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Three days outside London

Hello! It's me again! The one who asked the ridiculous question "Is 10 days too much in London."

Well, we decided to extend our stay 3 more days to explore a bit outside of London, but we don't want to do day trips out of London. We would like to pick a region or town and stay there for 3 days and explore the area. Problem is, there is SO much to chose from that I am overwhelmed: York, Dartmoor, Dover, Avebury, Glastonbury and Wells, Salisbury (the Magna Carta), Arundel, Stratford Upon Avon, The Cotswolds. You get the idea.

What would you have a first-timer to the UK see?
Thank you!

Posted by
7990 posts

The Cotswolds plus Woodstock for Blenheim Pslace, Churchill's birthplace.

Posted by
5648 posts

York is the first place on your list, and while it's a bit beyond London, it's a pretty quick train ride, and was the first place outside of the general London area I visited in England. It sounds like you're interested in historical locations, and it doesn't get much more historic than York. With Viking and Saxon history, an evocative wall around the city, the impressive York Minster Cathedral, The Shambles, and Clifford's Tower inside for starters, York can keep you busy. We caught a performance of Romeo and Juliette, but if you'll have been in England for several days at that point, you might not be so jet-lagged as to doze off during a performance! As you said, there are lots of places where 3 days could be well-spent, but you wouldn't go wrong with York.

If you don't make it to Salisbury this time but want to see a copy of the Magna Carta (how could medeival people see and write so tiny?), and you'll be in London, be sure to visit the British Library in London, with one of their copies on display, plus lots of other interesting artifacts.

Posted by
5704 posts

Are you going to be hiring a car?

What time of year would you be visiting?

Canterbury with visits to Dover, Whitstable for a seaside experience and a great oyster festival, Leeds Castle, the Kent Battle of Britain Museum in Folkestone and castles at Walmer and Sandwich.

York - the historical city centre plus the great Rail Museum and visits to either Harrogate or Leeds. North York moors and the Yorkshire Dales for great countryside. Yorkshire's not known as "God's own county" for nothing (and I am a Lancastrian)!

Rutland - like the Cotswolds, but more compact, nicer and far fewer tourists! Visit Stamford, where Middlemarch was filmed and Burghley House; Oakham, a pleasant market town with the unique Oakham Castle's collection of horse shoes (more interesting than it sounds - the Queen has presented them with horse shoes!), take a boat trip on Rutland Water and see Uppingham, another market town. Leicester is about an hour away to see Richard III. One of my favourite parts of the country.

Rye as a base for seeing Bodiam Castle, Battle or Hastings. Leeds Castle, Hever or Chiddingstone castles are also possibilities from Rye.

I am one of those that think the Cotswolds are over-rated and overly busy compared to many other parts of the UK. Stratford upon Avon too is too tourist tacky for my tastes. Arundel is interesting for a day trip, but there is less of interest for days 2 & 3 compared to some areas.

Salisbury could be combined with a day in the New Forest at say Beaulieu and another in Winchester.

Too many choices!

Posted by
2664 posts

Cotswolds...I would suggest staying in either Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway or Chipping Campden......take the train from Paddington Station in London to Moreton-in-Marsh, then a taxi or bus to your B&B/hotel. There is a bus system there, it gots to the places I mentioned and a few others, but not a lots. Cotswolds is better with a car, but seeing that you will only be there tree days then you should do ok with using the buses.

Posted by
993 posts

All of the areas you mention are lovely. As a first-timer I went to York. Since then, I've been to all of the places you mentioned and, now with the benefit of hindsight and no car (??) I'd go to York. As Cyn said, there is plenty to do. If I had a car and wanted to go someplace less busyish I 'd go to Cornwall.

Posted by
11292 posts

I know you didn't have it on your list, but if you want a city that's quite different from London and definitely has several days of wonderful sights, look into Liverpool. And yes, there's more than just Beatles sights there, although they are of course a big part of many visits.

If you want more ideas for Liverpool, here's my trip report (scroll down past Glasgow and Manchester): https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/uk-trip-report-glasgow-manchester-liverpool-in-september-2016

From your list, I realize a less urban destination may be what you want, but I wanted to throw it out there; I think Liverpool is definitely underrated and ignored by most visitors.

Posted by
2145 posts

Zinnia,
I see you live in Atlanta. We have a Travel group meeting coming up this Saturday, July 22 at 11 am, if you're available and interested in joining us for travel talk.
Look in the category for Travel group meetings for more details. We usually meet once a month and have fun!
Hope you will join us.

Posted by
19 posts

Goodness, this forum is fantastic! How did I ever travel without consulting this site! I am so grateful for everyone's input. It is obvious from all your comments that England is a place to return to time and time again, so I'd better not get frustrated by what I cannot visit. Not many countries pull me as hard --with the possible exception of Italy where we've been to almost every year for that past 10. Now it's time to change it up a bit, don't you think?

Someone posted on another thread that it would be good for newbies to hear recaps of others' travels. If interested I would be happy to recap my "First Time to Englad".

Thank you Judy B for the tip on the Atlanta Travel Group. Depending on where you meet, I would love to join you.

Happy travels!

Posted by
3428 posts

I'll add some more places for you to consider.
Cardiff Wales- easy 2 hour (ish) train journey. Wonderful, funky city with lots to see and do- markets, shopping, a castle in the heart of the city, a recently refurbished harbor, nearby slate mines that give tours, etc.

Edinburgh Scotland- a longer (4 1/2 to 5 hour) train journey, but lovely scenery on the way. plenty of history and both the castle and House of Holyrood !!!!, could even take a day trip to get a taste of the highlands. Plus whisky!!!!!!!!!

If you still prefer to focus on the list in your post, I'd vote for York. It is one of my favorite English cities. We have done both day trips from London and overnight stays.

Posted by
993 posts

We Anglophiles are pretty serious about this place. I always say this...remember that Rick says (I'm watching him as I type ...were in Belgium) ... Plan your trip like you're going back. This September I'm taking my 19th trip to the UK. My brother asks me when I going to go someplace else and I tell him when I'm through with England.

Posted by
1217 posts

If you're okay with renting a car, you can also dip into northern Wales going to and from Liverpool.

Posted by
98 posts

We enjoyed stayind at Beechfield House near the town of Melksham. 13 Miles from Bath. 16 miles from Avebury. Less than 50 miles to Glastonbury, Stonehenge, Stow-on-the-Wold and a lot of the Cotswolds. Just a little farther to Stratford-Upon- Avon. Enjoyed the restaurant and especially the afternoon tea. Very quiet. Beautiful rooms. A good place as a base. You definitely need a car, though.