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Tourist Traps to avoid

Calgary, Alberta
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Tourist Traps to avoid

Hi, a few friends and I are planning a sixteen day roadtrip of UK and Ireland. It's our first time over, and of course we want to "see it all" which we know is impossible. We are mostly interested in historical sights, beautiful houses, gardens and castles. We have lots of wilderness at home. So are there any particular places we should visit or should avoid visiting? The less crowds, the better, unless it is a must see.

Liverpool, United...
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1. Re: Tourist Traps to avoid

OK - I'm probably going to be shot down in flames but ...

My disappointing list includes:

Gretna Green (nothing there)

Tintagel (too much tat)

Stonehenge (you need a lot of imagination)

The Eden Project (a big greenhouse)

Bowness on Windermere (wish everybody would go home)

My more than I expected list includes (in no particular order):

The silver sands of Morar

The Kingdom of Fife (East Neuk)

City of Cardiff

Bradford (and the surrounding area)

County Kerry



London's parks, commons and heaths

Edinburgh and Arthurs Seat

North York Moors

City of Norwich

Amsterdam, The...
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2. Re: Tourist Traps to avoid

16 days to cover the whole of the British Isles including Ireland. Tall order even if you limit yourself. Anyway here is my tuppence worth

Must see in London is the Tower, can take a whole day. Avoid Madame Tussauds unles you like wax and crowds and queues.

I'm Scottish so I am gonna say for castles and history we have some of the best including Stirling (OK Edinburgh but I'm from Stirling so biased)

For Ireland I prefer Cork & County to Dublin. Lots of great beaches and history.

Toronto, Canada
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3. Re: Tourist Traps to avoid




It is possible to get away from the madding crowd in Britain but unlike empty Canada, the little island has a population of 56 million+ so a tad difficult to really get away from it all when you factor in a few million tourists as well. Having said that, you can stand on Dartmoor and wonder where the heck everyone went!....then you go to the pub and find them.;-)

Just try not to travel on a Bank Holiday if one should occur during your visit. Pure chaos.

I adored Edinburgh but it was April, very few people at the Castle and on the Royal Mile. Avoiding crowds depends on the time of year you visit, you didn't mention when?

Don't know what your budget for hotels etc is but if you're up for staying at a castle or Mansion you could check out the English Heritage Holiday Cottages book/or online....


I have the 2007 edition and can't wait for the day I can book one of the castles.

You could make one a rest stop and use it as a base for exploring the area, just an idea.

Coventry, United...
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4. Re: Tourist Traps to avoid

I'd add Caernarfon castle is great to visit - a lot to see there. I can't say we have an awful lot of wilderness in the UK, but I did enjoy cycling round the new forest a lot. As you are from Canada you will most likely be used to travelling long distances, but in the UK it can take a bit longer to go the say distance (traffic can be bad on some motorways and windy roads are slower to drive down than wide straight roads!).

If you fancy a trip on a steam railway then the Welshpool and Llanfair one is pretty good in Wales, or there's always the Welsh Highland.

Chatsworth house is lovely if you want a beautiful house with plenty of grounds.

I guess Kenilworth castle in Warwickshire is less crowded that Warwick castle, but it will all depend on what sort of thing you want.

Devizes, United...
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5. Re: Tourist Traps to avoid

Hi there

Must-sees for my money in the south would include, if you do get down to Cornwall and Devon, St Michael's Mount, The Minack Theatre, Charlestown harbour( to see square rigger sail ships being overhauled), Restormel Castle, Lanhydrock House, Buckland Abbey, DEFINATELY see the Eden Project, the fishing villages of Polperro and Cadgwith, Lynton and Lynmouth. In Dorset, if you see only one sight, make it part of the Jurassic Coastline, especially around the West Bay and Lulworth Cove areas, in Wiltshire see Avebury (stone circle, house,gardens, museum), Silbury Hill, Stonehenge ( don't bother stopping, just slow down a bit as you pass by), Stourhead and Salisbury, in Somerset there's Cheddar Gorge and Wookey Hole, the city of Wells, Glastonbury Tor and so on.

Just a few ideas, obviously you won't get to see them all, but these are some of my favourites. Each to their own of course, but The Eden Project is stunning, for it's location, amazing architecture, sheer scale and of course, it's contents.

