Leaving London for a Day: Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath

One of the most popular day excursions from London that I found includes visits to three iconic spots, two of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites: Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and the charming town of Bath. For roughly  $100 or less, you can book a 12-hour day trip to enhance your British holiday.

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Windsor Castle

Home to Queen Elizabeth and adjoining the St. George’s Chapel where Meghan & Harry married, this palatial castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. On the day we went, the flag was raised, meaning that the Queen was there that day! Soon, Meghan and Harry are reported to move there before the birth of their first child.

A tour to the castle includes access to nineteen of the 950+ rooms inside. Each is more ornate than the next. If you’ve ever toured the palace home in Williamsburg, Virginia, you’ll see the British influence that carried over into American Colonial times.

But what thrilled me most was walking down the same aisle that Meghan Markle recently walked with her Prince.

It was all so fresh in my mind. Can you imagine? We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, which is probably wise. It was thrilling enough just to be there and to know the Queen was there, too!

Stonehenge

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Another hour’s drive took us to Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage site. There’s nothing I can tell you about this incredible mystery than you already know. We enjoyed walking around it, observing the stones from every angle. I saw a man there sketching it, too. I wonder if he saw anything different in his version of this masterpiece?

Bath

Bath, not surprisingly, is famous for its Roman baths. In fact, it’s the only place in Britain where one can bathe in natural hot springs, and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

We decided to skip our optional tour of the ancient baths to wander the town instead. Our first stop was a bookshop on the corner where we quickly learned that Jane Austen was once a resident of Bath. Though our tour guide told us that she hated living in Bath, her time there inspired two of her six published novels: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

As a former English major, I couldn’t resist buying those novels from the place where they were set. I wished I were in Bath during one of the summer events in Austen’s honor: the Jane Austen Festival and the Costumed Summer Ball. I really want to go back for one of those!

As it was, we wandered along the River Avon and admired the honey-colored hue of the stone buildings there. All are constructed of “Bath Stone” — oolitic limestone obtained from mines under Somerset, England. It is this “integration of architecture, urban design, and landscape setting, and the deliberate creation of a beautiful city” that warranted its declaration as a UNESCO World Heritage City in 1987.

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The entire day trip was a feast for the senses. Visiting three drastically different spots outside of London was a real treat. It involved a lot of travel time, and truthfully, not enough time to spend at each place, but when you have limited time to explore the countryside, a tour like this can’t be beat. And now I know I need to go back to Bath. Jane Austen festivities are calling me…

Which of these stops appeals most to you?

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23 responses to “Leaving London for a Day: Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath

  1. Never been to Windsor Castle. Stonehenge has just (in my opinion) become an expensive tourist trap – many more impressive stone circles in Britain off the beaten track. Bath is gorgeous and I’d recommend spending a day there to anyone.

  2. A good trip, Juliann. I really liked the fact that you visited three very different locations. Stonehenge would be my favorite, Ancient history and unending mystery. –Curt

  3. I was an expat in London for a few years – i don’t think people realize how easy these day trips can be! Bath is one of my favorite places, and we loved taking visitors to Stonehenge all the time, especially on nice days. Windsor is so fun too. All of this is great!

  4. This is definitely a day trip I’m looking to do when we visit the UK this spring! 950+ rooms…I can’t imagine. I hope the Queen is there when we visit too! Stonehenge is just one of those things you have to see and is so mysterious! I like that you can knock out all three of these in one day. Saving this!

  5. I keep going on 12 hour walk-abouts on my London layovers. They are fun and all but there is only so many times you can walk the banks of the Themes. This looks like a brilliant answer to the question what can you do on a London layover.

    This is right around my family heritage too. My aunt and uncle lived about 10 miles from Windsor before the moved to Bellefontaine Ohio (culture shock?). My grandmother’s family lived around Southampton / Dover. We visited relatives I never heard of (or saw again) when we went to Stonehenge. I still haven’t been to Bath,so that’s the top of my list right now.

  6. I visited all three places over 25 years ago. I want to return! When I walked through Stonehenge (and I was there mid-afternoon with no tourist buses in sight, a bleary gray day) I felt/heard the mystical ancient voices surrounding this magical place. I will never forget the feeling. Bath is precious and ancient and new all at the same time. Windsor Castle – a romantic delight.

  7. I have always wanted to see StoneHenge – but seem to be drawn to Scotland every time I visit the UK. Maybe one of these years I will get there and be able to be dazzled by the royalty and the famous wedding sites. It always irks me when they don’t allow you to take photos, buuuut I guess there is the component of security.

  8. What a fun trip you had in the UK! I would go there just to see Stonehenge – it is such a magnificent sight (and a great mystery!). It is fascinating how it was built or came to existence! Did you bathe in the natural hot spring?

  9. I’ve been to all these places before but never thought of doing it as a day trip from London! What a great idea 🙂 And for a pretty reasonable price too!

  10. Oh, a love the ‘feast for the senses’ description! Bath looks so pretty and charming and how cool that Jane Austen lived there! I’ve been to the UK several times but haven’t ventured to this area before – maybe next time!

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