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Day trip from London - Winchester? Rye?

Hi -
Traveling on our honeymoon in a couple of weeks and would love a couple of day trips out of the city. We have one planned to the Cotswolds already and are thinking about a day trip to Winchester or Rye. I'm sure this has been discussed, but I can't find a way to search the forum! We'd appreciate any insight into these two towns and why one might be preferred over the other. We're also open to looking at other locations, so please make suggestions. Our criteria for the day would be a train trip that is under 1 1/2 hours, a smallish town that's walkable with local shops, pubs, cafes, and a larger attraction, such as a cathedral or some other type of historical site. We've been to Arundel, which fit the bill perfectly with its relatively short distance from London, Arundel Castle and a charming village to wander in with locally owned shops, pubs, cafes. No box stores in sight! Thank you!

Posted by
1072 posts

1st point, Winchester is a city (the ancient capital before London) but is quite compact, a lovely walk by the river and a wonderful cathedral, good pubs, shops and restaurants, what more could you want.

Posted by
8293 posts

Winchester perfectly fits your criteria. The train journey from Waterloo Station is just over an hour. It is an easy walk from the station in Winchester to the town centre, and all that is of interest, including the Cathedral. Tourist office is at the square where King Alfred’s statue reigns over all he can see.

Posted by
5357 posts

I've yet to visit Rye but I've spent a significant amount of time in Winchester, mainly for work. My favourite part is the The Great Hall which is situated next to the Crown Court, it's a fantastic 13th century hall which houses 'King Arthur's' Round Table (actually made during King Henry VIII's reign) https://www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/greathall/whattosee#greathall.

Winchester City Mill is a popular site, https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/winchester-city-mill.

There's the cathedral http://www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk.

Walking tours http://winchestertouristguides.com

Plus there are a number of independent shops, restaurants, etc and a thriving Farmer's Market which is the largest in the UK and voted the best in the UK by The Guardian https://www.hampshirefarmersmarkets.co.uk/market-locations/.

Posted by
8293 posts

An added attraction: a really good Marks & Spencer’s store on the High Street.

Posted by
11294 posts

"I can't find a way to search the forum!"

Yes, it is hidden. If you are on a desktop or laptop computer (landscape screen format, wider than it is tall), look for the dark blue "Rick Steves Europe" logo. To the right of it, in the faintest possible type, is "Search" and a magnifying glass. If you are on a tablet or phone (portrait screen format, taller than it is wide), on the top left you will see horizontal bars. Click those, and you will get the Search magnifying glass at the very top, above "Logout" and "About Rick"

Another way is to use Google. Put in your search terms and hit Enter, but ignore the results. Go to Settings near the top (to the right of All - Images - News - Maps). Choose Advanced Search, then in the "site or domain" box, put in "ricksteves.com" for all of the site, or "community.ricksteves.com" for just these Forums (without the quotation marks).

It can take a few days for topics to be indexed, so they show up in a search.

Posted by
6619 posts

Winchester seems like the better choice. Another good choice might be Salisbury, which has another great cathedral, a copy of the Magna Carta, and a handy bus to Stonehenge if you want to see that. I think Salisbury is about as easy to reach from London as Winchester.

Posted by
32244 posts

I'd also suggest Winchester. The Cathedral is magnificent and it's a very scenic and historic city. Although not exactly a "honeymoon topic", there are several military museums at Peninsula Barracks if you're interested.

Posted by
2783 posts

I would go to Rye, get the train from London St Pancras it’s an 1 hr 17 minute ride, could leave at 10:37 arrive in a Rye at 11:54 then take train back to London whenever you are finished, a return ticket (round trip) would be £28.00 pp. It’s such a beautiful village, the most photographed street in the Uk is there.....Mermaid Street. You could have a meal in the 15th century Mermain Inn, wonderful food. After spending time in London I think it would be fun to go to a village. We really enjoyed our time in Rye last fall.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for the feedback, everyone! I think we'll play it by ear and if we feel like we need a bit more "leisure time" head to Rye and if we're up for a more adventurous day we'll head to Winchester. I'll let you know!

