Category Archives: Travel Tips

Free Travel Concierge Service Launched for UK Visitors

Best Value Tours have launched a free travel concierge service for visitors to the UK

Not sure what you are looking for ?Virtul Concierge Service

How do we get to Paris ?

Need help planning your trip ?

Not sure of the best European tour option ?

Not sure the best way to visit Scotland ?

Coach tour or train tour ?

Budget or luxury ?

We are here for you………….

Simply email us or fill out our simple online form and one of experienced U.K travel staff will reply with a competent swift reply.
http://bestvaluetours.co.uk/tour-of-england/london-tours/london-concierge-service-279

OUR BIG PROMISES TO YOU ARE

CHOICE: The best possible choice of sightseeing tours, transport and attraction

ADVICE: Simple, impartial advise to help find whats best for you

PRICE: Prices that match or beat the operators

SUPPORT: Support before, during and after your experience, you have experienced our services

Award Winning Travel Team Our dedicated and experienced reservation team know more about the sightseeing tours we offer than anyone else and always on hand to help with any enquiries and help you plan your trip. We go the extra mile to ensure your booking process is smooth, and guarantee to respond to all enquires within 6 hours.

U.K Travel Experts

Our extensively and on-going trained , professional British travel staff will respond with best advice to any of your queries , concerns and requirements. They will help you with anything from planning your U.K. itinerary , to assisting you with the booking , helping you to save precious time and money. Nothing is too much trouble even if it’s just a question of the best clothes to bring or general information to get the most out of your booking

Expert destination knowledge

Our expert Tour Consultants have all travelled extensively throughout the U.K and Europe. We have the experience to make travel arrangements of the highest calibre.

EMAIL: experts@BestValuetours.co.uk

Excellence comes as standard

Best Value Tours

Tax Free Shopping for international travellers leaving the UK

In the UK, Value Added Tax (VAT) is charged on many goods and services. Tax Free Shopping allows travellers leaving the European Union (EU) to get a VAT refund on goods they buy here and take home. It cannot be used for services. (including sightseeing tours)

In most cases, the shop or refund company will charge you a fee for using Tax Free Shopping. They will take the money out of your VAT refund.Tax free shopping in London

VAT refunds for visitors to the UK

In the United Kingdom, Value Added Tax (VAT) is charged on many goods and services. If you are visiting from another country you may be entitled to a refund of the VAT on goods you buy from shops that offer Tax Free Shopping (also known as the Retail Export Scheme).

Tax Free Shopping allows travellers leaving the European Union (EU) to get a VAT refund on goods they buy here and take home. It cannot be used for services.

This guide explains when you are entitled to a VAT refund and what you have to do to get one. http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/sectors/consumers/overseas-visitors.htm

Travel Advisor
Best Value Tours UK – www.BestValueTours.co.uk

Christmas in Paris. Christmas Markets in 2012-2013

The winter holiday season in the city of lights would feel degrees less cheerful and inspired without the traditional Paris Christmas markets that spring up each year. The markets, with their iconic clusters of wood chalets offering custom holiday treats like mulled wine, gingerbread, sausages and specialties from various regions of France, are an essential part of celebrating Christmas in Paris. They also make an ideal outing with kids in Paris. Visit one of Paris’s many Christmas markets for a scenic winter stroll, or stock up on traditional foodstuffs or handcrafted toys, clothing and other items for gifts.

Christmas in ParisThe History of Paris Christmas Markets

Christmas markets in Paris and elsewhere in France have their origins in the northern Alsace region, which has belonged to Germany at various junctures in history and therefore draws on German Christmas market traditions stretching to as early as the 14th century. The most famous– and largest– marché de noël in France is in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace.

Paris Christmas Markets in 2012-2013

No matter where you’re staying during your holiday trip this year, you’re bound to find a market nearby. Some of these dates and times are subject to change; check back closer to December for updates.

