England. Just a short distance from the USA (compared to the rest of Europe), and also a destination that you can travel to without breaking the bank thanks to budget airlines such as WOW, RyanAir, AerLingus, and Norwegian that fly between the US and London. England is a country best known for its bustling metropolis capital, London, and for its quaint thatched cottages that dot the countryside. Visiting England in eight days is quite an adventure as you travel through some of the most beautiful and unique places in the country.
This is part of my “8 Day Vacay” series! A travel series aimed at nurses who are looking to take 8 days off from the hospital (with no need to take PTO) and travel to destinations both near and far. For more information, read A Guide to the “8 Day Vacay” and How to Make the Most of Your “8 Day Vacay”
Aside from London, there are tons of things to see and do in England. Making it the perfect destination for those who are looking to get away from a week. The biggest mistake you can make when coming to England? Only focusing on London! Instead, I encourage you to head to the less-visited parts of England to get a more authentic feel for the culture and English traditions.
Visiting England (in 8 Days!)
Written for nurses, this guide begins on a Wednesday (after working Sunday, Monday, Tuesday) and ends on a Wednesday so that you can get back to the hospital for your three shifts (Thursday, Friday, Saturday).
Highlights of Visiting England
WEDNESDAY – Depart from the USA, fly into London
Leave Wednesday for arrival into London on Thursday. Luckily, depending on where you’re coming from, there are tons of non-stop flight straight into London. With two main airports serving the city, make sure to search for flights that arrive at both London Gatwick (LGW) and Heathrow Airport (LHR).
If you’re coming from a small state (like me – Nebraska), I tend to search for options from the nearest international airport to bring down prices. So for instance, I would search for flights out of Chicago instead of out of Omaha.
THURSDAY – Arrive in London
Highlights: Big Ben + London Eye + Buckingham Palace + Afternoon Tea
I don’t recommend getting a car when you’re in London. The city is big and congested and when it isn’t easily walkable, there’s an underground train system that will take you almost anywhere you would need to go.
To get from the airport to the city you can either get a taxi or take the train. For more information on train travel, use this website to guide you.
Where to Stay in London
I recommend staying in an Airbnb. The neighborhoods you’ll want to stay in include Holborn, Shoreditch, Covent Garden, Soho, or Notting Hill. (If you’re new to Airbnb, use my referral code for a discount).
Things to Do in London
Upon arrival in London, get settled in and head out to get to know the city by starting with the most popular sites. Make your way towards Westminster where you can visit Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, and more. When you’re tired and hungry from visiting the tourist hot spots, sit down for high tea – a quintessential London activity. I recommend the kitsch afternoon tea at the Sanderson Hotel, the Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea that reflects Alice in Wonderland. Just make sure to book reservations in advance.
Note: If you arrive in London early in the morning, make sure to catch the changing of the guard outside of Buckingham Palace which takes place daily at 11:30 am.
After seeing the major sites, head for sunset drinks at The Shard, an iconic 95-story skyscraper overlooking all of London. You can choose to go for one drink or have a full-on “champagne experience”.
For dinner, head to the famous Duck and Waffle, or wander through Chinatown for dinner stopping at whatever looks good. London is known for its international food scene so if Chinese doesn’t suit you perhaps stop at Dishoom, a well-known Iranian restaurant in town.
For more information on visiting London, read 72 Hours in London
FRIDAY – Depart London, Arrive in Bath
Highlights: Pulteney Bridge + The Circus + Royal Crescent + Spa
Transportation from London to Bath
I recommend picking up a car in London to drive to Bath. If you plan to continue west towards York, you’ll definitely want a car seeing as train travel becomes a less viable option. Plus, if you plan to day trip to Stonehenge once you’re in Bath it’s worth it to have the car in advance. If you don’t plan to day trip to Stonehenge, you can pick up your car in Bath upon leaving to drive towards York.
