Guidebook Updates for England

When we learn of critical changes to the information in our guidebooks on England, we post them here. (Of course, it's still smart to reconfirm critical transportation and sightseeing details locally.) Armed with a Rick Steves guidebook and these late-breaking updates, you're set for a great trip!

Across Britain

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • Visitors to the UK are no longer able to get a VAT (value-added tax) refund on purchases made in UK shops, and tax-free sales at airports, Eurostar train stations, and in ports have been discontinued. In Great Britain, overseas visitors can still buy items tax-free at stores that offer this service, provided that the items are sent directly to an overseas address outside the UK. (Visitors to Northern Ireland may shop tax-free if the items are sent directly to an address outside the UK and the EU.) The UK's rules around tax-free shopping may evolve further as the UK continues to adjust to the fallout from Brexit.
  • Jurys Inn has rebranded as Leonardo Hotels.
  • The phone number for English Heritage is now +44 3703 331 182.
  • The Loch Fyne restaurant chain has closed.

Bath

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • Guided tours of Bath Abbey are now included with admission (except on Sundays, when no tours run).
  • The Assembly Rooms are closed until 2026 while restoration projects are underway, though rooms may occasionally open for rotating exhibits.
  • Bath Parade Guides has a new phone number: +44 1225 337 111.
  • Martini Restaurant and Eight Restaurant have closed.
  • The former Dower House Restaurant at the Royal Crescent Hotel is now Montagu's Mews.

For books printed before February 2023, the following may also apply:

  • The town no longer has a brick-and-mortar tourist information office open to the public (but its website remains helpful).
  • Mad Max Tours are no longer running their Wells, Glastonbury, and Cheddar Gorge tour. They do still offering their other three itineraries, though prices have gone up: Cotswold villages tour: £60; Stonehenge, Avebury and Villages tour: £60; Stonehenge Inner Circle tour: £110 (includes visits to Castle Combe and and Lacock).
  • The Bath Box Office is now located next to the Southgate shopping center (in the 1A Forum Buildings).
  • The City Sightseeing hop-on, hop-off buses are now run by TootBus.
  • No. 1 Royal Crescent and the Victoria Art Gallery are now closed on Mondays.
  • The Fashion Museum in the Assembly Rooms building has closed, with no definite plans to reopen elsewhere later. That means the combo-ticket covering the Fashion Museum, Roman Baths, and Victoria Art Gallery is no more.
  • Buy tickets for the Bath Abbey tower climb at the welcome desk (not the abbey gift shop).
  • The visitors center/spa museum at the Thermae Bath Spa has closed.
  • The river cruise to Bathhampton is now an out-and-back trip without a stop in Bathhampton.

 

Brighton

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • The Beachy Head Countryside Centre is now the Beachyhead Story, and has a new phone number: +44 1323 729 926.
  • La Capannina restaurant has closed.

Bristol

For books printed before February 2023, the following may apply:

  • The town's tourist information office has closed.
  • Bristol Packet boats no longer stop at various places on the Floating Harbour — instead they do narrated out-and-back trips from the SS Great Britain. However, Bristol Ferry Boats offer waterbus transportation to various points along the Floating Harbour.
  • The SS Great Britain now closed on Mondays.
  • Bristol has two ferry companies: Bristol Packet does out-and-back narrated tours from the SS Great Britain; Bristol Ferry Boat offers waterbus transportation to various points along the Floating Harbour.

Cambridge

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • The Wren Library at Trinity College has reopened.
  • Trinity College's courts (including the Great Court) are now only accessible with a tour.

For books printed before February 2024, the following may also apply:

  • Trinity Lane has re-opened.

For books printed before September 2022, the following may also apply:

  • The town no longer has a brick-and-mortar tourist information office open to the public (but its website remains helpful). The Cambridge Gift Shop, at 18 Rose Crescent, acts as an unofficial in-person information source and can help you booking tours.
  • The Regent Hotel has closed.

Canterbury

For books printed before February 2023, the following may apply:

  • The Canterbury Tales attraction has closed.
  • Canterbury Cathedral offers several new tour options, both guided and self-guided, via a multimedia guide or phone app. 

