Heading to England this year but only have a week to tour the island? Thankfully, England’s small size and rapid train network means you can whiz easily from city to city. From exploring the Queen’s official residence at Windsor Castle to experiencing modern-day Beatlemania in Liverpool or walking the footsteps of a legend on Nottingham’s famous Robin Hood trail, here are a few ideas for your one week England itinerary.
One to Two Days in London
With limited time in London, opting for a tour of the key sights can be an economic way to tick a few sights off your hit list – essentials like St.Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, London Bridge and the Tower of London are all close together. If you only have time to visit a couple of museums, make sure you take advantage of Olympics fever and check out the special Olympics exhibit at the British Museum.
Leave time to glimpse London’s vibrant local districts too – you could haggle for bargains at the markets and watch a band in Camden town, then take a water taxi from Camden lock to little Venice, or head over to Brick Lane for some world class vintage shopping and sample some of England’s best curry.
On the second day, escape the city center crowds for an afternoon in Windsor, home to one of Britain’s most iconic landmarks and the world’s largest inhabited castle. Windsor Castle is an impressive and historically significant complex and remains the official residence of Her Majesty the Queen. Visitors can tour the tower, kitchen and a selection of rooms, as well as the renowned St.George’s Chapel but for a particularly memorable experience, arrive in time for the changing of the guard.
Tour Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and more on a day trip from London.
One to Two Days in Liverpool
Just over 2 hours on the train from London, Liverpool is a great introduction to the North of England and with this year marking the 50th anniversary of the Beatles, it’s the perfect timing for a trip to the cultural capital of the north. Liverpool’s pop history is legendary but this year will be all about The Beatles, with tours and tribute concerts springing up all over town.
Fans should head to the famous Cavern Club, where The Beatles played their first gigs, and check out The Beatles Story at the Albert Dock, a museum dedicated to the pop group. Beatlesmania aside, Liverpool has plenty to keep visitors occupied with a selection of renowned art galleries and museums (check out the Tate Liverpool, the Walker Art Gallery and the brand spanking new Museum of Liverpool), some of England’s best shopping streets and a dazzling nightlife.
Browse The Beatles tours in England
Liverpool’s other claim to fame is its internationally revered football, and with two top premiership teams calling the city home (Everton and Liverpool Football Clubs) this is a great place for football fans to get up close and personal with their heroes. If you can’t make it to a match, take a stadium tour or visit The Liverpool FC Museum for a behind the scenes look.
One Day in Blackpool
Blackpool is ranked as Britain’s most beloved seaside resort and makes for a great day or half day trip from Liverpool. Whether you’re munching fish ‘n’ chips and strolling along one of the three impressive piers or trading your pounds for tokens at the seemingly endless slot-machine arcades, this resort is all about good old-fashioned fun.
Visit popular amusement park Pleasure Beach to test your nerves, clamber the Blackpool Tower for some panoramic photo-ops or catch a show at one of the town’s premier venues like the Winter Gardens, host to the world famous Blackpool Ballroom Dance Festival. Donkey rides along the beach, the sister museum to London’s Madame Tussauds Waxworks, an enormous water park and a vibrant nightlife all add to the fun. Visit during summer months if you fancy gawping at the world-famous Blackpool Illuminations, a sprawl of creative light displays following an 11km stretch of coastline – a worthy attraction in itself and a homage to Victorian times when Blackpool became the first town in the county to acquire electricity.
Read more about things to do in England
One to Two Days in Peak District
If you’re hoping to uncover some of the idyllic English countryside often portrayed on the big screen, the Peak District is a good place to start – the country’s first National Park has provided a backdrop to films like Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, The Duchess and Harry Potter.
Visitors to the park can check out the stately homes, historic buildings and dramatic landscapes featured in the movies or even sign up to a tailored tour of the key sites. For those preferring to get off the beaten track, this is a region best explored on foot and the abundant hiking trails are a great way to explore the limestone dales and vast moorlands. There are plenty of other activities on offer too – cycling, horse riding, caving and water sports are all options – or opt for a visit one of the area’s historic villages like Eyam, famed for its self-imposed quarantine during the Black Death plague and a living monument to the tragedy.
See more of the country on an England multi-day tour
One to Two Days in Nottingham or the Iron Bridge Gorge
On your way back south to London there are a couple of different routes you could take. Nottingham makes for a popular stopover, once home to the legendary Robin Hood. Here, you can take a walk or cycle the Robin Hood trail through the famous Sherwood Forest (don’t miss the striking 800-year-old Manor Oak tree), home to the legend himself. In the city center, pay a visit to Nottingham Castle where you can tour the underground caves and tunnels, and enjoy spectacular views of the city, then make your way to the Galleries of Justice, a fascinating museum of crime and punishment through the ages, as well as allegedly harboring Britain’s most active poltergeist in it’s underground dungeon.
Once the sun goes down, pay a visit to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, Nottingham’s oldest pub, for a classic roast dinner, then head over to the Lace Market, by day an area of historical and architectural significance, and by night, a hub of the city’s trendiest bars and restaurants.
Alternatively, take a detour to the Iron Bridge Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage site that marks the start of the industrial revolution and remains a place of great historic importance. The iron bridge, erected in 1779, was the first of its kind in the world and remains one of the era’s great monuments. 10 award-winning museums pepper the area, offering iron and glass making demonstrations, interactive displays and a vast collection of industrial artifacts. Mercifully, the iron landscape and black smog of the industrial era now lives on only in the museums and the gorge itself has been restored to its natural state – wooded valleys, lush greenery and flowering gardens – making for a scenic day out.
– Zoë Smith