Hi everyone. My husband and I will spend 10 days in the UK in a few months, and I'd love any recommendations as we start our planning. We're flying in and out of Heathrow so we should begin and end in London, though we don't need more than a few days there since we've been there before. We would love to see some of the English countryside and villages, and also Scotland if possible. Can anyone recommend a feasible itinerary? I'm trying to do my research about distances and travel options, but I'm a little overwhelmed since I'm unfamiliar with most of the country. I'd be so appreciative of any tips you more experienced UK travelers can offer. Thank you!
After more than 40 trips over 20+ years this is one of our favorites (we do trains and sometimes local buses - no driving in Europe for us):
London- 1 or 2 nights ( or you could take the train on up to York and spend 2 nights here on the way home)
train to York- 1 or 2 nights
train to Edinburgh- 1 or 2 nights
train to Aviemore- 1 to 3 nights
train to Inverness- 2 or more nights
train back to London and stay there at least 1 night prior to flight home
I know that's more than 10 days, but you'll have decide your priorities. The train rides are all less than 3 hours (some a lot less). Aviemore is a small village in the Cairngorms. You can hike or ride a funicular up Mt. Cairngorm, ride a restored steam train roundtrip along the Spey River, hike, ride horses, or canoe (and more) at Rothemurchie Estate, visit the Heather Center and the Reindeer Center, tour the local microbrewery. AND it makes a great base to visit some awesome whisky distilleries- easy to reach by bus or train or there is a special "whisky taxi". Blair Atholl castle is a very short train ride away.
Inverness is a great base, too. Lots of day trips available and one of the best Tourist Information Offices I've seen.
Toni, thank you so much for your thoughtful reply! You've given me a lot to think about, and you've helped take away some of the early-stage planning jitters. I feel like I've at least got a starting point now. Thanks again!
Something like this is possible over 9 nights from London by rail, utilising direct services for all journeys except the short hop from Oxenholme to Windermere in the Lake District.
London to Lake District (Oxenholme) (2 nts)
Lake District (Oxenholme) to Edinburgh (2 nts)
Edinburgh to Durham (1 nt)
Durham to York (1 nt)
York to Cotswolds (Cheltenham) (2 nts)
Cotswolds (Moreton-in-Marsh) to Oxford (1 nt)
Oxford to London
In the Lake District and the Cotswolds, perhaps look for countryside accommodation that can pick you up from the station, or at least arrange a car with driver to do so. Your time is precious.
Thanks for your suggestions, djp_syd and Keith! These are also very helpful.
Either fly straight up to Scotland and spend your time there driving a loop or fly/train to Edinburgh then after a couple of days there, hire a car and make your way back south. I prefer the east coast - Northumberland castles and fantastic coastline, Hadrian's Wall, Durham, Beamish museum, Whitby, York then the train back to London.
If you want to go to Scotland, I would suggest that you don't have time to go to the Cotswolds on this trip, unless you want to spend more time in traffic than actually visiting places. The weather is generally better on the east coast.
My wife and I just returned from eastern Europe and hope to return to Great Britain next year around Thanksgiving. We have been to London a few years ago and only traveled by rail. Very easy, but I suggest that you check for reservations before you board any train. Have a good trip. Jim
Check the National Trust UK site for some itinerary ideas. If you want to see the countryside and some of the Great Estates and Gardens you should consider driving for time saving convenience and flexibility. We did 2 road trips in the UK. We did one in April and one in September/October. A lot of the Sites in Scotland do not open until late March or early April. But Edinburgh and Glasgow would have plenty to see.
Edinburgh is actually not that big so you can get by without a car there. I would pass on going north to the "Highlands"; you would need another week. There are actually a lot of historic places to visit on your way to Scotland such as all the ruined Abbeys in the Borders and Castles in the SW of Scotland. A car allows you to get to see things that aren't so easy to get to; thus smaller crowds. Both the Cotswolds and the Lake District are likely to be full of Day Trippers....but if you are driving you can see what you want to see and move on. Don't over plan, just route yourself to places such as cathedrals that you may find to fantastic such as Durham and York. I think on day is enough for York itself as it is really small. Stay in a B&B in the countryside or inn in a small town. Follow your personal interests. We liked to go to all the Flea Markets and Antique Shows. Bon Voyage
With only 10 days, if you wanted to see Scotland you should have booked an open jaw pairing London with Glasgow, Edinburgh or Aberdeen. In and out of London I would suggest a loop staying in England.
I like Tom's suggestion and land in London but fly out of Edinburgh, if you can. Regardless, most of these suggestions involve too many moves. After a night or two in London, I'd do 2 in Lake District or Bath, 2 or 3 in Edinburgh and one more stop of 2-3 days. I'm a big fan of bus daytrips to see a region's sites. I've done 4 out of London with EvanEvans (best was Windsor Castle/Bath/Stonehenge), and two this summer in Edinburgh (west to Stirling, Loch Lomand, a distillery, via Highland Express; and one to the east coast, mostly St. Andrews, via Rabbies).
I'm always fascinated by the number of posts where people are going to the UK for just 10 days. How many weeks annual holiday leave do workers get in the USA. Given the relatively short hop 'over the ditch' for you guys, 10 days seems such a short time??? Just curious
@ Judy- unfortunately there is NO guaranteed vacation time in the US. Many people get 1 or 2 weeks a year- thus the 10 day trips. Those that do get more often cannot or do not want to take it in large amounts for various reasons.
Why do American workers put up with it? Always wondered about that.
"Why do American workers put up with it? Always wondered about that."
Yes and also the tipping culture.
Interesting. Thank you for this information. One to two weeks annual leave. That's archaic. Almost pre industrial revolution. Workers here on permanent contracts are entitled to 4 weeks annual leave. Casual hospitality/retail staff earn in the vicinity of $18.00 per hour and are paid double that if they work on the weekend or on public holidays. Hence, Aussies don't feel the need to tip. The majority of these positions are usually filled by young workers/students between ages of 17 - 30.
Tipping: this isn't something for nothing. In the US wait staff is usually more plentiful because there's more money being put into service. Yes too solicitous is annoying but not nearly as annoying as a 45 minute wait for the check at a Copenhagen Wagamama.
If you decide not to do London, then why not investigate flying into Birmingham? Smaller airport, and you can head right for Stratford on Avon, and the head up north. For those that say "you need a week to see the Highlands", well, yes, kind of. But (esp. if you have a car) you can get a feel for the place in a couple of days - enought to decide if you want to go back. Go to Stirling, the Trossachs and maybe up to Pitlochry. As others have said, open jaw is the way to go: fly out from Scotland: it will save you a day getting back to London (or Birmingham, or wherever).