Manchester, UK
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6. Re: Tourist Traps to avoid

Unless you are absolutely determined to see a production at the theatre, I would suggest giving Stratford-on-Avon a wide berth - it's ridiculously touristy, busy all year, and there are far nicer towns in the same general area. Cathedral cities are a good bet for historic buildings and 'plenty going on' as well - York, Durham, Salisbury, Lincoln (much undervalued and less visited than many of the others), Chester (a very compact city centre, with the unique 'Rows' - 'double-decker' shops; well worth a good explore), Winchester, Norwich, Lichfield - the list goes on! One thing Britain does particularly well is industrial heritage; Ironbridge gorge, in Shropshire, is the birthplace of iron smelting, and has a number of locations (Blists Hill, Coalbrookdale, the Tar Tunnel, Coalport) all of which are fascinating. A sort-of-similar place is Beamish open-air museum near Durham. Local Tourist Information offices are an excellent starting-point for picking up armfuls of leaflets and brochures on local attractions, wherever you happen to be. The list of stately homes, historic houses and gardens is endless - as already mentioned, Chatsworth is a bit special. Also try Hardwick Hall, Castle Howard, Biddulph Grange gardens near Congleton, in Cheshire -oh, I could go on and on! Some particularly attractive (and historic) towns which won't be over-run with tourists are: Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth, Bewdley, Beverley, Clitheroe, Ludlow, Arundel, Rye, Stamford, Conwy, Ledbury, Nantwich, Alnwick, Lancaster, etc. etc. Some which WILL be busy, but are still very much worth visiting include Bath, Oxford, Cambridge, any of the Cotswold centres (Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, Burford, Broadway), Haworth (for everything Bronte), Whitby. For a feel of what a classic English seaside town used to be like, try Sidmouth in south Devon, or Southwold in Suffolk - few coastal towns have changed as little as these two. When you have a more detailed itinerary worked out, post again and I'll try to come up with some more ideas.

Calgary, Alberta
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7. Re: Tourist Traps to avoid

Thanks for all your replies! Of course, I know we are not going to escape all the crowds,I just want to know what is worth braving the crowds for! Also any lesser known gems we could take in.


Two of us are students, so our budget is a bit limited. I know that we are undertaking alot, and I wanted to plan a longer vacation, but one of the girls only has two weeks off school, so that's all we could take. Disapointing, I know. Now that I think back on it, we should have just dropped her off and the airport after two weeks, and went on without her, but it's too late now! At any rate, I fully intend to go back again, so I don't mind very much.

So heres a rough idea of our itinerary so far-

A couple days in London, Then Canterbury, maybe a few sights around there. Are Dover and Hastings worth visiting? Onward to Salisbury, skim by Stonehenge (not my choice!) See Salisbury Cathedral, maybe go to Cheddar, then to Bath- I have heard Bath is very not worth visiting, is this true? After Bath, I thought maybe Oxford, Warwick,Blenheim Palace, Shrewsbury, Caernarfon, Conwy, Chester, Lyme house, York, Durham, Hadrian's Wall, Bamburgh, Edinburgh. (All this in a week!)

Then we have a few days to spend in Scotland, so I wanted to spend a day in Edinburgh, then maybe go on to Stirling, but I don't really know what to do from there. I have read that Loch Ness is a waste of Time, but two of the girls want to see it. Should we go anyway, or should I convince them to go elsewhere?

We plan to stay in a Castle in Scotland for a night, then take a ferry to Belfast. As for Ireland, I don't really know what we should do, except that we want to visit the Rock of Cashel, Glendalough, perhaps Knock and Newgrange? We have only about 4.5 days there, so not much time, and we planned to spend our last day in Dublin, from where we are flying out.

So what are your thoughts on this all?

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8. Re: Tourist Traps to avoid

What time of year are you coming? That will have a bearing on how busy and how expensive your trip will be.

I'm only going to comment on the Scottish part of your trip. It looks like you only have a few days here so I wouldn't try to do it all. You might want to concentrate on the Edinburgh area and the southern part of the highlands. Think about 2 days in Edinburgh and another couple somewhere like the Trossachs or Pitlochry. Loch Ness is a long drive to see a loch when you are pushed for time. Lots of lovely lochs further south.

Staying in a castle on a budget is tricky. The only bargain I can think of is Carbisdale


but you would need to drive to the far, far north of Scotland to stay there. It would be a great trip but you would need to devote a few more days to it.

Cardiff, Wales
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9. Re: Tourist Traps to avoid

Blimey - I read these replies and I realise how much of GB I still want to see myself, and I've lived here all (well, nearly all) my life! excellent advice here - of course don't forget there can be a trade off - going to "less touristy" places can mean you have to plan more, be less ready for people ready to leap on you to tell you how to see the local "must-see", and apply a bit of knowledge, pre-reading and initiative!

Brno, Czech Republic
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10. Re: Tourist Traps to avoid

Skervydog - you are on a budget?? I hope you have got plenty in your coffers, as just the fuel will set you back a small fortune :) And you will probably spend five minutes in each of your places!

But good luck to you - itineraries are there to be broken. I doubt very much whether you will stick to it - just go where you feel the car is taking you.

Nobody has mentioned Liverpool as a place to go to (although Dexter, from Liverpool, gave a list of places not to go - I agree with him, by and large) - it is European city of culture this year and is a very impressive and interesting place (UNESCO heritage site as well), and it is a bit of an eyeopener in places :) BTW Dexter, since when was Bradford, let alone its surrounding area, a 'tourist trap'? :):)