Planning Your Trip to England
With so many distinct regions of significant beauty and unique architectural and cultural interest, it would take at least a month to cover this "green and pleasant land" fully. In short, to get an authentic taste of England, you need to travel the length and breadth of the country.
However, even if you're only here for four or five days, it's best to focus on London and perhaps one other nearby city, such as Bath or Oxford. In a week, you can add the Cotswolds or another close region. Spending 10 days in England lets you tick off as many as four distinct regions, including Yorkshire—easily done given England's great road and rail network. With two or three weeks, you can begin to explore further afield, even allowing you to do a complete circuit of England spanning the compass from the Lake District to Cornwall.
Travelers with specific interests may want to plan their itineraries to include related sites, festivals, or events, taking geographic proximity into account. (The specifics of where to visit may be determined by seasons. See Best Time of Year to Visit England.)
England in 4-5 Days
There are several ways you could approach exploring England in five days. It all depends on where your interests lie, beginning with how much time you want to dedicate to London.
If focusing solely on London, check out this five-day itinerary, immersing you in the city's history and culture. Tick off the top sites aboard a double-decker sightseeing bus: You'll see Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and the Tower of London. The next day, venture to Windsor and Eton, with time to explore Windsor Castle. On day three, explore Kensington Palace—the London home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge—before afternoon tea at the Savoy and an evening Black History Walk of Brixton. The trip ends with a visit to the famed Hampton Court, the British Museum, and an open-air rooftop film screening.
If you have a particular interest or prefer a certain climate, you could instead choose to concentrate your five days in a specific area. This article caters to history buffs on a five-day itinerary exploring the medieval castles of England's northeast. You'll begin by exploring revitalized industrial-age Newcastle before venturing to such coastal castles as Alnwick (used as a backdrop for "Harry Potter" films), Bamburgh, and 16th-century Lindisfarne.
Check out this article for more five-day itineraries.
England in 1 Week
With seven days to spend in England, you'll be able to combine at least two regions or dive a bit deeper into one area, to get a broader and more in-depth experience.
For example, if you like driving, this week-long road trip through Southern England includes fun adventures along the way. Starting in London, you'll head to Oxford for punting on the River Cherwell and exploring 11th-century Oxford University before exploring the Cotswolds, including horseback riding plus a hike to the 18th-century folly at Broadway Tower. You'll then journey to the Roman and Georgian spa town of Bath, where you can indulge in a thermal treatment and a Jane Austen literary tour. Finally, call in at Stonehenge to marvel at the ancient stone circle before arriving back in London.
Alternatively, if you love hiking and nature, check out this 8-day walking itinerary along England's Jurassic Coast—named for its many fossils and dramatic geological formations. You'll begin with two days in the seaside resort of Lyme Regis before setting out east along England's south coast and ending in the historic fishing village of Lulworth. En route, you'll pass chalk cliffs, 8-mile-long (13 km) Chesil Beach, Bronze Age earthworks, and the natural stone arch of Durdle Door.
Check out this article for more ideas on week-long itineraries in England.
England in 10 Days
You can easily combine three or even four regions for a broader sense of England's historic, scenic, and cultural diversity with 10 days.
For an extended road-and-rail trip, this active 10-day itinerary begins with a train ride to historic York. Its attractions include the 13th-century York Minster (the largest medieval church in England), the medieval city walls, the nearby Jorvik Viking Centre, and the National Railway Museum. A drive through the Yorkshires Dales National Park takes you to the Lake District for two days, with time for hiking. Then head south through the Cotswolds, denoted by rolling green hills and medieval villages, and on to Dorset, with its thatched villages, hilltop castles, and a UNESCO-celebrated coastline for its fascinating geological features.
England abounds with hiking options, especially along the coast. This 10-day hike of the North Cornish Coast will have you eager to strap up your hiking boots. Begin in London with a pub tour before heading west to the Cornish seaside resort of Bude. From here, four full days of hiking lead north through Phillip's Point Nature Reserve and Tintagel, the legendary setting of King Arthur's court. You'll continue via pretty fishing villages, rugged clifftops, and delightful coves, and end in the historic fishing village of Padstow. Then you'll catch the train back to London for an immersive walking tour encompassing 2,000 years of history.
Check out this article for more 10-day itineraries.
England in 2 Weeks
Two weeks provides plenty of time for a full English experience. You can immerse yourself in a preferred region or add a second country to get a fuller sense of the varied landscapes and regional cultures.
This extended 12-day itinerary of England's east coast combines rugged coastline and historic sites spanning Roman ruins to iconic castles and even takes you to Scotland. You'll begin with two days in York to explore England's finest medieval city, boasting Roman and Viking exhibits plus the National Railway Museum. Then hike in North York Moors National Park before visiting the scenic fishing town of Whitby. Further north, you'll explore Durham and Newcastle before traveling the wild, castle-studded Northumberland coastline, where a boat trip around the Farne Islands gets you up close to marine wildlife.
Alternately, this action-packed 14-day itinerary explores many of the highlight destinations of England and Wales, beginning with the Beatles’ hometown of Liverpool and ending with the ancient university campuses of Cambridge. In-between, you’ll enjoy active adventures such as riding a train to the top of Mount Snowdon, horseback riding along a beach in Cornwall, plus hiking the Cotswolds Discovery Trail. From here, you’ll visit the ancient stone ring at Stonehenge before touring and enjoying a picnic boat tour of Oxford, as well as boating around Cambridge before returning to London.
Check out this article for more two-week itineraries.
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.