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Full day tours from London up to 9 hours

A chance to explore further afield from London and see more of the English countryside. Where would you like to go? Castles, historic houses, gardens, cathedrals, pretty villages, good shopping or scenery – the choice is yours.

You could visit the stone circles of Stonehenge or Avebury. Children might enjoy a Harry Potter tour to Oxford and Warner Brothers studio. Garden lovers will want to admire the gardens large and small that you find all over England.


Windsor and Oxford

This day tour from London gives you a chance to see a bit of the British countryside without going too far from London. A royal castle where the Queen spends a lot of her time and then further along the River Thames, one of the famous University towns of England.

Dining Hall Christs Church College Oxford Hogwarts dining hall
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Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is about an hour’s drive west of London, situated beside the River Thames. It is the place where the Queen spends most of her time, so see if her standard is flying. It contains a world-class collection of furniture and paintings, plus St George’s Chapel which is the burial place of many of our famous English kings and queens, including Queen Elizabeth’s parents. View Eton College, on the other side of the River Thames, where Princes William and Harry went to school.

Oxford

Continue along the valley of the River Thames to Oxford, known as a seat of learning since 1200s. You will have a chance to visit one or two of the colleges and learn about the English education system, wander around the narrow back streets and maybe have lunch where J R R Tolkein and C S Lewis had a drink. You might even try your hand at punting, but be careful not to fall in. For Harry Potter fans a visit to the Divinity School is a must. You will recognise it from the films.


Oxford and Blenheim Palace

This tour combines the University city of Oxford with one of the ‘Treasure Houses of England’ – Blenheim Palace.

Your private tour guide will meet you at your hotel and drive you to Oxford in the comfort of their car. The journey takes just over an hour. Oxford sits astride the River Thames and has been a centre of learning since 1200s.

Bridge of Sighs Oxford guided tour
More information on Oxford and Blenheim Palace

Oxford

Famous for its ancient university. Visit the college buildings and go punting on the River Cherwell. You will have a chance to visit one or two of the colleges and learn about the English education system, wander around the narrow back streets and maybe have lunch where J R R Tolkein and C S Lewis had a drink. You might even try your hand at punting, but be careful not to fall in. For Harry Potter fans a visit to the Divinity School is a must. You will recognise it from the films. BMW still make the Mini Cooper at Cowley on the outskirts of Oxford.

Blenheim Palace

Continue to the Cotswold village of Woodstock for lunch and a visit to Blenheim Palace. This is the private residence of the Duke of Marlborough. The palace was built by John Churchill in the early 1700s, after he was rewarded for winning a series of major battles in Europe. It was also the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill in 1874. He is buried just down the road at Bladon.


Windsor and Stonehenge

This day tour from London combines an ancient castle with an even older stone circle. Windsor Castle is where the Queen spends a lot of her time and sometimes hosts visiting Heads of State. Stonehenge has a fascinating history dating from prehistoric times. 

Crooked House in Windsor driver tour
More information on Windsor and Stonehenge

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is about an hour’s drive west of London, situated beside the River Thames. It is the place where the Queen spends most of her time, so see if her standard is flying. It contains a world-class collection of furniture and paintings, plus St George’s Chapel which is the burial place of many of our famous English kings and queens, including Queen Elizabeth’s parents. View Eton College, on the other side of the River Thames, where Princes William and Harry went to school.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge is probably the most famous stone circle in the world. It is unique because of its horizontal lintels. It was built over a series of centuries by prehistoric man, probably as a religious or ceremonial site. A new Visitor Centre has been opened which explains more about this fascinating place. It is also possible to wander around the surrounding landscape seeing the burial mounds, Avenue and Cursus. It is unique, which is why it is a World Heritage Site.


Stonehenge and Salisbury

Two places that are close together, but very different. The World Heritage Site of Stonehenge and the cathedral at Salisbury, with its original Magna Carta, and a chance to see some thatched cottages.

About a 2 hour drive from London you find Stonehenge, which is probably the most famous stone circle in the world. It is unique because of its horizontal lintels. It was built over a series of centuries by prehistoric man, probably as a religious or ceremonial site. A new Visitor Centre has been opened which explains more about this fascinating place. It is also possible to wander around the surrounding landscape seeing the burial mounds, Avenue and Cursus.

Follow the Woodford Valley to Salisbury, which has been a market town since 1200s, so it is fun to visit on Tuesday and Saturday to browse the stalls.

