- Go punting, visit Bodleian Library, and have high tea at Blenheim Palace in Oxford
- Embark on a literary tour of Bath and enjoy a nighttime thermal spa visit
- Discover the stunning mountains of Wales in Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons
- Tour castles in Wales, from Llandudno to Caernarfon to Conwy
|Day 1||Arrive in London & Transfer to Oxford, Punting & a Picnic||Oxford|
|Day 2||Bodleian Library Tour & Champagne Afternoon Tea at Blenheim Palace||Oxford|
|Day 3||Cotswolds Private Horse Trek & Chipping Campden Self-Guided Tour||Chipping Campden|
|Day 4||Private Tour of Hidcote Gardens & Cotswolds Discovery Trail (North)||Chipping Campden|
|Day 5||Cotswolds Discovery Trail (South Loop), Bath Literary Tour & Thermae Spa||Bath|
|Day 6||Transfer to Wales, Tour Tintern Abbey & Explore Monmouthshire||Brecon Beacons|
|Day 7||Brecon Beacons Tour & Free Time Outdoors||Brecon Beacons|
|Day 8||Central Wales & Self-Guided Tour of Hay-on-Wye||Llandudno|
|Day 9||Northern Coast, Snowdonian Mountain Railway & Caernarfon Castle||Llandudno|
|Day 10||Guided Trail with Tales of a Lady of Wales, Depart Conwy|
Day 1: Arrive in London & Transfer to Oxford, Punting & a Picnic
Welcome to England! Upon arrival in London, make the immediate transfer to Oxford, a town rich with collegiate culture and history. Once settled in your accommodations, set out on the water for punting and a picnic. With the help of a trained punter, board a four-passenger, handcrafted punt (flat-bottomed boat), and set out to explore the River Cherwell. Your guide will join you for 30 minutes, but you may stay on the river as long as you like—make sure to return at least 30 minutes before sunset.
Set off south from the boathouse and glide gently past Oxford's famous Botanic Gardens, the fields of Magdalen College School, and through Christ Church Meadows—where Lewis Carroll taught students in the mid-19th-century when he wrote his famous works, "Alice Through the Looking Glass" and "Alice in Wonderland." Next, pass the gardens along St Hilda's College, enjoy a picnic lunch, and head back to the boathouse. Alternatively, if time permits, your guide can continue south toward the Isis (Oxford's name for the River Thames), where the river opens up.
Then, take a stroll around the beautiful buildings to get acquainted with the Oxford architecture and the rest of the day and evening are yours to enjoy.
Day 2: Bodleian Library Tour & Champagne Afternoon Tea at Blenheim Palace
In the morning, head to the University of Oxford campus for a 1.5-hour tour of the famed Bodleian Library, the second-largest library in England (it houses over 13 million books and printed items) and one of the oldest in Europe. Visit the library's historic rooms, including the 15th-century Divinity School, Convocation House, Chancellor's Court, medieval Duke Humfrey's Library—the oldest reading room in the building—and Radcliffe Camera, which houses the science library.
Next, head to Blenheim Palace, home of Winston Churchill and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, this is no ordinary visit—you are invited to a 2.5-hour tour that includes afternoon tea, complete with a champagne toast, in the high-ceilinged Orangery inside the Palace! Choose from traditional finger sandwiches and scones with cream and Blenheim jam. Then comes an array of pretty cakes and pastries, and the entire experience is accompanied by unlimited loose leaf tea or coffee.
After high tea, return to the city center and enjoy your final evening in Oxford.
Day 3: Cotswolds Private Horse Trek & Chipping Campden Self-Guided Tour
Depart Oxford and head into the charming Cotswolds countryside today. Upon arrival, head out on a private, four-hour horse trek at the world-renowned Jill Carenzaïs riding facility. More than 50 horses and ponies await your arrival and cater to all activity levels. Set in the picturesque village of Stanton at the Cotswolds escarpment, head up into the hills and relish the breathtaking views among the peaceful countryside. Stop for a delicious pub lunch en route.
After the tour, head to your accommodations in Chipping Campden, a market town known for its terraced High Street dating back to the 14th century. The rest of the day is at your own pace. You might like to consider a visit to Kiftsgate Court Gardens or the Court Barn—a museum showcasing the history of the English Arts and Crafts movement. Then there's the Silk Mill, nestled on Sheep Street, this old silk mill still functions as a gallery and museum.
