London, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, Thornbury Castle, Bath, Wells Cathedral, Coombe Abbey, Cotswolds, York, York Minster, Swinton Park Castle, Yorkshire...
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departure.
Castles evocatively dapple the English landscape. And with this handcrafted itinerary, you don't merely visit them. You spend each night immersed in their ancient splendor, basking in the luxury of their royal past. On this England castle tour, you sleep in six different castles; each handpicked to reflect a different architectural era and opulent style. On the way, you stop at an eclectic mix of England's premier attractions and connect the centuries with effortless ease.
Amberley Castle – Welcome to Royal Rural England
Amberley Castle is hidden away, 900 years of history surrounded by landscaped gardens and unrivaled tranquility. Enter into its medieval walls and there's an immediate sense of decadence. Welcome to a world of elaborate four-poster beds, opulent gardens, 60-ft high ceilings, and the untamed excess of England's regal past. And this is just the first of your six castle stays. There's plenty more to experience over these nine days. You'll be picked up at the airport by your private transfer and transferred out to West Sussex, and this delightful castle amongst green pastures. A spa bathroom helps alleviate any travel aches, and there are two sumptuous restaurants to choose from. Settle into the grandeur, explore the grounds and enjoy your first taste of England's castles. Consider reading some of our traveler reviews of England, and see how you can further refine and perfect your own itinerary.
Thornbury Castle – Regal Windsor and Hampton Court Palace
Birds tweet a good morning as a royal breakfast is served; picture tea in china teapots and multiple courses to enjoy. Today's drive towards Thornbury takes you past two iconic English landmarks. Windsor Castle is almost big enough to be a city. Ginormous turreted walls dominate the landscape, rising with an air of indomitability that comes from having never being conquered. Guards change, cannons fire, and you wander into the residence of Her Majesty the Queen. London's Buckingham Palace is her working residence while Windsor Castle is her official home. Wander through the stately rooms, basking in the luxuriant style you'd associated with the monarchy. Corridors are lined with world-famous paintings, sofas are lined with gold leaf, and carpets feel thick and cozy beneath your feet. This is the world's oldest continually inhabited castle and the world's largest inhabited castle, so expect to be inspired by scale and grandeur.
After lunch along Eton High Street, you weave onto the edge of London and explore the flamboyance of England's most famous king. Henry VIII went through six wives in search of a son, beheading two of them and splitting from the church so that he could divorce another two. Hampton Court Palace is liberally decorated in his ostentatious style, and the rooms filled with bizarre luxury and unusual art. You're not sure whether to be impressed or jest at the excess. Either way, Hampton Court Palace is undoubtedly enthralling.
Thornbury Castle – Exploring Bath and the West Country
Thornbury Castle continues the King Henry VIII theme. This was where he would visit with his second wife, Anne Boleyn before he had her beheaded on charges of incest and witchcraft. Arrow loops and ornate carved ceiling stand above the Coat of Arms while the English flag flies proudly from the towering summit. Take breakfast onto the manicured lawn and admire the ivy that creeps along the walls. Built in the 16th century, Thornbury Castle introduces you to a more modern castle style, one that reflects a certain paranoia around invading pirates and civil rebellion. Despite the relatively small size, the main entrance is almost spookily domineering. But once inside the walls, you find that the old-world charm of England's past.
You have the whole day today to loop around the iconic attractions of the West Country. Bathe in the Neolithic splendor of Stonehenge, the mysterious blocks of stone that stand on remote countryside fields. Spend a couple of hours in the spa town of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that unravels an architectural history from 1st-century Rome to 18th-century Georgian townhouses. Nearby Wells Cathedral appears to be almost toppling over; history radiates through its interior, and it's a site that's rarely visited by tourists. Throughout today's journey, there's always another postcard angle of rural England; this sleepy area maintains the serenity of a distant era.
