Spend three days in the English countryside. Tour the University of Oxford, Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds, and enjoy an exclusive visit to Highclere Castle, known to television audiences worldwide as Downton Abbey. Three nights at an Oxford hotel, daily breakfasts, three guided tours and transport between Paris and London via Eurostar are included.

Aug $1,499
Oct-Nov $1,499

Day 1 | London

Fly in to London’s Heathrow airport and take a ride to the historic town of Oxford, about an hour away. Check in to your centrally located Oxford hotel; relax this evening.

Day 2 | Oxford

After breakfast, you have a walking tour of the colleges of the University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, dating back to the 11th century. It has educated Nobel Prize winners, kings, presidents, prime ministers, scientists, explorers, artists, authors and actors.

This afternoon, visit nearby Blenheim Palace. Built in the English baroque style between 1705 and 1724, this monumental stately home is the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough, birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, and was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Tour the State Rooms, filled with exquisite examples of superb craftsmanship and priceless treasures collected over three centuries; experience the beauty and tranquility of the surrounding parklands, lakes and follies. After the palace tour, take a drive to the quintessentially English Cotswolds. See enchanting typical stone villages, elegant market towns and cottages where local crafts like weaving are practiced as they have been for centuries. Return to Oxford for the evening. (B)

Day 3 | Highclere Castle

Your morning is free to explore—you might visit the university’s famous Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology and the Bodleian Library, or stop in at the Eagle and Child, the long, narrow pub where J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and the other Inklings used to drink and discuss their craft. This afternoon, take a half-hour ride through the rolling Hampshire countryside to Highclere Castle, the “real” Downton Abbey. Built in the Victorian Gothic style by Sir Charles Barry, who also built the Houses of Parliament, this is the country seat of the distinguished Earls of Carnarvon, renowned for their influence abroad as well as in Britain. You are welcomed with champagne and then given a tour of the castle’s public rooms, including the magnificent main hall, dining room, library and sitting rooms as well as other areas featured in Downton Abbey. Spend some free time enjoying the parklands, designed by Lancelot “Capability” Brown who also designed the grounds of Blenheim Palace, before heading back to Oxford. (B)

Day 4 | London

After breakfast, check out of your hotel and drive to St. Pancras Station in London. See some of London’s iconic sights, such as Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and “Big Ben,” along the way. Board the high-speed Eurostar train, which will bring you to Paris in less than three hours to begin your itinerary. (B)

The following meals are included:
B = Breakfast

† Please note that your itinerary may vary slightly depending on your arrival date but will include all the elements shown.

* Airport meet and greet transfers included when air is purchased from Viking Cruises.

NOTE: Explore More pricing is based on extension hotel check-in date. Extension availability is limited and some restrictions apply with regard to departure date and cruise direction. Please call for details.

Paris & the Heart of Normandy River Cruise Extensions - 2015 Paris to Rouen to Paris - Explore More: Oxford & Highclere Castle Pre