Travelers to Great Britain can get almost anywhere by train across England, Scotland, and Wales, and it's a comfortable, punctual mode of travel, especially for those who don't want to rent a car and drive on the unfamiliar left side of the road.

The best way to get around by train is to buy one of several BritRail passes that provide options for consecutive-day travel or based on the number of train trips the traveler wants to take in a specific time frame.

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For example, the BritRail Pass has a flexible option that is valid for travel in all three countries for any two, three, four, or eight days of travel within one month, and a consecutive option where visitors can use the pass on set numbers of consecutive days in one month. Prices vary based on the type of pass and the number of trips selected.

Similar choices for flexible or consecutive-day travel are available on BritRail England, BritRail London Plus, and the Southwest Pass, and on three passes for Scotland, including Spirit of Scotland, Central Scotland, and the Scottish Highlands. The BritRail England pass, for instance, allows the holder to travel across all of England, while the London Plus provides travel to the southeast of England as well as on the London Overground Network.

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Many Advantages To Traveling By Train In The U.K.

Using a BritRail pass allows the traveler to board any train that's part of the National Rail network, which includes 20-plus train companies – virtually the whole network. Buying a pass often is cheaper than buying individual tickets, and tourists can hop on and off as they please, so long as they adhere to the number of days of travel they purchased.

Most tourists will start out in London since the lion's share of travelers will enter the U.K. at a London airport. Train travel times to many popular destinations are shorter than one might imagine. From London Paddington Station, for instance, visitors can be in Bath in an hour and a half and in Cardiff, Wales, in two hours. From London Victoria Station, it's just an hour to Brighton, and from London Waterloo, visitors can be in Salisbury in an hour and 20 minutes.

Since BritRail passes are strictly for foreign tourists, they cannot be purchased in the U.K. Visitors must book their pass before leaving their home country, according to BritRail rules. The passes can be purchased up to six months in advance, allowing tourists plenty of time to pour over the BritRail route maps and plan their trips, and travelers can choose between standard and first-class passes, depending on how much they wish to spend.

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Standard class offers basic service, while first-class provides wider seats with more legroom and, in some cases, free snacks, drinks, and WiFi. In either class, up to three pieces of luggage are allowed before extra fees kick in. Typically, the first class will cost about one-third more than the cost of the standard class.

Travel From London To Destinations In The West Of England

With a BritRail England pass in hand, travelers are all set to leave Big Ben and Westminster Abbey for a few days to check out some popular destinations in the west of England. A trip to Bath is a good example of an easy getaway by rail.

Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an extremely popular place to visit because of its Roman Baths museum complex and its Georgian architecture, considered the best preserved such architecture in the U.K. The baths, which contain their original Roman pavements, pools, and stonework, were built in 75 AD, and their use of them was a routine part of Roman life. The baths are not open for bathing anymore. The museum adjacent to the baths has more Roman ruins and artifacts on exhibit.

One of the most splendid examples of Georgian architecture in Bath is the Royal Crescent, a golden-hued, half-moon-shaped building of 30 terraced houses built between 1767 and 1774. Other Georgian buildings can be seen throughout the city.

One of the houses inside the Royal Crescent is operated as the Royal Crescent Hotel, a luxury property with a spa, fine dining, concierge services, and other upscale amenities. A deluxe suite will cost about $1,000 per night. Other lodging options in Bath aren't quite as grand and are less expensive, with rooms that can be booked for under $200 per night.

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A worthwhile add-on trip from Bath using the BritRail England pass is to Stratford-Upon-Avon, where William Shakespeare lived and is buried. The train journey is roughly three hours, and visitors can see the house where he was born and visit his grave in the Holy Trinity Church cemetery. Another local spot with ties to Shakespeare is Mary Arden's Farm. She was Shakespeare's mother, and the house is a working farm and opens for tours. Fans of the bard also can visit the city's Swan Theatre, where the Royal Shakespeare Company performs today. The city offers many lodging choices.