  • Christmas Market on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées
    This is the largest Christmas market within Paris’s city limits. The market stretches from the Champs-Elysées roundabout (Metro Champs Elysées-Clémenceau) to the Place de la Concorde (Metro Concorde). Also visit the Maison de l’Alsace at 39 avenue des Champs-Elysees, a temporary boutique offering traditional Alsatian Christmas goodies.
    Open: From November 16th, 2012 through January 6th, 2013
    Location: Avenue des Champs-Elysées to the Place de la Concorde
    Metro: Champs Elysées-Clemenceau or Concorde
  • Christmas Market at La Défense
    With 350 stands, one of the largest and most festive Christmas markets around– in the surreal setting of high-rise buildings.
    Open: From November 21st through December 29th, 2012
    Location: Parvis de la Défense (near the Grand Arche)
    Metro/RER: La Défense
  • Christmas Market and Ice Rink at Trocadero
    Featuring over 120 stands peddling Christmas goods, an ice-skating rink and “snow villages”. This one’s ideal for the kids.
    Open: Daily from December 13th, 2012 to January 6th, 2013
    Location: Place de la Trocadero, across from the Eiffel Tower
    Metro: Trocadero
  • Christmas Market and Santa’s Village at Saint-Sulpice
    Open: dates and times to be determined. Check back soon.
    Location: Place Saint-Sulpice, Paris 6th arrondissement
    Metro: Saint-Sulpice
  • Christmas Market and Santa’s Village at place Saint-Germain-des-Prés
    Open from December 6th, 2012 through January 2nd, 2013 .
    Location: Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris 6th arrondissement
    Metro: Saint-Germain-des-Prés
  • Christmas Market at the Montparnasse Tower
    Open from December 5th, 2012 through December 30th, 2012. This market specializes in regional French delicacies.
    Location: In front of the Gare Montparnasse, facing the tower.
    Metro: Montparnasse Bienvenue
  • Christmas Market at Place de la Nation
    Open daily from early December (precise dates to be announced), 1:00 am to 8:00 pm
    Location: Place de la Nation, 11th arrondissement
    Metro/RER: Nation
  • Christmas Market at Place d’Italie
    Open from November 24th-December 24th, 2012.
    Location: Centre Commercial Italie 2 (Shopping Center), Metro Place d’Italie
  • Christmas Market at the Place des Abbesses
    This market, nestled in the heart of the quaint Montmartre neighborhood, will be open daily starting in December (precise dates to be announced).
    Location: Place des Abbesses, 18th arrondissement
    Metro: Abbesses
  • Christmas Market at Gare de l’Est
    Dates and times tbd: check back soon.
    Location: Gare de l’Est, 10th arrondissement
    Metro: Gare de l’Est
  • Christmas Market at Notre Dame Cathedral
    This year a market dedicated to arts, crafts, and fine cuisine is set to spring up on the square outside Notre Dame Cathedral, where a giant Christmas tree generally stands as well each year. Mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, warm chalets and even Santa Claus are reportedly set to take the square by storm.
    Open: Daily from December 15th-23rd, 2012.
    Location: Place du Parvis de Notre Dame, Metro/RER St Michel or Cité
  • Full article: http://goparis.about.com/od/shopping/a/parischristmasmarkets.htm

Needless to say we are offering some fantastic tours to Paris (departing from London) this festive season
http://www.bestvaluetours.co.uk/european-tours/paris-via-eurostar-train-tours

Travel Editor
Best Value Tours

Football joins tourism’s premier league as overseas fans flock to games.

900,000 spectators came to UK for big matches last year, with one in five going to Manchester United

Nearly a million overseas visitors travelled to Britain last year to watch football matches, according to research confirming the popularity of the UK as a leading sports tourism destination. Despite the high price of tickets and the problems of violence and racism in the game, new figures from the national tourism agency reaffirm the global allure of British football, particularly the Premier League.

Arsenal fans show support on a club tour to Malaysia. Photograph: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal fans show support on a club tour to Malaysia. Photograph: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Figures compiled by VisitBritain show that 900,000 football supporters visited Britain last year, a figure tourism bosses hope will be further supplemented by the sporting success of the Olympics.

Hugh Robertson, the minister for sport and tourism, described the Premier League as “one of this country’s most successful exports”. He said: “It is no surprise that it has become a big draw for tourists who want to experience the most exciting league in the world.”

Football tourists collectively spent £706m, or £785 per fan – £200 more than the average visitor to Britain – with many arriving during the traditionally quieter period for tourism between January and March.

The allure of British football is most keenly pronounced in Norway, with one in 13 visitors from the country – 80,000 – watching a match. Other countries generating high numbers of football spectator visits include Ireland (174,000), the US (61,000), Spain (54,000) and Germany (48,000).

