England offers a delightful mix of big-city thrills and thatch-happy village charm. Your Rick Steves guide will welcome you in the elegant Georgian town of Bath. From there you'll tally-ho to King Arthur's Glastonbury, flower-boxed Cotswold villages, opulent Blenheim Palace, inventive Ironbridge Gorge, Welsh Conwy and Caernarfon Castle. You'll also be treated to the spectacular scenery of the Lake District, historic Hadrian's Wall, and medieval York — ending with the must-see sights of energetic London. Join us for the Best of England in 14 Days!
You'll get all this!
- A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
- Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of England come alive for you
- All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 24 group sightseeing events • Bath walking tour • Roman Baths tour • Glastonbury Abbey visit • Wells Cathedral tour • Avebury stone circle tour • Blenheim Palace tour • Lacock village walking tour • Cotswolds loop drive • Stanway House and grounds tour • Cotswolds country walk • Local folk music • Ironbridge Gorge visit • Bodnant Garden visit • Caernarfon Castle tour • Welsh Slate Museum visit • Lake District walk and boat cruise • Hadrian's Wall visit • York Minster tour • York walking tour • Bus sightseeing tour of London • Westminster Abbey tour • Thames boat cruise • Tower of London "Beefeater" tour • British Museum tour...and more
- All group transportation from Bath to London
- 13 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels
- All breakfasts and half your dinners
- All tips for guides and driver
- Free stuff including Rick Steves' Great Britain guidebook, moneybelt and earplugs
- Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
- Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
- Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2014
- 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
- Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
- Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above
Daily Activity Key
- Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
- Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
- Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.
Day 1: Welcome to England
The beautiful Georgian city of Bath is a 90-minute train ride from central London. We'll meet around 5 p.m. at our hotel for a "Welcome to England" get-together. Then we'll take a short neighborhood walk and get acquainted over dinner. Sleep in Bath (3 nights). No bus. Walking: light.
Day 2: Roman and Georgian Bath
Our day begins with a walking tour of Bath's charming streets, including its medieval abbey square and the imposing sweep of its Royal Crescent. Next we're off to tour the town's remarkably well-preserved 2,000-year-old Roman Baths where you'll have a chance to drink from these natural mineral springs in the Pump Room. The rest of the day is free to make your own discoveries in this historic town. You might visit the colorful Fashion Museum or — as Roman travelers did — bathe in a mineral spa. No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 3: Glastonbury and Wells
Today we'll explore and learn about mystical Glastonbury, the legendary resting place of King Arthur, where we'll also enjoy a picnic in the shadow of the abbey ruins. Later we'll tour England's oldest completely Gothic structure — the graceful Wells Cathedral — before returning to Bath in the late afternoon. Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 4: Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds
This morning we'll take a walking tour through the wonderfully-preserved medieval village of Lacock. Farther up the road, we'll stop to tour Avebury's mysterious, prehistoric stone circle. Then we'll drive north to Blenheim Palace, touring this gilded mini-Versailles that was the birthplace of Winston Churchill. We end our day in the cobbled-lane, flower-boxed Cotswolds market town of Stow-on-the-Wold, where we'll sleep (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 5: Cotswold Villages
Today we'll take a scenic Cotswolds drive, stopping at the ever-so-English Cotswold village of Stanton. We'll explore the village as well as visit Stanway House, home to the local aristocracy. This afternoon you'll have free time to explore more picturesque villages on your own — or join your guide for a leisurely country walk past cottages and sheep, through fields and kissing gates. Tonight we'll enjoy dinner together at a country pub with the sounds of local folk musicians, where you can try a sip of Scrumpy, the local farmhouse "hard cider." Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).