If you prefer, or there is time, you could also visit Old Sarum, which was an Iron Age hill fort and the site of the original Norman castle and cathedral.

Stonehenge guide tour
More information on Stonehenge and Salisbury

Stonehenge

Mystical and awe-inspiring stone circle. One of the most well-known prehistoric monuments in the world.

Salisbury

The world famous cathedral, with its soaring spire, is set within a charming Close. It is possibly the finest medieval building in Britain. Salisbury Cathedral is well known from the paintings of John Constable. It has the highest spire in England and houses one of the original Magna Carta’s that still survive from 1215.


Hever Castle and Chartwell or Penshurst Place

Three houses to the south east of London make a nice day out in the English countryside. There will only be time to visit two comfortably in one day, so choose from the following. Two of them date back to early medieval times, while the third was home to Sir Winston Churchill.

Hever Castle
More information on Hever Castle, Chartwell, and Penshurst Place

Hever Castle

Hever Castle was built originally in 1200s and is a moated castle with a large garden in various styles. At one stage it was the home of the Boleyn family and King Henry VIII came to visit Anne Boleyn here. There is a hedge maze and a water maze, which children enjoy. During the summer months jousting events are sometimes held.

Chartwell driver tour

© Paul Simpson

Chartwell

Chartwell was the home of Sir Winston Churchill and was where his children were brought up. He even built a brick wall here while out of office as a Member of Parliament. The house is full of memorabilia, and his paintings are on show in his studio. Come and see where he sat by the pond and fed his golden orfe fish.

Chartwell and Hever Castle can be combined to make a day tour from London.

Penshurst Place

Penshurst Place is still a private family home. The house dates back to 1300s and was visited by King Henry VIII. The poet and courtier, Sir Philip Sidney, was born here in 1554. The 11 acre gardens are worth a visit as they are divided into a series of “rooms”, so there is a nuttery, orchard, Italian garden, peony border, herbaceous borders and a Union Flag garden among others.


Rochester and Leeds Castle

A day tour from London to visit a charming city and scenic countryside in Kent. Rochester is a city with castle, cathedral and Charles Dickens associations, while Leeds Castle sits majestically in the middle of a lake and was restored in the early 1900s. The castle has associations with 6 medieval English queens.

Leeds Castle guid tour
More information on Rochester and Leeds Castle

Rochester

Rochester is sited on the River Medway about an hour’s drive from London. It holds a Dickens Festival at the end of May, where people dress up as Dickens characters. Rochester also has a Norman castle and cathedral.

Leeds Castle

A bit further east is Leeds Castle, started back in 800s and lived in by many English queens through the years. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book survey of 1086, but eventually fell on hard times until it was restored by Lady Baillie. It is the sort of castle you could imagine actually living in. There is a nice walk through the park, a typical English cottage garden, a maze and grotto to keep the children amused. There are sometimes falconry displays, and if you are feeling adventurous, you could try a Segway tour.


Leeds Castle and Canterbury

A castle, cathedral, shopping and gardens all in one day, about 1½ hours drive by car from London. Leeds Castle is known as “the loveliest castle in the world” and sits in a large park with lakeside walks. Canterbury is home to the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican faith, and the Cathedral where Thomas Becket was murdered.

Leeds Castle 2 driver tour
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Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is well known as the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican faith. The town started back in Roman times, and there are still a few Roman remains to be seen. The original cathedral was started by St Augustine, but has been extended and rebuilt over the years, so it is now a mix of Norman and Gothic architecture. Nearby is St Augustine’s Abbey, which is where the early Archbishops and Kentish kings are buried. After Thomas Becket was murdered in the cathedral, it became of greater importance to pilgrims and the place for high status burials.

Leeds castle 4 tour

© Stewart Morris

Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle, started back in 800s and lived in by many English queens through the years. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book survey of 1086, but eventually fell on hard times until it was restored by Lady Baillie. It is the sort of castle you could imagine actually living in. There is a nice walk through the park, a typical English cottage garden, a maze and grotto to keep the children amused. There are sometimes falconry displays, and if you are feeling adventurous, you could try a Segway tour.


Knole and Sissinghurst

A day tour from London that combines two places associated with Vita Sackville-West. The family home where she was born, and the garden she created with her husband, Harold Nicolson.

