. My son was 10 when we went to Oxford, not 19!
Feb 3rd, 2007, 07:33 PM
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our friend R. doesn't have to worry about jet lag because he leaves the driving to those wonderful London bus drivers. He can sleep it off snoring happily while passing all the sights/sites of the city. (Robes - you of ALL people advocating driving???!? My goodness gracious what IS the world coming to? )

susiela: You are making a good choice. Listen to everyone else.
janisj is online now  
Feb 4th, 2007, 05:38 AM
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I logged out at dinner time last night wondering how this thread would develop, I even told my husband about it while we were eating ... I must say the first thing he said to me was "I bet that Robes guy you mention has an opinion" --- sure enough, I come on this a.m. and there it was !!!

Seriously, Susiela, Robes knows alot, in fact I think he has a Ph.D. in the "Oyster Card" and the Paris Metro System,(and nearly all bus systems on the planet) but those of us that tell you driving with jetlag is not a good idea do know what we are saying. It's a formula for disaster in many cases.

No one here is predicting how your family will react to jetlag (or anything else), they are giving advice based on what we know ... and what we know is that it is a terrible idea to drive when jetlagged. Even if you think you do not have jetlag your reflexes can be off. It's like having one or two drinks. You may feel fine, but something is not "right".

Everyone handles jetlag their own way (and apparently Robes & family have a formula that works for them). We do too when we fly overseas -- but it does not entail risking our lives and the lives of other innocent people on a road in the UK (or anyplace else).

I would like to suggest Warwick Castle as a nice day trip. You can get there in about 90 minutes via train from Marylebone Station. If you are only going to have 1 week in London & Paris I would not plan more then that (my opinion only).
Lori is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 07:09 AM
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Are you splitting a week between London and Paris? If so, you'll only have a few days in each city. I did this with my older daughter (16) about a year ago and we felt limited in time. I had been to London several times before, but this was her first. She didn't want to leave, not even to go to Paris! The kids will LOVE London. With only three days or so, you'll be able to see the highlights, expecially with three kids using public transport and taxis. For a daytrip, I think Warwick Castle and nearby Eton are a good choice. The kids will love the castle. You can take the train or an organized tour, whichever you prefer. As you know, there are several other day trip options. Visiting the Costwolds in a day is possible, I guess, but you should have an overnight to make it most enjoyable.

As far as your arrival date and renting a car, I wouldn't try to do that, especially after your transatlantic flight. Just get into London, check into your hotel and get in some sightseeing. Have an early dinner and try to stay up as late as you can, at least 8:00 or 9:00. That will help to reset your internal clock. Take your day trip on your 3rd day, after you've had a chance to see the highlights of the city.

Here's a traveling tip with the kiddos...I have four around your kids' ages. See the museums first thing in the morning. There's nothing worse than dragging a tired kid around the British Museum at 2:00 in the afternoon (no matter how fabulous the museum or your kids). Save the fun/outdoor stuff for the afternoon. If your budget permits, hire a private guide for an afternoon. My kids have always found our private tours to be most enjoyable and they've been attentive. Sometimes they can bypass lines. Also, do some research to plan for lines. I didn't get to take my daughter to Westminster Abbey because of the lines.
dgg is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 08:21 AM
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We don't have jetlag, so we could rent a car if that's what we needed for a specific mission.

Yes, the buses and trains in the capitals of Europe are excellent, and we rent cars when we want to explore a region that isn't otherwise accessible conveniently. Penzance to Land's End, for example. There are tour buses, but we wanted to make some stops not on their itinerary - such as the Lifeboat Station.
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 11:36 AM
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How many days are you going to be in each city, susiela? What are you thinking of doing in London?

London is a huge city with lots to do, and for a first trip with children the ages of yours, I wouldn't do any exploring of the English countryside (save that for another trip). You could consider Greenwich, Hampton Court, or Windsor Castle - all near London, can be done in less than a day, and have something to offer a family. Or you could do Oxford as a day trip from London via the public transportation others have mentioned.

Our first visit to London was last March; we had 6 full days there and thought we'd do a day trip, but never got to. We finished the week with a huge list of things we hadn't done in London itself. I'm planning my third visit to London for this March, still seeing and doing things for the first time.

There is a lot of information on this forum about visiting London with children. This thread has good ideas, including Ben Haines' extensive recommendations:
Here's the London Superthread:
A family London trip report:
A family London/Paris trip report:

noe847 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 12:11 PM
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My 14-year old daughter has it in her head that she wants to go to Oxford. Therefore, while the rest of us are not that keen on going there, I feel like we should at least give it a short amount of time. My younger son and daughter would much prefer a castle or such. We arrive on Sunday morning and depart for Paris on Wednesday morning. We return to London on the following Saturday (early afternoon), so we have a little more time on that end. Then, we leave on Sunday. I was thinking about going to Windsor for 1/2 of one of those days. If we go to Oxford and Blenheim on another day, is there a way to get from there to Warwick castle without a car? Or is there another castle that is similar to Warwick that is closer to London? I agree that there is a lot to do for kids in London, but I have a little concern that, having visitied a number of large cities, they might feel that they are getting a little bit more of a European experience by visiting the countryside. I may be wrong. They may prefer to stay in the city once we get there. We will just take that as it comes once we are there.

I was thinking that a good possibility on the first day in London might be to get on a tour bus and stop wherever the wind blows us. At least that way, the kids can get a little seated time in between sight-seeing. Does that sound like a good plan?

On another note, can anyone recommend a good place for tea for kids in London, keeping in mind that they would prefer cakes/other sweets to scones?

Thanks everyone for their help!
susiela is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 04:03 PM
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Visiting both Oxford and Blenheim will take all day. There is no way you could also fit in Warwick Castle.

