England in summer is like another country. When I lived in London, you could tell the sun was shining even from the underground. People are smiling with a spring in their step, and when you finally come above ground, it feels like another planet. Chatter, laughter, pubs over spilling, park picnic lunches taking over. There are so many great things about England in summer as a local, but as a tourist, the ridiculously lousy value accommodation costs, increased lines to get into the main attractions and the sheer volume of people just trying to buy a pint at a pub with a beer garden will slowly drive you mad.
If you want to explore England, especially around the main tourist spots, the off-season is a real winner to do so. I’ve just finished up a tour of south-west England with Rabbies in March, and it was a winner. Here are a few reasons why you should tour England in the off-season.
Indoors is good: Cozy pubs and Captivating Cathedrals
Not many people are heading to England for sun-kissed beach holidays, so the sun isn’t as important as say a vacation to the Bahamas. A lot of our best assets are also inside. I spent much of my Rabies tour sipping pints in cosy pubs next to fireplaces, wandering through Cathedrals with imposing stained-glass windows and enjoying the views from the comfort of a heated small bus.
Bring a rain-coat, a love of English ale and your inner history buff and you won’t even notice when a grey day comes rolling in as so much of your time will be inside a free museum or gallery or wandering through the ancient history of our grandest buildings.
You can get lost in history, not crowds
Summer = crowds. No matter where you go. Whether it’s Cinque Terre in Italy or the National Gallery in London. It’s school holidays, it’s sunny outside, it’s when everything gets crazy expensive, and unless you absolutely must travel at that time, it seems mad to me you would.
When we pulled up at Stonehenge on our tour, I had heard stories of people waiting in-line of up to an hour to get a ticket during August. I was pleasantly surprised to pretty much still right in during March, turns out other than a few local school trips there weren’t many tourists to compete with. Come get lost in the history of England and save yourself from getting lost in the crowds.
Reds, whites and blues – not just on the flag
The flag of England is pretty much our winter colours. The impressive Jurassic coast still has beautiful blue waters even in the off-season. The reds and oranges of Dartmoor National Park light up the lush green landscape from all the rain and the white snow covered peaks (or as it happened this year, the nationwide blanket of snow) makes exploring the Harry Potter like streets of Glastonbury even more magical.
Save your dollar, (or pounds)
There is no polite way to say this, but England in summer is a rip-off, especially for mid-range budgets and accommodation. Even the most basic, dirty and run-down of hotel rooms will cost too much during the summer months simply because supply and demand don’t align. I still baulk at hotel prices when I have to go back to London to work in the summer months and begrudgingly book a hostel. Compared with the off-season though, you can pick up cute B&BS or relatively nice hotel rooms for more than 50% of what they would be in July.
Tours usually cost more; flights typically cost more: you see my pattern of complaints here. Save your cash by coming in the off-season and put that money towards great pub lunches, activities, seeing a west-end show or whatever else takes your fancy in England. Coming to the UK really doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Rabbies three-day tour of South-West England starts from £139 for transport/driver/guide and accommodation can either be arranged by yourself or through them. They also offer various tours of different lengths across the UK from multiple starting points.
I was a guest of Rabbies on this tour, however, all opinions as always are my own.