We are making a trip to London for 8 days at the end of October. We have 4 days that we had plan to spend either in Scotland or Ireland before we go into London. Which should we visit and would we be better just to spend the extra time in London? We have 2 girls ages 6 and 11.
Suggest you visit a couple castles in Scotland. Have you already bought RT London tickets? Open jaw is the way to go flying into Scotland. (or Ireland).
It's good that you're going to Scotland/Ireland before London so you'll be fresh to do the traveling, which is tiring. I've never been to Scotland but we traveled a lot with our daughter when she was little and I don't think she would have found Ireland very interesting. Have you considered Paris instead?
We lived in London for a few weeks when our daughter was 4 and the Natural History Museum is wonderful. You could also do a day trip to Windsor Castle which has a dollhouse.
WIth four days you can fly into Edinburgh and spend a couple of nights there. Then think about heading north for two nights. You can fly to London from Inverness or Aberdeen.
You can take the train north Inverness--it's a beautiful train ride so do it in the daylight if you can. You can visit Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle--do a day tour. The TI in Inverness is great. The links to contact them are here. You can visit Culloden via public transportation. Cawdor Castle is very nice. I don't know how the garden is in October.
You could also choose to go west. I've not been but Arran might be nice for a short trip and it's not far to the Glagow airport for the trip to London.
Don't be afraid to rent a car if you want to. You won't need it in Edinburgh, but it would be a nice way to explore Perthshire and the Trossachs. Both are beautiful areas.
And BTW how old are the kids? In Edinburgh Dynamic Earth is quite good.
Our girls are 6 and 11
Then do take them to Dynamic Earth if it fits with your schedule. It's a great natural history museum with lots of kid activities. As an adult I found it fascinating to get the Scottish perspective on things that had always been very North American for me. Think continental glaciation! It was very cool.
I think Edinburgh would be a great stop before heading to the bustle of London. Edinburgh is a smaller city than Dublin, and I think your kids would enjoy it more. I'm sure the kids will enjoy the castle, and maybe even the Georgian townhouse to get a look at how people lived back then. Also, a day trip to Stirling castle might be a big hit. The day I was there they had a witches and warlocks day going and there were kids everywhere! Looked like a lot of fun. If you don't want to rent a car there are lots of day trip tours you can get from Edinburgh.
OK, I'll be the lone dissenter here. A few years ago, I did a 9 1/2 day trip to the UK and split it between Edinburgh and London. Not that it was a bad trip, but I will never do a trip like that again. When it was all done, I felt I hadn't really experienced anything in either city.
First - Each city has more than enough to captivate a family for a full eight days (and much more).
Second - days will be short, @8.5 of daylight in Edinburgh and a little more in London, while losing about 4 1/2 minutes a day.
Third, although the train schedule says it's only 4 1/2 hours to London, in all reality it pretty much wipes out an entire day. What with checking out of your hotel, getting (the kids) to the train station, waiting, boarding, riding, arriving, marching off to the tube line, riding, exiting, finding your hotel, and checking in, your day is pretty much spent. (Been there, done that.) And remember, you only have 8 1/2 or 9 hours of daylight... And, unless you are flying a multi-city itinerary (into EDI and out a London airport), you have to do this twice.
So, that being said, I would stick to one city and save up for another trip to the other. My preference, given the time of year and the presence of young children, would be to stick to London. Find a centrally located apartment close to major bus lines and a variety of tube lines (postal code SW7 is my favorite) and enjoy the heck out of London.
By the way, the Museum of London is perfect for the girls and it combines very well with St Paul's, Borough Market and Bea's of Bloomsbury Cakes (for a proper afternoon tea).
We just returned from an 11 day trip to London, York and Edinborough with our 12 and 15 yr old. I know it's tempting to fit in a lot - especially another country- but I agree with another reader that all that traveling could make for a more stressful vacation. First off, are your airline tickets booked? For you've already made the commitment to fly in and out of London, I would suggest renting a car and exploring the Cotswolds. There are a ton of fun sites for kids and grownups: Warwick Castle, Bath, Stonehenge, Blenheim Palace. Select a town as your base once you've identified the itinerary. you want to visit. At the end of the four days of travel, you can head into London - after dropping off your rental at a site on the outskirts of London. If you can do an open-jaw trip, that opens your options. But keep in mind that the train between Edinborough and London is about 5 hrs. We opted to break up the trip with a stop in York which was great. Flying doesn't save much time when you factor in airport security. Hope this is helpful!
I'm a little confused by your post. Does your 4 days before going to London included in your 8 days ?
If your 4 days are not included in your 8 days, Then I would say, Include Scotland in your trip.
If your 4 days are included in your 8 days, I would say spend them all in London.