Rye

One of the prettiest and best-preserved medieval market towns in the United Kingdom, Rye is a few hours east of London in Sussex. This former port town is mere miles from the seaside and picture postcard perfect. Rye has it all with a nearby nature reserve and beach, charming cobble-stoned streets, antique boutiques and adorable pubs. A trip to Rye is a lovely way to spend a weekend.

Take a Southeastern train line from London St. Pancras Station to Rye Station in 1 to 2 hours, depending on the service. If you are coming from London and have a bike, bring it! Biking is the perfect way to traverse the three miles from the town to the nature reserve and coast.

EAT

Marino’s Fish Bar Classic fish and chips in a humble establishment.

The Mermaid Inn This restaurant, pub and inn dates back to the 12th century (though the current building was built in the 15th). It’s on the prettiest street in Rye, and maybe the United Kingdom, wethinks.

DRINK

Rye Waterworks Micropub This 300 year old former water-pump is now a teensy craft brewery. Super friendly local vibe.

The Ship Inn A 16th-century inn and pub just a block from the River Brede. Apparently it used to be a halfway house for smugglers.

Ye Olde Bell Inn It calls itself the oldest pub in Rye!

PLAY

Camber Sands This beach and dune area is three miles away but an easy bus ride from Rye. Recommended by a friend.

Mermaid Street Perhaps the most charming street in England, it is lined with medieval, Shakespearean style buildings.

Rye Harbour Natural Reserve This local nature reserve is over 1000 acres and was an important historic fortification in the 14th, 16th and 20th centuries. Buses travel regularly from Rye Station to Rye Harbour village and Winchelsea Beach near the Reserve.

St Mary’s Church A church has stood on this site for more than 900 years. Climb the bell tower for a gorgeous view of the town and sea and explore the ancient graveyard.

Strand Quay Great vintage, knick knack and homeware shopping.

Ypres Tower and Rye Castle This 13th century castle is now a quaint little museum. There is also a pretty view from the top of the tower of the coast.

STAY

Rye is an easy day trip from London but we’d recommend an overnight stay. Choose a quaint Airbnb within walking distance of the tiny town or the nature reserve. Alternatively, Rye Windmill is a historical bed and breakfast just a short walk from the town center. Recommended by a friend.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

London

Founded by the Romans, the capital of the United Kingdom is over 2000 years old. Today’s city rests upon ancient layers of civilization, a network of rivers and the rubble of The Blitz. While there is much to love about London, its prevailing medieval structures, winding streets, village-esque neighborhoods and diverse population are especially charming. #LondonIsOpen

If arriving into Heathrow, there are a few options for getting to the city. The first is via the Heathrow Express, which is a 20 minute ride into Paddington Station. Purchase round trip tickets in advance to get the best price. If you are traveling in a twosome, the DuoSaver is a great deal at £55 for return tickets. Another option is to take the Piccadilly Tube line (purple), which will get you to central London in about an hour. You can also take an Uber or taxi, which may make sense if you are a group. However, unless you are staying in West London this may take the longest and be the most expensive.

If arriving into Gatwick, take the Gatwick Express train (30 minutes) into Victoria Station.

Traffic is notorious. London is far reaching and while it can take time to get across the city, the Tube is efficient, clean and extensive. Purchase a £5 blue Oyster card for easy tapping into London’s Tube and bus network.

CENTRAL

EAT

Dishoom Delicious Indian in trendy locales. Hot tip: the Kensington and Kingly Court locations are often less crowded.

Ergon Deli Greek deli and cafe in Mayfair. Get the sesame bagel with eggs.

Fabrique Bakery Scandinavian bakery with locations in Shoreditch, Notting Hill and Covent Garden. Try the cardamom buns.

The Good Egg Healthy Jewish and Middle Eastern food in Kingly Court.

Gymkhana Michelin-stared Indian in Mayfair. One for special celebrations.

Leong’s Legend Unassuming Taiwanese dim sum in Chinatown.

