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We want to take a 1-week trip to England with my wife in November. We will land at London STN airport on Monday and we have a flight from London STN airport the following week. It's our first time coming to the UK and we're a little confused about planning. We roughly made a plan like this, but I'm not sure about the efficiency.

We want to see the city of London, Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh. (If we have time, we want to tour Warner Bros. Studio.)

  1. On weekdays, Wednesday-Thursday, there is a flight to Edinburgh at 8.40 in the morning. Does it make sense to go to Edinburgh with a morning flight and return with an evening flight (19.30)? Or should we stay in Edinburgh for 1 night? (In this case, we may need to bring our luggage as well.) Can options such as train or bus be preferred instead of air for Edinburgh?

  2. Is it easy to reach airports in the early hours? And how much does it cost?

  3. Does it make sense to rent a car to go to places like Oxford and Cambridge? When I check the train schedules, renting a car and taking the train from London are the same price. But traffic is bad for me. Also, I do not know issues such as parking rules, emission zones, etc. In this case, what method would you recommend?

As a plan, I plan to spend the 1st and 2nd days in London, the 3rd day in Edinburgh, the 4th day in Cambridge, the 5th day in Oxford, the 6th day in Warner Bros., the 7th day in London, and the 8th day back. Would you recommend a different, more logical route?

Also, are there any events you would recommend, such as Christmas Market between 10 Nov - 20 Nov?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.

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    Former Edinburgh resident here. There is far too much to see and do in Edinburgh for just one day, with that itinerary you’d barely have time to run down Princes St and up the Royal Mile. Depending on if it’s your first visit and what you want to see/do, I would recommend a minimum of 2 nights/3 days. The 2023 Xmas Market coincides with your dates, the city will be busy. You really can’t ‘do’ all those destinations in 1 week (unless ‘doing’ = tick the ‘been there for a few hours’ box). BTW, Edinburgh is not in England :-)
    – Traveller
    Sep 25, 2023 at 11:10
  • Thank you for your advices. Actually, I would like to stay longer, but unfortunately my budget and time are limited :)
    – Faruk
    Sep 25, 2023 at 11:32
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    Then as the two answers so far advise, you should drop the idea of going to Edinburgh and give yourselves more time/less travel hassle in the other destinations on your list. Also keep an eye out for any planned rail strikes during your trip.
    – Traveller
    Sep 25, 2023 at 12:18

4 Answers 4

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I think you are trying to cram too much into your visit. You will just spend most of your time travelling. A few hours in Edinburgh seems pointless to me. 3 days would be the minimum. If your schedule doesn't allow that I would skip the trip to Edinburgh.

If you fly from Stansted to Edinburgh, for an 08.40 flight you’ll need to get a train from London Liverpool St at 05.55 (arrives Stansted 06.47). Your flight will probably land in Edinburgh around 10.00 so you’ll be in Edinburgh city centre by around 11.00 (choice of bus or tram from the airport).

If instead, you took the train from London Kings Cross there is one on most weekdays at 07.00 which arrives in Edinburgh city centre at 11.20, so a little quicker than flying.

In general, trains from London to Edinburgh run every half hour for much of the day. You can take heavy luggage on most trains free, whereas hold luggage on most flights costs extra. Advance booking on the trains and a bit of flexibility over times may get you a cheaper fare.

In addition to Stansted, there are flights to Edinburgh from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Luton and London City. All have public transport access either via train or the tube. So you don’t have to go from Stansted.

