London is a great place to base yourself for a trip to the UK. (See London Tours). Not only because there is so much to do here but also because you are well-positioned for some great days out around England. Here are some fun days out for you to try.
A collection of stones dragged 5,000 years ago to this lonely windy plain near Salisbury. Who built it and why? These questions have haunted the minds of scholars for centuries. The great and ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is a World Heritage Site.
Bath is another World Heritage Site. Bath is a unique city with its springs, Roman Baths, Abbey, and Georgian stone crescents. The surrounding countryside also makes it worth the trip. Take time to browse at the city shops as this compact city center is largely free of traffic.
3. Canterbury & Leeds Castle
Canterbury is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has 2 castles, 6 museums, and that cathedral; infamous as the setting for the brutal murder of Thomas Beckett in 1170 and immortalized by Geoffrey Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales.
Leeds Castle was a Royal residence for 6 of England's medieval queens, a palace of Henry VIII, and a retreat for the rich and powerful. The Norman castle sits on two islands in the middle of a lake, and is surrounded by a vast estate.
- Leeds Castle, Canterbury & Greenwich (Viator)
- Leeds Castle, Canterbury & Dover (Viator)
- Canterbury Tourist Information
- Leeds Castle website
Stratford-upon-Avon is famous for being the birthplace of playwright William Shakespeare. You can visit the great bard's childhood home. Walk around the town and admire the wealth of black and white timber framed buildings.
The medieval Warwick Castle still has most of its magnificent towers and ramparts intact. You can go down into the dungeons where prisoners were tortured, then relax in the lovingly tended gardens. During the summer months, archery, falconry, and jousting take place in the grounds.
Cambridge's stately Gothic style College buildings rise spectacularly from the greenery along the River Cam where students and visitors enjoy punting along the River. Visit the magnificent perpendicular chapel of King's College, founded in 1441, which is considered the finest and grandest example of late medieval Gothic architecture in England. Also see the "Bridge of Sighs", named after its look-a-like in Venice.
Oxford is known as the "City of Dreaming Spires". Its hushed courtyards and elegant, dignified timeworn buildings have inspired generations of scholars (including Bill Clinton in the 1970s) and writers, including Lewis Carroll who wrote "Alice in Wonderland" here. Visit Christchurch College, where Harry Potter scenes were filmed and where Albert Einstein studied.
Windsor Castle is an official residence of The Queen and the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. A Royal home and fortress for over 900 years, the Castle remains a working palace today. Visit the lavishly decorated State Apartments containing priceless furniture in glorious colors and St George's Chapel, home to the 14th Century Order of the Royal Garter. You can also see the Windsor Changing of the Guard in all its colorful pageantry and splendor.
Brighton is the seaside town 'cool' Londoners like to go to for days and nights out, and it's the gay capital of England. Visit the Royal Pavilion, the extraordinary seaside fantasy palace of King George IV, which combines an Indian mogul exterior with an exotic Chinese interior. Stroll along the vibrant beach front with its Artists' and Fishing Quarters, trendy bars and clubs. Enjoy traditional seaside fun on the Victorian Palace Pier and shop for antiques and designer goods in the Lanes. Add to that great nightlife, a lively arts scene, and over 400 restaurants. Yes, it's the place to be seen.
9. Theme Parks: Alton Towers / Thorpe Park / Legoland / Chessington
Act your shoe size, not your age, and have a day at a UK theme park.
- Alton Towers has the big rides: Nemisis' turbulent, twisting frenzy and Oblivion's death defying plunge.
- Thorpe Park has Colossus for intense swirling, diving, and corkscrewing.
- Legoland is for the younger kids but is no less fun. It's also in Windsor so you can combine a trip with a visit to Windsor Castle.
- Chessington World of Adventures is a zoo as well as a theme park. (Buy Direct).
Yes, you can reach France and back in a day. It's a long day granted, but it can be done. Eurostar is the most convenient way to travel directly from St Pancras International into the heart of Paris.