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Need to convince my wife that London deserves a 2nd trip

My wife and I were in London about 18 months ago and I'm anxious to visit again. Having said that, everywhere we've ever gone, I've loved and can't wait to go back, but for me, London was even more special. On the other hand, my wife always wants to visit somewhere new, so help me build a a compelling case to convince her there are good reasons to go again.

We love history. Both of us are into historical fiction from TV, movies or books and then researching in order to separate fact from fiction and and then visiting those locations. Most of our European adventures up to now have revolved around learning a location's history and then visit. Immersing ourselves in a location and living like a local and having a picnic in a park isn't really our thing.

Last trip, the highlights were Tower Of London, Westminster Abbey, Hampton Court Palace and the Museum of London. The British Museum didn't really thrill us-at least the parts we saw which were the Egyptian area and a quick walk through a display on world currency. We tend to stay in a walkable locations close to restaurants. Last time it was Covent Garden.

I'm looking for London specific suggestions or day trips where we'd come back the same day, a second week will be spent on a location TBD. Last trip, the 2nd week was spent in Bath and the Cotswolds, for the 2nd week this time I'm thinking of heading north to York or south to the Salisbury area.

Posted by
1249 posts

Your wife is right. London has plenty of worthwhile sights, certainly enough for a few days. But having been once, I cannot imagine why you'd want to return when there are so many other new, interesting, different (& better?), destinations - many of them nearby in the rest of England, let alone seeing all those Scotland and other parts of the British Isles.

Posted by
18889 posts

I liked the Imperial War Museum enough to make repeated visits until I had finally covered the whole thing. It's a great place to learn what it was like to be in England during WWII, though the displays cover far more than that. A side-trip to Bletchley Park is doable if you're interested in the code-breaking activities that took place there.

Canterbury is a good day-trip from London. You have both the cathedral and a very picturesque (though touristy) historic center. There are many more possibilities, but since London lodgings are expensive, I tend to try to find several day-trip options close to each other and stay out in that area rather than in London.

Have you looked at the huge number of walking tours offered by London Walks? Some focus on topics--in some cases history-related; others, on neighborhoods. All I've taken have been very good, and I love that you don't need to book them ahead of time, so you can wait to see what the weather is doing.

Posted by
6 posts

I'm with your wife here -- mainly because there are SOOOO many places to experience in England... or even Scotland! Or the Eurostar for a few nights in Paris <3

Posted by
1188 posts

Have you read Hilary Mantel's books on Thomas Cromwell and Henry the 8th? 1st "Wolf Hall", 2nd "Bring up the Bodies", and soon to be released 3rd "The Mirror and the Light". The first 2 have been TV series, shown here on PBS. This could lead you to places featured in Tudor London and Environs. I have been made more interested after I did my DNA on Ancestry and discovered that I may be a Cromwell relative. Do your DNA so you can visit home towns of any English ancestors. Bon Voyage.

Posted by
6715 posts

Does the second trip have to be "the next trip" timewise? Maybe you can just alternate and go someplace new next time(s), and then return to London a few years from now.

Posted by
18889 posts

I don't know why I didn't think to mention this in my first response: You need a dedicated guidebook for London.

Posted by
1173 posts

I have been to London in 2005, 2018 and 2017 for a week each time and a few other times for a few days before going somewhere else. I love London and agree with you, to go again. I am going back this year for two weeks in London to see some things again and to see the things I have not seen with some day trips to break up the days and to get outside of London.

I am going to Kew Gardens, Greenwich, a day in the Cotswolds, Highcleare Castle ( big fan of Downton Abbey), Imperial War Museum, the British Musuem, a play, a classical concert at St Martins in the Field, some walks with London Walks during the day and some of their pub walks.

I have been to The London Transport Musuem, tea at Fourm and Mason, the Wallace Collection, Sir John Soane's House museum, Windsor Castle, a day at Buckingham Palace ( inside the palace), including the Carriage House Queen's mews and the Queen's Gallery. Walks in Hyde Park, walked across the Tower Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral, The Victoria & Albert Museum, Churchhill War Rooms, National Gallery of Art, Tate Britian, Tate Modern, saw some plays, did some London Walks and loved the walk in Hampstead.

