London, The Cotswolds, Oxford, Bath
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departure.
Southern England is a treasure chest of quintessential destinations, from regal palaces to rural splendor, archaeological ruins to Georgian spas. Every angle seems to resemble the revered image of England, filled with quaint traditions and fabulous architecture. This handcrafted 11-day Southern England tour loops across these coveted destinations, taking in everything from high tea to country pubs with roaring log fires. Classical and exclusive, this is England at its most iconic.
London – A High-Tea Welcome
Iconic England loves its pomp and ceremony. In the ornate Palm Court of the 1906 Ritz, guests are expected to dress formally as they sit down to an afternoon of champagne afternoon tea. Smoked salmon finger sandwiches beneath glistening gold ceilings with raisin and apple scones standing on a regal tiered cake stand. This Central London affair is the perfect introduction to quintessential Southern England. After the overnight flight, you'll be picked up from the airport and transferred to your five-star hotel in the heart of Central London. Dress for the occasion and enjoy an afternoon at the Ritz, sipping on the bubbles and getting acquainted with the etiquette of old England. A luxury chauffeur provides the drop off, completing the impression of royalty and immediate connection with English heritage. After high tea, the rest of the day is free. Dinner reservations can be recommended and arranged. Consider reading some of our England traveler reviews to further refine and perfect your own personalized itinerary.
London – West End Show
London dances with timeless images. Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guard; the splendor of Westminster as it hangs over the Thames; opulent shopping streets and the excess of Harrods; fabulous journeys through art at the Tate. Everyone has their own version of London they'd like to explore, whether it's palaces, gardens, big wheels, or crumbling pubs. For the next two days, you're given an inclusive London Travelcard that enables you to reach any destination in London (using the Underground is usually quicker than taking a taxi in the busy parts of Central London). Create your own itinerary, before getting dressed up for a VIP experience in the West End.
Perhaps nowhere in the world defines theater like the West End, a strip of famous stages that host hundreds of annual musicals and plays. Enter the 17th-century Theatre Royal and take a look around. Wander through the Grand Saloon, then up the steps to the top balcony of the main hall. Two royal boxes hang above the stage (every monarch since 1663 has watched a show here) and there are a handful of glorious VIP boxes for luminaries. You sit in one of them and spend a night absorbing the beauty of London's architecture and the drama of the production.
London – A Free Day in London
On your third day in London, you continue your exploration of the endless attractions. This is a huge city, stretching from the opulent suburbs of the west to the ancient timepiece of Greenwich and zero degrees latitude in the east. Central London is surprisingly compact and walking around the most famous attractions is possible in half a day. Three days is usually enough to handpick your own version of London. Completing today's experience is a night at the Royal Opera House, another of the country's most quintessential experiences. As usual, luxury chauffeured transfers take you to the show. Note that the theater and opera house tickets may be on different days dependent on schedules.
Bath – Downton Abbey, Stonehenge, and Salisbury
A Georgian castle dominates a vast private estate, its lavish exterior looking like something straight from the television. This iconic English estate was glamorized as Downton Abbey, and it looks wonderfully like the moving images. Just outside London, it's an evocative start to your loop around Southern England. Rove the lush green grounds, wander through the Georgian architecture, and recreate your own favorite scenes from the TV series. A guided tour opens up the hidden history to the home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon (a place that is incidentally 200 miles from Highclere).
After leaving the castle, your private transfer stops in a small village for a classic pub lunch, complete with all the trimmings. Yes, that includes gravy, sprouts, and other emblematic English delicacies. Continue through the countryside to Stonehenge, a cluster of intricately placed rocks that have yet to be fully understood by historians. This Neolithic creation seems to be most appropriately appreciated by England's medieval folk, who believed it was built by a race of giants. Continue onwards to Salisbury, where a 13th-century cathedral spire beckons you into an elegant space of stained glass and ornate pillars. Silence reigns and the tranquility befits an 800-year old place of worship. Besides the cathedral is Chapter House, home to one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta, the first UK constitution that was written in 1215. Bath is easily reached from Salisbury, and you spend the night in a boutique Georgian townhouse that symbolizes the architecture of the ancient town.