Day 6: Ironbridge Gorge and Into Wales
We'll begin our day visiting the historic bridge and tollhouse at Ironbridge Gorge, where breakthroughs in the smelting and casting of iron — and the invention of the steam-powered locomotive — gave birth to the Industrial Revolution. After lunch we'll bid cheerio to England and drive into neighboring wonderful North Wales. We'll end our day overlooking the Irish Sea in the castle-topped, harbor town of Conwy, where we'll share dinner together and sleep (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 7: Caernarfon Castle and Welsh Slate
Today we'll see and feel the rugged character of North Wales, touring impressive Caernarfon Castle, where we'll learn about the system of English garrison castles Edward I built to enforce English rule over North Wales 700 years ago. After lunch, we'll visit the Welsh National Slate Museum to learn how this local industry shingled the roofs throughout Europe. The rest of your day is free to roam along Conwy's multi-towered city wall, historic houses and laid-back harbor. Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 8: Gardens and Lakes
This morning we'll explore the manicured lawns, terraced beds, and extensive botanical collection of Bodnant Garden. Then we'll cross back into England and make our way to the spectacularly serene Lake District, favorite haunt of poets and painters. Sleep at a family-run hotel in Keswick (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 9: The Lake District
Today we'll explore the natural beauty of the Lake District. You can join your guide for a refreshing hike 'twixt lakes and mountains and a leisurely boat cruise on the island-studded Derwentwater — or strike out on a little expedition of your own, thanks to a wealth of hiking opportunities along well-marked trails. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).
Day 10: Hadrian's Wall
We'll travel back in time today with a tour of Hadrian's ancient Roman wall, once considered the boundary dividing civilization and barbarity (though the Scots might disagree). We'll then stop for lunch before winding our way through the moors and dales of North Yorkshire — James Herriot country — to the bustling cathedral town of York. Tonight we'll indulge in England's favorite ethnic food with a tasty Indian dinner together. Sleep in York (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 11: York Minster and the Medieval City
We'll begin our day marveling at York Minster's stained glass windows on our tour of the largest Gothic church north of the Alps. Then we'll take a walking tour beneath the leaning, half-timbered houses of The Shambles in the city's marvelous medieval center. You'll have the rest of the day free to enjoy more of this enchanting city. It's a great night to enjoy an ethereal evensong choir performance in the Minster. No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 12: Regal and Lively London
Today we'll board a train and make a beeline past the Midlands for London. Our first stop is Westminster Abbey with a local guide, where England's kings and queens have been crowned and buried since 1066. A thousand years of English history lie within its stained-glass splendor and under its stone slabs. After absorbing so much history, you'll be ready for an entertaining guided bus tour, hearing tales about Big Ben, the River Thames, St. Paul's Cathedral, and more. Later this afternoon, we'll check into our hotel and get oriented to our neighborhood and London's Tube. Tonight is a perfect evening for the theater (book something in advance from the Colonies or pick up a ticket in London). Sleep in central London (2 nights). Train: 2 hrs. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 13: Historic and Lively London
This morning we'll head out for an energetic day of sightseeing, beginning with a scenic cruise on the River Thames, the center of London life since Roman times. We'll disembark at the Tower of London, join a tour with a witty Beefeater, see the majestic crown jewels which include the world's largest cut diamond — the 530-carat First Star of Africa — and ponder the first "skyscraper" of its time. After lunch, we're off to tour the British Museum and the chronicle of Western Civilization — the Elgin marbles, Rosetta Stone, mummies and more. You'll have the rest of the afternoon free before our final group dinner together, where we'll share travel memories and toast new friends. Cheers! No bus. Walking: strenuous.
Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast
Heathrow and Gatwick airports can be easily reached by Tube, train or bus from our London neighborhood. For those not ready to return home yet, London is a great jumping off point to Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam and many other exciting destinations. Cheerio!
Itinerary specifics subject to change.
Rick Steves tours are physically active!
This is an integral, essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Best of England in 14 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...
- Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
- Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
- Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
- After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
- Be able to climb many flights of stairs in and out of the London Underground system.
We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.
Sightseeing On Your Own
If you arrive in Bath before your tour begins, use Rick Steves' Great Britain guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.
Here are a few suggestions for sightseeing in Bath that we will not do as a group: Bath Abbey, Georgian House at No. 1 Royal Crescent, Fashion Museum, Assembly Rooms, Museum of Bath at Work, City Bus Tours, day trip to Stonehenge or Salisbury.
