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South East England

Off the beaten track

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Our most recommended South East England Off the beaten track

Oxford: Afternoon Tea Sightseeing River Cruise

1. Oxford: Afternoon Tea Sightseeing River Cruise

Traveling down the University Regatta course, the boat passes Christ Church Meadows, the University College Boat Houses, and other landmarks on your way to Iffley lock. This is often a busy and vibrant section of the river where training rowing crews, punts, and pleasure boats jostle for river space in a wonderful display of Oxford at play. Passing through the lock at Iffley is an experience in itself. The river scenery and fascinating buildings combine to form a picture perfect location. Beyond Iffley you will travel into the tranquil water meadows that surround Oxford and there are abundant opportunities to spot wildlife amongst the green banks and overhanging willows. The boat turns for home at Rose Island, a favourite destination of Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell on their river journeys. Aboard the boat an indulgent afternoon tea is provided by the renowned riverside restaurant, the Folly. The traditional menu typically includes: a selection of finger sandwiches, homemade scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, a selection of cakes, tarts, or petit fours, and tea.

From London: Oxford and Cotswolds Villages Day Trip

2. From London: Oxford and Cotswolds Villages Day Trip

Embark on a full-day guided trip to Oxford and Cotswolds from London. See the historic Oxford University, explore the Cotswolds villages, and admire the lush English countryside. Depart London and travel by a luxury Mercedes minibus and spend the morning exploring the beautiful university city of Oxford. Wander amongst the listed buildings and colleges, and climb one of the vantage points for breathtaking views of the spires. Marvel at the Ashmolean Museum's collection before making your way to the quaint Cotswolds villages to see traditional tiny cottages built from stone. Arrive at the village of Burford, the Gateway to the Cotswolds, and lose yourself in this bustling market town. Make the short journey to Bibury and stroll to the famous and fairytale-like Arlington Row. Admire these 14th-century cottages and gain an insight into the history from your guide. After, enjoy the scenic ride back to London.

Oxford: Harry Potter Walking Tour Including Christ Church

3. Oxford: Harry Potter Walking Tour Including Christ Church

Meet your Oxford University student guide in central Oxford and head for the Hogwarts' Infirmary, set in one of the halls of the famous Bodleian Library. Imagine the infirmary’s beds in place here, and admire the richly sculpted beasts and biblical carvings that appeared in many of the Harry Potter movies. Next, explore one or two of Oxford’s oldest colleges, delving into the rooms and cloisters that featured as Hogwarts’ gloomy interior. See other filming locations and hear trivia about the characters and movie productions. Test your knowledge of all things Harry Potter with our custom quiz. Along the way, hear about Oxford’s influence in famous children’s literature, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to The Hobbit. Finish with a tour of Christ Church (founded 1524) whose hall was an inspiration and not the actual Dining Hall at Hogwarts. This part of the tour will be a self-guided one with a multimedia guide.

From London: Bombay Sapphire Gin & Winchester Tour

4. From London: Bombay Sapphire Gin & Winchester Tour

Departing from London in the morning, you’ll head straight for one of England’s most history-rich cities, Winchester. Ambling the paths and lanes of the ancient city, you’ll have free time to stop by the glorious cathedral, the ancient mill, a bevy of cute cafes, and more than enough museums. After you’ve explored the picturesque town, it’s time to head for Laverstoke Mill, where one of the world’s most popular gins, Bombay Sapphire, is distilled. But it’s not just the gin that’s brilliant at the Laverstoke Mill; the exhibition and Victorian architecture are as interesting as they are beautiful.  Once you’ve had enough gin for the day, it’s time to head home. The tour makes a short stop for refreshments at the quaint riverside town of Runnymede, before arriving back in London in the evening.

