England: 10 days, first trip, too many choices HELP!

Fellow travelers, We're excited but anxious and confused. After weeks of reading and searching online So far we've tentatively chosen to start in Bath (as is recommended as Rick's "jet lag pillow" in the England 2013 book) for 3 days and try to see the Stonehenge, Salisbury, Avebury, area. Then the Cotswold area and Stratford-Upon-Avon for another three days. That leaves us four days to see some great castles, market towns, cathedrals and London. We're willing to rent a car to get around (especially in the Cotswolds, so I've read). We've considered shooting over to see Dover castle and Rye and maybe Canterbury. Then spend one day taking some pictures in London before our flight out the next day. But we're wondering if we're allotting too much time to Bath and Cotswolds to see much else. This is our first trip abroad (if that wasn't obvious) and its not at all certain we will make the trip again, so we're trying to make the most of this one. Any thoughts, suggestions, changes, tips, hints, would be so welcome. We are flying into Heathrow on August 30 and we've made reservations (but no monetary commitment) in Bath and a B&B just outside Stow-in-the-wold. Thanks for any help you can give!

Posted by Carroll
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1349 posts

I think three days is just right for Bath. You have one partial day to relax and get over jet lag (which may or may not be a problem for you). That still gives you a full day for Bath and another for Stonehenge, Avebury and Salisbury. Other nice day trips from Bath are Glastonbury and Wells. I also think three days for the Cotswolds is good. You could spend the whole time visiting different villages, or you could visit Warwick Castle, Blenheim and Oxford, in addition to Stratford. I'm not sure why you are looking for another place to go the last four days, unless you just do not like big cities. London is packed full of dynamite sites and you will just be able to scratch the surface with four days. One day of taking pictures would be no where near enough for me. My advice is to spend the rest of the time in London. If that doesn't appeal to you, I think Canterbury and Dover are great, but they are way on the other side of England. With just four days, I would try to keep train or car time to a minimum.

Posted by Cynthia
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
1202 posts

You might consider spending your first night in Winchester which is only an hour or so from Heathrow. Visit Winchester Cathedral, walk by the river, enjoy dinner. Next day visit Salisbury, Stonehenge, and Avebury en route to Bath.....While you are in the Cotswolds area, you might enjoy visiting Warwick Castle and ruined Kenilworth Castle. They make a great contrast!

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1361 posts

Hello Chris. Yes, there are too many choices in England. It is not possible to see everything in ten days. The only place where I recommend renting a car is the Cotswolds (Gloucestershire). Ride in trains from Bath to Cheltenham (via Bristol). Sleep at Cheltenham. The next day, rent a car at Cheltenham for one day, drive to villages in the Cotswolds. The next day, ride in a train from Cheltenham to London (2 Hours, 15 Minutes). Be at London your last five nights in England. You could do a day trip from London to Windsor castle (a palace of the royal family). If you leave Windsor in mid afternoon, you could ride in the trains from Windsor to Paddington railway station in London, and visit the Science museum (near South Kensington "tube" station), or go to antiques stores at Portobello road (near Notting Hill Gate "tube" station). And, you could do a day trip from London to Dover Castle.
At London, buy an Oyster card for each person. It is a way of pre paying for your rides in the London Underground trains (the "Tube"). You can put any amount of money on the Oyster card, any time, at any "Tube" station. In London, I recommend having overnight accommodation at a hotel located not far from Paddington railway station, if you will fly from London's Heathrow airport to an airport in the U.S.A.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

I agree you should spend your last four days in London. There is just so much to see and do there! You could stay closer to the airport that last night, if you wanted, but you won't run out of things to do in London.

Posted by Chris
Eugene, OR, USA
26 posts

Great! Thanks for the responses. The consensus so far seems to be to spend the last 3 or 4 days in London. I've been looking that idea over more thoroughly and it looks like day trips to Stafford and Windsor (and even Dover) are pretty regular. Getting around London by underground doesn't seem much more complicated the usual mass transit. This solution is now high on our list to consider. Thanks!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

and it looks like day trips to Stafford and Windsor (and even Dover) are pretty regular. You're the second person here in the last several months who has spoken of going to Stafford. What for? There's a nice rose garden just across the street from the station, and a greenhouse and river beyond that, but I've been there many times for work and can't imagine what a tourist would want to see there. How come?

