6 Car Trips to Stately Homes, Castles, and Gardens Near London

With a history dating back over 2000 years, the United Kingdom is home to enchanting castles, opulent stately homes, and exquisite gardens. With a car hire at Heathrow Airport UK, these grand, captivating destinations are well within reach. Exploring iconic London attractions may take up most of your time, but you will be well advised to venture further. From medieval castles replete with royal scandals to the spectacle and glory of oft-filmed stately homes, and from the official residence of the monarch to charming gardens, here are 6 trips that are ideal for history buffs and tourists alike. 

  1.   Hampton Court Palace

Set on the banks of the River Thames, this magnificent Tudor palace was once home to Britain’s most famous kings and queens. Its most infamous resident was Henry VIII, best remembered for having ordered the killing of some of his wives.

Hampton Court was constructed in several stages; Henry VIII expanded the palace in the 1550s and Christopher Wren added to it during the 17th century. This enormous palace is an icon of Tudor and Baroque architecture. Highlights include a gigantic Tudor kitchen, the famous Great Hall, decorative Tudor brick chimneys, and a supposedly haunted gallery. The palace gardens are an attraction in themselves – there’s the spectacular Great Fountain Garden, the 250-year-old Great Vine, a tennis court built for Henry VIII, and a fascinating maze made with hedges. With a car hire from London, you can be there in just over 40 minutes.

  1.   Windsor Castle

If you get a car hire at Heathrow Airport UK, Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world is a mere 15-minute drive away. Sitting atop a ridge overlooking the Thames, Windsor Castle will give you a quick history lesson in the lives of British monarchs past and present. Marvel at the state apartments which house priceless works of art, explore historic St. George’s Chapel, take in Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, and wander around the picturesque Windsor Great Park surrounding the castle grounds. Make sure you stay on for the ceremony of the changing of the guards. Do take the time to explore the quaint Victorian town of Windsor with its fascinating antique shops. With a car hire from London, you could also take your little ones to the Legoland theme park nearby.

  1.   Blenheim Palace

Set amidst the idyllic Oxfordshire countryside, Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Given its visible grandeur, Blenheim Palace has made an appearance in 71 films and television programmes, including franchises like Harry Potter and James Bond, and more recently in the TV series Bridgerton. Admire the grandeur of the English Baroque architecture, explore the stunning State Rooms filled with opulent furnishings and tapestries, and enjoy a picnic in the surrounding parklands, complete with a picturesque lake. Do visit the Churchill Exhibition which provides fascinating insights into the life of the wartime leader. 

  1.   Kew Gardens

Popular with locals and visitors alike, Kew Gardens is hardly ever off the tourist map. For an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, get yourself a car hire at Heathrow Airport UK and spend the day in this verdant paradise. Renowned for its scenic walking trails, iconic glasshouses, and plant houses chock-a-block with exotic plants, Kew Gardens is a nature lovers’ haven. Do take the time to enjoy the Treetop walkway for panoramic views of the gardens, the lake crossing, the fascinating bee-inspired Hive, and the botanical art galleries.

  1.   Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle gained instant fame when it became the setting of the hugely popular television series “Downton Abbey” and is one of the few ‘great houses’ still inhabited by the nobility. Located in Hampshire, the castle has undergone several architectural incarnations. Essentially a Victorian castle, you can find Georgian, Elizabethan, and Renaissance-inspired styles with Gothic and Baroque accents thrown in for good measure. Stroll through the lush grounds and gardens designed by Capability Brown, and explore the beautifully appointed rooms.

  1.   Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle, often referred to as the “loveliest castle in the world,” is a historic medieval castle perched on two islands in a magnificent lake. Surrounded by a moat, the castle boasts beautiful gardens, complete with a maze and an aviary, and hosts several events throughout the year on its grounds. You can even rent a room and stay here. Take a boat ride on the castle lake for fabulous views of this enchanting location.

Why restrict yourself to exploring cities when you can walk in the footsteps of kings, discover a history rife with intrigue, murder, and beheadings, and marvel at centuries of architectural history? With the convenience of Dollar Car Rental, you can easily get a car hire in the UK and uncover the storied past of this fascinating country in leisure. 

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