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Skipping London?

My husband and I are planning a trip to England and Scotland May of 2016 (about 20 days). We are at the momment planning to spend a couple of days in London, but we aren't sure if we are planning them because we want to or because we feel like it is wrong Not to go to London while we are there. We have things we would like to see there, Tower of London, Westminster, parlement and so on, But neither one of us like crowds or big cities all that much. Are we crazy to consider skipping London?

Posted by
3551 posts

London is one of the great cities of the world, i would not miss it. Been there many times would love to go back soon.

Posted by
11503 posts

Well its your trip.. but I will tell you something. I resisted going to London for decades.. until about 15 years ago.. I was then presented with an opportunity to go and only had to pay my airfare and food. So.. I thought.. ok.. its only a week out of my life and it wont cost much.

I sort of thought London would simply not be that interesting to me.. it seemed to much like home.. same type of food, same language.. etc.. I kind of always considered it to maybe be a bit blah.. beer and sandwiches.. lol

I was wrong.. I loved my visit.. I loved the museums.. went to one or two every day.. loved the Tower of London.. loved the history in just walking around.. and the food was much better then I thought.. because London has tons of ethnic eateries.. and I love that sort of thing.. ( still hate beer)

I have since been back 5 times and going for my 6th soon ..

So.. no.. I would not skip it.. but I love history.. if history bores you.. then perhaps skip it... but really.. you are going to be there (UK) anyways..

You do have almost 3 weeks.. if you only had like 5-7 days then I would say skip it if you really want to spend bulk of your time somewhere else.. but you do have the time.

Ultimately .. do what you want to do .. there is no right or wrong. .but London is better then it seems.. lol

Posted by
660 posts

Crowds are a factor to consider for sure, maybe plan ur London days for Mon-Wed when they will be less. May is a good time but avoid the UK school holiday times. London is a big city, but with a general lack of tall buildings and lots of open green space, it may not feel like it. Dont feel any pressure to do anything you dont want to, but if you dont schedule a day or two, you may always wonder what you missed.

Posted by
6859 posts

Some (probably most) here would say yes, but I would say no, you are not crazy if you decide to skip it. I was in London for 2-1/2 days 18 years ago and have never been back, though I've been back to Europe many times since then. I was not as enthralled with London as I thought I would be. Other places draw me more, in fact I'm in the planning stages of another trip to the UK to include Wales, Scotland, some of the islands, and Northern England. I may end up flying into London if those are the flights that work the best (cost and flight time wise) but will probably not stay there other than maybe one night on the way to somewhere else.

If there are things you want to see there and you think you'll regret it if you don't go, then give it a couple of days. But in the end it's your trip so do what you want to do, not what you think you should do based on other's suggestions.

Posted by
32065 posts

i wouldn't say you were "crazy" to skip London, but I'd recommend spending at least a few days there if possible. It's one of the great cities of the world with incredible history and lots to see, including museums, galleries, musicals and historic sites. I was back there in September for about a week and still didn't get to all the items on my list.

Unfortunately, crowds seem to be a fact of life in many popular places in Europe these days, although travellling in May (shoulder season) should be a bit better. I didn't find crowds to be much of a problem in September, except for a few times on the Tube. If you decide to give it a try, you might find it helpful to pack along a copy of the Pocket London guidebook as that has a lot of good information that will help with planning efficient sightseeing.

Posted by
31099 posts

If you want it I can give you permission.

Your choice...

Posted by
103 posts

I don't think you're crazy. This is your trip. Do what you want to do.

Posted by
7175 posts

You have to write down your 'wishlist' and prioritize to arrive at a sketched plan. I think with 20 days (or nights?) you have enough time to include London and see the best of both England and Scotland. You also need to consider your preferred transport mode - car, or train, or a mix. Personally, I would think 3 or 4 days in London, as well as 8 days each in England and Scotland.

London (3 nights)
Train to York (1 night)
Train to Edinburgh (3 nights)
(Pick up hire car)
Pitlochry (1 night)
Inverness (1 night)
Skye (1 night)
Fort William (1 night)
Trossachs (1 night)
Lake District (2 nights)
Chester (1 night)
Peak District (1 night)
Cotswolds (2 nights) with day to Oxford+Blenheim Palace
Bath (2 nights) with day to Salisbury+Stonehenge
(Return hire car at Heathrow before flight home)

Posted by
127 posts

It's your trip. You are not crazy doing what you want to do.

That being said, ARE YOU CRAZY! Would you skip Paris on a trip to France? Rome and the Vatican on a trip to Italy? London is the heart of England.

A couple of suggestions less "old city" for your itinerary. Greenwich Observatory and Hampton Court.

