Out of London tour ideas
Explore. Discover. Experience
Here are some of the many tours we offer around the country. Many of these sights can be combined into longer days or multiple day trips, and are tailor-made for each booking. Please ask for our pricing for these excursions.
This list is not exhaustive so please feel free to get in touch and we can work on areas you’d like to cover, or give other suggestions to fit around your schedule.
The classic. One of the most popular destinations. Home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and her husband Prince Philip. Location for recent star-studded royal weddings; spiritual home for the Order of the Garter, England’s most senior order of knighthood started in 1348!
Home to the Monarchs for over 850 years there is tonnes to see and hear about at Windsor. Located just outside London proper, a day trip to Windsor and the castle lasts between 4 and 5 hours from central London. Windsor is also a great jumping-off point to other places outside the city; consider adding a trip to the Thames River valley with its lovely villages and snug little country pubs, or going on to Stonehenge or Oxford.
Tours to Windsor take around 4-5 hours.
Hampton Court Palace
Situated beside the Thames in the green suburbs of London, Hampton Court is a Grand Royal Palace and hunting lodge that was the favourite residence of one of England’s most famous Kings: Henry VIII.
With wings of the Palace built over different centuries, a walk around Hampton Court is a journey through the story of the English monarchy from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Unlike many of the other Royal Palaces, with no royal living at Hampton Court, you have far greater access to areas of the Palace that you wouldn’t see at Windsor or Buckingham.
Hampton Court is surrounded by gorgeous gardens laid out in perfect baroque geometries or left to emulate the wild splendour of an English country meadow. There are some lovely walks available around the site, there’s even a hedge maze to explore for the young at heart.
Tours to Hampton Court alone take between 4 and 5 hours from central London.
On the side of an empty hillside on the Salisbury Plain stand a ring of stones that were put up by a people so ancient we know very little about their culture, or why they were building here so long ago.
One of Britain’s most enduring mysteries for centuries; the local folk simply accepted that the stones had been put there by giants. On our day out to Stonehenge, you will visit the ancient monument and hear the theories we are slowly piecing together, as the stones slowly yield to modern archaeology.
After several years of taking trips to the Stones, I have never had a group of guests experience quite the same reaction to seeing this wonder for the first time.
Tours to Stonehenge alone take about 6 hours from London.
Adding on a trip to a country pub for lunch works very well with a visit to Stonehenge, and the Medieval city and Cathedral of Salisbury are close by as well. Often guests who have come as far as Stonehenge take advantage of the fact that from there it is only another hour’s journey to the beautiful and historic town of Bath…
Far to the west of London and deep in the Avon River valley lies the beautiful town of Bath. Built uniformly in creamy limestone in a neo-classical style, Bath is one of the most attractive towns in the country; it’s also soaked in history. The Roman Baths after which Bath is named are the best-preserved Roman baths, boasting the largest single bath north of the Alps. Dating back to the 1st century AD, the baths are a must-see site if you make it to this part of the world.
If you’ve watched any movies set in England between 1700 and 1900 you’ve probably seen a shot or two filmed in Bath. Bath’s architecture is the quintessential look of the Regency period. It is instantly possible to imagine you are seeing the town that Jane Austin, Charles Dickens and anyone else writing at the time couldn’t help but mention because you actually are seeing the Bath that they would have recognised. Wander through streets and grand ballrooms that would have thronged with society 200 years ago.
Tours from London to Bath alone start from 8 hours.
Bath and Stonehenge is an 11 hour day.
Salisbury boasts a grand 13th century Cathedral, and a well-preserved Medieval market town overlooked by fortification of Old Sarum that dates back to the iron age.
The Cathedral itself is one of stunning beauty and uniformity, with a host of things to see inside not least of which is the Magna Carta Document. Back in 1215, King John was forced to concede by his Barons that even himself, the King, was not above the law of the land. The Magna Carta was the declaration of this fact and 40 of these declarations were sent throughout the land. Today you can gaze on an 800 year old document that is one of the bases upon which our modern democracy stands.
