12-Day Tour of England
Our 12-day England tour itinerary has been designed for you to enjoy the major sights and attractions our country offers as we visit highlights all the way from the Royal Majesty of London towards the historic border at Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England.
Our itinerary planning specialists believe this 12-day itinerary would be a fabulous introductory tour for anyone who has never visited England before, however, many of our guests have already seen some of these sights and would prefer a bespoke itinerary for their vacation. To receive a customized version of the below in your email, simply complete our online inquiry form.
Our 12 Day private tour includes:
Day 1: Arrival in London
“The streets of London have their map, but our passions are uncharted. What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?” – Virginia Woolf
Your itinerary begins in London, the symbolic home of the Royal Family, the seat of British Democracy, and truly one of the most historic and fascinating cities in the World. Your driver-guide will be waiting to collect you from the airport to avoid the queues, waiting, and congestion and proceed directly to your central London accommodation for some well-deserved rest after your flight.
Once suitably rejuvenated it’s time to walk those famous London streets as you embark on an evening shopping and market trail that will give you an authentic taste of London as the locals experience it, from the high-class department stores to the hustle and bustle of Campden Market.
For your evening meal, you can choose between asking us to reserve a table at one of London’s 5-star restaurants, or you may wish to enjoy dining like the locals at a local eatery.
Day 2: Iconic London Tour
London has many fabulous attractions and sights that can be enjoyed without a guide such as the incredible panoramic views of the city from the top of The Shard, taking in a Theater production in the West End, a boating trip down the Thames, and much more than we could mention in one page.
For the purposes of our 12-day England itinerary, however, we will focus on attractions where we believe the services of a specialist guide providing their local knowledge and story-telling abilities will elevate the experience into a far more affecting and memorable occasion.
Some of the Iconic London sites to visit with your private guide include:
Private guided tours of the Queen’s official office and London residence are available during the summer months but if you wish to take part please let us know well in advance as naturally, these sell out quickly.
The British Museum
Containing over 8 million objects with 80,000 on display at any given time, a private guided tour of the British Museum will bring these artifacts back to life before your eyes as your tour guide relives the fascinating stories and history that brought them such significance.
Westminster Abbey, Big Ben & Houses of Parliament
Combining these three UNESCO World Heritage sites in one visit is perhaps the most essential tour you can take while in London. This tour combines Royal history and romance with political intrigue and scandal.
Tower of London & Tower Bridge
2 separate historic destinations within walking distance. Tower Bridge is a 19th-century combined bascule and suspension bridge and one of the most recognizable sights in all of London. The Tower of London houses the Crown Jewels guarded by the famous Yeoman warders (colloquially known as Beefeaters). Alongside its fascinating military and penitentiary history, it is also said to be the most haunted building in the world!
St Paul's Cathedral
Designed in the English Baroque style by acclaimed architect Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666. Alongside a guided tour of the art, architecture, and hidden histories of St Pauls you can climb the 528 steps to the top of the dome for a wonderful panoramic view of the city.
To determine the best way for you to spend your time in London, simply complete our online inquiry form, and our tour planning specialists will discuss all of the activities and exclusive experiences available to suit your and your private group’s tastes and requirements.
Day 3: Driver Guided Day Trip To Blenheim Palace & Oxford University
The day trip we have planned for you today will reveal the heart of two English institutions – William Churchill – the Statesman and Prime Minister who guided Briton through two World Wars, and Oxford University – the oldest and one of the most prestigious Universities in the English speaking language.
Your driver-guide will collect you from your accommodation in the morning as you make your way to Oxfordshire in the style and comfort of our air-conditioned executive class vehicle. En route, your driver will regale you with stories and insight into Churchill’s life as you drive through the gorgeous rural setting of the Cotswolds complete with centuries-old honey-hued stone cottages and mills before we arrive at the birthplace of Winston Churchill: the UNESCO-listed World Heritage site, Blenheim Palace.
