View Full Version : Traveling to UK...need advice!

08-12-2003, 01:56 PM
My family and I are planning a trip to the UK within the next couple of years and I need assistance. (I know it's a long time.) I need to plan so I can know how much money to save. We want to stay for about 12 days and visit England and Scotland. We will stay in London for about 6 days and do day trips and then travel to Edinburgh for stay of about 3 days and then Inverness for about 3 days. I think that we'll need at least $10,000. I do not know a lot about what things cost in the UK, but I'm guessing that it can't be too much more expensive than here in the U.S.

I really enjoy English and Scottish history so we plan on visiting a lot of historica sites. Here's a list of where I want to go. Please let me know if I need to add or subtract anything:

Buckingham Palace
Windsor Castle
Hampton Court Palace
Tower of London
Big Ben
Madame Tussaud's (for teenage son)
St. Paul's Cathedral
Tower Bridge
Trafalgar Square
Warwick Castle
Hatfield House
Edinburgh Castle
Leeds Castle
Balmoral Castle

Any assistance would be appreciated as this will be my trip of a lifetime. :D

08-12-2003, 02:36 PM
Ok, I will think of this some more properly, but here are my initial thoughts.

Prices in the UK I would say are comparable to prices at WDW. So, from an American point of view, generally it would be considered expensive I think, though obviously it will also vary depending on the exchange rate (at the moment, it would be a <i>poor</i> exchange rate for converting $ to £)

Just looking at your list of wanna-do's then...

If you wish to go inside Buckingham Palace, you can only do so for a few weeks during the summer, otherwise, you're just looking at the outside. Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament are just a 10-15 minute walk away so you could do both at the same time.

Windsor Castle I'd say is a half day trip out of London - worth doing that one I think!

Hampton Court - ditto.

Tower of London - <i>Easily</i> a half day, it is a fascinating place with just TONS of juicy history, and of course the crown jewels. I'd consider this a <i>must do</i> as that's just the thing you're interested in.

Tower Bridge is right next door, so you could do it the same day. They have tours too, where I believe you can see the engine room that lifts the bridge and it's the only way to get up on the upper walkway.

Madame Tussauds - hmmmm, I haven't done this since I was a kid. I seem to remember it being ok, but nothing fantastic, so I'm guessing a half day would take care of it. Maybe someone who been more recently than 15+ years ago might be better qualified to answer that one though, LOL.

St Pauls...well it depends if you just want to look at the outside or go in and climb the zillion stairs to get up to the dome. It <i>is</i> pretty cool up there, but it's an absolute killer to do!

Harrods...you'll want a good couple of hours for this probably. The food halls are their best feature IMO.

Stonehenge. Well, this would be a full days trip from London to be honest. It is an incredible thing to see, but it is the only thing to see there really. Sacriligeous as this may sound, they are ultimately only some big stones in a field...some big stones that you're not even allowed to go up close to any more. If you were passing by that direction anyhow, I'd say do it, but as a special trip for that alone (and as time is limited), I'd personally skip it.

Warwick Castle...not sure how you'd fit that in to be honest - too far for a day trip from either London or Edinburgh.

Hatfield House - never been to, but it's not that far from London so do-able.

Edinburgh Castle - no probs as you'll be in Edinburgh :)

Leeds Castle - I've never been there either, but seems to be a popular castle to visit (as castles go, hehehe) and is do-able from London too - it's not in the same direction as either Windsor Castle or Hampton Court (west) or Hatfield House (north) though, but to the east, so all these half days would have to be done on different days - you couldn't combine them, not easily anyhow, so you'll need to bear that in mind and maybe make some choices about those.

Balmoral & Culledon - I don't have the first clue about!

Does that help you any? :)

08-12-2003, 03:06 PM
Penny - that was good - I fancy a trip to London now :)

08-12-2003, 03:21 PM
Thanks Penny!! This is exactly what I'm looking for. I know there are places that I shouldn't try to see and some I should. You have been a BIG help! If you think of anything else, please post. I really do appreciate it! :D

08-12-2003, 04:12 PM
If you're doing the Houses of Parliament you might like to also visit Westminster Abbey where many royal events have taken place.

I think Hampton Court could take a full day especially if you do the tours and audio tours that are included in the price. (Food here is very expensive.)

Our family really enjoyed Madame Tussauds (a couple of hours here) but found the attached planetarium a waste of time - don't be tempted to get a combined ticket. (You might like to find 10 minutes to walk round the corner to Baker Street where Sherlock Holmes is supposed to have lived.)


