I am planning a trip this May/June to celebrate my 30th birthday. It will be my first international trip solo and I am a little overwhelmed with all of the options. I have travelled quite a bit (Czech Republic, Austria, France, Hungary), however, each trip I had people with me to rely on for navigating in and between cities. I will admit to not being the best with directions OR the best driver (although I am looking forward to improving on the former on this trip since I will have no one to rely on but myself).
I have scoured the numerous threads on this site and have plenty of wonderful recommendations for my time in London (adding on a quick jaunt down visit the Poole pottery store). Currently only my arrival airline ticket has been secured. I am rather flexible on my departure. I am even considering taking the ferry or EasyJet to Dublin as British Airways just added a direct flight from LHR to Austin, my home. For some reason, it is approx. 400 USD less to fly DUB>LHR>AUS than it is LHR>AUS on the same last leg of the flight. I realize this is not the most efficient and it would be unfortunate to stop in Dublin without allowing adequate time to visit but I do like to save money and would love to fly directly home on the new Dreamliners.
Day 1-7: Arrive LHR, Marriott County Hall (on points)
Day 7-12: Leave London towards Edinburgh
Day 12 PM: EasyJet to Dublin, DUB>LHR, Hilton LHR Term 5
Day 13 AM: LHR->AUS
My question: I would really appreciate some recommendations from a local or frequent visitor perspective on a route, that could include overnight stops, from London to Edinburgh to fill days 7-12. Are there a few standout favorites along the way? Should I forget trying to stop along the way and fill my time in Edinburgh and surrounding areas?
A few items to factor in--
I realize this is rather vague, I will not be able to see everything on this trip and happy to return again. I would appreciate any guidance or suggestions very much.
Sounds like a "Fabulous" trip!
I wish I could help you on your trip out of London, but I can't. Hope some of our wonderful GB folks like sg1974, chrisf, arkwright, and others can help you will "Local" experience on your travel outside of London.
One thing I would like to share with you is don't take "Security" for granted! Let those folks at County Hall help you as well. You won't have to worry about the security there, but don't take other places for granted. Likewise, make use of CL when you can, as well as Room Service.
Hope you get a lot of good suggestions from MRI!
I know Edinburgh reasonably well. There is lots to do there. My suggestion would be this.
Book your train ticket now (much cheaper than leaving it until later - dynamic pricing) on East Coast Trains from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh. Cheap Train Tickets & Mobile Train Times | East Coast Mobile If you can manage it, book first class, after 10am, as in first class they will give you endless coffee and soft drinks and also a perfectly acceptable light lunch with a beer or a glass of wine! This is for Monday - Friday, it is different at weekends. Book a window seat, as it is quite an interesting journey, which takes you through York etc.
The railway station in Edinburgh is central, and there are plenty of taxis. Edinburgh is a lovely city, and there is plenty to do. Edinburgh & The Lothians - Scotland | VisitScotland You won't need a car there as there are several different tour buses that go all around the city and outskirts, and a good rail service to other places for a day away from the city. Maybe go to Glasgow for the day? It is only a short train journey away.
If you want to break the trip, I cannot recommend York highly enough. We have friends there and go at least twice a year. It is a very historic city, but isn't huge. It is very manageable on foot. Visit York Tourist Information Website for Accommodation, Offers & Gifts
Personally, I would go from London to York on East Coast trains on day 7. On day 9 I would go from York to Edinburgh on East Coast trains on a mid afternoon train. That would give you time to get the feel of both York and Edinburgh. I know Birmingham too, as I used to work there, but York is far and away a better place to visit IMHO.
I live in the UK, and like I said, I do know York very well & Edinburgh quite a bit, so if you want to know anything, don't hesitate to ask.
A few thoughts to supplement those of tommo 781.
1. I agree totally with his rating of York and Edinburgh.
2. Avoid Birmingham like the plague ( several variants of which it was home to during the 18/19th centuries).
3. Use the East Coast train route. As a citizen of Austin, you might want to include a UK university town. If so, and allowing for my personal bias, take a train to Cambridge (ca 60 mins) for am/early pm, then take train to Peterborough (ca 50 mins), possibly taking in the cathedral before taking a mainline train to York (ca 120 mins).