Blenheim holds a reputation as the finest non-royal palace in all of England. Given that its history dates back to the early 18th century, walking through the magnificent rooms is like walking through the history of England before you even get to the Churchill connection.
You will have the opportunity to walk in the great man’s footsteps as you wander the majestic corridors and even enter the room Churchill was born in. Furthermore, on your guided tour you will explore the Temple of Diana where Churchill proposed to his wife, Clementine Hosier, see a sample of some of his paintings and enjoy the Churchill Exhibition housed here.
Then it’s onto Oxford University: Founded in the 11th century, 28 out of a total of 76 English prime ministers graduated from this prestigious institution. We recommend that you visit:
Christ Church College
Immediately recognizable as the grounds used for the series “Brideshead Revisited, and for appearing in the Harry Potter Franchise
Perhaps the most emblematic and representative of the gorgeous Victorian Neo-Gothic architectural style that Oxford is associated with, and one of the oldest as well having been constructed in 1314. Inside Exeter College, you will find ‘The Adoration of the Magi’ tapestry by William Morris.
Particularly worth visiting for the gorgeous cloister and ancient elm tree which grows through the middle.
Unlike much of the architecture of the rest of Oxford University which tends toward the Neo-Gothic, Queen’s College is regarded as one of the finest examples of 18th-century Classical style architecture.
You will spend the night in the charming town of Oxford, “The city of dreaming spires.” You can choose to explore the city’s cobbled streets in the evening or retire to your accommodation in preparation for the Shakespeare discovery tour the following day.
Day 4: Discover Shakespeare Town - Stratford-Upon-Avon
“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” – William Shakespeare, (“The Merchant of Venice”)
William Shakespeare, England’s national poet, much lauded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s foremost playwright was born in the market town of Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Unlike many other parts of the world where the ravages of time have stripped locations of their connection to historic figures associated with them, often to be replaced by inauthentic and tacky mock-ups of the era, Stratford-Upon-Avon retains the 16th Century Medieval architectural forms and style throughout many regions. This enables your tour of sites associated with the bard to genuinely feel like you are walking in the man’s footsteps all these centuries later.
Shakespeare's Home Town Destinations
On your driver-guided tour of Shakespeare’s Stratford-Upon-Avon, you will visit:
- The restored 16th-century half-timbered cottage where Shakespeare was born
- Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
- Halls Croft which Shakespeare gave to his daughter
- The Royal Shakespeare Theater
- Holy Trinity Church where The Bard was baptized, worshiped, and buried
- Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall
After a full day visiting The Bard’s hometown, your driver guide will return you to Oxford in the evening.
Day 5: Cotswolds Discovery Tour
Start your day bright and early as your private driver-guide picks you up from your Oxford accommodation, ready to embark on a full-day adventure exploring the enchanting Cotswolds region.
This picturesque day tour will see you journey through the picturesque countryside as you enjoy the charm and beauty of the quintessential English villages that await. Your driver-guide will share fascinating stories and insights about the Cotswolds as you make your way to your first destination, setting the stage for an unforgettable day ahead.
Bourton-on-the-Water: Venice of the Cotswolds
Upon arrival in Bourton-on-the-Water, you’ll quickly understand why this idyllic village is often referred to as the “Venice of the Cotswolds.” With its charming, honey-colored stone cottages, quaint bridges, and gently flowing River Windrush, Bourton-on-the-Water offers a picturesque setting that feels as though it has been lifted straight from the pages of a storybook.
As you stroll along the riverbanks, admire the graceful stone footbridges that span the water, connecting the village and providing a perfect backdrop for capturing memorable photographs.
Take the opportunity to visit some of the village’s charming attractions, such as the Cotswold Motoring Museum, which houses a delightful collection of vintage cars and memorabilia, or the Model Village, a one-ninth-scale replica of Bourton-on-the-Water that allows you to view the village from a new perspective. You can also step inside the tranquil Birdland Park and Gardens, where you can admire an array of exotic birds, including flamingos, pelicans, and penguins.
