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Planning an England/Wales Trip in March

Hi everyone!

I am posting here because I am a bit stumped and feel that I may have overwhelmed myself a bit...

My husband and I have booked ourselves a 3 week trip to England and Wales this March and are now trying to figure out where to go/what to do. Because neither of us is super comfortable with driving, we were planning on using the bus system, which is what we did in Ireland last year and that seemed to work out ok. However , if this doesnt sound feasible, please let us know and we will look into renting a car. We are also planning on staying in B&Bs, as well.

So...here is our itinerary thus far:

Day 1-3 London
Day 3-5 St David's
Day 5-7 Aberystwyth
Day 7-10 Caernarfon
Day 10-13 Conwy
Day 13-15 Liverpool
Day 15-18 York
Day 18-20 London

We haven't planned anything to do in these towns besides the castles. I guess my question is this: Does this look too packed for a trip this size? Should we cut down the places we stay in and instead plan day excursions instead?

Thanks again in advance!

Posted by
660 posts

So, you are planning?
London 3 nights
St. David’s 2 nights
Aberystwyth 2 nights
Caernarfon 3 nights
Conwy 3 nights
Liverpool 2 nights
York 3 nights
London 2 nights

Of course in London and York (and probably Liverpool) you won’t want a car.

Starting at St. David’s, it all looks possible without a car, but maybe not as easy. Remember that for every 2 nights, you only get 1 full day. However I don’t think much, if any, of this is really doable as day trips. At least moving in a progression like you have outlined, you aren’t having to spend double the time on a bus backtracking.

I am doing a similar trip in July but with a car. Google streetviewing these roads from town to town in this direction doesn’t look any worse than Ireland. So you could probably rent a car and do fine. However if you really don’t want to, and you carefully check all your bus times, this looks doable.

Posted by
16840 posts

Caernarfon and Conwy are not much more than 20 miles apart; I think you could probably combine them.

While up in that area, I'd try to fit in Chester.

Posted by
1834 posts

London to St.David’s is a very long journey. I would consider breaking it with maybe 2 nights in Cardiff - see Cardiff Castle, St. Fagans Museum - via Easyway Bus 32A from Westgate Street. Also, consider local train from Cardiff to Caerphilly to see the massive medieval castle.

For St. David’s, you would need to take the train to Haverfordwest & then a local bus. You would also need to take local buses up the west coast to Aberystwyth. (Vale of Rheidol Railway is worth a trip from Aberystwyth).

From Aberystwyth, it is possible to take trains up the coast to Porthmadog - which could also be used as a base. From here, scenic steam railways go into the interior:> www.festrail.co.uk
Near Porthmadog is:>https://portmeirion.wales
https://www.scenicrailbritain.com/lines/cambrian-lines

For ‘normal’ buses & trains in Wales:>https://www.traveline.cymru

This site is good for trains in Britain:>https://www.traintickets.com
For long journeys - such as London to Wales, you will find the cheapest advance fares for specific trains are loaded around 11 weeks in advance. Pay on the day can be expensive. Also check www.nationalrail.co.uk

Posted by
3991 posts

If you stay in Cardiff, something else will have to give. It’s not my favourite city.

As currently planned, yes it’s possible to do, but it’s not a pleasant pace.

Day 1 - arrival day and try to get over jet lag

Day 2 - explore London

Day 3 - St David’s is gorgeous, but doesn’t have a railway station, as the nearest is Haverfordwest, some 16 miles away. The journey will be at least 7 hours door to door, so not much time for anything else.

Day 4 - explore St David’s

Day 5 - train or bus - likely to take 5-7 hours door to door. Change bus at Fishguard or Cardigan. It looks as though these only run ever 2-3 hours, so if you miss the connection, you have a long wait!

Day 6 - explore Aberystwyth.

Day 7 - move on again. Etc, etc.

Is this a pace you are happy with? A car will be quicker.

As already stated, Caernarfon and Conwy can be combined.

Posted by
2685 posts

We had a car earlier this year to visit Wales. I’d cut a day from Aberystwyth because I didn’t find much to do there. Caernarfon and Conwy are close together, but other than the castles, there’s not much to do in either. We had been to Conwy on a previous trip so skipped it on this one, but of our three nights in Caernarfon we spent one day seeing the sites on Anglesey and went to Llandudno another day. Beaumaris castle is also close to Caernarfon. We enjoyed St. Davids and were there for two nights. The cathedral and bishops palace are the top sights there. If you enjoy walking, the Coastal trail is a very nice walk. In St. David’s we stayed at Ramsey house and in Caernarfon, we stayed at Victoria house, both B&Bs. Not meant to sway you, but with a car you’d be able to visit a lot of places you won’t be able to visit using public transportation. Other than Cardiff, the towns in Wales are fairly small and can be seen in a day.