4. A night/day in York, staying at the Marriott overlooking the Knavesmire race course, then train (noting the magnificent 19th century station) on to Newcastle (60 mins) - again, a centre of the UK's 18/19th century industrial ( particularly ship building) development, well worth wandering around for a few hours - before picking up a direct train, via Berwick, on to Edinburgh (100 mins). There is a newly opened Marriott (Autograph) establishment - the Glasshouse, I think - which is well sited for most of the attractions.
5. Take an EasyJet back to London.
Have a good trip
Could I do a "Day Trip" from County Hall to York?
"Lady Coin" will not do multiple hotels on week-long trips. We only for from Saturday to Saturday and one hotel. She has "Laid the law down"!
Hope you can make it to C-H in September! (27th to October 4). During that week, I am going to take your suggestion on Tuesday and Thursday for "Day Trips" prefer to go from Waterloo!
Hi Jerry -- For sure -- I did it! I went all the way to Durham and back the same day thanks to the high speed trains. And I think Lady Coin is right. It is so much of a hassle to drag luggage around (even my one and only small one) and repack, unpack etc. High speed trains in Europe have made that all unnecessary, except in a few places.
Do it and have fun! England is a small country.
We don't travel "Light"! I sometimes think I have "The kitchen sink" with me, but we are "Happy Travelers"!
Don't know why I have such an "Allure" for London, Paris, and thanks to you, Rome, but I do!
You have a great trip if you make Scotland! It's in my "Dreams" for someday in the future!
Yes, you could do York in a day from London, but make sure you get an early train! There is a lot to see. But York is a very compact city, so it is doable if you stick to the main sights. I have to agree with Lady Coin. I am the same with luggage. We did a land tour of Alaska once, before picking up our cruise in Juneau. We had to live out of suitcases and by the end of the land tour we couldn't wait to get on the ship and unpack properly!
My suggestions for day trips from London as an initial taster for someone who doesn't know the UK outside of London would be (in no order of preference)
Norwich (my home city so I am biased. But it does have a stunning castle, cathedral and some olde worldie streets)
And what about a day at the seaside? Brighton is - um - interesting.
By no means a comprehensive list, just a starter pack.
Unfortunately Waterloo doesn't serve most of these, but a London expert like you can get to any of the other stations with ease, I am sure.
BTW good tip you gave Danielleirene about taxis from Heathrow. I am going to post something else for her to reinforce that.
Just a little clarification following arkwrights excellent response.
I am glad he agrees with me about York & Edinburgh. That gives you some confirmation that both are good places to visit. Also that Birmingham is not.
I guess in my advice I forgot to take something into consideration. Whenever someone asks advice on travel, it is only natural to advise on what we would do ourselves. What I didn't take into account is that I am over twice Danielleirene's age, and I am not up to fitting so much in to my trips now. Which is why I didn't think of Cambridge!
Danielleirene, just to clarify. Cambridge is not on the East Coast line; you get there from Kings Cross or Liverpool Street. There is also a luggage constraint. Cambridge station is a little way out of the city, so you would need to leave your stuff in left luggage. OK, no big deal, but it all takes time. Personally, I am no big fan of Peterborough, but it is where you would pick up the East Coast train for York/Newcastle/Edinburgh.
Arkwright is right about the York Marriott. We have stayed there a lot and we love it. It is on the outskirts, but only a short taxi ride to and from the city, and there are also regular buses from right outside the hotel. If you stay there, it is worth paying the extra for a grandstand view room. These rooms look out across the racecourse, and have a balcony. I took the following photo from our grandstand view room balcony last year. BTW, this hotel does not have a CL.
Arkwright is right about the Glasshouse in Edinburgh, and there is also a Residence Inn in a new development which is only a short walk to the main attractions as well.
The one piece of advice I would give is don't try to fit too many places into your time. Don't be guilty of going everywhere and seeing nothing.
Hope this all helps.
Sounds wonderful! I agree that York is great. Take warm sweaters/jackets (jumpers?). Spouse and I went to Edinburgh in June, and we experienced a series of rare warm, sunny days. The locals told us we hit the weather jackpot. And yet we still froze our "arses" off. But it's a great city, nonetheless. Have fun!