Sissinghurst Private Guide Tour

© Tony Hisgett

More information on Knole and Sissinghurst
Knole guided tour

© Ben Sutherland

Knole

Knole was built in 1400s by an Archbishop of Canterbury. It was later given to the Sackville family by Queen Elizabeth in 1566. It is said to be the largest private house in England, with 365 rooms. It has a wonderful collection of furniture and paintings from 1600s. Vita’s father was the 6th Baron Sackville, but only sons could inherit, so Vita was left out. She lived locally after her marriage to Harold Nicolson, first at Long Barn and then at Sissinghurst.

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden is probably the place everyone associates with Vita Sackville-West. It is the garden she created with Harold Nicolson and where they brought up their sons. The garden is divided into various spaces, which Harold designed and Vita planted.


Canterbury and Dover

Follow in the footsteps of past travellers on the old road to London. Most people took the ferry to Dover and then followed the old Roman road to London via Canterbury. The white cliffs of Dover are world famous. The English Channel is not wide and on a clear day you can see France.

Dover Castle tours
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Dover Castle

Dover Castle is a place just waiting to be explored. There are the remains of a Roman lighthouse, a Saxon church, a Norman castle and World War II hospital. Dover is still a port city and you can watch the ferries come and go to France. The castle was garrisoned until fairly recently. It is where Admiral Ramsay organised Operation Dynamo, when he sent over the Armada of “little ships” to rescue the soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk in 1940 during World War II.

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is well known as the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican faith. The town started back in Roman times, and there are still a few Roman remains to be seen. The original cathedral was started by St Augustine, but has been extended and rebuilt over the years, so it is now a mix of Norman and Gothic architecture. Nearby is St Augustine’s Abbey, which is where the early Archbishops and Kentish kings are buried. After Thomas Becket was murdered in the cathedral, it became of greater importance to pilgrims and the place for high status burials. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote all about pilgrimages in “The Canterbury Tales”.


Brighton and Arundel

How about a day tour to the seaside south of London? The Brighton Pavilion looks as though it has arrived from the Far East, while Arundel has some good antique shops and Arundel Castle is still home to the Duke of Norfolk.

Brighton and Arundel Driver Guide Tour

© Tony Hisgett

More information on Brighton and Arundel
Brighton Private Guided Tour

© duncanh1

Brighton

Would you like to see something extraordinary? Then visit Brighton. The Brighton Pavilion looks like a cross between a Chinese and Indian palace. It was built for King George IV, while he was Regent, and was always larger than life. Brighton became the fashionable place to be seen and is still a popular resort today. It is fun to walk on the beach, but remember this is England, so it is not sand but pebbles. You could try a quick swim in the sea, but it will be cold, or you could explore the narrow Lanes or the Pier.

Arundel Private Guided Tour

© Henry Lawford

Arundel

Arundel Castle sits majestically above the town of Arundel, beside the River Arun. It has Norman origins, but was rebuilt in 1700s and restored in 1800s to provide a comfortable home for the Duke of Norfolk. It houses a good collection of furniture, tapestries, clocks and paintings. Nearby is the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust with many different varieties of swans, ducks and geese.


Gardens of Sussex

The climate in south-east England is temperate - never too cold and never too hot, hence the number of gardens in the counties of Kent and Sussex.

It is usually possible to visit 2 – 3 gardens in one day from London, travelling by car with your private tour guide. It rather depends on whether they are large or small and how far from London. The following are some of the most popular.

Borde Hill gardens guided tour
More information on Gardens of Sussex
Sissinghurst-driver-tour

© Tony Hisgett

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden is probably the place everyone associates with Vita Sackville-West. It is the garden she created with Harold Nicolson and where they brought up their sons. The garden is divided into various spaces, which Harold designed and Vita planted.

Great Dixter

Great Dixter was the home of the writer and gardener Christopher Lloyd. A 6 acre garden that is a riot of colour, with some interesting colour mixes, especially in the potted plants. The house dates back to 1400s.

Wakehurst Place driver tour

© Luigi Guarino

Wakehurst Place

Wakehurst Place is the countryside arm of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Over 400 acres of park and garden house several National Collections of plants. The new Millennium Seed Bank aims to preserve seed from all British plant species.

Penshurst Place

Penshurst Place has an 11 acre garden and garden records date back to 1300s. The house is still privately owned and is open to the public. The gardens are divided into a series of “rooms”, so there is a nuttery, orchard, Italian garden, peony border, herbaceous borders and a Union Flag garden among others.

