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England Starting in North-West April

Hi All,

My 12-year old son will be visiting Fleetwood Town soccer academy for a tournament on Easter weekend and I was hoping to get some recommendations on where to visit upon arrival or before we head home.

We will be flying in from Toronto and it looks like we will land in Manchester but may have a couple days before we have to be in Fleetwood. Where would you recommend we go/stay if we just want to get used to time change and not do anything too physically demanding? Given the time of year I figure Blackpool isn't wise. Should we stay in Manchester or Liverpool or is there somewhere between Manchester and Fleetwood that you would recommend for a night or two? We will be looking to take the train or bus.

Then once we are done in Fleetwood after Easter weekend we are open & have never been to England before. My father is from Stoke and I have never been but I wonder if it's worth a trip & if it's a hassle without a car.

Beyond that I have some loose ideas but we will have 1 week max before flying home & ending location is flexible as long as we are near an International airport. I've considered making our way to London and spending our last 2 days there but I'm not a big city person (not a fan of Rome) so don't want to spend too much time there. I'd love to see some beautiful sights on the way and am considering a tour i.e. Stonehenge/Cotswold from Bath.

I would appreciate any recommendations on itinerary, methods of transportation from these locations, places to stay or activities.

Thanks for your input!

Posted by
2525 posts

First of all, at the beginning of your trip why not stay in Liverpool? It's a wonderful city -- not too big, not overwhelming like Rome, LOL. Full of friendly people and easy to get to on public transport from Manchester airport. Apart from Beatles-related sights & activities, there is the World Museum, the cathedral, etc. https://www.visitliverpool.com/things-to-do

With a week to spend after the soccer academy, yes you could go to London but if you don't like big cities, how about heading to Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon, and the Cotswolds? I would rent a car for that portion of the trip. Drop the car at Manchester airport and Bob's your uncle.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for the quick response! I should specify I'm not big city averse if there is merit in visiting as I'm an experienced traveller....I just don't want to spend the whole time in a non-authentic tourist trap - which is just my opinion of Rome lol.

Posted by
1029 posts

If you are landing in Manchester: Chester is close and is a great little town enclosed, partly with a wall. It started as a Roman fort for the XX Military group. The wall can be walked upon and you can see medieval and Tudor style buildings from a bird's eye view. It has a picturesque shopping district with a lot of restaurants. They have nice hotels and many B & Bs. One caution about Easter Weekend some places may be closed. We stayed in Stoke; the Royal Dalton shop was open, and the Wedgwood Factory and Museum was open...it was very interesting and fun. Springbreak for school is usually near Easter so there may be more demand for accommodations. Chester usually has a lot of things to see and do. It's on the train line to Manchester and Liverpool.

Posted by
5 posts

Your recommendations look great, of your options where would you suggest we stay to facilitate?

Posted by
3710 posts

non-authentic tourist trap - which is just my opinion of Rome lol.

So the Colosseum, the Forum, Palantine Hill, Circus Maximus, the Pantheon etc are not authentic? What do you determine as authentic!

Avoid Blackpool at any time of the year, it's a dump. Stoke hasn't got much going for it. I'll agree with the recommendation about Liverpool and perhaps explore some of the Welsh/English border as you work your way down.

By all means tour Stonehenge if it interests you however I fear you might find it a non-authentic tourist trap.

Posted by
5718 posts

Travelling around the Easter period you need to be aware of issues with transport. Roads will be busy and train lines are often taken out of service over the Easter weekend(Friday-Monday) for engineering work. This can really impact on how quick and easy it is to travel by train. There will be a few months notice of this type of work so it’s worth keeping an eye on it if you wish to travel by train in that period.

Easter Sunday is still viewed as an important religious holiday so there are some legal restrictions on what can and can’t open, this usually relates to shops. Some sights will also be closed in the day but if you are at a football tournament on that day you should be fine.

It’s pretty easy to get to Stoke from the north west by train. It’s not the prettiest or most interesting of towns ( I’m being polite here!). The whole area has struggled with the closures in the pottery industries. It does have some amazing ceramics museums if that’s of any interest.

It would be a pity to come to the U.K. and not visit London. It really is a great world city, but if you found Rome a tourist trap you might feel the same about London? For context, Rome is one of my least favourite cities I have visited, I didn’t think it was inauthentic, I just found it hard work.

Posted by
8293 posts

So, Rome is a “non-authentic tourist trap.”

In what way do you find it “non-authentic? In what way do you find Rome a ”tourist trap”? You did remark it was just your opinion, but your opinion has to be based on something. Please inform us.

