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Southern England: which cities to visit?

Porto/Felgueiras...
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Southern England: which cities to visit?

I’m planning with my wife a two-weeks trip in Southern England, to take place in late May and early June. That’s our first stay in England, and we enjoy exploring historic cities by foot, visiting museums and monuments, and taking some glimpses of the sea-shore and the country; we don’t like to go out at night, and will travel by train and/or bus; lastly, we’ll travel on a tight budget.

As we have planned so far, we’ll stay 4 full days in London and another 2 full days in Canterbury (to see the city and a bit of the coast); then we can’t decide what to do. We would like to visit Oxford, Bath, Salibury and Winchester; Wells, Portsmouth and a taste of the Cotswolds would be excellent. But we don’t know in which cities to stay, using them as a base, and which ones can we do as a day trip.

So far we have planned two alternative routes:

EITHER 2 full days in Oxford (visiting Oxford and Blenheim) + 2 full days in Winchester (visiting Winchester, Salisbury and, if possible, also Portsmouth);

OR 3 full days in Bath (visiting Bath, Wells, Salisbury and, if possible, taking a taste of the Cotswolds) + 1 full day in Oxford (visiting Oxford and, if possible, also Blenheim).

In between all these full days, we have the days used to change places, which can be used in the city we’re departing (leaving it late), if the spent days there were not enough, or in the new place (arriving there early), if we’re satysfied. Or also that day can be used visiting a in-between spot (as a day trip).

I'm considering putting Bath aside for this year, leaving it for another year, as well as the Cotswolds, Wells, Exeter, Stratford-Upon-Avon (...?), for another trip, latter.

So, in short: extending to Bath (as well as Wells and a bit of the Cotswolds) or sticking to Winchester (and Portsmouth)? A single day would be enough for Oxford? Or is there another unmissable visit, in Southern England, that I missed so far?

Many thanks in advance.

Hampshire, United...
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1. Re: Southern England: which cities to visit?

Portsmouth is an interesting city to visit, not least because of its historic naval dockyard, but also have a look at Brighton for more of a seaside destination, even if it is a pebble beach! The Brighton Pavilion is worth a look.

If you think you will be back, then maybe do leave Bath and the Cotswolds for a future visit, although if you have 2 days in Oxford, there might be a tour that leaves from there that incorporates Blenheim and some of the Cotswolds.

Winchester I love. Wonderful historic city. If you're going to Salisbury, you could always take the tourist bus out to Stonehenge as well. I certainly think you have plenty to fill your time around this area.

Canterbury, United...
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2. Re: Southern England: which cities to visit?

It's not a city, but Rye is one of the lovliest and most historic small towns in southern England. It's on the Ashford International-Brighton train line, so you can go from Canterbury West via a change at Ashford.

http://www.visitrye.co.uk/

East Sussex, United...
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3. Re: Southern England: which cities to visit?

All good suggestions, especially Rye. A hidden gem.

Did you mean "cities" Rui ? That generally means quite a large place over here.

Mike

Porto/Felgueiras...
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4. Re: Southern England: which cities to visit?

First of all many thanks to Gillianuk, bayB0y and argyle_mikey and for your replies. We’ve decided for the Oxford + Winchester option, thus leaving Bath for another year (along with Wells, the Cotswolds, Stratford-Upon-Avon …).

Indeed Mike, I made a mistake; by “cities” I meant “towns”. In my native language we use the same word for both (the only city here, by British standards, would be the capital).

Brighton and Rye are also in our list, we intend to visit them in a row as train stop overs between Gatwick and Canterbury, where we’ll be staying. We’ll land at 12h05 so we’ll have all the afternoon, I hope the time will be enough. The trick is neither of the two rails stations, Brighton nor Rye, offering a left luggage storage service, so the bags will come along with us for the visit; as we only intend to walk and enjoy the view I think it will be annoying but not a serious problem.

