Please sign in to post.

15 days in England and Ireland

Hello travelers!

My friend and I are visiting England and Ireland for the first time, and we'd LOVE some input on our itinerary! Feel free to suggest dining spots (on a budget) tips and tricks, and favorite spots/experiences that you've had! We are 27 year old women, love traditional Irish music, history, art, beautiful landscapes, and we're anglophiles (I love Jane Austen, Harry Potter and Dr. Who) and foodies. Let me know what you think! (anything in parentheses means I'm not sure about this choice)

April 25: Arrive London noon, check in to hostel near Westminster bridge for a nap, see a show in the West End

April 26: British Museum, walk to Covent, Trafalgar square, National Gallery; perhaps visit Kings Cross, platform 9 & 3/4!

April 27: River boat to Tower of London; then visit Tate Modern, walk across Millennium bridge and (view St. Pauls from the outside)

April 28: Visit Westminster Abbey- attend Mass to get free entry (will we get the same access to the Abbey as if we had paid?); Churchill War rooms; walk to Buckingham/Kensington via St. James Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens (is that too much walking?)

April 29: Travel to Oxford; visit Blenheim Palace for 1/2 day; return to oxford; (Is Blenheim worth the cost and time? Are there any university tours in Oxford that are must-see? I LOVE CS Lewis and Tolkein.); visit Eagle and Child, stay in oxford

April 30: Travel to Bath; visit Roman Baths, have tea in Roman Baths

May 1: Day trip from Bath to Avebury stone circles, the Cotswolds (Has anyone done this via Madmax tours? Is 1 day trip enough to enjoy the Cotswolds?)

May 2: View other Bath sights; abbey, assembly rooms, royal crescent, the circus, Jane Austen Center, etc. (any other must-sees?)

May 3: Travel from Bath to Dingle via flight from Bristol-Cork; rent a car to Dingle

May 4: Bike Dingle Penninsula (I'm young and fit, but not a bicyclist...would this peninsula be very strenuous? Of course, if the weather is bad, we'll drive)

May 5: Walk and tour dingle, see major sights (Any suggestions?)

May 6: Leave Dingle early, drive to Galway via the Cliffs of Moher (1hr visit) and the Burren nat'l park (drive-thru); stay in Galway, return car in Galway

May 7: Day trip to Aran Islands. (any tour company suggestions? What are the pros and cons of staying the night on the island?)

May 8: Travel to Dublin via Bus Eirann, Visit the Brazen Head

May 9: Visit Trinity College, book of Kells; Guiness Storehouse

May 10: Return home

Thanks for helping us out! Happy Travels :)

Posted by
8202 posts

I loved Bath when I was there in September! I am glad you are doing more than a day tour to Bath. Check on the board outside the Abbey to see if there is any kind of concert going on while you are there. I happened upon an organ recital one evening which was really good. It was free altho they asked for a donation of £5 or so. As you get off the train, pick up one of the tourist maps for a small fee.

I did the Mad Max tour as well and thought it was wonderful. They break for lunch in Lacock. Most ate in the pub, but I wandered down to a bakery and got a fresh hot pasty which I ate on a bench. Might depend on the weather as to what you do. The bakery did have a couple of tables inside.

I suggest you do a Bath walking tour if there is one on your arrival day. There are some free Mayor's tours, but I used Sue's Bath Tours and Sue was very knowledgeable and entertaining. There was a cost associated with it of around £7. She walked us around the central part of Bath, then up the gravel walk to the Georgian Garden and then to the Royal Crescent, then back down to Central Bath. They do have some walking tours from the Jane Austen Center at times, so check their website and see if there is something offered when you are there.

The audio guide at the Roman Baths is terrific, also listen to the children's tracks too. I rushed to get to the guided tour which is on the lowest level and though it was not as good as the audio tour so my suggestion is to take your time with the audio guide.