Coombe Abbey – 12th-Century Wonder Besides the Cotswolds
As you head north, you journey through the centuries. Stratford-upon-Avon seems stuck in the 17th century, the birthplace of Shakespeare filled with thatched roofs and cute cobbled streets. Quiet country lanes weave through villages frozen in time, including one where livestock still grace its square. Like every day on this luxury tour, the daily itinerary is mostly dictated by you. Your guide will outline different places that can be visited on the route and you decide which are of pertinent interest to you. On this itinerary, you wind through an iconic route north to south through England, so you'll pass by most of its stand-out attractions. So choose to spend the day in the Cotswolds or move a little quicker to Coombe Abbey.
Now you're in the 12th century, wandering through the landscaped grounds that were originally the home to Cistercian monks. But King Henry VIII wasn't too fond of that. He removed the monks and the Abbey became an illustrious royal residence, until it was commandeered and integrally involved in the Gunpowder Plot – if you've ever celebrated Guy Fawkes, (or Bonfire Night as it's sometimes known) then its origins date from the 17th-century date when plotters tried to blow up the King while he sat in parliament. Nestled in the heartland of Warwickshire, Coombe Abbey combines its captivating history with lavish formal gardens, a tranquil lake, and stunning fine dining.
Swinton Park Castle – York Minster and the Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales resemble an oil painting, colors blurring with brushstrokes and an intricate depth flowing across the canvas. Green hills rise and fall, demarcated by dry stone walls and the speckles of sheep. The vast Swinton Park Castle grounds spreads out across this blissful landscape, with much of the estate left to blend into a redolent sense of wilderness. You'll still find the manicured gardens, swan-filled lakes, and rousing forests surrounding the castle. But the estate is practically the size of a province, so there's lots of space to amble into nature. Horse riding and shooting excursions within the grounds are specialties of Swinton Park Castle.
Your journey north takes you into Yorkshire and the charms of York. Roman remnants are scattered across the city while the towering York Minster is Northern Europe's second largest gothic cathedral. Explore the city on foot and you walk through tiny alleyways, each decorated with cozy tea rooms and boutique indulgence. Then it's into the Yorkshire Dales and the oil painting. Small villages are dominated by faded stone; market life continues as it has done for centuries, and there are very few other vehicles on the road. There are dozens of potential villages where you can stop and explore; your guide will offer the options for today's drive. You might want to continue straight to Swinton Park for a gallop through the Dales.
Langley Castle Hotel – Medieval Musing in Northumberland
In Southern England, the landscapes are mostly flat and cultivated. Ever since William the Conquerer united the country in the 11th century, the leveled south has been England's bread basket. Nothing is flat in the north, and the undulating hills are mostly wild, especially if a flock of sheep hasn't been grazing there for a while. Today's journey into Northumberland unveils a strong sense of wilderness; villages pass by at decreased frequency, roads slowly narrow, and every mile brings a dozen turns. For a scenic drive, this is England at its finest.
Hidden in a Northumberland valley is Langley Castle, a 14th-century fort that resembles how a young child would draw a castle; think square blocks, iconic turrets, and a style designed to ward off invaders. It doesn't look like the kind of place you'd visit without an invitation. Architecturally, the building has remained since the year 1350, without any of the luxurious additions found at many of England's other castles. It's easily one of England's finest medieval castles, yet the interior has been expertly revamped to provide contemporary luxury within the fortified shell. Like each castle you stay in, expect service and room quality that befits a royal past.
Melville Castle – Hadrian's Wall and Rural Scotland
Winding further north, you cross the great divide. Let's clarify; Hadrian's Wall isn't the Wall of China. Most of the wall is easily low enough to climb over, and you could even step over some sections. But Hadrian's Wall represents a distinguished piece of world history. This was the very northern boundary of the Roman Empire, the line they drew to stop the barbarians from the north. Your guide takes you to various stops along the wall, providing the chance to dispel the myths of this great wall and narrate its 2000-year history. Then you cross, heading into Scotland and roving through a stretch of tumbling countryside.
Situated on the edge of Edinburgh, Melville Castle imbues a real country estate feel. It looks warm and inviting, surrounded by lavish woodland and reflecting a setting for royal parties rather than royal defense. Charming rooms and an iconic lounge make this the final piece in the jigsaw of castles. Melville is a place for entertaining, complete with cellar bar, broad gardens, and ample space to reflect on your journey so far. Spend the evening at the castle or your driver guide can take you into Edinburgh itself for dinner.
