London is a city that has captivated the imaginations of locals and visitors from around the world. The city brims with vibrant life at all times of day, from the teahouses to nightlife, parks to the river-walk along the cobble-paved banks of the River Thames. Castle towers and church spires create the historic skyline blending with the chic skyscrapers of the 20th and 21st-centuries. The exposed wooden beams of historic pubs harken back to the day Charles Dickens sat by the fire at The George Inn.
Haberdashers have small stores opening out to the cobblestone streets, almost hidden in a small alleyway. The designer allure of Harrods brims with polished tile and a contemporary style. When you arrive at the airport, your private transfer is waiting, ready to escort you to your hotel situated in the heart of the city. At the quarter hour, you can hear Big Ben chime along the River Thames, the Elizabeth Tower casting a shadow over the House of Parliament with neo-gothic design.
In the morning, the city returns to vivacious life with people strolling along Oxford Street and enjoying the artisanal selections of Borough Market. The succulent aroma of freshly made English pies topped with apple, and the scent of caramelized sugar, drifts across the storefronts. Your guide meets you in the hotel lobby after breakfast, and you are ready to step out into the streets and discover the extent of the historic city.
Behind the neo-Gothic features of the House of Parliament stands the illustrious frame of Westminster Abbey. The abbey was established in the 10th-century, but was constructed in its current form in the 16th-century. The Western Façade is striking, with dramatic towers connected by a central nave, with a large, arched window bringing your eye to the center of the portico. The interior is even more extravagant, with polished tile floors checkered with black and white. The lofted ceilings create a cavernous effect.
The octagonal Chapter House was built under the patronage of Henry III and remains one of the oldest sections of the abbey. Black Purbeck marble structures the central pier, ascending upwards to form an umbrella shape above the surviving medieval tiles. The grandeur of the abbey offers a glimpse into the religious life of English royalty, from coronations to weddings, watched over by England’s historic poets and authors.
In the morning, the streets around Brick Lane Market fill with locals eager to discover antique splendor at Upmarket, or retro teahouse furniture along the main thoroughfare. After breakfast, your guide meets you at the hotel. You journey to Buckingham Palace eager to see the fabled opulence of the British monarchy. The 18th-century edifice became the official London home of the royal family in 1837. Two iconic royal guards flank the entrance behind the wrought iron gates, their bright red coats standing out against the cream-colored stone. When you enter the palace grounds, you find an opulence around every corner marked by gilt and color.
The palace contains 830,000 square feet of floor space. A lush rug covers the hardwood floor in the drawing room situated underneath sparkling chandeliers. A large oil painting decorates the wall between the polished decorative pillars. The exuberance of the room comes from the light reflecting off of the light-fixtures, mirrors, and gilded crown molding, with the colors of the antique furniture adding to the brilliance of the room. After your tour, your guide leads you to the entrance of the palace to witness the celebrated Changing of the Guards.
Today your guide leads you northbound to the charming Elizabethan town of Stratford-upon-Avon, home of the renowned poet and playwright William Shakespeare. The half-timber homes are colored with white and black facades. Thatched roofs top cottage homes. In spring and summer, flower pots dangle from gas lamps and radiate across the parks. The Bard was born in the Stratford in the 16th-century. The Tudor ambiance of the town is reflected in the décor, from medieval recreations to Shakespearean themed tea rooms.
After strolling along the charm of Stratford, you come to Shakespeare’s birthplace, a home where ardent fans have visited since the 19th-century, etching their names into the windows to show their support and passion for the language-changing writer. Inside the more modern façade, you find a house restored to the traditional Tudor rooms. A narrow bed stands next to a small hearth. The kitchen has pots and pans decorating layers of shelving. The low-lying wood beam ceiling leads to the open stairwell.
West of town is Mary Arden’s Farm, where genealogists have connected the farm back to the family tree through the Bard’s mother. You continue your exploration of the countryside outside of Shakespeare’s shadow, venturing into the rolling hills and cottage-clad villages of Cotswolds.
After breakfast, your guide leads you into the English countryside. Fluffy sheep graze on the lush hills and grassland. The horizon has an endless fertility along the farmlands. In the distance, large, angular stones rise out of the prairie. You realize you have arrived at Stonehenge. The powerful stones stand at the center of a dense Neolithic and Bronze Age complex of monuments. A ring of standing stones surrounds a collection of interworked stones set in earthworks to keep their place. There is an undeniable mysticism to the site, emanating from the bluestones and vast prairie surrounding the ancient construction, which archeologists date back to as early as 3,000 BC.