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    A suggestion on the Edinburgh front. Sleeper trains run between London and Edinburgh most nights. You won't waste any of your day traveling, and they are barely more expensive than a night in a London hotel plus a train ticket. Sep 25, 2023 at 16:25
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    @DJClayworth That’s not a bad call, altho having done the sleeper I can say you’re not likely to get much quality sleep and arriving into Edinburgh at 7:30 on a dark November morning isn’t going to be that much fun (virtually nothing will be open, for example).
    – Traveller
    Sep 25, 2023 at 18:28
  • If you're trying to do four cities in 7 days then sleep is not going to be a priority. Edinburgh is one of the best cities to do this, because Waverley is very, very central, right by the main attractions. So find somewhere for breakfast and then you can walk up the Royal Mile until the Castle opens, or along Princes Street until the hop-on bus tours start, both at 9.30. Sep 25, 2023 at 22:04
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As others have suggested the trip to Edinburgh is trying to do too much. In addition I would point out that you may be better to base yourself in London for the whole time and then make day trips to Oxford and Cambridge by train. In Oxford the train station is within walking distance of the centre, in Cambridge it is a longer walk and you may prefer to get the bus or a taxi into the centre. Basing yourself in London avoids having to take all your luggage with you on every trip. It also means that you avoid the journey from Oxford to Cambridge or vice versa which can be quite tedious as some of the railway was dismantled years ago.

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    Oxford and Cambridge both have notoriously terrible parking. Once you have collected your rental car, driven in an unfamiliar country and found parking the train will definitely save you time. Sep 25, 2023 at 16:27
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I agree with others answers that you are trying to do too much in one week, but I propose leaving out Oxford.

Are you aware that London Stansted airport is a bit closer to Cambridge than it is to London? And that you can fly to Edinburgh from London Stansted and from London Heathrow?

And do you need to see Cambridge and Oxford (two similar university cities)? This site Should You Visit Cambridge or Oxford as a Day Trip From London compares the two from a tourist's view.

So you could start in Cambridge for couple of 2 days, then go to Edinburgh for a couple of days, and return to London.

You can also get to Edinburgh by train from Cambridge (change trains at Peterborough) and return to London by train direct. The average train journey time between London and Edinburgh is just under 5 hours (probably more from Cambridge because of the train change, and slower trains). The flight time is more than 1 hour, but you also have to get to and from the airports, and allow 2 hours for check in.

You'll get a good view from a train of the countryside and the 'back side' of urban areas you pass through – and a different view from the air. So my favourite would be:

  • Train or taxi from Stansted to Cambridge

  • Back to Stansted and fly to Edinburgh

  • Train from Edinburgh to London

  • Train to Stansted

I would not recommend hiring a car although if there are several people in you party, it may be cheaper than trains.


Another option is to do single day trips to Oxford and/or Cambridge from London. It all depends on what you like. Many visitors to Cambridge ask "what do we do here after we look round the colleges and go punting?"

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  • Punting won't be that pleasant in November. Sep 25, 2023 at 22:05
  • @DJClayworth if it's on the "tick list"... Sep 25, 2023 at 22:14
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I would cut out at least one destination and as Edinburgh is the one that involves the most travel time I would only go there if it is an essential for you.

London alone is enough for a month, a year can be filled as well.

Renting a car at Stanstead to go to Cambridge and keeping that for Oxford makes sense, handing it in there before you go to London. Or the other way around for your last days.

Going to Edinburgh, I would not advice to drive as public transport from London does not take more time but will be more relaxed. You can fly but transport to and from airports does take a lot of time and extra time to make sure you do not miss your flight. As said, it does not make sense to include going all that distance for such a short visit.

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    If the OP isn’t used to driving on the left or familiar with eg emission zones I would be wary of hiring a car. Coach services would probably be an option. The Hyde Park Xmas Market coincides with the OP’s dates
    – Traveller
    Sep 25, 2023 at 12:25
  • @Traveller It's just a hypothesis, but based on the OP's nickname, they may be from India or Pakistan, both of which drive on the left. Sep 25, 2023 at 14:30
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    "London alone is enough for a month, a year can be filled as well." >> I'd suggest the opposite: skip London altogether. :-D I know many people love it, but for me It's just a super crowded alpha++ city with not many historical sights left. Some of the museums are great, but that's it. There are much more interesting places in the UK. Sep 25, 2023 at 17:28

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