Mildred’s Tasty vegetarian restaurant in Soho.

The Palomar Modern Israeli fare from the same group behind Machneyuda in Jerusalem. Book two months in advance for dinner.

DRINK

68 Wine Bar Soho wine bar with an NYC vibe. Long list of bottles for £20 each.

The French House Small pub in Covent Garden that used to be a gathering place for the literary crowd.

Gordon’s Wine Bar London’t oldest wine bar. This Embankment spot is located within subterranean vaults, and has a lovely outdoor patio for sunny days.

Milk and Honey Fancy cocktails at a Soho speakeasy.

New Evaristo Club Tiny dive bar in Soho that was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover. Try to go before 11pm.

The Wolseley Old World European bistro near St. James. Go for tea and book ahead.

PLAY

Big Ben and Parliament

The British Museum. Free and open every day.

Buckingham Palace Changing of the guards is at 11am every day.

The Churchill War Rooms An excellent way for history buffs to spend a few hours.

Marylebone High Street A cute spot for shopping with trendy boutiques, quaint cafes and dreamy book stores.

The National Gallery A national treasure with works by Vermeer, Titian, Cézanne, Monet, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and many more.

St. Paul’s Cathedral This Anglican cathedral has been a worship site for over 1000 years.

Tower of London A medieval castle, founded in the 11th century, that sits in the center of the city. Visit the crown jewels and notorious Tower of Terror.

West End Catch one of London’s many Broadway shows in this part of town.

Westminster Abbey Get tickets online if you fancy viewing Poets Corner and the Tomb of the Tudor sisters inside.

STAY

If work is paying and proximity to the sites, restaurants and nightlife is important, we recommend choosing a hotel in Soho, Covent Garden or Westminster. The Courthouse Hotel in Soho is lovely and close to everything.

For a more authentic experience, consider an AirBnb in one of London’s many “village-esque” neighborhoods. See more below.

EAST + SOUTH

EAT

Borough Market A foodie haven near Tower Hill with fresh produce, craft drinks and gourmet food stalls. A market has operated on this site since the 12th century.

Cay Tre Authentic (and cheap!) Vietnamese in a BYOB setting in Shoreditch.

DRINK

10 Bells Traditional pub near Spitalfields that is rumored to be the lcoation of a Jack the Ripper murder.

The Bermondsey Beer Mile Craft beer breweries on a mile long strip.

Callooh Callay Speakeasy style cocktail bar in Shoreditch. Make a booking.

Martello Hall Industrial style pub in South Hackney that is open late on the weekends.

Netil360 Relaxed roof-top bar in South Hackney.

NT’s A hip loft bar with a deck in South Hackney.

PLAY

Brick Lane Historically home to a South Asian immigrant community, this neighborhood is sadly gentrifying. The immigrant community has left their mark behind in the mosque, Indian restaurants and sweet shops that dot Brick Lane. There is a street market every Sunday.

Columbia Road Flower Market East London flower market held every Sunday, rain or shine, before 2pm.

Greenwich Home to the Prime Meridian longitudinal line, this historical borough on the Thames River is known for its rich naval history, the 19th century Cutty Sark ship (now a museum), Royal Naval College and Royal Observatory. Catch a ferry from Westminster to Greenwich and enjoy the view.

STAY

East London is younger, hipper and a bit more of a party scene. Check out Shoreditch, Hoxton or Hackney.

On the south bank of the Thames, look in Bermondsey.

NORTH

EAT

Camden Market Food stalls and stuffs, this outdoor food market features Yorkshire pudding burritos, katsu chicken burgers, halloumi fries and many more nifty concoctions.

La Creperie de Hampstead Tiny crepe cart on the Hampstead high street. Try the mushroom, cheese and tarragon.

The Spaniard’s Inn This 16th century former inn is great place for a pub lunch.

DRINK

The Flask Historic and cozy Hampstead pub.

