With so many beautiful cities scattered across the countryside, only a fool would visit England and stay in one place: from historic cities to scenic beaches and culinary treats, we’ve rounded up the best spots for the perfect British weekend escape (or shorter day trip!).
1. Get Lost in London
No trip to England would be complete without a visit to the capital: London is the vibrant center of the country, filled with culture, history, and iconic landmarks recognized around the world. The Big Smoke is as hectic as it is full of life – and it’s all part of what makes London so charming. Don’t forget to bring the camera as the city is full of photo-ops: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye and Trafalgar Square are all within walking distance of each other, while The Tower of London, Hyde Park, and all of London’s world-famous museums are just a short Tube-journey away. And the amazing shopping and world-class food? Well, that’s a topic for another article entirely…
2. Take to The Water in Oxford
So you’ve successfully navigated London and braved the Tube – what about a change of pace and scenery? Just an hour away by train, Oxford couldn’t be more different. The best way to see this beautiful old university city is to take to the river in a traditional, small wooden boat: you won’t need oars for this; instead you’ll use a big stick to propel yourself downstream. It’s called ‘punting’, and I swear it’s a real and really awesome thing.
3. Be Beside The Seaside in Brighton
Brighton is a mecca for all things stylish, and the young and cool have long flocked to this beach town. A stroll through The Lanes will have you shopping in vintage clothing stores, rummaging through secondhand book or record shops, and picking up locally crafted bargains before settling down to a steaming mug of coffee and a wedge of cake at a local bakery-come-café. Once you’ve called on the art galleries, snapped a photo of the beautiful Brighton Pavilion, and visited the underwater creatures at Sea World, stroll along the beach and check out the iconic pier – just watch out for food-thieving seagulls.
4. Get charmed by Cambridge
You didn’t get a chance to try your hand at punting in Oxford? Fear not: the riverside of Cambridge is also lined with these wooden boats to journey through the city in style. Take in the academic spirit of the prestigious Cambridge University that uses the whole town as its campus – 31 colleges are scattered throughout the city, tucked away in spectacular postcard-perfect buildings that give Cambridge its quintessential English feel. Who’s up for some afternoon tea in one of the city’s charming tea houses?
5. Step back in time in Windsor
Where does the Queen spend her time when she’s bored of Buckingham Palace? Windsor, of course! This gorgeous little town, perched on the banks of the river Thames, is almost one which time forgot: the majestic Windsor Castle surveys its great green park and opens its doors to visitors who wonder what the inside of the Queen’s weekend home looks like (no spoilers!). Cobbled streets wind a path past the walls of the castle, leading the way to charming pubs, through royal shopping arcades and down to riverside bistros. We’re not sure how the Queen treats herself, but a visit to a fudge shop that offers freebies should definitely be on everyone’s agenda.
6. Sample the Best of British in Bristol
Here, the cobbled streets are lined with quaint tearooms, hip brunch cafés, and trendy bars. The river Avon winds its way through the heart of Bristol, bringing with it spectacular sailing boats sauntering past as you enjoy lunch in the city center – surreal, but in a good way. Explore the wooden decks of the impressive SS Great Britain and visit the spectacular Bristol Cathedral before you watch the sunset from the world-famous Clifton Suspension Bridge.
7. Soak up the sun in Bournemouth
Take on the spectacular British seaside with a visit to the seven miles of sandy beaches found in Bournemouth. As one of the sunniest cities in England, this picturesque coastal town is the perfect place to sample New Forest ice cream (someone has to!) and oh-so-greasy but oh-so-famous fish and chips. Surfers, don your wetsuit! This smashing piece of coastline is home to Europe’s first artificial surf reef – complete with breathtaking views and plenty of cool bars and busy clubs to party from dusk till dawn.