Stay in London or head South after flying coach from US

We will be flying into London next September to take a cruise from Southampton. We'd like to do some sightseeing first, perhaps to see Brighton Palace or Dover cliffs, castle and WWII tunnels. When we first fly in, should we stay 1 night in London to sleep and then head south or go directly (from the US in Coach seats-yuck) south? Where should our base town in the south be? (We have been to London many times and don't need to sightsee there this trip.) Thank you.

Posted by Alan
Brighton, UK
631 posts

Debbie You don't mention which airport you are flying into. If Heathrow then there is a bus direct to Brighton which runs hourly and takes 2 hours. It's a fairly easy trip - once you are on board you can just sit and snooze - but may be more than you want to do straight off a flight. If Gatwick then Brighton is as close to the airport as London - just over 30 minutes by train - and so it makes sense to come straight here if you plan a visit at some stage. Alan PS I applaud your good taste in coming to visit my home town!

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1555 posts

We all do something different. When we do travel, we try to get to our destination on the same day as we arrive to get it over with. When we went to London last time, we headed straight out to Bath and not sorry we did it. Same for Italy, it was a long, long trip but were glad we just plowed on and finished travel the first day.

Posted by david
washington
837 posts

We wanted to see the same things. Decided to stay in Hastings which was an easy drive to Dover to the NE and Brighton to the W. Also, Canterbury is near Dover. To the west, Arundel Castle and Beachy Head are available on a day trip to Brighton from Hastings. Alternatively, you could drive or train to Dover and stay a night. Then go to Brighton or Portsmouth for a night or two. We drove directly from Heathrow to Hastings after flight from DC. Two reasons we chose Hastings were Hastings battlefield and Foyle's War.

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
910 posts

If you are taking public transportation, go as far as you want, even at the risk of dosing off. Behind the wheel, and on the opposite side of the road, the driver will want to be alert. Sleep-deprived on an overnight flight is not the best preparation for a long haul driving.

Posted by Debbie
Delray Beach, FL, USA
100 posts

We will not have a car. What are your votes for which place to see Dover or the Palace?

Posted by david
washington
837 posts

Sorry, I must be missing something. You state that you are looking for a "base town", yet say you will not have a car. Without a car, you will see very little. If this is one day to see one attraction, I would probably say Brighton. The Pavilion is very interesting, but then there is a seaside town. Dover Castle is very interesting, but there is little else unless you take a bus to Canterbury.

Posted by Debbie
Delray Beach, FL, USA
100 posts

We are using the train, no car, for 2 days of sightseeing.

Posted by david
washington
837 posts

Not the wisest choice, I would say, given the abundance of places to see in the southeast part of England. However, if that is you choice, I guess I would stay in Canterbury as it appeared to be a bit nicer town than Dover. If so, I would train there and take a day trip to Dover and train to Southampton from Canterbury. If you choose to stay in Dover, day trip to Canterbury. Another possibility, although you did not mention it, would be to train to Bath and use your time to tour Bath and take group tours to areas around Bath, then train to Southampton.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
678 posts

I'd go to Brighton and save Dover or Canterbury for another trip (you say you've been to London many times, so I'm assuming you will come back!). However, whatever you choose do look into the logistics of the travel. Do you really want to spend a big portion of your limited time sitting on a train or a bus? You didn't say, I think, which airport you arrive at, but assuming it's Heathrow getting to Brighton, staying two nights (or is it only one?) and then going on to Southampton are fairly easy journeys. On the other hand, whilst its not too bad to get from Heathrow to either to Canterbury or Dover, the trip from either one of them to Soton is a pain - e.g. from either it will take well over 3 hours (and, as it involves going into London, cost a lot too). Brighton to Soton is half the time and a quarter the price. If you fly into Gatwick it makes even more sense to go to Brighton. I think you will find enough to do in Brighton for two days, but if not Hastings, mentioned above, is only an hour away. PS the above assumed you have two days to fly in, visit somewhere and get to Soton for your cruise the following day. Or have I misunderstood?

Posted by Debbie
Delray Beach, FL, USA
100 posts

Keith, that is exactly what I wanted to know! Yes, we will have 2 days and yes, we don't want to be in London. We've already been to Bath. Thank you all!