Posted by
622 posts

I love London. I've been to the UK nine or ten times in the last 20 years, mostly in London. I love it. But. If you're not interested in London generally and there's nothing there of specific interest to you? Don't go, and don't give it a second thought! You'll have plenty to see and do elsewhere.

Including Liverpool. If I regret anything about my UK visits so far, it's that I haven't been to Liverpool. Yet. If I were going to be in that area for any reason, I'd spend at least a few days and nights there.

I wouldn't worry about the Rome thing. Feel free to explain or not. It's your opinion, and you're entitled to it. I am a city girl - and the idea of Rome is so exhausting to me that every time I start reading about a possible visit, I give up the idea. So I'm just leaving more space in Rome for those who do like it. :-)

Speaking of non-authentic touristy stuff, I've never been to Stonehenge and will go there only if I live long enough and have visited every other place on Earth that I'd like to. I did enjoy Avebury, which a few years ago was an authentic and un-touristy experience, and I hope it still is. I suggest you consider that as a possible alternative to Stonehenge. But if you want to see Stonehenge, then go. It seems that you're already researching tours in that area and haven't fallen for the "day trip to Stonehenge on a bus from London" idea, so good for you!

I hope you enjoy your trip!

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for your comments.

To clarify we won't be travelling on Easter weekend, it will be the week after Easter but I head your warnings as we have found Italy to be the same around Easter.

With respect to my opinion on Rome it's not that there isn't lots of must-sees it's just that had I known the feel would be less authentic than the rest of Italy I would have stayed there less time than I did - just long enough to see the historic sites. There are no locals in the city-centre, most people who work there aren't even from Italy. The Italians live outside and don't come in unless they have to. It's not just Piazza Navona and Campo de Fiori anymore, it's Travestere and the outer neighbourhoods too. Food is geared to tourists and it's overpriced and low quality compared to the rest of Italy.

My idea of an authentic experience visiting a new country is visiting where the locals live, for example Umbria in Italy where tourists haven't overrun it. If anyone has been to Niagara Falls this is how I feel about Rome's vibe aside from the monuments which you need to see once.

I would like to see London, it's not that I don't want to go to a big city, I just want to know if there are other smaller towns or villages that are not be missed. Everything I read says spend a week in London but I only have a week.

I appreciate your suggestions and hopefully that helps clarify. Thanks

Posted by
5718 posts

Liverpool has more going for it for the average tourist.
Manchester has some good art galleries and a great restaurant scene but for a couple of days I think you will find more to see and do in Liverpool. Both are very easy to get to from Manchester Airport, as is Chester if you want something a bit more historic.

As your son is here to play soccer, he should visit either Manchester United or Liverpool, both of which have tours. I would choose Liverpool because I am totally biased.......

Posted by
2146 posts

London is one of my favorite places I've been but Rome's not too far down the list. London has one huge advantage over Rome: the Tube in London is much more useful than the Rome subway system. I've been to Rome 3 times and never used the metro and probably won't on my next trip there in Oct-taxis in Rome are plentiful and relatively inexpensive(not so in London). To me, the British Museum, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London are must-sees.

Posted by
5718 posts

Just a heads up, and sorry if I am stating the obvious, but you will find London is similar to Rome in that not that many people live in the centre of the city.
In London’s case it’s because it’s such an expensive city to live in.
Most ordinary Londoners live in the outer suburbs and commute in for work.
You will also find that a large percentage of the population weren’t born there either. The service sector, which you will come into contact with as a tourist is particularly immigrant “heavy”. But that’s what London is. It’s a world city of incomers and has been for 100s of years. It doesn’t matter where you are from, you’re still a Londoner. Many of us are proud of this mix. If nothing else it means we an amazing range of restaurants, food from all over the world!

Posted by
3710 posts

Many of us are proud of this mix. If nothing else it means we an amazing range of restaurants, food from all over the world!

And drving styles!

Posted by
8 posts

I would stay in the north and as others have said, Liverpool is a good base. Some good museums, waterfront, ferry trips etc. You can then jump on a train direct to places like Chester, Southport, Ainsdale beach if the weather is anything like it was last April.
If you have never been to Blackpool, you might actually enjoy it. It is so close to Fleetwood. Imagine a smaller version of Las Vegas with British weather. Very tacky, a bit scruffy in parts, but lots of arcades, waxworks, tower, sealife, massive theme park etc. It gets a lot of bad reviews on here because we have all bee so many times.

Posted by
3710 posts

True Emma, not least those 'Cockney' Cabbies from Essex.