"When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford" -
Samuel Johnson, 1777

Although London has all you could ever need, it's still great to get out of the city - daytrips by train are inexpensive if started after 10am and if you have a Network Southeast Card. Ask for a "cheap day return" and show your card at the ticket office. Over 60s also get reduced travel throughout Britain (not just the Southeast region) with a Senior railcard which may be a better buy for this age group. Bus services are also cheap and reliable - but are at the mercy of traffic. Hiring a car is a viable proposition but parking can be a problem - see our A-Z page for details. Currently we recommend Streetcar. That said following years of cuts in the railway service, many beautiful places are not really accessible by train.
New for 2003 is the possibility of day trips (eg Canterbury, Salisbury, Bath) by Steam Train - see here for details - more costly than other outings but if you're a fan of steam you probably won't care! They run just as fast as electric or diesel, by the way.
The English Heritage website is a good place to plan specific visits.

Top easy daytrips outside of London:

1) Hampton Court - magnificent palace built by a succession of kings from Henry VIII onwards. Given to the public by Queen Victoria it boasts a succession of exquisite rooms, mediaeval kitchens, the famous maze, 'real tennis' courts and beautiful gardens. The palace is less than 5 minutes from Hampton Court station, which is 30 minutes from Waterloo. You can take a boat trip there - takes about 3 1/2 hours. Worth half a day. Picnic in nearby Bushey Park. Website 

2) The Daytrip - We've worked out what we think is the ultimate roadtrip. The dreaming spires of Oxford, standing stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury, the gothic cathedral of Salisbury, beautiful thatched villages like Upavon, amazing countryside where Druids still hold ceremonies - in one day you can see them all - sadly only by car. If you have one day to get out of London this is it. To see what's in store click HERE. For a good two day trip with overnight see here  

3) Cambridge. Simply stunning old university town with 30 or so colleges, dating back to the 13th century. Oxford may be slightly older, but with the river running through 'The Backs' and the market-town ambiance Cambridge is a better bet - not just because our editor studied there! You certainly wouldn't want to spend time visiting both (our daytrip sees the main highlights of Oxford anyway and a host besides). It's also an ideal way to experience tradition and history - as well as rubbing shoulders with the brainiest people in the world. About one hour by train. Worth a whole day though you could fit it into a half day, especially if the weather's not good. Some colleges make a small admission charge. More details Also features on our Norfolk overnighter.  

4) Brighton - Georgian seaside town, famous for its meandering 'Lanes' - a royal playground. A lively gay community means there's always something going on and the food is above average. Not really the place to get a sense of 'Olde England' - but a better bet for shopaholics - a large jewelry sector. 1 hour from London Bridge, worth half a day. You can also explore the 'White Cliffs' coastline from here. The only negative thing about Brighton is that it thinks too highly of itself, and got a mention in 'The Idler guide to crap towns' for that reason. Tourist Information. 

5) Windsor Castle - famous for the being world's largest inhabited castle, largely restored after a huge fire. Little else to do there though. If you're into castles a day trip to Warwick (easily do-able by train) might be a better bet, though, of course, it's not inhabited by the Queen. The Bard's birthplace of Stratford on Avon is very close to Warwick though Stratford itself is not very accessible for a daytrip from London unless you could go and see a matinee at the RSC - there is no way of getting back to London by public transport after 2100 and the evening shows finish later than that. Website 

See also our Round the UK page for further trips and touring the UK

Overnighters/Dirty Weekends

We get asked a lot to recommend overnight or weekend trips out of London. These are all personal recommendations - places we've visited and enjoyed and whre we've got feedback from people we've sent there. You might even bump into us there! If you have time to give us your feedback it helps. Apologies in advance if 'charming' is overused - we like being charmed.....

