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Traveling with Children to England - Need Help with Itinerary

Hello,

Our family of five will be traveling to England, April 1-9th. We have an 8-year old, and two 11-year olds. Looking for recommendations or suggestions with our itinerary. Many thanks, in advance!

04/01: Arrive LHR early AM; rent car
Spend the day/night in Windsor

04/02: Stonehenge (early AM)
Bath - Roman Baths,
Thornbury Castle

04/03: Cotswold Area (not sure where to stay that is family friendly, economical, and within relative distance to sites)
Would like to visit Stratford Upon Avon, Stow on the Wold, Lower Slaughter, etc.
Would stay the overnight

04/04: Wake up in the AM and perhaps head to Blenheim Palace AND/OR Oxford Harry Potter Tour.
Not sure if we would have enough time to drive from Cotswold area, then to one or both tours, AND drive into London to
return car that night.

04/05-04/09: Spend in London

Posted by
8889 posts

3rd and 4th April look very crowded. You have 2+ days of things to see each day.

My suggestion. This is not in anybody's A-list.
Chedworth Roman Villa: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chedworth-roman-villa
I suggest it as when I visited, they had kids guides who dressed the kids up as Romans: soldiers, slaves, woman, and explained a lot.
See here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chedworth-roman-villa/features/bring-your-family-to-chedworth-roman-villa

Posted by
18140 posts

I agree with Chris: You can't reasonably go to all those places in the short time you have available. You need to pare it down. Don't forget that there may be parking challenges at most of the places you mention, chewing up time.

Have you traveled to Europe before? If not, consider the likelihood that at least some of you will be significantly sleep-deprived and jetlagged on your arrival day. I never expect to accomplish anything on my first day in Europe; it is a struggle merely to stay awake until dinner time--and I sometimes lose that battle. You may not exactly be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Day 2, either, and I'm guessing the drive from Windsor to Stonehenge may take close to 1-1/2 hours even if you don't hit significant traffic. What time will your family of 5 have to get up in order to be at Stonehenge in the "early AM"? Will you have two bathrooms available?

Posted by
119 posts

Are your kids big Lego fans? If yes, consider Windsor Legoland which is not far from Windsor Castle - my kids loved it and felt it was a highlight of the trip.

Posted by
1747 posts

You don't need a car to get to Windsor from Heathrow, it's just a short bus ride.

And I agree that it looks like you are trying to see to much in the time you have. Stonehenge, Bath and Thornbury castle sounds like a too rushed day for me at least.

Posted by
388 posts

Your kids will find the Cotswolds areas you have listed very dull unless you throw in some child friendly attractions. Bourton on the Water is great for that as is the Cotswold Wildlife park. My kids (same age) are always underwhelmed when we drive past Stonehenge. I would personally ditch it in favour of more time in Bath - No.1 Royal Crescent is enjoyable. Blenheim Palace has plenty to do but is expensive.

Posted by
4248 posts

What time are you aiming to arrive at Thornbury Castle? We stayed there last year (we stayed in the Gatehouse) and the house and grounds are well worth spending a good amount of time exploring. We took the option of paying for a private guide to give us a tour and I highly recommend it. Unfortunately, looking at your schedule you may not make it to Thornbury until late and most likely after dark and with an early morning start you're going to miss out. It seems a shame as it's more than a place to simply spend a night as somewhere just for sleep.

If you're aiming to get to Stonehenge for opening at 09:30 you could theoretically cover it within an hour, I've seen plenty of people do so because they actually have no real interest in the stones or the history/mythology surrounding them but feel that they have to go because it's considered a "must see". If you're there first thing you shouldn't have any worries about finding a parking space although the traffic around Salisbury may still be heavy at that time of the morning (it's notoriously bad).

If all goes well then you could be in Bath in around an hours drive. Plan your parking well ahead! Personally I could spend hours in the Baths, some people less so and you'll most likely be dictated by your children's interest level. If you do not intend exploring any more of Bath other than the Baths then you could make it to Thornbury by early to mid afternoon. We dined at the main restaurant and the food was very good not to mention the ambience. They offer a kids menu for those kids not keen on duck terrine or wild rabbit ravioli (that's most kids!).

We had lunch at the nearby Royal George pub which is a short walking distance from the castle. It was quite good, a step up from normal pub fare but nothing fancy or too exotic. They offer an evening menu if you'd prefer not to eat at the castle.

I suspect your children may be bored with Stonehenge so it could be a quick visit. The baths will be more interesting but you know your kids, I don't. My eldest at 11 was very interested, the 9 year old was very bored. I think they'd both love Thornbury so if you can get there before sunset (17:00 on 2nd April) it will give them more time to run around and explore.

I don't recommend driving a car straight off a long haul flight. Take a taxi to Windsor, it's close and collect the car either from Windsor or back at Heathrow the following morning.

Are you planning to drive into London and return the car somewhere there or do you mean returning it back to Heathrow? There are worse places to drive in than London but it's not easy by any stretch, particularly if you're not used to driving on the left and/or in an incredibly dense, busy and old city as London.