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London and Rome 2020
Old 01-08-2020, 05:12 PM   #1
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London and Rome 2020

We are planning another trip to Europe. In 2018, we visited London, Paris and Amsterdam. This year we are limiting ourselves to two primary locations: London and Rome. We plan to fly return to Heathrow from Phoenix then take a short flight to Rome possibly trying to return to Heathrow from Rome in time to catch our flight back to Phoenix.

We're doing London again both to revisit my cousin and his wife as well as do a couple of things we'd not had the chance to do two years ago. Most of our time will be spent in Rome with day trips to various destinations. Note we prefer to stay in one place and do day trips when possible.

As far as a day trip out of London, I've been thinking it would be nice to see the white chalk cliffs on the southern coast. There are tours to Brighton/Seven Sisters and to Dover/Canterbury. Anyone have recommendations for one vs the other? We are very active hikers/walkers if it makes a difference.

We got to many things in London last time but because the weather was flawless, only one museum: the Tate Modern. There are so many great museums that we'd like to do another one maybe two and would welcome suggestions as to the cream of the crop.

We plan to take in a show and might be open to another day trip (we've been to Stonehenge and Bath.)

While in Rome, we're considering a day tour to Venice via high speed rail. It looks like a long day but I think it would be worth it. Neither of us have been to Venice. We will definitely go to Pompeii and do all the main sights in Rome itself but other suggestions (Tuscany or Amalfi coast perhaps?) are welcome. Thanks. We will have perhaps 5 full days in London and 9 full days in Rome.
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Old 01-08-2020, 05:19 PM   #2
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We took the high speed train to Venice. We also took a tour to the island of Capri from Rome and went to Florence. We stayed 10 days total.
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Old 01-08-2020, 06:47 PM   #3
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Ian: Rome is one of those places where you could spend weeks and not see it all. We once stayed at OliveTreeHill.com in Zagarolo, 20 mi. south of Rome Termini. The suburbs have just about as much to see as the city itself.
Distances in Italy can get away from you. I did a day trip from Florence to Venice, but it was a very full day--my 8th trip to Venice. Venice is worthy of 2 nights minimum.
And don't forget Florence, one of the travel world's most important cities. Art, architecture, food, culture just overdoses you in Tuscany.
If you're looking for museums in London, you're in luck. Vicky & AL and the British Museum are special. I enjoyed going down into Churchill's bunkers in WWII.
I'm just glad you have the chance to see the world.
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Old 01-08-2020, 06:56 PM   #4
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In London, I recommend the tour of parliament if you haven't done it.
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Old 01-08-2020, 08:30 PM   #5
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On a tour of Dover, visit Dover Castle and the underground War Rooms.
In Rome, we took a horse and carriage ride from the Colosseum to Trevi Fountain. It was nice to go at a slow speed and visit places where cars could not go.
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Old 01-08-2020, 09:40 PM   #6
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For London museums the 'big ones', like the British Museum, are big for a reason - don't miss them!
After that, go a little off the beaten path and check out Sir John Soane's Museum, a wonderfully eclectic collection in his 1790's town house. Ranges from an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus to Hogarth prints of the "Rakes Progress" carefully hidden in wall racks to avoid offending Victorian gentlewomen.
From there a 15 minute walk takes you to the Inns of Court and Temple Church - have a "DaVinci Code" moment in the 10th century Templar chapel.
And, if Seti 1's sarcophagus has wetted your appetite, head over to the Petrie Museum at the University of London for ancient Egyptian/Sudanese archaeology. It's an amazing collection gathered by the father of British Egyptology.

I think you'd find Dover/Canterbury the better day trip (especially if you are using trains). Dover Castle and WWll defences are an easy walk from the station. Canterbury is a very walkable city, about 25 minutes from Dover. The cathedral, of course, but also Roman mosiacs, ancient city walls, medieval streets and fascinating ruins of St. Augustines Abbey dating back to the 6th century. And some excellent pubs!! (I confess to bias as I went to university there).

One further suggestion - for Rome - is to consider Ostia Antica versus a long day trip to Pompeii. It's an old Roman port abandoned when the river changed direction, extremely well preserved and a 30 minute train ride from downtown Rome. You can google it for more information.