Take some time to relax in one of the village’s charming tearooms or cafes, where you can indulge in a traditional English cream tea or sample some delicious Cotswold treats.
Stow-on-the-Wold: A Historic Market Town
Next on your Cotswolds adventure, your private driver-guide will take you to Stow-on-the-Wold, a charming and historic market town nestled in the heart of the region.
Your driver guide will take you to visit:
Stow-on-the-Wold Town Square: Admire the picturesque town square surrounded by honey-colored limestone buildings, embodying the charm of the Cotswolds.
Antique Shops Exploration: Wander through winding streets and browse unique treasures in Stow-on-the-Wold’s delightful antique shops, perfect for finding one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
Local History Insights: Listen to fascinating stories from your driver-guide about the town’s rich history, dating back over a thousand years, and gain a deeper understanding of the area.
Chipping Campden: A Quintessential Cotswolds Experience
Marvel at Chipping Campden’s beautiful honey-colored limestone buildings that exemplify the quintessential charm of the Cotswolds.
Strolling Charming Streets: Wander through the town’s narrow, charming streets, lined with historic architecture and picturesque scenes at every turn.
The Arts and Crafts Movement: Discover Chipping Campden’s vibrant arts and crafts scene, which flourished here in the early 20th Century, and visit the Court Barn Museum to learn about the town’s creative heritage.
Local Artisans and Craftsmen: Explore the town’s numerous galleries, workshops, and boutiques, showcasing the work of local artisans and craftsmen, offering unique, handmade items to admire or purchase as souvenirs.
Broadway Tower: A Breathtaking Panoramic Viewpoint
Visit the 18th-century folly, Broadway Tower, an architectural gem perched high on the Cotswold escarpment. Ascend the tower and admire breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, stretching for miles in every direction.
Evening Return to Oxford
Conclude your day in the Cotswolds with your private driver-guide returning you to your Oxford accommodation, enriched with memories of the region’s beauty and charm.
Day 6: Cambridge - Lincoln
On day 6 of your itinerary, you will again join your driver-guide as you approach the city of Lincoln, famed for its medieval and Victorian architecture and buildings. Before arriving there, your first stop of the day will be in England’s other great university city, Cambridge.
Should you wish to explore the University then there are plentiful options with guided tours available of:
- Magdalene College
- St John’s College
- Trinity College
- Trinity Hall
- Clare College
- King’s College
- Queen’s College
However, considering you will have already visited the Oxford University campus on our tour we would suggest that to add some diversity to your experience, we could visit some of the other cultural hotspots around the city.
Originally a Roman and Viking trading village, Cambridge is located on the River Cam, and if the weather is suitable, then rowing down the river is a fantastic way to see more of the city. The type of boats we use for this excursion are typical Cambridge-style ‘Punts’ (long, narrow, and flat-bottomed boats).
Alternatively, you may prefer a walking tour around the city or visit the modern art masterpieces at Kettle’s Yard – the most homely art gallery you’ll ever come across because, in reality, it was formerly the home of Jim Ede, the former curator of the Tate Gallery, who filled it with artworks from a variety of famous names such as Barbara Hepworth and Joan Mirò.
Many of our guests are American clients, and for some, the World War II Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, where 3812 American soldiers lost during the war in the Atlantic are laid to rest, is an especially poignant spot to visit. There is also a monument here inscribed with the names of 5126 Americans whose bodies were never found.
After your Cambridge tour, your private driver will take you to your accommodation in Lincoln for the evening. You may wish to book an evening Spa treatment in the Cathedral Quarter, or a performance in the New Theater Royal in the Cultural Quarter.
Day 7: Lincoln Castle & Cathedral
oday your itinerary is dominated by visiting the two most iconic Lincoln sites.
Lincoln Castle was commissioned in 1068 by William the Conqueror and overlooks the town imperiously to this day. Walking the circumference of the Castle allows you to enjoy some exquisite panoramic views of Lincoln while your guide discusses the fascinating history of the Castle with you and the role it played throughout the city’s history.