For books printed before March 2020, the following may also apply:

  • Saturday tour times at Canterbury Cathedral now run at 10:30, 12:00, and 13:00; tours are also offered Mon–Fri at 10:30, 12:00, and 14:30 (14:00 in winter); no tours Sun.
  • The White House has closed.
  • The Tudor House has closed.
  • St. John's Court Guest House has closed.
  • The Canterbury Heritage Museum has closed.
  • Beaney House of Art and Knowledge is now closed on Mondays.

Cornwall

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • The Cornish Barn restaurant in Penzance is now Artist Residence.
  • There is now a helicopter from Penzance to the Isles of Scilly.
  • There is no longer a bus from Penzance and St. Ives to Minack Theatre performances.
  • Longboat Inn in Penzance no longer stores bags for non-guests.
  • Penzance Backpackers has closed.
  • The Harbour St. Ives restaurant has closed.
  • The Queens Hotel in St. Ives no longer rents rooms.

For books printed before February 2023, the following may also apply:

  • Camilla House in Penzance is now renting rooms only to previous, regular guests.

Cotswolds

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • Diamond Buses has ceased operations.
  • Cotswolds Guided Tours now only runs private minibus tours, and they have a new email address: [email protected].
  • Lion Tours is not currently offering a Cotswold tour.
  • Stanway House accepts only cash.
  • We no longer recommend Hope Private Hire car service in Stow.
  • The Old Mill Museum in Lower Slaughter has closed.
  • Black Cat Community Café in Northleach has closed, at least for the foreseeable future.
  • Manor House Hotel in Moreton-in-Marsh has a new email address: [email protected].
  • The Bell Inn in Moreton-in-Marsh has a new email address: [email protected].
  • Yellow Brick Bistro in Moreton-in-Marsh is now Sakura Bistro.
  • Charlotte's Pantry in Moreton-in-Marsh is now a Huffkins.
  • In Moreton-in-Marsh, the Co-Op grocery store took over Budgens, and there's no longer a small Co-Op grocery on High Street.

For books printed before February 2023, the following may also apply:

  • Secret Cottage Cotswold Tours are no longer running.
  • The Model Railway Exhibition in Bourton-on-the-Water has closed.
  • Book online in advance for any visit to Blenheim Palace.

Dartmoor

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • Most parking lots in the park are now pay-and-display, and many machines accept coins only.

For books printed before February 2023, the following may also apply:

  • Trains now run between Exeter and Okehampton (£4, daily at least every 2 hours, 40 minutes). From Okehampton station, you can access several hiking trails and rent bikes.
  • Chagford's 22 Mill Spice restaurant has closed.

Dover

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • The YMS shuttle bus no longer runs to the White Cliffs of Dover.
  • Two recommended restaurants, Dover Patrol and La Scala, have closed.

Durham & Hadrian's Wall

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • Bus #AD122, which connects the Roman sights of the Hadrian's Wall area (and several of our recommended accommodations), now runs daily year-round.
  • Durham bus #40A now starts at Framwellgate Waterside (instead of Freemans Place), and bypasses the bus station on its way to Durham Cathedral.
  • The "Robin Hood tree" at Sycamore Gap has been cut down by vandals.

For books printed before February 2023, the following may also apply:

  • Ashcroft Hotel in Durham has closed.

Glastonbury & Wells

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • Glastonbury Abbey is open until 17:00 in March and October. Also, the free tours given by costumed guides aren't always offered on an hourly basis (check posted schedule in person).
  • Glastonbury's tourist information office has a new phone number: +44 1458 333 144.
  • The Glastonbury Tor shuttle bus only takes cash.
  • The Old Farmhouse in Wells has closed.
  • First Bus Company's phone number is +44 345 646 0707.
  • Wells' Cathedral Café is now Loft Café.

