Monthly Archives: July 2021

Where to Stay in Oxford: Best Areas & Hotels

Oxford, home to the famous Oxford University, founded in the 12th century, is an ancient college town and a wonderful place to explore. It’s popular with all types of travelers, from families to couples, looking for a weekend or longer escape. There are numerous hotels, from luxury to budget, which, regardless of cost, tend to be smaller historic inns, bed-and-breakfasts, or boutique hotels that appeal to all kinds of tourists.

The best area to stay is the historic city center, where you’ll find the various colleges; medieval churches; and plenty of striking Gothic buildings housing museums, shops, theaters, restaurants, and hotels, like the luxe Vanbrugh House Hotel and the Old Bank Hotel.

About 2.5 kilometers north of the historic city center, Summertown is the second best area to stay. This popular suburb hosts a number of hotels, including the family-friendly Galexie Hotel and mid-range Burlington Hotel. The main street, Banbury Road, is filled with restaurants, shops, and galleries, and if you walk far enough south on it, you’ll reach Oxford proper.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

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Where to Stay in Oxford for Luxury

All Souls College
All Souls College

One of Oxford’s top luxury hotels is Old Parsonage Hotel in the heart of the historic city center, next to St. Giles church, and surrounded by colleges and charming restaurants. The hotel is elegant and historic, with an original front door dating back to the late 1600s and the original stone hearth in the lobby.

There are just 35 rooms and suites, which are stylish …

14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Oxford

Oxford is one of the oldest and most celebrated university towns in Europe, and for centuries has rivaled Cambridge for academic pre-eminence in England. Its untrammeled spirit of exploration, numerous delightful gardens, courtyards, and university parks – together with the hectic bustle of its pedestrian zone and excellent cultural facilities – all help create a very special atmosphere.

Oxford has plenty of tourist attractions, including Carfax Tower, offering superb views over the city, and the historic Covered Market with its excellent shopping. For a truly unique vacation experience, some university colleges now offer accommodation options, including bed and breakfast.

Harry Potter fans may be interested to learn that various Oxford landmarks appeared in the movies, including Christ Church College, where the dining room was closely copied for the Hogwarts Great Hall. And for something a little quirkier, check out the (in)famous Headington Shark, a shark sculpture stuck headfirst in the roof of a humble terraced house.

To learn more about these and other great places to visit in this lovely part of England, read through our list of the top tourist attractions in Oxford.

See also: Where to Stay in Oxford

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Oxford City Center

Oxford City Center
Oxford City Center

Although the center of Oxford is not large, plenty of time should be allowed for a visit since there are so many things to do here. The city’s four principal streets meet at the intersection known as Carfax, a good starting point for a tour. Here, you’ll find the 14th-century Carfax Tower, a relic of St. Martin’s Church (now destroyed), which has great views over the city.

Also worth visiting are the Town Hall; St. Aldate’s Church (1318); and Pembroke College, founded in …

14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Nottingham

Nottingham, county town of Nottinghamshire, is built on a number of hills on the north bank of the River Trent. The city has a long tradition as a trading hub and manufacturing center and is known for its fine lace.

More recently, it has become a popular cultural destination boasting numerous attractions, including two large theaters and several art galleries. It also hosts many great festivals and events, one of the most popular being the annual Nottingham Goose Fair.

Known as the “Queen of the Midlands” on account of its broad streets and picturesque parks, such as the Arboretum, Embankment, and Colwick Park, Nottingham is a great base from which to explore nearby Sherwood Forest, legendary home of Robin Hood. In fact, the image of this most famous of English folk heroes is everywhere around the city, and although his once enormous woodland hangout is now considerably reduced, it lends the city a truly unique atmosphere.

To learn more about what is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in England, read our list of the top tourist attractions in Nottingham.

See also: Where to Stay in Nottingham

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Old Market Square

Old Market Square
Old Market Square

Nottingham’s old city center boasts several important tourist attractions. It’s here that you’ll find Old Market Square, the largest such public space in England and home to the Nottingham Tourism Centre, an important first stop before exploring the city. On the east side of the square is the Neoclassical Council House, crowned by an imposing dome. The impressive Guildhall is also close by.

While strolling through the city’s historic center, be sure to head over to the Nottingham Playhouse for a look at the remarkable Sky

14 Top-Rated Things to Do in Bourton-on-the-Water

It’s impossible to feel stressed in Bourton-on-the-Water. Dubbed the Venice of the Cotswolds, this lovely town oozes English charm. From picturesque bridges spanning the River Windrush to stone-roof cottages dating to the 15th century, this fairy-tale village is captivating. No wonder it’s been voted one of England’s prettiest villages.

Photographing its immense beauty isn’t the only thing to do in this idyllic place. Whether you’re hoping to make your way through a maze, enjoy high tea by a river, or see one of the world’s first cars, there is a bevy of fun to be had in Bourton-on-the-Water.