I have enjoyed Bath, the Cotswolds and York. Been to the UK twice. York is easy to get to by train as is Edinburgh.

Where does she want to, maybe you can go to London for a week and somewhere she wants to go to for the second week?

Posted by
8242 posts

Hmmm, how about going somewhere else first then you heading to London to spend a week on your own? Wife can go on to somewhere else and/or back home. Is there a place she wants to visit that doesn't interest you?

BTW, I love Salisbury. I also love Stonehenge although many here don't. I've been a number of times and enjoy the audio guide, walking back thru the fields to the VC, the whole thing. I love Salisbury Cathedral, the Wiltshire/Salisbury Museum, the whole Cathedral Close area plus other sights in Salisbury (St Thomas' Church Doom painting). I love walking thru the Water Meadow where Constable painted his iconic images of the Cathedral. However, I'm not sure I'd spend a whole week there.

Posted by
2291 posts

Stay in London for a couple of days before going somewhere else.

Go back for the Wallace Collection and have glass of wine in its lovely courtyard. If you like the Frick in NYC, the Wallace Collection will be right up your alley.

Without meaning to, my husband and I spent an entire day in the Imperial War Museum.

Find the church where Benedict Arnold is buried.

Posted by
920 posts

Hi. I am not providing London-specific suggestions, but rather an idea to use London as either the entry or exit point to a longer trip in the UK or Europe. I fly BA most of the time, so when London calls, and it does, I stay a day or so on either end of another trip. I find that as I grow as a traveller, my enjoyment of London changes. I am a lot more laid back than in 2005. Now I can happily build a short trip around visiting House of Hackney and the British Museum. Who knew? Back in the day, I would have had a laundry list of to-dos and must-sees.

Just a thought. Hope you get there and enjoy.

Posted by
2785 posts

I agree-London for a few days then York, Durham, Hadrian's Wall, maybe even Edinburgh. If you go to Edinburgh, fly home from there. Maybe you can get your wife interested in Scotland-and maybe a Rabbie's Day tour to the Highlands.

Posted by
5654 posts

You can try to make a case for London as a gateway to other"somewhere new" destinations. Fly to a London airport, spend a few days in London recovering from the flight and doing your thing, then continuing to the somewhere new destination. We have flown in to London for a few days before continuing north for a coast to coast trip across northern England. We have flown into and out of London for a Scotland trip and even had London as multi-city stop before continuing north to Finland.

Posted by
39 posts

I'm with you! Luckily I was able to convince my husband on the flight home that we needed to go back ASAP and are making our 2nd trip later this year. I do agree with the others that perhaps you can use London as somewhat of a layover before you go somewhere new that she would like to check out.

Did you make Windsor Castle last time? If not, I strongly suggest a day there. Kew Gardens are lovely if you're into plants and walking. Kensington Palace is full of Queen Victoria history goodness as well as the Victoria and Albert museum.

Good luck!

Posted by
3209 posts

There are day trips to Canterbury, Windsor, or York. Then of course are some lesser sights in the city; guildhall, Greenwich, Bank of England museum, Queens chapel, Cleopatra’s needle, little Ben, Chinatown, Abbey Road, Baker Street, Little Venice, Camden Lock, the old Whitechapel bell foundry building, Liberty London and Carnaby street, Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, Kensington palace, and the original Twinings tea store (if you like tea). If you like museums, there are plenty of those. I’ve taken my wife to London for her birthday four of the last five years and we’re finally running out of new things to see. Maybe your wife would consider Edinburgh, Cardiff, or Dublin. Still in the British Isles, but not London.

Posted by
3418 posts

I've been to London more than 40 times (used to be able to go to Europe twice a year for more than 20 years). And hubby and I both would go back ASAP if we could. Windsor is an excellent day trip- lots of history in Windsor Castle (it's my favorite castle, too). Since the potentially catastrophic fire, they have discovered new things about the castle's past, and incorporated that into the exhibits. Kew Gardens make a nice break from buildings and streets. Greenwich is a great 'day trip', too. Cardiff Wales, Dover, Canterbury (King Henry VIII), Winchester, York etc. are wonderful day trips you can do by train. I'd suggest something like the following (all based on my personal preferences)-
London- 5-6 nights with 2 or more day trips
Train to York- 2 nights
Train to Edinburgh- 2 or 3 nights
Train to Inverness- 3+ nights
I love the history of Scotland and there are lots of castles and ruins and memorials, and wonderful books you can read before hand (if you like a combo of historical fiction/science fiction/romance, I suggest the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Lots of other choices, too.

