- Take in the sights of Oxford, from the University to the historic Bodleian Library
- Stroll the storybook Cotswolds charming homes, stone walls, and quaint shops
- Walk in the footsteps of William Shakespeare and see a play in Stratford-upon-Avon
- Stroll the city of Bath, known for its Roman baths and Georgian architecture
|Day 1||Arrive in London & Tour Oxford||Oxford|
|Day 2||Visit Blenheim Palace, Warwick Castle & Stratford-upon-Avon||Stratford-upon-Avon|
|Day 3||Explore the Cotswolds & Cheltenham||Cheltenham|
|Day 4||Tour More of the Cotswolds & Bath||Bath|
|Day 5||Last Day in Bath and Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in London & Tour Oxford
Welcome to England! Upon arrival, meet your private guide and travel to the beautiful city of Oxford. Pass through the rolling hills of the Chilterns and historic villages, including Hambleden Valley, where "Band of Brothers" and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" were filmed. After checking into your hotel in Oxford, set out on foot to explore the historic city center—thanks to its famous spires and magnificent buildings, it's like an open-air museum. The city is perhaps best known for the world-renowned University of Oxford, composed of several different colleges. Spend your time visiting the various schools and exploring the city's other treasures.
There are many different tours and experiences to help you learn more about the city, which allow you to fill your day according to your preferences. If you prefer to take a guided tour, you can choose from:
- A behind-the-scenes tour of Oxford's famous university: This tour is led by experienced guides who show the best of the colleges and quads and a few hidden corners.
- A tour of the Bodleian Library: Known for its awe-inspiring architecture, hear the stories from the historic heart of the University at one of the oldest working libraries in the world.
In the evening, enjoy a pint or two and a hearty meal at one of the city's traditional pubs (or hop from one to another), some of which are the former haunts of famous English writers and musicians.
Day 2: Visit Blenheim Palace, Warwick Castle & Stratford-upon-Avon
Today, head north into the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside. Your first stop is Blenheim Palace, one of England's grandest houses and the birthplace of Winston Churchill. His life is well-documented here, but you can also explore the gardens and 2,000 acres of parkland at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, in addition to the historic house.
The next stop is Warwick Castle, first built by William the Conqueror in 1068. Experience more than 1,000 years of history at this medieval estate, including its great hall, dungeon, gardens, historical reenactments, and daily schedule of events. Next, it's time to visit Stratford-upon-Avon, home to William Shakespeare. There are several renowned theatres in this pretty market town, and The Bard's works are staged year-round.
When you arrive, settle into your hotel before enjoying a play in the evening.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 3: Explore the Cotswolds & Cheltenham
Start the day by further exploring Stratford-upon-Avon. Visit the house where Shakespeare was born, as well as the church where he was laid to rest. The river and canal make great places for quintessential English country walks. Afterward, head into the Cotswolds hills, home to some of the most beautiful villages in England. Among the must-see: Bourton-on-the-Hill, Burford, Bourton-on-the-Water, Bibury, Castle Combe, and Lacock. There's so much to see it's best to split the tour of the Cotswolds into two days.
Begin in Chipping Campden, a charming and typical Cotswolds market town, full of history and heritage, and home of great local shopping and superb coffee and cake. Then, stop at the iconic Broadway Tower, a landmark on top of the Cotswolds escarpment, with beautiful views across the Avon Valley. Just below sits the village of Broadway, sometimes referred to as the "Jewel of the Cotswolds." The "Broadway" refers to the wide, grass-fringed main street, centered on the green, which is lined with red chestnut trees and honey-colored Cotswold limestone buildings, many of which date back to the 16th century.
Next, pay a visit to the hilltop market town of Stow-on-the-Wold, the highest of the Cotswold towns standing 800 feet high. Peruse the galleries and antique shops in the town center. You can also explore Lower Slaughter, a sleepy village with beautiful caramel-colored stone houses set along the low-lying stream, which horses regularly trot through. Near the village's watermill, there's a museum/café that serves hand-churned ice cream—on a sunny day, grab a cone and sit on one of the stone bridges.
Next, pass through Bourton-on-the-Water, known as one of the prettiest villages in the United Kingdom. It's referred to as the 'Venice of the Cotswolds' due to the patchwork of attractive little bridges that crisscross the River Windrush that flows through its center. At the end of the afternoon, it's onto Cheltenham. The town is known for its Regency buildings, including the Pittville Pump Room, a remnant of Cheltenham's past as a spa town. There's fine art at The Wilson museum, and the Victorian Everyman Theatre has an ornate auditorium.
Following an active day, relax and spend the night in Cheltenham.
Day 4: Tour More of the Cotswolds & Bath
Wake up and get ready to explore the southern Cotswolds, which has many lovely villages to explore. Start in Burford, whose High Street slopes from the high Wolds, with beautiful views over the open countryside, and down into the willow-fringed River Windrush in the pretty Windrush valley. Visit the three-arched medieval bridge that crosses the river at the foot of the hill, and stop at Main Street, lined with dignified old houses and ancient cottages that appear minimally changed since Tudor times.
Next, travel to Bibury, which has some of the most photographed village scenes anywhere in the Cotswolds, if not all of England. One of the village's main tourist spots, Arlington Row, overlooks a water meadow and the river. Take in a group of ancient cottages built in 1380 with steeply pitched roofs. Then, take a stroll through the magical village of Castle Combe. Once a weaving town at the heart of the Cotswolds wool trade, you can still see the weavers' cottages where the local red-and-white cloth was produced.
Enjoy lunch, and then continue to Bath. This compact city is built on the side of a hill and straddles the idyllic River Avon, where canal boats ply the slow-moving waters. Bath is known for its well-preserved Roman bath complex, which you can—and absolutely should—visit. Bath also boasts countless examples of outstanding 18th-century Georgian architecture, including The Circus, a circular street of elegant townhouses. The magnificent interiors and exteriors of Gothic Bath Abbey are also worth a stop.
Following another eventful day of exploration, enjoy the evening at your leisure in Bath.
Day 5: Last Day in Bath and Depart
On your final day, continue discovering new nooks of Bath, wandering through its wonderful mix of narrow, medieval alleyways and more prominent Georgian streets. Must-see landmarks include the Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon, home to a collection of narrow shops and cafés overlooking the river, the magnificent Georgian architecture of The Circus (if you did not have a chance to explore the area yesterday), and the extravagant Royal Crescent—an architecture tour is a great way to get the most out of your remaining time in Bath.
Have lunch, bid farewell to Bath, and head back to London to end your trip.
More Great England Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to England? Check out these other England itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.