England, Britain, or the United Kingdom, what’s in a name? Whichever way you call it the country will be just as lovely. I’m sure it’s also a country that’s on most folks’ bucket list. And it should be! England has many things to offer; history, museums, rivers, ancient sites, quaint villages, and of course the Royals who seem to fascinate many people.
Everyone has their own vision of what England means to them. From ancient henges to modern buildings, traditional high tea to international cuisine, palaces to cottages, and ancient art to modern art England has it all and more. If your idea of a vacation in England is a whirlwind trip to London to see Big Ben and wander thru the British museum that’s great! You can pretty much see most of London in two or three days, maybe even less. But if you’re looking for a truly memorable English vacation read on! Here are 5 unique activities to really experience England, I’m sure doing just one of them will make your vacation special!
Traditional High Tea
One simply can’t go to England without going to a fancy traditional high tea. This centuries old tradition has been served at many of England’s fine hotels and tea shops forever. I’m not really sure what the difference is between Afternoon Tea and High Tea; I’ve heard that high tea is served more formally at the table with high backed dining chairs whilst afternoon tea is served in a more cozy atmosphere in a parlor where one sits in comfy sofas and chairs.
There’s always a debate as to which hotel, restaurant, or shop serves the best high tea. My favorite is High Tea at Claridge’s in London where tea is served in their art deco foyer and is simply wonderful. Other favorites in London are the Ritz, Fortnum & Mason, the Savoy, and Prêt-à-Portea at the Berkeley has an amazing tea for fashionistas!
For a simpler tea you can find a table at most any tea or coffee shop around the country and have a nice cup of tea with a scone or two. We love this little coffee house in Cornwall, they serve delicious pasties and pastries!
Need help booking High Tea in England? Contact Savvy Nana for help in planning your England activities!
Markets have been part of British life for centuries. Markets are generally a cornerstone of a community and a place where for centuries people shopped, socialized, and got their news.
Today you’ll find Market Days in just about every town across England and London of course has it’s fair share of famous markets.
Borough Market is the city’s arguably the largest and oldest open air market in the city with a market on the site since the 12th. century. Here you can wander aisles of wholesale and retail vendors of meats, fruits, veggies, and baked goods. And you can grab lunch at many of the food stalls set up around the market.
London also is home to the Portobello Road market that is known for vendors selling antiques and collectables; Camden Market, Greenwich Market, and the Old Spitalfields Market just to name a few.
West End Shows
One of my favorite activities in London is catching a show at one of the West End theaters. Just like a visit to the Big Apple wouldn’t be complete without going to a Broadway show a trip to London in my opinion requires taking in a show at the West End.
There are many theaters in the West End, any of them play Broadway shows like Mama Mia, Miserable, Wicked, and others. You could definitely catch one of those shows they’re all pretty fantastic, or if you’re looking for a British production check out Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap playing at the St. Martin Theater. It’s a murder mystery written by the queen of the whodunit herself. It opened in the West End in 1952 and is still showing today, making it the longest running stage show in the world.
Contact Savvy Nana to plan your British adventure today!
Get Out of Town!
Sure you probably flew into London’s Heathrow or Gatwick airports and London is where you’re staying. Don’t get me wrong I love London and all its sites and things to do, but to really experience England one must simply get out of time.
Take a tour to visit one of England’s Neolithic sites the most famous of which is Stonehenge in Wiltshire as are other henges such as Avebury, Woodhenge, and Durrington Walls. There are other henges and pre-historic sites around the country you can explore.
Or take a trip to Scotland! Edinburgh is a lovely city with it’s own history, quaint streets, and castles. If you’re a Roman history buff check out the Roman built baths in the city of Bath. Fans of the Bard can checkout his family homes in his native Stratford Upon Avon in Warwickshire then continue on to Cotswold to stroll along the lanes between picturesque cottages.
If you’re in the country during the warmer months take advantage of the British Garden tours, you’ll see many superb gardens around the country!