Inside the Castle, your guide will take you to visit another of the original copies of the Magna Carta – which played such a massive role in shaping society in England today.
The Georgian & Victorian Prison exhibition provides an informative and at times quite brutal look at the Law and Justice system of the period while you stand in the section of the Castle that actually housed the prisoners whose stories you are hearing.
The Heritage Skills Center, hidden within the Castle grounds, offers taster sessions on crafts such as stained glass works, silversmithing, and stone carving.
Lincoln Cathedral Tour
Then it’s onto Lincoln’s impressive cathedral (also commissioned by William the Conqueror); widely regarded as one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture to be found anywhere in the world.
Amongst the highlights of Lincoln Cathedral, your guide will talk you through:
- Finding the Lincoln Imp in the rafters!
- Statue of “Charge of the Light Brigade” author Alfred Lord Tennyson
- The Medieval & Wren Libraries
You will return to your Lincoln accommodation in the evening.
Day 8: Driver-Guided Tour of Manchester/Peak District
Kick off your day with your private driver-guide as you leave your Lincoln accommodation, setting out on a full-day adventure to explore the wonders of Manchester and the breathtaking beauty of the Peak District National Park.
Peak District National Park Exploration and Chatsworth House
Embark on a captivating journey into the heart of the stunning Peak District National Park, where dramatic landscapes, quaint villages, and historic country estates await your discovery. Marvel at the natural beauty of rolling hills, rugged moorlands, and serene valleys as you explore the first national park in the UK, established in 1951.
During your exploration, stop at Chatsworth House, a magnificent stately home nestled amidst picturesque gardens and parkland. As you tour this grand estate, admire the impressive art collection, including works by Rembrandt and Lucian Freud, and marvel at the exquisite architecture that reflects the height of British aristocracy. Stroll through the beautifully landscaped gardens and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of the surrounding parkland.
With the guidance of your driver-guide, experience the enchanting allure of the Peak District National Park and uncover the rich history and charm of Chatsworth House, creating an unforgettable adventure in the English countryside.
Manchester City Highlights: A Guided Tour of Culture and Heritage
With the guidance of your driver-guide, you’ll gain valuable insights into Manchester’s rich industrial heritage, thriving arts scene, and iconic landmarks, creating a memorable experience that showcases the city’s unique character and charm.
Manchester Cathedral: Visit the historic Manchester Cathedral, a stunning example of Gothic architecture, and learn about its fascinating history from your driver guide.
Explore Castlefield: An urban heritage park and conservation area where you’ll find well-preserved Roman ruins and the picturesque Bridgewater Canal.
Northern Quarter: Immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene of the Northern Quarter, home to numerous art galleries, street art, independent shops, and trendy cafes.
The Museum of Science and Industry: Dive into Manchester’s rich industrial heritage at the Museum of Science and Industry, showcasing the city’s role in the development of science, technology, and industry.
Albert Square: Admire the stunning architecture of Manchester Town Hall and other historic buildings in Albert Square, a bustling public square at the heart of the city.
The John Rylands Library: Discover the architectural marvel of the John Rylands Library, housing an impressive collection of rare books, manuscripts, and magnificent reading rooms.
Evening Arrival in York
Conclude your day with your private driver-guide, arriving in the historic city of York, where they will drop you off at your accommodation for a well-deserved rest.
Day 9: York
Time to head to one of the prettiest cities in England, York. In fact, here you will spend a full day exploring the highlights of this fascinating town.
You can visit the York Minster Cathedral, one of the largest examples of Gothic architecture north of the Alps with over 800 years of history. It is also home to the largest collection of stained glass in the UK, some pieces dating back to the 12th century.
Immerse yourself in the grandeur of the Mansion House, one of York’s great historic treasures, and step back in time through 650 years of history at Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, the most well-preserved guildhall in Europe.
Meanwhile, overlooking the city, Clifford’s tower is the last intact part of York Castle, making your way up to the top is definitely worth it as the structure affords incredible scenic views looking out across the gorgeous city.
