On this comprehensive 18-day trip you'll experience the best of Wales and Southern England. Visit many delightful little towns, coastal promenades, medieval castles and churches, and many other historic sites that encapsulate many visitors' most romantic ideas of Great Britain. Get active with river-side and coastal walks, and relax in the ancient hot spring baths at Bath. This tour is the ultimate introduction to southern England and Wales, ideal for first-time visitors to the country. 

Highlights

  • Travel the English countryside and the mountainscapes of Wales
  • Experience history and culture in London, Bath, and Windsor
  • Explore the stunning Cotswolds, Snowdonia, and Devon
  • Relax on soft sandy beaches in Pembrokeshire and Cornwall
  • Stay in outstanding country house hotels and inns in scenic settings

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in London London
Days 2-4 Explore London London
Days 5-6 Cotswolds - Stratford Upon Avon Broadway
Days 7-8 Visit Snowdonia & the Cambrian Coast Snowdonia
Days 9-10 Ramble through Pembrokeshire Narberth
Day 11 Discover layers of history in Bath Bath
Days 12-13 Coast of Cornwall - St. Mawes St. Mawes
Days 14-15 Devon & Dartmoor Devon
Day 16 Oxford Oxford
Day 17 Windsor Bray
Day 18 Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in London

London
London

Arrive in London. Depending on your time of arrival and your energy levels after your journey, there may be time to get out and about to get your first taste of London. If time allows, get up high to a viewing platform (such as at The Shard or on the London Eye) to get a literal overview of the city, or take a stroll along the banks of the Thames.

Days 2-4: Explore London

Views of Parliament from the Thames
Views of parliament from the Thames

After a good rest, take to the streets and start exploring London. There's a lot to see and do, so choose some activities to suit your interests and activity level. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and even explore the splendor of the Queen's state rooms inside.
  • Enter the Gothic edifice of Westminster Abbey, with 1000 years of history. This is where William the Conqueror and Queen Elizabeth II were crowned, as well as where William and Kate exchanged vows.
  • Experience the controversial but unmissable Tate Modern. The gallery houses the country’s most important modern art collection, ranging from Picasso to Lichtenstein, in a vast former power station. 
  • Walk across the Millennium Bridge to Sir Christopher Wren’s 17th-century Renaissance masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral, with the second-largest church dome in the world.  
  • Take in the skyline and spot London’s landmarks from the Shard, London’s highest viewing platform. The Skydeck transforms into a garden in summer.

Days 5-6: Cotswolds - Stratford-upon-Avon

Thatched cottage
Thatched cottage

Today, visit some of the most picturesque areas in the country, starting in the rolling hills of the Cotswolds. This area is dotted with ancient honey-hued limestone villages and market towns that date back to the middle ages. Scale the unique folly, Broadway Tower, perched on the Cotswold escarpment and with unrivaled views. Enjoy fine English ales in historic thatched inns offering superb local hospitality along the Cotswold Way. Visit some of England’s finest gardens, such as Snowshill Manor and Garden, or Hidcote

Later, experience Olde England in Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Embrace the great bard with the help of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The highly regarded company has some of the finest theater actors in the world.

Days 7-8: Visit Snowdonia & the Cambrian Coast

Historic view
Historic view

Snowdonia has a unique place in Welsh history, tradition, and culture. Surrounded by magnificent medieval castles, its unique mountainscapes spring rivers that tumble down to the dramatic coastline.

Embrace a traditional British seaside experience and walk along the Victorian Llandudno Pier, which seems to reach forever into the sea. Explore the fortresses of Conwy Castle, one of the finest of its kind, and the wonder of Harlech perched high above the Irish Sea. Embrace the eccentricities and architectural whimsy of Portmeirion.

If you’re not keen to hike to Wales’s tallest peak, take the mountain railway to the top of Mt. Snowdon instead, where you can view an extraordinary panorama across this historic land of myth and legend.