Four in ten of those who attended a match said watching sport was their principal reason for visiting the UK. Football was also found to encourage visitors to explore beyond London, with the stadiums attracting the largest number of overseas fans in the north-west.

Almost one in five watched a game at Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground, followed closely by Anfield, home of Liverpool.

In terms of armchair support, the Premier League is already established as the biggest continuous annual global sporting event on television in the world, with matches viewed in 212 countries and coverage available in some 720m households.

Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, said: “It is now the most watched and supported football league in the world and there’s a huge amount of effort being made to connect with our 900 million international fans. Our clubs have worked very hard to make Premier League grounds more welcoming and are striving to deliver a first-rate experience for all fans.

“Little, though, beats the thrill of a Premier League match day and it’s very encouraging to hear that football can play an important role in increasing the numbers of international visitors to this country.”

The research also found that around 1.3 million tourists travelled to Britain for a live sporting event last year, four per cent of all visits, with the estimated total spend calculated as £1.1bn.

The greatest number of spectators for golf came from the US, rugby was popular with the Irish and French, while cricket attracted the most visitors from Australia.
 – The Observer, Sunday 21 October 2012
Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/oct/21/football-tourism-premier-league

Stadium Tours:  http://www.sightseeingtours.co.uk/london-tours/london-attractions
S
port Tickets: http://www.sightseeingtours.co.uk/search-discount-sport-event-tickets–169
F
ootball Match Tickets: http://sightseeingtours.tickets-partners.com/dock/competition/premier-league

Travel Editor
Best Value Tours

 

 

Picturesque places to visit in Britain

10 most beautiful places in Britain

Britain is renowned for being a naturally beautiful country, with its rolling hills, dramatic coastlines and towering mountain ranges. Whether you want to explore a nature trail, gaze out at breath-taking views, or simply spend the day relaxing in the presence of natural beauty, here are 10 of the most picturesque spots Britain has to offer.

The Lake District

Situated in the North West of England, the picturesque Lake District is the physical manifestation of Britain’s famous nineteenth century Romantic Movement, having inspired some of the most renowned poems of Coleridge, Wordsworth and Blake. The landscapes that make up this area are full of enormous crystal clear lakes, including Windermere, which is the largest natural body of water in England. Bordering these vast bodies of water are dense green forests that take stillness and serenity to levels you never before thought possible.

Stonehenge

The mystery of Stonehenge is one that may never be solved, despite the best efforts of historians all over the world. This enigmatic landmark is thousands of years old, and consists of a circle of around 30 standing stones. Although undeniably breath-taking during the day, the best time to visit Stonehenge is at sunrise or sunset. During this time the site takes on a whole new persona, with dramatic shadows forming as the low sunlight meets with the jutting monoliths.

Isle of Skye

The inner and outer Hebrides are a series of islands off Scotland’s east coast, the largest of which is the Isle of Skye. Walkers will be in their element on this picturesque island, with a huge array of routes and paths to pick from. Whether you choose the island’s sweeping coastline, the dramatic Cuillin mountain range further inland, or the rolling highlands dotted with ancient castles, Skye is sure to impress.

White Cliffs of Dover

For thousands of years the imposing sight of the White Cliffs of Dover looming out of the Atlantic has greeted invaders and visitors alike as they arrive at Britain’s south coast. These striking white chalk cliffs are flecked with jet-black veins of flint, creating one of Britain’s most distinctive natural landmarks. Take a walk along the cliffs and you’ll be met with stunning views all the way to France on clear days, as whispering winds caress the coast around you.

The Brecon Beacons

Taking their name from the burning red sandstone peaks that surround the area, The Brecon Beacons are arguably the pinnacle of Wales’ abundance of beautiful scenery. The surrounding national park is full of fascinating natural landscapes, as well as a variety of wildlife including wild mountain ponies and sheep. The Brecon Beacons Railway is the ultimate way to see the park, passing through the mountains and past the reservoir on an authentic steam locomotive.

Ingleton Waterfalls

Starting along the banks of the River Twiss on the boundary between North Yorkshire and Lancashire, the Ingleton Waterfall trail follows a series of cascading waterfalls set against intertwined woodland, before joining the River Doe. Along the way you’ll also see the famous money tree of Swilla Glen. This huge fallen tree is embedded from top to bottom with decades-old coins, which were hammered into the tree over time by people making wishes.