You won’t likely be the only tourists in town. Tour buses unload in this tiny village, which is one of the best small towns in England, especially during summer. If you’re hoping for a quieter trip, visit in spring instead — you’ll be rewarded with optimal weather and smaller crowds.

Be sure to check out these helpful ways to get from London to the Cotswolds, located just 84 miles northwest of London, before you leave. And plan your trip with our list of the best things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Peek Inside an Old Caravan at the Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection

Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection
Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection | Photo Copyright: Shandley McMurray

Car buffs will be greatly rewarded by a visit to Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection. Opened in 1978, the museum was the mastermind of avid collector Mike Cavanagh. He purchased the Old Mill to display his vast collection of old motoring signs, motor bikes, and historic cars.

In 1999, the museum was sold to the CSMA club (a.k.a. Boundless). They transformed the space into the impressive, seven-gallery fun …

12 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Birmingham

Birmingham is Britain’s second largest city, and its location in the West Midlands makes it a great place to begin exploring the Cotswolds and Malvern Hills areas — especially by canal. Birmingham’s canals were a byproduct of the Industrial Revolution that saw the city boom, and today this extensive canal network is used mostly for pleasure boating.

The city in fact has more canals than Venice, with one of the top fun free things to do in Birmingham being exploring the preserved canals and historic buildings of the iconic Gas Street Basin. These days, the city is best-known for its jewelry and food stuffs, as well as its numerous cultural activities and festivals. One of the best of these is one of the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day Parades.

Just 20 miles southeast of Birmingham is Coventry, the center of Britain’s motor industry and a delightful place to visit on a day trip.

To ensure you can cram as much as possible into your England Midlands’ travel itinerary, be sure to refer to our list of the top attractions and things to in Birmingham.

See also: Where to Stay in Birmingham

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Explore Victoria Square & the City Center

Victoria Square & City Center, Birmingham
Victoria Square & City Center, Birmingham

The heart of Birmingham revolves around the pedestrian-friendly Victoria Square, an area that can be explored via the Birmingham City Centre Path. Along the way, you’ll discover the attractive old Town Hall, built in 1832 and a masterpiece of Victorian architecture. Resembling a Roman temple, this impressive structure features 40 ornate Corinthian columns made of Anglesey marble.

It’s been the center of the city’s music scene since hosting the first performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah in 1847. Nowadays, …

12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon, a small and historic Elizabethan market town on the River Avon in Warwickshire, enjoys worldwide fame as the birthplace of William Shakespeare. The town center dates extensively from the 16th and 17th centuries, surrounded by areas of greenery and charming sections of riverbank, as well as the historic Stratford-upon-Avon Canal.

Many attractive rows of half-timbered houses have been preserved, including Shakespeare’s home, where visitors can still follow in the footsteps of the world’s most famous playwright. The town is internationally famous as a research center and stage for Shakespeare’s works, as well as for the five wonderfully preserved homes associated with him.

This culturally blessed setting has repeatedly been used as a backdrop in literature, and today the town lives primarily by the marketing of its most famous son. There are plenty of things to do here, too, including participating in fun festivals such as the famous Mop Fair, held in the town center since the 15th century, as well as enjoying the many great places to eat and shop.

To learn more about why this beautiful town is the best pace to visit in England for all things related to Shakespeare, read through our list of the top tourist attractions in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Shakespeare’s Birthplace

Shakespeare's Birthplace
Shakespeare’s Birthplace

Shakespeare’s Birthplace is a lovely two-story, half-timbered complex. Its interior remains unaltered and reflects the residential lifestyle of a lower middle-class family in the second half of the 16th century.

The rooms have been carefully arranged with period furniture, one of them housing the First Folio edition of his works (1623). Look for the window on which many illustrious visitors have scratched their names, including Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and John Keats.

Admission …

12 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Warwick, England

Situated on the River Avon, Warwick – the principal town of the English county of Warwickshire – has been dominated for more than 900 years by spectacular Warwick Castle. While the origins of the town date back to a fortress built by the daughter of Alfred the Great in AD 915, it rose to prominence later when the powerful Earls of Warwick not only controlled the land surrounding their impenetrable fortress, but also dabbled in English politics, most decisively as “kingmakers.”

In the late Middle Ages, this important trading town, protected by the fort, became increasingly affluent. After a devastating fire destroyed most of its medieval buildings in 1694, the town carefully reconstructed many of the most important of these old buildings.

Today, you can find many fun places to visit and attractions to enjoy in this picturesque old town. These include enjoying a pleasant stroll among the market stalls in Old Square and Jury Street, and hunting through the town’s many antiques shops to shopping for local produce at the weekend Warwick market.

