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Day trips from London


sherazade
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Anyone has suggestions on day trips from London my friends and I can take over the weekends? So far, I've thought of Oxford and Oxfordshire, Stratford-upon-Avon and Cotswold. Any tips about these few places would be useful too! (:

 

Also, anyone has tips on how many days we should set aside to spend in Scotland or in Wales? Day trips seem impossible for these places.

Edited by sherazade
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A lot sort of depends on how you will be travelling and what sort of thing you are interested in seeing.  Its easy for example to get to Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon but exploring the Cotswolds would take a long time on public transport.

Other suggestions from me would be Cambridge or a trip south from London down to the coast.

Cardiff is about 2 1/2 hours by train from London so possible as a day trip.

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There are several excellent walking tours available in Oxford; some are themed (for example locations used in film, or in tv series like Inspector Morse). I'd recommend booking these via the official tourist information sites.

 

Scotland and Wales are countries in their own right and you could happily spend at least a week just in Snowdonia in North Wales. Your best bet would be to pick a city or region in each country - e.g. Edinburgh in Scotland, and Snowdonia or Cardiff in North and South Wales respectively, and try to spend three or four days in each.

 

If you can get to Bath (2-2.5 hours by train from London) I would recommend at least 2 days there too.

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Canterbury?  (Although the train service is now abysmally slow unless you take the high-speed route).

 

Brighton?  Nice and easy to get to.  Other places on the SE coast?

 

I think York is within the bounds of possibility, too.

 

But do beware of train fares: they are often extortionate in this country (except, sometimes, if you book in advance for specific trains).  You might want to have a look at the various railcards on offer and consider whether it would be worth getting one of them: http://www.railcard.co.uk/?gclid=CKmZpIWDnL4CFSEOwwodQjAAgw  There's also a "Network South East" railcard which covers a significant part of South-East England (extending up to about Peterborough, Leamington Spa/Oxford/Banbury, Cambridge and even down to Exeter if you go by the slow route), but this does have a minimum ticket price of £13 except at weekends and on bank holidays, which greatly limits its usefulness except on longer journeys.

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In the North of England I would recommend a visit to Liverpool (yes, I know I live here!) and Chester (Liverpool is about 2hrs 10 minutes from London Euston).  I would endorse Bath and York too.

 

Alison's comments about the train fares are very pertinent and her suggestion about rail cards is excellent.

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The stately home of Hatfield House is within walking distance of Hatfield railway station and is only about half an hour's train journey from Kings Cross.

 

How about taking the Eurostar to Paris?

Edited by taxi4ballet
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Thank you for all your tips and suggestions!  :)

 

I noticed while researching on some of the places that many of them state that there are trains from London's King's Cross or maybe London Euston. The nearest railway station to where my friends and I will be staying is actually London Victoria. I'm wondering if it is fine if we take the train from London Victoria or do we have to say, take the tube to King's Cross before taking the train to wherever we are going?

 

Another question, I know there are one day tours organised by agencies to Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon but I do not know what the pace of these tour are like. My friends and I have so far planned to go to Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon on two separate days but I am wondering if it is possible to visit both in one day? We would prefer not to be rushing around, getting from one place to another.

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Victoria serves South East England and it used to be the main international station for London before the channel tunnel. It is linked to King's Cross (which serves Yorkshire, North East England and  Scotland) and Euston (which serves the West Midlands, North West England and Glasgow) by tube.

 

There are plenty of things to see in the outer suburbs and home counties without spending lots of time on travelling or money on rail fares. South of the River there is Hampton Court (Wolsey's magnificent palace later nationalized by Henry VIII), Richmond Park, Kew Gardens (botanical gardens) and Greenwich (observatory and museum). Slightly further away there are the North Downs, South Downs, Windsor. Rochester and, of course, the Kent and Sussex coast which is beautiful.