Nymans driver tour

© Beverley Goodwin

Nymans

Nymans is a 30 acre garden created by Ludwig Messel in 1800s. He collected plants from around the world. Various gardens include rose, heather, walled and sunk, plus a pinetum. The house was partially destroyed by fire in 1947.

Sheffield Park driver tour

© Karen Roe

Sheffield Park

Sheffield Park Garden is a magnificent landscaped garden of 120 acres with 4 lakes and an arboretum. It is probably at its best when the azaleas and rhododendrons are in flower.

High Beeches driver tour

© Esther Westerveld

High Beeches

High Beeches is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The estate was once home to the Loder family, known for their rhododendrons. The 25 acre garden is set on a hillside and is a well preserved example of a landscaped woodland garden.

Borde Hill

Borde Hill Garden is 200 acres of parkland and gardens surrounding the house, which is not open to the public. Plants were collected during the great plant hunters expeditions of 1800s to China and the Himalayas.


Cambridge and Ely or Duxford

An interesting day tour to the north of London is Cambridge with its University combined with Ely, known for its cathedral, or Duxford, which houses part of the Imperial War Museum’s collection of airplanes.

Cambridge mathematical bridge driver tour
More information on Cambridge, Ely and Duxford

Cambridge University

Cambridge University is younger than Oxford University. The students left Oxford after some riots and founded a new University on the River Cam. It has a similar feel to Oxford, with colleges interspersed among the town, with a market square in the centre. There are connections with the American military from World War II in the town, plus the American war cemetery at Madingley just outside Cambridge.

Ely

Ely was the home of Oliver Cromwell, ruler of England after King Charles I was beheaded. It also has a cathedral on the site of a Benedictine Abbey. A stained glass museum is housed in the cathedral.

Duxford driver tour

© PSParrot

Duxford

Duxford is an old Battle of Britain airfield with several hangers housing historic planes. It also has a hanger dedicated to the USAAF’s role in World War II and 20thc.


Constable Country

For those interested in art, some of the places associated with John Constable to the north east of London, makes an interesting day tour. It is still possible today to see some of the scenes painted by John Constable in 1800s. He also painted scenes in other parts of England.

Constable Country Guided Tour
More information on Constable Country destinations
Flatford Mill Guided Tour

© garyt70

Flatford Mill

Flatford Mill is where John Constable painted “The Haywain” and Willy Lot’s house still exists. John Constable was born in East Bergholt and his father owned a mill at Flatford.

Lavenham

Nearby is Lavenham, which is an unspoilt medieval market town with many half-timbered houses. Go and see the signatures of US airmen in the bar at the Swan hotel.


Winchester and Chawton

For those interested in literature, some of the places associated with Jane Austen to the south west of London, can be visited in a day tour.

Steventon is the village where she was born and lived for the first 25 years of her life until her father retired. The church still exists where her father was the rector. After her father’s death, she lived in several places with her mother and sister before settling in Chawton, where her home is now a museum.

203 Winchester round table
More information on Winchester and Chawton

Winchester

Capital of King Alfred’s Wessex and an early capital city of the Norman kings. Winchester Cathedral dates from 1079 and is the burial place of pre-Norman English kings. Learn how William Walker saved the Cathedral and why Jane Austen moved to Winchester for the final few weeks of her life, died and was buried there.

Chawton

Chawton is a village in the scenic South Downs National Park, where Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life. The house gives you some idea how she lived with her mother and sister, what her brothers did in the navy, and where she did her writing.


Portsmouth

Portsmouth is the place to visit if you like ships, the navy and the sea. It has several ships you can visit and lots of historical naval artefacts. The Historic Naval Dockyard at Portsmouth on the south coast is a 2 hour drive from London. For a bird’s eye view of Portsmouth and its harbour, take the lift to the top of the Spinnaker Tower. Nearby in Southsea is the D-Day Museum, which houses the Overlord Embroidery about the landings in June 1944. Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth and the house is now a museum.

Portsmouth Guided Tour
A few popular attractions in Portsmouth

HMS Warrior

HMS Warrior was the world’s first ironclad armoured warship. She was a frigate powered by both steam and sail. She is built of 5” thick iron plates backed by teak, which made her invulnerable to artillery and the most advanced ship of her time.

