Thanks for reading my posts! Click here if you haven’t read Part 1 of my England and Scotland blog posts, which included what I did for a week in London! Many surrounding cities or sites are within a short train or car ride from London, so they make great day trips. Because, let’s face it, you can’t generalize all of England by just seeing London-that’s like visiting New Orleans and saying you know what all of Louisiana is like…yeah no!
I found an awesome local tour company based out of London called The English Bus who we used for the two day tours out of London, and they ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip! I know a lot of people don’t like “guided tours,” but it’s so convenient to see 2-3 places in one day with a knowledgeable local guide! We took tours out to Stonehenge & Bath (which I’ll feature here along with Windsor Castle) and Oxford University, Stratford-upon-Avon, & the Cotswolds villages, featured in my next post.
Stonehenge and Bath Day Tour
I did a lot of research on tour companies, and it was so hard to find a good company until I stumbled across The English Bus tours! They are legit one of the only companies I found that had small tours (max 16 people, so no huge coach buses!), almost perfect ratings on TripAdvisor, and guaranteed not to cancel any tours for lack of attendance (because I was NOT going to travel across the world and have a company cancel on me!). I would recommend them to anyone traveling to London, if you have a day or two to spare away from the city! The tour was actually advertised as “Stonehenge, Bath, and Secret Place,” so they throw in a little extra stop on the tour. The Secret Place (which I’ll just call a cute little village, so I don’t give it away) was our first stop on the tour.
After that, we headed off to our fist major site, the ancient city of Bath! Home to some original Roman Baths…a lot of very ornate, historical buildings in the town, but only one or two of the original Roman Baths still stands. We stopped to see The Crescent at the edge of Victoria Park (the English LOVE Queen Victoria). We got a couple of hours to explore on our own and eat, and per our tour guide, we first ate at Gourmet Scoffs-we had a pasty (which is like a Southern meat pie filled with different meats & veggies), and it was super delish!
Then we went more to the center of town for a small walking tour and look into the Roman Baths. You can have free entrance in to see the Sacred Pool and sample some mineral water from the King’s Spring. They have a larger museum you can buy tickets for and see The Great Bath and spa pump rooms.
We also did a quick walk through the Bath Abbey, which has the largest stained glass window in England (if I remember right!). While Cassandra was in the Roman bath museum, I walked down the River Avon and chilled for a while. Over the river is Pulteney Bridge (below) which was modeled after the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy with little shops across it.
There is also a Jane Austen House museum in Bath (if you love her books). We didn’t have time for anything else because we had to get ready to travel to Stonehenge! If you are traveling around England on your own, you could spend a full day or two in Bath, and Bath is about a 2 hour drive from London. Here is a beautiful pic of the English countryside on the way to Stonehenge…England is so green!
Stonehenge was in the middle of a big field, so you’re totally exposed to the elements…it was flippin FREEZING and windy, but so worth it! When you come up to the Stonehenge complex, you are greeted by a huge modern visitors center with a cafe and gift shop, and there you wait for a bus to drive you out to the stones. You could walk out to the stones if you wanted, but it’s about 1.5 miles away from the entrance…yeah we took the bus! We spent about 30 min out around the stones, and the audio guides explained the suspected history of the countryside and the stones. It really doesn’t need an explanation, so just see the pictures below… It was snowing and sleeting in Bath and on our drive to Stonehenge, but once we arrived, the sky was gorgeous there!! For real some crazy English weather…Stonehenge check off the bucket list!!!
On our last Saturday afternoon in London, we headed out to Windsor Castle! We visited Westminster Abbey in the morning (because we had to reschedule it from a previous day when it closed early) and then trained to Windsor. If you purchased the London Pass, the round trip train ride was included. Check out this link which will explain how to travel on the train because you will have to enter at a certain gate and change trains on the way to Windsor/Eton Central.
When you arrive in Windsor, the train station will be just on the edge of Windsor Royal Shopping center revamped from an old Victorian railway station. It’s filled with cool shops and restaurants. We walked through the market and then headed up to the castle. We spent a couple hours at the castle, but I have limited pictures because you can’t use cameras inside…so it’s really hard to explain how ornate everything is inside!
You can walk through the Royal Apartments and State Rooms, which are used for events hosted by the Royal family. You can also see Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House (a multi-floor huge doll house built for Queen Mary in the 1920s), and St. George’s Chapel, home to the Order of the Garter and burial place of King Henry VIII and other famous monarchs.
After we left the castle, we walked down by the train station and ate dinner at Gourmet Burger Kitchen in the Windsor Royal Shopping center. After that, we caught the train back to London and got ready to meet our family friends the next day who lived north of London
Windsor Castle was an easy train ride outside London, and some people pair it with the neighboring city of Eton for a nice day trip. Windsor contains so much history and is stunning, so I definitely recommend a visit if you have time. Stonehenge and Bath are west of London, so they are commonly paired together for a full day away from the city. Bath is easily reached my car or train and Stonehenge by train/bus, so they can be done independently as well, although we loved the knowledgeable guides and this tour company. Check out my next post here as we traveled to Oxford University, Stratford-upon-Avon, and the Cotswolds!