Concerning our free day to visit the coastline of Kent, we are considering (after reading several posts in the Kent forum, namely by bayB0y) two alternative possibilities: either to make a trip by train from Faversham to Ramsgate, stopping at Whitstable, Herne and/or Broadstair, and Margate; or to spend the day cliff walking, starting from Dover (using one of the suggested walk paths we found in http://www.whitecliffscountry.org.uk).

After consulting the train schedules, I realised we can do both in one day, in theory (as long we start with the cliffs, early in the morning, and cut at least one of the stop overs); do you think we should try to do this, or should we choose one of the alternatives and drop the other one?

Bucks, UK
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5. Re: Southern England: which cities to visit?

Actually, Rui, Argyle Mikey has led you astray a little there.

In the UK, the status of "city" is a title awarded by the Crown. Traditionally, it was used to denote a town which had a cathedral, since a cathedral was the seat of a bishop, and therefore a place of influence; in recent times, some towns have been granted city status without their having a cathedral, purely because of their size and importance (Swansea is an example of this) but some of the historic cities are actually quite small - Ely for example, and the smallest (St.David's in Wales) has a population of only about 1,800 people; without its cathedral, it would only count as a village.

So Portugal probably has a great many cities by the traditional UK definition.

None of which is at all helpful for your trip, unless you planned on taking part in a quiz while you are here!

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6. Re: Southern England: which cities to visit?

Grrrr....I knew, just knew, that someone would have to bring up St Davids - which is why I used the word "generally" !!!

Of perhaps more assistance to you would be to point out that the Gatwick, Brighton, Rye, Canterbury thing is just not do-able in an afternoon. It's simply too much.

You can see a lot of Rye in an afternoon, whereas Brighton deserves a day. So go to Rye. But the luggage thing is a problem. I'd ring somewhere reliable like The Ship or the Ypres Castle and book in for lunch on the basis that they'll store your luggage securely for a couple of hours.

Make sure you start at the town model !

www.ryeheritage.co.uk/default.aspx…

Mike

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7. Re: Southern England: which cities to visit?

Brits would definitely consider Porto a city, and probably some others too. The Queen grants city status to large towns now and again on special occasions such as the Millennium, the next time will be for her Golden Jubliee in 2012.

The White Cliffs Walk - the most popular route is from the Visitor Centre to St Margarets Bay and back, which will only take a couple of hours at most.

Coastal train tour - you can do this in a loop. Trains go from Canterbury West through Ramsgate to Margate. There are trains from Ramsgate to Faversham where you can change for a train to Canterbury East. Or do it in the opposite direction! If you're not doing the cliff walk, you could always hire bikes from next to Canterbury West station …me.com/bernardwright/cch/CANT_CONTACT.html and put them on the train, as there is a cycle route from Ramsgate to Whitstable mostly off-road and flat (called the Viking coastal trail from Ramsgate to Reculver then the Oyster Bay trail to Whitstable).

The nicest towns are Broadstairs and Whitstable. Ramsgate has a pretty marina, but the station in Ramsgate is a long walk from it so if you have to omit one, it's probably that one. In Broadstairs, Herne Bay and Whitstable it's about 10 min walk. In Margate it's right by the sea. Faversham is not on the coast but is worth a look, the station is right by the town centre.

If you're doing the cliff walk in the morning, you could get a train from Dover via Deal and Sandwich to Ramsgate. Deal is a lovely coastal town and Sandwich is very historic, not on the coast but has a riverside quay. The stations here are quite central.

Porto/Felgueiras...
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8. Re: Southern England: which cities to visit?

Mike thanks for the tip, I emailed the tourism office in Rye and they did confirm there's no public left luggage service there. We'll follow your advice and visit Rye alone in our arrival day, leaving Brighton for the departure day (we'll be coming by train from Winchester then, heading to Gatwick airport).

bayB0y many thanks also, your informations were precious to help us plan our trip.

I have other questions but will post them in the regional/local subfora. many thanks to you that have posted here, all were very helpful.

9. Re: Southern England: which cities to visit?

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