My real recommendation for either city is to simply wander the central streets and let serendipity amaze you!
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Old 01-08-2020, 09:49 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by mageedge View Post
My real recommendation for either city is to simply wander the central streets and let serendipity amaze you!
+1 Applicable to just about any city.
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Old 01-09-2020, 04:16 AM   #8
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Lived in both places (fortunately) and my opinion:

1) A good day trip from London is to go to Oxford via train. Easy, nice, fun. Do a walking tour.
2) Another good day trip from London is Cambridge. Same
3) Another good day trip would be to pick a place in the Costswolds and do a hike between villages. Look up places like Stowe-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, or the Slaughters.
4) I pretty much hate museums and find the British Museum to be fantastic!
5) Your plans for Rome seem extremely aggressive. If you do day trips to Venice, Almafi, etc - then you wont actually see anything and you will be very tired.
6) I agree with mageedge that Ostia Antica is very nice (and you can get there using the public transport). However, it does pale in comparison to Pompeii -and you can hike Vesuvio if you go to Pompeii.
7) Did I mention that I hate museums? However, the Vatican museum is fantastic! Rick Steves has a very good tip for getting from the Vatican museum to St. Pauls which saves 1-2 miles of walking.
8) Hadrian's palace is a nice short day trip
9) I don't get the fascination (pretty much from everyone) with Florence. It is pretty much a big modern city with an old church. The people who love it love the museums - which I did not like. Would spend much more time in the Vatican.
10) Stay away from Naples, but everything surrounding it is great. Like Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Pozzuoli (nice Colosseum), Herculaneum.
11) In Rome, an absolute must do is the Necropolis (ruins under the vatican) also known as the Scavi. Absolutely amazing. You need to get tickets well in advance - usually months) and can do that on-line. Seriously seriously seriously do this.
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Old 01-09-2020, 05:32 AM   #9
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For London - British Museum, Victoria and Albert, the Tower and Bridge.
Another great chalk cliff is Beachy Head.
For Rome - the Vatican Museum is essential.
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Old 01-09-2020, 08:43 AM   #10
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Ian: Rome is one of those places where you could spend weeks and not see it all. We once stayed at OliveTreeHill.com in Zagarolo, 20 mi. south of Rome Termini. The suburbs have just about as much to see as the city itself.
Distances in Italy can get away from you. I did a day trip from Florence to Venice, but it was a very full day--my 8th trip to Venice. Venice is worthy of 2 nights minimum.
And don't forget Florence, one of the travel world's most important cities. Art, architecture, food, culture just overdoses you in Tuscany.
If you're looking for museums in London, you're in luck. Vicky & AL and the British Museum are special. I enjoyed going down into Churchill's bunkers in WWII.
I'm just glad you have the chance to see the world.
Thanks Bamaman! Hadn't thought to stay in the Rome suburbs so will look into that. I've been to Florence 20 years ago but my DH hasn't so something to consider. We also enjoyed the Churchill War Rooms when in London in 2018.
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Old 01-09-2020, 08:46 AM   #11
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In London, I recommend the tour of parliament if you haven't done it.
That's on our list as we didn't get to do it last time. In fact we've kind of organized our travel dates so we will be in London on a Saturday which is when tours are available. Did you combine the tour with afternoon tea because I see that's an option too?
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Old 01-09-2020, 08:52 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by mageedge View Post
For London museums the 'big ones', like the British Museum, are big for a reason - don't miss them!
After that, go a little off the beaten path and check out Sir John Soane's Museum, a wonderfully eclectic collection in his 1790's town house. Ranges from an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus to Hogarth prints of the "Rakes Progress" carefully hidden in wall racks to avoid offending Victorian gentlewomen.
From there a 15 minute walk takes you to the Inns of Court and Temple Church - have a "DaVinci Code" moment in the 10th century Templar chapel.
And, if Seti 1's sarcophagus has wetted your appetite, head over to the Petrie Museum at the University of London for ancient Egyptian/Sudanese archaeology. It's an amazing collection gathered by the father of British Egyptology.

I think you'd find Dover/Canterbury the better day trip (especially if you are using trains). Dover Castle and WWll defences are an easy walk from the station. Canterbury is a very walkable city, about 25 minutes from Dover. The cathedral, of course, but also Roman mosiacs, ancient city walls, medieval streets and fascinating ruins of St. Augustines Abbey dating back to the 6th century. And some excellent pubs!! (I confess to bias as I went to university there).

One further suggestion - for Rome - is to consider Ostia Antica versus a long day trip to Pompeii. It's an old Roman port abandoned when the river changed direction, extremely well preserved and a 30 minute train ride from downtown Rome. You can google it for more information.