HMS Victory

HMS Victory was Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in1805. You can wander all over the ship, though you may have to bend down to avoid hitting your head. You can see the actual spot on deck where Lord Nelson fell after being shot and, down below, the Orlop Deck where he died. On display is one of the original sails that HMS Victory used at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Mary Rose Exhibition Portsmouth Guided Tour

© Jane Dickson

The Mary Rose

The Mary Rose was a warship that sank in front of King Henry VIII with great loss of life. In 1980s the ship was raised from the bottom of Portsmouth Harbour and is now displayed in a new museum. We have learned much about Tudor life from this ship.

Spinnaker Tower

Take the high speed lift for a bird’s eye view of the Historic Naval Dockyard. On a clear day you can see up to 23 miles. Are you brave enough to walk on the glass floor and look at the humans over 300’ below? Allow time to wander in Gunwharf Quays, the Shopping and Leisure venue surrounding the Tower.


Oxford and the Cotswolds

Your private tour guide will meet you at your hotel and drive you to Oxford in the comfort of their car. The journey takes just over an hour. You will then have a chance to wander around Oxford and visit a college or two. Then drive on to the Cotswolds, an area known for its stone cottages, scenic countryside and villages with unusual names.

Lower Slaughter Cotswolds driver tour
More information on Oxford and the Cotswolds

Oxford

Oxford sits astride the River Thames and has been a centre of learning since 1200s. You will have a chance to visit one or two of the colleges and learn about the English education system, wander around the narrow back streets and maybe have lunch where J R R Tolkein and C S Lewis had a drink. You might even try your hand at punting, but be careful not to fall in. For Harry Potter fans a visit to the Divinity School is a must. You will recognise it from the films. BMW still make the Mini Cooper at Cowley on the outskirts of Oxford.

Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are a range of hills between Bath and Stratford-upon-Avon. The houses are built of the local limestone, with stone roofs. Villages have strange names like Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold and Moreton-in-Marsh. Spend time exploring the little villages down narrow country lanes, which can only be reached on a car tour. There are good antique shops in some of the Cotswold villages.


Bath

Bath is a World Heritage Site. It was founded by the Romans as a spa town, even though we think that is a modern concept. The springs still flow, bringing hot water to the new Bath Spa complex. Explore the back streets of Bath and see where Jane Austen lived and visit the Jane Austen Centre. Admire Pulteney Bridge which spans the River Avon and enjoy a meal in the Pump Room and imagine yourself here in Georgian times.

Bath driver tour

© Jen Hunter

Attractions in Bath
Roman Baths Driver tour

© Patrick

Roman Baths

The Roman Baths Museum tells some of the history of the baths, but be careful, as you will be walking on Roman paving stones. You can try a glass of the water. Charles Dicken’s Sam Weller thought it tasted of “old flat irons”.

Royal Crescent Guide Tour

© Heather Cowper

Royal Crescent

Walk up the hill to see the Georgian architecture of the Circus and the Royal Crescent, or get your driver-guide to drop you off there and then walk down the hill. The Fashion Museum in the Assembly Rooms is a must for those who are interested in clothes.


Avebury

This is part of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. It is an enormous henge monument with a stone circle. There are many things to see at Avebury - The Sanctuary on Overton Hill is one of the oldest sites of the complex. You can actually walk in to the West Kennet Long Barrow. Admire Silbury Hill, which is a man-made hill, but we don’t know what it was used for. Walk along the West Kennet Avenue and visit the Museum and Tithe Barn.

Avebury Manor and garden has recently been restored. The house dates back to 1500s.

Avebury stone circle driver tour

Downton Abbey

Spend some time visiting the places that were used in the filming of Downton Abbey. Visit the village that was used for the filming of Isobel Crawley’s house, the church where Matthew married Lady Mary and the village fun fair took place. See the entrance to the village hospital. Greys Court was where the picnic scene was filmed when the family visited Downton Place, when they thought they might have to downsize. Waddesdon Manor was the house that Sir Richard Carlisle thinks of buying because of his impending marriage to Lady Mary. The Chiltern Open Air Museum has the barn where Lady Edith kissed John Drake.

Highclere Castle is the actual house used in the films of Downton Abbey. Entry tickets are sold online in advance. There is no guarantee that tickets will be available. It is usually possible to visit the gardens and see the exterior of the house, but it is not open all the time.

Highclere Castle Downton Abbey guided tour

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We had a glorious time. Robina was wonderful. She knows everything there is to know! We had so many adventures no one knows which was best. Each day was better than the last. The children were absolutely stunned by Lion King. Truth is -... (read more...) AS, Georgia

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