Bath – The Georgian Splendor of Bath
Neoclassical stone architecture extends in gracious curves, filling Bath with an air of yesteryear. The original Roman spas that gave the town its name are still standing. So take a dip in the mineral hot springs, where the healing water is surrounded by an architectural mix of Roman, medieval, and Georgian influences. Bath is covered with protected buildings, and every step takes you through a captivating image of old England. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it takes a day to leisurely explore the grandeur. Most of the center is pedestrianized and you can easily explore on foot, followed by a boat trip from 18th-century Pulteney Bridge. Ensuring you are fully absorbed in the atmosphere, your hotel is situated in one of the city's heritage buildings.
The Cotswolds – The Birthplace of Shakespeare
Stratford-upon-Avon is practically the birthplace of the English language. Thatched-roof houses stand proudly above country lanes; rustic stone graces the riverside, and castle turrets rise in the distance. It looks seemingly untouched since the death of Shakespeare in the early 17th century. Many recognize Stratford's famous son as the world's greatest playwright. But that doesn't do him justice. It's estimated that Shakespeare is responsible for a quarter of the English language. Stop in Stratford-upon-Avon, where an expert Shakespeare guide takes you on a two-hour tour of the town, including a variety of closed-door attractions that paint a vivid picture of the poet’s life.
Picture a roaring log fire, a three-century-old townhouse, and views through the windows onto fields of fluffy sheep. Stratford-upon-Avon has an enviable location and is filled with rural pubs and ancient stone buildings. Resembling a museum piece, it's a place of romance and enchantment surrounded by gloriously green farmland. Enjoy lunch in one of the country pubs and then continue your journey through this hypnotic vision of rural England, heading into the Cotswolds and the postcard-perfect village of Broadway. For an old-world boutique experience, there's nowhere quite like the Cotswolds, and your fabulous bed and breakfast accommodation comes in a thatched-roof cottage.
Day 7 - 8
The Cotswolds – Quintessential English Villages
Relax. Listen. The odd sheep sends a call echoing in the distance, and the postman goes past on his bicycle. Fresh bread fumes spill out from the bakery, and the clink of china comes from a tea cafe. Then it's silent once more. During mid-afternoon, the villages of the Cotswolds can become busy with visiting coach tours from London. But in the morning and from the late afternoon onwards, you have a very local experience all to yourself. Staying in the Cotswolds is the only way to truly soak up the atmosphere. The villages are cute snapshots of old-world England, places that reward those who become immersed in their streets of cobblestone and intrigue.
For these two days ,you're free to explore, with bicycles provided to reach the nearby villages. For many, walking between the villages is equally enchanting. See the captivating high street of Chipping Campden, check out the medieval stocks in the old town square of Stow-on-the-Wold, and sit down for countless mugs of tea in villages like Chedworth and Minchinhampton. Each village has a gastro pub, perfect for putting your feet up and trying an archetypical English Sunday dinner: roast meat with roast vegetables and a generous smothering of gravy. Particularly in the long summer evening, there's nothing but charm in this region of old villages.
Oxford – The Famous University Town
Oxford sticks fiercely to its traditions; tiny pubs dispense goblets of hand-pulled ale, green squares are filled with students reading 19th-century novels and cobbled streets veer off into enchanting alleyways. Oxford University is the world's oldest, dating to the 11th century, although even postgraduate historians can't completely agree on the exact year. Then the city's pedestrianized center is a maze of second-hand shops, little pubs, and alluring buildings. It's all within an easy walk of your boutique hotel and makes for a charming evening in the university city.
