Are you venturing to Southern England? Beyond London, there are many great things to see and do in the South of England. Here is our guide to help you plan your stay and make the most of your adventure!
The Best of Southern England: London
No visit to England would be complete without first starting your journey in the capital city. London consistently ranks as one of the most visited cities in the world. This is largely due to a worldwide obsession with English royalty and royal culture, an endless list of attractions to visit and endless entertainment. For your first visit to London be sure not to miss out on a chance to see world-class theatre on West End, as well as these top London attractions listed below.
As the formal residence of the monarch, Buckingham Palace is a must visit for any first time visitor to London. Royal fans will be delighted to learn that you can book a tour and visit some of the state rooms during the summer months. Be sure to take a walk along the mall to see the palace from afar and then continue your journey toward the river thames.
The tower bridge is an icon of London and located next to the tower of London. Because the bridge is a little out of the way from other attractions in Mayfair and Westminster, a great way to visit is by joining a hop-on-hop-off tour.
One of the more modern additions to the city skyline, the London Eye is still one of the most popular ways to see the city from above. This is easily one of the most popular attractions in London. While it will offer you great views over the city, it is also one of the great London bucket list items. Be sure not to miss it!
With the unrivalled best view over the city, The Shard is your perfect opportunity to see the city from above. Visit at sunrise or sunset to see a soft glow rise above the skyline.
Big Ben & Houses of Parliament
As one of the most iconic symbols of London, Big Ben rising above the Houses of Parliament is a great photo opportunity at sunset. In fact, there is much to see here in Westminster. Start with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Be sure to also drop by Westminster Abbey, where Prince William and Kate famously married. Nearby you will also find Downing Street and not too far away, Buckingham Palace.
The Best of Southern England: Bath
Reached in just 90-minutes by train from London, Bath has long been of historical culture importance to the British people. So much so that in 1987 Bath was dubbed a World Heritage site and to this day feels as if you are stepping back in time. Bath was founded by the Romans as a thermal health spa and to this day you can still visit the site. It was in the 18th century under George III that Bath developed into the elegant town it is today with neoclassical Palladian that made Bath one of the most desirable cities to live. Don’t miss these attractions:
The Roman baths
Once the site of public bathing, the Roman baths are still a highly visited attraction to this day. Although you cannot swim in the Roman baths nowadays, there are many public bathhouses nearby.
Undergoing many restorations over the years, Bath Abbey is one of the most beautifully upheld churches in all of England.
Crossing the River Avon is the extremely photogenic Pulteney Bridge which was completed by 1774 in Palladian style.
The Best of Southern England: Oxford
If you’re a history buff or perhaps a fan of the popular Harry Potter series then a visit to Oxford should certainly be on your itinerary. The university was established in the 12th century and is home to a number of beautiful colleges, many of which are open to the public.
Perhaps the most photogenic landmark in the city of Oxford, the Radcliffe Camera was designed by James Gibbs in neo-classical style and built in the mid 18th century.
As one of the oldest libraries in all of Europe, the Bodleian Library is one of the most fascinating buildings in Oxford. There are more than 12 million times in the book making this the second largest library in Britain after the British Library.
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
The Oxford Natural History Museum is full of fascinating objects and a great choice if you are travelling with kids or looking for something a little more engaging to pass the afternoon. The building itself is quite a the attraction in itself, displaying Gothic Revival architecture at its finest.
Brighton’s Palace Pier has become one of the most iconic photographs of England. Although the country is not known for its beaches, this unique pebble beach has really built a name for itself. The carnival rides and games at the end of the pier are a lovely way to spend a late afternoon but beware of the strong winds! As far as the best of southern England goes, you don’t get much better than Brighton and you certainly don’t go any further South!
Quintessentially British, the Cotswolds are the perfect summer escape from London. Although you can visit the Cotswolds in a short day trip from London the best way to see this area is by staying a few days. There are a handful of beautiful holiday homes in the Cotswolds to make for the perfect romantic getaway.
Windsor Castle is a popular day trip for travellers with a long layover at Heathrow Airport. The castle is a royal residence to this day and occupied by the British royal family. Originally the castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion. It has since undergone a lot of work to maintain its distinct architecture, which attracts visitors from all over the world.
Another university town not to be missed is Cambridge, a short fifty-minute train journey from London. Because there are fewer hotels and tours on offer in Cambridge it is easy to visit in a day. The train journey is under an hour, making this a quick escape.
Isle of Wight
Located off the South coast of England is the glorious Isle of Wight. Known for its beaches and seafront promenades, the vintage looking beach huts that line the way have become iconic for the Isle of Wight.
Perhaps the most underrated geographical area of England is the Jurassic Coast in the south of the country on the English Channel. In 2001 the 96-mile stretch of coast was given World Heritage status by UNESCO. The epic scenery and ruggedness of the coastline makes this one of the most unmissable locations in England.
If big cities interest you there is plenty to see and do in Bristol. This is a city in the southwest that has a strong maritime history. With approximately half a million people living in Bristol, it is a vibrant and charismatic city. Many of those are university students, making this a youthful stopover city with a lot of charm.
Getting there & Planning your Stay
Visiting the South of England is easy for travellers visiting from abroad. London will be your first port of call. From there, London serves as an international hub with connections to everywhere in the world.
The best way to explore the South of England is by renting a car. This gives you the freedom to see the countryside at leisure without restricting yourself to trains and buses. Although the public transport system is great if you would prefer not to drive!
Holiday homes are a great way to experience the English countryside in an authentic way and feel like a local. The Big Domain has a great selection of homes throughout the United Kingdom. Some of our favourite cottages can be found in the Cotswolds (seriously post-card worthy!)