Going to England

I’m planning a vacation to England in September for 8-12 days. Nothing is jumping out that I should do other than the usual tourist spots. I thought about booking a few days with a small tour group and I really want to visit Watership Down, if that’s possible. Before I book the trip, I figured I’d mine the collected wisdom of all you dopers. What are 3 places I should visit? Not necessarily the most famous, largest, oldest, etc but the best?

What are your interests? You can easily spend all your time in London. Windsor Castle and Stonehenge should be high on your list, as should the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square for its wonderful paintings.

The Lake District, if you’re lucky enough to catch it on its sunny day. Edinburgh is my favorite city in the world. And Blenheim Palace - best palace ever!

Stonehenge is where the tourists go. If you want to see some decent ancient stone stuff, Avebury is a lot better.

I came to say the same thing. Although I enjoyed both.

I never even knew there was a real Watership Down! Looking it up, that’ll take you through the suburbs on the train too, which’ll be interesting to see.

Edinburgh’s in England?

8-10 days isn’t really very long. With travelling and everything, it’d be hard to fit in any more than one extra place after London and Watership Down; the Lake District is a good suggestion, but it’s a very long journey.

If the weather’s good, then a trip to a seaside town would be a very good idea. Brighton, Southend, Scarborough or Blackpool if you do decide to go go up North for another trip.

Oxford, Cambridge and Canterbury are the other towns that tourists to London usually visit, and they’re all well worth it - very easy trips from London, too. Stratford-Upon-Avon is a great place to go to as long as you like Shakespeare, but it’d be hella dull if you didn’t.

I know my time is limited, but I can’t take 3 weeks with the economy like it is. Figure I only have time for the “best” sights. Is it necessary or desirable to rent a car? Part of me wants to just drive around the country. That’s a viable strategy in the US, but is it as well in the UK? PS, thanks for the tip on Avebury, I’d never heard of it.

Definitely get a car for the time out of London. Don’t bother while you’re in London, there’s no point and you won’t be able to park. Public transport is very good. If you get a car, you can drive across to Watership Down, then on to Avebury and/or Stonehenge (and Silbury Hill and the Kennet Long Barrows, which are in the same area, if you’re interested in that sort of thing) which aren’t that far away from there. I have driven out from London to Avebury and back in one day, but there’s a really nice pub with rooms right in the middle of the Circle which does great breakfast, and it’s pretty cool to be able to get up early and wander around the Stones before everyone else gets there. Then while you’re out west of London, you could call into a couple of the little villages in the Cotswolds (very popular with tourists, proper stereotypical old English pretty stuff) and then swing past Oxford. I’d say this would make it a two day trip with a night in Avebury, or three days with an extra night in Oxford. Personally I think Oxford’s overrated, but if you want to see it, it is quite pretty. There’s really not much there apart from the university. Blenheim is also in that area. I’ve never been there, I’ve heard it’s cool but a) I’ve seen some of the art inside and it looked like it would make me puke, and b) one time when I did try to go there was a huge queue of traffic leading up to the gate.

If you want to see some more of the country and you’re interested in literary-type stuff, get a train up to York and hire another car there. The City of York has a lot of interesting stuff, Roman walls, Minster, Viking stuff etc, and then you can use the car to drive up to Castle Howard (where they filmed Brideshead Revisited, and it’s also just lovely in its own right) and then on into the Dales and Moors, maybe visit Haworth (Brontes), maybe drive over to the coast and see Whitby (Dracula and much other cool stuff including real history(!), Abbey etc). Scarborough is nearby and would satisfy any whim you might have for the real English seaside.

Where are you flying into? It might make sense, if it’s Heathrow (which is west of London), to pick up the car there and head straight out into the country. Going into London just to pick up a car and drive out again would seem to me to be a pain in the arse you don’t need. If it’s Gatwick, pick up the car and take the A25 (NOT the M25), which will take you west through some really lovely villages and scenery on the edge of the Downs, then you can join up with the A30 (again, not M. Not that I have a problem with motorways, I use them a lot, but A roads are more scenic and not that much slower, especially right around London) and get out to Hampshire that way.

You really could just spend the whole time in London, and not just in the centre. There are still some really nice villages which, though subsumed into the urban mass, retain their own features and individuality, like Walthamstow village, Dulwich Village, etc. Also areas with particular ethnic personalities, like Harrow and Peckham. Most of London is extremely safe for the average person; we have some problems with gangs and crap, but they usually target each other, not random punters.

Tell us what you’re interested in and we’ll tell you where to go! It’s a shame it’s September, I could have shown you some cool stuff in London not many tourists find.

I lived in Blackpool for 17 years, return there occasionally, and do not recommend a visit.

On the other hand:

I live there now.

It’s a beautiful area.

Last night I forgot to add: Bath was also quite enjoyable. See the Roman Baths, but also the city itself is full of buskers and is interesting.

Had my parents over to stay around this time last year, I’d say their three highlights were:

  • Windsor Castle
  • Roman Baths in Bath
  • Stonehenge

I live relatively close (1 hour) to Bath and I think it is a great place. Not too huge like London, and the Roman Baths are excellent. I would highly recommend lunch or afternoon tea in the Pump Room

I would also recommend the Thermae Spa - my wife would move in, if allowed! The roof-top hot pool is excellent.

Finally, check out some of the tradtional pubs in the centre. My personal favourite is The Raven

Stourhead is also well worth a visit.

York is a nice city to visit if you venture up North.

Blackpool is foul. Do not go there.

I posted about one of the highlights a few days a go :smiley:

If you’re driving in the Stonehenge/Bath/Cotswolds neck of the woods and you want to get a true taste of England, you could nip over to Swindon :wink:

I’ve been to Swindon - the magic round-about is kinda scary to those of use who usually drive on the other side of the road. My old boss maneuvered it with ease though.

This is excellent, just what I was hoping for. Bath sounds cool, something for both me and my GF. I’d rather spend more time away from London and save that for another visit. My first choice for this trip was narrowboats, but that was vetoed. So it’s the English countryside and scenery for us. Also somewhere on the south coast, have to see the English Channel.

The collected wisdom on this board amazes me. Thanks to Tapioca Dextrin, I now know what a coprolite is; it’s worth a trip to York just for that. Especially since I was eating supper at the time. Also the magic roundabout, another must-see.

What should I expect for weather the first and second weeks of September? Summer’s not really over yet is it?

Try Lyme Regis. Nice beach, and fossils at no extra charge!