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Before and After RS 2 week Best of England tour

My husband and I would like to add 4 weeks to our two week Best of England tour, and leisurely see more of London, Great Britain, and Ireland.
We don't want to rent a car, and would like to spend at least 4-5 nights in each location, with maybe day trips to nearby places.
We already know that we want to spend more time in London before and/or after the tour (to see sights not included); go to Scotland for Edinburgh and Glasgow; and, any other recommended places in Ireland and Great Britain.
So, I would love and appreciate any ideas or tips for a good itinerary.
Thanking all you great forum members in advance!

Posted by
841 posts

It would help answering if you could give a brief itinerary of the places you are visiting on the RS tour. Answers can then builod up on that.

Posted by
22270 posts

You need to do some homework because it is difficult to respond to such a broad question. Hit the local library and check out some guidebooks and travel DVDs for those area. You have so many options. Maybe even a map so you can put pins in the map. Unfortunately the rail system in GB is the most expensive in Europe and there is a great benefit to purchasing rail tickets early. And you might consider open-jaw/multi city flight tickets. You may want to fly into London and come home from Edinburgh -- for example. Four weeks is a lot of time to fill. Give us some better directions as to what is important for you and your interests.

Posted by
34 posts

Good idea-thanks!
Fly into London
Tour starts in Bath-3 nights
Stone Circles and Cotswolds - 2 nights in Stow-on-the-Wold
Wales-2 nights in Conwy
Lake District - 2 nights in Keswick
Hadrian's Wall- 2 nights in York
London - (Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Thames river cruise) - 2 nights in London (and then tour is over)

Posted by
11051 posts

I loved the Best of England tour.

I'd suggest more time in Bath beforehand. I love Bath and the full day you have there is not enough to see everything. I'd add at least 3 nights so you've got 2 full days extra. There is plenty to do - several museums, the Prior Park garden, the American Museum if that's of interest, lots!!

If you've not been to Salisbury, I'd also add several nights here. The tour goes to Avebury but not Stonehenge so I'd plan for at least 3 nights here with one full day doing public transport out to Stonehenge/Old Sarum and the other seeing things in Salisbury (Museum, Cathedral, Close, etc.)

I'd add a week in London afterward. The 2 nights in London are not enough to scratch the surface.

Posted by
22544 posts

What are the dates for your tour?

What sorts of sights and activities interest you? That will help guide responses.

I'm big on art museums; 20th-century history; attractive, varied architecture (especially Art Nouveau and half-timbered buildings); gardens; dramatic scenery and walking on pavement or groomed trails. I don't care for castles, palaces or most historic sites unless they are beautiful or full of high-class art. I use public transportation only, so my bases are chosen for their good transportation links to other places I want to go.

These are places in England and Scotland where I've spent at least three nights, usually taking at least one daytrip: London, Brighton, Weymouth, Mevagissey, St. Ives, Oxford, Cambridge, Norwich, Bristol, Newcastle, York, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Portree and Oban. In most cases I could have stayed an extra day or two and taken more daytrips. I try hard to avoid taking a bunch of daytrips while staying in a city with expensive hotels such as London or Edinburgh.

You'll need to be selective to make the most of your extra four weeks without spending too much time traveling back and forth across the UK and Ireland. I haven't been to Ireland, but I've noticed that most people who go to Scotland want to spend some time in the Highlands and see at least an island or two, not focus solely on Edinburgh and Glasgow. Public transportation in those areas is typically neither rapid nor frequent.

Weather challenges (it rains a lot in the west, especially) make blitzing from place to place a risky strategy, because a lot of sightseeing is outdoors. Result: Getting a decent look at rural Scotland as well as its two major cities takes some time, especially via public transportation. I had to be selective on my 26-day trip in 2019, and my travel mate with only 19 days was even more frustrated about what she didn't have time for.

While four weeks certainly provides you the option of including Ireland and/or Northern Ireland, I'd focus on Great Britain on this trip to avoid the additional transportation overhead required for Ireland/N.I., and I don't know that I'd try to include both Wales and Scotland. The best strategy there would depend on your interests.