My real recommendation for either city is to simply wander the central streets and let serendipity amaze you!
Thanks for the info and suggestions. Looks like the British Museum will top our list in London. Ostia Antica sounds interesting. Fortunately we are great walkers so wandering the central streets is something we definitely will do!
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:05 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Ian S View Post
Most of our time will be spent in Rome with day trips to various destinations. Note we prefer to stay in one place and do day trips when possible.
While in Rome, we're considering a day tour to Venice via high speed rail. It looks like a long day but I think it would be worth it. Neither of us have been to Venice. We will definitely go to Pompeii and do all the main sights in Rome itself but other suggestions (Tuscany or Amalfi coast perhaps?) are welcome. Thanks. We will have perhaps 5 full days in London and 9 full days in Rome.
I would stay clear of Rome in high season (June-Sept.). The crowds are terrible, so is the heat. We've been to Italy many times. My SIL and family live there. Tuscany is a good option if you are going in season. Are you driving or taking the train to get around? Obviously, do not drive in Rome.
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:14 AM   #14
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Yes the ruins in Ostia are beautiful. We have been there twice and took a train.
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:25 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by clobber View Post
Lived in both places (fortunately) and my opinion:

1) A good day trip from London is to go to Oxford via train. Easy, nice, fun. Do a walking tour.
2) Another good day trip from London is Cambridge. Same
3) Another good day trip would be to pick a place in the Costswolds and do a hike between villages. Look up places like Stowe-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, or the Slaughters.
4) I pretty much hate museums and find the British Museum to be fantastic!
5) Your plans for Rome seem extremely aggressive. If you do day trips to Venice, Almafi, etc - then you wont actually see anything and you will be very tired.
6) I agree with mageedge that Ostia Antica is very nice (and you can get there using the public transport). However, it does pale in comparison to Pompeii -and you can hike Vesuvio if you go to Pompeii.
7) Did I mention that I hate museums? However, the Vatican museum is fantastic! Rick Steves has a very good tip for getting from the Vatican museum to St. Pauls which saves 1-2 miles of walking.
8) Hadrian's palace is a nice short day trip
9) I don't get the fascination (pretty much from everyone) with Florence. It is pretty much a big modern city with an old church. The people who love it love the museums - which I did not like. Would spend much more time in the Vatican.
10) Stay away from Naples, but everything surrounding it is great. Like Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Pozzuoli (nice Colosseum), Herculaneum.
11) In Rome, an absolute must do is the Necropolis (ruins under the vatican) also known as the Scavi. Absolutely amazing. You need to get tickets well in advance - usually months) and can do that on-line. Seriously seriously seriously do this.
Thanks so much! I love a bullet point list I had wondered about Hadrian's palace. I love ruins like that. When I was last in Italy on an organized tour, we had a day in Capri and I hiked all the way to Tiberius' Villa Jovis ruins which I found fascinating - almost missed our boat back to the mainland.
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:28 AM   #16
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For London - British Museum, Victoria and Albert, the Tower and Bridge.
Another great chalk cliff is Beachy Head.
For Rome - the Vatican Museum is essential.
We've done the Tower and Bridge and the Vatican and museum are on our list. Will look into Beachy Head. Thanks!
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:33 AM   #17
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In Rome you must see the Borghese Gallery. The Bernini sculptures are awesome. Need to sign up ahead of time, timed entrance. I suggest the English tour as you get much more out of it. Jmho
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:34 AM   #18
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I would stay clear of Rome in high season (June-Sept.). The crowds are terrible, so is the heat. We've been to Italy many times. My SIL and family live there. Tuscany is a good option if you are going in season. Are you driving or taking the train to get around? Obviously, do not drive in Rome.
Thanks, I should have mentioned we plan to be in Rome early May. We will not be driving in either London or Rome.
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Old 01-09-2020, 01:23 PM   #19
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That's on our list as we didn't get to do it last time. In fact we've kind of organized our travel dates so we will be in London on a Saturday which is when tours are available. Did you combine the tour with afternoon tea because I see that's an option too?
I am doing the Tour & Tea in April. Bought tickets about 2 weeks ago. Marking rest of London sites on my Master To Do list

Thanks to all
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:44 PM   #20
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Since the OP likes walking there are some really good walks out of Dover above the white cliffs. Amazing how white those cliffs are. I would also recommend visiting Dover Castle and while there take a tour of the war rooms in the tunnels below the castle. We were there in 2013 and loved it.

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/...E&gclsrc=aw.ds

Canterbury is also a beautiful medieval city with a great cathedral. If you like history you can stand within a few feet of where the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas a Beckett, was murdered in 1170.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canterbury
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