The Ultimate 10-Day England Itinerary: 3 Perfect Routes

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by Maggie Turansky


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Planning the perfect England itinerary can get a bit overwhelming, especially when you’re looking at exploring the country outside of the capital. There is so much to see and do in England that you can be forgiven if you feel slightly dazed when trying to figure out how to pack everything into a short period of time. However, if you’re planning to spend 10 days in England, there are tons of options available for you that can take you all over the country.

Far too many visitors to England set their sites only on London and fail to realise all that lies elsewhere in the country, from beautiful beaches to historic towns to stunning natural vistas — England has it all.

So if you’re interested in mapping out the perfect 10-day itinerary you’ve come to the right place. We’ve lived in and travelled around England extensively and have a lot of knowledge about where to go and how long to spend in each amazing destination in this beautiful country.

Getting To & Around England

The road and rail systems in England are well-developed, but it can still take some planning to figure out how you want to get around.

First and foremost, you need to figure out which airport or city you will be flying into. If you’re planning on including London on your trip to England (or even if you’re not), then it’s probably easiest to fly into the capital, however, it is worth noting that there are a total of six international airports that serve the greater London area – these include Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, London City and Southend.

If you are coming from any further than continental Europe, then it is likely you will only fly into Heathrow or Gatwick, located to the southeast and south of Central London respectively. Getting to central London from any of the area’s main airports is straightforward and easy, as there are many different options available.

Once you’ve figured out your plan to get to England, you need to find out how you plan to get around. As I mentioned earlier, the public transit system in the vast majority of England is incredibly well-developed and easy to navigate.

As a general rule, if you’re planning on spending a good amount of time in cities, you can plan to rely solely on the public transport system and your own two feet to get around. This holds especially true for London, but can apply to most major metropolitan areas in England.

Modern Double Decker Bus in the streets of London.
Double Decker Bus in the streets of London.

When you venture outside of the capital or other cities to enjoy the countryside and rolling hills of England, is when you may want to consider renting a car. While you don’t really need a car in the cities, having your own vehicle when exploring national parks or smaller villages is generally preferable as it can give you an infinite more amount of flexibility and control over your itinerary.

Driving in England is safe and easy, as the roads are in fantastic condition and people are generally very courteous drivers.

Keep in mind for those coming from abroad that they do drive on the left-hand side of the road in England and while this may seem daunting for those who are not used to it, it takes surprisingly little time to get the hang of it — especially if there is other traffic on the road!

If you’re planning on hiring a car while in England, we recommend booking through Rentalcars.com. This platform aggregates prices across many major car hire companies, ensuring that you get a great deal for your rental car.

It’s also worth considering taking out an excess insurance policy through a third party like iCarHireInsurance which will typically be cheaper compared to taking out the equivalent insurance through the car rental company.

If you don’t want to rent a car for your England road trip itinerary or just plan to get one for a couple of days but not for the entirety of your trip, then you’ll likely be wondering what the best way to get between cities is in England.

The rail network is going to be the most comfortable and efficient way to travel between English destinations and the system is extensive and incredibly easy to use. However, trains can be quite expensive in England if not booked far enough in advance. To avoid overpaying on a train ticket, we suggest using Omio to book your journeys well in advance.

If you want to save some money during your trip to England, then the bus is your best bet. Coaches in England are frequent and extensive and can cost a fraction of the same route on the train, however, they are not as comfortable and can be a fair bit slower depending on the route. Again, you can book coach routes online here.

The Peak District
The beautiful Peak District

London and Southwest Itinerary

This first itinerary for England has you exploring London and some of the most vibrant regions and cities to the west and along the coast. Though this itinerary can be done by public transport, it would be best done if you rented a car on the fourth day when leaving London.

Days 1-3: London

The best place to begin any trip to England is in its historic and vibrant capital city, London. As one of the largest cities in Europe, London is packed in the brim with cool and interesting things to see and do and there is no way that you will be able to pack it all into a mere three days, so it’s best not even to try.

Instead, concentrate your first day on the sites of central London, including Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, Green Park, the Palaces of Westminster, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Take a walking tour if you want to get your bearings and get some historical context for all the sites you’re seeing.