08-12-2003, 04:29 PM
You may like to add a couple of days on the beautiful coast of Cornwall, and imbetween Scotland and London, stop off at York [Viking Museum] or Chester for more historic places, and for shopping and restaurants etc, Manchester is an up and coming trendy city - with the great Manchester United Football club to visit , along with the Lowry Art and imperial war museum etc etc
Hire a boat on the Norfolk Broads for a couple of days - the list is endless - far more to UK than historic castles :) Prices about same in £ to your $, so add on a third roughly.
All this depends on the time of year of your visit - you could get snowed in, up in Scotland, if you were around at Xmas, or stifled in the heat if you were here right now !!

08-12-2003, 09:49 PM
Hi WierdEyes, I’ll try and fill you in with some of the attractions north of the border.

When in Edinburgh, the castle is obviously a must but there is much more to see in the beautiful old city. The approach to the castle is the royal mile where there are many “olde worlde” attractions and at the other end is Holyrood Palace. There are many museums and exhibitions in Edinburgh and during the summer months is the Fringe Festival with shows of all kinds.
Stirling is a short drive from Edinburgh. It also has an impressive castle which is well worth a visit. Stirling is also home to the Wallace monument which is dedicated to William “Braveheart” Wallace. There are museums and visitor centres telling the history of Wallace and his armies.
Inverness is also a beautiful city. A trip you should do is to Drumnadrochit on the banks of Loch Ness. There are exhibitions on the search for the Loch Ness Monster.
The scenery in the highlands is breathtaking.
Culloden battlefield is a bit of a let down. There is a small visitor centre with pictures and some history about the battle but very little else. IMO, the Wallace monument is far more interesting and better value.

Like Buckingham, Balmoral is only open at certain times of the year (mainly because the royal family have there summer break there).
Throughout the summer months, most towns have highland games which have competitions for bagpiping, highland dancing and other traditional events.

Hope this helps and if any other queries, don’t hesitate to ask

Mrs Dazzle
08-13-2003, 05:56 AM
:D I'd highly recommend one of the Ghost Tours one evening while you're in Edinburgh - they are superb.

08-13-2003, 06:13 AM
I don't have a lot to add, but just wanted to agree with Penny re. Stonehenge, it is a long way from London and a bit of an anticlimax, I wouldn't drive all that way just for it to be honest.

Warwick castle is also a long from London but is a good day out (www.warwickcastle.co.uk if you've not found it yet) some times of year they have jousting etc. and it's a lot of fun for all the family.

Madame Tussauds gets VERY busy, be prepared to queue or if you can, I'd recommend pre-purchasing your tickets. The planitarium is no more it's now.... Disney's Treasure Planet!!! (although we noticed little difference to be honest!! LOL) They also have the murderers from the past in the Chamber of secrets if you're brave enough, DD & DS were too young to go into that so can't comment on what's it like.

I'd also go and see The Monument, you can climb the 300 odd steps and get a certificate for doing so, a great piece of English history there IMHO.


08-13-2003, 06:15 AM
That should be chamber of horrors, not secrets!!! DD must be going on about Harry Potter too much this summer! ;)

08-13-2003, 07:58 AM
I'd second a stop off at York to look around the Viking Museum and a walk around the shambles. I had an American friend over last year and she loved it.

In London I would also recommend you go on the London Eye, it's great to see all the London sights if you have a beautiful clear day. If you get the guide book it gives you a map so you know what you can see. Also if you like History the British Museum is excellent. When I visit London I always stay in a hotel next to the musem and love to pop in to look at things even if it only is for 30 minutes or so.

Also a trip to the coast would be nice. I took my American friend to Whitby and she loved it. Also if your kids like Harry Potter Hogwarts station is located on the steam train line near Whitby and there is a Harry Potter museum there too. (Another thing my American friend liked!!)

Hope you have a great trip when you come over.

08-13-2003, 08:34 AM
You all have been sooo great! I really appreciate the assistance. I am going to print this out and make adjustments to my plans.

We are planning on visiting in late May/early June. I figure the temperatures will not be too hot and school will still be in there so maybe less crowded.

Can anybody give me a good recommendation of a hotel in London, Edinburgh, & Inverness? We would need a triple and a bathroom in room. A place to eat various meals and have a pint would be nice also. My DH can't live without his English ale. (He practically LIVES at EPCOT's UK village at the Rose & Crown when we're at Disney World....LOL!)

Thanks for the tip about visitng York and the Viking Museum. I haven't heard of this museum. I'm very interested in the Viking era so this is a must. Also I'm sure that my DS will love the London Eye. I will DEFINITELY visit the British Museum.

Again, thanks for all of the tips. You all are great!:)

08-13-2003, 01:09 PM
Hi Sheila :)

I'm looking at your list and just wondering if some of the places you have on the list are because of an interest in the Tudors? If so, I would add Hever Castle in Kent to your list.

I ask as Hatfield House is where Elizabeth 1 was told she was Queen. It's a lovely stately home and you are given a guided tour - I visited years ago and we were lucky to get a tour of the House with the then Marchioness of Salisbury.

