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London in 2-3 days

Hi all! We will be in UK from June 24 early morning to July 3rd (we fly home on July 4th.) Originally, this was supposed to be a trip to Scotland for our son's graduation, but since I found super cheap tickets to London, I figured we might as well make a quick visit. It will be our first time, and we realize we don't really have much time. I booked a hotel near King's Cross Station and plan to do a little bit of Harry Potter touristy things as well as the Tower of London on our first day. Since we'll be jet-lagged, I figured that would be enough, then go back to the hotel for rest and maybe wander a bit out at night.

On Sunday I'm debating whether we want to do a Hop-on-Hop-off London Tour Bus or take a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath? Is it worth purchasing a London Pass for these two days? It sounds like just for the Tower of London and maybe a couple other things around the city it might be a good deal.

On Monday morning we're planning to get back to LHR to pick up a car and head to York-Edinburgh-Inverness, most likely spending a night in York and 1-2 nights in Edinburgh before making our way back down. On our way back we might make a stop in Liverpool (Beattles!) and/or Snowdownia before heading back to London - but not all in the same day! (I booked a hotel 7 minutes from LHR on the night before we leave.)

I know it sounds like a lot of driving, but we basically did the entire loop or Ireland in one week a couple years ago, so driving on the left side and long hours in the car are a non-issue for us. The only places that are a MUST in our list are Inverness and Edinburgh, the rest are all a bonus.

Any thoughts and recommendations would be truly appreciated! <3

Posted by
31435 posts

It will be a much better use of your very limited travel time to take the trains, especially as you're stopping in York before heading to Edinburgh. I've found that driving in England ALWAYS takes longer than even the best laid plans. Hopefully one of the others will have some advice on driving the route that you're planning.

Posted by
4 posts

Hi Ken,

Thanks for responding! I'm actually thinking that we should have flown from Glasgow instead of making our way back to London, given that we only have 10 days - and considering the fact that my son asked to go to Scotland for his graduation present, not England. I guess I got excited with the cheap flights. Oops.

We moved around in Italy very easily by train (2 nights in Milan, 2 nights in Venice, 2 nights in Rome, 2 nights in Florence) but I was told it would be easier to move around by car in UK, considering the prices and the fact that it will be 4 of us traveling together.

Right now, I'm thinking this is the best I can come up with:

Day 1 London (overnight)
Day 2 London (overnight)
Day 3 Get car; Chipping Campden or Bath overnight
Day 4 Snowdonia (overnight in Conway?)
Day 5 Liverpool/Keswick (overnight in Keswick)
Day 6 Oban (overnight) Explore Lochness/Inverness
Day 7 Edinburgh (overnight)
Day 8 Edinburgh (overnight)
Day 9 York (overnight)
Day 10 London (overnight near LHR)

I'm thinking, for our family, Snowdonia and Lochness/Inverness will be of most interest. I booked our nights in London already and they are non-refundable, but the rest are all up in the air.

I was also considering dropping the car in Edinburgh and taking the train back to London to save a little time/driving. We'd have to skip York. (We're planning to visit Paris/London again next summer, so we could go to York on that trip.)

Again, I realize this is all very tight, but suggestions are greatly appreciated!

In writing out your itinerary, include travel time - adding at least 30% to any Google maps driving estimates. Also consider time to stop for meals, parking at destination etc. Then you'll get a sense of how little time you have at many of your stopping points. This country may look small but the roads are busy and crowded, and driving isn't the pleasure it is in other parts of the world such as the US.

Posted by
900 posts

You wouldn't necessarily have to skip York if dropping your car off in Edinburgh. You could still get a train down to York - the centre, surrounded by the walls, is comparatively small and if you are mobile generally, everything is within walking distance. The station is just outside the walls. The onwards journey to London is again by train from York. Book your rail tickets in advance (cheaper tickets released about 12 weeks before travel dates) and consider if possible 'off peak' travel.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
4848 posts

There is so much in London to see that I would not take a day trip somewhere else. Choose two of the sites that interest you the most in London and focus on them.

Thanks, Jane! What adjustments would you recommend

Well, my first recommendation is to do what I recommended in the first place, that is to write a realistic itinerary with travel times built-in.

Then take a long hard look at it and decide which places are really important to you and which are not. At present it looks like a couple of times, you'll spend all day driving to a location, stay the night and head straight off the next morning.

I'm not going to make recommendations on what to scrap, because I don't know what's important to you. But please, for your own sake, think about how long each part of the journey is going to take you and how much down time you've built in.