London and Edinburgh 8 days and 7 nights

This is my 1st time to UK. I will arrive at London on 11/30 early morning. Plan to go to British Museum and London tower on the 1st day, and do a side trip to Stonehedge on the next. Then, will travel to Edingburgh on the 3rd day and stay for 2 nights then back to London for the rest. Is train ride a good idea? I've booked a hotel closed to Waverly Station. What are the "must see" attractions in Edinburgh? I and my friend want to utilize every single moment in this trip.
Any suggestiion? Sharon

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1562 posts

I assume at this date you have booked your airline tickets. If not, check into flying into one city and home from the other. Also, I personally think the first day after a long flight is too much. I know you want to see everything possible, but see what others think is best for your first day. There are so many things to see in each place, what are your interests, cathedral, museum, etc. you can certainly hit highlights in Edinburgh in three packed days. Again, what are your interests?

Posted by Ruth
Ithaca, NY, USA
126 posts

I agree that you might want to rethink your first day...especially since you'll be traveling at a time when days are short. I'd save the Tower for first thing in the morning on a day when you're more rested. But it is a good idea to spend some time walking outdoors on the first day (in addition to the British Museum) to help with jetlag. London Walks is a good way to ease into a trip. If you a walk near where you'll be staying, it will help you get familiar with your surroundings, as well. If you can't fly into one city and out of the other, you might think about taking an overnight sleeper train one way either to or from Edinburgh. That way you're not wasting two days of your trip on the train. Edinburgh Castle is a must see. If the weather is good, you might enjoy the Arthur's Seat hike, but that may not be great this time of year. You might want to look into all the museum options, which would be nice on cold days. Remember you will have even less daylight in Edinburgh.

Posted by Sharon
Austin, USA
3 posts

Gail,
I planned this trip because of my daughter she is studying in Scotland. She can only join us in London for the weekend and need to go back for her exam in the following week. She likes to go to Art museum and so do I. She has been to Edinburgh, so she will not stay with me for the rest of the trip. I want to bring her to Buckingham Palace and shop at Oxford street. Ruth, thank you for reminding me of the short daylight,and I think your suggestion of taking a overnight sleeper train is very good. Do you know which website I can find out the overnight train schedule? do I need to buy the ticket in advance? Thank you,both.

Posted by Ruth
Ithaca, NY, USA
126 posts

Hi Sharon, It's been a number of years since I last slept on a train. I suggest you start a new post on this forum with something about "sleeper train" in the title, and the folks who know everything about train travel can help you. Good luck, and have a great trip!

Posted by Adrienne
Vienna, VA
30 posts

I was recently in Edinburgh for two days, and very much enjoyed the Castle, Holyrood Palace, the Museum of Scotland, and St. Giles. I also walked up Arthur's Seat (overlooks Holyrood park) but as someone mentioned above, that's only fun in good weather. Because you said you like art museums, I definitely recommend Holyrood - a portion of the Queen's collection is on display there. The Museum of Scotland is HUGE but it's free so you can duck in and see what interests you. St. Giles was very interesting, and the docents working there loved to talk about the history (at least the ones we met).

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

I have done the overnight sleeper train London to Edinburgh. I have always been able to sleep on trains so I had no problem. however, it is a short nights sleep and you arrive in edinburgh quite early- long before you can check into your hotel. You could get quite tired and worn down on your arrival day in Edinburgh

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8760 posts

Almost everything you might need to know about the Caledonian Sleeper can be found on this wonderful webpage by The Man in Seat 61. The link to the actual service is at the First Scot Rail Caledonian Sleeper website. Tickets go on sale 12 weeks prior to travel and never go down in price. They do go up as they fill up. I've given up taking sleepers in Europe but I have given serious consideration to taking this one. I see it in and out of Euston Station in London most days and it looks most appealing, and the timetable suits. It doesn't leave Euston until quite late at night so the whole evening is yours. Note that the departure time and time you can go on board and when you must leave in the morning varies by day of the week and there is NO Saturday service on the Sleeper.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17789 posts

Sharon, I agree with the others regarding your activities on arrival day. You'll be jet lagged and tired, and likely won't have the energy to do much touring. A walking tour is certainly one possibility, as that would keep you moving. There are suggested tour companies listed in the Guidebook, as I recall. A short visit to the British Museum in the afternoon may be possible. There likely won't be a lot happening in Edinburgh at that time of year, but it's still an interesting city. A few sights to consider would be: > walking the Royal Mile > Edinburgh Castle and the Military Museum > Holyrood Palace > Royal Yacht Brittania (it's permanently moored at Leith, an easy Bus ride from Waverley Station - entrance is through the shopping mall - it's fascinating to see how the Royal family lived while travelling on the yacht - admission times in Nov./Dec. are 10:00 - 15:30, cost £11.75). > Visit Greyfriar's Bobby's Pub and have a pint (be sure to note the statue of the wee Dog outside) and/or Sandy Bell's Pub (good music there most nights) > Visit some of fine restaurants in Edinburgh (I enjoyed a fine Italian meal there one night) > Take a trip to Loch Ness or the Highlands (tour companies listed in the Guidebook) I wouldn't bother with a Sleeper, as it's a relatively short journey (~4H:50M) and some of the scenery is great (although in November, it will be tinged with grey). You'll likely be travelling with East Coast Rail from Kings Cross Station to Edinburgh Waverley. I believe some of the trains offer Wi-Fi, although I don't know if that's a subscription service. Happy travels!

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3314 posts

If you enjoy art museums you may want to check out the National Galleries in Edinburgh. Also, I want to second that you visit it the National Museum of Scotland. It's a great museum. Of course, the Castle is great. You might want to check out The Georgian House if you have time. It's one of my favorites. Pam

Posted by Sharon
Austin, USA
3 posts

Thank you for all valuable suggestions. I am looking forward to having a fun trip in UK. Sharon

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1562 posts

I would not waste a morning waiting to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, really can't see much and I seem to remember during winter is only every other day but that was several years ago. It is certainly worth a quick walk by to just see it though. I particularly like St. Paul's Cathedral. Not sure how crowds are in early December but others have suggested going to the Tower first thing in the AM. We have been there several times always "off season" and did not have crowds though. Edinburgh is fantastic city. As another said, be sure to see the Royal Yacht, very easy access from town by bus, maybe fifteen to twenty minutes by bus. Also my number one favorite was Mary King's Close which is just down the street from the Castle and I think just across or very near St. Giles. Enjoy.