Our most recent destinations are are :

Whitstable, Kent - fishing village famed for its seafood. 1'20' from Victoria. Stay at The Captain's House (a fisherman's cottage converted into a B & B 01227 275 156 - often booked up) or The Continental Hotel 10227 280280 - try to get one of the converted fishermen's huts if possible. Whitstable is also good for a daytrip to sample the food.
Wootton Rivers - out in Wiltshire, miles and miles off the beaten track, if you want to explore the surrounding area (Avebury, Marlborough etc) you'll need a car, but you can access Wootton Rivers by train, stopping at West End, and then 4 miles by taxi (prebook!). Stay at the Royal Oak who can arrange taxis. This once thriving village has lost most of its life to yuppie weekenders and bankers with huge undeserved bonuses and the Royal Oak is now the only place to stay, but the village has gained in picturesqueness and tranquility. The ideal place for sexual dalliance (from personal recommendation...)
Southwold- charming small town on the Suffolk coast, 2h30 out of London (train to Halesworth then taxi) stay at the Crown we've done this trip ourselves several times.
Aldeburgh- another charming fishing village, south of Southwold, with a huge intellectual and cultural heritage - Benjamin Britten lived and is buried there (we go up to lay flowers once every few years) with his male partner, Peter Pears. Imogen Holst is also buried nearby. Very active music and arts scene in the town and in nearby Snape Maltings. Again better by car, but train to Saxmundham (two hours from Liverpool St) and taxi (6 miles) possible. Eat at the Lighthouse (serves til late) with its friendly eccentric foodie owner, often amusingly sozzled by the end of the evening. If you want to do the whole hog, see a concert or dance/theatre/opera event at Snape Maltings and dine afterwards. Stay at the White Lion.

By the way a dirty weekend is a trip organised around having sex, and has nothing to do with off-road cycling, though time is spend in the saddle, it is to much better effect. Read this article for more details and this one for recommendations on how to do a dirty weekend if you're already married.

Other Trips

The Old Naval
                      CollegeGreenwich Not really out of London, but there's plenty to see in this village on the river with a proud maritime history. Go by river and come back by the Dockland's Light Railway (or vice versa). The DLR runs through the old docks on the north side of the river, as well as Canary Wharf - a futuristic development (the tube station there won a major architectural award) and the trip is really worth it - try to get a front or rear seat on this driverless train. Should you travel by normal overland train you are on the first passenger railway... the arches that take trains out to Greenwich were originally built in the 1840s, and the section between Deptford and Bermondsey Spa (no longer a station) is the world's oldest.
Landmarks here include the Cutty Sark (not worth going inside), the Maritime Museum (see Museums) the old Naval Academy - recently restored, the splendid Painted Hall of the Naval Academy, recently sold to a polytechnic which became 'Greenwich University' - the beautiful buildings belie a bad academic reputation. The Old
                      Observatory atop the park The park, and Queen's House (where Queen Elizabeth spent her childhood) are delightful, with formal & wild gardens and a deer park, and the markets (Saturdays, and, better, Sundays) are worth pottering around.
However, in a major act of cultural vandalism, the interior decorations of the Queen's Apartments have been ripped out and replaced with a display of third-rate naval paintings. Most visitors have registered complaints, ourselves included. The old apartments were unique and superb, the house is now strangely deserted - many of the paintings are laughably bad.
Make sure you have a drink in 'The Trafalgar Tavern' on the waterfront or the nearby 'Cutty Sark Pub'. There's also, next to a horrid power station on the waterfront a rare set of almshouses with a courtyard, which date from 1600. There's the Ranger's House at the top of the park, bordering Blackheath - a beautiful village that's a poor cousin to Hampstead with many spectacular houses (esp. in Blackheath Park). Notable is the Paragon - an arcade of beautiful houses which you will recognise from countless period films and BBC drama series. Nearby is Morden College, a large set of alsmshouses laid out like an Oxbridge college with several quads. Greenwich is notoriously bad for food though there are a couple of cheap noodle bars on the main road, just north of the covered market, and the Chinese restaurant nearest to the DLR station does 'huge plates of filling cheap nosh'.  

