72 hours in Southeast England
People don’t often think of England when they imagine road trips. But the plucky nation is actually ideal for some leisurely driving along the beautiful countryside. If you give yourself enough time, several scenic cities, towns and coastal hotspots can be reached for a long weekend from London and beyond. Just keep track of the traffic, research some alternate routes and relax on your adventure to new experiences. One great option is heading southeast from the capital to discover some of the UK’s nautical past, charming pubs and classic seaside wonders.
Pit Stop in Stonehenge
Skip that crowded bus tour to Stonehenge and drive yourself to this incredible wonder only 90 minutes outside of London. While slightly out of the way from the coastline, it’s definitely worth deviating, especially for first timers. The prehistoric monument is said to be thousands of years old and still leaves some historians starching their heads as to how the massive stones were put into place. Nearby is a small museum, café and gift shop to poke around in before you purchase a ticket for the audio tour shuttle that takes you to the wonder. If there’s sunny skies, you can walk instead along the road and through the fields which takes about 30 minutes each way.
History at the Dockyards (Portsmouth)
About an hour away is beautiful Portsmouth on the English coast. This is the ideal town for a day of sightseeing and settling in on your weekend away. Make a beeline for the harbour (or Dockyards), as this is where most main attractions are located. Visit the Royal Navy and submarine museums within walking distance for a background on local maritime history. The highlight is a tour of HMS Victory, which is Lord Nelson’s fully restored naval ship and place of his last battle. You can tour every floor to see up close the equipment, weapons, bunks and decks. Have a peek at the boathouse at the dockyards as well, which is a free area full of all kind of ships and vessels. Some artists might be on hand making classic items by hand, including monkey balls and whittled boat models.
As we make our way along the sea, we head east to Brighton, one of the UK’s coastal areas closest to the capital. It’s always quirky, colourful and full of things to do, from walking along the Victorian boardwalk promenade to navigating the Lanes full of shops and cafes on very narrow cobblestone streets. If you’re into antiquing or charity shops, this is a mecca of great finds at a fraction of city prices. One of the more unusual things to see is the Royal Pavilion, which used to be the royal residence and is modelled after traditional India-style architectural design.
Walk Along the White Cliffs
Further along east is some of England’s most breath-taking scenery that can’t be missed on your road trip. This is great for some serious beach time and walking adventures along the beautiful Cliffs of Dover and beyond. Drive up to St. Margaret’s at Cliff just outside Dover in Kent for a stroll and a cream tea, then head into town at your own pace. In Dover, visit the impressive castle that has stood tall since the 11th century. Check out the lavish furnishings in the Great Tower, then venture underground into the medieval tunnels below.