3 perfect England itineraries for every type of traveler
Want to see as much of England as possible on your trip but don’t know where to start? Here are three of our best 7-10 day itineraries to give you some inspiration.
Each of these classic trips will give you a different insight into this green and pleasant land. But the one thing they have in common is you’ll leave with a deep appreciation of everything that makes England special: a contrast of wild and idyllic landscapes, fascinating history and captivating urban destinations.
Essential England – a 10-day itinerary
A week and a half is long enough to tick off many of England’s classic highlights. This tour takes in a dozen of the nation’s top sights, from London to the Lakes.
Day 1: Tour the streets of the capital
What better way to kickstart your perfect England itinerary than starting with a full day in the nation’s vibrant capital, London? If you only have one day to explore, simply set out on foot to admire such world-famous sights as Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square and more.
How to get from London to Winchester: Drive or take the train from London to Winchester; direct trains take an hour and run from Waterloo Station.
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Day 2: Captivating cathedral cities
Moving southwest, you can explore one or both of the grand cathedral cities of Winchester and Salisbury. Winchester is slightly closer to London and is a history-lover’s dream with long connections to King Arthur, Sir Walter Raleigh and Alfred the Great. Another 45 minutes by road will take you to Salisbury Cathedral and one of only four surviving copies of the Magna Carta.
Go from Winchester to Bath: A hire car will open up some interesting side-trips en route to Bath. Don’t leave the area before making a detour to see the iconic megaliths of Stonehenge.
Day 3: A literary day in Bath
A short hop northwest leads to the beautiful city of Bath, for Roman history and fabulous Georgian architecture. For literature fans, the city has many connections to Jane Austen and, more recently, it formed the stage for Netflix’s smash hit TV series Bridgerton.
Go from Bath to Oxford: The quickest route to Oxford is by train, connecting at Didcot Parkway. However, if you have a car and can afford a bit more time on the road, traveling by road has its benefits. You’ll be able to cruise across the classic English countryside of the Cotswolds with plenty of scenic pit stops on the way.
Day 5: Study the beauty of Oxford
An hour and a half trip by road or train will deliver you to that ancient seat of learning, Oxford. After you take in the sights and sounds of the famous university, find an idyllic English pub to cozy up in with a classic English novel.
For an optional extra day, just an hour’s drive away from Oxford is Stratford-upon-Avon. The official home of everything Shakespeare, Stratford is a pilgrimage destination for fans of the Bard and there are plenty of must-sees for anyone with an interest.
Go from Oxford to the Lake District: Circling back to London, you can pick up a direct train from Euston station that will get you to Oxenholme in the Lake District in under three hours. Alternatively, driving from Oxford to the Lakes will take you four hours.
Day 6 & 7: Find an outdoor paradise in the Lake District
Deservedly the most popular national park in the UK, the Lake District is a dream for outdoor enthusiasts. There are plenty of walking routes, swimming spots and cycling trails; stay the night and you can enjoy some of the country’s best stargazing.
Go from the Lake District to York: Navigate around the fringes of Yorkshire Dales National Park to York. Driving is the quickest route – otherwise expect a three-hour train journey with multiple changes available.
Day 8: Discover the delights of York
History buffs will love York for its Viking remains and stunning gothic Minster (cathedral). A medieval marvel, the highlight of the city is the Shambles, surely one of the most photographed laneways in England.
Go from York to Cambridge: The last long travel portion of this itinerary – the drive to Cambridge – will take three hours, though the train (connecting at Stevenage) will have you there slightly faster.
Day 9: Punt around Cambridge
Break up your trip back to the capital with a visit to learned Cambridge, England’s other great university city. If the weather is good and you’re feeling energetic, rent a punt to explore The Backs of the colleges, or sit back and take a guided punt tour.
Go from Cambridge to London: From here it’s a short one-hour train journey or an hour and a half drive back to the capital.
Day 10: Back to London
Enjoy a final day back in London, immersing yourself in galleries, museums, parks, street markets, West End shows or East End cafes – or whatever takes your fancy. Best of all, many of the top cultural experiences are free.
The wild side of England – a 10-day itinerary
This trip is a tour through the best of England’s natural landscapes, the inspiration for generations of poets, writers and composers. Put on your hiking boots as we meander through some of the country’s finest national parks and open countryside.
There are several different entry points and bases to choose from for each of the parks so driving distance and public transport connections can vary. Generally, the driving distance between each point on this itinerary is between 1.5 and 2.5 hours.
Day 1: Ramble along Hadrian’s Wall
Start at the spectacular Roman remains of Hadrian’s Wall, one of England’s finest reminders of the classical era, where you can explore the ruins of Roman forts and stride, centurion-style, beside ancient ramparts.
Day 2: Unleash your inner poet in Lake District National Park
Continue into Cumbria to view the high peaks and deep lakes of the Lake District National Park. Once the spiritual home of Wordsworth and the Romantic poets, Lakeland is now a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts, with hikes for all abilities, plus cozy inns and country hotels to retreat to afterward.
Day 3: Find literary inspiration at Yorkshire Dales National Park
Traveling east from the Lakes carries you across the Pennines – the chain of hills known as ‘the backbone of England’ – to reach the green fells (hilltops) and dales (valleys) of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Nearby are the dramatic moors around Emily Brontë’s former home at Haworth – inspiration for Wuthering Heights.