Posted by
4010 posts

I would go to Rye, get the train from London St Pancras it’s an 1 hr
17 minute ride, could leave at 10:37 arrive in a Rye at 11:54 then
take train back to London whenever you are finished, a return ticket
(round trip) would be £28.00 pp. It’s such a beautiful village, the
most photographed street in the Uk is there.....Mermaid Street. You
could have a meal in the 15th century Mermain Inn, wonderful food.
After spending time in London I think it would be fun to go to a
village. We really enjoyed our time in Rye last fall.

Since Javagrrl is going in a couple of weeks, how is Rye in early April?

Posted by
1175 posts

There is a specific forum on Winchester if you go to www.tripadvisor.com and type in the name of the city in the "Where to" box. However, there aren't many current posts but it might be helpful.

Posted by
2023 posts

I added Rye to my list of places to visit on my next England trip. The Mermaid looks like a must for lunch.

Posted by
598 posts

One of my favorites is Portsmouth, but if you're not interested in boats give it a miss. I found the Mary Rose fascinating, can't wait to go back!

Posted by
423 posts

What about Windsor? I loved it! You can walk all over, especially down by the river- lots of beautiful parks and scenery, fountains, and of course there is the Castle, but there are also plenty of shops, pubs, and restaurants. Boat rides, souvenier shops, a very nice day trip in my opinion.
Happy Travels✨💫

Posted by
4010 posts

This thread was VERY helpful. I have chosen to go to Winchester and have bought my rail tickets already. Since I'll be staying in Ealing, I can take the train from Ealing Broadway and just change in Reading. When factoring the time it would take between Ealing Common and Waterloo, the train from the Ealing Broadway rail station to Winchester takes the same amount of time. I love the convenience & flexibility of British rail!

Neither the RS England guide book nor the chapter about London day trips in the RS London guide book recommends travel to Winchester. Frommer's London Day Trips book DOES and its chapter about Winchester is very helpful. RS England & Frommer's do recommend Rye.

Posted by
5357 posts

Neither the RS England guide book nor the chapter about London day trips in the RS London guide book recommends travel to Winchester.

Therein lies the problem. RS doesn't acknowledge Winchester as a city worthy of visiting so many people don't go. He does however recommend the Cotswolds for example so everyone flocks there. The benefit is that you'll have less crowds to deal with which is the usual downside to so many people slavishly following the advice of one man. Rest assured, Winchester is an excellent place to visit even if RS or his team don't think so (or have never been however I would expect the ancient capital of England to have been on the radar of anyone writing guides to Britain).

Enjoy your visit.

Posted by
4010 posts

Therein lies the problem. RS doesn't acknowledge Winchester as a city
worthy of visiting so many people don't go. He does however recommend
the Cotswolds for example so everyone flocks there. The benefit is
that you'll have less crowds to deal with which is the usual downside
to so many people slavishly following the advice of one man. Rest
assured, Winchester is an excellent place to visit even if RS or his
team don't think so (or have never been however I would expect the
ancient capital of England to have been on the radar of anyone writing
guides to Britain).

Enjoy your visit.

Thank you, JC. I'm very excited about visiting Winchester next week. That RS doesn't have Winchester on his radar to me is a plus for the very reasons you listed above.

Frommers & Fodors wrote about England's ancient capital so Winchester isn't completely off the radar.

This is a great example of why I look at numerous travel books as opposed to relying on just one. This forum too is a real treasure.

Posted by
606 posts

Have a wonderful day out in Winchester! I very much enjoyed a day trip there last year.

You might find these two links helpful for planning your day:
https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/may/04/winchester-walk-cathedral-alfred-castle-hampshire

and
https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186300-i2033-k4820913-o10-Winchester_great_place_to_visit-Winchester_Hampshire_England.html (see post #14 for a lovely walking itinerary--I used it last year)

Bonus if you're visiting on a day when the Mill is doing grinding demonstrations (fascinating but understandably a bit loud)

If you fancy a pie, try Piecaramba. https://www.piecaramba.co.uk/

I'm still kicking myself for missing it.
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/22/piecaramba-winchester-bloody-good-pie-shop-restaurant-review-jay-rayner

Posted by
4010 posts

Thank you. I've seen the Guardian links but neither TripAdvisor's nor the pie place. :-)