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London vacation ideas - esp day trips


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We will be spending 11 days in London over spring break, staying in a flat in Westminster. The DS have each identified their "top 2" - British Musuem, Imperial War Museum, Tower of London, and London Eye (is it worth it?). I am looking forward to Westminster Abbey, hopefully with one of the smaller verger's tours. DH is game for anything.


Any other attractions/events that you highly recommend (there are so many)? And we think a couple of daytrips are in order. I am thinking Cotswolds, maybe Caterbury or Bath. Open to other recommendations.

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I've been to London twice, each time for a week.


My favorites in addition to what you have already mentioned:


Day trip to Stonehenge

Day trip to Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory

Museum of London

National Gallery

Tate Modern

Churchill War Rooms

Southwark Cathedral (this won't take long but it's worth doing) and eat at the George Inn

St. Paul's Cathedral





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Ooh, if you are staying in Westminster, don't miss the ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers) building right across from the Churchill War Rooms, at 1 Great George Street. Upstairs in the library is an exhibition on bridges, including the longest-ever bridge made from Legos! (We were there last month; it may be different when you are there.) Also, the building is beautiful. Definitely worth popping in.


I personally feel the London Eye is overrated, but probably worth doing once if you like that sort of thing.


If you like quirky, the Hunterian Museum (not far from the British Museum) is fascinating and free.


I'd take a boat to visit Greenwich or Kew Gardens, at least one way.


I enjoyed attending evensong at Westminster Abbey (and at St Bride's, in the crypt) more than the tour. Also, free!


The tourist info center near St Paul's has excellent, free maps. I'll try to come back and link.


At the Bank of England museum you can try to lift a gold bar, currently worth something like £500,000.


Oh, we saw both the House of Lords and the House of Commons in action. Highly recommended.


Theatre district is much cheaper than Broadway, especially at the current exchange rate.

Edited by Laura in CA
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I think Bath makes a good day trip, especially if you are interested in Jane Austen or the Roman period.  It's a pretty town too and completely walkable.  ETA: the train is direct and takes between 1 hour 32 and 1 hour 38; it seems to run roughly twice an hour.  It's a six minute walk from the train station to the Roman Baths.

Edited by Laura Corin
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York is another possible day trip. Walled city with walkable walls. Good mix of museums both Viking and Roman artefacts. Free National train museum. Everything is easy walking distance from the station. Lots of trains out of Kings Cross. The travel time is roughly 2 hours depending on the train you choose because of stops.


If you do decide to do longer train trips make sure you consider buying a friends and family card for roughly £35. It can mean a big savings on tickets.

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You might want to visit:


Above Stonehenge.

We had the luxuary to walk almost alone there :)


http://dickensmuseum.com Is on my wish list.


And we like york.

We often pick a museum when we arrive too early to take the ferry homewards.

The trainmuseum is free / cheap and has a good menu of the day :)

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Is Vindolanda doable from London?

We liked the place and other musea's along Hadrians Wall,

But we stayed in the North both times, and I presume that makes a difference.


It's a bit of a trek.  It looks as though it would be about 4 and a half hours by train from London to the nearest station, then a ten minute taxi ride.

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Avebury Manor near Stonehenge. You can't actually go anywhere near the rocks at Stonehenge now, so we went to Avebury. It was fabulous.


The Harry Potter movie studio tour was a huge huge hit with all of us.


Good to know about Stonehenge. when I was there 25 years ago, I could get very close. We'll shoot for Avebury.

Edited by linders
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The other thing I'd recommend is canal boating. You could do a weekend or overnight. Holy Smoley buckets of fun!!!!! It's so easy to drive and navigate (they teach you in about 30 minutes), the kids run the locks (mine were 12 and 13) and it's so fun!!!! We did a week out of Middlebury (Andersen Boats - highly highly recommended) but you can do less. Awesome time!!

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Okay, things we have done and enjoyed that are somewhat outside London (at least not right in the center):


- Greenwich (Cutty Sark, Maritime Museum, Royal Observatory)

- Kew Gardens (can be combined with Syon House)

- Windsor and Eton

- Hampton Court

- Oxford (can be combined with Blenheim Palace)


I have also taken a daytrip to the Isle of Wight. Not sure I would recommend it as it is fairly expensive and a lot of travelling BUT I did enjoy it a lot (and we have since gone to the IOW for vacation repeatedly).


Other possible daytrips that I haven't done yet but am considering for future trips would be Cambridge, Brighton, Bath. Maybe Canterbury (used to go there on the way to London when we still used ferry/bus to travel). Really anything in the Southeast would be do-able.


Favorite attractions in London for me are Tower, British Museum, V&A Museum, Covent Garden...


A couple more ideas/tips:

I would try to make sure you have a nice mix of churches, museums, stately homes, nature, shopping... Obviously, you may be more interested in some than others but íf you have to many of one kind they tend to just kind of blur together.


Try to see some show/play


Leave some time for shopping, relaxing, strolling through neighborhoods etc.


Two activities I would highly recommend:

I love "London Walks" - they are fairly inexpensive, you are flexible as you don't have to sign up in advance, there are lots of different ones offered, and they are quite interesting/fun.


Also, we have really enjoyed "Treasure Trails". Basically, you buy instructions for a scavenger hunt through a specific area. If this is your first/only trip to London you may not want to spend the time for it but I love them. Usually, you pass some major sights (and of course you can stop the trail to go see them) but you also see things that are less well-known and it sharpens your eye to notice small stuff (e.g. inscriptions on house walls, small statues etc.). We have seen some really cool stuff that way!


Enjoy - sure you will have a great time!

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Thanks, love the concert idea especially.


Most churches have at least one free, lunch-hour concert a week. Last month we went to a fabulous (free) organ concert at Temple Church (worth visiting on its own; lovely church full of history, with effigies and displays about the Knights Templar and the Magna Carta). In fact, we did one musical event a day. :) Even Wesley's chapel has free lunchtime concerts.

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