Tunbridge Wells Area Georgian Spa town only one hour from London by train - worth half a day - no more than an hour for the town's old quarter, and the rest to visit one of the nearby castles and stately homes that cluster round this part of Kent. In Tunbridge itself there's the famous 'Pantiles' district, and spa (the water, high in copper is still as foul now as it was then - it was a reputed cure for infertility), where the King often repaired - once the height of fashion. But Tunbridge itself isn't worth more than an hour's stay, if that, spend your time in the surrounding countryside, with its beautiful villages, churches and castles/stately homes.. Might be worth hiring a car (do it in Tunbridge to avoid London traffic jams) if you want to make the most of the region - though most of the attractions are accessible by public transport - it just takes longer. Tourist Information 

HEVER - CHIDDINGSTONE - PENSHURST A typical trip, easily accessible by train is to go to Hever station (from Charing Cross or London Bridge), follow the 'Eden Valley Walk' (a national public footpath) to Hever village and visit the castle. It's a small, almost doll's-house building and much renovated in 1908, and a little touristy - and with the worst restaurant we've experienced for some time. It does give the impression of an inhabited home though. It's where Ann Bolyen grew up and where Henry VIII probably conceived Elizabeth I. Kids would love the water maze, and the extensive gardens are lovely.

From Hever Castle, through the churchyard where the Bullen family are buried, there's a footpath through the fields to Chiddingstone, a beautiful Kentish village with a nice pub and church and a castle of its own, then on to Penshurst, a superb large castle/stately home (Penshurst Place) with excellent tearooms. The Church is also exceptional.

The whole walk takes about 3-4 hours, and if you factor in an hour at each of the castles it's a very pleasant day out. The countryside you walk through is wonderful, the villages quaint - but there's little good food to be had. The Village pub in Hever does reasonable Ploughman's Lunches and there's good cream teas in the Fir Tree Tearooms in Penshurst. Acceptable food can also be had at the Castle Inn. (see below).

Return by walking 2 kms (or taking a taxi or bus) to Leigh (pronounced Lye) station or Penshurst Station. The entire route is easily cyclable, by following the roads. If you print off these maps they show you the route.   MAP ONE    MAP TWO    MAP THREE.     The Castle Inn in Chiddingstone has a nice circular walk too from Hever (which makes it easier to buy a rail ticket return - try a day return to 'Edenbridge Stations' on the automatic machines) - for details, and a printable map see their website

Triple Trip You can combine Kew House and Gardens, Marble Hill House and Ham House in one easy trip as they are close by each other, a few miles from the centre in the suburb of Richmond . Is a half-day trip which you can easily extend if the weather is fine. See our historic page for details of Marble Hill and Ham Houses.

Take the train from Waterloo to Richmond and change to the tube (you can also take the tube all the way there, but it's slower) to go one stop to Kew Gardens. Visit the house and gardens - including the herb garden and the conservatories. Back by tube to Richmond

[NB An Alternative plan would be to take the train to Kew Bridge Station (where there's a Steam Museum), cross Kew Bridge to visit Kew Gardens, take the train on again to Syon Lane, visit Syon Park and House - with its sumptuous interiors - and take the foot ferry at the southernmost tip of Syon Park across to The Old Deer Park (and golf course). Head for the Royal Observatory and thence in a straight line to Richmond Village and station. This takes you across the Old Deer Park, if open, if not you'll have to walk along the towpath for 500 metres to the approved path to Richmond Village - it's all very clearly signposted). From here you can take the train one stop to St Margarets. There are also connecting trains between Syon Lane and St Margarets train stations, trains about every 15 mins, some require a change at Putney. Journey Time 20-25 minutes].

