South East England
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Things to do in South East England

Things to do in  South East England

Welcome to South East England

Poised between the English Channel and London, and comprising nine counties—Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey, and West Sussex—South East England is the most populous region in the country, and home to many of its most notable natural and cultural attractions. Exploring cities such as Oxford and Brighton, landmarks including Leeds Castle and Canterbury Cathedral, national parks from the New Forest to the South Downs, and the landscapes of both the Cotswolds and the White Cliffs of Dover are among the top things to do in South East England.

Top 15 attractions in South East England

Bodleian Library

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Located in central Oxford in a complex of historic buildings, the venerable Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. It’s the main research library for the University of Oxford and also a copyright library, housing every book printed in the UK and Ireland, a collection of more than 12 million printed items.More

British Airways i360

The observation tower British Airways i360 offers a whole new perspective on Brighton and the south coast of England. In a futuristic glass viewing pod, you’ll glide gently up to 450 feet (138 meters) above ground for 360-degree views across the city, the South Downs and—on the clearest days—all the way to the Isle of Wight.More

Highclere Castle

A neo-Gothic masterpiece, Highclere Castle is best known for doubling as Downton Abbey in the much-loved TV series of the same name. The turreted, sandstone mansion was created by Sir Charles Barry, the architect behind England’s Houses of Parliament. The site upon which it stands has been in the hands of the Carnarvon family since the 17th century, and the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon now welcome the public to explore the lavishly decorated interior, the Egyptian Exhibition, and the 1,000-acre (405-hectare) Capability Brown–designed grounds.More

University of Oxford

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The oldest university in the English-speaking world, the University of Oxford is the main draw to the riverside town of Oxford. With a history dating back to the 11th century, the university’s many colleges offer a wealth of gorgeous historical architecture—not to mention settings for movies including theHarry Potter series.More

Christ Church College

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Attended by leading luminaries across the centuries—and in possession of an art museum, soaring cathedral, and stately quad—Christ Church is among Oxford’s largest, grandest, and most prestigious colleges. Famously used as a set for theHarry Potter films, it is now also a pop cultural attraction.More

Canterbury Cathedral

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Discover a national symbol and gain insight into England’s history at the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Canterbury Cathedral. Dating back to 597, the site has held religious significance for centuries, drawing pilgrims to the location of Thomas Becket’s murder and visitors interested in its medieval towers, chapels, and stained-glass windows.More

Blenheim Palace

Built in the early 18th century, this stately home is one of Britain’s grandest historical estates. It was gifted by Queen Anne to the Duke of Marlborough, General John Churchill, for his role in defeating the French at the 1704 Battle of Blenheim, and Britain’s beloved wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill was born here in 1874.More

Radcliffe Camera

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Located in the heart of Oxford, the Radcliffe Camera is one of the city’s most recognizable and photographed landmarks, with its unusual shape and impressive dome. Completed in 1749, it was the first rotunda library in England, and today it is one of the main reading rooms of the Bodleian Library complex.More

St. George’s Chapel

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Situated within Windsor Castle, this 15th-century church is a stunning example of the Perpendicular Gothic style, with its slender pillars, and pinnacles all soaring skyward. Many British royals—including monarchs such as Henry VIII and Charles I—are buried here and it’s also where Prince Harry married Meghan Markle in 2018.More

Brighton Dome

Made up of three unique performance spaces, the Brighton Dome is a pillar of the English south coast’s cultural heritage. First the stable block of a young George IV, then a World War I hospital, the 200-year-old venue is now known as a champion of Brighton’s creative scene.More

Leeds Castle

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The 12th-century Leeds Castle is among Europe’s best preserved medieval landmarks, with more than nine centuries of history represented in the building and grounds. Sprawled over 500 acres (202 hectares) and surrounded by a regal moat, the stone castle and its gardens offer a peek into the past as well as a variety of present-day, quintessentially English events and activities.More

Bridge of Sighs

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Linking the two halves of Hertford College, the Bridge of Sighs (formally known as Hertford Bridge) arcs above New College Lane in the heart of Oxford. Despite its ancient-seeming exterior and leaded windows, it’s only a little over a century old. While it shares a name with the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, it actually looks much more similar to that city’s Rialto Bridge.More

The Lanes

Climbing up the hillside from the waterfront, the maze of shopping streets known as “The Lanes” make up Brighton’s most atmospheric quarter. The pedestrianized area is home to more than 200 independent shops, galleries, and antique stores, along with a great selection of cafés, restaurants, and historic pubs.More

Sheldonian Theatre

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One of Oxford’s most recognizable landmarks, the Sheldonian Theatre is a neoclassical building dating to 1669. Designed by the celebrated architect Sir Christopher Wren, the venue is used for ceremonial events by the University of Oxford (including graduations), as well as lectures, concerts, and other publicly accessible performances.More

Dover Castle

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Built in 1066 by William the Conqueror above the striking White Cliffs of Dover, the 11th century Dover Castle is the largest castle in England. Climb the Great Tower, marvel at the oldest surviving Roman lighthouse in the country, and stop by Saint Mary in Castro church, then tour the castle’s hidden wartime tunnels.More

Trip ideas

Exploring the Oxford University Colleges

Exploring the Oxford University Colleges

Top activities in South East England

Cotswolds Private Day Tour

Cotswolds Private Day Tour

per group
Private Day Tour to Pooh Corner and Pooh Sticks Bridge from London
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All about South East England

When to visit

There’s never a bad time of year to visit South East England, a region comprising nine different counties. However, it is at its busiest and most popular during the summer high season since the area boasts some of the country’s most popular seaside towns, including Brighton, Margate, Bournemouth, Poole, and Whitstable. Autumn, however, is also an atmospheric time to visit—time your trip with Bonfire Night in November, and head to Lewes in Sussex to witness the traditional celebrations.

Getting around

The South East England region includes a number of major urban centers and towns. mainline trains make cities including Brighton, Bournemouth, Poole, and Canterbury easily accessible, as do National Express and Megabus bus lines. London’s two major airports, Gatwick and Heathrow, are located on the edge of the region’s borders, while international Eurostar trains stop in Ashford International and Ebbsfleet International. Ferry services from multiple ports also connect the UK to France.

Traveler tips

While few think of England as having a comparable wine scene to France, the South East has seen an explosion in the number of high-caliber wineries in recent years. It helps that its chalky terroir is very similar to what’s found in the Champagne region, and warming temperatures make it easier for grapes to ripen. Visitors should seek out the region’s top-drawer wineries such as Chapel Down, Gusbourne, and Tillingham, and enjoy the rather exceptional English sparkling wines.

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