The town of Salisbury is laid out in the grid pattern of a medieval market town, with tile hung buildings running down to the water meadows on the edge of town.
Tours to Salisbury only start from 6 hours.
A day with Stonehenge and Salisbury starts from 9 hours.
Warwick and Kenilworth Castles
Situated just 15 minutes’ drive from one another, Warwick Castle and Kenilworth Castle showcase the best of British tourism in two very different sites.
Warwick is all the excitement of a theme park squeezed into a castle shell with Archery and Falconry displays, Waxworks and Horror Dungeons; it’s a great family day out. If, like me, you love a castle because it’s a castle then there are stories of daring Earls of Warwick and royal prisoners to keep you going. Throughout the summer there’s even a Joust every day!
Kenilworth is the finest ruined castle you are ever likely to see. Built of Pink Sandstone it boasts three great towers constructed hundreds of years apart. One from the 12th century one from the 14th and extremely luxurious tower from the 16th century. Then in the English Civil War of the 17th century, the castle was “slighted by cannon” to make it useless as a fortification. What is left is a stunning picture of castle building through the ages like a picture book of the inner layers of a castle.
Tours to one of these castles start from 6 hours.
Both castles in a day would be 10 hours.
A trip to this part of the world brings you really close to Shakespeare’s home of Stratford-on-Avon, and visiting one of the castles and then Stratford makes a great full day out.
Home of William Shakespeare. It was from Stratford-upon-Avon that he wrote his later plays, and he drew much inspiration from the surrounding countryside. Several of the buildings used by the Shakespeare family are preserved and open to visit today thanks to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. The town also boasts the school where the young William would have learnt his “small Latin and less Greek” and the Church in which the Shakespeares are buried.
A tour to Stratford on its own lasts 6 hours.
A tour including Stratford and Kenilworth or Warwick Castle takes around 10 hours.
City of scholars full of Grand Colleges and home to a world class university.
Oxford is a picturesque town where the 39 colleges of Oxford University tower impressively around every corner in the old medieval town centre. The old town is surrounded by winding streams and open green spaces so you’re never too far from the rural beauty of Oxfordshire.
The University is the oldest in the country, and one of the top institutions in the world. Tours will include a visit to at least one of the colleges to see the way the Scholars and Dons have lived and studied for centuries.
Oxford is just a stone’s throw from the Cotswolds Area of Natural Beauty, so a great day out includes a visit to Oxford, and then an afternoon touring the villages of the Cotswolds. Another suggestion is to combine Oxford, the impressive Blenheim Palace and lunch in a little Cotswold village.
Tours of Oxford alone start from 6 hours.
Including the Cotswolds and or Blenheim Palace adds another 4 hours to the day.
Almost as old as Oxford, and just as beautiful, Cambridge is a University Town with everything within a short walk of the centre. There are Pubs with links to the US Airforce stationed here in WWII, churches with links to the Harvard family and the option to float along the river Cam in a punt, hearing about the colleges as you pass along “the Backs”.
Days to Cambridge alone by car last 9 hours.
A day including Duxford and Cambridge lasts 10 hours (note: less time in Cambridge).
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Down on the south coast of England, the city of Portsmouth has been a Royal Naval dockyard for centuries. Now some of the dockyard has been turned into a museum that showcases some of the largest and most famous ships that ever sailed out of British ports.
Among the highlights are the Victory, the ship aboard which Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson won the Battle of Trafalgar against the forces of Napoleon in 1805. Also, the museum includes the Mary Rose, one of the prize ships of the navy of King Henry VIII and the only 16th-century battleship still even partially intact today.
Portsmouth boasts several other historical treats including a museum dedicated to the D-Day landings of WWII, and even submarine and explosion museum.
Trips from London to Portsmouth take roughly 10 hours.
Over my years of guiding I have developed two tours relating to Jane Austen and her works: one of her homes and frequented spots in Bath, the other of the towns and villages in Hampshire where she was born (Steventon), wrote many of her works (Chawton), and where she spent her final weeks and was ultimately buried (Winchester). Both Bath and Hampshire are a full day out, but could be combined with an overnight stay or just as two-day trips from London.
