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York, then Bath and London

We are scheduled to be in York for two nights and one full day from Scotland early part of June. I was wondering if Bath is directly accessible by train and be a good base for 2 nights (June 11-13) have the last part of our trip (June 13-15) with Greenwich or London as our base. We are flying out of Heathrow Airport on June 15 midmorning. Planning on sight-seeing around London (Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Tower of London). Any thoughts?

Posted by
26090 posts

Why do you want to go to Bath? What is important there for you?

Have you previously seen all you want to see in London as you will only be seeing two things (Big Ben - the bell, but commonly used to refer to the Elizabeth Tower, is behind scaffolding and covers, silent, and will be so for years yet) in your London list? Both the tour of Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London take well over half a day each.

Hang on - it looked like you had a short trip of 2 days in London but I now see that you only have one. You allocated 15th for the Greenwich/London bit but I now see you will have none of the 15th, as you are a mid-morning flight on the 15th, for which you will need an early breakfast, even earlier if you stay the night in Greenwich. If your mid-morning flight is at 10:00, say, you need to be there 3 hours ahead which means 7, and an hour into the airport makes walking out the door of a London hotel no later than 6.

Unless something is drawing you to Bath (more than "everybody goes there") I'd suggest spending the whole last few days in London unless, unlike Samuel Johnson, you are tired of London. Trains from York are absolutely trivial into Kings Cross station in London - 2 hours, no changes, very fast train, very comfy - but the Cross Country train from York to Bath takes 4 to 4 and a half hours with at least one change of train in Bristol Temple Meads and possibly Birmingham New Street stations, and then the train from Bath to Paddington station in London is another 90 minutes, and of course another hotel change. So 2 hours easy, or net 6 hours and much less easy. Up to you really.

Posted by
4537 posts

Takes you a lot out of your general way, and considering you have such a short time it will in effect waste half a day. Why not stop somewhere along (or close by) to the train route between York and London instead if you don't want to stay in London.

Posted by
4895 posts

York to Bath by train isn’t a straight forward journey. You need to change trains twice, at Birmingham and Bristol for the quickest route (5.5 hours door to door) or once (Reading or London - 6.5 hours door to door). You would only have one full day in Bath before heading to London or Greenwich (the latter being about 4 hours door to door).

Add another night to York and another to London or just add 2 nights to London and drop Bath. If Bath is a must, then do a long day trip from London by train. You are double counting your days and not allowing any transfer time.

15 June isn’t a sight seeing day as you will have to have an early breakfast and head to the airport.

Posted by
15 posts

Thank you, Marco, Nigel, and Jennifer. We will go ahead and do York from June 9, 10, and leave on the 11th for London. Stay in London from June 11-14 and then fly out on the 15th. We will do a day trip to Bath (this was one of the must-sees in Rick Steves guide) stopping by Stonehenge (if that is possible). This will give us several days to explore London. Trying to find places in either SOHO, West Kensington, Fitzrovia. Is that better? Also, should we move to another hotel that is closer to Heathrow airport on the 14th so we don't have to be rushing early in the morning?

Posted by
19217 posts

I believe this is your first trip to London. One day there (which is what you will have) is just nothing. Unless you intend to return to England soon or actively dislike big cities and have put London on your itinerary out of a sense of duty, I encourage you to drop Bath. Personally, I'd drop York as well. If you head straight from Scotland to London, you'll actually have enough time to see a bit of that city rather than just saying you were there.

As it currently stands, it appears that the latter part of your trip looks like this:

June 9: Travel from Scotland to York
June 10: In York
June 11: Travel from York to Bath
June 12: In Bath
June 13: Travel from Bath to London
June 14: In London
June 15: Fly home.

That's three hotel changes within 5 days (four changes within 6 days if you are still considering shifting to a hotel out near the airport on the night of July 14). You're wasting a lot of time unpacking, repacking, navigating through train stations, sitting on trains, finding hotels and getting oriented in a new place. You will see a lot more if you just go from Scotland to London on June 9.