From Richmond it's one stop on the train to St Margarets. Turn right out of the station and follow the signs to Marble Hill (remember it closes 13:00-14:00 for lunch), visit the house there, and continue on down to the towpath along the Thames. Turn right (ie away from Richmond which you will see on your left) and walk for 5 minutes to the foot ferry (open 10:00-18:00 every day Feb-Oct, and weekends all year round, 50p for an adult, 30p for a child, "first dog free") once you're on the other side of the river Ham House is clearly marked. You'll need about an hour here - make sure you watch the free video presentation. If you're a garden fanatic, there are free tours twice daily. The Gardens are open 11:00-17:00 and the house 13:00-17:00 Sat-Wed. You'll need an hour.
Then either retrace your steps to St Margaret's station (the nearest) or walk along the towpath (25 mins) to Richmond - a pleasant small town with a nice village green from where you can take a train back to the centre. If you've bought a Network Southeast card (see our transport page) your all-zone tube pass (valid also on the trains) will be discounted as will individual train tickets.

Stately Homes outside London

Ightham Mote Best as part of a day trip to Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area - easiest if you hire a car. A superb moated manor house, nestling in a sunken valley and dating from 1340 onwards. The Great Hall, old chapel and crypt, Tudor chapel with painted ceiling, drawing room with Jacobean fireplace, and the library are excellent. There is an extensive garden and interesting walks to be had in the surrounding woodland. Can be accessed by bus from Tunbridge Wells. Entry: £7 Website (full travel details, opening etc) ~ Photos. 

Knole As part of a Tunbridge daytrip. Beautiful old stately house, set in a magnificent deer park. Dates from the 15th-century, and was enlarged and embellished in 1603 by the 1st Earl of Dorset, one of Queen Elizabeth's 'favourites', and has remained unaltered ever since - a rare survival. The thirteen state rooms open to the public contain magnificent collections: 17th-century royal Stuart furniture, including three state beds, silver furniture and the prototype of the famous Knole Settee, outstanding tapestries and textiles, and important portraits by Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Lely, Kneller and Reynolds. Much nicer than the National Trust website would suggest.
You can easily do this in a half-day trip: 30 mins to Sevenoaks from Charing Cross Station, 15 minute walk through the charming town (or short taxi/bus ride) to the House, onwards on train to Tunbridge Wells and back to London. We re-visited in Autumn 2005, did everything easily and were very impressed with the house. CAN ALL EASILY BE DONE ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT (Get a Network Southeast rail discount card if there are 2 or moe of you - see our transport page for details). Entry: £7 Website  (full travel details, opening etc)

Audley End Audley End was one of the great wonders of the nation when it was built by the first Earl of Suffolk, Lord Treasurer to James I. It was on the scale of a great royal palace, and soon became one after Charles II bought it in 1668 for £50,000, using it as a base when he attended the races at Newmarket. Returned to the Suffolks after his death, substantial parts of the house were demolished. Even so, what remains is one of the most significant Jacobean houses in England. Audley End's current interior with its historic picture collection and furniture is largely the product of its owner in the mid-19th century, the third Lord Braybrooke. Saffron Walden, Essex. As it's near Cambridge, just off the M11 motorway, could be combined with a trip there. See also our Norfolk overnighter trip. Entry £6.50 ~ Official Website 

Leeds  Castle Much hyped, and certainly pretty in a good light (golden hour, one hour before sunset) but it's not as large as it might appear and it's very commercial. It's also an hour out of town with not much else around - but you could combine it with a trip to Canterbury (in which case have a seafood lunch at Whitstable on the coast) if you had a car. Their website has more details

Other daytrip ideas

Notes on Cambridge

Trinity College's
                      Wren LibraryThe town of Cambridge lies, as its name suggests, on the river Cam, which winds its way through many of the colleges along the 'Backs'. The train station is over a mile from the centre, so catch a bus - there's nothing worth seeing on the way. The town is conveniently arranged in the form of a circuit - most of the colleges are off it on either side, though you should walk along Queen's Road as well - the classic view towards King's College Chapel is from here.

To do the circuit you need to alight from the bus at Emmanuel College - ask the bus driver for the nearest stop. From there, (John Harvard's Old College) stopping to explore the colleges on route, walk down St Andrew's Street. Christ's College is on your right - make sure you walk through to the gardens. CP Snow's novel 'The Masters' is set here. Further up Sidney Street (Sidney Sussex College - only the front quad isThe Mathematical Bridge at
                      queens. Built by Sir Isaac Newton, entirely
                      without nails. When taken to pieces to prove this
                      the college were unable to re-assemble it. worth the trip).

