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If you had to choose one day trip from London...

...where would you go? I only have four days in London but would like to get out of the city for one day. Do you recommend York? Bath? Cambridge? I'm traveling with one other person, and we're both 24yo females.

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
79 posts

I'd vote for York, except to me that's WAY more than just a day-trip.

Personally I'd pick Bath, but that's only because I've been to Cambridge and I get the impression that if you've been to Cambridge, Oxford is redundant - unless you're a big fan of the Inspector Morris and now the Inspector Lewis mysteries. :)

I don't know what's in Windsor other that the castle.

I've always wanted to go to Stonehenge - until I found out there was a fence around it and was under the impression that tourists weren't allowed near it. So you have to pay 10 pounds to get near it? Hmmm. . .might be worth it, if you REALLY want to go, but there are so many stone things you can "get up close and personal" with in Britain (especially if you have a car) that Stonehenge loses its appeal.

Posted by
10302 posts

It really depends on your interest:

Considering your age, Oxford or Cambridge might be interesting as they are "college" towns steeped in history. (London Walks offers day long walking tours of each of these two towns. They're not given every day but if one is offered when you're there, you get a full day walking tour for very little money. Meet the guide in London and go as a group to either town.)

Bath is good if you like history, especially Roman. And Georgian architecture.

If the Viking in you wants to explore a little further, York is also an easy day tour. (Good shopping for woolen items as well.)

If you don't want to travel too far, Windsor is a quick train ride out of town.

I've done all of these as day trips and would have a hard time choosing between them.

There is, of course, the ultimate long day trip--Paris. I've never done it as a "day trip" but I've spent many trips re-visiting. If you've never been, or don't have plans to go, the Eurostar takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes each way.

Posted by
2158 posts

There are so many good choices; you cannot go wrong. My favorite is Bath -- beautiful architecture and flowers and Roman ruins. Wonderful town to stroll around.

A very close second is York. It might make #1 except that it is farther. It has a beautiful cathedral, old narrow medieval lanes and lots of interesting history. Also enjoyable to stroll around.

Posted by
3420 posts

York would be very near the top of my list. I love the Shambles and they have a good market. It is not a difficult day trip at all.

I agree that Windsor is the easiest. It is also my favorite castle and the gardens are lovely.

Bath is ok- especially if you are there in late Nov/early Dec- they have an excellent Christmas market.

Just to confuse things further, I'd add Cardiff Wales for you to consider. Great shopping and the castle is right in the heart of the city.

Dover is also good if you are into WWII stuff and the castle is very good. Canterbury is even closer and makes a nice day trip. The cathedral is among the best I've seen.

Winchester is also good, though it wouldn't make my top 5.

Posted by
11450 posts

Bath,, for me Stonehenge was an almost laughable waste of time and money( not that I paid ,, I stood outside fence and thought "really,, they want 10 GBP to get close to that ???" . I have great photos of it though.

Bath is really lovely,, but I haven't been to York so can't compare.

Brighton was ok. we have nicer beaches at home.
Canterbury and Salisbury I enjoyed, but I like Cathederals,, don't know if 24 yr olds would find it quite as fascinating.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you everyone for your input! Looks like I've got some more reading to do to figure out where we should go. It sounds like I'll have a great experience no matter where I go, but boy would it be easier if everyone had the same opinion!

Posted by
970 posts

Jennifer, as others have said, it really depends on your tastes and preferences. Bath, York, Oxford, and Cambridge or all within comfortable day trip reach by train from London.

That said, the more research you do before you make a decision the better. I know i've been guilty of arriving someplace with little background info and just wasting a lot of time blundering around.

Now, each of the towns in question has a population in the 150-200,00 range, so they are not small and quaint. Tourists and visitors are usually drawn to the older city centers, not to the more modern surroundings.

Some personal impressions:

Bath is full of Georgian architecture. If you don't know what that is, look it up so you can decide if you like it or not. Cambridge feels much more spread out than Oxford, with a much longer walk from the station to the town center. I like Oxford: Easy to walk, easy to shop, and easy to find a place to eat. York is a 2-hour train trip from Kings Cross in London, so a day trip there means a long day, but I've happily done it. The station is an easy walk from the town center. (Turn left and walk across the bridge.) York town center is compact and dense, with narrow streets laid out in medieval times. I think the contrast with London is more striking than with the other towns. Very walkable, too. It is quite possible to take a morning train up to York, spend 8-10 hours going walkabout, visiting the Minster (a must), grabbing some food, walking along the Roman walls, hanging out in a pub, etc., and then catching a train back to London after having dinner someplace.

