We're a family with 2 young adult sons and just got a FF flight to Gatwick to celebrate college graduation. Thinking of London for a couple of days, then out to the Cotswolds. Taking the train to Brussels and spending 4 days exploring Belgium and A'dam, is this reasonable? We have a total of 8 days.
We arrive Gatwick Monday, 5/12 at 9 am, depart Tues. 5/20 at 12:30 pm.
I would err on spending a little more time in Brugge versus Brussels. Brussels is a convenient transport hub, and you certainly wouldn't lack activities, but Brugge is so much more unique and charming. And the travel time between the two cities lasts less than two hours.
Chris, if 'twas me, would do London 2/3 days, Bath 1 day, back to Ldn to catch Eurostar to Brussels (don't stop) & on to Brugge for 1 day, Thalys train to Ams'dm 2 days and then back to Gatwick via Thalys/Eurostar/airport transfer for flight home. Travel time obviously eats into the schedule but fun for the graduates (and with any luck, for the old folks, too). Cotswolds are tough without a car.
Geoff, I was thinking along those lines also. There is an easy jet flight from A'dam to Gatwick the morning before our flight out of US, wouldn't that be easier (and cheaper) than train?
Here's another possibility that would free up some travel time: Arr London (3 nights), train to Bath (1 night), fly Easyjet from Bristol to A'dam (daily afternoon flight, and the airport is just 30" from Bath), A'dam (2 nights), Bruges (1 night) Eurostar Brussels to London (1 night), to LGW & home. The BRS-AMS flight price is low right now, so you'd want to book asap.
Absolutely the fly method is slick. The extra luggage issue enters into it (and can get expensive) but to do England/Schiphol at least one way would save the better part of a day. With train (either way) would allow you to see a bit of the Fr/Bel/NL countryside; it is pretty and a nice break from cities, airports and train stations.
Another thought on the flying; would be inclined to do the Easyjet Bristol to Schiphol rather than on the way back to London from Amsterdam. Fog delays especially in spring and fall can wreak havoc with plane schedules. Better to be delayed going to Amsterdam than on a tight schedule to connect with your homeward journey from Gatwick. Short of a nuclear disaster, the train will get you Brugge, Brussels, London, Gatwick and probably on time.
If your goal is to get just a taste of those four destinations, it's reasonable. But if you want more than an overview -- time to do the big sites, time to experience pub culture, time for people watching or a picnic in a park -- I'd suggest limiting your travel to fewer or closer cities.
As a comparison for you, my husband and I recently spent two weeks in four places -- London, Bath, York and Edinburgh -- and STILL felt like we barely scratched the surface of what each has to offer.