3-day Isle of Wight & the Southern Coast Small-Group Tour

5. 3-day Isle of Wight & the Southern Coast Small-Group Tour

Day 1: Get your sunglasses and sun cream ready, you’re departing London and heading to the sunny, southern Isle of Wight. First, head to the ancient port-city of Portsmouth. This bustling spot blends modern marvels with centuries of sea-faring stories. You can grab a bite to eat here before your guide picks you up and takes you to the ferry at Gunwharf Terminal. It takes less than an hour and there’s plenty of onboard refreshments. Your first stop on the Isle of Wight is the important religious site of Quarr Abbey. The building here is beautiful and combines French, Byzantine, and Moorish designs. Then, you will get to meet some real local heroes. In the evening, you'll arrive at the unforgettably quaint village of Shanklin in time for an early dinner.  Day 2: Today, you’re going to discover the unmissable highlights of the Isle of Wight. After an enjoyable breakfast you will venture to the Yarborough Monument. This is the tallest monument on the island and celebrates the life of a wealthy earl from the 19th century. Continue to a photo-stop at the beautiful views of endless green fields at Brading Downs and then head to Osborne House - Queen Victoria's holiday destination! Explore the Italian-style building and discover pristine green gardens, ornate golden rooms, and historically fascinating artefacts. After witnessing that magnificent man-made marvel, it’s time to see the Isle of Wight’s most beautiful natural wonder, the Needles. These sharp white stacks that stick out of the ocean are beautiful to behold. You can hop on a boat to get close to them and venture to an old defensive battery that’s nearby. Your last stop today is at the cliffs of St. Catherine’s Down. As the sun starts to set, these epic cliffs and green valleys look stunning. You travel back to Shanklin in time for dinner. Day 3: In the morning, say goodbye to Shanklin and head on the ferry back to Portsmouth. Now that you’ve reacquainted yourself with the mainland, travel to one of England’s most history-soaked cities, Winchester. Visit the glorious cathedral, an ancient mill, cute cafes, and more than enough museums. After you’ve studied up on the history of England, it’s time to go have some fun. Visit the home of one of the world’s most popular gins, Bombay Sapphire. Once you’ve had enough of the tipple, it’s time to head back to London. Make a short stop at Runnymede before arriving in London in the evening.

From Manchester: 3-Day Tour of Snowdonia, Wales, and Chester

6. From Manchester: 3-Day Tour of Snowdonia, Wales, and Chester

Day 1: Manchester to the border of Wales Depart from Manchester by coach for your first stop of the day, Conwy. Explore the town and its award-winning, picturesque harbor. View a castle perched by the sea, the "world’s smallest house", and traditional restaurants boasting the best fish and chips. Travel to the Llanberis Slate Museum, after you've soaked up the sea air, and learn about the history of the second largest slate mine in the world. Continue to Beddgelert, known as the "loveliest" village in Snowdonia. Admire the beautiful architecture of the stone houses and arched bridges. Travel through the heart of Snowdonia as the evening comes, arriving at your overnight stop in Aberystwyth. Day 2: Aberystwyth to New Quay Set off from Aberystwyth in the morning for the colorful seaside town of New Quay. Enjoy a relaxing stroll along the picturesque beach or grab an ice cream. Visit Laugharne, and stand in awe before this village’s towering castle. Carry on towards Carreg Cennen, an imposing fortress perched on top of a hill, nestled within the Brecon Beacons National Park. Roam across the ramparts and experience stunning views of the surrounding natural landscape. Make your way to Newton House, a palatial building that boasts rich gardens, unique architecture, and famous ghost stories, before returning to Aberystwyth later on that evening. Day 3: Harlech Castle and Chester Watch Snowdonia’s mountains fly by as you make your way to Harlech Castle, one of the most popular castles to see in the whole of the UK. Take the chance to witness the sea views and learn about its war-torn history. Stop for lunch in the little village of Betws-Y-Coed before journeying to one of England’s most historic towns, Chester. Head to the cathedral, rebuilt in the Gothic style from 1250 onward. Arrive back in Manchester in the early evening.

London: Hidden Powers Walking Tour

7. London: Hidden Powers Walking Tour

Learn about Britain's cultural and economic influence on the rest of the world on a walking tour of London. Discover how Britain influences the world and why English has become an international language, and find out about the British institutions that shape the global balance of power. Meet your guide at the Banqueting House on Whitehall and walk to the British Council. Continue to Chatham House and hear about the secret political rule. See the high council of Freemasonry and discover the history of the symbol they use.  Visit the place that was the Ministry of Information during WWII and New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service. Go to 10 Downing Street, where Prime Ministers had lived since 1732.  Take the tube to Bracken House, where your guide will explain to you why Winston Churchill's face features on its clock. Enjoy walking through the City of London, the oldest part of London, before your guide takes you to the London Stock Exchange, where your tour will end. 

Frequently asked questions about South East England Off the beaten track

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What people are saying about South East England

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 72 reviews

Our van driver, Jennifer, did a great job telling us about a variety of British historical facts along the way. You then see two Cotswolds towns and Oxford on your own. They provided us with a nice walking tour handout for Oxford. Would have been nice to see insider of one of the colleges, but we knew that wasn't included. I would highly recommend including this in a London vacation - it felt great to see the countryside and get out of the city.

Colin our guide was fantastic - knowledgeable, engaging, amusing - and was great with highlighting times to meet, loo opportunities etc. Locations picked for the Cotswolds were great as still captured the charm and beauty you come to see but not teeming with tourists. Do recommend!

Friendly and very informative captain. The riverboat was clean and afternoon tea was scummy. A lovely relaxing trip down the river , very enjoyable. I totally recommend it to all age groups.

It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon for my sisters hen do, very relaxing and the afternoon tea was beautiful.

Look at the ducks and name them and look how cute they are