Days 9-10: Pembrokeshire

Coastal Path
Coastal Path

Pembrokeshire is renowned for its breathtaking seascapes along its 186 miles of coastal path. Ramble through Stackpole Estate, with soft sandy beaches, wooded valleys, and famous lily ponds. Find Café Mor at Freshwater West, and feast on fresh lobster rolls while watching the Atlantic waves crashing into the dramatic beaches.  

Take a boat to Skomer Island to check out the Atlantic puffin colony, or to enchanting Caldey, a holy island where Cistercian monks continue Celtic traditions that date back to the 6th century. Visit tiny St. David’s, de facto ecclesiastical capital of Wales, a magical city with a spectacular cathedral.

Trek an ancient eight-mile (13-km) track along the top of the rugged Preseli Hills, dotted with prehistoric sites. Be rewarded with panoramic views across Pembrokeshire and the coastline.

Day 11: Bath - Castle Combe

Roman Baths
Roman baths in Bath

Bath is a UNESCO-listed historic spa town renowned for its Roman-era baths. Beautifully established in the valley of the River Avon, the city has been the ultimate thermal spring spa destination for thousands of years. Visit Bath Abbey, founded in the 7th century, as well as the city's renowned Regency and Georgian architecture in creamy limestone, which inspired Jane Austin when she lived here.

The nearby 14th-century market village of Castle Combe, which has been the location for countless films, is also worth a visit.

Days 12-13: Coast of Cornwall - St. Mawes

The coast of Cornwall

Cornwall's stunning coastline and views can rival anywhere in the world. Work up an appetite striding out onto the wildflower-edged clifftops, or surf the Atlantic coves. Potter around in gorgeous old harbor towns and seek out one of the many eateries belonging to celebrity chefs.

Venture to St. Michael’s Mount at low tide, along its tidal causeway. Check out St. Mawes Castle, built by King Henry VIII, and the delightful 13th-century church of St. Just in Roseland. Delight in the Lost Gardens of Heligan, once lost but now one of the most mysterious and romantic estates in England. Enjoy an extraordinary evening at the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, with the Celtic Sea as its spectacular backdrop. 

Days 14-15: Devon & Dartmoor

Devonshire coast
Devonshire coast

Devon is a beautiful region with so much to explore, and a culinary reputation that draws people from far and wide. Explore the wild beauty of two moorland national parks, rolling hills dotted with thatched cottages, and the dramatic Jurassic Coast, with cliffs spilling with fossils.

Thread your way through the elegant Georgian coastal towns that form the English Riviera, to the thriving harbor town of Dartmouth. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a famous Devonshire tea: oven-warm scones, sticky strawberry jam, and dollops of clotted cream.

Walk or ride through dramatic Dartmoor National Park, and try your hand at fly-fishing on the River Tamar. Buckland Abbey, once home to Sir Francis Drake, is also worth a visit. Visit Plymouth’s historic Barbican and Hoe for breathtaking views of the harbor. Find the Mayflower steps used by the pilgrims that set off for America in 1620.

Day 16: Oxford

Streetscape
Streets of Oxford

In Oxford, life revolves around its prestigious university, established in the 12th century. Wander through the quadrangles and between the spires of Britain’s oldest university, and visit some of the country’s most important museums. Try punting on the willow-lined banks of the Thames.

Drop in on Blenheim Palace, arguably the country’s finest stately home, and take in the magnificent landscaped gardens. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing a spectacular collection of art and artifacts, a butterfly house, and the famous Marlborough Hedge Maze. The standing stones of Stonehenge are en route.

Day 17: Windsor

Windsor cottage
Windsor Castle

Travel through Oxfordshire and into the rolling hills of Buckinghamshire. Visit quintessentially English villages like Hambledon and Turville with thatch, brick, and flint cottages that skirt pretty squares and medieval churches. The Thames, Great Ouse, and Grand Unions offer some of the best water-side river walks of anywhere in England. The stretch between Henley and Marlow in particular is simply delightful. Explore Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, which overlooks the twin riverside towns of Windsor and Eton.

Day 18: Depart

Train departing
Farewell England

Today, your trip comes to an end. If you're catching a flight, you'll be transferred to the airport in good time to check in. Bon voyage!