Posted by
6 posts

As an ex Bay Area native who currently lives in Southern England (5+ years), I understand the idea that a large city can be overwhelming. And as others have said, it is your trip and you get to make your own plans! Yay! But, if you want to see some of London, there are lovely ways to do it without overwhelming yourselves, and it might be worth a go at it. First of all, you can stay outside London itself as an alternative to crowds and the 'city' in the nightime, if that helps. The trains into town are fast and entertaining if you like to people watch and see the suburban surroundings on your way (depending on where you stay, you may pass through many places you've heard about). Also, the walk at dusk along the Thames looking from the South Bank towards Westminster, Big Ben, and further east towards St Pauls will make your heart melt, it is so beautiful! Pick your bridge and you will be delighted. You can see all the places you mentioned in one day, and you can take bus tour for a great overview of many neighbourhoods, or take a walking tour for a more intimate view of just one neighbourhood. The best part of walking tours is that they will take you behind doors and through corridors that you would have walked right by on your own, and they will open the hidden gems of London to you at a walking scale. Much less overwhelming! As London is really a city of neighbourhoods, that is how I like to visit it. Just pick one small area that maybe has a culture, or feature or something that you enjoy, and spend the day there. You will see fewer 'places', but you will feel connected to the places you do see, and energized by the details you notice rather than exhausted by the energy you spent hurtling around. Here in the South West of England, people generally have a much more measured pace to their lives. Whether you go to London or not, stop for tea late-morning and late-afternoon, have a pint in a small pub before or after your evening meal, and enjoy life the way the locals do (or at least those outside London). You'll have a lovely time no matter what you do!

Posted by
2504 posts

Without knowing what other cities you've been to and if there's been other large cities that left you cold, it's hard to say if you're crazy to skip London. But you know yourself far better than any of us and if you're so unsure about London then you're certainly within your rights to leave it off your itinerary. My personal experience with London was a 5 day stop there. I was so excited to go and then, somehow, when I arrived, London and I did not "click". I was pretty surprised. We spent 3 of our days touring the sites and then I was done so we revised our plans and spent our last two days doing day trips to Cambridge and then to Windsor Palace and the little town of Eton.

But I'll tell you that I also got dragged, kicking and screaming, to Paris and fell heart-stoppingly in love and have been back three times and am returning in April. So there's really no rhyme or reason to it. If you're dreading London, leave it off. If you go and you hate it, it's quite easy to find stuff to do nearby.

Posted by
4067 posts

My suggestion would be to spend 3 or 4 days there and then you will have a frame of reference for future trips. Someone once said "It's ok to regret what you did; it's not ok to regret what you didn't do". Can't believe I'm remembering such heavy stuff on a dark, gray, rainy Monday morning.

Posted by
239 posts

As others have mentioned, it is your trip and your choice. My husband and I just returned from a 3 week trip. We spent 7 nights in London. We live in Southern California so I would maybe compare London to Los Angeles. I am not sure what you mean by a couple of days, if you mean two you will have to be very well organized to get everything in you mentioned above. We read Rick Steves books and took his crowd beating tips to heart. We had the London Pass and it did allow us to skip the ticket buying lines and sometimes we had our own entry line. Things are a bit spread out in London so you need to factor in travel time. We bought an Oyster Card and used the is easy to do once you figure out a few things. For me, London is a big city with a big city feel. Museums are not my thing but we did pop into a few of them while we were there. Bottom line is that even though we will probably not plan a return trip to London (unless we just want to stop over and see a few plays) we did enjoy our time there. Westminster Abbey was amazing and I am very glad we went back for evensong. Only you can decide what is important to you. Just and FYI, there are tours you can take of Parliament that I heard were very good. They are offered on Saturdays ( I believe). We did not take the tour but I wish we had. Parliament was not in session while we were there so we could not even enter the building.

Posted by
791 posts

Not crazy at all. It doesn't matter what other people do. It's your trip and you should do what you want to do. London is a wonderful city but there is so much else to see. I think you could have a very enjoyable trip and skip London entirely.

Posted by
3428 posts

As someone who has been to London more than 40 times, I can tell you that I personally would never skip it. When hubby first proposed going there, I said "I haven't lost anything in London". Now I'd go back in a heartbeat if I could. Paris, on the other hand, I've never had any interest in at all. On the one trip there (a day trip to get a taste), we both found that we did not like it at all ( I Used to say I hated it, but others here say that is too harsh), and have never been back. Some here feel that way about London... so I understand. It is totally up to you.
There is a great deal to see and do there- even beyond the well known sites that many feel are 'must sees'. There are great gardens, interesting buildings, marvelous history to explore, fascinating markets, art galore, .......... And London is very easy to get around. First, it is a very walkable city, then the buses and the tube make it super easy. Plenty of choices for food, too, from street food of almost any ethnicity, to simple mom-and-pop type holes in the wall, to pubs (one of my favorites), to 5 star dining 'experiences'. And don't forget the theatre!!!!!!

But if you want to explore other areas of the UK, don't feel guilty at all. London will be there when you are ready for it. It's not going anywhere any time soon ; - ).

Posted by
6113 posts

There is more than enough here to keep you busy for your 20 days 10 times over without going anywhere near London. I spent a month in Scotland earlier this year and didn't cover half the country!

London isn't as bad if you avoid rush hour travelling. Tubes at this time are unbearable.

Wherever you start, don't rush too much the first day due to jetlag.

