Downton Abbey is a huge success all around the globe and one thing it has certainly done is generate interest in travel to Great Britain. Did you know you can explore the halls of ‘Downton Abbey’ (aka Highclere Castle) yourself? Or that you can walk through Downton Village (actually Bampton)?
You can indeed!
So, we’ve put together a listing of all the Downton Themed tours that you can take in Britain. Some are day trips, some you can do on your own, some are entire package holidays and we finish with a company with will custom design your Downton themed trip to Britain.
Visiting Highclere Castle on your Own
You don’t need an all encompassing tour to visit the star of Downton Abbey – the house itself. It’s actually a major tourist attraction and you can book tickets to visit it yourself on their website. You have to plan ahead, however, as access is controlled and they only allow a certain number of visitors a day (you can’t just turn up). So, booking your tickets ahead (many months in advance) is essential. The property is also not open every day – so you must check their website for opening times as it’s not the same on any given day. If you join the Historic Houses Association, you can turn up on any day it’s open and gain free entry without booking in advance.
The best way to get there is by car by following the signs on the A34. But you can also get there by train if you take a train from London Paddington to Newbury and then take a taxi from the train station to the house. There are National Express buses to Newbury as well and you can get a Taxi from the town center.
Check the Highclere Website in early February for them to release tickets for summer 2013 – it will be important to book RIGHT AWAY as tickets will sell out fast.
Downton Coach Tour or a Private Chauffeured Tour
The large tour company Viator offers two options for exploring the world of Downton Abbey.
The first is a Downton Abbey Day Trip with stop at Christ Church College in Oxford. On this tour you’ll see: See top filming locations from the award-winning ‘Downton Abbey’ television series and several Harry Potter films on a full-day tour from London. After touring Christ Church College in Oxford, home to the legendary Hogwarts dining room, head to Highclere Castle in Hampshire – the real life Downton Abbey. Here you’ll get a real taste of Edwardian England, learning about popular characters from the much-loved period drama, as well as the real-life family who have owned the castle since the 17th century. This is a full day tour. Departures are from London Victoria Station and prices start at $128 per person and include all entrance fees.
The second tour is for those that may prefer to get away from large groups. The Private Tour: ‘Downton Abbey’ Film Locations Tour by Private Chauffeur is an all day tour of Highclere Castle that includes your own driver so you don’t have to be in a large tour group. Here are the full tour details: Go back to the Edwardian era on this three-hour private tour of sites from the popular television period drama ‘Downton Abbey.’ This is an amazing opportunity for fans of the TV show to travel in style with a private driver to chauffeur you around – just like the Crawleys themselves! Visit major filming locations, including Highclere Castle (the real-life Downtown Abbey) and the village of Bampton (the real-life Downton village). BUYER BEWARE, this tour DOES NOT include entry in the castle in the price, so you’ll need to get tickets on your own or risk disappointment on the day (or get the above mentioned HHA memebership). Cost starts at $222 per person and they’ll pick you up at your hotel.
Highclere Castle and Village Locations Tour from Brit Movie Tours
The folks over at the excellent Brit Movie Tours offer two options to explore the world of Downton Abbey.
The first is a Downton Abbey and Village Tours:
TOUR A – Downton Abbey and Village Tour
Depart from central London for the charming Oxfordshire village that has been featured as Downton Village. Here you will get a guided tour of the locations such as Downton hospital, the village pub, the home of Matthew Crawley and the local church. A short comfort break will be taken here. Having explored the village you will then travel to Highclere Castle that is used as the main Downton Abbey set. On the way you will learn about the 1000 year history of Highclere Castle and life ‘above and below stairs’.
Food for lunch can be purchased at Highclere Castle or you can bring your own lunch and enjoy it in the beautiful grounds. Although guided tours are not allowed inside the castle you’ll be able to explore independently the ‘Above Stairs’ area of Downton Abbey with the aid of our self guided information sheet. As you wander around the estate you will be able to imagine life as it was over 100 years ago and enter the world of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants. LAST FEW PLACES LEFT FOR 2013. Private Tours available between mid July and 12 Sep only.
