We are attending a wedding in July in Bath, England. We (my husband and I) are plan on making it a 10 day trip and seeing other sites while we are there. We previously have spent 12 days in Italy (Venice, Siena, Florance & Rome) and 10 days in France (Paris, Avignon, St Remy de Provence, L'Isle Sur La Sorgue, Gordes, Chateaurenard) and have done a few days in Germany (Frankfurt). We love walking around and looking at old churches, castles, going to museums and eating good food. Our favorite city of all has been Paris though we really loved Venice and Rome as well. We are tempted to take the train from London to Paris as it's so close but feel we should see something new and I am wondering if people have other suggestions on easy trips from London that we could take. Also, any advice on how long we should stay in London and Bath? We'll need to be in Bath for 1 day for the wedding but am wondering if it is worth more time. Thanks!
Keller, I'd guess that Bath is the second most visited UK city after London, at least by the people asking for advice on this forum. If you are attending a wedding then you won't have time to see anything of the place, but it is certainly worth more time, at least a whole day and it can certainly occupy you for longer. It has an abundance of the things that interest you. The more difficult question is whether to spend any time in London, arguably the greatest city in the world. There is enough to occupy you there for weeks, months, a lifetime (if Samuel Johnson is to be believed). But as you say there is Paris, the second greatest city in the world, little more than 2 hours away. On the other hand, within 2 hours of London you can find a huge number of unique places, old cities, modern cities, museums of every description, 1,000 year-old churches, medieval castles, pre-historic monuments, an endless list of interesting things. You say your first thought was to go to Paris, but you feel you should see something new. Maybe the place to start is with a guidebook - folks around here seem to like the UK guide by Rick Steves. Some time here and some time in Paris could be a compromise, maybe flying in to Heathrow and back from CDG?
Keith, is that what you really think of Paris or are you just trying to shock?
Keith you make yourself look silly .. you may not have enjoyed Paris, but millions of tourists do.. and they are not all idiots now are they? Different strokes for different folks, I love Paris, but I have also loved my visits to London and Bath.. I haven't ever been anywhere I would label with the word you used.. perhaps that overblown hysterical term can be saved for the slums of third world countries.. Keller.. if you choose to go to Paris go with an open mind, it is a wonderful city , rich in history, filled with museums, grand boulevards, tiny cobblestone streets, anicent buildings, and good food and wine. The Eurostar makes a visit painless, 2.5 hrs, city center to city center ( so no airport commuting ) .. and if you buy tickets well in advance it can be quite cheap! On my second visit to Bath I visited the Costume Museum, it was a rainy day and it was a great place to wander around in for an hour.
Keller, Here is a book and there are several others on Amazon that feature day trips out of London and the area. I have the Frommer's book and it is very good.
I spent seven days visiting the most wonderful places around England. "Frommer's Best Day Trips from London: 25 Great Escapes by Train, Bus or Car (Frommer's Best Day Trips London) " All were done as day trips by train for me.
Keller, Bath has a lot of history and is definitely worth more than one day (IMO). While in that area you could also visit Stonehenge, spend a few days in the Cotswolds or visit London, which has a wide range of Museums, Galleries and other sights to visit (and also lots of great musicals). If you'd prefer to venture a bit further afield, York is an incredible city with an interesting history. The Railway Museum there is excellent and York Minster is very impressive (be sure to attend an Evensong service). If you'd like a bit of a change, ending your trip with a return visit to Paris for a few days is also a possibility. I was back in Paris in July and never seem to run out of things to see or do there. Booking open-jaw flights would of course be a good idea if you visit Paris. You might find it helpful to have a look at the England Guidebook to work out sightseeing in whichever places you choose. Good luck with your decision!