Ironbridge Gorge

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

Lake District

For books printed before September 2024, the following may also apply:

  • Dove Cottage at Wordsworth Grasmere is open Tue–Sat 10:00–17:00; Oct–March until 16:00, closed Sun–Mon year-round.
  • The former Darkroom Café in Keswick is now called Elm, with a new menu; it's closed Tue–Wed.

For books printed before February 2023, the following may also apply:

  • Dove Cottage, Wordsworth's home, has reopened following renovations as "Wordsworth Grasmere."
  • Beatrix Potter's Hill Top Farm now lets you book your visit in advance — which is all but required, as the number of visitors is strictly limited, and time slots can, and do, sell out at all times of day. (Afternoons tend to be the best time to try for a first-come, first-served spot.) Reservations open every Thursday for the ensuing two weeks; you can book same-day tickets online only before 8:00.
  • The Keswick to Threlkeld Railway Path has reopened following restoration work.
  • Keswick's Howe Keld hotel and Ellergill Guest House have closed.

London

  • Per new requirements set by the UK government, all passengers on Eurostar trains from (and to) the UK must now enter their passport details online before boarding. Once you've bought a ticket, enter your ticket's reference number at Eurostar's Manage Your Booking page to reach the page for entering your passport info. If you don't have a reference number issued by Eurostar, head to the manual check-in desk at the Eurostar terminal. Given the UK's new procedures for border checks, it's especially important to allow plenty of time for check-in (Eurostar recommends that standard-class passengers departing from London St. Pancras arrive 90 minutes ahead of their departure time; gates close 30 minutes before departure).

For books printed before September 2024, the following may also apply:

  • The Luton DART light rail has opened, connecting the Luton Airport Parkway Station with the airport in about 3 minutes (£4.90, runs every 4–7 minutes). This replaces the shuttle bus that previously connected the Parkway Station to the airport. DART tickets can be purchased on their site; printed tickets for Thameslink or Luton Airport Express trains to/from the airport will also get you through DART ticket barriers (select "Luton Airport" when purchasing your ticket).
  • The US Embassy has moved to 33 Nine Elms Lane (Tube: Vauxhall).
  • Elizabeth Tower, home to Big Ben, has reopened to visitors.
  • For the latter half of 2024 (starting in late June), the Amsterdam-to-London Eurostar route, which is usually a direct train, will require a connection via Brussels, where passengers will undergo border formalities before boarding the cross-channel train. (This is to accommodate renovations at Amsterdam Centraal that require closure of the station's international terminal.) The London-to-Amsterdam service, however, will continue to be direct.
  • The Loch Fyne restaurant chain has closed.
  • Moti Mahal has closed.

For books printed before February 2024, the following may also apply:

  • The Elizabeth transit/railway line is now fully operational, connecting central London (Paddington, Bond, Tottenham Court Road, Farrington and Liverpool Street Tube stations) with outlying neighborhoods to the east and with Heathrow Airport and Reading to the west. Within the city center it's part of the Tube network, and uses the same tickets. It's a faster (and more expensive) option from Heathrow into the city than the Tube (£12.80–14.30 depending on payment method and destination; contactless credit card and Oyster card accepted).
  • The National Portrait Gallery has reopened (daily 10:30–18:00, Fri–Sat until 21:00).
  • The Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery is closed for renovation until spring 2025, and artwork may be moved around while it's underway. Long entry lines, however, remain a problem. To avoid the longest ones, book your visit ahead and enter through the less-crowded Getty entrance. Also, the museum's free one-hour overview tours now leave from the central hall, and are no longer offered every day (usually Tue–Thu at 15:00).
  • Bus #11 no longer runs between Westminster Abbey and Liverpool Street (via Trafalgar Square and St. Paul's) — it now goes across Westminster Bridge and ends at Waterloo Station.
  • Bus #23 no longer runs from Marble Arch to Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, High Street Kensington, and on to Hammersmith; it now goes to Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, and Aldwych.
  • The British Museum's 1.5-hour tours need to be booked at least two weeks in advance.
  • At the Tate Modern floors 5–10 of the Blavatnik Building are currently closed, meaning the 10th-floor viewpoint is off limits. The museum now stays open until 22:00 on the last Friday of every month. Pre-booked visits are now only possible for special exhibits and events; this is also the case at the Tate Britain (which no longer maintains an app — but its website has a well-maintained guide to what's currently on display). The Tate Britain now stays open until 22:00 on the first Friday of every month.
  • The Victoria and Albert Museum is once again open late (until 22:00) on Fridays.
  • The Tower of London's last entry time is now two hours before closing time (which has been pushed back to 17:30).
  • The London Eye has resumed selling tickets on-site, but tickets are cheaper online (and even cheaper the farther in advance you book), and its new family ticket that is only available online.
  • The Museum of London location near the Barbican has closed. (The Museum of London Docklands remains open.) Its exhibits will be back on display as "The London Museum" in West Smithfield in 2026.
  • Sights at Buckingham Palace are now pricier than ever (£45 for the State Rooms; £58.50 for the "Royal Day Out" combo-ticket), and opening hours have changed:
    • The State Rooms are open mid-July–Sept Thu–Mon 9:45–14:45, closed Tue–Wed and Oct–mid-July. (Some winter and spring tours may be available; check online.)
    • The Queen's Gallery is open May–Feb Thu–Mon 10:00–17:30, closed Tue–Wed and March–April.
    • The Royal Mews are open mid-May–Sept Thu–Mon 10:00–16:00, closed Tue–Wed, usually closed off-season (but check online before your visit).
  • St. Paul's Cathedral is now open Mon–Sat 8:30–16:30 (dome opens at 9:30), except that on Wednesdays the church and dome don't open until 10:00. Its Whispering Gallery remains closed for the time being.
  • Shakespeare's Globe now offers a two-hour tour instead of its previous 50-minute tour. Half of the tour spots are bookable in advance; the other spots are reserved for same-day sales. Tours generally run daily 10:00–16:00, but may stop earlier on performance days. The theater's box office is now open Mon–Fri 11:00–18:00, Sat 10:00–18:00, Sun 10:00–17:00.
  • The Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields has changed its opening hours, with much shorter hours on Wednesdays (12:00–19:30), and somewhat later opening times and earlier closing times the rest of the week (9:00–17:00). Free tours are now offered daily at 14:30, and afternoon concerts are now performed only on Fridays at 13:00.
  • In the off-season (Sept–April), evensong at Westminster Abbey is now on Sat at 15:00.
  • Hampton Court Palace is now open daily 10:00–17:30, Feb–March until 16:00.
  • Pollock's Toy Museum is currently closed while it moves locations.
  • Greenwich's Clocktower Market, recently renamed as the "Greenwich Vintage Market," has moved to a spot just opposite the St. Alfege Church and is now held on weekends (Fri–Sun) and bank holidays, 8:00–17:00.
  • The vintage market housed in the former Truman Brewery on Brick Lane is now open daily 11:00–18:30 (until 18:00 Sat–Sun).
  • The City of London Information Centre is now closed Sun–Mon.
  • Congestion charges for driving in the city center are now levied weekdays 7:00–18:00 and weekends 12:00–18:00; the minimum charge remains £15.
  • Recommended driver guide Mike Dickson has retired.
  • A portion of The Strand (between the Courtauld Gallery at Waterloo Bridge and King's College at Surrey Street) has been pedestrianized. This change has affected some bus routes, including:
    • Bus #11, which no longer runs between Westminster Abbey and Liverpool Street via Trafalgar Square and St. Paul's; it now goes across the Westminster Bridge and ends at Waterloo.
    • Bus #23, which no longer runs from Marble Arch to Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, High Street Kensington, and on to Hammersmith; it now goes to Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, and Aldwych.
  • There is no longer an EasyBus running between Gatwick and the Earl's Court Tube stop.
  • 7-day Travelcards are no longer sold as paper passes; they must now be loaded on to Oyster cards.
  • The Oyster transit card deposit is now £7 and nonrefundable. Cards purchased before February 23, 2020 (a year later than what's printed in some Rick Steves guidebooks) can still have any amount less than £10 refunded from Tube station ticket machines. Oyster card credits never expire.
  • The Emirates Air Line gondola has been rebranded as the IFS Cloud Cable Car.
  • Bus #242 no longer runs to Shoreditch or Liverpool Street Station (but bus #26 does).
  • St Katharine Pier, a stop near Tower Bridge used by many Thames cruises, is now known as Tower Bridge Quay.
  • Fernandez & Wells restaurant has closed.
  • Jen Café has closed.
  • The NH London Kensington hotel has closed.