Many tour members like to attend a play or a concert while in London (see Rick Steves' Great Britain guidebook for details on how to buy tickets). Your guidebook also has plenty of ideas for any extra time you may have before or after your tour and your guide will be happy to help you with post-tour plans.
Most tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.
London is a major transportation hub, making additional travel before or after your tour quite easy. This tour begins in Bath. It is easiest to fly in and out of London and train or bus to Bath. Direct trains to Bath are available from London; trains from Gatwick airport require a change in Reading; and train service is not available from Heathrow airport. Alternatively you can travel from both Heathrow and Gatwick airports on a direct National Express coach (bus); schedules can be found at the National Express website, www.nationalexpress.com.
Many budget airlines also serve London. Both Paris and Dublin are about a $100, one-hour flight away. For current deals, see www.cheapflights.co.uk. (Note: prices are shown in pounds; multiply by 1.6 to convert to US dollars.) Also ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines. For links to helpful rail and air websites, go to www.ricksteves.com/plan/links and look under "Transportation."
Read Rick's Guide to Eurail Passes and decide if your travel plans merit a rail pass (or contact our Rail Department for advice at email@example.com or 425/771-8303 ext. 214). Britain has some of the highest per-mile ticket prices in Europe; advance-purchase, US-only rail pass deals can help keep your costs down.
Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.
If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
See a chart with monthly rain and temperature information for this tour.
For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.
Tour Guide Raves
"Tom was magnificent day after day! He is passionate about his country and its history. His depth of knowledge is amazing, and he can easily answer any question we had. His sense of fun and enjoyment of each destination greatly added to our experience! We felt we had made a new friend in him as well as our fellow tour participants!"
— Ellen in Seattle, WA
"Roy was a pleasure from start to finish. He taught us relevant history, he made us understand the locals so well we felt almost British, and he did it all with a great sense of humor. He was always a pleasure to be around and he was so well organized that our time was always well spent."
— Bob in Tulsa, OK
Favorite tour memories from recent alums:
"There were 'wow' moments in each place we visited! In Bath it was the awareness of layer upon layer of history; in the Cotswolds it was the beauty; the Lake District was so pristine and gentle, and the walk around Derwentwater was fabulous; York Minister was 'wow' in York. Some of the big 'wows' came at meal time — the food everywhere was outstanding!"
— Donna in Dundas, ON
"The Cotswold villages and the first glimpse of Wells Cathedral were stunning....And then the surprise boat ride on the Thames, with the best view of the city of London. Wow!"
— Eva in Wilsonville, OR
To see more comments on Rick Steves' tours, read through our tour member reviews.
Videos & More
This region is rich in history, art and culture. To help you get the most from your trip, we've put together this collection of travel resources from Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, as well as recommended books, films and music.
Rick Steves' TV Clips & Shows
(For more Rick Steves' TV clips on this region, visit Rick on YouTube.)
- Pride and Prejudice (BBC mini-series)
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
- Chariots of Fire (1981)
- Hope and Glory (1987)
- The Queen (2006)
Rick Steves' Radio Interviews
(For more radio interviews on this region, see Rick's Audio Europe™ files for iPod, PC & MP3.)
Rick Steves' Audio Tours
- Britain: Westminster Walk, British Museum, British Library, St. Paul's Cathedral, City of London
Rick Steves' Audio Europe™
- Pop/Rock: Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elton John, David Bowie, Police/Sting, Adele, Radiohead, Spice Girls
- Composers: Andrew Lloyd Weber, Edward Elgar
- Light Opera: Gilbert & Sullivan
Rick Steves' Articles
(For more articles on this region, see Rick's Best Destinations.)
- Rick Steves' Great Britain
- A History of Britain (3 volumes) — Simon Schama
- Notes From A Small Island — Bill Bryson
- My Love Affair with England — Susan Allen Toth
- Fever Pitch — Nick Hornsby
- Harry Potter series — J.K. Rowling
- London; Sarum; The Forest — Edward Rutherford
- Restoration — Rose Tremain
- Pillars of the Earth — Ken Follett
- Anything by Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, the Brontës, Agatha Christie