Divert right onto Jesus Lane to see Jesus (Prince Edward 'studied' here) then back on route following Sidney Street as it becomes Bridge Street and to the river. Here it's worth viewing both sides of Magdalene College (pronounced "Maudlin"). Pepys' Diary is in the beautiful old Library. Then head back down Bridge Street (perhaps refreshing yourself at the 'Baron of Beef' pub) towards St Johns (Architecture is very Henry VIII).

The road forks at Johns onto St John's Street, which becomes Trinity Street, and eventually King's Parade. You should visit Johns, Trinity (the richest college, and the country's third largest landowner, reputedly) and Gonville & Caius (the rear of the college is the old bit) and then onto King's College (don't miss the chapel, try to attend evensong, early afternoon on Sundays) and Clare.

From here cross the river again by going all the way through the college and walk along the backs towards Queens. The circuit finishes at Corpus Christi back on Trumpington Street. For a bite to eat visit 'Browns' a favourite student haunt on Trumpington Street, near the Fitzwilliam Museum. 
Many of the colleges have good websites, even offering virtual tours:   
Christs    Corpus    Caius    Johns    Kings    Magdalene    Queens    Trinity

Other Overnighters (not necessarily dirty)

Norfolk Overnighter Beautiful, old villages are
                      the norm in north NorfolkThis trip takes in some of the best preserved parts of England, where historic villages have largely escaped the ravages of tourism. We overnight in Blakeney in the area of North Norfolk dubbed by some as England's answer to the Hamptons. Beautiful seaside villages, good food and old churches are the order of the day - and it's cheaper than other parts of Britain, largely due to to London's second-homers who raise the tone a bit and provide continuity of income for local traders. For an al;ternative see our daytrip - there's an optional night in a country pub...

Norfolk used to be the richest part of England and for a long time overshadowed London due to the predominance of the wool trade. The legacy of the huge income that generated is evident in the large number of old abbeys (most now ruined) castles and houses in the area. Practically every ten miles there's a national monument. It was also a significant place of pilgrimage and has Britain's 'National Shrine' at Walsingham, quite the strangest place in England.One of
                      the many bridges over the river Cam along 'The
                      Backs' in Cambridge

Take the M11 motorway out of the North East of London. Practically any road that heads east out of London hits it or one of its tributaries the A10, A11 or A12 - signposted Cambridge. A motorway-standard dual carriageway runs from Greenwich to Loughton due north up the eastern edge of London by Docklands - it eventually becomes the M11.

Off the M11 are Cambridge and Audley End - choose one for your outward journey and one for your return. Both are off the M11 and clearly signposted. When visiting Cambridge you must see the Chapel at Kings College, visit Queen's and Trinity Colleges and walk along the backs as a minimum. Other colleges you can see by poking your head in through the porters' lodge. After visiting one or the other take the A10 north - your next port of call is Ely, and its magnificent cathedral (sadly there's an admission charge), birthplace of Oliver Cromwell (the museum is tacky) - the area round the Cathedral, the grounds and the facing onto the high street are all worth a visit. Food is best at the Old Fire Station close to the museum. There are plenty of places to have tea.

The Queen's country
                      retreatNext on route is King's Lynn - whose old town is worth half an hour - it used to be much more important than it is now - it's really only a rest stop before we hit the north coast of Norfolk at Hunstanton, and follow the road round. We pass the Queen's Country home of Sandringham - if you're taken with the area the Queen lets out holiday cottages on her estate - how's that for a landlady. You can visit the house, built in 1870 by the Prince and Princess of Wales, later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra and the Royal Stud (no, not Prince Charles) from mid-April to the end of October.

North Norfolk has been called the Hamptons - only colder, as it's become a rich man's escape from London, strangely it's not exclusive or expensive, though if you want to spend money here there are plenty of local traders who'll be pleased to help.