Another possible idea for the 2nd week would be Wales. Again, lots of castles and history (especially between Wales and England).

Posted by
1862 posts

I love the history of Scotland and there are lots of castles and ruins
and memorials, and wonderful books you can read before hand (if you
like a combo of historical fiction/science fiction/romance, I suggest
the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.

Toni, as a matter of fact, we're heading to Scotland in June as it's caught the attention of my wife whose TV boyfriend is Jamie Fraser. If she brings a suitcase with her when we find some standing stones, then I guess problem solved, I'll be heading to London on my own. 😁

Posted by
3418 posts

I agree that the TV Jamie is very nice looking.... but the books are even better!!!!!

Posted by
1862 posts

Kathleen, thank your for the suggestion for the Hilary Mantel books, I'm going to have to look them up. My best Henry VIII encounter in London was at the Tower of London. Our guide just said it in passing like it was no big deal, but I thought it was fascinating; He showed us a gate which at the time would have been at the river's edge and said this was the gate that Henry would sneak in a mistress in the middle of the night. It's small details like that that I love when exploring the nooks and crannies of a city.

Posted by
1188 posts

Please note that the 1st of Hilary Mantel's Cromwell Trilogy is "Wolf Hall" not House. Emma, as I look back at my ancestors I find that a common thread is a lot of them were something like estate managers for the wealthy. One Ancestor had married a rich man's daughter, but she had died before an heir was born...so although he could not inherit the title and lands, his former FIL kept him as the Estate Manager and he did such a good job that several neighboring landowners had him manage their land transactions, etc. too. One of the 1st Real Estate Agents! I was one, too, until I retired!

Posted by
736 posts

Go to Kew gardens, by train and take a boat ride back to Westminster Pier. There's a day. Going back to a city is something important. We do this, first time is to see it all, and the second time around, is usually better than the first, since we are not attempting to see all the highlights. Then, you are really not a tourist. doing tourist run around stuff: Its a bit counter-intuitive. All our best vacations were re-visitations that we didn't have this need to see the highlights any more. There are so many things that are not on the lists, 'The Guides' and the 'must sees,' that you only experience on the second,...third, visit. :)

Posted by
3895 posts

So we go to London EVERY trip. EVERY. TRIP. But the reason is because flying out of Halifax, we don't have many options - we tend more in the shoulder season, and I HATE the thought of flying west to Montreal or Toronto, only to fly back east - I'd rather fly to London and connect there. So we spend usually 2 or 3 nights there every trip (so 8 times, and 3 more nights planned for this year).

So some nice day trips we did - last year we did Cambridge, year before was Brighton. I think York would be a good day trip (we are spending 2 nights there this trip). Even going to Greenwich made for a nice half day. I didn't think I'd be interested in clocks/time keeping, but it actually was fascinating.

The list of museums is as long as your arm - the V&A, we did John Soanes last time, Natural History, Churchill War Rooms. Last year we finally went to the National Gallery (!) and will prob return this year as we ran out of time...and this year we may finally hit Kensington Palace. Kew Gardens is amazing. I know hubs would like to see Highgate Cemetery, but I doubt we will make it this time. The Tower Bridge walk is on our radar. And there always seems to be something new - when we first went in '08, Sky Garden wasn't a thing but we enjoyed our visit there in '17.

We also love to return because we have certain shops we like to go in every time. And yes, it took me trip #8 until I went to Fortnum & Mason, but I'm addicted to one of their teas and can't wait to go back and stock up.

I have yet to run out of things to see in London. Has anyone shared this link yet?...http://www.beenthere-donethat.org.uk/londondaytrips.html

Posted by
9776 posts

We have a similar love for London and it is challenging to balance with our love for a couple of places in Italy and Switzerland. Hubby would happily go back only to places we have already visited and enjoyed but I am the chief planner and I always include at least one new-to-us location for at least a few nights. That way we find new favorites

There are endless sights and experiences with London as a base. As to day trips I recommend

  • Canterbury
  • Windsor
  • Bletchley Park

Loved loved loved the Southwest! We spent 3 nights in Salisbury and could have stayed longer. Great base, IMO. We had a car due to the preferences of our companions, but we could easily have managed without one.