For books printed before September 2022, the following may also apply:

  • Most of London's major sights, including many that don't charge admission, now primarily offer admission via online bookings, which generate a QR code that's scanned upon entry. This means that the "Fast Track" tickets are being phased out (as they're now redundant given each sight's on online-booking system).
  • Many sights have been slow to resume weekly evening openings following the pandemic; check ahead before assuming a sight is (or isn't) open late at least once a week.
  • Many museums — especially smaller ones — have done away with audio-/multimedia guides, as well as printed brochures, and now free apps in their stead. The free Bloomberg Connects app is worth downloading, as it provides in-depth audio commentary for several good museums, including the Churchill War Rooms, Sir John Soane's Museum, and Courtauld Gallery.
  • Most payment in London is now credit-card (or mobile-device) based. In many situations, such as transit, cash is often not accepted.
  • The very cool heritage "Routemaster" double-decker buses are no longer running. :(
  • Uber is once again cleared to operate within London.
  • We strongly recommend booking ahead for the London Eye and Greenwich's Cutty Sark and Royal Observatory Greenwich (which has reopened following a renovation).
  • The Courtauld Gallery has reopened following a long renovation.
  • The Victoria and Albert Museum's Cast Courts — galleries displaying plaster-cast replicas of famous statues, such as Trajan's Column and Michelangelo's David — have reopened after a lengthy renovation.
  • To avoid the long security line at the main entrance to British Museum, try using the north Montague Place entrance.
  • Borough Market is now open on Sundays (10:00–15:00), though it is much less lively then than it is the rest of the week.
  • TKTS now sells same-day theater tickets online (as well as from its booth).
  • The former Queens Theatre is now the Sondheim Theatre.
  • Recommended driver guide Janine Barton has retired.
  • Quite a few recommended restaurants have closed: Eat, Princi, Nordic Bakery, XU Teahouse, Y Ming Chinese Restaurant, Beirut Express, Geales, Andina Picanteria & Pisco Bar, Terroirs Wine Bar, and La Bottega.
  • Afternoon tea is no longer served at the Restaurant at Sotheby's or in the National Dining Rooms within the National Gallery.
  • The 22 York Street B&B has permanently closed, as have the Princes Square Guest Accommodation and St. Paul's Youth Hostel.

For books printed before June 2020, the following may also apply:

For books printed before March 2020, the following may also apply:

  • The Victorian afternoon tea is served Fri 13:00–19:00 (no longer on Sun).
  • Bus route #RV1 has been canceled.
  • Savini at the Criterion has closed.

For books printed before October 2019, the following may also apply:

For books printed before December 2019, the following may also apply:

  • Several recommended eateries have closed: Potato Project, Melt Room, and the Gay Hussar.

For books printed before September 2018, the following may also apply:

  • The Heathrow Connect train is no longer running.
  • Sir John Soane's Museum is open Wednesday–Sunday (not Tuesday–Saturday).
  • Inigo Jones' masterpiece of Neoclassical architecture, the Queen's House in Greenwich, has reopened.

 

Liverpool

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

For books printed before February 2023, the following may also apply:

North Yorkshire

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • Eden Camp is now closed Nov–March.
  • The Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole is now closed Fridays year-round (even in spring) and is closed entirely from mid-November until mid-March.

Oxford & nearby

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • The historic Eagle and Child pub, where J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and the Inklings met, has closed.
  • Turl Street Kitchen has closed.
  • The X90 bus between Oxford and London is no longer running.
  • Bus #233 no longer runs between Hanborough Station and Blenheim Castle; instead take bus #S7 (stop is on main road, just up the driveway from the station). On summer weekends, a shuttle bus runs from the station to Blenheim (free, 2/hour).
  • Water Terrace Café at Blenheim Palace has closed.

