Suggestions for UK travel in late October?
September 9, 2015 6:49 PM   Subscribe

My S.O. and I are traveling to England next month for ten days (Oct 16-26). What should we do?

I thought we might ask the Green for some recommendations. We might like:
Checking out London (even some touristy stuff)
Live music (classical, indie)
Theater (West End)
Walking around and seeing cool neighborhoods
Getting a rental car and going to some quaint place in the country, where we could enjoy the quaintness and pleasantness and engage with some locals in the pub and probe their perspectives and sensibilities
Taking a train to Paris for a day or two
Quirky places, like boardgame bars or other alt-social stuff
Thanks in advance!
posted by myriad gantry to Travel & Transportation around Manchester, England (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you based in London? Or elsewhere?
posted by kaszeta at 7:12 PM on September 9, 2015

Bletchley Park!
posted by KernalM at 7:13 PM on September 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Can't tell from your question what kinds of things you like, but assuming you like cemeteries: Highgate Cemetery. (In London, because you say "England" which covers a lot of territory! But I assume you will spend at least a day in London.)

Cotswolds are pretty good for quaintness and pubs and things being old and interesting and in the country. I haven't been to Stroud since I was a kid but it was pretty awesome then and it still probably is. If you know who Laurie Lee is, you should go there.
posted by rtha at 9:40 PM on September 9, 2015

If you like choral music and history, an hour train ride will take you to Cambridge, where you can wander around, maybe visit some of the museums and colleges and then finish the day with evensong at King's or St John's, hearing world famous choirs. Check the websites before visiting - some days they may be members only.
posted by kadia_a at 11:19 PM on September 9, 2015

Check out Draughts in East London for boardgames. (It's been on my list forever, so let me know if you fancy any company!)

I would recommend choosing a city to be based in, say London, then catching the train to your quaint villages/Paris etc.
posted by teststrip at 11:46 PM on September 9, 2015

Plenty to do in England! I wouldn't want to interrupt the immersion by heading to Paris; the UK has more than enough to offer, especially if you are willing to cross over into different countries like Wales and Scotland. But London alone could keep you quite busy, depending on your interests, which we don't really know.
Some things that I liked in London:
- Walking across the various bridges for the views.
- Bletchley Park. The Museum of Computing interested us more than the Park proper. It's easily reached by train.
- Science Museum. Museum of Natural History.
- Outdoor markets.

If you want to see another city, Oxford might appeal to you. I enjoyed it a lot, it has a nice walkable scale and plenty of history and atmosphere. But again, we don't know what kind of things you like.
If you like hiking, maybe head to Devon and see some Moors? Or go to Wales and see the Black Mountains?
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:13 AM on September 10, 2015

I also think you might need some more specific things you like; most places will meet your current criteria. Oxford and Cambridge are both lovely and full of beautiful old colleges; if you like the coast Brighton has a quirky, hippie vibe. (Oxford also has Thirsty Meeples.) There are loads of good hikes all around the country; the Peaks and Lakes are traditional but by no means the only good ones. London is super huge and has everything. Etc, etc.
posted by katrielalex at 2:51 AM on September 10, 2015

These are great answers, please keep them coming! I should say that we are visiting from the East Coast of the United States. I myself am of english descent, having a genealogy going back to the 12th century, but my family crossed the pond four hundred years ago in the Great Puritan Migration.

I love the Highgate Cemetery and the London Markets recommendations. Are there any other interesting places like that you might recommend? What about unusual museums? Castles? Villages?

And outside of London, what would be some other neat places to go see? Oxford is noted. Where else?
posted by myriad gantry at 3:38 AM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are there any other interesting places like that you might recommend? What about unusual museums? Castles? Villages?
And outside of London, what would be some other neat places to go see? Oxford is noted. Where else?

You can take a train out to Arundel from London which has quite a castle, is a nice village and good for walks too.

A train will also take you to Bath Spa. From there you could get a rental car and explore little villages like Lacock, Corsham and Castle Combe.
posted by vacapinta at 4:02 AM on September 10, 2015

Theater in London is great. TheatreMonkey is a very helpful site for actually getting to the theaters - London can be very confusing. The official half-price tickets booth is in Leicester Square, and is the non-profit one that actually supports the theaters.

Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace and the Brighton Pavilion are all very short train trips from London and absolutely worth seeing. The Brighton Pavilion audio tour is the best one I've ever heard, and it's especially interesting after, and in contrast to, Windsor Castle.

I liked Cambridge better than Oxford. If the weather's nice, you can go punting on the river.

There's so much to do in and around London. You could spend the whole 10 days going to markets and theater (OK, I could). And pubs and castles. I wouldn't try to do Paris as well.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:04 AM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you seen the Visit England website? That might help you narrow down the part of the UK you want to visit.

