When thinking of epic road trips, the Southern part of England may not pop up in your mind instantly. But there really is no reason it shouldn’t make its way onto your bucketlist. England is filled with adorable little villages, gorgeous historic buildings, green nature, savoury foods and incredibly friendly people.
I recently escaped London and went on a 2,5-day road trip of Southern England (Budget car rental gracefully provided me with a bad ass car), which really opened my eyes to the beauty of my new homecountry, so I decided to share my itinerary with you! Here’s how to have the perfect South England roadtrip.
I didn’t quite realize how small certain cities were, so if I’d known, we could’ve squeezed a little bit more in, but this was actually perfect. It made for the ultimate relaxed road trip.
Day 1: London – Oxford
If you’re originally from a right-driving country, bring diapers, you’ll need them. This is the moment you’ll be forced to drive trough central London, while not being used to the other side of the road yet. We took a few wrong turns, but eventually ended up in Oxford in the early afternoon.
We parked our car at our guesthouse Newton House Guesthouse, which was only about a ten minute walk away from the Oxford city centre – perfect. It was also totally adorable and I never wanted to leave that bed. Ever.
Oxford is absolutely gorgeous, but also super tiny. Even though I sort of knew that, it still took me by surprise. There was this lovely atmosphere, really relaxed. Since a lot of buildings are only accessible to students, I felt totally uncool. I also felt like if only I could enter, I would totally find Hogwarts, the whole town felt like walking in a Harry Potter novel. Definitely don’t miss University Church of St. Mary the Virgin for the best view over Oxford, and Christ Church University for actual Potter vibes. Stay tuned for my biggest Oxford post soon!
Day 2: Oxford – Cotswolds – Bath
Since the Cotswolds were on our way to Bath, we decided to make a little detour and drive trough the area. It turned out to be really quite pretty, but I’d definitely want to come back in summer time, when everything is green instead of grey and.. dead. The tiny roads also cost me years of my life as I pressed my fingertips into my things, as Mister nearly ran over cyclists a few times. Did I mention driving on the left side of the road makes no sense ;-)?
After passing trough he Cotswolds, we ended up in Bath, which was -in contrast to Oxford- a lot BIGGER than expected. Bath is an actual city, and considering we visited on a saturday, it was a pretty busy one too. It really was a brilliant day trip location: it had many, many cute restaurants and amazing shopping streets.
Obviously the main reason we visited was to see the sights. Aside from the Bath Cathedral and the Crescent, the highlight of the trip was definitely the Roman Baths. I was worried it would be disappointing considering the high price, but they did a bloody great job at showing the history of the location, and actually bringing that to life trough an audio guide and visual exhibits. Really would recommend!
We stayed a little bit outside of Bath, halfway on the way to our next destination (Stonehenge) actually. I can’t find the property on Booking.com anymore, but I recommend staying at the nearby Watergardens, a 5-star B&B with lovely hosts.
Day 3: Bath – Stonehenge – London
On the third day we’re slowly making our way back to London. We slept in a little, and then drove to Stonehenge. We’d heard it consistently ranked high on the most disappointing landmarks in the world, so we were prepared to hate it. It’s like £20 too. But we still felt that even if we would hate it, it was still one of those legendary things you had to have seen once in your life. And spending that kind of money to be able you’ve seen one of the most iconic landmarks in the world seemed worth it. For some reason it seems like all my geology lessons at school were centered around Stonehenge, but maybe that’s just my warped memory of the Dutch education centre.
Driving up to Stonehenge you really can’t picture that there will be an age old monument in the middle of… farm land, really. But alas, eventually you end up at the information centre, and take the shuttle bus to the stones. Whether it was due to our insanely low expectations or the grandeur of the monument, I will never know, but I was actually not disappointed. It really is pretty odd to see a bunch of super tall stacked stoned rise up against the horizon. And you can get pretty close too. To think some four thousand years ago they were able to stack super heavy stoned upon each other… it was a humbling experience.
To be fair, after taking a few pictures and marveling at the stones, there’s really not that much more you can do, so we went back to the information centre, to find out more about the built of Stonehenge (you can do this before you visit the stones too, but we wanted to go in pretty blank). I definitely recommend you visit the information centre. They did a great job at visualizing and making you understand more about the history of the location and the significance of Stonehenge in history. All in all I was actually not disappointed with my visit, and while I think it IS a little overpriced for what it is, I would recommend you go see it once in your life.
After that: it’s only an hour and a half drive back to London or so! Stonehenge will only take you an 1,5hr-2hr to visit at most, so you can either go back to London and spend the rest of the day there (never a bad idea!) or you can opt to visit Salisbury, the nearby town. We decided to go back home, but that’s simply us.
I hope this three day South England road trip itinerary helps you have a fun trip! I realize it’s not anywhere near complete, as I can’t wait to visit Brighton, Cambridge, Dover and Canterbury but there’s always next time!