Warwick Castle is arguably England's best csatle for children, at least IMO, but unless you add another day to your outings, it's just not doable.

If you add a day you could go to Oxford via bus,see Blenheim, spend the night (Oxford) and rent a car the next day, go to Warwick Castle and then wander a bit through the Cotswolds before returning your car in Oxford and catching a later bus to London.

Hampton Court Palace ( jus outside of London and easy to get to via train or even boat) is your next best bet and actually is great for kids too.

I like your idea of playing it by ear and taking a tour bus ( Hop-On,Hop-Off) for the first day.
historytraveler is online now  
Feb 4th, 2007, 04:11 PM
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Unless you're totally ignorant of English history (which is not a good position from which to visit a country), you can do a lot better than the ho/ho buses. Get a good guide book.

Here is a map of Key bus routes and tourist attractions in central London: ( Reader required.) You and DH can each ride the city buses for £3 a day. The kids ride free.
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 04:29 PM
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When my husband and I arrive in Paris, we jump right in and do not take a nap. We stay up until about 11:00 PM, and to us it's easier than taking it easy the first day. Are we sleepy that night? Sure, I am especially, because I don't sleep well on a plane, but I figure I can sleep at home, and by the next day we're on Paris time
sandypaws3 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 05:07 PM
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While I agree wit R. for the first time on this post =D>, I do think that most first time visitors are fairly ignorant of English history. However his link does give good information for a do it yourself bus tour. It's really a matter of your willingness to invest a samll amount of time in studying the map and deciding where you want to go.
historytraveler is online now  
Feb 4th, 2007, 05:52 PM
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I'm not sure when you're travelling but a nice compromise may be to take the London Walks Explorer day to Oxford and the Cotswolds. They go every Wednesday beginning March 15th.

You meet the guide at Paddington station at 9:30 a.m. The cost is 35 pounds per adult, 23 pounds per child under 15 - this includes your transportation and guided walks.

We took this walk and it was great. You do a walk in the morning then on your own for lunch, meeting up again in the afternoon for the second walk before returning to London. Their website is
Mrs_Wilde is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 05:59 PM
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Mrs. Wilde -
I've been curious about this walk. Did you feel like the Cotswolds part of the tour was worthwhile - and did you feel like you had enough time in Oxford? Do you remember what was included in the Oxford part of your tour? I appreciate any information you can give me...
crazy4Hawaii is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 06:58 PM
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I believe we took a bus to the Cotswolds and walked through a small village including a ruined manor house which some children on the walk found interesting. We then went to Burford for lunch before setting out for Oxford. I felt the Cotswolds part was worthwhile as I had never been there before.

In Oxford the guide took us around pointing out the more notable buildings and into areas where students lived including a stunning hall where they took their meals. We also walked through grounds of the various colleges watching students play football (or soccer depending on where you're from) and cricket. I was enthralled with Oxford and felt it would have been wonderful to be a student there. Your daughter may well never want to leave!

Keeping in mind the ages of your children I feel that the time spent on this trip in both the Cotswolds and Oxford would be just enough. It was nice having the transportation taken care of by someone else and the guide was wonderful. (We had Richard)

Also, to address your previous question about tea in London. We always stop at St. Martins-in-the-Fields which is just off of Trafalgar Square. They have a cafe in the crypt which has an adjacent brass-rubbing center that your children may find fun. The cafe is around to the right and down some steps when facing the church.

Mrs_Wilde is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 08:37 PM
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I forgot to mention that if your daughter is interested in Oxford, a visit to the Oxford Story ( Broad Street) is a must. Entertaining and informative even for the most casual visitor.
historytraveler is online now  
Feb 4th, 2007, 08:42 PM
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The London Walks itinerary usually goes to Minster Lovell Old Hall on the banks of the River Windrush, Burford and Oxford. (I haven't taken the walk but used to live in the area and have spent MANY afternoons at Minster Lovell)
janisj is online now  
Feb 5th, 2007, 05:50 AM
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susiela, you do not have much time in London so going on a day trip is going to seriously cut into your time in London. While I don't presume to know your kids, "most" kids are kind of hard to get up and get going in the a.m. (I base that opinion on my career in the education field). Three kids, three different age brackets and interests is going to make this challenging I think.

You do not need to be totally ignorant of British history to enjoy the hop on/off bus. It is a good activity for a first time/first day visitor. You get a bit of an overview, are outdoors and can rest a little while sightseeing. Of course, I would also recommend guide books, videos/whatever to bone up on whatever you think is going to interest the family.

The areas "close in" to London are really not countryside, it's like most cities in the world -- suburbia. If you do take the train up to Warwick Castle you will ride through "country" areas tho. Going to Windsor .. no, it's practically next door to Heathrow and is very built up around the area.

For such a short time I think a visit to the Cotswolds would best be saved for another time. While the villages are lovely to see it would make for a very rushed day.

You really need to accept the fact that 3.5 days in London is not going to be enough to do all you would like. Pick a few sites, mindful of the different ages/differences in the kids, and enjoy them. Running around in all directions all day/night is not going to make for a happy time.

I would recommend (based on our experience over many trips) NOT taking a nap when you arrive. Just freshen up and get outdoors. Don't schedule much in the way of indoor activities (i.e. museums), being outside just helps regulate your internal system. You will probably all be very tired come early evening - have a good nights sleep and you will be in good shape the next day.

Incidentally, I am not against visiting Oxford if that is what your daughter really wants. Sometimes, it is worth keeping peace in the family while traveling to let each kid plan a special activity. Just be aware that this time cuts into any other sightseeing time and that she understands if you do that you probably are going to miss many other things.
Lori is offline  

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