2-day stop outside of London

Our two families of 4 (American and Belgian) - with teens - want an authentic British place to hang out for two days after a week in London. Accessible by train, English flavour, affordable...Oxford? Warwick? Where else? We have to go home via London, so need to be within 1.5 hours. Thanks! Erica
Madison, WI, USA

Posted by James
London, England
3 posts

I would suggest Bath. Its a great city full of history plus from there you can visit some lovely countryside, some great pubs and villages, one of which I would recommend for "picturesquenes" would be Castle Combe.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
1405 posts

Maybe Salisbury, close by Stonehenge and Winchester. Oxford would be another good choice.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
953 posts

Since it's our capital and biggest city, I think London is the "authentic British place to hang out". But if you want somewhere a bit different that is close to London then I suggest Brighton, Oxford/Cambridge or Winchester.

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

In just under 2 hours you could be in Norwich, travelling from Liverpool Street station. In the 11th century it was the second biggest city in England, after London. It has a Norman cathedral (completed around 1140), a Norman castle (completed 1121), and a lovely old town area with a lot of medieval buildings. There is a huge market which has been on its current site for around 900 years (it was moved from its previous site where it had been since Saxon times when the Normans started building the castle) and the city is on the River Wensum, which connects it to the Norfolk Broads (flooded medieval peat diggings which form 300 square kilometres of lakes known as 'Broads'). There are scheduled boat trips or self-drive day boats available from Norwich. The thing that everyone remembers about Norwich is that is has a church for every week of the year and a pub for every day of the year. That may be a popular myth, but it's not far short of the truth.

Posted by Erica
Madison, Wisconsin, United States
6 posts

Thanks for your suggestions, everyone!

Posted by david
837 posts

You have had numerous good suggestions; all wonderful places to visit. However, I would lean toward Oxford because, with a car rental, you have so many options of what to see during a couple of days. Oxford itself is wonderful. Other locations within easy drives are the Cotswolds, Warwick, Kenilworth, Coventry, Blenheim, and Stratford-upon-Avon. All are wonderful attractions and the drives between are scenic.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
12552 posts

Erica, You don't mention when you will be making your trip, nor from what part of Belgium your Belgian half is from. I mention the latter because of how much East Anglia and the fenland remind me of the Polder areas of Belgium, and maybe they would like something different. The English flavour that you are searching is a bit difficult because of its elusiveness. I was in Ely the other day and astonished that while it looked English, absolutely English, almost every person we passed was speaking Polish. The eastern agricultural areas have huge immigrant populations. The same is true in Peterborough, but to a lesser degree. Oxford has the dreaming spires and the River Isis and is made of cotswold stone and is gorgeous. But would it bother you to be surrounded by so many tourists from all 360 degrees of the world, and so many international students? I'm in Oxford regularly and love it (but not its parking!!!) and you may be surprised to hear that when we have lunch we go to a San Francisco style burrito place. English country villages are beautiful on the Essex/Suffolk border, Constable Country - named for the painter not the policeman. Less easy without a car but so lovely. I'd suggest rural Kent and Sussex. Especially in Sussex trains can get you all over. Or Winchester.

Posted by Erica
Madison, Wisconsin, United States
6 posts

Nigel - thanks! Our Belgians are from the Flemish part. They have never been to the UK. We want to experience a smaller town, but do not plan to rent cars, so walking and trains and day tours are ideal. We, the Americans, are from a university town so are drawn to Oxford. But castles are always a highlight!

Posted by Erica
Madison, Wisconsin, United States
6 posts

By the way, weekend of July 5-7.