PLAY

Camden Town The old rock and roll neighborhood, Camden is still gritty and its Camden Market is great for eating and shopping.

Hampstead Heath Wilderness in the city. This large park has great views of the city, hiking trails and natural swimming pools.

Primrose Hill This hill in Regent’s Park has an excellent view of the city.

STAY

In the north, we love Islington, Angel and Kings Cross. There will be lots of Airbnb options in all of these neighborhoods.

WEST

EAT

Bluebelles Delicious and adorable brunch spot on north Portobello Road in Notting Hill.

Lisboa Patisserie Perhaps the best Portuguese bakery in all of London, this Notting Hill institution usually has a line outside on the weekend.

Pizza East Quality pizza. Locations in Shoreditch, Kentish Town and Portobello Road.

DRINK

Bluebird Posh cocktail bar in Chelsea.

Candella Tea Room This tiny, Alice in Wonderland-type tea shop is an adorable spot for tea in Kensington.

The Churchill Arms The most Instagram-able pub in London.

Electric Diner Hip bar open late on Portobello Road.

The Orangery Take tea at Kensington Palace!

Union Tavern Canal-side pub north of Notting Hill with outdoor seating.

PLAY

Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

Chelsea Trendy part of town with cute shops, restaurants and beautiful, old Victorian pubs. Take a walk down King Street.

Little Venice Three canals meet in this lovely neighborhood just west of Paddington Station. From Little Venice take a 45 minute canal boat through Regent’s Park up to Camden Town.

Portobello Road Market A Notting Hill street market held every Friday and Saturday. Great for antiques, artisanal gifts, food stalls and eclectic bric a brac.

V&A Design Museum One of the world’s leading museums on decorative arts and design.

STAY

In the West, both Notting Hill and Kensington are close to the park and have easy access to the city. Check out AirBnbs in both neighborhoods.

Bath

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Bath has been celebrated for its natural hot springs for nearly two millennium. The Romans called it Aquae Sulis, the waters of Sulis, during their occupation of Britain and left behind the ruins of a massive bathhouse complex. This historically fashionable town was frequently recommended as a place for R&R for the British upper class. It was also home to Jane Austen in the 19th century.

From London take a one and a half hour train direct to the Bath Spa Station.

EAT

Blue Quails Deli A charming spot for breakfast, coffee or lunch near the Pulteney Bridge.

Chez Dominique Romantic and cozy French restaurant with a good wine list.

Sally Lunns House Good luck getting a seat. Try the Lunn bun. Recommended by a friend.

DRINK

Roots & Shoots Friendly, vegan cafe near the train station.

The Bell Inn Not for the faint (or sober) of heart, but a fun dive with live music.

PLAY

Artisan Market A Saturday market at Queen Square.

Bath Abbey Medieval splendor.

The Circus and The Royal Crescent The terraced houses of both areas are some of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in England.

Pulteney Bridge

The Roman Baths Visit the museum and ruins of a nearly two thousand year old bathhouse.

Thermae Spa The verdict is still out on this three-level spa. It is one of the only places today to bath in hot spring pools and has a stunning view from the roof-top pool. But, we felt the water temperature was too low and the £40 weekend entrance fee too high.

STAY

Bath is small and busy on the weekends, so stay within walking distance of the Baths and Abbey. We loved No. 15 Great Pulteney, a charming, boutique hotel on a beautiful street.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

The Cotswolds

The quaintest countryside towns you ever did see! The Cotswolds offer stunning vistas of magical, sheep-dotted farms and hills. Visit the Cotswolds any time of year. Driving is the easiest, but it is possible to train from London to Moreton-on-Marsh, with a stopover in Oxford.

If you are driving from London, carve out a few hours to tour the great house and grounds of World Heritage site Blenheim Palace, Winston Churchill’s ancestral home.

EAT

The Cotswold Cheese Company With locations in Moreton-on-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold and Burford, this shop stocks locally made farmhouse and artisan cheeses. Try the Stilton!

