We are a family of 4 with two teenage boys and are planning a trip to England with another family and their teenage children. What areas would you recommend we visit in addition to London? We have heard Bath, the Cotswalds, and London would be a good mix of locations.
That is a nice mix but would suggest asking your boys what they want to see, what are their interests. From Bath you can easily see Stonehenge, Wells and the lovely cathedral, avebury, etc and of course there are wonderful sights in London and easy day trips. Also Windsor is easy day trip from London. What do the other people want to see and are you renting car? When are you going?
I agree with Gail. By the way - its Cotswolds with an "o" not an "a"
Does the 12 days include arrival and departure? If so, you really only have 10 days. That is important in planning. With that amount of time you could consider getting a taste of Scotland or Wales in addition to England. Though I doubt you could comfortably see all three. If you are interested, I wrote an article for AAA Carolina's "Go!" magazine about day trips out of London by train. I'd be happy to share it with you- just private message me with your email. You'd have time to 'do' some of the locations I suggest with more than a day trip. York is one of my favorite places, so is Cardiff. Dover and Canterburry should also be conisdered. Windsor is practically a must, but is easily done as a day trip. Another thing to consider- if you want to rent a car (we don't drive in the UK, but others love to)- you may have problems finding a vehicle that will accomodate 8 or more people. What we call a van, they call a 'people mover' and it requires a special license and might not have room for luggage, either. So you might need 2 cars. Some of the main reasons we don't drive in the UK, in addition to trying to drive on the left, is the cost of gasoline (petrol), the cost and scarcity of parkingk, and the fact that automatic transmission vehicles are rare. With 8 or more people, you might be able to save considerable costs on rail tickets with special group fares such as a ticket/pass that allows up to 5 people to travel for the cost of 2 (I think that is right (Nigle works for a UK rail company and can give you correct details). I'll share some more ideas and iteneraries in additional posts.
One way to save some on costs would be to pick one or two 'bases' and rent apartments (you'd probably need 2). You can fix some of your meals that way. In London check out the London School of Economics (www.lsetopfloor.co.uk/ ) or Citadines (www.citadines.com/uk/london) .
Gail - Thank you for your reply. We are really just getting started on the planning and are thinking about late June next year when the kids get out of school. They are both boys, are intrigued by history, and enjoy hiking and exploring. Nigel - Thank you for the correction. I realized as I was looking at the map that I had misspelled Cotswolds. Toni - It sounds like you've put together a great resource. I would definitely appreciate your sharing and will send a note separately.
Here are some itenerary ideas (if you could add a few more days you get more options): 1> Stay in London the whole time. Do day trips by train. Could even do a day trip (or overnight) to Paris via the Eurostar. Easy day trips you can choose from include: Windsor, Cambridge, Oxford, Brighton (beach!!), Stratford-upon-Avon (can inculde some of the Cotsowlds from here), Bath (can add Stonehenge from here), York, Cardiff Wales, Winchester, Canterbury, Dover + many others. 2> London 3-5 days with 1 or 2 day trips train to York- 1- 2 nights train to Edinburgh- 2-4 nights with possible Highland day trip 3> London 3-5 nights with 1 or 2 day trips train to Bath 3-5 nights- rent car to see Cotswolds and possibly some Welsh castles 4> London 3-7 nights with day trips Eurostar to Paris- 3-7 nights with day trips 5> London 3-5 nights with day trips flight (or overnight Caledonian Sleeper train) to Edinburgh- 2-3 nights train to Aviemore- 2-3 nights train to Inverness- 2-5 nights 6> London 5-7 nights with day trips flight to Inverness- 5-7 nights with day trips (possibly Orkney) As you see, there are endless possiblilities. I'd give the kids some 'summer homework' and have them read Rick's books, Lonely Planet or Frommer's and explore websites. Then have everyone (you included) make a list of their top 10 . Then start looking at the practicalities of routes, transport options, etc. Finally, you start 'negotiating' and compromising. Once you have an intenerary you repeat the process with day trips, sites, activitities, etc.
(If you are iterested, I'll be glad to tell you about the outdoor activities avaialable in Aviemore- it's a small viallage in the Caringorm Mts of Scotland).
Hello Kerri, For 12 days at England, here is my suggested travel plan. It is not complicated, and I think you would not feel hurried or rushed. Day 1 and 2 : London : visit Kew Gardens the first day, and Hatfield House (north of London) via railraod train the second day. Day 3: Railroad train to Morten in Marsh (in northern Gloucestershire - "Cotswolds" region. Day 4: Ride in a bus, south from Morten in Marsh, to see the pretty green farm land and a few villages. Return to Morten in Marsh. Day 5: Ride in a bus, north from Morten in Marsh to Stratford upon Avon. (Pretty green farm land in northern Gloucestershire and southern Warwickshire). Day 6: visit Warwick Castle. (Ride in a bus from Stratford to the town Warwick, and walk to the castle. Return to Stratford. Day 7 : Train to York. Day 8 : York (York Minster church and the Castle museum). Day 9 : train from York to London. Days 10, 11, 12 : London, including a day trip to Windsor Castle (royal palace). I suggest being in the big city London at the end of the trip. Going in London first could be stressful.