Day 4: Private Tour of Hidcote Gardens & Cotswolds Discovery Trail (North)
Begin the day with a two-hour visit to Hidcote Gardens to view the arts-and-crafts-inspired, intricately designed spaces. Located in the beautiful countryside, Hidcote is one of England's most inspiring gardens. It was created by talented American horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnston and is characterized by its colorful outdoor "rooms" that are full of surprises. Take in the maze of narrow, paved pathways and secret gardens with vibrant plants—many of which were collected from Johnston's plant hunting trips in faraway places.
Then, it's onto an adventure exploring the Cotswolds Discovery Trail - North. Explore numerous famed Cotswold locations and lesser-known gems, engaging your wits and employing the maps and tools in your trail pack. The maps provide fascinating information on each location, along with the challenge of answering clues and questions to uncover more. Immerse yourself in the stunning countryside and picture-perfect villages as you journey through time.
The trail is structured around many highlights to explore on foot, with a total drive time between 2-3 hours. Notable stops include Broadway Tower in Chipping Campden, Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, the Belas Knap Stone Age monument, the Oxfordshire countryside in Buford, and Burton-on-the-Water—famous for its bridges crossing the River Windrush—as well as The Slaughters and Stow-on-the-Wold. Following the discovery trail, the night is yours back in Chipping Campden.
Day 5: Cotswolds Discovery Trail (South Loop), Bath Literary Tour & Thermae Spa
Wake up and head out on the Cotswolds Discovery Trail - Southern Loop with your treasure trail map and track pack. Roman Britain heavily influences this part of the trail. Visit the Roman Amphitheatre near Cirencester before the course moves east to Bibury, an attractive Cotswold village resting on the River Coln. Then, follow the river through a series of typical villages along the Coln valley and cross Fosseway Roman Road before reaching Chedworth.
Continue west through rolling hills to Painswick Beacon and Painswick Village. The charming walk to the top of the Beacon offers incredible 360-degree views. The short drive to Painswick, the "Queen of the Cotswolds," gives you the chance to visit and explore one of the most interesting and stunning areas. Drive south to Minchinhampton, cutting through the famous and beautiful common grasslands. Public roads cut through this common land which is also partly a golf course with herds of cows openly strolling around.
Then, it's on to Bath, the largest city in Somerset known for its namesake Roman-built baths. Begin with a guided literary tour inspired by Jane Austen's Bath for a glimpse inside her life and times. Your guide walks alongside you, past iconic facades and promenades with you along the lanes—as was fashionable in Regency Bath—while sharing insights about social etiquette of the past, the former nuances of life for a woman in Regency England, what was in-vogue, how life was lived, and the stories behind the buildings.
To wind down the day, indulge in the "Twilight Spa Package" at Thermae Spa to experience the complete relaxation Bath offers. The evening spa visit includes two two-hour spa sessions (including the use of the Minerva Bath and the open-air, indoor rooftop pool), followed by dinner and drinks in the Springs Restaurant. Once you've been pampered, head to your hotel in Bath and rest easily.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Transfer to Wales, Tour Tintern Abbey & Explore Monmouthshire
Today, it's time to leave England and cross over to Wales. The drive is an hour before you reach your first stop, an impressive landmark known as Tintern Abbey. Cistercian monks founded Tintern Abbey in 1131, and now all that remains of this once-thriving monastery is a romantic ruin lost in time. Discover the Abbey's soaring Gothic arches, a testament to pre-Reformation monastic wealth and power. The finest features are the ornate tracery. The remains of cloisters, the infirmary, chapter house, refectory, latrines, and a complex system of drains and sewers are all visible and easy to explore and understand.
Following the tour, spend more time around Monmouthshire, which happens to be a beautiful place for scenic walks. Consider the Devil's Pulpit, which takes you up on the valley edge and offers sensational views of Tintern. You can also reach this point via Offa's Dyke Trail, a north-to-south route on the old Welsh-English border. Or, perhaps go for a nice hike along a wooded bank colored with vibrant wildflowers beside the River Wye.
Visit a pub in Rhayader for dinner before returning to your Brecon Beacons hotel.