A luxury chauffeured transfer brings you into the city, and you head off on a private guided tour of the university. There are 38 different colleges that imbue grandeur: the prestige and pretense of Christ Church College and its fabulous dining hall; Exeter College's Gothic chapel; a scent of regal history at Trinity College; then the 100 miles of shelves of The Bodleian Library. JRR Tolkien studied here, and you can also recognize the inspiration for Harry Potter. But he was far from the only famous writer. Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, CS Lewis, John le Carre; it's a library that's influenced hundreds of literary names. The smell alone is enough to get anyone dreaming of becoming an author.
Oxford – Final Memories of Iconic England
A final day in England and a final chance to revel in the sense of grandeur. Enjoy a leisurely morning stroll along the cobbles, a chance to go window-shopping and piece together the thousands of years of history in the city. In the afternoon, you're taken to Blenheim Palace, the majestic home of the Duke of Marlborough that's just 30 minutes outside Oxford. A guided tour takes you through the opulent building in a couple of hours. To completely explore the 2000-acre gardens could take another week. As the England exploration comes to an end, there are a few iconic options for tonight: a country pub on the edge of town, a gastro restaurant down a quiet alley, or a serving of tea at the quintessentially English guesthouse.
Oxford – Departure
Oxford is ideally situated for departure flights from London Heathrow. By road, it's probably quicker to reach the airport from Oxford than from Central London. You're transferred to the airport in good time for your international departure.
- Start your exploration with three nights in London, including being welcomed with a high tea experience at the Ritz
- Explore the capital at your leisure, with West End shows, famous shopping streets and all the iconic architecture
- Get lost in famous history by experiencing Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey), Stonehenge, and the fabulous Salisbury Cathedral
- Enjoy two nights in the Georgian spa town of Bath
- Get out into the country with three nights in The Cotswolds, lost amidst quintessential villages and Shakespeare's birthplace
- Complete the vacation in the famous university town of Oxford, filled with ancient libraries, prestigious colleges, and dazzling palaces
- This seamless loop across the south of England is made even easier with a private car and driver
Dream of England and what comes to mind? Perhaps high tea in an early 20th-century hotel? Maybe the noble splendor of Downton Abbey or a sublime stately home? A West End musical or a rural country pub surrounded by sheep? Southern England is liberally sprinkled with all these iconic images, every few miles seeming to bring a different yet equally quintessential sight. With Shakespeare's birthplace, Georgian baths, Stonehenge, cathedrals with nearly ten centuries of history, nothing looks the same but it all resembles the England of travel reveries. And it's all found in such close proximity. The longest journey you have between destinations is 90 minutes. Southern England packs it all in, from the city wonders to the cute villages, the inspiring countryside to the crumbling ruins. When one thinks of England, it's difficult to look past these iconic destinations.
A private driver takes you across Southern England, seamlessly connecting your four different bases. En route, you often stop at out of the way destinations to embark on the finest England tours. Start with three nights in London and a royal welcome with high tea at the Ritz. London can take you in so many directions, and the itinerary is free for you to piece together the capital you want to see. Tickets for a West End musical ensure another famous piece of heritage is ticked off. Then, you weave through royal England, stopping first to explore Highclere Castle, which you might now know as Downton Abbey. Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral reveal an ancient history before you settle into two days of Georgian splendor in the old spa town of Bath.
Picture rural England and the Cotswolds is about as close to the fairytale image as you can get. Sheep roam green hills, log fires warm country pubs, most buildings are at least 300 years old, and the country road winds to another timeless village. Three nights immerse you in this cute little dream, revealing a quiet and untouched side to England. You're also just around the corner from Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, another eternal highlight from this trip. Complete the vacation in Oxford, a world-famous university town that's packed with sublime architecture. Explore the 100 miles of shelves at the 400-year old Bodleian Library, roam through the grounds of Magdalen, see the Gothic chapel at Exeter College and visit the home of the Duke of Marlborough. With this iconic loop of destinations, you're already halfway back to London for your return flight.
$3,845 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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