For books printed before February 2023, the following may also apply:

Portsmouth

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • While the HMS Victory remains under restoration, an exhibit called "Victory Live: The Big Repair" lets visitors walk through the scaffolding to see conservationists at work.
  • Local Haunts city bus tours is no longer operating, but the city has a new hop-on, hop-off bus: the Southsea Coaster.

For books printed before February 2023, the following may also apply:

For books printed before March 2020, the following may also apply:

  • The D-Day Museum is now called The D-Day Story and has a new phone number: +44 23 9288 255.

Stonehenge & Salisbury

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • To reach Old Sarum (outside Salisbury), take Salisbury Reds bus #P11 (not #X5 or the Active8 bus).
  • Cathedral View B&B in Salisbury has closed.

For books printed before February 2023, the following may also apply:

  • Stonehenge is now open 9:30–17:00 for most of the year (early Sept–late May), and until 19:00 (not 20:00) throughout the summer (late May–early Sept).

Stratford

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • Tickets to Shakespeare's Birthplace are now for timed entry slots; during peak times book ahead to guarantee your desired entry time.
  • Mary Arden's Farm and Hall's Croft are both closed to visitors, and may not reopen.
  • The "Full Story" combo ticket for Shakespeare sights has been discontinued. In its place, the Shakespeare's Story combo ticket covers entry to Shakespeare's Birthplace, Anne Hathaway's Cottage, and Shakespeare's New Place.
  • Visits to Shakespeare's Schoolroom and Guildhall may soon require a combo-ticket with Shakespeare's Birthplace (joint tickets are available at both sights).
  • The Other Place theater no longer offers tours.

For books printed before February 2023, the following may also apply:

  • The Ambleside Guest House and Emsley B&B have closed.
  • The Bard's Walks tour company has closed.
  • It's now free to climb the Royal Shakespeare Theatre's tower (and hence there's no longer a combo-ticket covering the tower, a theater tour, and Play's the Thing exhibit).

Warwick & Coventry

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

  • The Tower Climb and Blitz Museum at Coventry Cathedral are now open Saturdays only, and guests must book ahead online for guided tours of the ruins and new cathedral.

For books printed before February 2023, the following may apply:

  • The Coventry tourist information office is now located outside the train station, on Station Square.

Windsor

  • The new Windsor Express bus #703 is the cheapest and easiest way to get from Heathrow Airport to Windsor. The bus, which leaves from Terminal 5 twice an hour, costs £2 each way and takes about 45 minutes.

For books printed before February 2024, the following may also apply:

  • Long lines often await visitors inside Windsor Castle at the State Apartments and Queen Mary's Dolls' House. To avoid lines and crowds, we visiting these areas while most everyone else is off watching the castle's Changing of the Guard: at 11:00 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays (confirm schedule online). Also, the castle no longer offers 30-minute guided walks around the grounds.
  • Bel & The Dragon restaurant has closed.

For books printed before September 2022, the following may also apply:

  • Windsor Castle has introduced timed-entry tickets that must be booked in advance; only a small number of same-day tickets are available on-site.
  • Windsor's tourist information office has moved to the Guildhall on High Street and is now open Wed–Sun 10:00–16:00 (closed Mon–Tue).
  • Legoland Windsor has a new "Reserve & Ride" app (which replaces its "Q-Bot" gadget).

York

For books printed before September 2024, the following may apply:

For books printed before February 2023, the following may also apply:

  • The tourist information office has moved to 21 Parliament Street.
  • The York Minster Undercroft Museum is now open Mon–Sat 10:00–16:30, Sun 13:00–15:15.
  • Yorktour troups now meet up in Library Square (on Museum Street).
  • Clifford's Tower has been renovated, adding a suspended walkway between two sections of the tower that had been inaccessible since the 17th century (King Henry III's 13th-century latrine and chapel). Stairs lead to a platform with an impressive view.