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The ultimate England Travel Guide: the best things to do, see, and eat

Feb 14, 2024 by The Go Ahead Tours Team

You’ll never run out of things to do in England. You’ll stroll down posh shopping avenues and roam the halls of medieval castles. You’ll marvel at awe-inspiring museums, and when the day’s adventures wind down, nestle into cozy pubs for warm comfort food and friendly conversation. Whether your ancestors were British, you harbor a love for history and the royals, you want to see your favorite television show’s filming locations, or you simply want to visit a country that’s easy to navigate—and where you speak the language—there are countless reasons to join us on one of our England tours. Below, you’ll find our ultimate travel guide to England, with lists of the best things to do, places to see, and foods to savor.

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The best time to go

Where to visit

What to see

What to eat and drink

What to do

What to pack

Souvenirs to buy

England Travel Guide basics

Currency: Pound sterling (GBP) 

Language: English

UNESCO-listed sites: There are 19 UNESCO-listed sites in England, including Stonehenge, Westminster Abbey, Blenheim Palace, and the city of Bath. 

Best way to get around: We think that the best way to explore England’s charming neighborhoods and historic sites is on foot, and when you join us on one of our England tours, we’ll take you to all the iconic landmarks and hidden gems on a private motor coach with your fellow travelers. If you’re exploring London during your free time, we recommend picking up an Oyster card and taking advantage of the user-friendly subway system—known locally as the Tube. “Take advantage of the Tube and the trams; they are easier than you would think if you’ve never been on one,” said traveler Maryann, who joined us on our Highlights of England, Scotland & Ireland tour.

Fun fact: Big Ben isn’t the name of London’s famous clock tower; it’s a nickname originally given to the Great Bell inside the tower. The name of the tower is the Elizabeth Tower—nevertheless, most people just call it “Big Ben.”

When is the best time to visit England?

With its lively cities, gorgeous landscapes, and four distinct seasons, each more magical than the last, there’s no bad time to take a trip to England. Temperatures in England tend to stay above freezing in the winter and below 86 F in the summer (though the country has seen record highs over the last few years). However, one of our best travel tips for England is to plan for some rain no matter what time of year you visit. If you’re looking for seasonal things to do in England, consider the following:

Visit in the fall for cozy pubs and spooky enchantment. It’s true that England’s iconic pubs are cozy year-round, but there’s something special about popping in for a pint and a warm meal on a chilly autumn afternoon. If you love the eerie side of autumn, join us on our Haunted Halloween Tour: Dublin, Edinburgh & London to embrace the season with ghost tours, a murder mystery dinner, and a Jack the Ripper tour of London. “My favorite holiday is Halloween, so it was really neat having a tour themed around Halloween,” said traveler Rebecca after returning from the trip. “If you like learning about the dark history of places you visit, this tour is for you!”

Visit in the winter for holiday celebrations and lighter crowds. England is aglow during the holiday season, with cheerful decorations and festive Christmas markets springing up across the country. London hosts several markets, as well as pop-up fairs, skating rinks, and rides—and since winter is the slow season for travel to England, you’ll have fewer crowds to contend with at the major attractions. London also happens to rank first on our list of the best cities to spend New Year’s Eve in. “I stood on the banks of the River Thames waiting for midnight to come,” said staffer Cayleigh of her New Year’s Eve spent in London. “Once it did, it was the most fantastic firework show I’ve ever seen, with the backdrop of the London Eye on one side of the river and Big Ben on the other. Big Ben tolls for a few seconds at midnight, people cheer, and fireworks are set off all over the night sky. I’ll never forget it!” Join our New Year’s Eve in London with Paris & Rome tour to experience the magic for yourself.

Visit in the spring for blooming flowers and balmy weather. The English countryside becomes a tapestry of colorful wildflowers in the spring, but don’t think that the cities miss out on the spectacular showing. England’s famed manicured gardens burst into bloom, and events like the Chelsea Flower Show in May make England one of the must-see spots around the world for flower lovers. Although the weather in England can be unpredictable in the spring, you should expect temperatures to be mild, with alternating periods of sunshine and brief, gentle showers.

Visit in the summer for long days and lively events. Summer days in England are long and warm—but not hot—making them the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the season’s many outdoor festivals and events. Visit for Wimbledon in July or Liverpool’s International Beatles Week in August to join the locals and celebrate the joyful season—often into the night. One of the best things about visiting England in the summertime is the long daylight hours. In some areas, the sun doesn’t set until after 10:30pm.