Day 7: Brecon Beacons Tour & Free Time Outdoors
Today's tour focuses on the Brecon Beacons. Begin the journey traveling toward the Epynt and then onto Pen y Crug Hillfort above Brecon. From there, take in a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Usk Valley. Then, travel to the largest hillfort in South Wales, Hillfort of Garn Goch, with a staggering internal area of 28 acres (11 ha) surrounded by massive stone walls. Though most have collapsed, they're still imposing—the colossal burial cairn is one of the main features.
Then, drive and explore Pen y Crug, a thriving community that once lived in round mud huts with thatched roofs. Only a few miles away are the ruins of Carreg Cennen Castle standing on a limestone knoll. The castle boasts a spectacular location overlooking Black Mountain in the western corner of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The castle is believed to have been built by the Welsh Prince Rhys Ap Gruffydd in the 12th and 13th centuries. If you're feeling adventurous, explore a tunnel that takes you under the castle. Remember to take a flashlight!
The Brecon Beacons are an excellent setting for outdoor activities. If you're interested in getting more out of these beautiful surroundings, spend time in nature following your tour. You might like to kayak over waterfalls or paddleboard around calmer waters, cycle some of the best biking terrains in Wales on a mountain bike or take a traffic-free, family-friendly route. Alternatively, you could try your hand at another horse ride, go geocaching, paraglide over hilly landscapes, rock climb over crags, old quarries, and rock escarpments, or fish the River Wye.
Then when it's time, enjoy a delicious dinner in this enchanting mountainscape before moving on tomorrow.
Day 8: Central Wales & Self-Guided Tour of Hay-on-Wye
Today you'll cover Central Wales. Start by passing Wolf's Leap, home to three Irish-inspired bridges and the famous Devil's Staircase. Take a slight detour to Soar y Mynydd chapel, which is said to be the most remote chapel in all of Wales. Then, walk along an impressive boardwalk and on to Twm Sion Catti's Cave (the Welsh Robin Hood). Next, drive to Llandovery through the picturesque countryside before stopping to admire the Llandovery Castle, which dates back to the 13th century. View the ruin on top of a rocky hillock overlooking Afon Brân.
Next, have lunch before heading to Powis Castle, a medieval Welsh fortress with gardens, a parkland, and a deer park. Inside Powis is the Clive Museum, home to a collection of Indian and Far East artifacts. The drive north into Snowdonia National Park is laced with stunning forests, mountain passes, and deep valleys. Then, it's off to Hay-on-Wye for a self-guided tour—with recommendations provided—of the famous bookshop town. However, this is more than just a booklovers' paradise; it's filled with quirky independent shops, stunning scenery, ruins, and more.
Day 9: Northern Coast, Snowdonian Mountain Railway & Caernarfon Castle
Today, get ready to explore Anglesey and the northern coast, where plenty of castles reside. As for the coast, there's a reason that Llandudno has been crowned the "Queen of Welsh Resorts." Its upscale appeal starkly contrasts the wild edges of the Isle of Anglesey, where the waves crash along the South Stack and the breezes eddy around clifftop barrows. This part of Wales offers plenty of opportunities for surfing, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, kitesurfing, powerboating, paddleboarding, walking, and birdwatching. So whether you're interested in watersports, scenic strolls, or nature, you'll want to take advantage of the day.
Next, take a two-hour excursion on the scenic Snowdon Mountain Railway. Trains depart from Llanberis Station and begin climbing up Snowdon, Yr Wyddfa, a journey experienced by some 12 million travelers since 1896. The day's last stop is a tour of Caernarfon Castle, recognized worldwide as a great example of medieval architecture. This fortress-palace on the River Seiont has been grouped with Edward I's other castles at Conwy—Beaumaris and Harlech—as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In terms of the sheer scale and architectural splendor, Caernarfon reigns supreme.
After the eventful day, the evening is yours to enjoy back in Llandudno.
Day 10: Guided Trail with Tales of a Lady of Wales, Depart Conwy
The trip's grand finale is a 1.5-hour Conwy "Guilded Trail with Tales of a Lady of Wales." This historical tour covers the conquests and river crossings, made interesting with plenty of stories. Your guide is a lady in traditional Welsh costume—tall black hat and all. See all the main attractions in Conwy, including Conwy Castle, Plas Mawr Elizabethan townhouse, the Church of St Mary & All Saints, the Town Walls, the quayside, and much more. Hear all about the town's rich history and past and present inhabitants, real and ghostly.
Following the tour, gather your belongings and head to the airport to catch your return flight home. Safe Travels!