Posted by
16840 posts

Up in the Llandudno/Conwy part of Wales is the really stunning Bodnant Gardens, a National Trust Property. Highly recommended and accessible by public transportation, though you'll need to plan ahead. It's possible the trip would be harder on weekends due to bus schedules; I don't remember.

Posted by
10 posts

Hi All,

Thank you so, so much for the helpful replies. After reading over them with my husband, we've decided to go ahead and rent a car for the entirety of the trip. This way, we can see parts of Wales that we wouldn't otherwise see. We have also decided to really cut down the itinerary and stick with Gloucester, St Davids, Caenarfon, and York as homebases. This way, we can venture out and things without feeling absolutely rushed.

Posted by
227 posts

The best of Great Britain is:
England - London, Bath and York
Wales - Conwy
Scotland - Edinburgh (ED'n-burah) which is a direct 2.5h train ride from York.
I recommend buying a RSE guidebook. You can download an electronic version from his app. RSE does an excellent job explaining transporation options.
You can take a direct train from London to Bath 1.5h and make this your home base. From here you can take a bus to Glastonbury and Wells. Another day you can tour Avebury, Stonehenge, and Salisbury.
From Bath you can take a direct 1.5h train to Cardiff and explore South Wales or change trains and go to Conwy (4h) in North Wales. If you stay in Cardiff, you can take a direct, 20m train to Caerphilly.
From Conwy you can work your way to York by train that requires a transfer 3.5h.
A train to Edinburgh takes 2.5h and you can tour the Holyrood Castle on the Royal Mile. You can also take a day trip to Glasgow.
There are no nonstop flights from Glasgow to the US, but you can take a direct 3h train to Manchester and fly nonstop between New York, Orlando, Atlanta and Philadelphia (www.skyscanner.com).
You can also take a direct train to London (4.5h) and fly nonstop between Boston, New York, Orlando, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Charlotte, Tampa, Washington DC, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Nashville, San Jose, Minneapolis, Las vegas, Austin, Durham, New Orleans, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and San Diego.

Posted by
4161 posts

We did a four week drive tour of S.Wales and England in 2017. We visited all the places you mentioned except Aberystwyth, Carnarfon, Conwy and Liverpool, however we had visited Liverpool and Conwy on another, earlier trip.

Liverpool was OK, but the main event seemed to be Beatles tours. We like the Beatles, but not interested in a Beatles tour.

I think you should consider Chester. Not sure why you want three days in Conwy, You can see it in one day.

Consider more time in South Wales. Cardiff Castle, the Museum of Welsh Life and Caerphilly Castle. My wife is descended from Gilbert de Clare (Caerphilly was his castle) one of the Barons that signed the Magna Carta, so that was special for us.

Also, we loved Tenby, Wales. We visited Raglan Castle and Tintern Abbey on our way from Chipping Camden to Cardiff.
St. David's is great, but we pretty much did it in one day that included driving out to the SW point of Wales.

York is wonderful, you are right to stay three nights there. Walk the ancient walls, the Minster Cathedral as well as the National Railway Museum.

Posted by
3991 posts

There is plenty to keep you occupied for 3 days in Conwy, which is a good base for Snowdonia. Bodnant Gardens are worth a visit as is Portmeirion.

If you have a car in York, you could visit the North York Moors and Whitby on the coast for a day.

Posted by
5817 posts

Liverpool is not just the Beatles,although they are a major draw for many tourists.
The city has 2, very different, cathedrals, a number of very good art galleries and museums, stunning architecture, a great restaurant and shopping scene and really friendly locals. Also the best football team in the world but I might be biased about that!

You should definitely visit Chester( again I'm biased). It's an easy hop on a commuter train from Liverpool and North Wales. You could also use Chester as a base and visit Liverpool. That might be easier for onward journeys? Unless you have a good reason to visit I would skip Aberystwyth. It's not that interesting a town.

Posted by
660 posts

Hannah, those are some lovely places and I think it’s wise to plan to stay a little longer at fewer locations. I am glad you have decided to rent a car - it will give you a lot more flexibility.