The two nicest places are Burnham Market - known for its delicatessens, snug hotels (and smug hotelliers) restaurants, and Blakeney - a delightful seaside village totally unspoilt, and boasting several good hotels, the White Horse (01263 740574) is the place to eat and sleep there, though the Blakeney Hotel (**** and expensive) has plenty of rooms, and failing that the George (tel: 01263 741275 - website often down, sadly) round in Cley-next-the-sea is in the process of being upgraded - it's a brilliant country pub - very friendly and with good food - which is world-famous as a birdwatchers haunt, and is slowly trying to shake off that image. Other accommodation ideas can be found here The walk around the seafront between Cley Cley-next-the-Sea ( beautiful village with windmill) and Blakeney is a must, offering beautiful views of the villages, church and the port. This spot is our favourite place outside of London, and as such deserves treating well - it pays to act genteel as well as gentle. You can take a trip out to see the seals, and swim with them if the water's not too cold.

Cycling (it's very flat) is the best way to explore the region if you have the time or energy - there are plenty of bike hire places but Walsingham's in Wells is a good bet. All round here are beautiful villages (eg Binham - great village, another big ruined priory, or Burnham Thorpe, birthplace of Nelson), churches and monuments to discover - there are so many it's best to follow your nose and make your own discoveries. Holkham Hall, an 18th century Palladian manor is worth a visit, the estate is sumptuous.

Holt, a village south of them has a superb hotel and a fantastic chef at Morston Hall for special meals - though throughout the region the quality of local food and food shops is extremely high - seafood a specialty. The delicatessen at Cley and the plethora of food shops in Burnham Market are the places to buy for picnics.

Walsingham villageSouth of them all is Walsingham - the strangest place in England, and with an aura of authenticity that shows up many other oddities like Glastonbury. It has been a place of pilgrimage since 1061 when a knight had a vision which led him to establish a shrine to the virgin there. The holy waters became the sine qua non of mediaeval travelers and the road between Walsingham and London was the best maintained in the whole of the country. The village itself is exquisite but the added value of competing religions (even the Orthadox church has set up here, and you can buy icons of Ghandi andThe castle ruins at Castle Acre Harvey milk in one of the many religious artifact shops). It's bizarre to see the streets teeming with befrocked men of many denominations, we even caught a prelate leafing through the chasubles in a secondhand vestment shop. The various shrines do different religious functions and when there's a sign saying 'Sprinkling Today' outside the Anglican shrine you can get professionally sprinkled with holy water (something officially abjured by the Protestant church, but overlooked here) instead of scooping it up yourself at the Catholic shrine or at the Old Shrine, where it's dirtier. The local school does a virtual tour.

On the way back (along the A1065 south of Fakenham) stop for tea in Castle Acre - once home of one of the biggest Priories in the country (now the biggest set of ruins) which if you're a pile of stones fan you can visit - also the Castle at the other end of the village is a pleasant ruin. Back to London via Swaffham, Thetford Wood to join the M11 at Cambridge. There are castles, ruins and Stately Homes a-plenty along the route so do detour if you have the time.

Bath The roman Baths at bath Beautiful Georgian City in the west country, with an immaculate centre (largely because all undesirable elements have been moved out and hidden behind a wall) the scene of so many BBC costume dramas and period films we've lost count. The baths, pump room and other beautiful buildings are fantastic, and the crescents masterpieces of Georgian Architecture ( we prefer landsdowne Crescent, nu a hill from the Royal Crescent but more beautiful. Very crowded with tourists in summer. We recommend Apsley House Hotel from personal experience. 1 hour 20 minutes from Paddington Station by fast train. If you are driving then you can visit Oxford, Stonehenge and other bits of our one day trip (below) and try stopping off in the charming village of Corsham (nice country house, almshouses and very cheap parking.
You could head from Bath via bristol and Chepstow up through Shropshire en route to the North (say London, Bath, Ludlow Chester, The Lake district, the Yorkshire Dales, Lindisfarne, Edinburgh, Oban Skye if you were planning to 'do' the UK by car... Website 