Take a look at their website:


Leeds Castle in Kent really needs a car to get there unless you go on an organised tour. It is in beautiful countryside and offers a great day out. They also have music and firework evenings there.


Hever Castle was home to the Boleyn family- Anne Boleyn became Henry VIII's second wife.Here is a link to the site bit it looks to be playing up at the moment!


I particularly like it - it is actually quite small but you are given a timed ticket so the house is not too full at any one time, and there are lovely grounds and other interesting things going on. BTW, the place owes it's present condition to William Waldorf (know the name ??!!)who purchased Hever castle in 1903 and restored the house, lake and gardens. His rooms are kept as were for you to see too. (He also built a Tudor style village but you can't go round this as it is used for accommodation).

Regards accommodation, we have some earlier threads on that - when the Search is available I'll fish them out for you.

08-13-2003, 02:17 PM
Thanks Shirley for your help! Yes, I am VERY interested in the Tudors. Queen Elizabeth I is of particular interest to me...also Henry VIII. I've done a lot of research on them and find that period in history very fascinating.

The reason I want to go to Hatfield House is because it was where Elizabeth I was living when she found out about being Queen.

We might not be able to get to Leeds Castle since it is in Kent. Although my husband's ancestors are from Kent....that would be fun just to see where his family "began."

If you find anything else, please let me know. :)

08-13-2003, 10:20 PM
I just followed this thread from the US CB and finding it helpful for my very short trip to London on very short notice. I'm wondering if anyone can tell me a little something about castles close to London. What's the oldest one that is easily-accessible from the city for a short trip (less than a day)? The music/fireworks you talked about would be a definite PLUS. I'm thinking about visiting Stratford-upon-Avon, too. What is near there as far as castles?

08-14-2003, 05:55 AM
Hi Jen,

The closest "castle" to the city of London is the Tower of London.

The White Tower is about 900 years old or so.

Tower tour (http://www.toweroflondontour.com/)

Nearest castle to Stratford-upon-avon is Warwick castle

Warwick Castle (http://www.warwick-castle.co.uk/)

08-14-2003, 05:57 AM
Here's a site for all UK Castles (http://www.castleuk.net/)

Sue & Co.
08-14-2003, 05:14 PM
We have recently visited the Tower of London (for a special service in the Chapel Royal but we got to do what we liked afterwards) and I can definitely recommend it. We also went on the London Eye last week and it was brilliant, afterwards we hopped on the tube to South Ken. and did the Natural History Museum (now free) for the rest of the day. We have also visited Tussauds and the Planetarium (we had Tussauds annual passes so they were both free) and to be honest we weren't that impressed. We went to Warwick Castle last year and thought it was great (it's those Tussaud annual passes again - we also managed two trips to Alton Towers, two to Thorpe Park and three days at Chessington all courtesy of Tesco!!) I also would't recommend Stonehenge now that they have restricted access. As you have access to the internet two sites I suggest you do look at are The National Trust and English Heritage. Once you have decided on your travel arrangements you would be able to see if you will be passing nearby any historic buildings that you could stop off at.

08-14-2003, 07:56 PM
Hello Sheila
The last week of May is usually half term school holidays and the last Monday of May is a national holiday and everywhere is very busy. Just something to watch out for. I live in York and would be happy to meet up with you and show you the sights. PM me if you want any more information on this area.

08-15-2003, 10:20 PM
Thanks to everyone, especially on the castles!

08-16-2003, 03:10 PM
You really should visit Glasgow for some historical sites. Only 40 miles from Edinburgh (and Scotland's largest and most cosmopolitan city) it has the world famous Burrell Collection and really good shopping. Personally I believe the shopping in Glasgow is every bit as good as in London. There is also lots of nice architecture and if you go west from Glasgow to the coast the scenery is beautiful.

I just wouldn't miss visiting it if you want to get a true impression of Scotland.

08-17-2003, 05:41 AM
Since you are interested in the Elizabethan era perhaps a visit to Linlithgow is in order. 20 mins by train from Edinburgh, Linlithgow palace was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. The palace is roofless now, but is well worth seeing and would give you a different slant on the history of the time. In the summer local schoolchildren dress in period costume and do tours for visitors. This is free and the children give up many hours over the spring/summer period. It could easily be combined with a half day in Stirling as it is on the same road / rail links.

08-18-2003, 01:15 PM
Thanks everybody. You all have given me great advice and assistance. Now I've just have to start the planning. :)

Highland Lass
08-18-2003, 02:35 PM
You will love Edinburgh, its beautiful........I lived there for 2 years. Whilst there you could jump on the train and 45 minutes later be in Glasgow......also beautiful.........I live there now !!!

York is a must see. The viking museum is called JORVIK.
I love York. The Minster and the Shambles are worth a visit. If fact most things are in a small area or you can walk from one to the other.