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After arriving in London, you have two options: take a night of rest and recovery, or if you are eager to explore England’s countryside right away, hop in a car and head out of town. Whatever you choose, it is recommended that you rent a car, making your exploration of South Central England much easier.
First stop: Brighton! This fantastic city has a lot to offer. It sits on an expansive beach, which makes it a popular weekend getaway spot for British and Irish travelers in the summer. For a breathtaking view of the area, take flight with the British Airways i360. This 360-degree glass capsule is equipped with a bar and provides riders with beautiful panoramic views of Brighton City and the surrounding sea. Snap the perfect selfie with the beach, ocean, and Brighton’s famous pier in the background.
After riding the i360, stroll along the beach until you get to the famous Brighton pier. Grab some famous English fish and chips for lunch, park yourself on a bench, and watch the world go by. This iconic pier is also home to the oldest operating aquarium in the world. Brighton has a fascinating history and it’s worth taking a guided tour to get a complete experience of the area. Make sure to allow yourself enough time for a stop at the Royal Pavilion, which will stun you with its Indian-influenced architecture.
From Brighton, head to Portsmouth. This historic seafront town will not disappoint. It is home to many museums and has served as the key dockyard for the British Royal Navy throughout history. You’ll find the D-Day Museum on a beautiful piece of property in front of the historic Town Hall Bell at Southsea Castle. The museum is about to undergo a major renovation and will be top-of-the-line when it reopens in two years. Take the time to walk the paths around the tower to catch a view of the vessels moving in and out of port.
While in Portsmouth, head to the Spinnaker, an observation tower modeled after a sail. The Spinnaker hosts a restaurant on its bottom floor, while the top of the tower offers a glass floor and spectacular view of the surrounding area. After a tea break or delicious coffee in the shop, head over to the Historical Dockyards. Give yourself enough time to appreciate both museums here. The Mary Rose Museum offers excellent interactive exhibits of the Tudor period. You can also board Lord Nelson’s flagship, the HMS Victory, for a taste of what it would have been like to serve on a naval ship during the Battle of Trafalgar. The Victory remains the oldest in-commission warship in the world and if you’re lucky, you may see some modern-day sailors in uniform adding to the dockyard’s charm.
From Portsmouth, head inland and spend a night in the Cotswold area. At Goodwood, you’ll find grand racing grounds where historical car and aviation experts race vintage vehicles. An annual festival at the grounds inspires everyone to dress in period costumes and reimagine customs of the past. If you’re an aviation buff, this unique stop even offers the opportunity to go up in an old Harvard IIB airplane.
From Goodwood, head to Salisbury and take some time to enjoy this quintessential English town. Hop between the city’s many pubs, stopping for a pint at one and dinner at another to experience the city’s local culture. If timing accommodates, stop by the cathedral to take in a choral performance. Not only does the cathedral have beautiful acoustics but it is also home to one of the few copies of the Magna Carta, making it an essential stop for any historians.
Be sure to use Salisbury as a base to explore the incredible ancient monument of Stonehenge. The modern visitor centre gives a visually-interactive history of the site and the surrounding area. Ride the shuttle for convenient access and then stroll up the short path to take in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Say goodbye to Salisbury and return to London, stopping by the Bombay Gin Factory to pick up some last-minute souvenirs. After returning your car, check into a hotel and explore this iconic city for a few days. Wander its distinct neighbourhoods, take in a show, and visit a pub for one final farewell before heading back home. The moment you leave England, you’ll start counting the days until your return visit.
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