Jane Austen in Hampshire (Chawton and Winchester) takes around 10 hours.
Jane Austen in Bath takes around 10 hours.
Imperial War Museum Duxford
This old World War II airbase was used by both the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force. Today, spread over 6 massive hangers the Imperial War museum showcases the great aircraft of WWII and since from both sides of the Atlantic. There’s even a tank museum.
Also on the airfield, most days you will see old propeller planes being flown by enthusiasts, and for a premium, you can even take a flight in a classic plane from yesteryear.
Duxford is on the way to Cambridge so combines well with a day out there, or you might want to spend half a day here then half a day at Bletchley Park thrilling at tales of the code breakers working on the wartime German Enigma code. On a more sombre note, Duxford and Cambridge are both close to the American War cemetery. If you had a family member who served in the Second World War in the US Airforce, and he was buried in Britain chances are he was buried here. The staff on hand will help you trace a grave and there is a small museum and very impressive memorial on-site as well.
Tours to Duxford take around 6 hours.
Quaint chocolate box villages forgotten by time amid rolling hills. Dotted with pubs, antique shops and sheep...oh so many sheep.
There are many villages to explore, shops to find, and views to see. Together we can plan a day here visiting the villages you’ve heard about, or you can sit back and see what your expert guide finds for you on the day.
There is enough to last several days in the Cotswolds as it is a huge area stretching from Oxford to Stratford-on-Avon and on to Bath. You could consider an overnight stay out here, or just get a taste for the region in half a day combined with one of those locations mentioned.
A full day in the Cotswolds driving from London lasts about 10 hours.
Castles of Kent
Choose from Hever, Leeds and Dover castle all fascinating for their own reasons.
Hever was the childhood home of Queen Ann Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII. Bought and restored by the Astor family in the 20th century, Hever now boasts a mixture of castle walls, renaissance rooms and fine Italian gardens that would look at home in an episode of Downton Abbey.
Leeds Castle described as the “loveliest castle in the world,” and has a charm that will stay with you for years. Grand Castle on two islands in the centre of a lake with outer defensive works including and old fortified watermill, and rooms representing the many queens to whom the castle was given as a wedding present. The castle alone is worth a day on its own but the grounds include a vast range of activities from a massive complex hedge maze, to off-road Segwaying, to have a go falconry.
Dover Castle, the massive, imposing, key to the kingdom. Dover sits on the white clifftops high above the port of Dover a fortress that has never fallen to attack since its early origins. Dover is a real castle with multiple lines of defence starting from a 12th century stone keep with recreated medieval interiors at the centre travelling out through the centuries with extra walls being added in different eras right up to World War II tunnels being dug under the castle to house the British Admiralty while they masterminded operations in the English Channel.
A day out in Kent visiting two of these castles should take 9-10 hours. All three might take more than a day if you wanted more than a brief overview of each site. Heaver Castle is in fact very close to Chartwell, the home of Britain’s wartime prime minister Winston Churchill, so if you wanted a slightly shorter day, or you are a real fan of Churchill then these two could be an option for you.
Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) is unlikely now to open this year, but get in touch to discuss the season for 2021.
In the meantime, we run tours to filming locations in the Cotswolds, so feel free to get in touch to discuss days out there with a Downton feel.
Arundel Castle and Town
As you approach Arundel from the south, the castle and associated Cathedral rise up on their hill side like they popped straight out of the pages of a fairy tale.
The castle itself encompasses a 12th century keep, and a more modern wing with history and portraiture from the 14th century up to today. The family chapel and ornamental gardens are both fascinating to behold with the Howard family’s history of being Catholic nobles in a Protestant country weaved throughout the estate.
Sitting in the castles shadow, Arundel town continues the picture book feel with gorgeous half-timbered buildings, fine restaurants, antique shops and a 200 year old Catholic Cathedral that evokes Paris’ Notre Dame in its French Gothic architecture.
A whole day in Arundel visiting the castle and town starts from 9 hours.