A pathway frames the ring around the massive stones, providing a close view to the monoliths brought all the way from South Wales, a 250-mile journey. It is hard to imagine the Salisbury Plain covered by dense forest during the construction of the monument, and even harder to imagine how the architects and builders dragged the stones through the trees. The horseshoe inside the circle of stones aligns with the astronomical calendar, fitting the light of sunset into the stones during the midwinter solstice. The ethereal ambiance of Stonehenge stays with you, even after you leave the site behind for the Georgian architecture and Roman baths of the charming city of Bath.
In the morning, the shops at Brixton Village open their doors. The old-fashioned confectioners at Sweet Tooth spill the scent of caramelized sugar and baking cupcakes into the arcade. After breakfast, you once again make your way outside of the city for the day, venturing northbound to the serene River Cam and stunning traditional architecture of Cambridge.
The countryside surrounding the university town adds to the exquisite character of architecture dating back to the 13th-century. The buildings seem unchanged from their original construction. In the spring and summer, flowers blossom in the parks and leaves reach down from their branches and brush the grass. In winter, fresh snow blankets the parks and lines the riverbanks.
Students bicycle along the paths and cobbled passageways creating a unique, radiant atmosphere exuding knowledge and history near locals floating down Cam River. Fitzwilliam Museum was the first public art museum in England, intended to house the treasures of the Viscount Fitzwilliam inside the neoclassical façade. The exuberant exterior matches the extravagant collection spanning Greek marble statues and Egyptian cartouches, a Roman funerary couch, and works by Leonardo da Vinci. The beauty of collected histories around the museum matches the artistic architecture around of town.
The morning light washes over Covent Gardens, where local students at the Royal Academy of Music perform inside the arcade, their voices accompanied by string instruments and echoing along the cobblestones and shops. After breakfast, the day is yours to enjoy the wonders of London at your own pace, taking in the high-paced energy around the Financial District or strolling through the blossoming daffodils and roses of Hyde Park. If the art of England and works collected by the British Empire inspire you, then you’ll find yourself at the National Gallery, one of the top art museums in the world, with paintings from around Europe dating between the 13th and 20th-centuries. The Doric columns of the entrance greet you upon your arrival and you step into the vast collection of around 2,300 displayed paintings, including the spectacular mosaic in the main vestibule.
In the East Wing, known for containing works from the 18th and 19th-centuries, you find Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. The displayed still life is Van Gogh’s fourth attempt at capturing the vivid colors and exquisite detail of the flowers. The yellow background makes the golden texture of the flowers step off the canvas. At first glance, the painting seems a simple representation of a vase and its contents. But the longer you look, the more detail you notice, filling every crevice, each collective petal, stem, flower, and decorating the entire canvas.
The weekend Camden Fashion Market erupts with chic London culture, collecting both the stylish trends and underground fads decorating shops windows. Lava lamps glow and skull rings refract light. Vinyl records spin on antique players. Vintage and antique create brand new styles across London, commemorating the city’s connection to its past, but always looking fashionably forward.
At breakfast, your sip a cup of freshly brewed black tea; the herbaceous aroma drifts from the warm mug. Your private transfer will soon meet you in the lobby and escort you to Heathrow International Airport. You have explored the majesty of past and present London, along with the charm of the encompassing countryside, but there is always more history to see and more of Britain to experience. If you are considering adding on to this vacation, you may find the England traveler reviews helpful for ideas.
The treasures of England go beyond the glistening Crown Jewels inside the Tower of London. A gilded statue of Justice adorns the cupola of the Old Bailey. The River Thames ripples underneath the sunlight with golden allure. The lush country hills outside of London shine emerald across the horizon. Your 8-day London and countryside of England tour offers the chance to view the beauty of the city and encompassing landscape like a local. From marketplaces to warm Roman baths, each offers a unique view of the splendors of London, the majesty of secluded villages, and the wonder of British history.
Your England tour begins with you arrival in London, a city meandering along the banks of the River Thames. Your private transfer meets you at the airport and escorts you to a fabulous hotel situated in the heart of London’s energetic, historic center. London remains one of the most visited cities in the world, filled with captivating history dating back to Roman times. Your guide meets you after breakfast and leads you on a remarkable tour to take in the iconic images near the riverbanks, from the House of Parliament to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
In the evening, you can relax on a river cruise, taking in the lights of the iconic city. The following day, your guide takes you on a tremendous half-day tour of Buckingham Palace, including the lavish State Rooms, with the afternoon in the city at your leisure. Travel north to the Elizabethan charms of Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare, and enjoy the tranquil countryside of the Cotswold Hills.
Your guide escorts you to the mystic landscape around Stonehenge to witness the fabled structure before exploring the magnificent Georgian architecture and Roman baths around the city of Bath. In Cambridge, you can walk in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking. Relish a day in London at your whim and pleasure, taking in the museums, the historic streets, or the lively marketplaces. On your final morning, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to the airport for your flight home.
$2795 per person (excluding international flights)
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