On your second day, visit the Tower of London, gaze in awe at the Tower Bridge, walk across the ultra-modern Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern and visit St Paul’s Cathedral and Borough Market.

And on your third day in London, visit the incredible British Museum (the Egyptian exhibit is particularly fascinating if you ask me!), before browsing the shops on Oxford Street and in Covent Garden before wandering through the eclectic and trendy SoHo neighbourhood.

For visitors who plan to visit a lot of paid attractions, buying a London Go City Pass will save you money on entrance fees.

If you’re not interested in seeing more of the city, you could opt for a day trip to countless places including Windsor Castle, Oxford, Cambridge, Bath, the Seven Sisters or even to York. You can visit these places independently via coach or train or take a day tour if you’d prefer a guide.

Though three days in London won’t really allow you to venture past the city centre and to see anything much past the main tourist sites, it can still give you an excellent feel for the city (plus plenty of this to visit when you inevitably return!)

The Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge in London.
The Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge in London.

Where to Stay in London

Hotel Edward – A great mid-range option in Paddington, west London, this is a great place to stay if you want to be situated close to central London. They have countless great rooms available.

Sanderson Hotel – A hip luxury option in SoHo, this hotel is located only a quick dash away from Oxford Street. They have countless plush rooms on offer and a number of other amenities including a restaurant/bar, gym, spa and many others.

Astor Hyde Park Hostel– This hip hostel is perfect for budget and solo travellers in London. Located centrally close to Hyde Park, it is well situated to explore a lot of London’s top attractions, has fantastic common areas, and offers both dorm and private rooms.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more London hotels!

Days 4-5: Bristol

From London, it’s time to head west to the trendy city of Bristol. This city is often overlooked by tourists and it really is a shame — it really has so much to offer. Though you can easily visit Bristol as a day trip from London, it is worth spending a night here, especially because you can spend your first day exploring all of the amazing sites on the way to the city.

On your way to Bristol, make sure to make a number of stop-offs and detours in order to really pack a lot of the highlights of West England into a short period of time.

A short detour from the motorway to Bristol will lead you to the iconic neolithic site of Stonehenge and a bit further afield, you can visit Salisbury with its famous cathedral.

And just a bit before you hit Bristol proper, make sure to spend a good amount of time exploring the beautiful city of Bath. This historic spa town has been an important settlement since Roman times and there are lots of cool things to see and do here.

Once in Bristol, there are lots of things to see and do in order to really get to know the city, but you can pack in into one day easily, you can take a guided tour or go about independently.

Learn about Bristol’s history at the fantastic M Shed museum or learn more about its maritime history at Brunel’s SS Great Britain museum.

If you’re interested in street art, you will be delighted to hear that the famous artist Banksy got his start in Bristol and it has a thriving arts scene. Bristol also has a wonderful food and craft beer scene and it can be enjoyed while exploring the revitalised area of Wapping Wharf.

One of the most famous murals in Bristol
One of the most famous murals in Bristol

Where to Stay in Bristol

Victoria Square Hotel Clifton Village – A plush boutique hotel located in Bristol’s lush Clifton suburb, this is a great place to stay if you’re looking for a mid-range option in the city. They have a range of rooms available and a hearty breakfast included in the nightly price.

The Bristol Hotel – The ideal luxury hotel in Bristol, this place is located within easy walking distance of the city’s top attractions and they have a number of clean comfortable and chic rooms on offer.

The Full Moon Backpackers – An ideal option for those solo and budget travellers amongst us, this hostel is a great choice in Bristol. They have a number of dorms and private rooms available, fantastic common areas and a fantastic laid-back vibe, perfect for exploring Bristol!

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Bristol hotels!

The Clifton Suspension Bridge
The Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol

Days 6-8: Cornwall

On your sixth day of this itinerary, it’s time to drive even further southwest to one of the most beautiful and sunny places in England – Cornwall!

The southwestermost region of the country, Cornwall has long been a favourite holiday destination for locals but foreign tourists rarely venture this way, and it’s incredibly hard to see why — there is so much see and do!