Since you have already been to Paris, I suggest you stick to UK this time. Agree Bath needs another day, we really enjoyed the Bath Walks which I seem to remember was about an hour or two and well worth it. I think it was free, can't remember that either, but it starts right by the ruins. I also suggest you get a car, even for three or four days, tour the area and end up with your stay in London, dropping off car before London. You do not need car in Bath either. The nice thing about car is being flexible and it is not hard to get used to driving on the other side of the road, just be sure to get automatic, I found it very difficult to use stick shift using my left hand to change gears. Enjoy your trip.
My first advice is not to go to Paris on this trip as both London and ,to an extent, Paris are worth weeks of exploration. Spend four or five days in London a second day in Bath since as has already been said the wedding will take up day one. As you talk about churches and walking etc you could go to the Cotswolds which begin not far north of Bath but I would recommend to go south to the Mendips, walk and visit the villages and the delightful small cities of Wells and Glastonbury.
If you have time go to Bristol a bigger, livelier and equally historic city only 15 minutes from Bath by train. It is also the birthplace of Cary Grant, Wallace and Grommit and Banksy.
Thanks for all the advice!!! As much as it will pain me to be 2 hours from Paris and not go there, I think we will go someplace we haven't been. I'll look into some of the places mentioned (Stonehenge, Cotswolds, York, Wells and Glastonbury). I'd prefer not to do lots of day trips back and forth and we wont have a car so I'd like a place we can stay in for 3 or 4 days. I'll definitely pick up the Frommers guide.
I see Brussels is an easy trip from London... Is that worth a 3 -4 day trip?
Bath is in West England... lots of history, cathedrals, castles, manor houses, cultural sites. Near Wales. Near Cotswolds, Near Oxford. We spent 10 days in the area, some driving, and ran out of time. I'm in Hopewell and would be glad to share our Winchester, Bournemouth, Salisbury, Bath, Wales, Stow-in-the-Wold, Oxford itinerary, detailed comments with you. If you go to Europe, may want to consider Bruges, Belgium. Milton
I'm not a fan of Brussels. Been there twice...thought maybe I had missed something the first time. Nope, didn't like it any better the second time. Nothing wrong with the city, but it just doesn't resonate with me. Does your 10 days include travel days to and from England? If so, your first day will be limited in terms of sightseeing just because of making your way to your hotel, jet lag, orienting yourself to the area, etc. The wedding takes up Day 2. I would spend at least a day or two in Bath sightseeing. IMO one of the loveliest cities in England. http://visitbath.co.uk/ London itself could take up the entirety of your remaining days...so much to see and do. It's my favorite city in the world. But if you want to get out of England, I would choose Edinburgh over Brussels. It's about 4-1/2 hours from London by train. Seats are pretty cheap if you buy them 90 days out. Loved walking along the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Park, took a couple of day tours. http://www.royal-mile.com/ I'm unclear on how many days you actually have for sightseeing, but you could do 2 or 3 days in Bath (including the wedding day), take the train to London, spend a few days, then take the train to Edinburgh. Fly out of Edinburgh.
I'd highly recommend Oxford, the Cotswolds, Blenheim Palace and Stratford Upon Avon. Lots to do in all and relatively near Bath.
Would we be able to see Cotswolds, Blenheim Palace and Stratford Upon Avon, etc... without a car? We could rent one but I am a bit nervous about driving on the opposite side.
You can get to those places by bus but I wouldn't want to be at the mercy of bus schedules.
My husband and I rented a car when we were in the cotswolds last month. We drove to Blenheim and then up to the Lake District. Driving on the left was not that difficult. The first day was the hardest but mostly because of the narrow roads in the cotswolds. Driving was easy once we got used to it. The main roads were not a problem.
I'm a big fan of Brussels, but why spend the time and money to go there when you will be so close to so many great places. You need at least 4-5 days to see the highlights of London, and more time would be better. And as others have mentioned, there are many great places to see near Bath. Why look far afield when there is so much right under your nose?