Haunted England Tours
I think every town or city in England is home to at least a ghost or two and it’s no wonder with the abundance of drafty castles and the country’s bloody history ghosts can’t resist haunting the place.
Of course you’ll find tours of haunted castles, mansions, and towns like the Haunted Tour of Bath or Scotland. I always find ghost tours to be fun and informative as the guides are usually awesome story tellers and can send chills up your spine with their ghostly tales!
Ready to book a memorable vacation in England? Call Savvy Nana! We’ll help you plan a trip of a lifetime!
Stonehenge is arguably the most famous prehistoric monuments in the world. Anybody who’d caught an episode of “Ancient Aliens” or a similar show has seen images of this ancient stone circle.
The ring of standing stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the densest complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England. The site also includes several hundred barrows or burial mounds. Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC.
Stonehenge and Avebury 24 miles away are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Stonehenge is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage; the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.
Located in 90 miles west of Central London in Wiltshire, England Stonehenge is an easy day trip. There are several ways to get there; on your via private car or public transportation; or on a coach tour from the capital. When we visited Stonehenge with my aunt and uncle we hired a private car and driver, it was just easier. My son and his wife booked a tour through their hotel concierge.
Local tour companies offer several different tours. Some just half day tours to Stonehenge. Others full day or more with combined itineraries that may include Salisbury, Bath, and Windsor. My son opted for a full day tour to Stonehenge and Salisbury that cost about £99 per person.
Perhaps the most inexpensive way to go would be by public transportation. You can catch a train from London’s Waterloo Station to the town of Salisbury. Round trip tickets start at £46.10 per person. Trains run about every half hour. From Salisbury you can take the Stonehenge Bus tour which can function as a hop on hop off tour. It will shuttle you from the rail station to Stonehenge and other sites in the area. The cost for just the bus ride to and from Stonehenge is £15 per person, this does not include admission to the site. Or you can opt for combination tickets that include admission, those start at £28 per person.
Admission tickets to Stonehenge are £15.50 for adults if purchased online. To avoid disappointment you book your tickets ahead of time. They do reserve a limited number of tickets at the ticket office for walk-in visitors, but they sell out early; specially during the summer months. Book your tickets here!
There are many things to see and do at Stonehenge. You can wander around the recreated Neolithic houses outside the visitor center, watch 360º presentation in the visitor center, wander the site, shop for souvenirs, and enjoy a lunch at the cafe.
And of course the highlight is a walk around the stones. You can not go near the stone or walk between them during normal public access hours with a general admission ticket. You must remain on the path and stay behind the rope barriers which are about 10 yards away from the stones.
However you can walk among the stones during a special access visit. These visits are scheduled when the site is closed to the public and are limited to 26 people per hour long session. This means special access visits are scheduled between 5:30 – 8:00 in the morning or after 6:30 in the evening. During these times there are no guides available, you must bring your own if you want, nor are the cafe and gift shop open.
Special Access visits must be made well in advance, you must apply directly to Stonehenge for this visit. And on the day of you must arrive via private car or taxi as there will be no public transportation at those times. Another option would be to book a Special Access Tour with a local tour company, they’ll take care of everything! Click here for more information on Special Access Visits.
Another option, if you really feel the need to see a stone circle up close and personal, is to head over to Avebury. It’s 24 miles away, has larger stone rings, and has free access to the stones themselves.
While at the site take a walk around the site you’ll find many barrows, burial mounds, dotting the fields. You’ll more than likely also come across grazing sheep.
Honestly, unless you’re really into stone circles, a Stonehenge visit takes at most a couple of hours. Plenty enough time to combine it with a visit to nearby Salisbury and it’s stately cathedral. [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
London Big Ben and traffic on Westminster Bridge
London, another great city of the world. It seems that many of us love this city, every time I’m in London I see just as many tourists as I do Londoners. And why not? London is a beautiful city and Great Britain a gorgeous country! When asked what I love so much about the city my first answer is always that it’s clean, very clean. You don’t see streets littered with garbage nor do you see building scribbled with graffiti.