Posted by
5704 posts

Granted this is the Rick Steve’s Helpline Forum and no disrespect but just because RS says something is a must see doesn’t necessarily mean you need to add it to your itinerary.

Use his guides as a reference not a bible.

As others have advised with the short amount of time you have in London, SEE London. I’ve been visiting there since 1972 and have never run out of different things to see.

If you are to visit Stonehenge then train from London to Salisbury then bus to Stonehenge. Return to Salisbury to see the cathedral. Long day but doable.

Are you seeking hotel or AirBnB recommends in those neighborhoods. Clarify.

Posted by
4895 posts

Bath isn’t a must-see to me, compared to what London has to offer in your short timescale. Stonehenge isn’t in my top 100 things to see in the UK. RS has his opinion as to what he would see. What he likes may or may not be what interests you. Each to their own.

If you want to see Bath, see Bath and spend a day doing this. If you want to see Stonehenge, then take 3/4 of a day to see this travelling via Salisbury. Doing both in one day by public transport isn’t practical.

Posted by
172 posts

Too bad you can't be in London on June 8. the Trooping of the Colors Occurs. You can watch from the park or Street. It is as much Royal Pomp as one can see. The Queen arrives at the barracks in a carriage, reviews the troops, and is then escorted back to Buckingham Palace along the Mall. It is a feast of uniformed troops in full colors, riding horseback, marching and displaying all the history of Royal Britain. Once at the Palace, the Royal family en masse, assembles on the balcony, as the RAF flies overhead, trailing jet vapors of red and blue. We simply fell into it a few years back, the year Kate was expecting the first, and were able to witness the whole thing and got great photos of the entire family. This celebrates the queen's birthday, though her birthday is in April, they wait 'til June because the weather is better. If possible, this is a don't miss. Hank, novato, CA

Posted by
2849 posts

I agree with Claudia. I don't think Bath is a must-see-I much preferred Salisbury which could also be done as a day trip. However, if this is your first trip to London, I wouldn't do any day trips. I have been to London 7 times and still have items on my London bucket list. I do agree that York is a must-see.

Posted by
8456 posts

I love Bath and usually spend 3-5 nights there BUT with your short time frame in London, I agree with the others that I'd skip Bath unless you feel is has things that are "must see sights" for you.

Are you a diehard Jane Austen or Regency romance fan? Would the thought of having a stoll down Milsom Street have you in a swoon? Tea at the Pump Room make your heart race? Are you amazed at the thought of Roman Ruins in a city center? Are you a fan of Georgian architecture and want to see the Royal Crescent and Circus (an oval of town homes set around a small park)? If none of these are describe you, then I'd stick with London. (By the way..they DO describe me, hahaha!!)

I also love Stonehenge but with your short time frame, I'd say to skip this unless you are mesmerized by Neolithic monuments. For Stonehenge, I recommend 2 nights in Salisbury so you can take the public bus out to the stones and come back by the Old Sarum Iron Age hill fort.

London has so many "big" sights you'll be hard pressed to choose which ones to see with your 4 nights there. To me this is a time when less is better.

What time does your flight leave on the 15th?

Posted by
4948 posts

We loved Bath and York even more.
The Roman Bath Museum is awesome and you can see some of the original Roman plumbing that still works.

However, with the time you have, I would skip Bath for this trip and save travel time. There are day trip out of London to Bath, Oxford, Cambridge, Canterbury, Windsor Castle and more.

Posted by
511 posts

I'm guessing a "mid-morning" flight is 10 am - so you want to be at the airport at 7 for an international flight. That's a Saturday so you won't have rush hour to worry about. I'd probably stay in my London hotel and just get up super early to catch the subway. You could pick a hotel near Victoria Station or South Kensington to make that a little easier. Or stay near Paddington and catch the Heathrow Express train - more expensive but very convenient, or so I've heard. Or you could move out to a hotel near the airport for your last night. I guess it depends on how much of a morning person you are and what you'd like to do on your last night in London.