Day 4: Take a spa break in Peak District National Park
Travel south through the hills and dales of the Peak District National Park. Buxton makes a great base for an overnight stop – you can enjoy the town’s Thermal Spa and duck into the magnificent Poole’s Cavern. Stop off to explore the lovely parklands around Chatsworth House near Bakewell if time allows.
Day 5: Feel a natural symphony in the Cotswolds
Travel through central England, via Elgar’s beloved Malvern Hills, to reach the classic English countryside of the Cotswolds. Named for its famous rolling hills, this lovely landscape is worth meandering through slowly, by car or bicycle, on foot or on horseback.
Day 6: Unravel the mysteries of Salisbury Plain
Continue southwards to enjoy the epic emptiness of Salisbury Plain, home to Stonehenge and other intriguing archaeological relics. Nearby is Avebury, England’s other great stone circle, with cozy pubs for a mid-walk pint.
Day 7: Find fossils on the Jurassic Coast
A few miles more and you’re on Dorset‘s spectacular fossil-ridden Jurassic Coast. There are dozens of circular walking routes to explore, and Lyme Regis makes for the perfect seaside pit stop.
Day 8: Track down wild ponies in Exmoor National Park
Head further west to take in the lush farmland of Devon and the heathery hills and sandy coves of Exmoor National Park. This otherworldly landscape is often graced by the appearance of wild ponies and deer so keep a camera to hand.
Day 9: Get uplifted on the moors of Dartmoor National Park
Onward to the eerie granite tors of Dartmoor National Park, which offer some of the country’s most bleakly beautiful views. The famous mist adds to the haunting magic, although not without some navigation challenges. It’s easy to see how Dartmoor inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Day 10: Finish is cozy coves in Cornwall
Finally, enjoy the famous vistas of pretty ports, gorse-clad cliffs and sparkling bays in Cornwall. Finish this bucolic excursion at Land’s End, where the English mainland finally runs out of steam and plunges headlong into the restless ocean.
Introducing Roman England – a 7-day itinerary
What did the Romans do for us? Find out on this south-to-north train trip back into England’s past, covering 572 miles (920 km) of landscapes and history.
Day 1: Hello Londinium
Londinium, the largest city in ancient Britannia, was a Roman creation. For an overview, start with the Museum of London’s excellent Roman galleries, then see the remains of the 2nd-century amphitheater at Guildhall Art Gallery, the Temple of Mithras in the Bloomberg Building, and parts of the original Roman city walls just outside the exit of Tower Hill Underground station.
Go from London to Fishbourne: Take the train from Victoria Station to Fishbourne (1hr 50min).
Day 2: The villas of Fishbourne Palace
Romanized Britons built lavish country villas with all the latest mod-cons of the age, and one prime example is Fishbourne Palace near Chichester. Inside, the mosaics, especially the famous Dolphin Mosaic, are exquisite. Outside, the recreated villa gardens are the oldest in the UK.
Go from Fishbourne to Bath: Take the train from Fishbourne to Bath (3hrs).
Day 3: Take a bath in Bath
The Romans didn’t discover the waters at Bath, but they did build a huge bathing complex over them in the city they named Aquae Sulis. The 19th-century building over the site today contains the original Roman pools and a museum. For more modern dunking, the Thermae Bath Spa is just around the corner.
Go from Bath to Chester: Take the train from Bath to Chester (4hrs).
Day 4: Stand in the amphitheater of Chester
The amphitheater at Deva Victrix (ancient Chester) was the largest in Britannia, built for the entertainment and training of the Roman soldiers stationed here. Excavated sections include two entrances used by performers. Nearby, in the middle of a former Roman quarry, the Minerva Shrine has a sculpture of the goddess of war and craftsmanship.
Go from Chester to York: Take the train from Chester to York (3hrs).
Day 5: Enjoy Eboracum (aka York)
When two Roman emperors die in your city and one is proclaimed there (Constantine the Great – his statue sits outside York Minster), you’ve earned your place in Roman history. Eboracum, the Roman city of York, was founded by soldiers in 71 CE. Roman-era remnants include the remains of a basilica beneath York Minster and a bathhouse in the Roman Bath pub.
Go from York to Hadrian’s Wall: Take the train to Hexham (1hr 45min).
Day 6: Patrol along Hadrian’s Wall
Hadrian’s Wall was a full stop in stone, marking the northernmost limits of the expansion of the Roman Empire. Built up from 122 CE onwards, this fortified wall stretches (almost) coast to coast across northern England. Highlights include Housesteads Fort and the Vindolanda Museum with handwritten letters from Romans stationed on the wall. Connect the sites along the wall using the AD122 bus, which starts from the abbey town of Hexham.
Go from Hadrian’s Wall to London: Trains run from Hexham back to London, with a change in Newcastle (from 4.5 hrs).
Day 7: Back to Londinium
Spend a final day in the capital, admiring some of the finest Roman treasures unearthed in England at the stunning British Museum. Seek out the Mildenhall Treasure – a remarkable haul of Roman silver discovered by a farmer in Suffolk in 1942.
Destination expert AnneMarie McCarthy reviewed and updated this text for accuracy and relevance. Some content has been adapted from Lonely Planet’s print edition.
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