The Cotswold Chocolate Company Locally, handmade chocolates with natural ingredients. Shops in Broadway and Stow-on-the-Wold.

The Peacock Oxhill 15th century pub a 10 minute drive from the villages of Upper and Lower Tysoe in the northern Cotswolds. Great for lunch or dinner.

The Swan Pub + Restaurant 16th century pub (with a remaining, exposed wall!) in Broadway with delicious food and an outdoor garden.

Sweet Memory’s Homemade fudge in Bourton-on-the-Water.

DRINK

The Bell Inn Traditional pub in Moreton-in-Marsh’s with an outdoor beer garden. The pub is rumored to have served as inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Prancing Pony” pub in Middle Earth.

Lucy’s Tea Room Adorable spot in Stow-on-the-Wold. Take tea in the garden.

Lygon Wine Bar Chic, cozy wine bar in Broadway with a roaring fire.

The Swan Hotel in Bibury Peaceful place for afternoon tea on the River Coln in the picturesque town of Bibury. Try the local trout.

PLAY

Broadway Tower This one mile, uphill hike from Broadway’s high street to the Cotswold’s tallest castle offers stunning views of the town below.

Hike through the villages and countryside Many of the villages are near each other and connected by trails. Stow-on-the-Wold, the Slaughters, and Bourton-on-the-Water are all within easy walking distance from each other.

Shop the medieval, honeycomb-colored villages Visitors will be treated to local, homemade specialties, including jams, honeys, chutneys, mustards and more.

St. Edward’s Church in Stow-on-the-Wold The medieval church’s west door is said to have captured J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination in creating “The Doors of Durin”.

STAY

AirBnB a cozy cottage We’ve enjoyed stays at Honeysuckle Cottage in Tysoe and Old Sheepcote in Broadway.

Old Farm This 15th century B&B is a working farm and a mile’s walk through sheep fields to the Moreton-in-Marsh town and train station.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

Edinburgh

The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh was founded in the Middle Ages and today both its Old and New Towns are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Sitting at the edge of the North Sea, with large hill and rock formations rising to its south and a medieval castle on a hilltop, Edinburgh epitomizes the saying “pretty as a picture”.

To Old Town from the airport take the tram to city center and then walk. Trams run every six to eight minutes between 6am and 11pm.

EAT

The Canon’s Gait Bright and friendly pub serving up local beers and delicious pub grub.

First Coast Modern Scottish and European food with fresh ingredients and a good wine list.

The Tea Rooms at Edinburgh Castle Break for tea after your castle tour.

DRINK

Kilderkin Cozy pub near the bottom of the Royal Mile.

Sandy Bells Iconic, live-music venue with Scottish folk artists, friendly bartenders and a Scotch library.

The Scotch Whiskey Experience While touristy, this one-hour, immersive tour and tasting gives a good overview of Scotch whiskey.

PLAY

Arthur’s Seat Hike up this ancient volcano for incredible views of the castle, city and coast.

Edinburgh Castle This incredible castle tells of the Scottish wars for independence, holds the Scottish Crown Jewels and has a pretty cool dungeon. Book in advance and go early.

Haunted tours Edinburgh is a city of ghosts. We tried Mary King’s Close, a tour through the forgotten under-city, but have heard the City of the Dead tours may be better.

Holyrood Palace The official residence of Queen Elizabeth in Edinburgh. Admire from the outside gates or take a tour.

Old Town Explore Edinburgh’s medieval streets and the shops on the Royal Mile. Victoria Street is rumored to be the inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley.

Scottish Parliament Peak inside this modern building across from Holyrood Palace.

St. Giles Cathedral 15th century church.

Stockbridge neighborhood Stop by the Sunday market and walk down Ann Street to admire the stately homes on one of the UK’s most exclusive streets.

STAY

To be close to all the sites, book an Airbnb off the Royal Mile.

Want to splash out? Rooms at The Witchery look stunning (and we hear its haunted).