England. Just a short distance from the USA (compared to the rest of Europe); and thanks to budget airlines such as WOW, RyanAir, AerLingus, and Norwegian a flight that won’t break the bank. A country best known for its bustling metropolis capital, London, and now a days may be better known for its Royal Family. Thank you to Meghan Markle.
Aside from the infamous city of London, there is a ton to see and do in England. Which makes it the perfect destination for an “Eight-Day Vacay”. The first time I visited England my only stop was in the capital – London. Which I realized, was a mistake! After visiting England for the second time I skipped London altogether and instead visited towns and cities just as beautiful, but not as well known. The kinds of places that locals hope to keep a secret, but thanks to ever-growing social media channels it has become harder and harder to do; which is great news for us non-locals.
When I think of England I think of British accents, countryside charm, Big Ben (the tourist in me), and thatched cottages. This Eight-Day Vacay is sure to deliver all of that and more. Happy vacationing!
WEDNESDAY – Depart from the USA, fly into London
Leave Wednesday for arrival into London on Thursday.
If you are on the west coast your flight will be approximately 10 hours, if layover free, with an eight-hour time difference (Europe being ahead of the US), depending on daylight savings.
Example was taken from Los Angeles, LAX to London, LGW/LHR
If you’re in Middle America your flight will be approximately eight-hours, if layover free, with a seven-hour time difference (Europe being ahead of the US), depending on daylight savings.
Example was taken from Chicago, ORD to London, LGW
If you’re on the east coast your flight will be approximately six-hours, if layover free, with a six-hour time difference (Europe being ahead of the US), depending on daylight savings.
Example was taken from Boston, BOS to London, LGW
While you can use any airline, these days my favorite budget airline is Norwegian. Try playing around with departure cities. For example, I am from Omaha, NE. Norwegian doesn’t fly in or out of my city. Instead I used points that I had from my Southwest credit card to fly to Chicago. I then flew out of Chicago, ORD to London, LGW for a mere $250 one-way.
THURSDAY – Arrival into London
Stay: Airbnb – Recommended neighborhoods to stay in include Holborn, Covent Garden, Soho, and Notting Hill. (If you’re new to Airbnb, use my referral code for a $55 credit).
You have just arrived to London! Chances are you’re a bit jet-lagged but don’t let that slow you down! In order to best adjust to local time, try to stay up and go about your day as normal. You can slow down and take it easy, but I don’t recommend taking a nap seeing as it will make it that much harder to go to bed. Instead, get to know the city. Start by making your way towards Westminster. Here you will be close to Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, and more. And even more quintessential London? Sit for tea. My favorite is the Mad Hatters Tea Party hosted at the Sanderson Hotel. Make sure to book reservations in advance.
Note: If you’re there in time, make sure to catch the changing of the guard outside of Buckingham Palace. It takes place daily at 1130am.
After seeing the major sites, wind down with drinks at The Shard – London’s 95-story skyscraper that gives you sweeping views of the entire city. While The Shard is expensive, it’s an iconic landmark in London with the best views of the city and worth it if only for one drink. You can have a full-on “champagne experience” or if you want to splurge even more there are restaurants in The Shard as well.
For a cheaper dinner options wander through Chinatown, stopping at whatever tickles your fancy.
FRIDAY – Depart London, arrive in Bath
Note: There are many train stations out of London to leave from. You will want to arrive in Bath Spa.
Stay: Parade Park Hotel. An affordable, three-star hotel in the heart of Bath. The rooms are small, and in some cases you will be sharing a bathroom, but trust me when I say you can’t beat the location. Close to the train station you will be arriving from and only about a five-minute walk to the Roman Baths.
There is so much to see and do in Bath, so be prepared to hit the ground running! Grab a cup of coffee from Colonna and Smalls and start by learning the culture of Bath by seeing its sights that have made it so famous. You’ll want to make sure to check out Pulteney Bridge, which straddles River Avon. It is one of only four bridges in the world with shopping on both sides. Visit The Circus – no, not a true circus but a famous circle of historic houses which Nicholas Cage once resided. And make sure to stop at the Royal Crescent… do you spot the yellow door?
For sunset head to Thermae Bath Spa for a one of a kind experience pampering yourself under the stars.
SATURDAY – Bath
On day two get up early to see what makes Bath so famous – the Roman Baths. Buy tickets ahead of time to skip the line. The Baths open at 930 am; I recommend being the first people there to be able to see everything without all the tourists around. A standard ticket for entry is 16 Pounds. After visiting the Roman Baths pop next door to Bath Abbey, a Parish church founded in the 7thcentury. The entrance is donation based.
Note: For pictures of the Baths with nobody in them immediately step outside before touring around. After getting your pictures to come back and take your time through the museum. I spent approximately two hours touring the museum.
