Updated: Jun 7, 2019
When I plan trips - I typically will plan about 4 days to be based in a city but will usually only spend 1.5 days in the actual city itself. I am the type of traveler that wants to always be on the move.
When planning the London portion of my trip last year, I decided to try and hit a few places outside the city. I found a tour through Viator that allowed me to relax as they drove me to Windsor, Stonehenge and Bath. Here are a few similar tours on Viator to the one that I booked:
- Tour 1
- Tour 2
Keep in mind, you are giving up an entire day to this trip. If you just don't want to give that time up while in London, skip it. However, with my travel style I was excited to be able to see these popular sites.
Travel Tip: Get breakfast on the go to eat on the bus in the morning. We had to meet the tour group around 7am so we grabbed food from Pret-a-Manger (which I have talked about a lot on the blog!)
History: Windsor Castle is a royal residence at Windsor in Berkshire. The castle was built in the 11th century and since Henry 1, it has been used by the reigning monarch. Windsor Castle has survived many battles and wars. The castle and grounds take up about 13 acres and has the features of a fortification, a palace and a small town.
The trip to Windsor only took about 1.5 hours and that was with traffic. The nice thing about this being our first stop was that we were one of the first groups through when it opened. The guide did a great job explaining the Windsor Castle map and recommended where to start, what rooms to skip so we could see as much as possible in the 1.5 hours we spent there. Shortly after visiting Windsor Castle in September 2017, we found out that Meghan and Harry would be getting married here! I was relieved to have seen it before its popularity really increase from the royal wedding.
Travel Tip: If your tour doesn't include lunch, make sure to grab something here. You have to walk through a shopping and restaurant plaza to get back to your tour bus.
We then drove through the English country side which was beautiful, while our tour guide gave us some history on what we were seeing. We had a few hours to relax on the bus on the way to Stonehenge.
History: This world famous rock structure is one of the wonders of the world. The structure took the Neolithic builders over 1,500 years to construct. It is built of roughly 100 stones that are placed in a circular layout. Many people believe Stonehenge was once a burial ground.
I hear the experience at Stonehenge is much different than it was even just a few years ago. When you arrive, you park and start at the visitors center. Be ready for mass crowds since this is one of the top visited historical sites in England. To get out to Stonehenge, you can either walk 15 minutes or take the shuttle that comes just about every 5 minutes. It is a quick ride down a long field road. When you get to Stonehenge, you will have to observe from a distance. The entire structure is roped off. The closest point is about 30-40 feet. People used to be able to walk through the structure but after some graffiti and damage done to the stones, they are now being preserved. I was able to snag some amazing photos! We lucked out with an amazing sunny day with some clouds in the sky for more drama.
Once you take some time to walk the route around Stonehenge, head back to the visitors center and check out the amazing Stonehenge museum. We were given about 2 hours to be at Stonehenge, which I think was more than enough time.
Our last stop of the day was the town of Bath. Included in our ticket price was the famous Roman Baths.
History: The Roman Baths are a World Heritage site. They were constructed in 70AD as a grand bathing and socialing complex and is the best preserved Roman remains in the world. 1,1700,000 litres of spring water still fill the bath site every day!
When you walk through the Baths, there are a ton of signs that give you the history and tell you what you are looking at. I was so fascinated with the fact that people built this with their bare hands so many years ago. You can't touch the water (and I don't know if you would want to) but there are so many great spots to get right up and close. We wandered through the Baths for about 45 minutes and still had an hour to wander. Everything in the town is really close together and there are a ton of places to eat. We chose to sit outside and drink a beer at a local pub!
The drive back to London took about 3 hours and I made sure to sleep the entire way home. Overall, I loved the tour and loved that I could see a few things outside of London.