I would love to go to small towns but not having a car makes that difficult. Keller, we have a modern, efficient and extensive railway network. There are something like 3,000 railway stations, 20,000 train services per day and in an average year there are around 1.3 billion journeys by rail, totalling over 30 billion kilometres. And that's in a country about the size of Oregon. There are dozens and dozens of small towns that you can reach by rail within a reasonable travelling time from London or Bath and that would be worth the visit. And Keith's right, the food's not so bad any more.
What I'm struggling with is that 1) we probably wont have a car and 2) we don't want to do a "big city" feel vacation. When vacationing in Europe we enjoy just walking around quiet streets and eating at little cafes, seeing old churches and museums. We generally don't shop, go see plays or eat at fancy expensive restaurants. What I loved in France and Italy was we could just walk around back streets see amazing things and then pop into any small corner restaurant and have the most amazing meals. I dont think that's doable in London (esp. if you don't like Indian food). Perhaps I'm wrong with the big city feel. But - if you don't have a car and don't want to do a big city vacation - what would you do in England?
Salisbury! Train service in about an hour from Bath. It's a pleasant walk to the cathedral. Salisbury has a small city feel. The cathedral and surrounding area are worth half a day. Others may know of good places to eat.
I can totally relate to your comments about avoiding big cities.
I think you would enjoy the Cotswolds. We visited plenty of old churches. An elderly gentleman gave us a fascinating tour of a church in Chipping Campden. The town has a tiny museum about the arts and crafts movement which was really quite interesting. My point is you will find lots of little things that interest you. I don't know if you like to walk or not but there are plenty of public footpaths. You can combine walking with bus transportation. We walked from Chipping Campden to Lower Slaughter and then took a bus back to Chipping.
Don't mean to insult England - I just haven't heard any good things about the food and hear that London is a big city with a big city feel. Lots of people love that - it's just not what I want in a vacation. I would love to go to small towns but not having a car makes that difficult.
The days of the English eating boiled meat and spuds topped with mushy brussel sprouts ended a good thirty years ago.
I traveled on two regional british trains today, Portsmouth to Waterloo station London. And Waterloo to Windsor/Eton. These trains stopped at many smaller towns and cities along the way. Any one of these towns could be the sort of place you seek. You might do a little internet research on some towns and pick one or two. Many towns have good bus service. A few years ago I spent a few days in the town of Warwick, near Stratford-upon-Avon. It's a small city with one or two attractions. The weekend I was there the town was holding bicycle races. The whole town seemed to be involved. It was fun and very "down home." Warwick is connected to the rest of the area by frequent buses.
London is a big city - yes. At one time it had 9 million people. There are many fewer now. But I see London as a collection of villages, and indeed that is how it grew up, and those villages have a very different "feel" from each other. If you like wandering in churches London has so many, many of them. Several dozen alone which were designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Many of them are in the "square mile" of the City of London. Did you know that the London we think of as one place actually contains 2 side-by-side cities, the City of Westminster and the City of London (the City of London is the financial centre, is defined by the Griffins on the bollards, and extends roughly from the Aldwich, east of Trafalgar Square to just before the Tower of London, with the northern boundary approximately London Wall and Holburn, and the southern boundary the River. Westminster has a different feel from The City, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea different again. With the various boroughs the villages are very different. South Kensington is very close to Sloane Square yet very different. A short ride on the Underground's Northern Line will take you to Hampstead which has Fenton House and is very hilly and has Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath which is nearly 800 acres of wild open (quite hilly) countryside including over 2 dozen ponds or lakes, several of which are swum in. ... more
... more Any type of food can be had in London, many you may never have experienced previously from inexpensive to absurdly expensive, but most places are quite reasonable. Sometimes when we go up to London we have traditional British food, but as often we have Chinese dim sum, Thai, Mexican, B-B-Q, Japanese, Korean, Italian or South American. I only have Indian food once every couple of years, usually as a take-away at my home - never in London. (I prefer other cuisines but when I do have the Indian it is wonderful if a bit too caloric for me). Skip London if you like but don't pre-judge it.