The Jane Austen Centre is a little pricey for what you get. Do not purchase the guide as you will see everything in the guide listed in the exhibit.

There is also a wonderful book called Walking Jane Austen's London by Louise Allen. I took it with me, but did not get a chance to do any of the walks while I was in London. That might be fun for your walking afternoon on the 28th.

Have a wonderful time!

Posted by
51 posts

We loved Blenheim. We got there around 2:00 and only had three hours whIch wasn't nearly enough time. Some will say one day in the Cotswolds is enough but I think you need at least two.

Posted by
782 posts

I think your itinerary looks great. Just a few comments

  1. Kings Cross is totally worth the visit. Unfortunately, you need a ticket to get on the actual platform they filmed on. However, there is a free platform 9 3/4 photo op on the main floor. It's one of my favorite pictures from the trip. They also give you your scarf of choice to wear in the picture.

  2. April 28th- will be A LOT of walking but doable. And gorgeous.

  3. I highly recommend the Mad Max tour. I did the same tour. And I think you could easily enjoy a week in the Cotswolds. But the tour was well done and in a small group. So we really had time to walk around the town (and see some Harry Potter sites :) )

  4. While in Bath, I really enjoyed Tilley's Bistro and The Real Italian Pizza Company. They were very close to one another from what I remember. The pizza place is better for a budget. I also did the Bizarre Bath tour. There was a small fee but it was very entertaining (although not a great sight seeing tour per se)

  5. I personally have not biked the Dingle peninsula but a good friend who is a cyclist has. He said it was pretty challenging.

Posted by
3318 posts

Just a couple things I noticed in your itinerary to consider...
April 28 - It's very nice to attend mass at Westminster Abbey but don't expect to see much. They line you up, put you in a rope line down the side of the church, seat you, and then usher you out at the end of the service. It isn't really a "free" way to see the abbey. If you want to see the best bits you need to buy a ticket. This day is also a massive amount of walking...I would walk from Westminster up to Horse Guards Parade, cut through and go through the park to Buckingham Palace. From there I would take the Green Park tube over to Kensington Palace Gardens...it's pretty far and you'll waste a lot of time unless you really want to walk a lot to work off the pub grub. London can be VERY hard on the feet...wear really good shoes.
April 29 - My husband attended Oxford and while he was studying I would go out to Blenheim just to enjoy it and read a book under a tree! Love that place. It is going to take a while to get from London to Oxford even if you have a car. Get an early start! It's a massive house and property and just a couple of hours aren't really enough. The tour of the house takes quite a while and you don't want to miss some of the views of the house from further out in the grounds. There is a nice little tea garden/cafe at the back that is lovely for lunch. Just walking around Oxford for the couple of hours you might have left in the afternoon are going to leave you disappointed that you didn't schedule more time. My favorite colleges are Christ Church (lots of Harry Potter was filmed here) and Magdalene. Take a tour of the Bodleian Library (more Harry Potter) - fascinating! The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is wonderful as is the Natural History museum...they have the remains of the last Dodo bird among other oddities - it's a beautiful Victorian building as well. The Eagle and Child still remains a very nice pub with all of it's Tolkien/Lewis memorabilia intact but it has been bought by a chain - still definitely worth having a meal and seeing it. If you can, schedule an extra day in Oxford...it's an amazing, beautiful town.

Posted by
191 posts

Churchill War rooms is really interesting, a great place to visit.

I haven't seen many people biking the Dingle Penninsula the times I've been there, but some of those days have been bad weather. The two shops I always stop at on the drive are Holden Leathergoods (which is just outside of town) and Louis Mulcahy pottery which is further along the drive.

There isn't a lot to see in Dingle that are major sites, but it is fun to walk around the town, have lunch, visit a pub, etc. Local places like Murphy's ice cream shop are good, I always end up buying art at Dingle Artworks (on one of the main streets) and Lisbeth Mulcahy has great weaving products and also displays some of her husband's pottery. May 5th is a bank holiday in Ireland. You might want to make a reservation at a B&B before you get there.

