Heart of England is a Cotswolds small group tour of one of Britain's most iconic and traditional regions, encompassing Oxford, Stratford-upon Avon, Bath and the Cotswolds. On your five day journey we'll experience Oxford's dreaming Spires, visit enchanting film locations, explore honey-coloured Cotswold villages, ancient abbeys and stately homes not to mention the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bath.View this tour
Our city guide to Oxford
Originally a small town of Saxon England, Oxford grew in size and importance throughout the middle ages and even acted as England’s de facto capital for Charles I during the civil war of the 17th century. It was however as far back as the 12th century that Oxford gained its prestige with the arrival of Parisian religious scholars who established their colleges here. It is these same colleges which evolved over the centuries to create the Oxford that we see today.
Modern Oxford is small and picturesque city, brimming with charm and delighting in an ambience of laid-back academia and thoughtfulness that is hard to find elsewhere in the UK (apart from perhaps in its long term rival, Cambridge). Aesthetically the city is particularly pretty; nestling between the rivers Thames and Cherwell and with a tangle of cobbled streets and squares, surrounded by the historic ivy-clad college quadrangles which overlook perfectly manicured lawns. Much of the architecture and monuments which dot the city date back more than 600 years and the relaxed pace of the city make it all the easier to enjoy. With punting boats bobbing on the Thames and much of the local student population choosing to get around by bicycle you’ll soon slip right in to the peaceful, wistful rhythm.
The main attraction in Oxford is the university itself, a collection of 36 honey-coloured colleges each with their own distinctive architectural features, leaded windows, cloisters, spires, gargoyles and turrets as well as their own chapels and cathedrals. Not to be missed are Christchurch College, Magdalen (pronounced “Maudlen”) college and Merton College though it should be noted that during examination periods public access to the colleges can be limited – after all this is where 13 British Prime Ministers have studied and where the next one may be now. Aside from the colleges there is still much to explore; the Ashmolean Museum offers an excellent collection of antiques, archaeological finds and fine arts whilst Carfax Tower provides the best views over the distinctive skyline of the city and the vibrant student population ensures that there is a healthy shopping and culture and surprisingly varied nightlife in this sleepy city.
When you experience Oxford, however, it remains easy to see how this elegant city helped to inspire some of England’s great works of literature and in particular fantasy tales such as Alice Wonderland, The Lord of the Rings and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, after Lewis Carol, Tolkien and CS Lewis were all former scholars and dons here. Oxford continues to play a role in modern works with Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse mysteries set against the backdrop of the city and with parts of the university appearing as parts of Hogwarts Castle in the hugely popular Harry Potter series (most notably the Bodleian Library and the Tudor Hall in Christchurch College).
Oxford is surrounded by rolling countryside with the scenic Cotswolds region to the West. Around twenty minutes from the city you find the village of Woodstock which is home to the glorious baroque mansion of Blenheim Palace which was Churchill’s childhood and is set within 2000 acres of stunning parkland – well worth a visit. And around forty minutes South West of the city you can see the stunning Uffington White Horse etched in to the chalk hillside.
A medieval city of elegant beauty and a romantic ambience, Oxford remains as significant in England today as it ever has been.
Classic Britain - a snapshot of the countryside and historic cities of England, Scotland and Wales. Enjoy the rolling hills and thatch villages of the Cotswolds to the towering mountains and fortresses of North Wales. Pass through the lakes and dales of the English Lake District and the rolling hills of the Scottish Lowlands and Yorkshire Dales. Historic cities to explore on route include Regency Bath, Medieval York, and the capital cities of Edinburgh and London.View this tour
An England driving tour - England Explorer is a comprehensive tour of this great nation taking you from the heart of England to its far-reaching corners including the beautiful Lake District and the coastlines of Cornwall. You’ll experience classic English countryside including the Cotswolds and Yorkshire Dales and a host of historic cities including York, Chester and Bath not to mention a couple of nights in the vibrant English capital city, London.View this tour
Utilize the extensive English rail network to explore the corners of the English nation. From the Salisbury Plain and West Country coasts , Lake District and Cotswolds to the charming heritage cities of Bath, York, Stratford upon Avon and Chester. This is the ultimate rail tour of England.View this tour
Enjoy an England and Wales driving tour to experience the contrasts of two distinct British cultures on this in-depth tour of two of Britain's intriguing nations. Enjoy the contrasting vistas of the patchwork fields of the Cotswolds, the rustic Yorkshire Dales, the mountains of Snowdonia and the coastlines of the Pembrokeshire National Park. Not to mention icons of English and Welsh history at Conwy Castle, York Minster, Shakespeare’s Stratford, Cardiff Castle and Stonehenge.View this tour
Navigate the English rail network as you explore the heart of England and its historic cities. Sit back and enjoy the scenic countryside roll by before exploring the grandeur of Bath, Shakespeare's Stratford and the University city of Oxford not to mention the capital city of London.View this tour
A Castle Tour of England - Enjoy the history and grandeur of an ancient land on this tour of England. By day you'll explore castle ruins, opulent manor houses, historic sites, stunning landscapes and England’s cultural jewels such as Oxford, Stratford, Chester, York and Bath whilst by night you'll live like royalty as you experience historic and characterful castle hotels and country manor house accommodation!View this tour
A Great Britain driving tour - experience all that is great about Britain on the ultimate tour of England, Scotland and Wales. See it all, from the thriving capital cities of London, Edinburgh and Cardiff to the remote Scottish Highlands, tranquil Lake District an d spectacular Snowdonia National Park. Along the way you’ll experience diverse cultures and histories and see world-famous landmarks including Stonehenge, the Roman Baths, Cardiff Castle, the Cotswolds, Hadrian’s Wall, Loch Ness and Edinburgh Castle.View this tour
English Pub Tour – Is there anything more quintessentially English than a country pub or coaching inn? Our country pubs of England tour offers the opportunity to tour the scenic and historic destinations of this nations whilst overnighting in traditional pubs and inns sure to offer a warm welcome, homely feel and good “pub grub” food and drink. Your journey will take you through the rolling fields of Cambridgeshire to York, over the Dales of Lake District to patchwork countryside of the Cotswolds.View this tour
This Britain Small Group Tour takes you from London to Edinburgh providing the full British history and culture experience along the way. See Oxford and the Cotswolds, shop at Chester's Rows, wind through Wales' stunning Snowdonia National Park, enjoy medieval York and explore Wordsworth's Lake District before finally visiting mysterious chapels and stately homes in the Scottish Lowlands.View this tour
Enjoy a Wales coach tour through the heart of Britain taking in iconic landmarks of central England and lesser-known but equally enchanting gems of Wales. From the city of London, the Roman Baths, Stonehenge and Oxford we'll journey to the opulent Cardiff Castle, through the wilderness Brecon Beacons and to the medieval fortresses and majestic mountains of North Wales and the spectacular Snowdonia National Park.View this tour
Discover English and Scottish landscapes and heritage on this rail journey through two great nations. Taking you from vibrant London to romantic Edinburgh and a host of English and Scottish towns and cities on route, you'll also enjoy the British countryside at its most majestic.View this tour
Discover quintessential England as you explore the patchwork countryside of the Cotswolds and some of England’s most captivating historic cities. Delight in the whimsical academia of Oxford, Shakespeare’s Stratford and the grandeur of the Georgian City of Bath not to mention a host of lesser-known gems such as the eccentrically named Cotswold villages of Castle Combe, Chipping Campden, Stow-on-the-Wold and Broadway.View this tour