Is your binge-watching inspiring a bit of wanderlust? These four U.K.-based options could be just what you need.
Binge-watching helped many of us get through the past two years. As restrictions ease and travel ramps back up, it’s becoming clear that all that streaming is inspiring our trip planning: Travelers are increasingly eager to create show-themed itineraries that allow them to walk in the footsteps of their favorite characters.
As the setting for many recent highly rated shows, the United Kingdom is the destination for some of the most popular “wanderlust streaming” trips. Consider these four options:
Raise a teacup
If you’re daydreaming about romance and scandal in Regency-era Britain, you’ve likely been watching “Bridgerton” on Netflix (and maybe even enjoying the book series). The show’s glamorous heroines and dashing gentlemen enjoy days and nights filled with dancing, dueling, and navigating high society.
British tour companies will build your dream itinerary around the show’s locations, which could include Syon House in London, where Queen Charlotte dined; Cobham’s Painshill landscape garden, the setting for several scenes; and Wilton House, home of the 18th Earl and Countess of Pembroke, which will be instantly recognizable as several Bridgerton family homes, including a royal palace.
The heart of the trip will be a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath. Stroll the famous Royal Crescent — the setting of the home of the Featheringtons — Bath Street, Beaufort Square, and Trim Street, which all appear in the show. With its cobbled streets and preserved buildings, the city itself is a time capsule. Stop and refuel at The Abbey Deli, which stands in for Modiste, the dress shop that plays a central role in the show.
Bring history to life
Millions of viewers found themselves swept away by the Starz historical drama “Outlander” (or by the novels), which tells the story of Claire, a World War II nurse who travels back in time to 1743 Scotland and falls in love with Jamie, a Highland warrior. The characters are fictional, but the show’s events are based on actual history.
Whether you opt for a guided or a self-driving tour of the show’s locations, you can learn about the Jacobite cause that Jamie fought for. This will also lead you on a trip through the gorgeous Scottish Highlands, filled with castles, rivers, heath, jagged mountains, and ancient standing stones.
You’ll see the site of the famous Battle of Culloden — and the ruins of a cottage where Jamie and Claire said their wrenching farewell before he went to fight in the pivotal battle where many hundreds of real Scots lost their lives. Be sure to visit Clava Cairns, a 4,000-year-old burial site seen on the show, and walk among the stones — a perfect place to contemplate the country’s storied history.
Stroll through a castle
Tales of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants captured the imaginations of millions on “Downton Abbey,” a much-beloved drama on PBS and in two related movies — one of which came out just this year. Much of the show was shot at Highclere Castle, about 60 miles outside of London; on a daylong private black cab tour from London, you can wander through the castle and the grounds.
You’ll get to peruse the library, home to more than 5,000 books, and see the 18th-century desk where the show’s patriarch, Lord Grantham, conducted business. The drawing room, whose walls are covered with family portraits and 19th-century mint green silk, is often the setting for family gatherings — both for the castle’s real residents and on “Downton Abbey.”
Thousands of acres of parkland filled with gardens, statues, and paths surround the castle. Look for the cedars of Lebanon, planted in the mid-18th century, often seen on the show. A nearby bench is where Lady Mary sat in various episodes, and it’s a perfect spot to rest for a moment.
Explore the scenes of the crimes
First broadcast in 1997, ITV’s “Midsomer Murders” is filmed in some of the most idyllic regions of England to create the fictional county of Midsomer, where Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby succeeded his cousin Tom in investigating its many murders.
The locations lend the show its charm, and they are filled with traditional pubs, village greens, and thatched cottages. On a self-guided drive — or a chauffeur-driven ride — starting in London, you will head across several quaint English counties.
Stop in the traditional market town of Wallingford and see its 9th-century streets and Elizabethan town hall. Characters are often seen walking in the market or driving across Wallingford Bridge. At Dorchester-on-Thames, one of the show’s loveliest backdrops, fans will recognize the medieval church and the post office.
In the afternoon, find your way to the historic Mapledurham House and Watermill — the only working watermill on the Thames — where several scenes were filmed and where you can enjoy a most British experience: traditional cream tea, made with flour from the watermill.