England, Wales & Cornwall
What a complex place, this ‘island nation’, inward looking yet globally engaged, fiercely proud of its history, confused about its present, at odds with itself, at loggerheads with its neighbours, and always so dynamic, so unpredictable. There is perhaps no other country that has changed so much in the past 150 years, but the cultural, industrial and economic whirlwind through which the UK has journeyed has made it one of the world’s most lively, loudest and likeable places.
Come for the fun – the rugby, the theatre, Glyndebourne and Glastonbury. Come for the walking: the Lake District, the Cotswolds, the Brecon Beacons and the sweet Yorkshire Moors. Come for the pub and for a pint of Old Peculiar. Come for the history, from Hadrian’s Wall to Sutton Hoo to Churchill’s War Rooms, or for the pomp, from the royal palaces of London to the dreaming spires of Oxford. Come for the coastlines – for this is an island after all – from Land’s End, to the Jurassic Coast of Devon, and to the rugged cliffs of Pembrokeshire.
Come above all to be comforted by the traditions, shocked by the attitude, and amused by the endless humour of the Brits.
In A Nutshell
Unless you have endless time to explore, the first task is to decide what sort of trip you want. You can stick to the towns and cities, from London where you could easily spend a month and not get bored, to Oxford, Manchester, York and more... You can get out into the countryside for week-long walks, or just to relax in the glorious country house hotels and inns. You can stick to southern England, or head on up to Yorkshire and the Borders, or head to Wales which needs at least the better part of a week; or spend an entire trip exploring the winding lanes of the West Country and glorious coastline of Cornwall. The music and theatre offerings in London can keep you occupied for weeks, and the restaurant scene is world-class. You can build a trip around some of the great historic sites, from pre-history at Stone Henge, to the university towns, country houses, battlefields, gardens, castles and palaces. There's far more on offer than can be fit into any one trip.
Need To Know
- Direct flights into London are plentiful from almost every major city.
- If you’re just visiting for a weekend we suggest sticking to London. For any of the other regions, a week to 10 days is a great amount of time.
- This is a good trip for families, walkers, and history buffs. London in particular also has a great scene for night owls.
- The best way to get around once you arrive is by train or rental car.
- The food is much better than you might expect. London has world class examples of all kinds of international foods, and even well made English pub-style food has had its own revival.
When To Go
As long as you avoid January and February, the cities are great throughout the rest of the year. If you’re visiting the countryside it’s best to stick to the warmer months between May and October.
London has everything you could possibly want, with price tags to match. Accommodation outside London runs the gamut from boutique hotels, village inns, lodges, vast country manor houses and castles, B&Bs and superb rental offerings.
Walking Tours of London—Uncover the layers of history in the medieval town of old, see the Roman ruins and the gleaming new architecture of the city standing side-by-side, and learn about the different influences that have shaped the city over the decades.
Get Up High—One of the best ways to see the city is from above and there are plenty of opportunities, from the Shard, to the London Eye, we can also recommend some great rooftop bars and restaurants for a bird's eye view of the city.
Take Afternoon Tea—A British institution, afternoon tea is a must. Whether at the Ritz in London or in the basement of St. Paul's Cathedral, it is a must-do, plus many come with a glass of fizz.
Visit The Palace—If you want to spot a real-life gloved hand waving from a shrouded window, head down the red-tinged Mall (said to resemble a carpet) to Buckingham for a glimpse of a royal paw, those corgis are always out.
Explore the parks—Hyde Park is the daddy, with a lovely lake, not to mention amazing gallery and ever-changing pavilion (the serpentine). Regent Park is the mummy, lush with gorgeous flower beds and meandering paths. Do both. Really.
Explore the coastal paths - The National Trust owns thousands of miles of coastline in the UK and the pathways they maintain are fantastic. You can walk most of the way around Cornwall, all along the Devon and Dorset Coast, from southern Wales to Anglesey. It's hard to beat a pint in a village pub at the end of a day's walking in Britain (even if it rains).
Wales – From Cardiff, head to the Pembrokeshire Coast via Caerphilly Castle and maybe base yourself in picturesque Tenby for some gorgeous walks along the rugged coastline... or inland to Brecon: the Brecon Beacon mountain range makes for some excellent days out walking, hitting local pubs on the way down.
The Cotswolds – Spend some time in the quintessentially English rolling countryside in this bucolic heaven. From organic local farms to world-class remote lodges, this area of Central England is littered with Manor Houses and Castles galore and has some exceptional places to dine.
York & The Pennines – Start in the historic cathedral city of York to admire it’s Viking heritage and Roman origins, on the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in Yorkshire, before heading to the backbone of England: The Pennines Range. The Pennines Way has some truly incredible hikes for all levels.
What They Say
We had another wonderful trip and appreciate so much all the work Trufflepig did on our behalf.
— Vicki D.