There are fantastic castles, great country walks and decent pubs in practically every region of the UK. You just need to pick one or two.

The southeast is going to be easy to visit by train (it's quite built up but it's really easy to get to the castles and attractive villages), the Cotswolds are very quaint, the southwest has places like Bristol, Bath, Winchester and Avebury (and Stonehenge), Wales is great, Yorkshire and Derbyshire are spectacular... I've lived here all my life and there are still lots of areas I haven't visited yet.

I would look at the English Heritage, National Trust, National Parks and Camra What Pub? websites for ideas.

If I was going to visit the southeast, I'd go to one of Herstmonceux, Dover or Hever castles, do a circular walk somewhere along the South Downs Way (probably somewhere near Alfriston or Arundel), maybe visit Lewes (also has a castle and a great brewery) and Brighton (quirky, arty seaside plus great nightlife). That would take one to two days and would just scratch the surface. We can give you similar itineraries for the other regions.
posted by tinkletown at 6:56 AM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm a frequent traveler to the UK and I'm slowly whittling down my list to see all of the Magnificent Seven. But that's totally London-oriented so if you're there, you can visit them. (Check dates to make sure some of them are open to the public. I think Nunhead is open during the time you are there.)

If you can afford train travel, I recommend Dover. I think the path to the cliffs should be open by now--it wasn't when I was there in April. I love the micropubs of Kent and Dover has two lovely ones. Dover Castle is probably pretty rad but the steep cost per person made me and mine balk. I absolutely love Canterbury for historical reasons. (It has my favourite library-art gallery in the world.)

Have a lovely time!
posted by Kitteh at 7:46 AM on September 10, 2015

Seconding Cambridge over Oxford, it's prettier and easier to manage.

Brighton is both a historic seaside resort town and now a hipster/alternative town too - easy to reach for a day trip from London.

Trips to Welsh and Scottish wildernesses can be breathtaking but you mustn't mind high chance of rain
posted by Bwithh at 12:55 PM on September 10, 2015

LONDON Recommendations. I lived in London for 8+ years and there's so much to do so I've attempted to split them based on areas to make your research more manageable.
- West London! Notting Hill on a Saturday will be lovely- pubs, stalls, restaurants, the whole lot. Also check out Holland Park. Westfield shopping mall is gigantic and has a lot to offer.
- Central London! Shopping! The stores ain't cheap but I'm going to go ahead and recommend them because they're fun to go into even if you come out empty handed: Selfridges, Liberty's, and Harrods (wonderfully ostentatious). From Selfridges (Oxford Circus) you can walk down to Liberty's and Carnaby Street. Soho is also a hidden gem in London, there's loads of wonderful restaurants and pubs. In Soho there's a good Vietnamese restaurant called Pho, and it's next to Hummingbird Bakery, which is equally good. Also, Covent Garden.
- North West London! Hampstead is a quiet suburb and offers a different atmosphere to Central London- check out Hampstead Heath and you could even walk all the way down to Primrose Hill and then connect to Regent's Park. It's a looong walk but these areas are all connected. There's also a shopping mall called Brent Cross (in Hendon).
- East London! So much to do here- Brick Lane, Box Park, Shoreditch (hipster central) independent museums and bookstores, good food, Columbia road market, food trucks, etc. This is probably where you'll find a lot of quirky things to do.
- Parks! I recommend the most are Regent's Park and Hyde Park (hopefully the weather won't be too dull and grey). In Regent's Park it would be worth it to also venture into Queen Mary's Garden.
-Museums! THEY ARE (MOSTLY) FREE. My top picks are Victoria & Albert, Natural History Museum, Tate Modern, and Serpentine Gallery. They also have something called 'Lates' which is usually quite fun and happens in the evening, it includes games, music, alcohol, etc. So it's definitely something worth looking into.
- Others: Check out Battersea Park and Henley on Thames.

Brighton because it's the fastest to get to from London. The places I've been to outside London and will gladly recommend are:
- Wilton House in Wiltshire
- Durdle Door in Dorset
- Stourhead House
However, depending on how much travel time you want it's worth looking into the National Trust parks and doing a bit on research on accommodation. Enjoy England!
posted by newthirdworld at 12:09 PM on September 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Selfridges, Liberty's, and Harrods (wonderfully ostentatious).

Selfridges is by far the most fun of these. Liberty's is a bit classy but old fashioned. Harrods is the most famous but is third preference unless you go in part to enjoy global superrich / traditional British rich watching. There will be very expensive things at Selfridges too but there will be a greater range of goods and the salespeople have a reputation for being less snobby. Ordinary people can try on shoes worth thousands of dollars with their cheerful help.
posted by Bwithh at 4:06 PM on September 14, 2015

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