Oh how lovely you all are! Thank you a million times! What a gem this site is.
I do appreciate your safety cautions. That is at the forefront of my thoughts. I probably err on the side of worrying a bit too much. I know England to be a safe place but I still will exercise precautions. I will not be out wandering after dark (unless perhaps to catch a show and I will take a taxi). Your high praise of the CH and Teddi J. really put me over the top and gave me peace of mind.
You are a treasure trove of information! I will do just as you suggest with the stopover in York and am looking at the tickets and sites now. I am sure I will be reaching back out once I start narrowing down my lists of sites. By the way, my travel style leans more toward that of someone twice my age as I prefer to soak up as much as I can of one location so advice noted. The Edinburgh Residence Inn does look quite nice! I am on the fence between it and a Sheraton Grand with views of the castle. I should achieve Starwood platinum status for the first time right before this trip so I am torn between my good and faithful Marriott or venturing out and trying something new.
2. I laughed out loud reading this. (Not that I find deadly disease to be laughing matter but I found your correlation to be). Thank you for the warning. Birmingham is stricken from the list!
3 & 4. Again, excellent suggestions. I am looking into the train routes for these suggestions now. The York Marriott sounds just perfect! I adore horses (it is not uncommon to see folks using all means of efficient transportation here in Texas).
Glad to have been of help danielleirene. Please just ask if there is anything else at all I can help you with.
The Edinburgh Residence Inn is fine, but it doesn't have the views of the Sheraton. If I had never been to Edinburgh before - I'd go for the views of the Castle!!!!!! The castle is spectacular.
Thank-you for your kind comments, much appreciated!
Now consider a couple of things:
Convey to Teddi, and Nic, in the same email, your "Single" situation and need for security. They can arrange for you to be picked up at LHR by one of their "Secure" drivers (It will cost, but NO more than an unknown taxi driver). (Or from wherever you are arriving to London). That will get you safely to the hotel. Likewise, so many things that you may want to see you can safely walk to from the hotel.
You will also have an "Option", that is, have Nic, the Concierge to have a car take you to the places you need to get to and it may cost a little extra, but may be worth it!
So glad there was so much "Helpful" advice from our dear MRI friends in GB! Stay in touch, and think of questions, we all can help with!
Agreed. York is a must. Like something right out of Dickens. My wife and I loved it.
We rented a car, so I'm not really sure if some of the spots we visited would be accessible by train. Bath is a beautiful city, history back to Roman baths. (hence the name). St. Andrews, north of Edinburgh is also a gem. Hever Castle, south of Roman is the home of Anne Boleyn and is quite beautiful. A day in Windsor, from London, is a must. Accessible by either train or double decker, I believe.
Windsor Castle has a special place in my heart. I was in London to do a BBC Women's Special with Jenny. I had a day at the end and since I'd never been to Windsor Castle I took the train to see it and was impressed. I was still getting over the loss of my beloved 18-1/2 yr old cat and at St George's Chapel a kitten with a collar came up to me and ignored a whole group of (nice kids) trying to entice him or her. It was the first time (even though I'd encountered cats in Greece) that I allowed myself to sit on the ground and 'get to know' a cat again. While he or she did not belong to the queen, who is a dog person, the cat wore a collar, so was resident on the grounds. That did it for me. When I got back to the London County Hall I went on the Waterville Humane Society website and found my baby. When I got home, I immediately went in, but a whole lot of the kittens looked like her. The first jumped out of my arms to explore -- but the second -- who I had seen on the webpage in London, curled up on my chest. When I went to put her on the ground, she jumped in my purse. Leelee (as I renamed her) is now almost 5 yrs old, but she was the cat I saw on the website in London!
We did a day trip to Windsor Castle in April. We stayed at County Hall in London and caught an easy, short train ride out of Waterloo station, so very convenient. The train was inexpensive, and we had an absolutely wonderful day enjoying the castle and the chapel and the town of Windsor. I'm only sorry we didn't have more time to spend in the area. Would like to visit Cliveden and The Savill Garden someday.
OK, so I'm a pedant! But I am also an amateur scholar of English history. The birth of Elizabeth was not the problem. It was that Anne Boleyn then miscarried a boy which caused all the trouble. But I totally agree with you about everything else. Hever Castle is a lovely place to visit. The house is exquisite, and the grounds are fabulous. Well worth a visit to anyone.