When putting together your travel itinerary for this historic destination, be sure to use our list of the top attractions and fun things to do in Warwick, England.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Discover Historic Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

The market town’s most popular tourist attraction, Warwick Castle is a massive battlement-crowned fortress that can trace its roots all the way back to the time of William the Conquerer. It is reached via the former stable yard and adjoining moat, where visitors are faced with an extensive area of parkland that boasts a number of gardens, among them a peacock reserve and rose garden.

The inner courtyard is entered through the imposing 14th-century Gatehouse

13 Top-Rated Beaches in England

England’s coastline encompasses regions of outstanding beauty, areas distinguished by dramatic sea cliffs, yawning bays, and some truly remarkable beaches. These glorious swathes of golden sand can be found the length and breadth of the country, fronting towns and cities, skirting estuaries and countryside, and embellishing islands both big and small.

Outstandingly diverse in their environmental makeup, these beaches afford endless vacation opportunities for anyone looking to spend time beside the sea. Hotels, restaurants, and first-rate leisure amenities, including an abundance of fantastic water sports facilities, serve many of these beaches. Some are located off the beaten track and make ideal retreats for those seeking peaceful oceanfront solitude. Others, meanwhile, are located near historic landmarks, buildings that help define their character and sense of place.

Find a picturesque pocket of sand for your next vacation with our list of the top beaches in England.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Bournemouth Beach

Bournemouth Beach and pier
Bournemouth Beach and pier

Comprising over 11 miles of glorious golden sand, the grand sweep that is Bournemouth Beach in fact embraces several areas, from Hengistbury Head in the east, through Southbourne, Boscombe, Bournemouth itself, and westwards toward Poole.

An entire entertainment industry has grown up in and around the city of Bournemouth – a favorite south coast resort destination since the Victorian era. Theaters, concert halls, cafés and restaurants, cinemas, and numerous hotels embellish the town center and the esplanade.

Distinguished by its landmark pier, Bournemouth Beach itself offers a host of family-orientated leisure activities, including an exciting pier-to-shore zipline, the Happylands Amusement Park, a supervised Kidszone for toddlers (July and August), and the nearby Bournemouth Oceanarium.

Out of season, the waters either side of the pier are the realm of surfers. And even if you’re not …

10 Top-Rated Weekend Breaks in England

Thanks to its rich history and the reputation of its many must-visit cultural attractions, England offers no end of fantastic options for memorable weekend breaks for couples, families, or solo travelers. And it’s an easy place to get around — you’re never more than an hour’s drive from a coastline.

England also offers something for all travel tastes. History buffs are particularly spoiled for choice, with an endless array of lovely old cathedral cities to visit such as Canterbury and Durham. Head even further back in time, and you’ll find well-preserved evidence of the Roman era of nearly 2,000 years ago in places like Bath, famous for its Roman Baths, while fans of the Royal Family can even get a taste of what it’s like to be Queen (or King) for a day with immersive tours through places like Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

To help you get the most from your time exploring the “Olde Country,” be sure to refer to our list of the best weekend breaks in England.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Experience Royal London

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

For a city break, London is definitely the place to go and the best place get your royalty fix. The center of English power for centuries, it’s here you’ll find the most symbolic embodiment of the country’s Royal Family: Buckingham Palace. While tours of the palace are available, it’s possible to get a taste of the importance the country places on royalty and all its trappings simply by turning up at the gates of nearby St. James’s Palace at 11:30am any day during the spring and summer. Here, you’ll witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Considered one of the top things to do for free in London, …

12 Top-Rated Beaches in the UK

As an island (or, rather islands), the UK is blessed with many beautiful beaches. They range from popular pebble shores alongside seaside towns like Brighton to the kind of long expanses of pure white sand found in places like Bournemouth that you’d normally expect to see in the Caribbean. While not as sunny, of course, as places like Spain, figures show that the UK gets as much or more sun as many mainland tourist destinations in northern Europe.

As a general rule of thumb, the less-crowded shorelines preferred by nature lovers and hikers tend to be in the remoter corners of the country, such as in Wales and Scotland. The more family-friendly beaches are most often within an easy commute of major cities such as London and Liverpool.

Whether you’re looking for a secluded beach or a bustling seaside resort town, find the best beach experience possible with our list of the top-rated beaches in the UK.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Bournemouth Beach, Dorset

Bournemouth Beach
Bournemouth Beach

Regularly winning awards and accolades as the country’s top seaside destination – including the prestigious Blue Flag award – beautiful Bournemouth Beach has much to commend it. Whether you’re seeking a spot to lay down your beach towel (or deckchair) or wanting to stretch your legs for a jog or take in some surfing, there’s an impressive seven miles of sand to enjoy here.

Consisting of a number of smaller beaches, including Alum Chine, Durley Chine, and Fisherman’s Walk, Bournemouth Beach stretches far into the distance in both directions. In fact, it’s possible to walk all the way past Poole to Sandbanks beach to the west, and past Boscombe and Southbourne beach to the east, splashing through the water all the …