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England and Scotland summer itinerary help

Hi all! I'm in the process of planning my second trip to Europe this summer. My aunt (30s) and myself (19) are spending two weeks in England and Scotland the end of August. I have a rough itinerary planned out that looks something like this: Day 1: Seattle to London Day 2: London to Liverpool Day 3: Liverpool to Edinburgh Day 4: Edinburgh and St. Andrews Day 5: Glasgow Day 6: Edinburgh to Inverness Day 7: Inverness and Lochs Day 8: Inverness to Aberdeen Day 9: Aberdeen Day 10: Aberdeen to London Day 11: London Day 12: Bath and Stonehenge Day 13: Oxford Day 14: London Day 15: London
Day 16: London to Seattle Is this a reasonable itinerary? We are looking to spend less than $5,000 for the whole trip, airfare included, so I would greatly appreciate any lodging tips and restaurant recommendations! Also, are there any must-sees? We are both into history and museums as well as art, so we plan on doing all the typical museums in London as well as all the other "touristy" things. Thanks!

Posted by
1986 posts

It would help us if you explained some of your choices other than the obvious London. Why did you what you did? Are you convinced you want to see all those Cities? Why did you Glasgow and Liverpool- both are low priority on most people's lists? St Andrews? If you must go to Glasgow, why dont you do it at the end of your Scotland trip, and go from Glasgow to ondon. That way you will combine your Edinburgh time Same with days 11 and 13- switch them and do all your London at one time. You waste time each time you check in and out of a hotel or take a journey to another City. You could save valuable travel time by flying directly to Edinburgh on arrival at Heathrow (day 1) . No need to stop in Liverpool. A "must-see" you are missing is York- I have that far above Glasgow and Liverpool (and even Bath) At least half the people on this forum are going to tell you to cut your list in half, but if you do a lot of travel by train, you will get to see some of the countryside from the train. (if you are seriously into art- you will need more time in London). So many Museums and galleries Oh yes- Try and time it so you can see the Edinburgh Tattoo when in Edinburgh. One of the highlights of any Scottish vacation. I would even move the whole vacation to try and fit that in. truly spectacular- ten times better than Chaging guard at Buckingham palace

Posted by
635 posts

Assuming this is your first trip to Great Britain, I think you're spending too much time in Scotland. Like 60% or so of us, you probably have ancestors from there; but unless you are really into the scenic beauty, it's a low priority on a short trip. The same can be said for Liverpool. Again, Beatles aside, there isn't that much to see there for a short trip. You didn't say if you were restricted to public transportation or we're going to have a car. With a car going straight to Bath from the airport would let you probably see Stonehenge on the way. Bath is worth a day. Next I'd recommend the Cotswolds for two nights. You could tour a couple of "cute" villages and see Blenheim Palace. I wouldn't bother with Oxford unless there's some other reason to go. You could then drive to York (you'd need a car for the Cotswolds on a short trip - IMHO). Lose the car in York. The drop off is right next to the train station. York is overflowing in history. It's worth a full day or day and a half. Take the train to Edinburgh. It's worth two full days and will give you the best of Scottish history and art. If you have to see the Highlands, take a day trip with one of the bus tours out of Edinburgh. You could fly down to London from there or take the train. With all the airport security, the train may actually be faster. If you are interested, Durham is an interesting city with a cathedral, worth a day at most. Cambridge is also a convenient stop along the train route. It's worth a few hours but not a day. This puts you in London with whatever time you have left. London is worth three days on a first time visit especially if you want to hit the Tates. I suggest you carefully read Rick's Great Britain book to see what's in each city.

Posted by
403 posts

Brian and Ken have both made solid points. I second the idea of flying "open-jaw" or "multi-city" into one city (like Edinburgh) and out of another (like London). This saves vast amounts of time, and really costs about the same as a straight round trip. Keep in mind that transportation costs increase sharply as you travel more often and farther. Since you are on a tight budget, this is a factor. Trains are expensive in Britain, but it is hard to do rural areas without a car, which is even more expensive. Everyone has their own itinerary, of course, but here would be mine for a first trip. Seattle to Edinburgh, Day 1. Edinburgh Day 2 and 3. Train to York, Day 4. York Day 5. Rent a car, drive to the Lake District Days 6 & 7. Drive to Stratford on Avon, Day 8. Cotswolds Day 9. Cotswolds to bath, ret car in Bath, Day 10. Train to London Day 11. London Days 13, 14, 15. Day 16 fly home from London.
By cutting out the Lake District you could add days in London, where you could easily spend a week. Considering that you can do Cambridge and Bath as daytrips from London, you might even add more days to London still. Check out university housing in London...get RS books asap.