Glen Coe

Often referred to as the ‘Glen of weeping’, Glen Coe is not quite as depressing as its grim moniker would suggest. Quite the opposite in fact. This U-shaped valley in the Scottish Highlands offers picture-perfect scenery that almost seems too good to be true. Divided by the winding form of the River Coe, the glen is filled with towering mountain ranges, glorious expanses of greenery, and imposing waterfalls. Rolling fog frequently seeps its way into the valley, making for impressively dramatic vistas as you climb the glen’s lofty peaks.

The Peak District

Picture an image of a stereotypically idyllic British countryside and it’s likely you won’t be far off the Peak District. Equal parts rugged and resplendent, this national park designated area in central England draws visitors from all over the world, and for good reason. Split into the limestone-filled White Peak and the imposing Dark Peak areas, the Peak District offers variety and distinction like no other region of Britain, and makes for the perfect relaxing day out.

Kew Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens in south-east London are a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of life in the capital. Explore these enormous (121 hectares in fact) gardens, and you’ll be awash in a wave of floral beauty, with dazzlingly colourful displays on offer wherever you turn. The gardens have been gradually expanded since they opened in 1759, and now contain a Japanese garden, a huge greenhouse, and even a palace.

Pembrokeshire Coast

A large section of Wales’ south-west coast is made up of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which is a lengthy expanse of coastal paths, coves, cliffs, and white sandy beaches. Considering its popularity, the area is impressively clean and undisturbed, so there will be nothing to ruin the calming atmosphere as you wander the trails. Dotted along the coast are quaint seaside villages, where you’ll be able to stop for a well-earned lunch break as your explore Pembrokeshire.

Full article: http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/blogs/visit-britain-in/picturesque-places-visit-britain-070023978.html

Needless to say we offer tours to all the above detinations

Travel Editor: www.BestValueTours.co.uk

English travel books to read before you visit.

What better way to get acquainted with England than by reading someone else’s adventures? Here are some of our favourite books about English travel, along with a few tomes exploring the quirkier side of this sceptred isle.

Notes from a Small IslandNotes from a Small Island is a bestselling memoir by the American-born author Bill Bryson, based on trips around Britain in the 1970s and ’80s. Employing Bryson’s trademark fussy style and self-deprecating wit, it’s incisive, observant and very funny.

 

 

 

 

In Search of EnglandIn Search of England by HV Morton is one of the classic prewar English travelogues, written by a veteran Daily Express columnist in the 1920s. The language is old-fashioned, but it makes a fascinating companion to more modern texts.

 

 

 

 

Strange Laws of Old EnglandNigel Cawthorne’s The Strange Laws of Old England explores lots of weird and wonderful laws on the English statute book. Required reading if you’re planning on entering Parliament in a suit of armour or transporting corpses in a London cab.

 

 

 

 

EnglandIn England: 1000 Things You Need To Know, Nicolas Hobbes examines lots of quintessentially English things, from the people, legends and events that have shaped the nation’s history through to the origins of stilton, roast beef and the Royal Mail.

 

 

 

 

In Search of the English EccentricAnother investigation into ‘Englishness’ is In Search of the English Eccentric by Henry Hemming – a poised, perceptive and frequently hilarious exploration of some of the nation’s eccentrics, including crop-circle makers, a man who thinks he’s the reincarnation of King Arthur, and Captain Beany, who likes to spend his days bathing in baked beans.

 

 

 

Pies and PrejudicePies and Prejudice: In Search of the North is a whimsical journey through England’s northerly counties by British radio DJ Stuart Maconie, a ‘Northerner in exile’, who returns to his roots to discover the truth about life Up North.

 

 

 

 

 

The Water RoadPaul Gogarty’s The Water Road travels along England’s canals between London and the Humber, Severn and Mersey, colloquially known as the ‘Cut’ or the ‘Grand Cross’. It’s a mix of historical account and modernday travelogue; Gogarty relates a similar trip around English shores in The Coast Road.

 

 

 

 

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here

Travel Editorwww.BestvalueTours.co.uk

Visit Scotland. Small country, massive character,

Small country, massive character

Scotland is an idyllic land, where ancient castles nestle amidst majestic mountains and world-class heritage sites come alive with a rich, turbulent history. The soul-stirring landscapes of the Highlands give way to a rugged coastline, and beyond, to Scotland’s magical isles.

