Rail itineraries – Southern Heritage & Maritime 5 day itinerary

This 5 day itinerary offers a glimpse into Britain’s heritage, with the city of Bath and its Roman, Georgian and Victorian influences. This is followed by Stonehenge, located near the beautiful city of Salisbury, then on to Portsmouth with its rich naval history. The tour finishes with Brighton – a regency era city with a vibrant history.

Start your journey

For centuries Bath has been the place where people came to in order to relax. The ancient Romans came here for the hot thermal waters, and the Victorians came here to take the healing waters and to shop. As a result, Bath today is a mix of ancient culture and refined boutiques, beautiful historic Georgian architecture and elegant eateries, with the Roman Baths still a centrepiece of the city.

For short trips, individual rail tickets can be booked in advance through the Trainline. For longer journeys, one of the easiest and most relaxing ways to explore Britain is with a BritRail Pass, which allows unlimited journeys and the freedom to explore.

Days 1-2

Bath

The train journey from London Paddington to Bath takes around 1 hour and 25 minutes.

Things to do in Bath

City Sightseeing

One of the most famous images of Bath is those golden stone Georgian terraced houses. There’s the magnificent sweep of them at the Royal Crescent, and also a complete circle at the nearby Circus. After exploring the stylish shopping streets and arcades, the highlights of Bath are best discovered from on board the hop on hop off city sightseeing bus.

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Roman Baths

One of best preserved ancient sites in Europe, the Roman Baths are a must-see. Admiring the colonnaded pools and immersing oneself in the stories of the Romans at leisure shouldn’t be missed. The Roman Baths are a 5 minute walk from the train station.

Website: Roman Baths

Thermae Bath Spa

The natural thermal waters of Thermae Bath Spa offer visitors the modern equivalent of the ancient Roman Baths. There is no better way to experience the naturally warm, mineral-rich waters than by bathing in their rooftop pool overlooking Bath’s city skyline. Thermae is a 5 minute walk from the train station.

Website: Thermae Bath Spa

No. 1 Royal Crescent

The Royal Crescent is a sweeping curve of 30 terraced houses built between 1767 and 1774 and a splendid example of Georgian architecture. No. 1 Royal Crescent is a popular museum and No. 16 is the Royal Crescent Hotel and Spa.

Website: No.1 Royal Crescent

Jane Austen Centre

The Jane Austen Centre celebrates one of Bath’s most famous residents. It offers a glimpse into the Regency period, when Jane Austen lived, the chance to discover how the city of Bath inspired her writing, and the opportunity to dress up in one of the many Regency era costumes available at the centre.

Website: the Jane Austen Centre

Fashion Museum

This museum is a must see for fashionistas and is in the world’s top 10 museums of fashionable dress. The Fashion Museum displays over 400 years of costumes, offering the perfect opportunity to dress up and be photographed against a Victorian background!

Website: the Fashion Museum

Day 3

Salisbury

Catching the train to Salisbury early the next morning, gives a full day in the city. The journey takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes, after which we suggest leaving luggage at the hotel and exploring freely.

Salisbury is one of the best known of Britain’s many cathedral cities, and its historic cathedral is one of Britain’s finest. Beyond this, the city has a wealth of historic pubs and beautiful rural scenery.

Things to do in Salisbury

Stonehenge

Stonehenge can be reached by bus from Salisbury station. Dating back to about 3100BC, the original purpose and method of construction of this ancient stone circle remain a mystery to this day, though theories suggest everything from sun temples to musical instruments. It is particularly worth taking time to watch the  brilliant time lapse recreation which shows the life of the monument from its construction.

Website: Stonehenge

Old Sarum

Old Sarum was where the earliest settlement of Salisbury was located, 2 miles away from the modern city on a hilltop. There’s evidence of habitation here dating back to 3000BC, and the Normans built a great cathedral and a motte-and-bailey fort here in the 11th century, signs of which can still be seen today.

Website: Old Sarum

Day 4

Portsmouth

The train journey to Portsmouth takes around 1 hour 15 mins to 1 hour and 30 mins. Situated on the south coast, this is the UK’s only island city with an incredible naval heritage and it's also the birthplace of Charles Dickens. Portsmouth has numerous museums, galleries and a beautiful waterfront with great bars and restaurants, ready to be explored.

Things to do in Portsmouth

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Visitors can drop their bags at the hotel and then get exploring! Portsmouth is an historic town famous for its maritime past. The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, in particular, is a fantastic and unique way to explore some truly iconic ships.

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Spinnaker Tower

Built to resemble a wind-filled sail, the Spinnaker tower is a 150m viewing platform which offers fantastic views over Portsmouth and out to sea. It’s two and half times as tall as Nelson’s Column in London, and well worth a visit to get a great look over South East England.

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HMS Warrior 1860

HMS Warrior was the largest and most powerful warship of its era launching in 1860. Powered by steam and sail it was the pride of Queen Victoria’s fleet. Warrior is a survivor of the once formidable Victorian Navy and now serves as a museum ship and visitor attraction.

Website: HMS Warrior 1860

Day 5

Brighton

Brighton is one of Britain’s most exciting coastal cities and takes approximately 1hr 20 mins (direct) from Portsmouth. It is full of culture, great shopping, and surrounded by the magnificent South Downs countryside.

After spending the night in Brighton, it's back on the train to London Victoria, taking around 1 hour. For those who have not have a chance to see everything they wanted to they may choose to spend another day by the sea before catching the train back in the evening.

Things to do in Brighton

Royal Pavilion

King George IV’s magnificent pleasure palace is known, rather understatedly, as Brighton Pavilion. Built with grand Indian-style architecture on the outside, its interior is decorated like a Chinese palace, with golden dragons and brilliant colours. A guided tour is the best way to reveal its fascinating history. The Pavilion is a 10 minute walk from Brighton station.

Website: the Royal Pavilion

Brighton Sea Life Centre

Home to sharks, stingrays, seahorses, turtles and more, the SEA LIFE Centre is the perfect place to learn all about life underwater, conservation and the animals’ feeding habits. It is just 10 minutes from the train station on foot.

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British Airways i360

At 138 metres,  the futuristic BA i360 is the world’s tallest moving observation tower. From the tower’s glass viewing pod there are fantastic views of Regency Brighton, the beautiful landscapes of the South Downs and, on a clear day, of Beachy Head, the Seven Sisters and the Isle of Wight.

Website: British Airways i360

Britrail Pass

For those exploring Britain by train, a BritRail Pass is the easiest and most cost-effective way to travel. For a single fixed price, pass holders can make unlimited train journeys around the whole country or a region of their choice. BritRail tickets are exclusive to overseas visitors so they will need to buy their ticket before they arrive in the UK.

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