For coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information, see our FAQ.

  • Canterbury's River Stour
  • Beachy Head
  • HMS Victory, Portsmouth
  • Stonehenge
  • Dartmoor
  • St. Michael's Mount
  • Tintagel Castle
  • Bath

Tour Questions? See our FAQ | Call 425-608-4217

Best of South England in 13 Days Tour

from $4,195 per person + air

Single Supplement $825

See Dates & Prices

Starting in Canterbury and ending in Bath, our Best of South England tour brings you to the very roots of British history and culture. Your Rick Steves guide will introduce you to locals who have talents to share and stories to tell. You'll learn about and taste the delicious seafood, traditional Cornish pasties, and hearty ales crafted from generations-old recipes. You'll marvel at the sights as well, from the iconic White Cliffs of Dover to the sweeping moorlands of Dartmoor, ancient stone circles to secluded seaside coves, and cliff-perched villages to great sailing ships. Join us for the Best of South England in 13 Days!

Dates & Prices

2022

What's Included

You'll get at least 23 group sightseeing events — at no extra cost!

Here's what you'll see and do on our South England tour:

  • Canterbury orientation
  • Canterbury Cathedral
  • Meet with stone and stained-glass conservators
  • River Stour punt tour
  • Dover Castle and Wartime Tunnels
  • White Cliffs of Dover
  • English beer tasting
  • Battle Abbey
  • South Downs Way–Beachy Head walk
  • Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, including HMS Victory and the Mary Rose Museum
  • Salisbury Cathedral
  • Stonehenge
  • Jurassic Coast
  • Dartmoor National Park walk
  • Merrivale Stone Rows
  • Village church tour
  • Tintagel Castle
  • Pasty-making demonstration
  • Cornish fishing village
  • Cornwall coastal walk
  • St. Michael's Mount
  • Traditional Cornish folk music performance
  • Bath walking tour

Plus you'll get all this, too.

  • A small, friendly group of 24–28 people — half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art, and culture of England come alive for you
  • All group transportation from Canterbury to Bath
  • 12 nights' accommodations in memorable, centrally located hotels
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • A tour kit including a guidebook (when available) and a moneybelt
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2022
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer or cancel your tour

Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions for important details regarding everything listed above.

Group sightseeing events subject to change.

Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to England

The beautiful medieval city of Canterbury is an easy train ride from central London — and the perfect jumping-off point for our Best of South England adventure. We'll meet at our hotel at 5 p.m. for a "Welcome to England" get-together. Then we'll take an evening walking tour along Canterbury's colorful lanes and get acquainted over dinner.

Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day on mostly level terrain. No bus. Sleep in Canterbury.

Day 2: Canterbury Cathedral

This morning we'll make our own little pilgrimage to the impressive Canterbury Cathedral, one of the most important churches in England. After touring the cathedral (and learning about the dramatic martyrdom of Thomas Becket), we'll meet with conservators who are tasked with preserving some of England's most treasured stone masonry and stained glass. After lunch you'll have some time to explore the historic layers of this pilgrimage city, finishing with a punt trip along the River Stour. Tonight is a perfect evening to enjoy an evensong performance at the cathedral.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. No bus. Sleep in Canterbury.

Day 3: Dover Castle and the White Cliffs

After breakfast, we'll meet our coach and driver and head to the White Cliffs and the imposing fortress of Dover Castle. We'll explore the Great Tower and Medieval Tunnels before entering the WWII-era Secret Wartime Tunnels (from which the British directed the perilous evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940). After lunch we'll take a short walk to explore the White Cliffs, famous for their geology and historic role. We'll return to Canterbury, where we'll have a beer tasting at a local brewery. The evening is yours to find a cozy restaurant for dinner.

Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. Bus: 2½ hours. Sleep in Canterbury.

Day 4: Battles and Beaches

Today we'll discover more of England's southeast coastline, beginning with a visit to Battle Abbey, the site of the Battle of Hastings. It was here in 1066 that the army of William the Conqueror invaded across the English Channel and killed King Harold, ushering in the Norman conquest of England. After lunch we'll stroll the South Downs Way for a view of England's famous white chalk cliffs at Beachy Head. We'll end our day peacefully, amidst the thatched roofs and timber-framed buildings of eastern Sussex.

Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. Bus: 3 hours. Sleep in or near the village of Alfriston.

Day 5: The Great Ships of Portsmouth

This morning we'll drive to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for a day devoted to Britain's rich nautical history. You'll have a chance to tour HMS Victory, the warship of Admiral Lord Nelson that defeated the French at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. We'll also visit the newly renovated Mary Rose Museum, built to showcase Henry VIII's sunken warship that was raised from the sea in the 1980s. You'll also have the opportunity for a look at traditional woodworking skills in action at the historic boat workshop. Late this afternoon we'll drive to Salisbury, where we'll enjoy an orientation followed by dinner together.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 3 hours. Sleep in Salisbury.