Of course, this romantic heather-hued backdrop exists alongside a vibrant, contemporary new voice. Edinburgh inspires with its imperious castle and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s biggest arts festival. Glasgow’s Victorian cityscape is quite remarkable, as are its free public museums. Year round, both cities host world-class festivals and events which celebrate Scotland’s traditional and contemporary culture.

To experience Scotland is to dance an eightsome reel with the locals in a fast-paced ceilidh, to sample melt-in-the-mouth smoked salmon or to savour a dram of rare single malt. Above all, what makes your visit to Scotland complete is the legendary warm welcome from the down-to-earth Scots. Welcome to our life.

Scotland’s Regions

As you traverse Scotland, you will experience rapid changes in the landscapes from the soft and rolling countryside of the Scottish Borders in the south to the rugged, towering peaks of the Highlands to the north.

Isles are dotted around the coastline where tranquillity and peaceful beaches await while there is history to be uncovered around the country.

Scotland’s cities boast cultural activities and attractions so that you can enjoy wonderful evening concerts and performances, have fun with the whole family and round things off with some excellent cuisine.

Whether you are interested in beautiful architecture or you want to get active and enjoy a round of golf or some adventurous activities, Scotland has something to suit all tastes. You can sip cocktails in cosmopolitan city barssavour fine dining in outstanding restaurants, step back in time inside the oldest pubs in the country, attend local events and festivals or get away from it all in the remotest of landscapes.

What to do in Scotland

Whether you want to discover iconic castles, enjoy fun attractions or attend traditional events, there are plenty of things to see and do around Scotland. Find out more about Scotland’s castles and stately homes and head to Aberdeen City and Shire to follow Scotland’s Castle Trail which comprises 16 magnificent castles, or enjoy a fascinating insight into the past at beautiful historic houses.

Trace your ancestry to reveal your Scottish roots. From Scotlands People Centre in Edinburgh to the sites where battles played out, a variety of resources will help you in your search.

Plus, getting active In Scotland couldn’t be easier – with towering mountain peaks, lochs, glens and rivers to explore. Take an easy stroll or try something more adventurous.

Downloadable Guides: http://www.visitscotland.com/e-brochures/

Tourism Link Source: http://www.cometoscotland.com

Visit Scotland by Train from London: http://www.sightseeingtours.co.uk/uk-day-tours/scotland-tours

Luxury and Budget Tours departing from Edinburgh: http://www.sightseeingtours.co.uk/scotland-tours

Travel Editor
Best value Tours

 

Visit Bath Christmas Market this Festive Season

Join one of our sightseeing tours from London between November 22nd and December 9th and visit one of the largest, most beautiful,  festive markets in Britain.  There is time to explore the traditional market after your visit to the Roman BathsBath Christmas Market

For 18 days, more than 130 quaint wooden stalls line the squares and streets surrounding the impressive Bath Abbey, selling everything you could possibly need for your festive celebrations.  Gift ideas abound, including clothing, accessories, crafts and toys as well as more unusual or one-off pieces of art and jewellery.  Stock up on festive foods with cheeses, pickles and meats galore, and sample wines, liqueurs and local cider to compliment your choices.  Treat yourself to luxurious chocolates and puddings – or why not put together a hamper as a wonderful gift?

Get well and truly into the Christmas spirit and enjoy the atmosphere of the market.  The enchanting sound of carols and the tantalising aroma of sumptuous food on the air add to the ambience of the market, creating a magical experience.  There is no need to rush – with the market open late most evenings, you can take your time and browse the stalls under twinkling lights, before perhaps retiring to a bar or restaurant.

Ideally located in the heart of Bath’s main shopping area, with well-loved high street brands and designer boutiques all around, you can’t fail to find everything you are looking for.  Give yourself a treat this festive season and get your Christmas shopping ‘wrapped up’ in one magical day at Bath Christmas Market

Best Value Tours offer Coach, small group and provide guided tours incuding Bath, Stonehenge, The Cotswolds and Windsor Castle.