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks for the help everybody! Yes, this is both of ours first trip to Britain so we are trying to make the most out of our time here...maybe a little too much. We are planning to do all of our travel by public transportation, and I have been looking into the Britrail pass. Has anyone heard anything about BritRail pass and drive? We wouldn't mind driving, but thought that train travel would be more economical.
I guess the cities that are a must are really only London and Edinburgh. I wanted to see Liverpool because of The Beatles, St. Andrews because I am a potential student, and Stonehenge for the tourist inside me. Other than that I am open for suggestions. I have read RS London, and I'm still waiting for Great Britain to arrive in the mail from Amazon. Thanks for all the suggestions thus far! Annaliese

Posted by
403 posts

I don't want to discourage you from seeing Liverpool if you are a Beatles fan. My wife and I grew up in the 60s, and the trip to Liverpool was like a religious pilgrimage for us. If you want to do it, you can easily fit it in by rail coming from York in the north or London in the south. I would, though, plan on an overnight trip, as you will absolutely, positively, for certain want to do the National Trust tour of the Lennon and McCartney boyhood homes (make reservations!!!!), and this is very hard to do unless you are in Liverpool the night before. You can do most of the best parts of Britain by rail only: London, Edinburgh, York, Bath, Stratford on Avon, Cambridge, and Liverpool are all easily reached by rail. The Cotswolds are best by car. You might sign up for a one-day bus tour with Mad Max out of Bath, and then you wouldn't need a car at all for the entire trip. Advance purchase rail tickets may well be cheaper, maybe much cheaper, than a railpass, but they are worthless if you miss the particular train you are ticketed for. So be very sure of your itinerary before you buy advance p-to-p tickets. You won't need to go first class, and you won't need reservations.

Posted by
25 posts

I'd say this is too much, but then I like staying in one place awhile and getting to know it.I also think it is too much city visiting. I would skip Glasgow, Liverpool, and Aberdeen. But maybe add on some beautiful smaller places, such as St. Andrews or (way down south) Cambridge.

Posted by
635 posts

One think to consider with the rail pass is that advance tickets are significantly discounted. If you are willing to fix your schedule, you will probably find it cheaper to have advance tickets than a flex pass. Do the math. The flex pass is nice and you might justify it with all the train trips you are doing. You can do much of what you want to do with trains but getting into the countryside will require renting a car or taking day tours. Moving locations almost every day will be very tiring and make it hard to really see the attractions. If you are going to stay on the rail lines, I'd suggest Edinburgh with day trips to St Andrews and the Highlands (maybe 5 nights?). Go to York (2 nights?). Consider Conwy or wherever the train stops in N. Wales (2 nights?). Bath (2 nights). London with a day trip to Stonehenge and other sites. That hits your Scottish highlights. Hits the RS recommendations except for the Cotswolds which are hard to do without a car. Read the RS GB book and work out the details that you would like to do. Nobody knows better than you what you'd like to see. Remember that you will go back again.

Posted by
2654 posts

You should go to St. Andrews for sure, it's a beautiful town. The best way to get there from Edinburgh is by train, you would go to Leuchars (which is the closest town with a train station), then take a taxi to St. Andrews which is 6 miles.

Posted by
5668 posts

Annaliese, I would recommend exploring other parts of Scotland before Aberdeen. It's an expensive city due to the oil business which is centered there. Inverness is a great location and you can take day trips from to many places. In terms of history, of course, you'll want to visit Culloden Field. You can take a public bus to the battlefield. Also, you can walk from there to Clava Cairns if it's a decent day if you want to see a stone circle. Since you are interested in history you might also want to explore Fort George. There are great views of the Moray Firth. I would recommend Urquhart Castle. There are tours you can take from Inverness. One of the most beautiful train rides ever is from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh. If you want to stop off at nice village look into Plockton. I would swap out Stirling for Glasgow. I like Glasgow, but you've got a lot of cities already and Stirling has great historical significance in Scotland. The battle of Bannockburn was held near there as was the great battle that Wallace fought in. Once you see the geography, you'll appreciate why the battles were near by. In addition the castle's Renaissance palace has just been restored. I can hardly wait to see it. If you want a small town to stop at that is accessible by train, think about Dunkeld. There are lovely walks in the area -- it is Perthshire. Also, there is historical significance as it was once the center of the Catholic Church in Scotland. Also, if you like music, the Music Bar frequently has live sessions. Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
19 posts

I agree with Marcia - it is nice to spend some time one city and really get to know it rather than seeing more. Last summer, we did a trip to Great Britain. We started in London, did a day trip to Bath/Stonehenge/Stratford-upon-Avon and then headed north to Durham and ended in Edinburgh. Have you considered flying out of a different airport than where you arrived? We flew into London and then flew out of Edinburgh. We were able to find reasonable fares that allowed us to spend more time sightseeing rather than on a train. Happy planning!

Posted by
2 posts

Not sure you want to spend much time in the Lakes district - it's often raining, and as a friend in Oxford says - you can see a lake anywhere! Besides, you live in Seattle where you already have nice lakes and rain! I highly recommend the city of York and Yorkshire Dales if it works out. And yes, you'll need a car to cover the Cotswolds, but it's worth the trouble. DON'T pick up the car in London or the center of any big city if you've never driven in England before. Try to get it in a small town where it's easier to find your way and driving on th "wrong" side of the road isn't so harrowing! Take it from someone who has driven many times in England and Australia. Enjoy!! Jerry