The Second is a tour that doesn’t visit Highclere but other important Downton Related filming locations:
TOUR B – Downton Abbey Country Film Locations Tour
After a visit to Downton village and other picturesque villages located in Oxfordshire that have been used as locations in Downton the next stop will be at the beautiful grounds that were used as the setting of Downton Place in series 3. Here lunch can be taken and you will be able to explore the 16th century house and grounds. You will finish the day with a guided tour of the property used as the home of the Dowager Countess and enjoy tea in the ‘Downton Room’ where many of the scenes with Maggie Smith take place.
Please note that this tour does not visit Downton Abbey due to the limited opening times of Highclere Castle.
Both tours are priced at £75 ($120 USD) and depart from central London.
Downton Abbey Tours with P&P Tours
Jane Austen themed tour company P&P tours offers up the chance to experience the world of Downton Abbey in two different way.
They offer a 1 day trip to Highclere Castle along with a visit to the villages where the show is filmed. From the website: “On this tour we take you to the interior and exterior of Downton Abbey, plus the charming village of Downton where many of the exterior scenes are filmed. You will visit the church and see the exterior of the house lived in by Mrs Crawley, Matthew Crawley’s mother, the exterior of the village hospital, and street scenes. The tour also takes in beautiful English countryside.” This tour departs from Oxford so you’ll have to get there on your own. The cost is £95 ( $150 USD).
They also offer a 3 day and offers all of the above plus two nights hotel accommodation with breakfast. There’s also a tour of many more locations related to the show in addition to a chance to look and wear at period costumes. This tour leaves and returns from Central London. The cost is £747 ($1200 USD) per person (for two people, a single is £897 ($1450 USD)).
Link: Full Information here
Downton Abbey Walking Tour
If you fancy a bit more adventure, The Wayfarers are offering up a 1 week long walking tour of Downton Themed locations. The tour takes in Castle Combe and Lacock, two of England’s loveliest villages, the stone circles at Avebury, the House and Gardens at Bowood House, a private tour of Highclere Castle (TV’s Downton Abbey), a day in Winchester, former capital of Wessex, and a tour of its magnificent cathedral. The walk is rated as moderate. Country byways, well-troden footpaths, village lanes, low hills with 6-10 miles of walking per day. The Walk begins at Castle Combe, arrival at Chippenham Rail Station and ends in Winchester, departure from Winchester Rail Station. The cost is $4,195 per person (based on two bookings) or $4,760 for a single person.
Link: Full information here
Escorted Downton Tours with DH Tours
DH Tours offers several ways that you can visit Downton Abbey. Their regular 1 week London tours offer a day at Downton where you’ll get a private tour of the house and all the rooms made famous in the show as well as a visit to the village of Bampton (where the village scenes are filmed). Prices for this tour start at $1579 (airfare not included). Their 11-night Literature tour of Britain also includes a day at Downton and prices start at $3520. They also offer the ultimate tour of Britain’s Royal Palaces and they also include the same day at Downton. The price for this is $2980.
Link: DH Downton Tours Website
Have a Custom Trip Designed for you!
If a group tour doesn’t suit your taste, Across the Pond Vacations can custom-design a fantastic tour for the traveler who prefers a tailor-made itinerary. For 2013, tours are already being designed to include ‘Downton Abbey’ highlights, including Highclere Castle, the Oxfordshire village of Bampton, and so much more! Across the Pond Vacations creates tours for any number of travelers from 1 – 99. And because these tours are “made to order,” they can be of any length, and accommodation can range from three to five-star (or an eclectic mix of all, including a stay in a castle or manor house). Sightseeing can range from the classics to the unique and unusual. Call Across the Pond Vacations today at 310-791-6101, email: DowntonAbbey@atpvacations.com, or visit the website at: http://www.atpvacations.com/.
Author’s Note: If you book any of these trips, please be sure to tell them you heard about their tours on Anglotopia!
So, have you started planning your Downton themed trip to Britain? If you plan one, please leave a comment and tell us all about it!