If you do plan to rent a car make sure to read, The Best Tips for Renting a Car in the UK
If you don’t plan on getting a car yet, take an hour+ train west to Bath. You can buy tickets from the Great Western Railway or GoEuro. Prices vary but you can typically find tickets as low as £30. Please note that there are many train stations out of London to leave from, pick the one closest to you. However, make sure that you will arrive at the Bath Spa platform.
Where to Stay in Bath
If you aren’t looking to stay in an Airbnb, then I prefer the 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. Not only is it close to the train station you will be arriving at, but it’s also only a five-minute walk to the Roman Baths in the heart of the city.
Things to Do in Bath
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 the 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 + Stonehenge
Highlights: Stonehenge + Roman Baths + Bath Abbey
Day Trip to Stonehenge
On your second day in Bath get up early to head to Stonehenge. Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire 30+ miles southeast of Bath. It consists of large standing stones which still baffles people to this day. Tickets to access Stonehenge must be purchased ahead of time and cost £21 for general admission for an adult. There isn’t direct access by bus or train from Bath to Stonehenge so you’ll either need a car for this venture or you’ll need to take a taxi which can run you upwards of £100.
Things to Do in Bath
You don’t need much time in Stonehenge, so when you get back to Bath you’ll still have time to see the most famous and intriguing sight of all. The Roman Baths. I recommend buying tickets ahead of time so that you can skip the line. The standard price for adult entrance is £16. Plan to spend at least two hours touring the museum and learning why the Romans believed the baths to have healing powers.
After visiting the Roman Baths pop next door to Bath Abbey, a Parish church founded in the 7thcentury. Entrance to the church is donation based.
Spend the rest of the day wandering the charming streets. Making sure that you end at the unique wine and tapas bar, Corkage.
For more information on visiting Bath, make sure to read 10 Things to Do in Bath, England
SUNDAY – Depart Bath, Arrive in York
Highlights: Shambles Street + Shambles Market
Transportation from Bath to York
You’ll definitely want a car if you plan to travel from Bath to York. By taking a train, you’ll end up back in London, wasting precious time. If you haven’t already picked up a car in London, you can pick one up at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent a Car or Europcar Bath. It takes approximately 4.5 hours to get from Bath to York.
Where to Stay in York
I recommend getting an Airbnb near Old Town York. If you have a car, make sure to pick somewhere that has parking!
Things to Do in York
Upon arrival in 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 from company to company; no need to book in advance, the tour begins at 8 pm. (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
Highlights: York Minster + Ancient City Walls
Things to Do in 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. The cost of entry is £10 and the church opens 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 a snack break or lunch, stop in at Betty’s, a famous tearoom in York. 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 making 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.
For more information on visiting York, make sure to check out Your Guide to York – What to Do in York, England in 48 Hours
TUESDAY – Depart York, Arrive in London
Highlights: Borough Market + West End
Transportation from York to London
From York to London it’ll take you 4.5 hours to return to England’s capital. If for some reason you didn’t rent a car, you can take a two+ hour train between the two cities. Please note, that if you drive you’ll want to fill up your gas tank before returning to save money. Unless the place you’re staying has parking, I would also consider dropping off the car now versus leaving it in London and dropping it off on a different day.
Things to Do in London
On the last day of your trip, you’ll spend the day where you started – in London. The great news is that London is so big and brimming with things to do that you’ll have tons more to see and explore.
Upon arrival in London, market hop through town! Start at the Borough Market, a thriving food market, and make your way to the Portobello Road Market, an antique market.
To end your epic England vacation, see a show in the world-famous West End. The West End is best known for broadway shows and even rivals NYC. 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 in the USA on Wednesday. Refreshed, (maybe a bit depressed), and ready for your shift to start on Thursday!
Things to Know About England
- The English use the pound (£), which is stronger than the dollar ($), meaning your money won’t go as far. At the time of writing 1 Pound = 1.34 US Dollars
- In England, you drive on the opposite side of the road than in the US. Be aware when driving and when crossing streets
- To contact the police in case of emergencies call 999
If you’re looking for more “8 Day Vacay” inspiration, you can find all other vacation ideas here