Posted by
89 posts

I used to live in London, have visited many times after moving out from there and can never get enough of it.
This is one of the most amazing cities in the world and even if the crowds are bothering, take every opportunity to see and enjoy it. It will be highly rewarding.

Posted by
2023 posts

Have you been to London previously? If not, I can't imagine skipping it. It is such a fabulous city with so many not to be missed sights. We were just there in September and I could go back soon but unfortunately that will not happen. England and Scotland are easy to see on the same trip--hope you can see York.

Posted by
12703 posts

Emma, what is a post box spotting?

Atooz, at this point you've got a lot of feedback on going or not going. I will tell you this...I would go but I would stay somewhere that has green space nearby. I've stayed at The Lime Tree Hotel on Ebury Street twice and it is not too far to walk to Buckingham Palace, Green Park and St James's Park. On my first day I head for the green to help me adjust to jet lag. Other times, if I have spent a bit of time in museums, I'll walk back home thru the parks, just to have the non-concrete feel. This year I also stayed near Covent Garden at the end of a Rick Steves tour and while it was convenient for lots of different restaurants and several museums, it was too busy and congested for me.

BTW, to me Rexburg is a big city, lol. Well, similar size to Moscow, but you get what I mean!

Posted by
44 posts

Someone once said, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life."

Posted by
12703 posts

Oh I see!! And just now realized that on the Best of England tour Tom, the guide, pointed out several different ones in Bath and at other places along the way. Now I wish I had taken pictures!

BTW, the link to the Post Hole (neat journal!) has an extra ( . ) after the www so you will probably get a can't be found unless you remove it.

Posted by
2187 posts

My husband and I are not fond of big cities but we adore London. I have lost track of the number of times we have been there. It's our favorite city in the world. Always something to see and do. Give it at least a few days.

Posted by
4274 posts

London is impressive and there is lots to do. However approx. 80% of the attractions in the UK are not there. So go ahead and skip it if you want.

Do try to open jaw the flights and have Scotland at one end. I think both USAir and United fly there direct from the East Coast, and so does Icelandair from throughout the northern USA via Reykjavik. Transferring in Paris or Amsterdam to reach Scotland makes little sense (Delta). Not sure what airline serves your remote corner of the world however.

Posted by
3387 posts

England and Scotland both have SO MUCH to offer. Yes, London is an amazing city that people all over the world, including me, love. If you skip it though, it is not the end of the world! There are many incredible sights, both historic and natural, all over both countries and you will be hard-pressed to come home disappointed just because you didn't go to London. We often skip it when we go and really don't regret it. Someday when you're in the mood, go! Otherwise make your plans and see other things. No guilt!

Posted by
3455 posts

Totally your call, of course, if you do or if you don't skip London. It's your vacation, so do what you want to do.

I will say, every city has its own personality. London's is totally different from our big cities in the U.S., such as New York City. I lived for awhile in New York City, for work. Got used to the "big city". Then I went to London on a work trip. OMG! So different from N.Y. and every other large U.S. city I'd ever been to!

Many people who proclaim they don't care for cities fall in love with London once they go. I would say, you will never know how you feel about London unless you go.

You wrote about London, "We have things we would like to see there, Tower of London, Westminster, Parliament and so on,"
For me, Tower Of London and Westminster Abbey are the two top sights. If you spend one day in London, I'd get to the Tower Of London first thing in the morning, as soon as they open, to avoid the crowds that roll in nearer to lunchtime. Then I'd go to Westminster Abbey after lunch. So much of the history of England is tied to these two sights.

Then if you've really had enough of the big city, you may want to leave the next day. But London has a lot more to offer, if you want to stick around. You may enjoy walking through the parks or going to pubs. Great museums. More historic buildings, such as St. Paul's Cathedral, Parliament and Buckingham Palace.

For me, the key to enjoying London is to not get in a rush. Don't think you have to cram every day full and see 10 sights a day. Enjoy the things you do see. If you stay longer than one day, consider taking some of the London Walks Company walking tours. Very inexpensive, and they will take you through some off-the-beaten-tourist-path neighborhoods. Browse some of their walks here on their website:

Posted by
22 posts

You guys are awesome!! I so appreciate all the insight and feed back :)
After reading all your comments, discussing it, and re-watching some Rick Steves episodes, we have decided that (1. we will never know if we like London unless we give it a try and (2. part of the fun of travel is to stretch yourself a bit and get out of your comfort zone.
So we will be giving London a few days during our trip. Thanks so much for all your different thoughts and ideas, you guys helped a lot!

Posted by
1010 posts

Well I'm sure everybody on this blog is happy you are going to London then. My husband and I have been there five times. I absolutely live to go back there. I mean I even check the weather there, at least once a week. I'm obsessed with anything from England. We even watch the BBC News every night. We have spent anywhere from one week to two weeks there. We can't get enough of London. I met someone once who said she had been in 36 countries. She said England was her favorite though. I bet you - you will be sorry when you have to leave.

Posted by
2 posts

London is a definite! A couple of days would only give you a taste of the city but is really the minimum given that you're there for three weeks. My wife and I visited a couple of years ago and ended up extending our stay in the city when we were also only planning to be there for a couple of days...