An Antipodean travel company serving World Travellers since 1983
Take an Odyssey Tour through England
England may be small (it is about the same size of the state of New York) but its size is no indication of how rich and interesting the island is and the country’s capacity to delight and charm visitors. Bursting at the seams with history and culture, there as much to explore in the country’s bustling cities as there is the seaside towns and rolling, green countryside.
The past is always present in England as its architecture, monuments, and ruins dot its ancient cities and pasture-packed countryside, preserving its fascinating 5,000-year history. This history is intrinsically linked to histories around the world and the sense of England’s past power still lingers. A multitude of museums and galleries, such as the London Museum and The Tate, house an impressive array of world artefacts but you can also wander through Roman ruins, medieval churches and Tudor castles to immerse yourself in the story of England and all its twists and turns. While the country’s history is undeniably engrossing, England’s landscapes and natural beauty also deserve recognition. It is the only European country to have a public coast path the whole way round its border and you can easily travel from Cornwall’s white sand shores to the spellbinding Lake District or the tranquil North York Moors. From regal palaces and Georgian mansions to quaint villages and craggy coastlines, it is easy to see how England became a country of storytellers, spawning epic tales and world-famous characters over the centuries.
Best guided tours of England for seniors
Odyssey’s England tours for seniors focus both on the must-see sights and the hidden gems, across both rural and urban landscapes. If you’re interested in discovering more about England’s history, culture, architecture, cuisine, or landscapes, the best way is to see it all for yourself with like-minded people on a guided tour. Our small group tours of England are ideal for solo travellers or couples seeking an intimate guided tour led by an expert tour manager and local guide. Odyssey tours England, select our destinations with an eye to getting off the beaten path while also providing the opportunity to explore the major cities including the inimitable London, golden-hued Oxford and effervescent Manchester.
Currently Odyssey Traveller offers 20 tours to England as well as tours that visit Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Our tours of England delve into Queen Victoria’s Britain; examine the world of Shakespeare with a visit to Shakespeare’s birthplace at Stratford-upon-Avon; and explore the sights of medieval England, visiting some of the country’s most magnificent cathedrals and grandest castles. On our tour of Agrarian and Industrial Britain we investigate critical elements of Agrarian and Industrial Revolutions and the impact that they had on the Great Britain we know today, visiting Lincoln, Manchester and York. On a tour of England’s villages we explore the haunting standing stones at Avebury, with its very own Neolithic World Heritage Site, and view the Tudor mansion and glorious gardens of Hever Castle, childhood home of Anne Boleyn. If you are considering joining a tour of an England, some of things to think about include what places you would like to visit , when you would like to go and the best way to travel around the country.
Whatever sightseeing tour you choose for your England vacation, from a tour of the entire country to immersing yourself in a particular region, Odyssey Traveller makes sure you have time to learn about and appreciate England’s rich culture, history and people when on vacation as solo travellers or with your companion.
With a treasure trove of architectural wonders to explore, the whole city of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mature travellers will appreciate the exquisite Georgian architecture, well-preserved Roman bathhouses and period tearooms. For Jane Austen fans, you can visit the Jane Austen Centre and discover more about her life and works.
Travelling to York is like stepping back in time to a more magical and colourful version of the Middle Ages. Explore the fascinating city that is tucked within 13th-century walls and visit York Minster, one of the most stunning Gothic cathedrals in the world. For mature travellers, the city is well placed for a number of day trips.
Undoubtedly one of England’s most beautiful cities with its dreaming spires and medieval atmosphere, Oxford is a great destination for mature travellers. The historic core is small enough to walk around easily and there are plenty of old-fashioned British pubs to enjoy a hearty meal. For lovers of literature, there is a lot to explore, with many authors’ works being inspired by Oxford and its formidable university.
Cambridge, like Oxford, offers captivating architecture and centuries of history but with a slightly more tranquil atmosphere than ‘the Other Place’ (as Oxford is referred to by Cambridge locals). Senior travellers can enjoy the idyllic riverside gardens, surrounding verdant green meadows and beautifully manicured lawns.
One of the most famous prehistoric monuments in Europe, Stonehenge has drawn millions of visitors over the years, mystified by the mysteries collection of stones. A new visitor centre provides more information on the history of Stonehenge, thought to have been around for over five millennia, and explores some of the startling ideas of archaeologists and anthropologists who have worked on the site.