We also enjoyed York but did not have enough time there. Scotland, to me, is best done as a separate trip as you could spend weeks there, although into or out of London for 2 or 3 nights in combination with Scotland might work if you don’t mind the transit time.

Posted by
59 posts

Loved Oxford our last trip. It’s worth two days at least, then Blenheim Palace, grave of Churchill in nearby Bladon, Woodstock, also before mentioned Bletchley Park.

Posted by
760 posts

Here's another great site for day trips from London - https://www.aladyinlondon.com/2017/08/day-trips-london.html

Especially is you are considering other places in England it makes sense to fly into (and/or out of) London and spend a few days. But even if your "main" or "other" destination is elsewhere in Europe, London makes a sensible jumping off point with so many cheap/easy flights to everywhere else in Europe. I've been stopping off for anywhere of 2-5 days en route to other places for years. If you have only spent a week or so in London there is so much more that you could visit it every year for many years and not see everything.

Posted by
5631 posts

Allan I’ve been going to London since 1972. Was there last in December 2019 for nearly 3 weeks.

Found the relatively newly opened Mercado Mayfair, visited the Alexander Fleming Museum, re visited Kew Gardens ( hadn’t been nearly 30 years), meandered about the Royal Chelsea Hospital grounds, mudlarked outside Chiswick, hiked around Richmond Park, saw theatre ( Witness for the Prosecution) discovered the graffiti tunnel by Waterloo Station, discovered and enjoyed the Antelope pub near Sloane Square.

Walked by both the Ham House and Chiswick House and Gardens.

Remind your wife there are over 30 free museums to visit, countless parks to enjoy, that the Thames Path goes on and on, churches have free concerts, there’s Maltby, Portobello Road, Brick Lane, Petticoat Lane, Spitafields, Bourough, and Camden Lock Markets. All in different neighborhoods. Shopping malls and unique albeit expensive stores such as Liberty and the shoe department at Selfridges is an eye opener.

And if the hustle and bustle of the City proper remind her with the Tube you can “ get away.”

Good luck. My favorite city on the planet and I’ll never be bored visiting it!

Posted by
1862 posts

Update, I'M GETTING MY WAY! Thanks to a kick-butt seat sale on WestJet I'm booking flights for the last 2 weeks of September. If anyone recalls a trip report I submitted about my last London adventure, this trip will also be with my wife and Mother-in-Law. She's been widowed for a few years and so we've been including her while she's still young (76 going on 56). The last trip was tailored in part so she could visit cousins she'd never met. There was one cousin in Cambridge that she couldn't connect with last time and so we'll try to meet her this time.

Preliminary plans is 5-7 days in London to start and then head north to Cambridge and York. Before this trip was a reality I was torn on where to go after London, I really wanted to head south and west but York has also been on the list for a long time to help me satisfy my Danish roots. Which makes me realize that sometime in the future I'll be posting to ask how to convince my wife to visit London a 3rd time....

Posted by
511 posts

You wrote: "Preliminary plans is 5-7 days in London to start and then head north to Cambridge and York."

Alright! I think it's marvelous that the Rick Steves guidebook practically ignores East Anglia, therefore you will find it less touristy. I've only been to Suffolk so far. My father was stationed near Parham during WWII, where there's a charming small museum in the restored control tower of his airfield. "Suffolk Summer" by John T. Appleby, although not historical fiction, gives you an idea of what the area was like during WWII. It's tricky to get around without a car but can be managed with planning.

If you're still looking for day trip from London ideas I don't think anyone has suggested Portsmouth. It's a little far compared to Windsor but you can visit the Mary Rose (a Tudor ship that Henry VIII watched sink) and of course Portsmouth Naval Yard (while humming tunes from HMS Pinafore). Our guide aboard the HMS Victory sounded as if "My Lord Nelson" had just died a day or two earlier and he was still grieving.