Cornwall is most famous for its beaches, but there is a lot more to it as well. If you’re a nature lover, there are countless walks to go on. If you want to try your hand at surfing, make sure to hit the waves in Newquay, the capital of the sport in England! History buffs will delight in the castles and ruins that dot the region as well.

One of the most famous castles is St Michael’s Mount, just outside of Penzance, which is situated on its own island accessible by a causeway that appears as low tide. If you’re a fan of Arthurian legend, then make sure to visit the dramatic ruins of Tintagel, rumoured to be the birthplace of this legendary British ruler.

St Michaels Mount in Cornwall
St Michaels Mount in Cornwall

Spending two or three days in Cornwall is enough to really see a lot of the region and get a good feel four it, but there is always more to see if you spend more time!

Where to Stay in Cornwall

Palma Guest House – Situated in the heart of St Ives, this is an excellent place to base yourself in Cornwall. They have a number of comfortable rooms available and are located within easy walking distance of all this artsy town has to offer!

Selkies NQY – Located in Newquay just a few hundred metres from the beach, this is a fantastic luxury option for those visiting Cornwall. Great for a romantic couples getaway, they have a number of luxe rooms available.

Lifeboat Inn – Situated on the bay in the lovely artist’s town of St Ives, this is a great place to stay for couples or families alike. They have a number of spacious rooms available and an option to include breakfast in the room rate.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other places to stay in Cornwall!

Land's End
Land’s End in Cornwall

Days 9-10: Brighton

And finally on this 10-day southwestern England route, round out your time in the lovely coastal city of Brighton! Located due south of London, Brighton is about a five-hour drive from Cornwall, but we recommend taking an entire day on the journey as there are so many incredible stops along the way.

Take the time to enjoy such places like Dartmoor National Park in Devon, the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, the beautiful seaside city of Bournemouth, the historic port city of Portsmouth or even the lovely New Forest in Hampshire before arriving in Brighton.

Once in Brighton, take the time to explore the city centre and the lovely, albeit rocky, beach. Of course, no trip to Brighton would be complete without enjoying yourselves at the iconic Brighton Pier.

If you want to get a bit more active and are not interested in exploring the city much, then the iconic walk along the Seven Sisters cliffs is easily accessible from Brighton. This is one of the most beautiful day hikes in the UK and will take you along the stunning rim of the famous white cliffs of this region of England.

One of the best views on Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk
One of the best views on Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk

Conveniently, Brighton is located only about a thirty- to forty-minute train ride from Gatwick Airport and other London area airports are easy to access from the city as well, so it makes for a perfect place to end your trip to England.

Where to Stay in Brighton

Artist Residence, Brighton – This quaint boutique hotel is perfect for those looking for something a bit more hip and trendy while staying in Brighton. They have a number of great rooms available, a great location and fantastic amenities including great common areas and a tapas restaurant on site.

Seadragon Backpackers – A great backpackers hostel perfect for budget travellers, they are well-located and have both dorm and private rooms available. They have great common areas and a central location perfect for exploring the best of what Brighton has to offer.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Brighton hotels!

Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier

London and North England Itinerary

If you’re interested in visiting London and then heading up north during your ten days in England, then this is the perfect itinerary for you. Exploring the historic cities and natural areas of the North, you’re sure to enjoy this route through England.

Again, this is another itinerary where it may prove helpful to have a car for some of it, especially for the bit through the Lake District National Park. If you want to save some money, consider renting a car for a few days from York before continuing on an England by train itinerary.

Days 1-3: London

Spend your first three days of this route in the capital of London, following the same daily activities as mentioned in the Southwest England route above.

Days 4-5: York

From London, hop on a train or hire a car and drive north to the lovely walled city of York. If you do happen to drive (and it is recommended!), then make sure to spend the day stopping off at all of the incredible sites along the way and enjoying the gorgeous English countryside.

Some of these include the lovely university city of Cambridge, the historic city of Worcester, Warwick Castle, Robin Hood’s home of Nottingham or even the incredible Peak District National Park in Derbyshire in central England. You could, perhaps, even make a stop in Oxford or at the incredible Blenheim Palace. Or you could detour to Stratford-upon-Avon – the hometown of Shakespeare!