Visit their website for more more details.  http://www.SightseeingTours.couk

More uk Christmas Markets: http://www.christmasmarkets.com

Travel Editor
Best Value Tours

European Christmas Market & Shopping Breaks

Visiting the Christmas markets of Europe is a great way to pick up some Christmas shopping bargains whilst grabbing some Christmas cheer and spirit along the way too in some of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Alternatively if you are more Prada than Pretzel, we’ve also included our favourite Christmas shopping destinations around the world

Chroistmas Market StallMunich Christmas Markets (25 Nov 11 – 24 Dec 11)
Visit Munich for some of the oldest and best Christmas markets in Europe. The Christmas markets are held daily between 25 November and 24 December where you’ll find festive gifts, decorations and typical Bavarian food and drink. You’ll be amazed by the bright lights and smells of delicious fare on sale on the market stalls located in the shadow of the wonderful Rathaus building.

Bruges Christmas Markets (26 Nov 11 – 02 Jan 12)
Come to Bruges for a Christmas market that offers all the traditional gifts you would expect, all set in a festive atmosphere of bright lights and tempting aromas. Visit this beautiful old city where the festival stalls are set amongst a backdrop of cobbled streets and historic buildings. Browse for Belgian chocolates, wooden toys and other jolly gifts before relaxing in a bar as you sample a local beer.

Copenhagen Christmas Markets (11 Nov 11 – 29 Dec 11)
Copenhagen’s main Christmas markets are hosted in Tivoli Gardens, the city’s amusement park. In the land of Hans Christian Andersen you will find a Christmas market that is just as magical, with hundreds of Christmas trees and half a million lights illuminating the festive stalls and surrounding park. Browse for traditional gifts like Copenhagen porcelain or wooden dolls as well as local arts, crafts and decorations.

Helsinki Christmas Markets (07 Dec 11 – 22 Dec 11)
The largest Christmas market in Helsinki is held at the Vanha Ylioppilastalo (old student house) where you’ll find local delights including fried herring, mulled wine and tempting pastries. There’s also the Ladies’ Christmas Market with gifts that are all made and sold by women, and St Thomas Christmas Market held at Esplanade Park where you can buy baked goods and other specialities.

Cologne Christmas Markets (21 Nov 11 – 22 Dec 11)
Offering six Christmas markets, the German city of Cologne attracts almost two million visitors every year. The most impressive is at the Cologne Cathedral due to its imposing backdrop, whilst the oldest is at the Neumarkt, the city’s shopping area. Stalls offer a vast selection of festive goods including arts and crafts, Christmas tree decorations and handmade candles.

Krakow Christmas Markets (01 Dec 11 – 24 Dec 11)Christmas Markets
Krakow Christmas market is centred on the city’s huge market square, the Rynek Glowny. Poland’s most beautiful city offers fantastic value and you can pick up some real festive bargains. Take your pick from the handmade Christmas decorations, jewellery and woollen slippers on offer. For New Year’s Eve, Krakow’s entire Old Town historical district turns into one giant ballroom. Thousands of revellers swarm its huge Grand Square and pack into the area’s countless clubs, cafes and restaurants.

Prague Christmas Markets (03 Dec 11 – 01 Jan 11)
The largest and most popular Christmas market in Prague is located in the central square of the Old Town. Between this Christmas market and the one on Wenceslas Square there are about 100 festive market stalls for you to visit. As well as the sparkling rows of decorated stalls you’ll find Christmas concerts and short plays on an open-air stage. A live nativity scene with donkeys, sheep and goats completes the festive setting.

Vienna Christmas Markets (19 Nov 11 – 26 Dec 11)
The Christkindlmarkt on the Town Hall square is Vienna’s famous Christmas market. It is one of the best-known and most visited in all of Europe and when you come you’ll soon see why. It is an unforgettable experience where you’ll be delighted by the smells of spiced fruits, sweets, mulled wine and roasted chestnuts that float around the traditional market stalls.

New York Shopping Break
There’s nothing quite like a Christmas shopping trip in New York City and New Yorkers really like to push the boat out at this time of winter with all of their ‘flagship’ stores such as Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Tiffany and Co’s & Barneys New York going to great lengths to come up with the most beautiful window displays. Take a walk down the famous 5th Avenue to see the best.

Paris Shopping Breaks
Paris boasts some of the world’s most breathtaking department stores, where visitors can browse the latest trends in designer fashion such as Dior and Chanel, browse gourmet food shops, or attend free fashion shows. The Paris department stores are not only shopping shrines, but also architectural treasures, as all are beautifully sculpted and eye catching.

Christmas Market Tours: http://www.sightseeingtours.co.uk/uk-day-tours/christmas-tours-britain-london
Christmas Markets Link: http://www.christmasmarkets.com/UK.html

Next week we focus on UK Christmas Markets

Best Value Tours
www.sightseeingTours.co.uk

Planning your trip to London. Tourist Tips.