I'm bookmarking this thread - about a year's worth of places to visit in the suggestions!

Posted by
2157 posts

I have been to London 3 times now and I expect I will never tire of it--first trip ever in 2011, then 2018 and 2019--it is right up there with Budapest as a favorite must-re-visit city, annually if possible.

Every trip has included the Tower (I'm a fool for the ravens) and the Portobello Road Market on Saturday. Other favorites include the Churchill War Rooms, British Library, Museum of Transportation near Covent Garden, Buckingham, Windsor, and Kensington palaces. Day trips include Bletchley Park, Brighton, Greenwich, and 2018's guided full day tour to Highclere Castle and other sites from Downton Abbey was absolutely wonderful.

Posted by
5631 posts

Glad to hear you got your way!

So much to see and do in London and though it’s been years York will be an added plus to your U.K. return.

Saw Cambridge 3 years ago. Most enjoyable.

Posted by
12203 posts

September is a great time to be in London. There is a month-long festival devoted to the Thames River, its history, culture, and importance to London life.

Lot of events, performances, art installations, etc., many of them free. Keepan eye on this website for the schedule of events and activities:

https://totallythames.org

Posted by
1862 posts

Hmmm, my wife's only objection when I was convicing her to visit London again is that she didn't want to see things twice when there was still so much in the world to see.....so the first thing she brings up as wanting to see? The Museum of London, which we saw last time! I don't blame her, both of us think it deserves more love.

Anyway, I'm a big fan of the Bernard Cornwall Last Kingdom books and we both have been watching the Last Kingdom on Netflix so we'll also be visting the section of the British Museum that has displays from the period of the Saxon/Danish wars. I suspect York will have some focus on that period as well. We thought of the Winchester area to check in on Alfred the Great, but since we're heading North after London that will likely wait for another trip.

Holy cow, I forgot how expensive accommodation is in London. 1 pound costs me $1.76 Canadian at the moment. Since my Mother-in-Law is with us we're looking for a 2 bedroom or a 1 bedroom with a sofa bed in another room somewhere in zone 1. If I have to, the budget can be about £200-250 pounds max. Any specific suggestions? I found a couple promising apartments in Notting Hill and Mayfair. We like to be close to plenty of restaurant options.

Posted by
1638 posts

hey hey allan
yes London is not cheap and September is still a busy time of year for travels. you must be saint Allan and a great guy to be involved with your mother-in-law. She’s probably first one in the car😱👍.
cross-pollinate.com
They do apts and b&b’s that may interest you. good luck
aloha

Posted by
1862 posts

Thanks for the suggestions. I found a 2 bedroom in Mayfair through London Connections, it's just a hair over my budget. 1 week in London and 1 week for Cambridge, York and more if we have time. Our London list is getting long;

  • Buckingham Palace. I wasn't interested in it last time, but I'm hooked on The Crown on Netflix and now have to see it.
  • Windsor.
  • The play Mousetrap. Just because I've always been curious of why it's the longest running.
  • Churchill War Rooms. My wife and Mother-in-Law have no interest and so I'll book it on a day when they find something more to their interest.
  • National Portrait Museum.
  • I've always wanted to go to a premiere soccer game but no interest in the price-even if I could find tickets. I'll investigate again.

Also have to review some of the suggested day trip ideas shared with me.

Posted by
3895 posts

I didn't mind the Churchill War Rooms - but my husband got way too involved in the part that is just about Churchill - he spent almost an hour more than I did in there. I sat outside with a cold wind blowing (Oct) and was not very impressed - lol. I should've just gone for a walk in St James Park across the road, but I kept thinking - he'll be right out.

If you really want to go into depth in the Churchill part, give yourself 2-2 1/2 hrs. If you think you'll just breeze thru that part (I spent about 20 min in there) then prob 70-90 min would suffice. If it was a sunny day, and they felt like just being outside, St James and Green Park are close by and are quite lovely - lots of flowers at St James, and a nice café where we grabbed lunch.

And mother in laws are nice - well, I would never have been able to travel with my husband's mother, but my husband had no issue travelling with my mother - he was glad I had someone to get out early with while he slept in, and honest to God my mother rarely complains (unlike her daughter...lol).