Car vs. Train in England

My husband and I have never been to England. Is it economical and time-saving for 2 people to rent a car and also get a 3-day Flex Pass? We planned to take the train from Heathrow to Bath, rent a car and see the Cotswolds and York and then take the train back down to London for several days. Our "side trip" sights include Windsor, Oxford/Bleinhem, Hidcote, Avebury Stones, Stratford, possibly Castle Howard. Entire trip is 10 days (4 in London) plus days flying. Not sure how to use the 3rd train trip - London to Windsor? London to Oxford? Or, should we rent a car at Heathrow, stop at Windsor on our way and just purchase one train trip York to London? Thanks for your suggestions, RBH

Posted by Maggie
Boscombe, Dorset, UK
961 posts

I like your plan to catch the train to Bath and then rent a car. When you get off your long flight, you'll probably be tired and jet-lagged. On the train, you'll be able to nap if you feel like it, and look out of the window to enjoy the scenery if you're awake. You might also be able to chat with people (but don't count on it!). Overall, I think it would be a nice way to start a vacation. In a car, apart from the obvious, that you'll be driving on the other side of the road, there's also the thing that driving in or around London is a nightmare. I know others do it, but I wouldn't!

Posted by david
837 posts

I'm not sure what the pass is, but I'm not sure it would be of value. I would look at two longer trips: Heathrow to Bath and York to London. A third could be Windsor. Check individual prices vs. the pass. I would use four bases: Bath, Cotswolds, York, and London. From Bath I would car to Avebury and consider including Stonehenge and Salisbury in the day trip. From the Cotswolds base, I would see the Cotswols villages, Oxford, Blenheim, Hidcote, and Stratford and consider including Coventry and Kennilworth as well. This is probably three days total. Then drive to York for York and Castle Howard.

Posted by Stacy
152 posts

I like your original idea, and agree with Maggie. You will appreciate not having to drive TOO much, and will be rested by the time you pick up your car in Bath. And it's nice watching the scenery go by as you ride the train. Maybe compare the 3-day pass to 2 single tickets (London-Bath and York-London). If it saves a lot, go for it, and then you can have a bonus trip once you're back in London. If the Flex-Pass is much more expensive, maybe just buy your tickets individually. You'll have lots of fun!

Posted by Lee
1017 posts

I suggest you spend a couple of nights in London at the front and back end of the trip. The days after arrival, plan things which require walking around, activity. Get over jet lag in the city. Then do the Bath, etc. driving trip. If you stay near the Picadilly Line in London, you can take the cheap tube from/to Heathrow.