Whatever you decide, buy train tickets online as soon as possible to save money. Be aware that the Tube closes around midnight or so, so if you get back to London really late, plan on using a cab from the station.

Posted by
1213 posts

I vote for Bath...it's much more of a romantic setting than York...afterall it is Jane Austen territory. It has a wonderful Museum of Clothing which shows the history of fashion in Britain. The shoes are a marvel. The Georgian architecture is done beautifully. And you do have the Roman Baths, etc. It is an easy train ride. Sorry to say that I agree with passing Stonehedge, unless you are a Druid of course. I am ancient enough to have walked between the stones. The one other day trip I would do is train to Oxford, bus to Woodstock and tour Blenhiem Palace. You could do both of these in tandem, since I think that Oxford and Bath are on the same main train line.

Posted by
1602 posts

My vote goes to York which is fascinating if you like things medieval. It also has some Roman and Viking ruins. It's easy to get to and an easy walk (about four blocks)from the train station to the medieval core. I think it would give you the best contrast to London.

I love Stonehenge which incidentally is NOT druid--it is as old as the pyramids. But if you want to go there, you need to stay overnight so you can get a private access tour; these are only available early morning or early evening and must be reserved several months ahead. You can combine a Stonehenge visit with Salisbury Cathedral and Avebury.

I did not care for Bath, since my fascination is with medieval Britain, not Georgian. However, I did like the Roman Baths there.

I enjoyed walking around Oxford. Cambridge is a lot harder to really see---most of the colleges don't allow you to see very much.

Windsor Castle although old, feels much more like a palace than a castle. It has lots of ornate rooms.

If you want more information on any of these, send me a PM.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you everyone for all of the great advice - I really do appreciate it. I'll have to talk it over with my friend and do a little more reading as well, but I think I have it narrowed down to Bath or York. I wish we had more time in London so we could see everything, but I'll just have to plan another trip!

You all are very helpful - so thankful that I found this message board!

Posted by
1213 posts

The only problem I have with York is that except for the Minster and perhaps the Tower and the very bottem of the town wall...much of the rest is Victorian restoration. At least Bath has real Georgian. York Minster, however has some of the best glass windows in the world; at least some of the biggest. York also has the Train Museum; if you are a Train Watcher it is Mecca. If you do go to pre-druid Stonehenge you should go to Salisberry Cathedral and see an original Magna Carta. If you want real good selection of medieval castles you should go to Wales. I think that Durham Cathedral feels the most Medieval with St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede. There is just too many things to see in one trip...Maybe picking a theme would help. Like literary heros. Medieval Architecture. My favorites are the "Treasure Houses of England"...sort of one stop touring for architecture, art, antiques and fabulous gardens. Bon Voyage

Posted by
42 posts

I still remember the magic of taking the train from London to York, leaving on the 6:30 a.m. train and arriving in York about 8 a.m. Walking the old town walls as the sun was rising and enjoying the museums and Jorvik Viking Center, returning to London about 6 pm. One of the finest days I've ever spent.

Posted by
991 posts

Brighton no question. Easy train ride, walk along the front and enjoy the people. You can get a little culture from the Royal Pavillion.

Posted by
1 posts

Well you're probably out of London by now but I was just there and I can tell you that although Oxford is a very interesting place, the parking is HORRENDOUS and the streets are narrow. Not exactly great conditions for American drivers. If you were to go back, I would suggest a pleasant drive through the countryside of the Cotswolds. Stop in a little town like Whichford and just take it all in. You don't have to be in a city to have fun in England.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks, Andy! I'm actually not going to London until September, so all of these suggestions will be helpful. I think we are leaning towards Bath, but we've still got plenty of time to decide. We will not be renting a car in England regardless, but thank you for the tip about the Oxford roads!

Posted by
349 posts

I am facing the same choice this fall I think York is best but York is twice as far as most other choices
(Bath oxford )about 2 and half hours each way and about twice as expensive. Windsor is nice you can take a green bus( Cheaper) from Victoria station. BUT York is really nice !!!