But that’s not all I love about London! There’s so much to see and do there no matter what your interests are, London has it all. From history to art, concerts to theater, shopping to dining; whatever you want I’m sure you’ll find it in London. But don’t spend your holiday rushing from landmark to landmark, of course you must see Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, but take some time to slow down and Experience London! Here are 6 great ways to Experience London. You don’t have to to it all in one trip, it’s a good incentive to go back!
Book a 30 minute rotation on the London Eye for a bird’s eye view of the city.
You can book a standard ticket for £21.20 per person or splurge on a private capsule, prices start at £380 for the Cupid’s Capsule and comes with champagne and chocolates. Save a few pounds and book online.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Hop On Hop Off buses, they’re those double decker buses you see in most tourist destinations. You’ll find them in London of course, but you’ll also find a Hop On Hop Off boat that sails the Thames all day long.
I love this alternative. There are several cruises to choose from including lunch and dinner cruises. I like the Hop On Hop Off cruise, only I refuse to Hop Off. I think it’s a great way to see the city and beyond, you’ll see all the iconic landmarks from the river and sail under the London Bridge. I hop on, find a great comfy seat, and relax. The boats have a counter that sells snacks and light lunches. Last time I did this it was on the Queen’s Official Birthday which is always in early June. We were fortunate enough to see the canon salute at the Tower of London, we saw it from the boat! No crowds!
A one day pass gives you unlimited rides for the day. You can buy tickets at the dock or online.
Spend an afternoon at the British Museum.
On my first trip to London we hired a private car and driver/guide, he pointed out statues that are scattered through out the city, and many of his descriptions began with him saying “we stole it from”. At the end of the day he jokingly told us that many of their “treasures” they stole during their rule around the world, he also told us that if we want to see more then we needed to go over to the British Museum. And right he was!
At this museum you will see works by many of the world’s great artists as well as artifacts from around the world including giant Moai, those heads from Easter Island, the Parthenon pediments and statues from the Acropolis is Athens aka the Elgin Collection, mummies from Egypt, the Rosetta Stone, and even one of the mysterious Crystal Skulls! (it’s right across from the giant Moai). You can spend hours gazing at the Monet or channeling the skull (yes last time I was there I watched this lady and her “guru” meditating next to the skull) and no one will bother you. Best of all it’s free!
Indulge yourself and spend the day at Harrod’s. Yes it will take a day just to navigate the department store much less shop. (I get a big kick out of the doormen who open the doors for you!)
You can gawk at the £25,000 silverware or the Roll Royce golf cart then wander over the the Harrod’s shop and pick up a tote bag, teddy bear, or other souvenir bearing the store’s logo, those are much more affordable! You can wander the Food Halls, that’s one of my favorite departments, then stop for lunch or dinner at one of the “fast food” counters down there, or sit down for tea or a gourmet meal at of the restaurants in the store. And don’t forget to ride the Egyptian Escalator, it’s pretty cool. For Diana fans have a look at the Diana and Dodi memorial in the store, it’s a small tribute and not really worth a special trip, but if you’re already there it’s worth a stop.
If you’re really lucky you might catch a sale, but be prepared for the crush. I’m not sure how often Harrod’s runs a big sale, but when they do the prices drop, I got an Alexander McQueen clutch for a very reasonable price at their late summer sale. For more reasonable shopping step out and head across the street to Topshop, it’s fun and inexpensive.
Date night – dinner and theater! Have dinner at one of the fine restaurants around Piccadilly Circus then walk over to see a West End production.
The West End is like NYC’s Times Square. There are many shows to choose from. Last time we were there we saw the Hitchcock classic 39 Steps at the Palladium. It was great! Or if you like you can go and see Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, it’s been on for 60 years making it the longest running show in the world! It’s best to book your tickets online to get the date and time you want. Before or after the show you can wander Piccadilly Circus. Lots of shops and fun stuff going on there!
- Have a meal and a pint at the local pub. Pick one, they’re every where or ask the hotel concierge where he goes. Better yet do a pub crawl!
Whatever you decide to do have a great time!