Jack Mckenna March 6 2023

How much of England can you pack into one road trip? Is it possible to experience it all in 11 nights?

At Absolute Escapes, we understand that planning a holiday can be complicated, not least debating where best to spend your time. With so many great places to choose from, it’s tough to narrow it down.

Our Highlights of England road trip itinerary does just what it says on the tin, taking you on a wonderful self-drive tour combining the country’s most iconic cities with some of the most beautiful stretches of countryside, taking in some of the top attractions along the way.

Standing outside London Heathrow waiting on my rental car last October, this is what I had in store for the next week or two.


London’s Calling

It will be no surprise that a Highlights of England itinerary starts in London. Buckingham Palace, Westminster Palace, Big Ben, Tower Bridge and so many more would have a worthy place on any round-the-world itinerary.

London is, of course, one of the most visited cities in the world, and with enough history, sites and attractions for a blog post (or holiday) of its own, there is something to do and see for everyone.

With direct access to every corner of the globe and thousands of planes and trains arriving every minute, London also serves as the perfect location to begin your journey around England.

Top tip: Outside of the main attractions, take some time and research what events may be happening during your time here. From local street markets to West End shows, London is alive and moving 24/7, and you are sure to find something of interest during your stay.


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University City of Oxford

It’s no secret that driving in the centre of London is a nightmare, which is why we’d strongly recommend avoiding this and hiring a car from Heathrow Airport in the west of the city. The airport is easily accessible on public transport. As it turns out, provided you are driving away from the city, it can actually be quite pleasant, and I enjoyed the slow fade out of the city and into the Oxfordshire countryside.

The famous university city is steeped in rich history and is home to the oldest public museum in the UK – the Ashmolean Museum – which houses significant works by Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Picasso to name a few.

If the sun is shining, Blenheim Palace is a short drive away. The time flew by strolling around the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s magnificent grounds and gardens.

Must do: A quintessential Oxford activity, punting is an absolute must-do on any visit, and a peaceful, leisurely cruise down the river is a sure way to relax and transport yourself back to Victorian times.


Ancient York

Although York was the next stop on my itinerary, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to stop in the pretty riverside town of Stratford-upon-Avon on my way north. World-famous as the birthplace of Shakespeare, literary fans will relish the opportunity to delve deeper into the writer’s childhood and early life.

I continued north towards York, where the ancient city walls provide your first glimpse into the city’s long and rich history.

History buffs are spoiled for choice here, with world-class museums and exhibitions covering everything from the Vikings at the Jorvik Centre to Guy Fawkes and his gunpowder plot. Not only that, but you can uncover so much by wandering around the city on foot. Take a stroll on the old city walls, or ramble through the Shambles – one of the world’s best-kept Medieval streets (did somebody say, Diagon Alley?).

Must do: Amongst all the history, York is also widely known as the most haunted city in Europe! Embark on a ghost tour to learn more about the city’s dark past.


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The Lake District National Park

A huge contrast to the first half of my trip, I was really looking forward to visiting the Lake District. Not just to experience the national park’s inspiring rugged mountains and glacial lakes, but because – after spending a number of days in busy towns and cities – being in the wilderness seems to slow things down.

Of course, this is no bad thing and really allows you to get the most out of your time here. Check out one, or all, of our 9 most beautiful places in the Lake District – taking in the fresh air from a mountain-top or a lakeside walk. This outdoor lover’s paradise creates the perfect balance within a full English road trip.

If being on the water or hiking all day leaves you with an appetite or thirst, then you’re in luck. Renowned for their use of outstanding local produce, Cumbrian restaurants have been stacking up against some of the best in the world in recent years. At the end of the day, there is nothing quite like a traditional ale by the fire.

Top tip: Check out our recommended kit list if you’re planning to do some walking in the Lake District.


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Beautiful Bath

The city of Bath has been a well-being destination for over 2,000 years, and the entire city is awash with the feeling of relaxation, which is hard to argue with when strolling around Parade Gardens or sipping a coffee by Pulteney Bridge.

Of course, The Roman Baths are top of the list for most visitors to the city, and whilst you can’t bathe in these waters (you are about 2,000 years too late), exploring the ruins of one of the best-preserved Roman sites in the world is surreal, and the accompanying museum will take you back in time.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it – Bath is a long way south of the Lake District, and just looking at the distance on a map will have you thinking about your road trip playlist. A visit to the Thermae Bath Spa is just-reward for the long drive, and I can think of nowhere better to recover from the journey. It also proudly features in our 8 experiences you can only have in England blog.

Bath was the perfect ending point for my road trip before I returned to Heathrow to make my way back to reality.

Top tip: If visiting the Thermae Spa, try and go towards the end of the day. Not only is it a little quieter, but the open-air rooftop pool affords spectacular views over Bath, particularly as the sun starts to set.


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Ready to Explore England?

If you have also read our 5 Tips to Plan a Perfect UK Road Trip, then let us help get you started. The suggested itineraries on our website are just that, and we would love to help you create your own perfect holiday.

Get in touch and allow one of our brilliant Travel Specialists to put together your very own highlights reel. You won’t regret it!

Jack Mckenna

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