Posted by Tim
Ojai, CA
591 posts

Another suggestion: 2 nights in Bath Rent car and drive to see Salisbury/Stonehenge/Avebury, then 2 nights in Stow To Stratford for 2 nights/ visit nearby Warwick Castle
Drive to Woodstock to see Blenheim Palace, then return car at Oxford and take train to London for remaining nights (day trip to Windsor Castle)

Posted by Chris
Eugene, OR, USA
26 posts

Nigel,
...That was meant to be STRATFORD. Thanks again spell-check! :)

Posted by Joel
Tempe, AZ, USA
843 posts

Chris - I also recommend spending your last 4 days in London. For accomodation check out Falcon Hotel.

Posted by Jesse
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
171 posts

Chris, I agree, stay in London the remaining part of you trip. I would also agree that Warwick Castle is great. Have a great time.

Posted by david
washington
837 posts

Having spent 10 days in England on our first trip abroad, and having returned several times, I still like our first itinerary. I would definitely skip Bath and environs. Very nice for a second or third trip. I would spend at least 5 to 6 days in London. We hit the Cotswolds and York as well as London. York is nice, but it is distant for what it offers on such a short itinerary. I wuold agree with the Cotswolds area and renting a car. The general Cotswolds area opens Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick, Kenilworth, and Coventry. I think I would head into London and walk the first day. Stay another 4 days in London. Tube back to Heathrow and rent a car. Head for the Cotswolds and stay 4 days including day trips to the nearby sites above. Last day, drive to Windsor, see Windsor and Castle and end the day at Heathrow. Return car and spend the night at a nearby hotel for your return flight.

Posted by Chris
Eugene, OR, USA
26 posts

London to start it is! David, we decided stay 5 days in London and do a day trip out to Windsor, then 4 days in the Cotswold area. (I'm hoping the B&B we had a reservation with can change our date and length of time.) We'd like to rent a car while we're in the Cotswolds and get up to Stratford while there. does anyone have a recommendation for car rental places there? Also, any recommendations for an itinerary of what to see in London for the length of time we're there? thanks everyone!

Posted by Joel
Tempe, AZ, USA
843 posts

Chris - For car rental I'd recommend taking the train from London to Oxford and pick your car up there. Check out Auto Europe for car rental.

Posted by david
washington
837 posts

Under many circumstances, I would agree that a train to the Cotswolds would be a good idea. However, your return to Heathrow will be complicated, involving train and bus. I would tube to Heathrow and rent there. Return to Heathrow. If you have a morning flight, I would return to Heathrow the night before the return flight and stay at the Premier or other lodging of your choice. If you have an afternoon or evening flight, return from the Cotswolds the day of your flight. We used Enterprise and they were wonderful. But check others as well. If you are a Costco member, check them.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

If you do take up the idea of a hotel near Heathrow, this webpage has excellent info about the choices, including a nifty map at the bottom. And there's mention of the FREE public bus that runs along the Bath Road where most of the hotels are situated - vs. the Hoppa bus for which there is a charge. http://www.londontoolkit.com/travel/heathrow_hotels.htm

Posted by Chris
Eugene, OR, USA
26 posts

Thanks everyone for the ideas and suggestions. We'll be spending 4 full days in London in the Notting Hill/Kensington area. If anyone has some suggestions for what to fit into 4 days in London they'd be greatly appreciated!
Thanks again!

Posted by Cynthia
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
1202 posts

Begin one morning with the Tower of London and another morning with Westminster Abbey. Those are two of the principal sites that usually have long entry lines. By being at those two first thing, you will be able to maximize your time for seeing the sites and not waste a lot of it standing in the queue.....Planning a trip is half the fun - have you got the tools you need? - a good map of London (I recommend the Rough Guide one) and a good tour book (check out Rough Guide or Lonely Planet ones.) .....Circle on the map the sites you want to visit, then plan your days so you are visiting them in a logical geographical order and not backtracking all over the city.

Posted by Adam
Fresno, CA, United States
12 posts

I have not been to Bath or the Cotswolds so I cannot comment (although I hear they are incredible). One day in London is far too little! London has some of the most amazing museums in the world, as well as incredibly historic sights and great entertainment/nightlife. Try to spend three days in London.