Hadrian’s Wall was built by the Romans in 122 AD and, at 117 km long, it was intended to separate the Romans from the barbarians. Built in under six years by a force of 15,000 men, it’s as impressive today for its sheer vision as it is for its remarkable engineering.
Tower of London
The Tower of London was once a royal palace and infamous prison but today is it a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Home to the dazzling Crown Jewels, a visit to the Tower of London offers a gripping insight into England’s history.
Still a ‘working’ castle, Windsor Castle is the weekend holiday house of the Royal Family and an easy day trip from London. It has been a Royal residence and fortress for almost 1000 years since the site was picked out by William the Conqueror. At the Castle you can admire the grand State Apartments, view the impressive family portraits and pour over Queen Mary’s Doll House.
The Royal Pavilion
The Royal Palace,in Brighton, was built by King George IV as a seaside pleasure palace. George IV was a notorious womaniser and gambler and the splendid summer house is obsencely extravagant, mixing Regency grandeur with the visual style of Indian and Chinese palaces.
In England, the country’s efficient transportation system and extensive rail network make travelling relatively painless..
Best walking tours of England for older travellers
The Walking Tour of Rural Britain is designed to have two days to explore per every night based at a hotel. These are rambles requiring a good level of fitness, which is repaid with postcard-worthy scenery. We will walk through Kent, Cornwall, and on the Welsh/English borders, as well as the Lake District and a day on Arran Island.
If you want to learn more about British history, consider joining the Walking Tour of Ancient Britain, a fully escorted, small-group, 20-day program that will take you through Britain’s ancient towns and walkways, steeped in over 5,000 years of human history. We will walk through the region surrounding Salisbury, Bath, and Stroud in the southwest of England and along the border with Wales. The tour includes some of the greatest walkways in England.
The Walking the Wainwright Tour travels along Wainwright’s Walking Trail, also known as England’s Coast to Coast trail. The 192-mile (309-km) scenic footpath takes the walker from St Bees in Cumbria overlooking the Irish Sea, to Robin Hood’s Bay by the North Sea coast, crossing the Pennines and passing through three national parks: the UNESCO world heritage site Lake District National Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and the North York Moors National Park.
What to look for in a guided tour of England
When booking an Odyssey small group tour, some things to consider before you book include:
- Gratuities included: Tipping per person, per day, for all different services can quickly add up and leave you out of pocket. As well as this, it can be stressful working out how much and how often you should be tipping. When tipping is included in the price, it saves you both time and money, while giving you peace of mind that you’re not committing any type of cultural faux pas.
- Number of fellow travellers: When booking a England small group tour, you want to ensure that you are not going to get lost in a big crowd of people. This is particularly pertinent when visiting a popular holiday destination such as England, especially when travelling to major cities like London. Odyssey tours have an average of eight participants per tour with a maximum of group size of 18.
- Knowledgeable guides: England has a long, rich and compelling history, demonstrated by its multiple museums, ancient churches and infamous kings and queens. Ideally, you want to be able to gain a sense of England’s past, present and future and for this reason, an informed program leader and knowledgeable guides are essential to a fulfilling travel experience. All Odyssey Traveller England tours include a Program Leader who accompanies the group for the duration of the tour. In addition, we engage local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of the different destinations in England, whether you be in a large city or a small rural village.
- Unique locations: England has something for everyone and when looking for a England guided tour, it is useful to consider where you might want to visit and the kind of holiday you would like. Odyssey Traveller offers tours that allow you to travel all around England and others that allow you to immerse yourself in one city. The British Gardens tour, for example, will guide you on an unforgettable trip through some of the best gardens across the UK and by the tour’s end, you will have a greater understanding of three centuries of garden design in Britain and an even greater appreciation for this enduring form of expression.
- Culture and History: When visiting somewhere like England, you want to return with a better understanding of English periods of history, art and architecture. Odyssey offers a wide range of educational, cultural and heritage journeys that will let you see a side of England you don’t always get from the history books. Walk through well-preserved Roman ruins, discover the beguiling operas of Gilbert and Sullivan, visit Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world and marvel at the Royal Palaces, some of which are still in use.
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. England has a centralised and impressively extensive rail network which links towns to the major cities. The Eurostar is among travel options that connect England with Europe via rail. London itself is home to one of the most extensive metro systems in the world, and a number of the stations are tourist attractions in their own right.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, environment, & weather
England forms part of the United Kingdom, along with Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It borders Scotland to the north and Wales to the west and is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea and English Channel. Low hills and plains make up the majority of England’s landscape, but it is punctuated by uplands in the north, including the Lakes District, and to the west, with Dartmoor and the Shropshire Hills.
