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Need help with a 16 day itinerary to London and beyond

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no. calif.
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Need help with a 16 day itinerary to London and beyond

I will be taking a trip to London this summer with my hubby and 3 kids it will be a sixteen day trip. I have never been to Europe and would like to see as much as possible without being too rushed. I will go to London and see the traditional attractions for sure ,and would like to see Bath, the Cotswolds, and the kids want to see the Harry Potter attraction. What other countries could I fit in realistically via Eurostar train (?) within my time frame. Open to itineraries...France, Scotland, Belgium???? Thanks for any help!!!!

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Need help with a 16 day itinerary to London and beyond

Logistics first: what ages are your children? What interests you, Mr 5luvnyc and the young 5luvnycs aside from Harry Potter? If in northern California, I suspect you will fly from SFO; have you booked flights yet?

If your 16 days includes travel days then you will have 14 days on the ground, with the first one or two likely to be affected by some jet lag. You should have time to travel beyond London - Eurostar trains ( www.eurostar.com rather than a third party site like RailEurope) take two and a quarter hours from St Pancras to Paris or Brussels - but travel within the UK may take a bit longer; King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley is a four hour journey by rail.

A good guidebook will help you sort out what you would like to see; the Eyewitness Guides are full of photographs as well as text. Have a look at www.cotswold-roaming.co.uk and www.cotswold-tours.co.uk for some ideas. Although rail fares will rise in 2013 you can check train times and fares for travel now at www.nationalrail.co.uk

TALFer wirewiper has made a useful page about transport to and from Watford Junction (for the HP tour): tripadvisor.ca/Travel-g186338-c180685/London…

no. calif.
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2. Re: Need help with a 16 day itinerary to London and beyond

The kids are 15,16 and 10. We have not booked tickets out of SFO yet. Depending on the itinerary we may fly to England but return to the States from Paris, for example. We will have 16 days total including travel time. Kids are all good natured...the older ones love to shop, so I figure Harrods, Notting Hill. We want to see Buckingham and Kensington Palaces, Diana's memorial playground, do the Hop on/off deal...typical stuff like that. Also want to see the English countryside/ Cotswolds/Bath and try a stay at Thornbury Castle. Would you recommend renting a car for that? The hubby is good with the driving in SFO/NYC...what do you think? The kids top choice is Paris...so sounds like it would work. Would you recommend a trip via eurostar for a few days and then back to England? Thanks!

Illinois
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3. Re: Need help with a 16 day itinerary to London and beyond

I would do London and Paris, flying into one and home from the other and taking Eurostar between the two. However, if you want to spend a significant amount of time in the UK besides London, you may want to only do London and the other parts of the UK.

Bucks, UK
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4. Re: Need help with a 16 day itinerary to London and beyond

I would certainly rent a car to do your Cotswolds, Thornbury, Bath leg. Remember most cars here are stick shift so if you must have an auto you will need to specify that when booking. You will also have more chance of getting an auto if you collect the car from a rental location that has a high turnover of cars, such as Heathrow Airport.

I would suggest 4 days London, 3 days for your Cotswolds, West of England tour, then plane or Eurostar to Paris. Once in Paris, Versailles is an obvious day-trip, and Brussels is a couple of hours away on the Thalys train. It would make most sense to fly into London and out of Paris (or vice versa) so you don't waste holiday time travelling between the two.

London, United...
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5. Re: Need help with a 16 day itinerary to London and beyond

It is easy to spend 2 weeks in England alone - a full week could be spent in London and only scrape the surface of what the city has to offer. But in general, I would recommend focusing on 3 things - a solid block of time in London, another block in the English countryside, and then a third block of time in Paris.

For countryside, you could consider heading west/south from London, visiting Oxford, Stonehenge, Bath, Cotswolds, Salisbury, etc.. If you had a hire car, you could potentially leave it in a place like Bath or other larger city and take the train back to London - then transfer to the Eurostar (different station) - to go to Paris.

West London
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6. Re: Need help with a 16 day itinerary to London and beyond

You can definitely do a day trip to Paris, and it would be even better if you could stay overnight. Western Europe is roughly the size of California (gets ready to be attacked by fact checkers), so you could also arrange a weekend flight to Italy, Spain or wherever you choose. Personally, I think that 3 countries would be enough, but you could also take an overnight train ride to Scotland, which would save on a hotel and be an experience in itself.

Edited: 22 November 2012, 20:45
Netanya, Israel
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7. Re: Need help with a 16 day itinerary to London and beyond

If you are heading to Bath, you can do Stonehenge, Longleat and Salisbury.

Ulverston, United...
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8. Re: Need help with a 16 day itinerary to London and beyond

I ,too, would suggest that you might have a more relaxed and enjoyable time by sticking with the UK on a first trip, as there are so many areas to visit which offer diverse attractions and it's more stress free to cope with and get used to cultural and logistical differences in one country if you are staying for a couple of weeks.

I would suggest 5 days in London, then a 10 day circular trip by car ending back at Heathrow. Heading west, you could visit the Cotswolds, Bath and Cheltenham (lovely, not as busy as Bath), head north and drive to Shropshire for the beautiful countryside and the cradle of the Industrial Revolution at Ironbridge (the Black Country Museum is fantastic, too). If you are foodies have a stop off in Ludlow. Otherwise if you enjoy theme parks, Alton Towers in Staffordshire is a fun day for the family. These are all places where British people love to go that seem to pass under the radar as far as foreign visitors are concerned. Heading north again, Chester is a lovely city and North Wales is very pretty; alternatively head for the Lake District which is gorgeous but can be busy in the summer although there is lots to do particularly if you like walking and boating (I am biased!). From here you could go to Edinburgh for a couple of days or to the Yorkshire Dales and York which is a particularly interesting and historical place, as well as being beautiful. Hadrian's Wall (Roman) in Northumbria and Beamish Museum are also great for families. After this you could head back south, meandering through the countryside and stopping off in what ever towns and villages take your fancy.......Eat fish and chips, go to the pub, wander round ..........

Sorry for the long post, but I was trying to toss in a few ideas that never seem to get mentioned here, not so much "off the beaten track' but just different to the places that are always on the itinerary. Enjoy your planning!

Shepperton...
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9. Re: Need help with a 16 day itinerary to London and beyond

You don't have to come back to London to get to Paris. you could always fly there from a regional airport such as Bristol.

Birmingham, United...
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10. Re: Need help with a 16 day itinerary to London and beyond

I've stayed at thornbury castle in a delux tower room. Do get one of these or higher as that will see you up a windy stone staircase to your beautiful room :)