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Classic England

Self-drive England tour (9 nights)

On this whistle-stop tour of England you will take in many classic highlights as well as some less well-known but equally spectacular sights.

From the beautiful and historic cities of Bath, Oxford and York to the stunning scenery of the Cotswolds, the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, there will be a surprise at every turn.

Finishing your tour of England in London will be a fitting end to your trip. Choosing between the many world class palaces, museums, art galleries, restaurants, shops and markets will be no easy task.

Every destination on this itinerary can easily fill more time and the alternatives are endless, so see the end of the itinerary for suggested extensions and alternatives or get in touch to discuss the options.

Days 1, 2 and 3: the Cotswolds, Oxford and Bath

Settle into your base in the beautiful Cotswold countryside, from where you can explore the picture perfect villages of this quintessentially English landscape. You will find that it is surprisingly easy to discover your own favourite spots, away from the tourist crowds.

From this base you can also explore two of the UK’s most beautiful cities. Bath’s sweeping Georgian crescents are a pleasure to wander through and the fantastically preserved Roman Baths and Medieval Bath Abbey are must-see sights.

The university city of Oxford with its famous dreaming spires is filled with a stunning array of architecture from across the centuries. Step through the gates of the famous university colleges to find yourself in a parallel world of manicured gardens, grand chapels, ornate cloisters and tranquillity, then wander through the charming lanes and alleyways that have been unchanged in centuries.

Alternatively, visit world famous Stonehenge and its less visited but equally fascinating neighbour, Avebury Stone Circle (or add an extra day to make sure you can do it all!).

Accommodation: Stay in a 600 year old country inn turned luxury hotel on the banks of a river or a traditional village pub complete with thatched roof, flagstone floor and open fire, each set in a beautiful, historic village.

Days 4 and 5: The Lake District via Stratford-upon Avon

Break the longest journey of your trip with a visit to Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Having explored the many sights that tell the story of Britain’s most well-known playwright, continue north into the most spectacular scenery in England for the next two nights.

The Lake District has something for everyone - fantastic walking country, historic houses and gardens, a wealth of outdoor activities and many literary and artistic connections.

Visit Wordsworth’s houses at Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount and the home of Beatrix Potter at Hill Top; hike up England’s highest mountain or stroll along a peaceful lake shore; kayak, row or cruise on one of the many pristine lakes. Alternatively, simply relax with a local ale or cup of tea and soak up your surroundings.

Accommodation: Stay in a boutique hotel right on the square in a beautiful, medieval village or in a fine country house on the edge of a lake in the stunning Langdale Valley.

Days 6 and 7: York and the Yorkshire Dales

Whether you choose to base yourself in the fascinating city of York or in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales, you will not struggle to fill your time in North Yorkshire.

York is a highlight of any holiday. It's fascinating history is at every turn: the magnificent gothic architecture of York Minster; the imposing Medieval city walls; the captivating stories brought to life in the Jorvik Viking Centre; and the enticing network of ancient alleys and 'snickelways'.

Outside of the city, you are equally spoilt for choice: visit Castle Howard, one of Britain’s most enchanting stately homes; take in the stunning ruins at Fountains Abbey, Rievaulx Abbey and Bolton Abbey; stroll through the beautiful Dales, littered with many fascinating castle ruins and traditional villages; or head to the lively coast, across the rugged expanses of the North York Moors.

Accommodation: Stay steps from the Minster in the heart of historic York or go for a country retreat – a luxury country house hotel or stunning boutique B&B in a traditional Yorkshire village surrounded by beautiful countryside.

Days 8 and 9: London

Leave your car in York and take the train to your final stop: London.

Take in the must see 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.

London also offers an array of fabulous markets: sample the excellent produce at busy Borough Market, take in the incredible colours at Colombia Road Flower Market or browse fashion and antiques at Portobello Market.

Just out of the city, easy day trips can be taken to the spectacularly preserved Hampton Court Palace, to 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 or a ‘posh pub’, moments from Oxford Street, combining a great bar, quality food and beautiful rooms.

Extra time: If you have a few extra days to add to this whistle-stop tour, consider:

  • Heading out into Kent, the Garden of England, to see the famous white cliffs of the coast, visit the beautiful Leeds Castle, discover Anne Boleyn’s childhood home at Hever Castle or try oysters fresh from the sea at Whitstable.
  • Taking in the Jurassic Coast of Dorset and Devon. This UNESCO World Heritage site combines a wonderful beach break with fascinating geological history.
  • Going even further west to the beautiful beaches and coves of Cornwall.
  • Exploring East Anglia – the breath-taking city of Cambridge, the impeccably preserved Tudor village of Lavenham or beautiful ‘Constable Country’, which inspired one of Britain’s most treasured artists.

If you have been inspired by this example itinerary, why not request your own tailor-made holiday itinerary.

Jump to our example itineraries quick links to read more.

Notices and promotions

  • Classic England - what does it cost?

    Classic Accommodation

    from £850 per person

    Luxury Accommodation

    from £1,250 per person

    Based on two adults sharing, including accommodation for 9 nights, car hire for 7 days, train journey from York to London and airport transfer from your London hotel.

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  • Free Information Pack

    Book with us you and you will automatically receive your tailor-made Great British Escapes Information Pack, packed with all the information you need for your holiday in Britain.

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  • A UK holiday designed around you

    Whether it's a short break with just a few stops or an action packed two week tour, we can create a custom-made itinerary with fantastic sights and activities, plus some of our favourite hidden gems, to ensure you experience the best Britain has to offer.

    Complete our tailor-made holiday form and we'll do the rest.

  • Everything was terrific. The accommodation, the scenery, the people we met were all wonderful. We loved the B&Bs and Inns you picked for us. I doubt if we could have found such interesting places by ourselves.