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London and which extra city?

We are planning our first one week visit to England as part of a longer European trip in the spring. Naturally, we plan to spend a few days in London, but we'd also like to visit one more city for a couple of days. The question is, which city? York sounds intriguing...but is it the best choice? We're an active family with teenagers from a rural area so cities are a fun change of pace for us. Also, what are your favorite day trips within a 1.5 hour (or so) train ride from London? Thank you!

Posted by
571 posts

Perhaps you could let your teens do some research and choose a location? Definitely go with something that interests them. York would be my choice. I think it has more things of interest to all types of people. Bath was just so-so to me: the Roman baths were amazing, but the rest was just ho hum quaint. (I'm really not into the Jane Austen stuff or the spring floral arrangements.) Both are easy to get to and small enough to cover fully in a couple of days. If cities are a fun change for you maybe you should consider Edinburgh. London is my favorite city on earth, but I was blown away by Edinburgh on my last trip. Tons of stuff to do. Frankly with any of these choices you can't go wrong. Have a great time.

Posted by
591 posts

Cambridge would be my first choice for a day trip (lively college town the teens would like; Kings College Chapel is amazing) and York for a couple nights stay. I though Bath was sort of blah.

Posted by
3580 posts

For the entire family: Cambridge (for the university and Kings Chapel), Bath (for the Roman baths), Salisbury (for the cathedral), York (for a historic city), the Cotswalds (for walking and "quaint" villages), Bournemouth (for the beach).

Posted by
70 posts

Swan gave you excellent suggestions. If you are doing Bath for 2 days try doing the Mad Max all day tour one day. That was a hit with my 2 teen boys. Note that some towns like Bath, York etc can get pretty crowded on weekends with natives. Think beach town with difference from weekend and weekday crowds. Depends on what you want.

Posted by
262 posts

Lynn, I would give a vote for Bath. It is an easy train ride from London and the central area around the train station there has all the key sites in easy walking distance. The abbey, the Roman baths, some lovely architecture, all with a youthful energy that comes with the 2 universities located there. Happy travels.

Posted by
991 posts

I love Bath it's a beautiful city, but I vote for York. I think there is more to do there for a family. The Baths are interesting but then you're done with them in less than a few hours. Now if your children are Jane Austin fans and that period in time that's another story. I agree, let the kids some of the research.
My favorite day trip in w/in 1.5 hours...Brighton, no question. In the spring it might be a little wet but so will London be.

Posted by
2716 posts

Favorite day trips within a 1.5 hour train ride from London: Windsor Castle, then walk around Windsor. Hampton Court Palace. Kew Gardens.

Posted by
521 posts

I think I'm the only one on this forum who ever suggests Norwich, which is a shame because it has a lot to offer. It's a lovely old city, the county 'capital' of Norfolk, and it's about 2 hours to the north east of London. In the 11th century it was the second largest city in England, after London.

After 1066 the Normans built a large and impressive castle (still there, with a museum, open daily), but it also has a very nice cathedral of about the same date, a huge covered market which has been on the same site for 800 years (and before that it was held where the castle was built), and some attractive medieval streets in the centre.

It's on the river, with boat trips available to 'The Broads', which is a network of lakes formed when medieval peat diggings were flooded. That area is now a national park. Self-drive boats are available. The coast isn't far away, including seaside resorts like Sherringham and Cromer (think pier, fish and chips, ice cream, crabs, that kind of thing).

It may not have the glamour of Edinburgh or the massive crowds of tourists that you find in Bath, but it's worth 2 days of your time, or even just one day to see the cathedral and castle.

Posted by
179 posts

Keven - thank you! I have been looking for some different ideas of daytrips or overnight trips from London and your idea sounds great! I know I will give it a go!

Posted by
837 posts

I think one key issue here is "a couple of days" York would be good for two days without a car. If you have a car, Oxford and Bath are good alternatives. Oxford is comparable to Cambridge with the advantage of proximity to the Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon, Blenheim Palace, etc. Bath offers Stonehenge and Salisbury for a day after a day in Bath.

Posted by
1399 posts

Kevin, thanks for the Norwich suggestion. I have seen you suggest it before, and we are going there next June. We can't wait!

Posted by
2780 posts

For a great daytrip, take the train to Salisbury (1 hr 20 min). See the charming old town area and cathedral, and rent bikes to ride to Stonehenge. It is only about 9 miles away on a back road. Stop at a pub for a late lunch on the return, or stop there on your way. Get to Stonehenge early or late in the day for lowest crowds.

Ask here about getting the best fares on trains in the UK. It is complicated, but there are off-peak fares, advance purchase fares, and maybe some discounts for family travel. Not sure on that one.

Posted by
14412 posts

Maybe just day trips? There are several very good ones. Or York (it's still on my list, just haven't been able to tear myself away from London when I'm there). A 4-5 hour train ride to Edinburgh will eat up the better part of a day, allowing for traffic to get to/from the train station. . . Honestly, a week in London is not a lot.

Take a look at London Walks. I did several on my last visit, and wished I hadn't waited so long to try them. They have day trips outside the city too. The guides I had were very good with kids.

Posted by
143 posts

Kevin,Norwich sounds great; will see if we can work it in on a trip next June.

I could easily spend a week in London, but if you want another location, I'd vote for York.

Day trips from London: RAF Museum in Duxford, Bletchley Park where first computer was created that broke the German Enigma code, Hampton Court Palace, Chartwell (Winston Churchill's home)