History and Hogwarts – Southern England and Wales

London is fantastic, but you can only spend so much time (not to mention money) in the City before you’re ready for change of pace. Here is our recommended roadtrip for a few days outside of London that mixes History and Harry Potter fandom.

Driving from London to Stonehenge

History and Hogwarts – Southern England and Wales

One of the most iconic landmarks in all of England. You can travel to Stonehenge by bus, train, or car from London. We recommend a rental car so you can make a roadtrip out of it and enjoy the charming old English towns with their silly names.

There is a visitors center located just off the freeway which includes a small museum and a bus to take you to the site. The cost is about 15 pounds for adults and 10 for children. Exploring the site and museum will take about 2 hours.

Don’t expect to get too close to the rocks. You can only explore the perimeter. If you are looking to save a couple dollars there are some turnoffs from the highway where you could stop and walk up to the site. You will have to stand about 50 yards from the stones but you can still see and take your pictures.

Bed & Breakfast stop on your Roadtrip: Stonehouse Court Hotel

Such a charming place to stay, this was a wonderful way to experience the British countryside. From the moment we arrived we felt welcomed.  The grounds are beautiful and we thought the onsite restaurant was exceptional.

Bourton-on-the-Water

This quaint village was the perfect break on our roadtrip.   There’s a canal running through town and the pace of life felt so relaxed.  Lots of interesting shops to explore as well as small eateries.

Open Google Maps and just scroll over the south of England. So many are literally named ‘over-the’ or ‘on-the’ which I found quite amusing.

Oxford

Oxford is such a unique blend of a “college town” with a charismatic historic feeling.  Some buildings date back nearly 1,000 years, like Oxford Castle!    It was no surprise that the city revolves around their university.  Take your time exploring the breathtaking grounds.  Hogwarts is said to be based on its buildings.  They even have their own “Bridge of Sighs” which actually looks a bit more like Venice’s Rialto bridge.  (Neither was intentional by the architect.)

Checkout the rotating sushi bar at Yo! Sushi.   We had never dined at a restaurant like this before and loved the concept!   These are hard to find in the states.

The Covered Market – It is apparent than many of the vendors in the market have been there for generations! Check out the town’s local food, drinks, and handmade goods.   (Side note, I just realized I used an Oxford Comma while writing about the city.)

Vaults and Gardens – Cafe in the courtyard of the university.  Sip your espresso and enjoy the 14th century architecture that surrounds you.   The University Church of St. Mary will be right in front of you.

Windsor

Windsor Castle is, of course, the main attraction of the town.  It’s a beautiful historic city to wander and soak in the ambiance.   I’d never seen so many swans as we did along their river shores!

Try some beers by Windsor & Eton Brewery!

Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour

It’s important to book your tickets well in advance as it will sell out weeks before your desired date!

I’m only a moderate fan of the Harry Potter movies, but I found this Studio and audio tour to be fascinating.  Definitely buy the audio tour, you’ll get so much more out of your visit. Plus it was narrated by Malfoy.    It was astounding to see the amount of detail put into the sets, props, and automated machines.   The model castle, used for all the outdoor ‘shots’ of the castle fits in one room with lighting that adjusts to the desired effect.

Halfway through the tour is  a cafe that serves Butter Beer.  Super sweet so I recommend splitting between 2, even 3, people.

…and that’s all for England!   Leaving from Heathrow, I found my new favorite airport sign.   (Previously it was “Recombobulation Area” at MKE)

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Wales

Cardiff Castle

Originally in its place stood a Roman fort, which is estimated to have been built in 50 A.D. You can still see remains of the Roman walls today.   Then, in the 11th century, Norman invaders build the castle over the fort.

50 minute tours are available from 9am-6pm. History and Hogwarts – Southern England and Wales

Memorable Coffee in Cardiff

We only spent a day in Cardiff.   I have to say the highlight of our day was the eclectic coffee shop where we spent our morning, Coffee Barker. It’s inside the Castle Arcade.  The Nutella Latte was a special treat!

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