Day 6: Soaring Salisbury Cathedral

We'll begin the day touring the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral, famous for its rich lore and towering Gothic spire. In addition, we'll visit the Chapter House, which is home to one of four original copies of the Magna Carta, the 1215 document that first established that everyone — even the king — was subject to the law. The remainder of the day is yours to explore more of this attractive town, including its lively local market and lovely riverside walks.

Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day on mostly level terrain. No bus. Sleep in Salisbury.

Day 7: Stonehenge and the Jurassic Coast

This morning we'll travel back in time with a visit to Stonehenge, where we'll learn about and ponder the origins of these iconic stones that are as old as the pyramids. Then we'll travel west to discover the natural beauty of the Jurassic Coast and its geologic formations, which date back 185 million years. Our day ends in the cozy village of Chagford — within Dartmoor National Park — where we'll enjoy dinner together.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 4 hours. Sleep in Dartmoor National Park.

Day 8: Dartmoor National Park

Today we'll explore the natural wonders of Dartmoor National Park, home to wooded forests, desolate moors, and the prehistoric Merrivale stone rows. We'll learn about this compelling and varying landscape that inspired great literature, including The Hound of the Baskervilles, and have lunch together. This evening we'll enjoy a village church tour, followed by free time to enjoy one of Dartmoor's cozy country pubs.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 3 hours. Sleep in Dartmoor National Park.

Day 9: Castles and Cornwall

We'll drive into Cornwall today, known for its striking, wave-swept coast and charming fishing villages. Our first stop is a visit to the dramatic, cliff-hugging ruins of Tintagel Castle, long associated with King Arthur. After lunch, we'll continue our drive deeper into Cornwall and along its famed, rugged coastline. We'll end the day with dinner together and enjoy a performance of traditional Cornish folk music.

Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. Bus: 4 hours. Sleep in Falmouth.

Day 10: Coastal Cornwall

Today we'll explore the wild and remote Cornish coast, home to rugged, windblown scenery and dotted with quaint fishing harbors and 19th-century Industrial Age ruins. We'll start our day with a scenic trek along grassy cliff tops, marveling at craggy rock formations and the crashing surf below. After lunch we'll visit a picturesque fishing village, where you can stroll the narrow lanes, poke around the shops and galleries, or grab some ice cream and people-watch at the beach. We'll return to our home village with time for some exploration and dinner on your own.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 3 hours. Sleep in Falmouth.

Day 11: St. Michael's Mount

We'll begin the day learning all about Cornwall's most famous culinary contribution — the pasty — with a demonstration (and sampling!) of how these traditional one-handed meals are made. Then we'll conquer St. Michael's Mount, the dramatic rock island first inhabited by monks more than 1,500 years ago. We'll have time to explore the castle and gardens — now a stately home — before returning to our home village for a free evening.

Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. Bus: 2 hours. Sleep in Falmouth.

Day 12: Georgian Bath

This morning we'll head north to our final destination: the elegant Georgian city of Bath (a wonderful place to extend your England vacation — or easily pop back to London). After a walking tour and some free time, we'll enjoy a final dinner together and raise a hearty toast to our adventures. Cheers!

Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. Bus: 4 hours. Sleep in Bath.

Day 13: Tour Over After Breakfast

Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. Bath is an easy 90-minute train ride to central London, with connections to Heathrow and Gatwick airports. For those not yet ready to return home, Bath is a delightful city with many sightseeing options. Cheerio!

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Physical Demands

Our tours are physically active! It's an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Best of South England in 13 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily…

  1. Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (possibly several blocks) and up stairways to reach your hotel, then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
  2. Be on your feet, walking and standing, for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
  3. Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
  4. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate around places on your own.
  5. Hike over steep, slippery, cobbled, and uneven terrain at several sites, including Dover Castle, St. Michael's Mount, and Tintagel Castle.

Reviews

Martha

Everett, WA

Tour: 10/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour exceeded all of my hopes and expectations! This was my first trip to Europe, and I had been wanting to see England all of my life. I was so impressed by the level of planning, preparation, and professionalism that went into this whole tour. Our tour guide made everything so easy and accessible for us, and everything we did or saw, was fun and/or educational, and left me in awe of the history, and life in these villages we were experiencing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have to say that the ruins of the castles we visited was a highlight for me. My favorite day was visiting the bakery and learning to make Cornish pasties; followed by our picnic on the beach, and ending our day by visiting St. Michael's Mount. I also loved the beautiful cathedrals we visited, and our side trip to Rye, and the ploughman's lunch in Dartmoor at The Warren House pub. So many wonderful moments and experiences, it is hard to pick one."

Julie

Las Vegas, NV

Tour: 10/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Liz and Lorraine are wonderful guides and fun people to be with. The itinerary is super, we truly enjoyed staying in places three nights. Our group was fantastic, smiles all around.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Definitely going up on the roof of Canterbury Cathedral, such a fascinating experience. This set the tone for the entire tour, unexpected wow moments every where we went, Seven Sisters, Dartmoor, Liz kept bringing on the wows."