Planning your trip to London
There’s one hell of a lot to do in London some basic planning will avoid unnecessary trapsing around on foot or irritating waiting for public transport. It’s best to plan a day out so as to maximise the number of things you can see – and to go for variety. Below are a few mornings, afternoons and whole days out we’ve arranged for visitors – time permitting, we can offer advice by Email (tourist@sightseeingtours.co.uk)  if there’s anything you particularly want to see. Our Walks and itineraries link points of interest – see the separate page.

Planning by length of stay – if you’re only in London for a day, a weekend or a week use our SHORT STAY pages where we show you how to cram as much into your days as possible.

Weather – likely to make or break your visit. Although there are plenty of things to do in London in the rain, a week of low slate-grey skies and constant rain is not condusive to having a good time. The best season to come weatherwise is Late Summer or Autumn – latterly we’ve been having Indian Summers from mid-September to the end of October with clear blue skies and 20 degree temperatures. Eventually the weather breaks as the storm fronts move in off the Atlantic, then clears up for Christmas. February – April can be dire, and the heights of summer are very unpredictable. Consult the Meterological office here for facts and figures but beware predictions – they are so often wrong.
When it’s raining there are plenty of museums and galleries to visit – and the tube system is generally very good outside of rush hour. What you’ll miss out on is strolling through London and seeing the many unique pleasures by the wayside. Click here to see when to visit London.

Hotel Location Best to be near a tube station, buses can be slow and unreliable, and taxis expensive. The yellow circle line on the tube map marks the division between central and not-so-central London. Outside of that Zone your transport bill will rise – and once you’re in LT zone three, considerably. The best restaurants are in Islington, Soho/Chinatown and the south west of London which is where the life is. The City is a dead zone evenings and weekends. Hotel accommodation click here.

Combining Attractions

Baker St tube, Madame Tussauds, walk north to Regent’s Park, the Zoo, then up Primrose Hill, Primrose Hill ‘village’ to Chalk Farm (or cut through Primrose gate by the zoo and along the canal towpath to Camden Lock) and Camden Market (weekends only), Camden Town tube, on a weekend. 4-5 hours.

Train Waterloo – St Margarets, walk 10 mins to Marble Hill House, 5 mins to the foot ferry to, Ham House, walk 25 mins along river to Richmond, tube to Kew Gardens,& back to Waterloo – (can be heavy on the admission charges) Afternoon.

Freemason’s Temple on Great Queen Street, 10 mins from the tube, Covent Garden market, Transport Museum in the Piazza, Backstage tour of Theatre Royal Drury Lane at the back of the transport museum, walk 10 mins to the Strand, the Law Courts and the Inns of Court. Three hours. Circuit round Covent Garden tube.

Tottenham Court Road tube, 10 mins walk to the British Museum, 10 mins walk south to Sir John Soane Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Inns of Court – starting at Lincoln’s Inn, walk 10 mins to the strand and the Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House & Galleries, Charing Cross/Strand. (3-4 hours, depending on how long you stay in the British Museum, Inns of court best weekdays)

Charing Cross tube, 5 mins walk to the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, 5 mins walk down Whitehall to Horseguards, 10 Downing St and the Cabinet War rooms. 10 Mins across St James Park to St James’ Palace, Green Park tube. 3-4 hours.

Westminster tube, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey. 10 mins walk along the river to Tate Britain, Pimlico Tube 2 hours

High St Kensington tube, 10 mins walk to Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, 15 minute walk to Notting Hill, 10 minute walk to Portobello Road market (Saturday – 3 hours) Notting Hill Gate tube.

Old St or Liverpool St tube, 15 min walk/or by bus to Geffrye Museum 10 minute walk to Colombia Road Flower Market, 10 minute walk to Brick Lane, then to Spitalfields Market, Liverpool St tube (on Sundays, 11:00-1500, including lunch)

South Kensington tube, 5 minute walk down tunnel to Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria And Albert Museum, 10 minute walk to Harrods. Knightsbridge tube (for a rainy day)

Queensway or Bayswater tube, hire Skates on Queensway, skate down to Albert Memorial, and thence to Kensington Palace and back to Queensway, exploring the park. Circuit.

