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How many nights in each location? First trip to UK, no car

I will be traveling with my daughters (21 and 16) to the UK from July 23-Aug 4. We will start in London and stay 4 days, heading to Bath on the 27th for a night or two. Ideally, we would like to take in the Lake District, Edinburgh, York (maybe), then end in London and fly out on Aug 4. I'm not sure how many days to spend in each location within this short time frame. We will also be traveling by train and bus so I'm also wondering if day trips to nearby locations would work without a car.

Posted by
10344 posts

I would give Bath 2 nights. 2 nights = only 1 full day of doing things on the ground.
Day trips to most locations are easier with a car. You won't have a car. Using public transportation will slow you down, especially when you're trying to reach rural destinations where the rail lines don't run.
You could give York 2 nights.
Edinburgh is a bit farther away, the question for you to research is whether, after allowing for transportation time, you have enough time to go there and not give the other worthy locations on your list short-shrift.

Posted by
3428 posts

Personally, I'd do Bath as a day trip by train from London. We've done that multiple times and find it is sufficient. We've never 'done' the Lake District, so I can't speak to that. We've taken the train to York, spent one or two nights then taken the train on to Edinburgh. Again one or two nights there is good.

London makes a good base for multiple day trips by train on your own. Windsor, Canterbury, Dover, Bath, Cardiff Wales, Stratford-upon-Avon, Winchester and many other places are easy. If I were planning a trip with your timeline this is what I'd do:

London- 4-6 nights with 1-3 day trips (Bath, Windsor and either Canterbury or Stratford-upon-Avon would be my choices)
Train to York- 1-2 nights
Train to Edinburgh- 2 nights
Train to Inverness - 3-5 nights with 1 or 2 day trips with a tour companies that use small vans - usually 10-15 people on a tour (Isle of Skye with Eliean Donan Castle is a nice one, a cruise on Loch Ness with stops at Urquhart Castle and Drumnadrochit, a cruise on the Firth, and Orkney is possible, but is a long day, Glen Coe, The Great Glen, and others are available )
Train to London - 1 night before departure

Just my personal preferences after more than 40 trips to the UK.

Posted by
171 posts

You have, it appears, a little less than 2 weeks. It is the classic 10 pounds of sand in a 5 pound bag quandary. A great straight shot trip by train is London 23- depart July 28 (this could include a day trip to Bath or Windsor Castle or wherever you want), York 28th depart 30th, Edinburgh 30- depart for London Aug 3, fly home Aug 4th.

. All plans involve choices and the only person who can really hunker down with a guidebook and decide what they really really want to see is you guys. And it will be a struggle but you need to do it so that the things that you see are really the things at the top of your want list. You just have to keep saying "We will be back and some of this stuff I will see on the next trip".

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all! We decided to do London, York and Edinburgh - make those our "bases" so to speak and do day trips from there. Your advice helped take away a lot of stress, thanks again.

Posted by
40 posts

That's a good decision as they are along one train route. I just returned yesterday from a family trip of 9 days to London & Paris. Wise to skip Bath if it's your first. Better day trips spent would be Windsor, the Cotswolds, Oxford or Cambridge. York is lovely for 2 nights and the countryside lovely.