But it gets even more complicated than that. Eric Ives is *the* expert on Anne and I just finished for class reading his second, more recent bio of Anne. Besides that she miscarried a 'probable' but not definitive son after Henry's fall from a horse, all kinds of factions were forming after Elizabeth's birth. The Seymours were angling for a much bigger place at court, using horsy Jane (don't believe "The Tudors" version) as their ploy. Edward was okay till he wasn't but Thomas was a ne'er-do-well from the start. Added to that, the king's secretary Cromwell realized he was potentially losing some influence as it got closer to 1536 and ditched Anne. Finally, the coup de grace was Thomas Boleyn, her father, who basically worked against her. A sorry lot indeed.
And yes, PSUdad, had the boy been delivered safely, she would have been set for life, though like Catherine of Aragon or Anne of Cleves (in different ways) might have been sent out to a country estate. Jane Seymour earned Henry's undying love by having a male kid then promptly dying.
Take a tour of the Tower of London
If they are running tours of Buckingham, jump on that.
Take in a show - theater in London is a real treat.
Nice to see from the river. They have boat tours (with pubs onboard) at the base of the bridge by Westminster and Parliament. They used to take you down to the Tower and Tower bridge.
the National Gallery of Art and the National Portrait Gallery are right next door to each other. And a block away is Chandos Pub, a Samuel Smith property, with good food and even better beer.
Prof. That is a nice story and I can picture it. Windsor Castle is just a great setting for that type of encounter. It is like going back in time.
We had cats since the first year we were married and at one point had three. Lost one at 19 years, one at 16 years and last year, on Mother's Day, lost our last at 17 1/2. My wife was distraught but agreed to wait until the fall to get another cat. She would also insist we get two who should be adopted together. Well, she was miserable and it didn't make sense to prolong it. So, in June I went out and found two sisters who needed to find a home together and sent the email to my wife at work. We brought them home two days later. They are a combination of the best in all of our prior three. Ironically enough, I have a picture of a black cat in the Forum in Rome that looks exactly like ours, right down to the small white patch on her chest.
Jerrycoin in right about the hotel arranging taxis from Heathrow and around London. If you can afford them, it is the safest way to go. London taxis are expensive wherever you go. But, I will tell you something about prices. When we stay in London, we do not usually stay at CH. We like Marriott West India Quay at Docklands - just personal preference. The concierge there will always arrange a car through an executive car service nearby. On 2 occasions during our last visit, the concierge arranged for a car to take us to restaurants in central London. We were quoted a fixed price, which could be added to the room bill, and we were taken in comfort to the restaurants in beautiful high class cars. On each occasion the black cab we got back cost more!!
we just returned from Europe. Our last leg was from London to Edinburgh. We took the train from Kings Cross (we had been staying at the St Pancras Renaissance via Eurostar/Paris, this will be another post w/ photos)...anyway the 5 hour direct route was lovely, we went first class on a Thursday and ate and drank, used the wifi and admired the scenery Edinburgh is a relatively small city, train station was centrally located and a cab to The Residence Inn quick and cheap. The RI was clean and new--no AC but you did not need it. Make sure you get near the Castle for the one o'clock cannon. Take a windbreaker and poncho(kind of windy for a cheap umbrella). Two good restaurants the Outsider and the Hotel du Vin both a short walk from the RI. Have a beverage in Greyfriers Bobby and visit the cemetery behind it and read the story about this loyal dog. The Royal Mile was touristy but nice---take a hop/on/hop/off bus to get around. Costs were reasonable, we felt safe and folks were friendly--took a direct flight out of Edinburgh to Chicago (united)--20 GBP for cab--15 min to airport from RI. I'll post more about Amsterdam, Paris, Normandy and London soon. Thanks to all members in making our trip smooth and minimally stress free--clark3
WE are following shortly behind you, as we just stayed at the Edinburgh Residence Inn. It was well located to walk to the old city center. the staff was very helpful, even giving us an adapter as ours broke. No AC which probably is not usually a problem, but we were there during the heat wave and it was a little uncomfortable. We loved Edinburgh.