United Kingdom: London, Salisbury, Oxford

United Kingdom: London, Salisbury, Oxford

England: A Royal History Lesson

Fly in/out: Heathrow Airport, London, England

Recommended ages: 6 and up

Ball Park Price: $1,800 /person for 5 travelers

Best Season: April-September

Currency: Pound

Time: 6 hours ahead of CST

Pace: Moderate

Itinerary

DAY ONE & TWO: Fly Virgin Atlantic to London Heathrow Airport, LHR, and take taxi to apartment at the Citadines. Hop on a 24 hour bus to see the sights of London while waiting to check in.

DAY THREE: Take a full day of exploring London with a guide from Ruddick Tours who provided a “Harry Potter” slant on the tour. Sites included Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, House of Parliament, River Thames, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Kensington Palace, Piccadilly Circus and more.

Taking the Tube, London, England

DAY FOUR: Take “Tube” to St Paul’s Cathedral and climb steps all 539 steps. Walk over to the Millenium Pedestrian Bridge to the Tate Modern family friendly and free art gallery. Stop at Churchill War Room.

DAY FIVE: Take a morning London Eye ride and purchase flexi fast passes in advance. Watch Aegon Tennis Championships, the pre-Wimbledon competition in early June.

London
River

DAY SIX: Take a two hour train from Waterloo to Salisbury. Pick up rental car in Salisbury and stop and see Salisbury Cathedral. Drive ten miles to Stonehenge and then the Roman Baths. Check in at Thornbury Castle and enjoy a decadent meal at the castle.

DAY SEVEN: Spend morning exploring Thornbury Castle and enjoy drive through Cotswold and Bibury. Drive to Oxford and check in at Westwood Hotel.

DAY EIGHT & NINE: Try “Punting” on the Thames River, visit historic colleges and catch a cricket game. See some Harry Potter sites.

DAY TEN: Depart Oxford back to London Heathrow Airport

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If you have more time

  • Take in a Matinee in London to give your feet a rest and enjoy some fabulous theatre.
  • Take a tour through Windsor Castle to have the feel of royalty by seeing the Queen’s doll house and the fabulous state rooms.

Vacation Highlights

  • You can customize your tour of sights to see in London with a tour guide or through the London Pass option. There are a huge variety of attractions to explore based on your families tastes.
  • The London Eye was similar to the “Navy Pier” feel of Chicago but well worth the experience because of the views.
  • Driving through north of London through Cotswold and Oxford gave us a genuine feel of England. Although the roads were narrow, it was relatively easy to get around for the fabulous rolling hills, thatched roof house, castles and beautiful English Villages.
  • England Tour - Stonehenge, Oxford, Roman Baths

  • Oxford is a city with endless “medieval” college campuses and universities. Including for any true Harry Potter fan, a tour of some Harry Potter film locations.
  • For the boys, bring a football or soccer while enjoying the terrain at Thornbury Castle.

Great Excursions

Aegon Championships

  • We’re a sports family, so we loved seeing the Aegon Championship a few weeks before Wimbledon.
  • We had a great onsite tour guide at Stonehenge, so it was a fascinating place for the kids.
  • We also enjoyed on the same day, the Roman Baths in Bath England. Bring your suits if you sign up for the spa.
  • Taking a self-guided tour through Cotswold and Oxford gave us a real feel for England.

Eateries

    OXO Restaurant
    OXO Restaurant

  • OXO is a landmark restaurant in London to try with reservations. Spectacular views.
  • There are several quality chain family friendly eating in London: ASK, Spaghetti House, Canteen, Bella Italiano and Wagamamma Noodle Company.
  • Right outside of Kensington Palace, try the afternoon tea in Orangery in Hyde Park.
  • In Oxford, The Trout Inn on the Thames
High Tea at Orangery
High Tea at Orangery

Places to stay

Thornbery Castle
Thornbery Castle
  • Citadines was in a great location in Trafalgar Square where we all stayed in a two bedroom apartment at a moderate price. No “welcome” lobby but free cocoa and lemonade!
  • Thistle Marble Arch is another centrally located hotel with 2 rooms next to each other but not adjoining and full breakfast buffet.
  • The Thornbury Castle was a wonderfully unique place to stay for one night for the kids.
  • In Oxford, the Westwood Inn, we had two adjoining rooms centrally located in beautiful Oxford.

Westwood Inn, Oxford
Westwood Inn, Oxford

Helpful Hints

  • The time change is difficult for kids as most flights are during the night. Encourage your kids to try to get some sleep because they have a full day when they arrive in England. If possible, see if you can get an early check-in by calling in advance.
  • Book tickets in advance to all major attractions in London going directly to the links listed in the itinerary.
  • For our first visit to London, it was worth hiring a private guide for the day.
  • Arrive early for the changing of the guard to catch a good view!
  • We were able to get around London once we navigated the “tube”. Driving through Salisbury and Oxford with winding, narrow roads was a tad trying. Try downloading maps as a backup for spotty GPS systems.
  • Book tickets in advance or purchase a London Pass in order to skip lines into many of the major attractions.
  • Not surprising, we had very rainy weather while we were there, but were well prepared with very sturdy rain coats.

Eateries

  • Valid Passports
  • Purchase City Walks with Kids
  • Make connections by watching or reading Harry Potter, Peter Pan and even 101 Dalmatians for some of the London and Oxford landmarks.

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