Posted by
1986 posts

York is one of my favorites; but it is a long way. Canterbury is a lot closer and is usually overlooked. Nice cathedral and interesting narrow lanes nearby

Posted by
463 posts

if you go to bath...take a bathing suit. seriously. there's an actual 'bath' there that people go to (lots of people[INVALID]we stood in line with them before realizing they required bathing suits...duh) we went to the department store across the street (housed in a beautiful building, as all of bath is beautiful) and contemplated buying bathing suits just to spend a few hours in a rooftop natural thermal spa (after all of that sightseeing, a few hours floating in warm water sounds like a REALLY good idea) even if you don't bring a suit, i'd encourage you to go to bath. the train ride there is quick and cheap, and it is so beautiful. i'm not an architecture buff, though i do appreciate beauty, and i found beauty there in more abundance than anywhere else i've ever been. we only spent one day there[INVALID]from around 9:30am to 10:00pm (we took the first train from london and the second to last train back) and wished we could have spent at least a few nights there. there's also the bizarre bath tour that we watched from afar. i believe that's highly Rick Steves recommended, and it did look like a great deal of fun. have a great trip!

Posted by
8055 posts

I vote for York! Liked it much more than Bath. If you do go to York, it's well worth staying for a "Ghost Walk" in the evening. It was a highlight for us. Puts the one in Rothenburg to shame.

Posted by
11798 posts

I've never considered York as a daytrip from London. Daytrips for me would be Bath and Oxford, probably in that order. Another would be Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge as a single day trip. I liked both but could see how Stonehenge would be disappointing during crowded tourist times. You could conceivably do Bath, Salisbury and Stonehenge in a day, but it would be a full day. Visit Stonehenge as early as possible, spend an hour or so at Salisbury then take your time at Bath.

Posted by
970 posts

York versus Bath comes down to taste and interests. I'm not a Georgian fan, so York wins for me. York is a two-hour trip from London. not much longer than the ride to Bath. It's no surprise that someone found Oxford has narrow streets and a shortage of parking. It's at least three times the age of any city in the U.S. Did you expect them to bulldoze the city center just to make way for cars? In any case, there is no reason to drive to Oxford from London, or just about any other place.

Posted by
111 posts

1) Go punting in Oxford or Cambridge 2) Visit the south coast and hike on the Seven Sisters. Really cool cliffs 3) Herstmonceaux castle and Brighton www.queensu.ca/isc

Posted by
30 posts

Liverpool is just over 2 hrs by train (keep clear of train travel on a sunday though - Most UK rail works are carried out on that day and journey times can be much slower) Booking 3 months in advance can save you a small fortune. It would be a long day but my family and I often travel the other way (Liverpool to London) for a day to take in a West End show and have never been over tired. Liverpool 2010 has so much to offer.

Posted by
1010 posts

Hello Jennifer, My husband and I are in our 60's. We spent almost two weeks in London in May, 2009 and another two weeks in May, 2010. We didn't get time to go to York. I wish we had, but it was a long way. I hae read that it is lovely. We know somebody who went there and liked visiting. We LOVED Cambridge, but didn't like Oxford at all. The tour books suggest if you can pick Oxford or Cambridge, go with Cambridge. We should have followed that suggestion and not bothered with Oxford. There is a beautiful mall in Cambridge. Being young as you and your friends are, I think you would enjoy Cambridge and the mall. We took the tube out to Cambridge from our Gloucester tube station. Then we took a hop-on/hop-off bus around Cambridge. I wish we had had more time there, as it is a quaint town. We also took a Gray Line Tour, (one day tour) out to the Cotswolds. It was really picturesque. The Gray Line tour bus picked us up right across from our hotel. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza (used Priority Club Points), for both trips. It was extremely close to everything. As I mentioned our tube stop was directly across the street. We totally recommend the Gray Line bus tours for anything around London. You can book the tours at their Gray Line website here in the U.S. You can even call them. I agree that the Stonhendge trip was a waste of time. In our opinion, Bath was just o.k., if you want to see dirty bath water. We spent half a day there, in combination with a tour to Stonehenge. Britain is just plain beyond wonderful. I suggest you go to Harrod's and have high tea. It is served upstairs in beautiful suroundings. We also ate their buffet lunch there. That ends at 3:30 PM. We ate fish and chips in their street level counter area on another day. London's transportation systems are the best in the world. You can take the tube almost anywhere and it is so easy to get the hang of it.