Self-drive England tour (7 nights)
For those short on time, exploring the south-east is a great way to experience some of quintessential England.
Spend a few days exploring the fascinating city of London and nearby attractions - stunning Hampton Court Palace or dramatic Windsor Castle – before heading into delightful Kent and Sussex, rich in impressive castles and stately homes, wonderfully preserved, historic towns and villages and beautiful coastline.
There are many other options within easy reach of the capital. Extensions and alternatives are included at the end of the itinerary or get in touch to discuss other options.
Days 1, 2 and 3: London
With so much to see and do in London, you will have to choose between the many options on offer. Take in the famous sights of Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral. Stroll along the lively south bank stopping for panoramic views of London on the London Eye. Visit the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Tate Modern or any number of other museums and galleries.
Just out of the city, easy day trips can be taken to the spectacularly preserved Tudor Palace at Hampton Court, to grand Windsor Castle or to Greenwich with its vast Royal Park, Palace and fascinating naval history.
You won’t be short of entertainment options either. Musicals in the West End, drama at the National Theatre or the Old Vic and classics at Shakespeare’s Globe are only a few of the options. Music, comedy, opera, ballet, sport: there is truly something for everyone in London.
Accommodation: Stay in a luxury Georgian townhouse in the heart of the West End ora ‘posh pub’, moments from Oxford Street, combining a great bar, quality food and beautiful rooms.
Days 4 and 5: Kent
Take the train out of London to historic Canterbury, home to world famous Canterbury Cathedral.
Having explored the town’s meandering alleyways, riverside walks and historic city walls, head out into the ‘Garden of England’. The mild climate and rich coastline means that Kent produces some of England’s finest food. To sample some of its wares, you can visit English vineyards, tour Britain’s oldest brewery or try seafood straight off the boat along the coast.
For a dose of history, head for 1000 year old Leeds Castle, with its romantic setting on an island in a large lake surrounded by beautiful grounds, or Anne Boleyn’s childhood home at picture-perfect Hever Castle. 600 year old Knole House is one of Britain’s grandest stately homes while Sissinghurst Castle is home to vast and much celebrated gardens.
Accommodation: Base yourself in a traditional fifteenth century inn close to the cathedral in central Canterbury or opt for a beautiful Edwardian townhouse hotel set on the quayside of one of Kent’s prettiest historic towns.
Days 6 and 7: Sussex
Sussex’s liveliest location, eclectic Brighton offers something for everyone: classic seaside attractions, beautiful Regency architecture, a maze of narrow lanes filled with interesting boutiques and the stunning Royal Pavillion, George IV’s ‘party palace’! There are excellent eating options and lively nightlife to be had too.
Away from Brighton, Sussex offers a picture of rural England that has barely changed in centuries. Beautiful Rye is lined with medieval timber framed buildings and elegant Lewes combines Georgian and medieval architecture, a picturesque castle ruin and its own Microbrewery.
Sussex has its own stand-out historic sights too: straight-out-of-a-fairy-tale Bodiam Castle; the ruins of Battle Abbey, marking the spot of one of the most significant battles in British history - the 1066 Battle of Hastings; and impressive Arundel Castle, looming over the pretty, interesting town of the same name.
Stunning coastline also awaits in Sussex, particularly around Beachy Head where chalk cliffs climb and dive along the coast, making for beautiful cliff-top walking.
Accommodation: Stay in a Regency townhouse in the heart of lively Brighton or a sixteenth century townhouse in a perfectly preserved medieval town.
Extra time: With a few more days, consider:
- Continuing west into Hampshire to the pretty, relaxing landscape of the New Forest or the historic town on Winchester, with its impressive cathedral and Jane Austen connections.
- Heading north-west to the beautiful University town of Oxford and the surrounding Cotswolds countryside.
- Exploring East Anglia – punt ‘the Backs’ in beautiful Cambridge, admire the impeccable medieval villages and stretch your legs in the countryside that inspired John Constable, England’s most famous landscape painter.
If you have been inspired by this example itinerary, why not request your own tailor-made holiday itinerary.