England’s climate is temperate maritime. This translates to relatively mild temperatures, barely exceeding 0 to 32 degrees celsius in scope. The English coast is particulary chilly, especially in the winter months of January and February. England is prone to damp, changeable conditions. This is influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, northern latitude and warmer Gulf stream. It is best to pack wet-weather clothing and be prepared for the rain.
World Heritage Sites
The United Kingdom boasts 31 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, many of which are located in England. You can view the official list of the sites here https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/gb. It is well worth visiting every site, if you are able. But here’s a few highlights from the bunch:
The Tower of London, marvel of Norman military architecture
Stonehenge and Avebury, pre-historic monuments that capture the imagination of the world
The Lakes District, where the imposing peaks and depths are balanced by the warmth of the villages throughout.
Festivals & events
England is home to some eccentric festivals and events. In fact, it seems the more eccentric, the greater the fervour of participants. Glastonbury hosts one of the world’s largest contemporary music festivals; the Latitude Festival in Suffolk is a little more sedate. There’s a major cycling race around Leicester in August called the Leicester Castle Classic, and commemorative celebrations for Guy Fawkes in November. Among the most unusual calendar events is the annual Shrovetide football match held in Ashbourne and surrounds. Honouring one of the UK’s oldest sporting traditions, two competing sides must move a ball to posts at opposing ends of town. It is passionate, unruly, and can involve being plunged into waterways by your competitors. There’s truly something for every taste in England.
- The Making of the British Landscape: From the Ice Age to the Present by Nicholas Crane.
- Iron, Steam and Money: The Making of the Industrial Revolution by Roger Osbourne
- Britain Begins by Barry Cunliffe
Eating & Drinking
Cuisine is not one of England’s primary attractions for travellers. But despite its unfortunate reputation, quality restaurants serving international dishes are on the rise. England is now experiencing a transition stage, while the eating culture catches up on the progress. In the meantime, some budget options can be hit and miss. Fish and chips is ubiquitous, usually deep fried haddock or cod. As is “curry” – a catch all term for what is arguably England’s national dish! Indian restaurants can be found in just about every village. England boasts some regional dishes too. Melton Mowbray pork pies originated in Leicestershire, and are served cold. Pancake-like oatcakes are a speciality of Stoke-on-Trent, Stafforshire and Derbyshire. Lancashire was the birthplace of the hearty Lancashire hotpot, as well as Eccles cake, a flaky pastry with raisins. If possible, indulge in a Sunday roast, which is likely to feature famous Yorkshire puddings. As for drink, a real British ale is regarded among the world’s best, but it must be sourced from a “real ale pub”. It doesn’t have the shelf life of foreign beers, and some pubs serve it past its prime – a vinegary taste is not a good sign.
While much of England is usually safe to travel around, it’s important to stay alert to anything unusual. Also, you will often see signs warning of pickpockets in areas popular with tourists, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your belongings at all times.
England’s primary travel advice is ‘see it’ say it, sorted for potential threats on public transport.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The electricity supply runs at 230V, 50Hz. British plugs have three flat, rectangular pins which form a triangle. These are shared by Ireland, Malta and some former British colonies, but Australia is not one of them.
The Lake District
England has a single time zone (excluding its overseas territories), Greenwich mean time . The nation observes daylight saving time from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you make sure you tip an appropriate amount for services, as is the case throughout much of Europe. It’s customary to tip 10-15% of the bill at restaurants, or 1 to 3 GBP at a more casual establishment. It’s polite to round a bill up to the nearest whole figure or leave the change when buying drinks.
Internet access is easily accessible, and most hotels and many cafes will be able to offer it.
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in England. Many providers will offer a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Articles about England published by Odyssey Traveller.
- The London Underground
- Victorian Women’s Fashion
- Queen Victoria’s Britain, Part 1 and Part 2
- Understanding British Churches
- Studying Gargoyles and grotesques
- Georgian Architecture
- London’s Victorian Architecture
For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.
External articles to assist you on your visit to England.
Responsible travel tips for England
- If sightseeing in rural areas, remember to be respectful of residents and locals. As well as being tourist attractions, these are peoples’ homes!
- Carry a card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums & galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of pounds in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.