View of Kings College Chapel in Cambridge
View of Kings College Chapel in Cambridge

On the next day, plan to spend it exploring the city. You can see a lot of York in one day and some of the highlights include walking along the city walls, exploring the incredible York Minster, taking in the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey in the Museum Gardens, wandering along The Shambles and learning about the city’s history at the York Castle Museum.

If you’d rather get out into nature, then explore more of rural Yorkshire with a trip to the North York Moors National Park or the Yorkshire Dales National Park — these parks are perfect for nature lovers and Bronte fans alike!

Where to Stay in York

The Queens Hotel – A great boutique option, this place is centrally located, has a number of comfortable rooms on offer and a great and hearty full breakfast is available at an additional cost.

The Grand, York – This is the place to stay in York if you want to be in the lap of luxury during your time in the northern city. They have many plush rooms to choose from, countless luxurious amenities, and a great location for easy sightseeing.

Astor York – An excellent, highly-rated hostel in York, this place is perfect for budget backpackers and solo travellers. They have a range of both private rooms and dorm beds available and are located within ten minutes of York’s historic centre.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more York hotels!

View of the York Minster from the City Walls
View of the York Minster from the City Walls

Days 6-7: Lake District

If you didn’t get out and enjoy the natural splendours of Yorkshire, it’s time to do so now in one of England’s most famous national parks — the Lake District. Located in Cumbria, this beautiful area is filled with incredible lakes, mountains and charming villages.

You can spend your time here going on countless walks — there are walks for all skill and fitness levels. There are also countless charming and historic villages to explore, classic pubs to warm up in, and just some absolutely beautiful scenery to enjoy.

Even if you’re not much of an outdoor lover, there s something for everyone in the Lake District and it is well worth taking the time to head out here before heading down to your final destination on this 10-day route through England.

Beautiful scenery in the Lake District
Beautiful scenery in the Lake District

Where to Stay in the Lake District

The Cavendish Arms – A cosy, mid-range option in the Lake District is this historic pub, located in the lovely village of Cartmel. They have a number of clean and comfortable rooms available and a great breakfast available to enjoy each morning.

Embleton Spa Hotel – If you are after a luxury stay in the Lake District, then this is the perfect choice for you. Located in an 18th-century farmhouse in the beautiful countryside, they have a number of plush rooms available, private apartments, and countless amenities to make your stay a great one.

Kendal Hostel – A great option if you’re travelling on a tight budget or solo, this hostel is one of the best-rated in the Lake District. Situated in a historic Georgian townhouse in the town of Kendal, they have a range of dorm and private rooms available and good self-catering facilities.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Lake District hotels!

Days 8-10: Liverpool

And finally on the North England route, end your trip in the historic, vibrant and wonderful city of Liverpool.

Perhaps most famous for being the birthplace of a little-known band called The Beatles, there are plenty of Fab Four-centric sites to see in this city, however, there is so much more in this historic city.

Liverpool has seen a bit of a resurgence in recent years, especially around the newly refurbished Royal Albert Dock which is packed full of trendy restaurants and shops.

You can also learn about Liverpool’s seafaring history as a port city at the Merseyside Maritime Museum. Also worth a visit is the harrowing International Slavery Museum.

Albert Docks in Liverpool
Albert Docks in Liverpool

Football fans will rejoice in the chance to tour Anfield Stadium, the home to Liverpool FC and Fab Four fans are sure to enjoy the Beatles Story or even a Beatles Tour.

You can even take the time to take a day trip to the nearby city of Manchester if you want to see more Northern English cities.

Where to Stay in Liverpool

The Dolby Hotel – A good option for mid-range travellers. this hotel has a great location overlooking the River Mersey. Located within easy walking distance of the top sites of the city, they have a number of rooms to choose from and breakfast included in the price.

Titanic Hotel Liverpool – If you want a luxurious stay in Liverpool, then look no further than this swanky hotel. Situated a stone’s throw from the top attractions in the city, they have countless amenities and wonderful, comfortable rooms available.

