London’s so-called “home counties” are generally considered to be those which ring the capital city. Included are: East and West Sussex, Kent and Essex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Middlesex.
Somewhere around 15 million people call the region which has for centuries been Great Britain’s economic, political and cultural hub home.
Things to do in London and the Home Counties
Whether your interest is sport, music, art, fashion, shopping, history, museums, theatre, nightlife, dining or anything else typically associated with the world’s greatest cities, you can find it – the best of it, anywhere – in London.
Among our recommendations are:
Touring the Tower of London and admiring the Crown Jewels. Dazzling as they are, don’t overlook their bloody acquisition.
The historic original square mile of London – “The City” – comes alive on this walking tour which passes St. John’s Cathedral, Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe in addition crossing Millennium Bridge among other highlights.
Harry Potter fans will delight in this full-day, behind-the-scenes tour of the Harry Potter Warner Brothers studios. Super fans can add on this walking tour.
Tate Modern, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery are three of the world’s premier art museum. This all-day guided tour visits each of them, guiding visitors through the highlights while placing the works on view into historical and art historical context. Art lovers and newbies alike will appreciate this experience for different reasons. Aficionados will cherish the depth and conversation, newcomers will be introduced to a world beyond merely “looking at pictures,” opening a new world for discovery.
No tour of London is complete without a river cruise on the Thames.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that allow us to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Top Destinations Around London and the Home Counties
London Markets – Iconic Portobello Road Market, held every Saturday, is the world’s largest antiques market with over 1,000 vendors. Portobello Road Electric Cinema is one of the oldest movie cinemas in Britain.
Other lively London markets include the foodie’s paradise, Borough Market, Brick Lane Market, Columbia Road’s flower market and the collectables and popular culture for sale around the area of Camden Lock.
Pegsdon Hills – To the north of the Home Counties, just into Bedfordshire, the stunning chalk hills and quiet valleys of Pegsdon Hills at the north eastern end of the Chilterns greet nature lovers.
St. Albans – This Hertfordshire city 22 miles north of London takes its name from the first British Christian martyr, St. Alban. St. Albans Cathedral is one of the most notable local landmarks. Locals brag about having the most pubs per square mile in Britain.
Chartwell – Once the home of Sir Winston Churchill, this fine house near to Westerham, commands spectacular views over the Weald of Kent, and is now run by the National Trust.
Windsor – Aside from Buckingham Palace, this is the other royal residence in the Home Counties; the Queen often spends her weekends here. Buy your tickets in advance to avoid lines.
Nearby Windsor Castle exemplifies a fine mediaeval castle, near to the banks of the River Thames, the longest occupied palace anywhere in Europe.
A full-day guided excursion taking in Windsor Palace, Stonehenge and the historic university at Oxford leaves guests with a lifetime of memories.
Oxford – The oldest university in the English-speaking world resides here with many of its 38 colleges open to visitors in the afternoons. A walking tour guided by a student offers insights missed in the guide books.
Settings from around Oxford feature in the Harry Potter books and movies. Find them on this tour.
The Bodleian Library is the largest university library in the UK, housing an unparalleled collection, with more than nine million printed items. A private tour takes you through the stacks and into the nooks and crannies around campus.
Just outside Oxford, Kelmscott Manor, the summer home of poet and craftsman William Morris, can be found, as can the stupefying Blenheim Palace. Billing itself as “Britain’s Greatest Palace,” the baroque country house which serves as the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Marlborough hosts a full schedule of events throughout the year.
Whitstable – Famous for its oysters, this Kent seaside town is still accessible from London by main line train and is popular with local holidaymakers.
Charleston – This fine country house was once a meeting place for the writers, artists and intellectuals of the Bloomsbury Group. The house is open to visitors between the months of April and October. Two other local properties, Monks House and Berwick Church, will also be of interest to followers of the Group.
Brighton – The quintessential seaside town on the south coast in East Sussex has been a popular destination for Londoners for over 200 years. The fantastical Royal Pavilion was built as a pleasure palace for King George IV, combining Regency grandeur with the visual style of India and China.
Sissinghurst Castle – Set in the ruins of a once-magnificent Elizabethan house in Kent, the magnificent gardens and estate are the work of writers Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville-West, who first came to the largely derelict house in 1930. The property is now run by the National Trust.