Highlights of England
Welcome to England! This seven-day tour is the perfect introduction to one of the world’s most iconic destinations. It takes in UNESCO World Heritage sites, historic cities, stately homes, traditional English cuisine, celebrated culture and more types of architecture than you can shake a spirit level at! Visit the Queen’s official residences, discover what life was like as a Viking and see where your favourite literary heroes got their inspiration.
Day 1: London
You could spend weeks in London and not see everything this world-class city has to offer, but with careful planning you can cover the very best bits in a day. Start with towering Big Ben and Westminster Abbey on Parliament Square. A gentle stroll across royal St James Park, where pelicans perch on the benches, will take you to Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard ceremony.
Head along to the picturesque Dickens Inn in St Katherine’s Dock for a traditional pub lunch then take a short walk to the Tower of London. Pass the Beefeater guards and be dazzled by some of the world’s most famous gems. From there, a cruise along the River Thames will give you a fisheye view of the city. For your evening entertainment, book a pre-theatre supper in one of Covent Garden’s alfresco restaurants before heading to Theatreland for a show. Overnight London
Day 2: Windsor and Oxford
Hop on the train from Waterloo Station to Windsor, home to the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world: Windsor Castle. It’s an official residence of Her Majesty the Queen. Highlights include the magnificent state apartments and St George’s Chapel (burial place of 10 British monarchs). Lunch in The Crooked House of Windsor, whose 400-year-old wonkily leaning structure is one of Windsor’s must-sees.
After lunch, take a train west to a city famous for its Harry Potter connections. Oxford is home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world and its colleges are scattered through the city centre. You can explore them by yourself, taking in Christ Church’s Great Hall, Magdalen’s high street-dominating tower and the purple wisteria that drapes the old stone walls of Jesus College. Afterwards, soak up some local nightlife in The Eagle and Child. You’ll be in good company – authors CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien once drank real ale here too. Overnight Oxford
Day 3: Blenheim Palace and Bath
After covering all that ground yesterday, it’s time for a break. Only eight miles from Oxford is Blenheim Palace. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the Duke of Marlborough and the birthplace of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. While away the day touring the exquisitely baroque State Rooms and relive the colourful events of the last 300 years through the eyes of its household staff. Outside, the park and Formal Gardens are a great place to stretch your legs while families can let off steam in the Pleasure Gardens. When you’re ready, return to Oxford – frequent public buses run between Blenheim and Oxford city centre – and jump on the train to Bath, another UNESCO World Heritage Site only 1.5 hours away.
Honey-coloured Bath Spa is a rather refined city. Spend the evening exploring the streets on foot – its compact centre is a pleasant mix of Georgian crescents, squares and circuses sprinkled with Roman remains. Dine on modern British cuisine in The Olive Tree – you’ll need to book ahead. Overnight Bath
Day 4: Bath and Stratford-upon-Avon
Bath is yet another destination that really deserves a few days of your time. So with one day at your disposal, join an organised tour – you can choose from bus, walking or chauffeur-driven trike. We love the ‘In the Footsteps of Jane Austen’ tour. Whatever you do, don’t miss shoplined Pulteney Bridge, Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and Royal Crescent.
If you have time, browse the shops along trendy Milsom Street and book a session at Thermae Bath Spa; people have been enjoying the warm, mineral-rich waters of England’s original and only natural thermal spa for over 2,000 years. For a truly Bath experience, buy a package that includes entry to the Roman Baths, two hours in Thermae and lunch in the Pump Room restaurant, where you can “take the waters” just like they did in Jane Austen’s time.
From one literary legend to another, take a train from Bath to Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare. In the evening catch one of Shakespeare’s plays at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre or The Swan. Overnight Stratford-upon-Avon
Day 5: Stratford-upon-Avon
Join a City Sightseeing hop-on, hop-off bus sightseeing tour of timberframed Stratford’s many visitor attractions, including Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Mary Arden’s House and The Royal Shakespeare Theatre. If you prefer JK Rowling to England’s greatest bard, head to The Museum of Wizardology and Magic Alley on Henley Street to buy your own magical wares. It’s just like stepping into the pages of a Harry Potter book!
Finish off your Stratford experience with lunch in the RSC Theatre’s new Rooftop Restaurant, with superb views of the River Avon. To make the most of your stay in England take a train to York as dusk falls. Overnight York
Days 6: York
Head straight to York Minster, north Europe’s largest Gothic cathedral, and climb the 275 steps to the top of the tower for sweeping views of the city. The ground-breaking Jorvik Viking Centre reveals the houses, workshops and backyards of the Viking city of Jorvik as it stood 1,000 years ago. Refuel with traditional afternoon tea at the ornate Bettys teashop on St Helen’s Square. Then it’s time to take the high-speed train service back to London. Overnight London
Day 7: London
Back in London, make the most of your final day with a ride on the London Eye, one of London’s top tourist attractions. You can join another group, book a private capsule or opt for the Champagne Experience. Book the Pimm’s Experience to sample a quintessentially English summer drink as you sweep over London. At the top of the arc, London sprawls beneath you like a pop-up map, with the River Thames glinting in front of the Houses of Parliament and under Tower Bridge. Take the Underground to the National Gallery for lunch at the National Dining Rooms followed by a tour of the National Gallery.
Finally, set aside the afternoon to shop for souvenirs of your England trip. London’s world-class shopping destinations include bustling Oxford Street with its 300-plus shops; designer boutiques in Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and Westfield’s immense shopping centres in east and west London. For quirky retail therapy, try Covent Garden or Marylebone High Street. Overnight London
Included in this package
- 7 nights hotel accommodation on a Bed & Breakfast basis
- Standard Class Rail ticket
- VAT at 20%