Enjoy any season in England

The best places to visit in England

England is a relatively small country—it’s roughly the size of Louisiana. That means that while there is a wealth of marvelous places to visit and explore, it will be easy to experience them all when you join us on a tour of England. Below are some of our favorite places to visit in England.

London

The capital of both England and the United Kingdom, London is a must-see city on any tour of England. Not only is it one of the surprisingly affordable places to visit in Europe, but it offers a nearly endless list of things to do and see. You could spend an entire week in the city and not get bored—as evidenced by our London: The City Experience tour. When you join us on a trip to London, you’ll see iconic locations like Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, and the Tower Bridge up close. Stop by Buckingham Palace (one of our favorite European palaces) for a chance to catch a glimpse of the Changing of the Guard ceremony, and join us on our London Eye & Pub Dinner excursion to ride an enclosed gondola to the top of London’s 450-foot-tall observation wheel for a new vantage on the city skyline. “I always knew London was big, but I didn’t expect it to be so massive,” said traveler Stephanie in her review of England, Scotland, and Ireland. “There’s so much happening in London.”

Bath

The elegant and charming city of Bath has the unique honor of being a double UNESCO World Heritage Site. The City of Bath was first named to the list in 1987 for its blend of Roman and Georgian architecture, then added again in 2021 as one of the “Great Spa Towns of Europe.” When you visit Bath on one of our England tours, spend some time admiring the rich, tawny-colored buildings, pop into Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House for a famous brioche “bath bun,” or join us on the Literary Bath & Afternoon Tea excursion offered on our Highlights of Southern England: London, Bath & Oxford tour to learn how the city informed the work of its most famous resident, Jane Austen. Whatever you do, don’t miss a trip to the city’s namesake Roman baths—relaxing in the town’s famous thermal waters is one of the best things to do in England. “Bath was incredible and definitely a must-see site,” said traveler Helene on our Grand Tour of Great Britain: Scotland, England & Wales. “The Roman baths were unbelievable. From an architectural standpoint, it is a marvel.”

Oxford

Known as the “City of Dreaming Spires,” Oxford is one of the best places to visit in England if you’re a history or architecture buff—or a fan of Harry Potter. The historic city is known for its prestigious university (one of the oldest in the world) and diverse architecture. Join us on the Blenheim Palace & Lunch excursion offered on our Highlights of Southern England: London, Bath & Oxford tour to visit Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Explore the Baroque-style palace’s ornate state rooms and extensive gardens. Or, if you’re more interested in fantasy than history, spend a free afternoon in Oxford scoping out some of the most beautiful filming locations from the Harry Potter films. You may recognize places like Christ Church College’s Bodley Staircase and Bodleian Library’s Divinity School from their cameos as locations within the magical school of Hogwarts.

Liverpool

Liverpool is a dynamic and energetic city that’s worth a visit—especially if you’re a music or sports fan. It’s home to two Premier League football teams (soccer to those of us in North America), Liverpool FC and Everton FC, both of which have won several championship titles. One of the other things you might not know about Liverpool is that the town was the birthplace of the Beatles, one of the most prolific pop groups of all time. Join The Beatles: History & Story Museum excursion on our Grand Tour of Great Britain: Scotland, England & Wales to learn about the history and lives of the Fab Four and visit iconic locations like Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane. “Liverpool was so enjoyable, and we loved all the Beatles sites and memorabilia,” said traveler Helene after taking the tour. “You could spend hours at the Beatles Story Museum and the waterfront.”

Check out England on tour

The best things to see in England

Whether you’re spotting landmarks from atop a double-decker bus in London, wandering through the English countryside, or winding your way down coastal roads, there are so many extraordinary things to see in England. And when you join us on one of our England tours, your expert Tour Director will make sure you don’t miss a thing. Below are a few of our favorite things to see on a trip to England.

Stonehenge. This mystical site on a grassy plain is one of England’s best-known landmarks. The mysterious monument was constructed from massive stones standing in a circular formation and is estimated to have taken centuries to build, dating back to at least 3100 B.C. “Stonehenge will boggle your mind,” said traveler Pat after returning from our Grand Tour of Great Britain: Scotland, England & Wales. Although many believe the site was built for ceremonial use or as a calendar (the placement of the stones corresponds with celestial events, like solstices), its exact purpose and means of construction remain a mystery.