Experience Viking York! The history here in York doesn’t begin in the medieval era, in fact, there was a full Viking settlement discovered under the streets here. That location has now become the Jorvik interactive exhibition which gives you the opportunity to understand what life was like in Jorvik (the Viking name for York) in the 9th century.
Day 10: Driver-Guided Tour to the Lake District
The lake district is highly regarded by the English as an area of outstanding natural beauty, serene lakes, a diverse array of wildlife, and idyllic rural villages to explore.
Your first destination on your guided tour of the Lake District from York is Lake Windermere, the largest lake in all of England. Here we will arrange for you to take a boat cruise where you will enjoy the most scenic views of the surrounding mountains, and a narrator discussing the history and tales related to the lake that has been built up over the centuries – including the beast Tizzie-Whizie! This creature is claimed to have the body of a hedgehog with large insect wings and a tail and has been known to stalk the shoreline of Lake Windermere, well some say so at least.
Your driver-guide will then take you to Grasmere, the most popular village in the Lake District and famous for its links to the great poet William Wordsworth, author of “As I wandered lonely as a Cloud” and also for Grasmere Gingerbread.
Your guide will take you to Dove Cottage where Wordsworth once lived, and which is remarkably well preserved from the era where the poet was inspired to create his finest writings.
St Oswald’s church is where you will find Wordsworth and his wife’s tombstones, and just behind the church on the banks of the River Rothay is Wordsworth’s Daffodil Garden.
Before departing for your next stop in the Lake District it would be remiss not to stop by the Grasmere Gingerbread shop to sample this nationally famous variant of the delicacy! The shop itself is worth visiting on its own thanks to its history where it originally served as a school since 1630 before coming under the ownership of Sarah Nelson who used it as a bakery and invented her gingerbread in 1854.
The medieval market town of Keswick makes an ideal destination to enjoy walking the cobbled streets and stone buildings surrounded by lush green mountain ranges. After dining in a local eatery and feasting on fresh local produce we will stop at Surprise View to enjoy the best view in the Lake District before returning to York for the evening.
Day 11: Hadrian's wall
Your final destination on our 12-day England itinerary will be, appropriately enough, the historical border that marked the end of Roman England’s territory. Beginning with your driver-guide collecting you from your York accommodation in the morning you will head north for your full-day tour of Hadrian’s Wall.
The wall began construction in 122AD – long before the nations of England or Scotland had been formed, rather when the Roman Empire invaded the island was under the rule of various Celtic tribes. To provide the best and most varied experience during your visit to the wall, our tour itinerary suggests spending more time with your guide investigating the following sections.
Housesteads Roman Fort – The most complete remains of a Roman fort in Britain, and where you can actually climb onto sections of the wall.
Heddon on the Wall – A small village with original remains of the wall running through it.
Vindolanda – Guided tour of the Roman Army Museum
Day 12: Transfer to airport or Other Destination
With this, your 12-day tour itinerary of England comes to a close! Your guide can arrange for a transfer to the airport in time for your return journey, or if you wish to continue your vacation in another city we will ensure you arrive there safely.
There is still so much to see in England that we haven’t had time for in this packed 12-day itinerary. If you would like to extend your stay here by visiting cities like Liverpool – the home of the Beatles, Manchester – a key part of the industrial revolution and key cultural hub in the country, or even broadening your tour into Scotland, Wales, or Ireland, then submit our online inquiry form and our tour planning team can provide an extended itinerary for you.
Get a complimentary custom twelve-day tour itinerary
If you would like to see the best of England in twelve days then contact us about reserving the above itinerary, attraction tickets and guide services for you.
Alternatively, it may be the case that you have previously visited some of the sites on our suggested itinerary and would prefer that we customize our plan around your requirements. Our tour planning specialists would be delighted to offer you a fully tailored and bespoke itinerary for your English vacation delivered straight to your email and completely complimentary. Simply complete our inquiry form below.