Melville Castle – Discovering Edinburgh and its Sublime Castle
Edinburgh Castle dominates from afar, even when the skies are gray, or the city's mist is rolling in. Dominating the city with its ode to grandeur, the castle is Scotland's unmissable highlight, a gargantuan expanse of fortified walls, stately rooms, and history. From here you walk, taking the Royal Mile between the castle and the Queen's Scottish residence. First head downhill, running along its boutique collection of pubs and antique stores. Dip into a maze of atmospheric side streets, each emitting the scent of classic Scotland. Keep walking – it's only about a mile in length, but it can take hours given how much there is to look at. Now the Palace of Holyroodhouse, an expanse of fabulous state rooms that marks the final stop on this itinerary. Bathe in the glory of the monarch's tastes and complete the journey from Windsor to Scotland. A farewell dinner with your guide at Melville Castle completes the day.
Edinburgh – Departure
Enjoy a final regal breakfast in the castle before the short transfer to Edinburgh's large international airport. Say goodbye to your driver guide and leave the big island behind, hundreds of unique memories accompanying the flight home.
- Spend the night in six different castles, each an ode to England's regal history and a wonderfully luxurious snapshot of yesteryear
- Travel from London to Edinburgh with a private driver guide, stopping off at various sublime historical attractions, like Stonehenge, Hadrian's Wall, and Bath
- Enjoy intimate visits to Britain's royal residences, including Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, Edinburgh Castle, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse
- Bask in the stunning countryside locations of your castle hotels, with stops in the Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland, and the West Country
- Savor a style fit for monarchs with exquisite dining in each of the castles
- Connect the architectural dots as each castle has been handpicked to reflect the style of a different era
The English landscape is liberally dotted with castles. The timeless structures revel in their old grandeur, with the faded stone and stately rooms revealing many centuries of history. Each is sublimely situated, standing alone amidst the glorious colors of the English countryside. They're national treasures. And they're not just for sightseeing. With this England castles tour, you don't merely walk around and explore ancient castles; you spend the night. Wander through the ornate hallways, open the door to an elaborate four-poster bed, and delight in the sense of regal splendor.
Over nine days, you enjoy six different castles; each showcases another architectural era and new narratives on England's royal past. There is an excess of 12th-century medieval charm, ancestral homes of earls and bishops, and fortified 14th-century estates hidden behind curtains of oak trees. Staying in these timeless castles enables you to recreate history, not just glimpse it on a day trip. In most of them, you're amongst a small handful of guests enjoying exclusive access to the vast landscaped grounds and magisterial interiors. These aren't places for the paying public. They're intimate destinations for guests who appreciate being treated like the monarchs who used to visit them.
This handcrafted tour in England takes you from London to Edinburgh with a private driver guide. The castle accommodation is nestled into the countryside, away from the bustle of the cities. However, your journey north weaves past many of England's most iconic attractions. Stop at Stonehenge for Neolithic brilliance, wander the streets of World Heritage Bath, visit the picture-perfect birthplace of Shakespeare and explore Northern Europe's largest Gothic cathedral. With the castles providing a serene and sublime evening, the days are spent connecting the stunning dots of England's diverse destinations.
The lifestyle of monarchs is very much a focus on this luxury itinerary, so there are a few attractions that are simply essential. See the splendor of Windsor Castle, the Queen's official home and the largest occupied castle in the world. Admire the flamboyance of Henry VIII by discovering Hampton Court. And complete the trip with a visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official Scottish residence.
It's not just impressive architecture. Discover the kaleidoscopic tones of the countryside as you weave through rural life. Your journey isn't on the motorway. It's mostly along the quiet country roads that reflect classic images of England. Every angle is a postcard, complete with a cute market town, dry stone walls, and a fairytale cottage on the horizon. Head through the Cotswolds, the Yorkshire Dales, the untamed landscapes of Northumberland, and then into Scotland. The journey finishes in Edinburgh, home to a famous castle and more royal history. You'll be staying close to the city, in a castle surrounded by luscious woodlands.
$3,145 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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