I think that Ron means Stratford upon Avon (Shakespeare's birthplace) not Stafford - an industrial city much further north in Staffordshire.
Since you have youngsters with you, a day in Brighton would add a change of pace that they (and the adults) might enjoy. There's the sea front, with lots on it and a pier. It's an easy trip from London.
Kerri, my wife and I just returned from our first trip to England in early June. We visited Bath, the Cotswolds, Cornwall (St. Ives), and London. Cornwall is great, but out of the way and tough to get to. So, I think Bath, the Cotswolds and London would be a great mix of locations, assuming you're staying over there long enough to do each leg of the journey justice. Also, Bath and London are easy and best without a car. The Cotswolds without a car is tough. The best part of the Cotswolds is just getting off the beaten path and finding little villages, as well as hitting the well-known villages (e.g., Chipping Campden, Upper and Lower Slaughters) that are really best reachable by car. Have fun!
Kerri, I see now this is a 12-day trip. Plenty of time for that mix of 3 stops.
I just returned from my trip to Great Britain and would be happy to share my plans. Here is what I would recommend: London 3-5 days not including travel days in or out of the city. Hop on and off bus for two days, was fabulous for sightseeing. See Tower of London, Changing of the Guard, Westminster Abbey, British National History Museum and London Eye. Do whichever walking tours in London interest the boys. See Hyde park. Travel via car which will allow you to see the charming places you might miss if you do not drive. Get a navigation system and just go for it. Travel one way to maximize the time you have travelling. Stay in the Cotswolds at least 3 days. Hike parts of the Cotswold way which links many towns you can see on foot. Many B&Bs have ordinace maps for this purpose. From Cotswold take a day trip to Stratford upon Avon.
and to Warwicke, if they love castles and the history surrounding them. If you are more anxious to see older castles add a few days in Northern Wales instead and see Conwy. Conwy is far more intriguing and beautiful in its crumbling, mossy splendor. On the way out of Cotswolds and to Bath, visit Castle Combe where part of War Horse was filmed. Stop over in Avebury and walk amongst the standing stones. Stay in Bath 3 nights and see Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths. Take day trips from there to Glastonbury/Wells and another to Cardiff/ Tintern Abbey/Chepstow Castle. Travel via car to Northern Wales here. MANY hiking opportunities abound in Wales, try any where in Snowdonia National Park for hiking ideas. Good luck planning your trip and I hope you have as fantastic a time as I did! Nancy
I just spent a year living in Bath last year with my 2 teenaged boys and a 9 yr old daughter and I like Nancy's itinerary or Toni's #5, depending on your kids' interests. I love doing bike tours on the first day of any city and those were always big hits with my kids. It gives you a nice overview of a place and then you can decide what you want to see more of. In London, our favorite things were: The Tower, The Imperial War Museum, the Cabinet War Rooms and people watching in Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square. In Bath, we loved the Roman Baths, Royal Victoria Park, the American Museum (worth a visit!) and just the whole vibe of the place. The Mad Max tour out of Bath is a great way to See Stonehenge, Avebury (more interesting, IMHO) and Castle Combe and Lacock (cute little Cotswold village) without a car. And don't miss Glastonbury - my favorite! In Aviemore, we had lots of active fun horse back riding, fishing and doing a zip line course at Rothiemurcus Estate and hanging out on Loch Ness near Inverness. Feel free to PM me if you want more information.
Everyone's itineraries sounds great! I would suggest you have the teenagers do some research into what they would like. The National Trust UK website has some excellent themed tour ideas. Don't forget Wales...Edward's Castles are fantastic for climbing towers, walking walls and fabulous views. There are Antique train rides and tours of Industrial Age Factories and Mines. We stayed in a B & B farmhouse on Anglessy that was built on the foundation of a Roman house. The last trip we took to UK we started in London for 6 days and then spent the next 2 weeks driving in a linear manner through the Cotswolds to Chester up to Edinburgh and down the East side.
Check on the Treasure Houses if you would like to see the great Houses with wonderful landscapes and real antiques and art in situ. You are from Seattle so distances will seem small to you. You don't need a car in London.
In London be sure to get the Oyster card for using bus or the Underground
An Oyster card might not be the best idea. With 4 of you, a Travel card from a National Rail station would allow you to make use of the 2- for-1 deals. www.daysoutguide.co.uk/ is the website to check. You would want to print out the vouchers you want to use as the stations sometimes run out of the booklets. You would get a paper travel card on National Rail paper stock. You would also need to take an extra passport sized photo of each of you if you want to purchase a 7 day travel card ( there are 1 day and 7 day ones) There are deals on attraction admissions , restaurants, etc.
Thank you to everyone for your generous suggestions. I've been out of town and will take the time to read through them thoroughly. Much appreciation to you all!