Hiroko

Rochester, NY

Tour: 10/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent and wonderful tour covering interesting and charming places and also enough free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Tour of renovation sites at Canterbury Cathedral; narrow roads in the country."

Catherine

Columbus, OH

Tour: 10/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My overall experience was wonderful. We had a few unexpected experiences, like cream tea at Corfe Castle and lunch in Port Issac/Port Wenn. Our guides, Liz and Lorraine, were exceptional - dealing with a few unexpected circumstances (a fall, a submersion in a stream, a pickpocketing) without missing a step. They were both great and went out of their way to make sure we had a good experience. This was my 15th RS tour and it lived up to my high expectations!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is always a hard question to answer. This tour started out with the "wow" experience of going up in the scaffolding with the restoration masons at Canterbury Cathedral. I've been in many cathedrals, but I've never been able to examine one "up close and personal" as we did with this experience. It was amazing!! A second "wow" was Corfe Castle, in its lovely, charming, picturesque setting, and our castle visit was followed by a wonderful, surprise cream tea! Final wow was Cornish coast!"

Cynthia

Columbus, OH

Tour: 10/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was another fabulous tour. Liz and Lorraine enhanced the entire tour with their knowledge and tour guide expertise.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Can't limit the "wow" moment to just one moment or one day. Wow moments were the view on top of the Canterbury Cathedral, Dover and the WWII secret tunnel, Stonehenge, Dartmoor, the Seven Sisters cliffs, cricket on the beach, St. Michael's Mount and Bath."

Mark

College Station, TX

Tour: 10/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent itinerary, great locations/lodging/dining, fun and active group led by an enthusiastic guide - overall amazing experience!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many options, but seeing Stonehenge essentially alone in the early morning has to top the list!"

Melody

Grand Terrace, CA

Tour: 10/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This really was a delightful tour along the south of England. Our accommodations and transportation were varied and excellent. We enjoyed a variety of meals e.g. Thai, cream tea, ploughman's lunch, and always a solid English breakfast, if desired. We learned a lot of history and saw sites dating from Neolithic to WWII times. The little towns and villages are welcoming and charming, the countryside beautifully green, and we saw a lot of the coastline on this route. Enjoyed more new friends :)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many special events and sights/sites every day. The most unexpected activity was when Liz gathered us on the beach and explained the basic rules of cricket to a group of Americans :) What resulted was, possibly, the worst game of cricket in the history of the game, but what marvelous fun we all had in the process! Also, the privilege of seeing Canterbury Cathedral as only God, the pigeons, and stonemasons typically get to see it - from atop scaffolding higher than the roof!"

Linda

Tulsa, OK

Tour: 09/23/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved it. For me, it was physically aggressive--lots of steps and climbing and only short bus interludes--but what a joy to see as much as we did. We encountered our share of wind and rain (remember Tropical Storm Lorenzo) and that was certainly a factor in my overall tour experience. All of that climbing was made harder by the weather.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many to choose from. Possibly the afternoon/evening we spent in the village of Chagford. First my husband and I stumbled onto Bowden's hardware store, Chagford's answer to WalMart. Then a tour of St. Michael's Church where the needlepoint rivaled the amazing church bells. And somewhere in there we sandwiched in drinks with the entire group at the hotel's pub. England at its finest."

Abbey

Petaluma, CA

Tour: 09/09/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fabulous trip! Was hoping for a more "village" experience - towns were bigger than expected. Really appreciated Roy's efforts to arrange car service so a few of us could go to Port Issac & see where Doc Martin was filmed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved the pasty making! St. Michael's Mount was lovely."

When To Go & Weather

Any time between April and October is a good time to visit England. However, the months of April, May, September, and October are best for offering fewer crowds, mild weather, and the full range of tourist fun. Summer has its advantages, with long days and the best weather (though never guaranteed).

England / London

London Weather

Hotels & Flights

Tour Hotels

In case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations, the contact information for the tour's first and last hotels is included in your tour confirmation email as well as in the Itinerary section of your tour account. One month prior to the tour departure, you'll find the directions to your first tour hotel and a complete list of hotels where we'll be staying while on tour in the Documents section of your tour account. About one month prior to the tour departure, in your tour account you'll find the directions to your first tour hotel and a complete list of hotels where we'll be staying while on tour.

Please note: There are no triple rooms available on this tour.

Flights

Our tours don't include airfare, so your flight arrangements and transfers are completely up to you.

Most tour members arrange to fly in and out of London's Heathrow (LHR) or Gatwick (LGW) airports, and take a train or bus to Canterbury (where the tour begins) and from Bath (where the tour ends). Trains are available to and from central London. Both Heathrow and Gatwick airports are served direct by National Express coach (schedules are available at the National Express website).

We suggest arriving a day or two before your tour begins to allow ample time to get over jet lag and be well-rested for the first few days of your tour. For more information about transportation options to get to and from your tour, see your Rick Steves England guidebook.