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From City to Country: Three Very British Days Out

From City to Country: Three Very British Days Out

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Thanks to a network of rail and bus routes, you can get anywhere in the UK without a car, from maritime cities like Bristol to bewitching Cotswolds villages.

Day 1: London to Bristol
You've done London, and navigated the capital's Underground, so now you're ready for some far-flung adventures -- although not so far, and flinging is optional, and may depend on what pubs you visit. Head to Paddington station, stopping to pay respects to the world's second most famous bear (no-one tops Winnie), under the clock on Platform 1, before catching a train to Bristol. They leave frequently, and tickets are cheapest if bought in advance (try The journey takes just under two hours, and most trains have free wifi and a restaurant car for refreshment.

Once in Bristol, start with a view from the top in Clifton Village, Bristol's most picturesque neighborhood. Admire the bewitching Georgian and Regency-style row houses as you make your way toward the famous suspension bridge for a heart-pounding view of the pine-studded gorge below. Book a "Swim and Lunch" package at the Lido spa ($54) and enjoy fresh smoked salmon on sourdough or Turkish poached eggs. Follow Park Street down the slope back into the city center, making time to appreciate Banksy's Well Hung Lover at the intersection with Frogmore Street. One of the few things we know about the mysterious artist is he was born in Bristol. If you're visiting in late June, you may catch the annual Naked Bike Ride, so prepare for plenty of flesh and sweat! End your day at The Ox, located inside a metal-lined basement bank vault, a contemporary take on a classic steakhouse with standout cocktails like the Quick Fix (Tanqueray gin, lemon, rhubarb syrup, rose vermouth).

Pittville-pump-room-cheltenham_ve13387Day 2: Bristol to Cheltenham Spa
It's about an hour by train from Bristol to Cheltenham, one of Britain's finest Regency towns, at the edge of the famous Cotswolds. A spa town since 1716, when the discovery of mineral springs turned it into a magnet for the gentry, visitors can still sample the famous waters at the Pittville Pump Room, designed in the style of a Greek temple and erected in 1827. Foodies may want to have lunch at Purslane, which specializes in seafood, or Le Champignon Sauvage, which has two Michelin stars to its name. From Cheltenham, it's an easy bus ride to Bourton-on-the-Water, one of the prettiest villages in Britain set along the tranquil Windrush river, or Stow-on-the-Wold, the highest town in the Cotswolds.

Oxford_toa-heftiba-95455Day 3: Cheltenham to Oxford
"I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful," wrote the great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats. And it's true--the city is a miracle of glorious architecture, ancient university quads, and the dreamy River Cherwell, on which students really do punt. A two-hour train ride from Cheltenham (slightly shorter by bus), you can and should spend a day exploring Oxford's wonderful museums and galleries. Start with the Ashmolean, with its mix of antiquities and art, including the amazing painted panel by Italian Renaissance artist Paolo Uccello of huntsmen and hounds in full cry. Then take a tour of the Bodleian Library, one of Europe's greatest and oldest libraries, with an extraordinary collection of books, maps, and illustrations. While you're there, experience the city's emerging craft beer scene at Jericho Tavern with a range of local beers on tap and in bottles, or Beerd which specializes in some of the U.K.'s most exciting craft brewers. Walk off your buzz by tracing the steps of Lord of the Rings creator, J.R.R. Tolkien, and his friend C.S. Lewis, author of the Narnia books (, which passes through the colleges where the writers bequeathed their indelible creations to the world. Don't rush: trains and buses will return you back to London right up to midnight.

Enter for a Chance to Go #OUTInBritain. The UK is calling!

We've teamed up with VisitBritain to give away a six-night trip for two to Great Britain, and the winner could be you. The grand prize includes a three-night stay at The Rosebery in London, a three-night stay at Midland Hotel in Manchester, plus roundtrip airfare from the U.S. All you have to do to enter? Submit your information via this form, and let us know why someone you LOVE is GREAT.

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