Westminster Abbey. A monumental Gothic church in the heart of London, Westminster Abbey has seen dozens of coronations, royal weddings, and funerals dating back to the 10th century. In addition to its ties to the royal family, Westminster Abbey honors over a hundred authors and poets in its Poets’ Corner, where writers like Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Hardy are either buried or memorialized.

The Jurassic Coast. If you’re a nature-lover wondering what to see in England outside the cities and towns, head to the Jurassic Coast. The UNESCO-listed site gets its name from the wealth of Jurassic-age fossils found embedded in its cliffs and on its shores. Visit the Jurassic Coast on our Highlights of Southern England: London, Bath & Oxford tour to search for fossils along the beach and wander beneath dramatic geological formations at Lulworth Cove. Then, head to West Bay Beach to admire the soaring golden sand cliffs that reveal layer upon layer of geological history.

Windsor Castle. Founded by William the Conqueror in 1070, Windsor is the largest and longest-inhabited castle in the world. It’s one of the royal family’s official residences and was the famous location of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. Join us on the Windsor Castle excursion offered on our England tours to take a guided tour through the castle and explore the surrounding town. Be sure to check the flag flying above the castle—if the Royal Standard is flying, it means that the King is in residence; otherwise, the Union Jack is flown.

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What to eat and drink in England

English cuisine is all about comfort food. While London boasts some of the world’s best international cuisine, you’ll find that hearty, warming dishes, simple flavors, and a dash of tradition play a hand in most classic English meals. Below are some of our favorite things to eat and drink on a tour of England.  

Tea. One of our best England travel tips is to sit down and indulge in the quiet luxury and comfort of a proper afternoon tea service. Tea in England is a social event, an art form, and a delicious way to stave off hunger between meals. You can certainly learn how to make the perfect cup of British tea at home, but we think it’s extra special to enjoy a “cuppa” on tour with our fellow travelers—especially when it’s accompanied by scones with clotted cream and jam.

Sticky toffee pudding. A classic, indulgent dessert, sticky toffee pudding consists of a dense, spiced date cake smothered in warm toffee sauce. It’s sweet, rich, gooey, and warm making it the perfect comfort food to cap off a satisfying meal on your trip to England.  

Fish and chips. Whether you’re soaking up the sunshine on the coast or lingering in a pub on a rainy afternoon in London, fish and chips is always a good idea. The classic British dish features golden brown battered and fried fish served alongside salty chips (or fries, to those of us on this side of the pond). Want to try something a little different? London boasts some of the best Indian food outside of India, and you’ll find curry and chips in restaurants across the city—the dish is a savory and satisfying fusion of some of the best food in London.

Sunday roast. While afternoon tea represents England’s daily moment of luxurious indulgence, Sunday roast is its weekly ritual of soulful healing. Across the country, locals gather in homes or pubs and share in the hearty meal, which usually consists of roast meat, such as beef, chicken, or lamb, with roasted potatoes, vegetables, brown gravy, and Yorkshire pudding—a light and airy bread like a savory popover or Dutch baby. The best part of Sunday roast is sharing a meal and conversation with others, so we recommend ducking into a pub on a Sunday during your trip to England to share in the tradition with your fellow travelers—it’s the perfect way to forge new friendships on our London, Paris & Rome for Solo Travelers tour.

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The best things to do in England

Wondering what to do in England when you join us on tour? This wouldn’t be the best England Travel Guide if we didn’t give you a few ideas! Below are some of our favorite things to do on a trip to England.

Relive the adventures of your favorite characters. From William Shakespeare and Jane Austen to Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter, England has given us some of the greatest storytellers and characters of our time. Whether you want to see Ted Lasso filming locations or discover where Bridgerton was filmed, one of our favorite things to do on a trip to England is to retrace the steps of our favorite film, television, and literary characters—and their creators. Visit Stratford-upon-Avon, the town where Shakespeare was born, on our Highlights of Scotland & England: Edinburgh to London tour, or strike your best James Bond pose in front of The Shard in London—007 fans will recognize the piercing skyscraper from the movie Skyfall.

Spend a night at the elegant Ashridge House. If you’re seeking the royal treatment, you won’t find yourself at a loss for places to visit in England, but this historic home of King Henry VIII and Princess Elizabeth I ranks among our favorites. When you join us on our new Highlights of Southern England: London, Bath & Oxford tour, you’ll spend a day exploring the regal Ashridge House and its sprawling, immaculate gardens. You’ll feel like royalty as you indulge in a tasting of cream tea and scones in one of the estate’s grand heritage rooms, then settle down for the night in your accommodation on the grounds.