Posted by
4652 posts

Just a few thoughts about April 28:

If going to a service at Westminster Abbey means getting herded in and out as the previous poster said, you should definitely spring for the admission price to see the tombs, Henry VII Chapel, cloister, and other things you won't see from the middle of the nave. One of the wiser RS teachings is not to scrimp on admission costs, seeing those things is the main reason you spent all that money to get to Europe.

And, btw, they don't call it "mass." That's a Roman Catholic name for holy communion, and the Catholics and Anglicans burned each other by the dozen back in the 16th century over things like that. (If you want "mass," they have it at nearby Westminster Cathedral, which with due respect can't hold a candle to the Abbey historically or architecturally.)

Last, I'd agree with a previous poster that it's a long (though interesting) walk from Buckingham Palace to Kensington anything. You could save a lot of steps by using the tube as suggested. Or maybe a bus if you want to see the surface, see Transport for London for routes.

Posted by
518 posts

Hello!
I've done most of the things you've listed, but on different trips. All are well worth doing.
Bath is spectacular, and I agree with another poster that a walking tour is a must do.
Blenheim Palace is marvelous, but you will wish for more time there. On our first visit, the weather was beautiful, and we spent about 7 hours in all. The second time, it was pouring rain, so the gardens were not so enjoyable in a downpour. One day in the Cotswolds will definitely leave you wanting to return for more. But if 1 day is all you have, do it. A lot of people like the Madmax tour you mention.
Avebury is very enjoyable. You can have lunch at the Red Lion pub, which was not new during WWII. If you have time, a drive by Stonehenge is well worth the time too. We skipped that until last summer. It took about 2 hours, and we were very pleased with the time we spent.
The Churchill War rooms are most enjoyable. Allow about 3 hours at a minimum. I like all the walking. You can see a lot and get a feel of the city by walking. London can get confusing with all the oddly angled streets and building to block your view. A good hand compass comes in handy. If you get tired or run out of time, you can always hail a taxi. A ride in a black cab is also a worthy experience.
I really think, even at the young and fit age of 27, I would opt for a car for a tour of the Dingle peninsula. We left Dingle town very early in the morning and arrived back after dark on a very long July day by car. We stopped many times for short hikes along the way. I fear a bicycle ride could turn into a very long day that would center more on cycling than on seeing what the peninsula has to offer.
Also, be sure to allow some time for hiking around in the Burren. It's an intriguing landscape. The Cliffs of Moher are very interesting, but if I ran short on time, I could leave it out without feeling too cheated.
Dingle town is worth an evening for the pub experience. Lots of music going on.
On the day you arrive, I hope you can enjoy a show in your jet lagged state. I would fall asleep unless it is the most exciting show of all time. The last time my wife and I took our son to Europe, he was 21. We arrived in Dublin and walked around a while until our hotel room was ready. We checked in about noon. We were all ready for a shower and a change of clothes. We were sharing a room, so there was only 1 shower. I went first. When I came out, our young adult, very active son, was sitting on the side of the bed, his cap still on his head, sound asleep sitting up. I touched him to wake him up, and he just fell over on the bed. No waking him. He slept like that for about 4 hours, cap still in place. So youth does not cure jet lag. Just saying... :)
Your trip sounds wonderful! Have a great time.

Posted by
124 posts

I'd pass to see Westminster Abbey (don't do the Mass there) and I'd do the Mass at St. Paul's (it's breath taking inside). If your headed to Hyde Park, make sure to stop by the Albert Monument and the Royal Albert Hall. London is beyond one of the easiest city to walk.
Oxford - because I also really enjoyed C.S. Lewis, my hostel mates and I did his free walking tour of Oxford.
http://www.cslewis.org/resource/walkguide/
If you need help finding hostels or pubs for live music let me know.