A 6-Day Itinerary for Exploring Literary England in Style
Arts & Culture
Road Trip Travel
England is (or should be) at the top of any book-loving travelers’ list. From Sherlock Holmes to Robin Hood to Elizabeth Bennet, England has gifted the world with some of its most unforgettable fictional characters. And what better way to explore England than by touring some of its best literary locales, from the birthplace of William Shakespeare to the trail Jane Eyre flees after learning Rochester is married. Here’s how to travel through literary England in style, with some of the best food, hotels and experiences along with your bookish to-do's.
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The Bloomsbury Hotel
Refined property in a Georgian building with elegant rooms and suites.
A storied 19th-century building drawing inspiration from its history and location in Covent Garden, as well as exploring the artistic and cultural connection between London and New York.
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The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa
Each one of the 45 charming and elegant rooms in this sophisticated, cozy English getaway — housed on a lush, garden-laden estate in historic Bath — has been individually designed to guarantee an exquisite, luxurious stay.
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Day 1: London
Start with a walking tour of Bloomsbury, stopping at the homes of notable Bloomsbury Group members Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell, as well as the Charles Dickens Museum and the home of Irish writer and poet William Butler Yeats.
After your walking tour, rest your feet and enjoy an indulgent afternoon tea at The Dalloway Terrace in the Bloomsbury Hotel, named after the famed Virginia Woolf character Mrs. Dalloway.
In the afternoon, head to the delightful Sherlock Holmes Museum in Marylebone, which is outfitted with gas lamps, Victorian curiosities and objects from Holmes’ most notable (fictional!) cases. When you’re finished, wander around Daunt Books, a stunning, original Edwardian bookshop on Marylebone High Street.
End your day with dinner at Jikoni or Bibi in Marylebone.
Day 2: More of London
On your second day in London, head to the British Library, the national library of the United Kingdom, which houses some of the earliest written artifacts. You’ll find the Magna Carta, Shakespeare’s first folio, the manuscript of Beowulf, Jane Austen’s writing desk and spectacles, the Gutenberg Bible, Charles Darwin’s natural selection letter and much more.
In the afternoon, head to Keats House in Hampstead, where the Romantic poet John Keats lived from December 1818 until he left for Rome in August 1820. Next, visit Highgate Cemetery, a beautiful, lush cemetery where George Eliot, Karl Marx, Christina Rossetti and many other famous writers are buried.
In the evening, catch a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre or the Barbican Centre.
Day 3: Oxford
On day three, you’ll arrive in Oxford, home to the esteemed university and a town bursting with literary history. Wander through the Cathedral Garden of Christ Church College, where a little door supposedly inspired Alice’s entrance to Wonderland.
Visit Magdalen College, whose cloisters feature animal carvings that are thought to have inspired a famous scene in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Next, tour the Bodleian Library, which stands in for Hogwarts Library in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and whose Divinity School is the setting for Harry’s hospital ward in the same film.
Finally, visit the New College courtyard, whose cloisters stand in for Hogwarts’ outdoor walkways in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
When you’re done touring, have a drink at The Eagle and Child Pub, where JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and other members of the Inklings literary discussion group would meet up for drinks and spirited discussion.
Day 4: Bath
On your fourth day, you'll arrive in the bucolic city of Bath, where Jane Austen set her books Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Visit the Jane Austen Centre, housed in an elegant Georgian townhouse, where you’ll learn about life in the Regency period, particularly the time in which Austen lived in Bath.
Around Bath, you’ll also find plaques dedicated to famous Bath visitors including Charles Dickens, William Wordsworth and Mary Shelley.
Bath is filled with excellent bookstores and you won't want to miss out on them. Be sure to visit the weird and wonderful Mrs. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, Topping and Company Booksellers of Bath, Bath Old Books and more.
When you’re done with old curiosities, stop into Thermae Bath Spa—Britain’s only natural, thermal day spa—which the Celts and Romans enjoyed over 2,000 years ago. The open-air rooftop pool is not to miss.
Finish your day in style with dinner and drinks at trendy The Walcot or enjoy a quieter, Michelin-starred meal at Olive Tree.
Day 5: Stratford-Upon-Avon
On day five, you’ll come to the banks of the River Avon, where you’ll find a charming, 800-year-old medieval town famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. In Stratford, visit the cottage of Anne Hathaway—Shakespeare’s real-life bride, not the American actress—as well as Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New Place, and Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall.
For dinner, eat at Salt, Stratford’s first Michelin-starred restaurant.
If you missed a Shakespeare show in London, catch one here at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s three theaters in Stratford.
Day 6: The Peak District
On your last day, you’ll head north to the Peak District, which has a rich literary history. For readers who dream of the wild moors and stately homes of Jane Austen and the Brontes, this is the place for you.
Visit Chatsworth House, owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, thought to be the inspiration for Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s estate in Pride and Prejudice. In fact, Chatsworth House stood in for Pemberley in Joe Wright’s 2005 Pride and Prejudice adaptation.
You'll also head to Hathersage, to the four-mile walk known as the Jane Eyre trail. The Peak District’s wild, dramatic landscape was a huge influence on Charlotte Bronte, who penned Jane Eyre, and often visited her childhood friend Ellen Nussey in Hathersage. On the Jane Eyre trail, you'll find North Lees Hall, thought to be the inspiration for Rochester’s Thornfield Hall; Stanage Edge, the moody gritstone escarpment made famous by Keira Knightley in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice adaptation; and Robin Hood’s cave, a secret cave in the Stanage Edge cliffside where Robin Hood was said to have hidden out. In Hathersage, you’ll also find the grave of Little John.
Also in the Peak District, you’ll find Lud’s Church in the Staffordshire Moorlands, supposedly the Green Chapel from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as well as Loxley, the birthplace of Robin Hood.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Sadie Marie’s guide, Living Like a Local in London, England.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to England.