Visit a free museum. London is known for having some of the best free museums in the world. Use a free afternoon to explore the antiquities in the British Museum or peruse the artwork at the Tate Modern. London has over 190 museums to choose from, and while many of them are free, some may feature special exhibitions that charge admission.

Take a scenic drive through the Cotswolds. The English countryside features painterly scenes that are loved by artists and frequently immortalized on canvas and film. Take a scenic drive through the pastoral landscapes on a tour of England and see its remarkable beauty up close. When you join us on our Highlights of Southern England: London, Bath & Oxford tour, you’ll journey through the Cotswolds, a region nationally recognized as an Area of Outstanding Beauty. You’ll see rolling pastures straight out of an impressionist painting and stop in charming towns right out of a storybook.

Learn more about England on tour

What to pack for a trip to England

There are so many incredible things to do in England, and we’d never want a lack of preparedness to get in the way of you experiencing them all. Below are some of our favorite things to pack to ensure you’re comfortable and ready for anything on your tour of England.

Comfortable, supportive walking shoes. Many of the best things to do in England require some walking, so we recommend bringing comfortable shoes when you join us on one of our England tours. Additionally, England sees, on average, around 150 rainy days a year, and cobblestone streets—while charming—can get slippery. “I brought comfy tennis shoes and sandals,” said traveler Lisa after our Grand Tour of Great Britain: Scotland, England & Wales. “However, I [only] wore tennis shoes as there was a lot of walking. Plus, [you’re] walking down the cobblestone ways (which was fun), but not in sandals.”

A travel umbrella. As we said earlier, England sees quite a few rainy days each year, but don’t let that discourage you—London averages less than half the volume of rainfall of New York. So, while you can expect to see clouds and maybe even some light rain on your trip to England, the weather is likely to change throughout the course of each day. While we recommend taking advantage of the sunshine, it never hurts to have a travel umbrella on hand for pockets of rain.

A power adapter. You’ll need to use a type-G power adapter with three rectangular prongs to plug in your electronics in England. English outlets are different from the standard ones used throughout much of the rest of Europe, so if you’re joining us on a multi-country tour, we recommend bringing a universal power adapter.

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Souvenirs to buy in England

One of the best souvenir-related England travel tips we’ve heard came from traveler Lisa after returning from our Grand Tour of Great Britain: Scotland, England & Wales: “I would recommend to everyone that if you’re interested in shopping at souvenir stores, don’t wait and think you’ll get something at a later date,” she said. “It may not happen. If you see the souvenir, and most importantly, if you see something you want, get it!” Below are some of our favorite things to bring home as mementos from a trip to England.

Tea. There’s nothing quite as quintessentially British as afternoon tea, and one of the best ways to remember your trip to England is to bring the tea ritual home with you. English tea in a pretty tin, which makes for a lovely keepsake, is an easily packable souvenir that will allow you to enjoy the flavors of England long after you’ve returned home.

A piece of artwork with your family crest. If you have English heritage and a family crest, consider bringing home a print, embroidery, or even pint glass emblazoned with the crest—you’ll find heraldic companies and artisan shops across London that specialize in personalized family crests. If you’re not sure whether your family has a crest, you can search within the College of Arms or enlist a heraldic company to help.

A bottle of gin or Pimm’s. Every England Travel Guide will tell you that the pubs are not to be missed, and while the ale is worth writing home about, British spirits are worth taking with you. A locally produced gin (the definitive English spirit) or Pimm’s—an herbal liquor often enjoyed in the summer with lemonade or ginger ale, makes a fantastic souvenir or gift for a loved one back home.

Anything with a Union Jack on it. The flag of England, known as the Union Jack, is often incorporated into fashion, design, and decor. We can’t get enough of the kitschy accessories and home goods plastered with the flag found in small shops throughout the county. Bring home a pair of socks or a bath towel adorned with the flag as a fun and colorful reminder of your trip to England.

Check out our England tours to start planning your trip today!


About the author | The Go Ahead Tours Team
We’re a team of passionate travel experts, dedicated to helping people explore the world. From inspiring stories to tips for an amazing trip, the topics we cover are all about getting you out there and making discoveries.

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