Posted by
5678 posts

A couple of days in Bath ahead of the tour would be a good idea. Certainly you'll want to stay longer in London, maybe a week, after the tour, with a day trip to Windsor. Salisbury (with Stonehenge) is an excellent idea. Either Oxford or Cambridge would be another. So would Canterbury and Dover. Taking acraven's point about lodging, I'd plan at least one or two nights in each of those places, rather than day trips from London.

The National Rail website can help you plan a logical route, with the help of a guidebook and map as Frank recommended. British trains are expensive, especially if you haven't bought well ahead, which means you'll have to plan with some care. Planning four extra weeks in Britain, on top of a well-designed tour, is a good problem to have. Enjoy solving it, and come back here with more specific questions about places and logistics.

Posted by
3165 posts

The easiest way to do this is to add another Rick Steves tour before and after.

You might think of adding Best of South England in 13 Days, which begins in Canterbury:

This tour ends in Bath which is where your RS Best of England in 14 Days tour will begin.
Your Best of England in 14 Days tour ends in London, giving you a chance to stay several extra days in London.

You could then add one of Rick's Scotland tours. Perhaps Best of Scotland in 13 Days.
It's easy to take the train from London to Glasgow, the starting point for this tour.
Ends in Edinburgh; you could fly home from there.

There's also a tour with fewer days in Scotland, but still giving you a taste.
Heart of Scotland in 8 Days:

This should fill up your time and give you a thorough look around England and Scotland.
Perhaps leave Ireland for next time.

We enjoyed our RS Best of England in 14 Days tour very much.
We went in 2018. One of the highlights for us was Wales. The other personal favorite was Bath.
Also we loved the Lake District.
Wait...I left out Hadrian's Wall and York....both fabulous.
It was all good. You're going to have a great time!!

Posted by
2278 posts

I wouldn’t leave London until after seeing the Churchill War Rooms (buy tickets in advance) and the British Museum. You might also want to add the Victoria and Albert Museum. To enhance your trip, buy Rick Steves Great Britain guidebook 23rd edition. You can take a direct train from London’s Kings Cross station to Edinburgh (5h 45m). Glasgow makes a good day trip from Edinburgh (1h by direct train).
You can fly from Edinburgh to Dublin on Ryanair for $25. Good day trip options from Dublin include Brú na Bóinne and Trim. You can sign up for tours at the visitor center. I would also buy Rick Steves Ireland guidebook. The 21st edition will be available this fall.
From Dublin rent a car and drive to Dingle and visit the peninsula before flying home from Shannon. Good stops along the way are Kilkenny and the Rock of Cashel. If you do fly out of Shannon also stop at the Cliffs of Moher.

Posted by
841 posts

I'm assuming you want to visit different places to those already visited?

If so, starting from London, consider a few days in either Cambridge ( University town) OR Norwich (Castle, cathedral, access to Norfolk Broads and Noerth Norfolk coast...) Then head north via Stamford (pit stop on the way to York). York is a walled town with superb Minster and a range of museums. The National Railway Museum is here. It also gives access to the North York Moors and you might want to spaned some time here (basing yourself in say Pickering or Helmsley) There are ruined abbeys, trip on the North York Moors Steam Railway, Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay etc

Have a couple of nights in Durham (cathedral and castle) before heading to Northumberland as your next base. This rarely features on the tourist itinerary which is a great shame. People rush through on there was to Scotland and don't know what they are missing. Choose somewere like Alnwich or Rothbury as a base as this will give you access to most of Northumberland. Plan in a trip across the tidal causeway to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, and also a boat trip to the Farne islands. There is Alnwick Castle and its gardens, Bamburgh Castle, the ruined Warkworth Castle. Walk along the shore from Craster to the dramartic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. (no road access - you have to walk...) Cragside is well worth visiting and is described as the house where modern living began. There is also Keilder Forest and Keilder Water, as well as the Cheviot... You might also want to revisit Hadrian's Wall.

Then drive to Edinburgh - Castle, Holyroodhouse, Rosslyn Chapel and lots of museums. There are the ruined border abbeys of Jedburgh, Melrose and Dryburgh as well as ruined castles of Direlton, Tantallon, Blackness. Glasgow and Stirling (with its castle) can easily be done by train from Edinburgh.

This has probably more than filled your four weeks!