World-famous for its annual rowing regatta, Henley-on-Thames conjures up images of chaps in boaters and blazers, summer days and strawberries. And on the first weekend in July every year, that's exactly what you'll find, as this pretty, prosperous town is thronged with hundreds of rowers plus thousands of supporters and champagne-swilling socialites.
Come at any other time of year and the same ingredients are here with fewer crowds, making Henley a great choice for a riverside short break. Rowers scull along the river, shoppers bustle between independent shops and cafés, families enjoy the grassy banks of the Thames, and couples hang out in the local Hotel du Vin. There are boats to hire, the River and Rowing museum to explore, the quirky little Kenton Theatre to visit, and plenty of space on Mill Meadows to spread out a picnic blanket and snooze. (Families will also appreciate the brilliant playgrounds at Freemans Meadows, just in front of the railway station.)
Henley is something of a festival town, too. As well as the regatta, there's an international film festival in April, a big-name music and arts festival in July, the 1980s Rewind festival in August, and a literary festival in September.