Spend the rest of the day wandering the charming streets. Making sure that you end at Corkage. A unique wine and tapas bar with no true menu. That’s right! To order wine you explain to your server what you generally like, then they make a selection for you. But you’re always allowed to taste test first. As far as food, they bring a chalkboard to your table and then recite everything that is found in each dish by heart. It’s quite impressive.
*For 10 things to see and do in Bath, click here*
SUNDAY – Depart Bath, arrive in York
Transportation: Rent a car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent a Car, or Europcar Bath. While you can take the train, you will end up going back through London and quite frankly wasting precious time. To get from Bath to York you will drive 4.5 hours north.
Note: I used Enterprise Rent-A-Car – they did screw up my reservation (tried to give me a manual versus an automatic) but I think it could have been avoided. For tips to ensure a seamless driving experience make sure to read below.
*For tips on renting a car in the UK, click here*
Another Note: For my thoughts on different options for renting a car please see the bottom of this post.
Stay: Airbnb – Recommended location near Old Town York (make sure that there is parking available if you end up renting a car)
Upon arrival to York start your two-day adventure by getting acclimated to the city. Wander the streets making sure to walk down Shambles Street – the street that inspired Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. While you’re there stop for something to eat at Shambles Market. An outdoor food truck market suited for both summer and winter. You’re also close to the shortest street in all of Great Britain! Might as well go check it out – Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate.
York has a creepy, but charming vibe to it. And the locals totally play it up! Book a ghost tour for the evening. It will run you about five Euros varying company to company; no need to book in advance, the tour begins at 8pm. (Note: There are many different ghost tours and there will always be people on the streets advertising them). Before heading to the ghost tour stop for dinner at Pairings Wine Bar. Or if you’re looking for something on the go, you can’t go wrong with Drakes Fish & Chips or The Cornish Bakery.
MONDAY – York
On your second day in York get up early to enjoy the town with little crowds. This is when I’d head to York Minister, one of the largest cathedrals in northern England. This will set you back a mere 10 Euros, doors open at 9 am.
After awing at this gothic cathedral, grab a coffee from the Perky Peacock and walk what is left of the ancient city walls. Do not miss the part of the wall that begins at the Bootham Bar, close to York Minster. This is where you’ll see magnificent views of York Minster from the back.
For lunch stop in at Betty’s; York’s famous tearoom. Either sit for tea, or Betty’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. For the rest of the day see York for what it really is – a spooky, vibrant, medieval town. Pub-hop your way through Old Town. Make sure to stop at House of the Trembling Madness, Evil Eye Lounge, and The Golden Fleece – which is apparently the most haunted pub in town.
TUESDAY – Depart York, arrive in London
Transportation: Rental car – You’ll drive 4.5 hours south to return to London. Don’t forget to fill the gas take before dropping the car off. It is much more expensive if they fill the tank for you.
Note: Typically you’ll drop your car off at the airport, however, make sure to double-check upon booking.
Stay: Airbnb (see previous).
Ahh, the last day of your trip, ending exactly where you started. The good news is that London is so big and expansive that there’s much more to see than what you originally saw your first day.
After dropping your car off-market hop your way through town. My favorite markets include Borough Market, Portobello Road Market (an antique market), and Camden Market. The food is absolutely incredible so come with a hungry stomach. And for dessert? Make your way to London’s hipster neighborhood – Shoreditch. Here you can find Softserve Society, where all your ice cream – or freakshake – dreams come true.
To close out your last day of the trip see a show on the West End. It rivals New York’s Broadway for some of the best live shows in the entire world. Make sure to do your research on what shows will be playing when you’re in town and buy your tickets ahead of time.
WEDNESDAY – Depart London, fly back to the USA
Remember, because London is ahead of us time-wise, you should be able to leave on Wednesday and arrive back into the USA on Wednesday. Refreshed, (maybe a bit depressed), and ready for your shift to start on Thursday!
Notes About England
They use the pound, which is stronger than the dollar, meaning your money won’t go as far. At the time of writing 1 Pound = 1.28 US Dollars
Brexit is set to occur in March 2019. This may affect travel, but most likely the Pound will drop in strength making it a good time to visit.
They drive on the opposite side of the road than the US. Be aware when crossing streets.
To contact the police in case of emergencies call 999.
*If you want to rent your car in Bath and drop it off in York feel free. A train ticket back to London from York on GoEuro will run you close to 100 Euros but is direct with no stops. However, I would recommend keeping the car and dropping it off in London. If you drive it to London you can either drop it off upon arrival or drop it off at the airport before flying home on Wednesday. It is your own preference. I tend to prefer to rent it in Bath, and drop it off immediately upon arriving back to London – the crowds stress me out when driving.*
Most of all – enjoy your time in England! I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below, especially if you end up taking this trip! I had a blast when I did. Cheerio!
If this is your first time hearing of the 8 Day Vacay series and would like some background info please click here