Ah, London! One of my favorites cities! Known for heritage, royalty and a good cup of tea, this historical metropolis offers much to see and do for new and seasoned travelers. Whether spending a week visiting the famous Tower of London and Buckingham Palace to just a few days pre- or post-cruise, you will not get bored. There is much to see and do in this city dotted with beautifully landscaped parks and welcoming pubs. However, for those who wish to broaden their experiences in this beautiful country, there are many options for day trips (or multi-day trips) just an hour or two from Paddington or Kings Cross.
Just about two hours from Kings Cross Station, the City of York is filled with great history and unique structures. Famous for their architecturally "settled" area called The Shambles, there is more to York than their Harry Potter-esque walkways. Originally called Jórvík, York was conquered by both the Romans and Vikings; both of which left behind a great many archaeological remnants which can be viewed best via walking tours. One of my favorites being the White Rose Tours which meet just outside of the York Minster. This town is beautiful and really requires about 2-3 days, but one full day gives you a good taste of the history and character. On my last visit, we had lunch at the pub where Dick Turpan was thought to have spent quite a bit of time (The Red Lion) and we walked a ton! In the evening, enjoy an Evensong (evening choral service) at the Minster or end with something quite unique: one of their many popular ghost walks!
York is one of the many beautiful cities that you can visit within just an hour or two on the train. Oxford is another popular choice as is Cambridge with their beautiful architecture (some of my favorites being in Cambridge with Kings College and scenic beauty of punting on the Cam). Always popular are the mysterious ruins of Stonehenge. One of my favorite day trips is simply an afternoon in the countryside.
If you wish to get away from cities and get out to the country, the Cotswolds will take you back in history all together. Filled with thatched cottages and cobblestone streets, the Cotswolds take you to a time when shepherding life is still active and little stone churches designate the center point of each village. A terrific way to see the Cotswolds is through the Secret Cottage Tour and Cotswolds Mystery Tour run by Becky - a resident of the Cotswolds for over 25 years. These six-hour tours commence in Moreton-in-Marsh train station (about 90 minutes from Paddington) and last six hours. Unique to this tour is that you are sharing your tour with only six other guests. Due to the size of the van, Becky (or any of her magnificent guides) will be able to take you into the smaller villages that larger tour buses cannot. There is plenty of time to get out and walk along the narrow paths and learn about the rich history and culture of these shepherding communities.
Many of Europe’s major cities have wonderful day trips to be enjoyed. London, in particular, offers a vast array of choices that bring you to the history, culture and community that is England - and only a train ride away! One last tip for exploring England on day trips: be sure to make some time to relax and enjoy some tea and cake!