Stratford-upon-Avon Bard Simpson Birthplace of Shakespeare and home of the Royal Shakespeare Company (they also play a season in London too) with a large number of old buildings - although the town can get a bit touristy, with the likes of Anne Hathaway's Tea Cottage, it's still very much worth a visit, especially if you take in a play at the RSC.  If you're a keen theatre goer go up about 15:00, see a show that evening, explore the town the next morning and take in a matinee and another evening show - we do!  About 2 hours 10 minutes by fast train from Marylebone Station. It is impossible to get back to London by public transport after about 2100 so you can only see an evening show if you have a car or stay over. Website 

This website has details Black and white and
                        stacked on the countryside between Stratford and Bath, should you want to stray, or travel by car

A day trip to the historic mediaeval walled city of Chester is possible by train from London (book your train ticket 7 days in advance for a cheap seat) - takes about 2 hours. Free bus from the station to the town centre. Famous for the Roman walls, the Racecourse, the oldest in the country, and the 'rows'. As the town was an outpost against the marauding Welsh, it was limited in size by the walls - the ingenious solution was to build a second city on top of the old one, with covered walkways - an architectural feature not found anywhere else in the world. The trouble is it's a solution to space constraints which has been adopted by every shopping mall in the world, but Chester's is more elegant. The latest historical research posits Chester as the site of Camelot, King Arthur/Uther's round table, which appears to have been situated in the now rather unimpressive amphitheatre. This trounces claims by Glastonbury (monks after money to rebuild their monastery) and Winchester (medieval fantasy). Apparently the round 'table' was an early parliament of up to 1000 people (posh ones at the front, poorer relatives at the back). It was on the History Channel so it must be true.
The town's tourist office has permitted some dreadful touristy attractions, the town council, ridden with freemasonry has suffered from decades of corruption and incompetance (like demolishing the town's theatre to build a luxury hotel) but even so it's one of the country's top tourist spots, even if York does it all a lot better. not craggy bits For details on york see our Round Britain pages. It also two excellent restaurants, the Arkle in the Grovesnor Hotel tel: 01244 324024 (though the brasserie there is almost as good), owned by the UK's richest man, the Duke of Westminster. And the incredibly hip Oddfellows with stunning interiors, including a room that's completely upside down.

craggy bits The Lake District: a very beautiful part of the UK. If you plan ahead a bit you can get a single ticket London - Oxenholme for under £20 (I did, in August 2009...) which makes it quite economical. For all poets our there it's where you wander lonely as a cloud, though in my experience the clouds are rarely lonely in that part of the UK - it gets 8M visitors, but it's remarkably easy to avoid the crowds if you plan your walks carefully. See the excellent lakes website for details - free maps, pictures, walks, etc etc. Don't get caught in the main tourist areas like Windermere, try Buttermere or Though at least near the coast the gulf stream means palm trees grow naturally. AndyFellWalker has some good info.

UK by Car
Do the UK by Car (or train)
With train fares to Scotland costing more and more (unless you bag an early and restricted bargain) the UK by car is a nice prospect. Most legs take under 2 hours, and the one that's longer is a scenic route. However a shortened version of this is possible for a bargain price by train if you book early enough.

Cheap copy of the
                      Blackpool tower Paris Strange as it may seem, with the new Eurostar service taking about 2 hours 10 mins to deliver you from the centre of London to the centre of Paris, a day trip is easy - and costs about £75 if you book it in advance. See our Paris page for details. It's little more to go for one or more nights. The train from St Pancras International is of a high standard, and whisks you away to Paris' Gare du Nord - but remember they're an hour ahead in Paris so make sure you leave early enough for lunch. You'll discover why Brits take their holidays abroard - hotels are at least 50% cheaper and the food's a lot better Euro for Euro, we also think French women look a darn sight better than their English counterparts, but maybe that's something for another website..

Guidebook to what to see
                      and do in London

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