 

North of the river there is Hampstead, Regents Park (catch a play at the Open Air theatre), St Albans for the cathedral and Roman remains, Hatfield, Epping Forest, Ingatestone and the very underrated but in my view lovely and interesting county of Essex.

 

My advice is to get yourself a Michelin Green Guide or other good guide book to London and either an Oyster card or travel pass for the tubes and buses. That is what I do when I visit a new city.

 

It is possible to see Oxford and Stratford in one day and many people try it but it does not do justice to either place and you end up seeing more motorway than antiquity.

 

York is 200 miles away and it is worth seeing as is Liverpool and a lot of other places in the North and indeed all parts of the UK but if I were an overseas visitor I would leave the other regions of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland for another trip.  If you do want to travel to another region top of ,y list would be Stonehenge in Wiltshire and Bath in Somerset.

 

Enjoy your stay in our beautiful country.

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I would advise against Oxford and Stratford in one day - especially if you want to do the Shakespeare experience. We had American visitors over recently and bought a ticket that offers entry to 4 of the Shakespeare properties - the most central ones and doing just 2 took all afternoon.

Oxford, like Cambridge is all about seeing the University colleges - so a fair bit of walking - and perhaps trying your hand at punting (or hiring one and letting someone else do the work). In terms of colleges I think Cambridge is more compact with more colleges in the very centre. On that basis, if I were to try and combine Oxford and Stratford in one day I would try and opt for a tour that had more time in Stratford. It would certainly be lot of travelling though. And do Cambridge for the colleges/punting experience on a different day.

 

Oxford trains go into Paddington Station in London and Cambridge into Liverpool Street - both journey are about 1 hour. Oxford can also be reached by coach from Victoria - confusingly called the Oxford Tube - running roughly every 15 minutes, only £18 return but the journey time is increased to 1.5 hours or longer, depending on traffic. Something to look into as you obviously do not have the tube journey across London.

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Edinburgh is four and a half hours by train from King's Cross and you walk out of the station into the centre of the city. It's quite compact and you can get around on foot.The two big sites are the Castle and Holyrood Palace, which is associated with Mary Queen of Scots, but you would also want to walk the Royal Mile.

 

Hatfield Hose, which has already been mentioned and is walkable from Hatfield Station, is very interesting historically. It was the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth the First. Last time I went the room guides were extremely knowledgeable and friendly.

 

Bath with its famous Roman baths is definitely worth a visit. You may be able to combine this with a visit to Stonehenge on a coach trip from London. 

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You mention the nearest station being Victoria, don't forget that virtually all trains stop at Clapham Junction about five minutes down the line and from there you could catch a train to Hampton Court with the Palace, maze, gardens and grounds which is about 35 minutes on the train.  Also by changing at the Junction you could go to Eton & Windsor Riverside to visit Windsor Castle and check out the historic Eton colleges; avoid on fine weekends though as the place can be heaving. That journey takes about 45 minutes.

Edited by MAB
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All the main railway stations start in London and serve different regions like the spokes of a wheel. They are all connected by the underground. 

 

For instance the trains from Kings Cross head northwards (and go all the way up to Scotland). So - from Victoria, you would need to get the Underground (or bus) to Kings Cross in order to catch the trains from there. 

 

Victoria is also the main bus/coach station in London and you can get a bus to pretty much anywhere in the UK and Europe from there.

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When a friend of mine from Australia visited me in London, she wanted to see Oxford and the Cotswolds, but I don't have a car, so we went on a day trip with one of the London walking companies.  I've been to Oxford many times, but this was a very enjoyable way of doing it.   Takes the stress out of having to organise yourself!

 

I notice they do tours to Straford as well. 

 

Worth a try?  I would stress I have absolute no connection with the company at all, but I have been on several of their London walks, and have found them very entertaining.  The Jack the Ripper one is always very popular.   

 

http://www.walks.com/London_Walks_Home/LW_TIMETABLE/default.aspx

Edited by Fonty
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