YHA Liverpool Albert Dock – A fantastic backpacker’s hostel, this is the perfect choice for solo and budget travellers. It is located in the centre of the city close to the top attractions and sites, they have both dorm beds and private rooms available and great common areas.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Liverpool.

Beatles history is everywhere in Liverpool!
Beatles history is everywhere in Liverpool!

Northern England Itinerary

If you’ve been to London already and would rather spend your ten days in England somewhere outside of the capital, then this is a great route for you. Still beginning and ending in London, this route is great for those who are planning a trip to the other parts of England and don’t want to concentrate on the capital city.

Day 1: London

Begin your itinerary in London and take a day to explore an area of the city that you haven’t had the chance to yet — there is always something to see and do in London. Take in the street art in Shoreditch, stuff your face at Broadway Market if it’s a Saturday or get lost in the expansive Kew Gardens or Richmond Park.

There are far too many things to do in London that it’s worth spending at least a day in the city even if you’ve visited before.

Brick Lane
Brick Lane

Days 2-3: York

From London, it’s time to head to York. Follow the suggestions in the itinerary above for the ideas for how to spend your time in York.

Days 4-5: Lake District National Park

From York, head out into the great wide open and enjoy the lovely scenery and villages of the Lake District National Park for two full days.

Days 6-8: Liverpool

And from the Lake District, head to historic Liverpool and enjoy all of the fun things there are to see and do in this historic city.

Days 9-10: Cotswolds

On your final two days, it’s time to head back down south to explore an incredibly charming area of England within easy reach of London – the Cotswolds.

This region, located to the northwest of London, is famed for its quintessentially English towns with thatch-roofed homes and historic pubs. It is the perfect place to end your England itinerary.

Take the time to explore quaint villages like Bourton-on-the-Water, Painswick, Burford, Chipping Campden and countless others. These are some of the most beautiful towns in all of England and are sure to transport you back in time.

If you want to get out into nature, then make sure to check out the Cotswolds AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty) which is full of walking trails and lovely, bucolic vistas.

If you’re looking for a quaint and quiet place to round out this epic route through England, you seriously cannot go wrong with spending some time in the Cotswolds before flying home from London.

Charming Cotswolds Villages
Charming Cotswolds Villages

Where to Stay in the Cotswolds

The Lamb Inn – This charming pub located in the village of Bourton-on-the-Water is the perfect place to rest your head in the Cotswolds. Oozing with charm, they have a range of comfortable and clean rooms available and a great pub downstairs to grab a pint a great bite to eat.

The Fleece – Located in the village of Witney not too far from Oxford, this is a great boutique hotel to stay at in the Cotswolds. They have a range of cosy and comfortable rooms available and a fantastic breakfast cooked each morning.

The Old Stocks Inn – Situated in the charming village of Stow-on-the-Wold, this lovely inn is the perfect place to stay if you’re on the hunt for a luxury stay in the Cotswolds. They have a number of beautiful rooms to choose from and lots of other amenities to make your stay fantastic.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Cotswolds hotels!

There are so many options of places to visit and things to see during your 10 days in England but, hopefully, these three great routes are able to help you plan the trip of your dreams! From historic cities, gorgeous natural scenery, inviting pubs and a wonderful coastline, England has so much to offer visitors — so make sure to see more than just London!

Are you planning a trip to England? Have you visited before? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

Comments

  1. Hi I am planning to ciné to the uk Dec/Jan 20 days

    My plan so far is London 4 days 29/12-2/1. Then Bath as a base to tour the south.
    Can you recommend how many days in the south based at Bath then where in the North or ?
    I was planning on hiring a car in Bath or London.

    Also open to any addition suggestions like quick visit to Ireland or Scotland if you feel it is with timeframe.

    Thank you
    A

    Reply
  2. Hello Maggie, enjoyed your article on visiting England. Our family is planning to visit England from July 9 through July 20. We are from Boston, MA. Wanted your recommendation as we would also like to visit Scotland. How should I plan my iteneray.

    Thank you, Khuzema Safri (Khuz).

    Reply

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