Oxford Circus tube, Oxford Street (west half of), St. Christopher’s Place, Wallace collection, Bond Street, Burlington Arcade, Royal Academy. Green park tube.

Waterloo station/tube, London Eye, River walk, Oxo tower, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe, London Bridge station/tube. 3 hours. See also our walks section.

Tower Hill DLR station/Bank tube, Island gardens DLR station, 10 minutes walk under the foot tunnel, Cutty Sark, Greenwich market, Naval Academy, 10 mins walk to the Queen’s House, Royal Observatory, 15 mins back to Greenwich Pier – boat back to Tower Hill – 4 hours.

Monument tube, Monument, 5 mins to Leadenhall Market & Lloyd’s Building, 10 mins walk to Tower of London, St katherine’s dock, Tower Bridge, Shad Thames. Tower Hill tube. (3 -4 hours)

Mansion House tube, Mansion House, 10 mins walk to Guildhall Art gallery, walk round back of Guildhall up the walkways through the Barbican, Museum of London, 10 mins walk to St Paul’s Cathedral, St Paul’s tube. 4 hours.

Leicester Square tube, Leicester Square, Wardour St, walk through Chinatown to Charing Cross Rd, north to Cambridge Circus, along Old Compton St and Brewer Street through Soho, tp Piccadilly Circus, up Regent Street to Liberties, turn right to Carnaby Street, Piccadilly Circus/Oxford Circus tube. (1-2 hours)
London Attractions – click here

Rest of Britain

Virtually everyone flies into London, even if their reason to visit lies elsewhere. Booking a train trip from London to see the rest of the UK is best done AT LEAST TWO DAYS IN ADVANCE – very cheap fares are available, especially on Virgin Trains – as little as £9 return to Chester 2 weeks or more in advance.

Outside of London the major places of interest (apart from those listed on our trips page) would be the Cotswolds (for which you need a car), North Wales: Snowdonia and the Castles (ditto), Oxford, Cambridge, Chester, York and Bath (easily accessible by train), and we’d recommend the North of Norfolk and the Yorkshire Dales (car needed). In Scotland, Edinburgh is the only city attraction – flights are very cheap on Easyjet (much cheaper than rail travel) if you book in advance. For scenery visit the Fort William area, but beware the midges in summer, and the weather in winter. Cornwall and the Devon coast are beautiful, but a long way from anywhere and quite tourist – you can fly there using the cheap internet airlines – cheap if you book enough in advance. No city except London merits more than one day.

So many tourist boards will bombard you with information trying to sell themselves – caveat emptor is the rule. Britain earns millions of pounds from tourists, make sure you get good independent advice on places outside of London before you even think of visiting them . Many tourist boards have been caught lying and taken to court, and one Chief Tourist Officer of a large northern city resigned because he could no longer go on lying – his city really wasn’t worth visiting despite the tourist propaganda his department put out One seaside resort has been prosecuted for doctoring photos and the 2007/8 season ads for Scotland featured snow footage that was decades old and unlikely to match the reality, due to global warming.

We wouldn’t recommend Manchester (except the Lowry), Liverpool (except for the art galleries – see our art page) despite it being city of Culture, Birmingham or anywhere in the Midlands (except for Chatworth House near Chesterfield), The Lake District ( very beautiful but too crowded unless you’re going hill walking which is excellent – if you are stay at the Gilpin Lodge and do some of the set walks, but allow two/three days minimum.), Leeds, Bradford, Hull, Newcastle (unless you like drunkenness) South Wales except the Black country or the Gower Penninsula, Blackpool – or any seaside resort except Brighton, Portsmouth, The Isle of Wight (expensive ferry) Aberdeen, Inverness (the Lochs excepted), Lancaster or Sunderland (except Hadrian’s Wall). Some of these places are grim by any standards.
If you’re a party animal only, then Manchester has a good club scene and Newcastle is good for overindulgence in alcohol and loose women, as well as streetfights – it’s where the Rolling Stones’ ‘Streetfighting Man’ comes from… A male friend was beaten up by some Geordie lasses outside a nightclub, so maybe streetfighting women as well.
The Knowhere site is good for info on smaller tourist locations, but is aimed at skateboarders – its judgement on the overall character of a place is often spot-on – though generally they’re not a very helpful bunch .
Tours of Britain departing from London – Click here

Travel editor
Best Value Tours – www.SightseeingTours.co.uk