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England, Scotland, & Ireland Summer 2016

Hi all!
My son and myself are just starting to jell out this big vacation, and I have questions!
It has been decided that we do want to see these places. My son is a HUGE history buff, so its all about seeing anything historical. I on the other hand am open to all of it..My only requirements are Abbey road and Liverpool ( Magical Mystery Tour). Kid is a Beatles fan too, so win/win.
Okay Here are the questions:
Will 20 days give us a pretty good experience? I don't want to hurry,hurry,hurry! But of course, I want to see it all!
Should we find a tour company? In all honesty, I don't know if we would like this sort of tours yes!..But with a group for days at a time? I don't know.
Is it even possible to absolutely enjoy ourselves with only 20 days? It looks like ALOT of land and ALOT of things to see.
Can we do all this via rail and or ferry?
Any suggestions would be highly appreciated.

Posted by
2338 posts

no need for a tour group - look at flying into one airport and home from another

if travelling by train use to plan out train tickets and times

you can get a ferry across the Irish Sea but a flight may be quicker and cheaper

you will never have enough time to see everything but come back for more advice when you've decided exactly where you want to go

Posted by
6113 posts

Although 20 days sounds like a long time, unless you want to dash round, I would just pick 2 of the 3 countries if you want a real insight. England and Scotland are the easiest two as you don't have to catch a ferry or plane.

Group tours will not work for this kind of holiday and it is easy to plan and book yourself. You may want to have a few day trips in organised groups. Book rail tickets 12 weeks ahead for the best prices.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank You Both! Ill be back in a few days with a tad bit more of an idea as to what and where will be important for us to see. I suppose if we don't get to see everything..then in 2017 we will have to come back and see what we missed..and 2018 etc. Again Thanks a bunch!

Posted by
7175 posts

20 days does not give you a great deal of time, so I would limit Ireland and Scotland to stays in Dublin and Edinburgh only.

Fly in to Dublin - 4 nts (consider a day trip)
Fly to Edinburgh - 4 nts (consider a day trip to Stirling/St Andrews)
Train to Durham - 1 nt
Train to York - 1 nt
Train to Liverpool - 1 nt
Train to Cheltenham (for Cotswolds) - 2 nts
Train to Bath - 1 nt
Train to Salisbury (for Stonehenge) - 1 nt
Train to London - 5 nts (consider a day trip to Oxford)

Posted by
3428 posts

With 20 days you can get a TASTE of each country. And YES you CAN ENJOY yourselves. And NO you CANNOT see IT ALL (we've done more than 40 trips to the UK, including one that included Ireland and we haven't see it all yet). AND it might require more 'hurry, hurry, hurry' than you'd be comfortable with (remember you usually loose 1/2 to a whole day each time you change locations). And I don't think there is a packaged group tour that would meet your needs and desires. So you need to do a bit of 'work'.....

First- You and your son need to talk and set some priorities. For example could you do with seeing Abbey Road and skip Liverpool or are they your #1 priorities? Would he like to focus on a particular time period- ex. Roman, pre-Roman, or WWI and/or WWII, Elizabethan, or Victorian, or Georgian, or some other period or would focusing on a historical figure or a particular event be of more interest? It can be easier to 'theme' a trip if you do something like that. If you had to give up one (or two) country(s) which would it be? (it is easier to do England and Scotland but that might not be what you want). Second- you start plotting places on a map and checking into available transportation (and transport times). Again, you'll need to set priorities. Would you rather 'experience' the coasts and take the ferry from Scotland to Ireland, or would you rather cut down on travel time and fly? Are you comfortable thinking about driving where the conditions and cars are very different or would you rather use trains and buses, or fly? If you narrow things down and make a few personal 'rules' for decisions, it will help. OR you can accept that what you really want is to just get a small taste and plan on returning for an in depth 'full meal' later. We've done that too. Our first time to Scotland was a day trip to Edinburgh from London. It was all I could get hubby to agree to. He fell in love and we went back many, many times and spent days there- we even made friends and got to stay in their home one trip! Our one trip to Ireland was great- but it was with our kids (aged 9 and 17 at the time) and on a big bus tour- because we found Ireland doesn't have the train system like England and Wales and Scotland and we are not going to drive there, so we haven't gone back ... yet. We found that we love using the trains and an occasional local bus to travel, so we often pick a base and do day trips by train or bus on our own. No one choice is right or wrong, just better for YOU. Whether you decide to get a taste this time or pick one or a few places to explore in depth- either is OK!

Watch some Rick (or other) TV shows and/or videos. Read some travel guides (Rick is a bit sparse on the UK, so check out others, too). Watch some movies set in places and times you are thinking about. Read some novels or historical fiction set in the countries and time periods you are thinking about, too. All of that will help you make some choices- and occasionally make it even harder as it will offer you more things you want to do! It's really not work- it's fun and will (mostly) help you focus your interests. The UK (and the Irish Republic) is a wonderful, fascinating place- full of beautiful landscapes, architecture, history, culture, art, and the best people ! 20 days is good period and you can do a great deal- just not everything.

Posted by
100 posts

With such ambitions (and the mention of return trips), I'd cut out Ireland, especially if you have never been to the UK before. The one itinerary posted has too many moves. Stay longer at fewer places. Do daytrips, especially bus tours. I've done 4 with EvanEvans out of London, and two this summer in Edinburgh (Highland Experience and Rabbies). Great and relaxing way to see distant sites. Sit back, let the driver do the work and entertain and inform you along the way.

Posted by
2739 posts

With only 20 days it would give you a good experience if you only did one country. I would suggest only England, there is so much historical sights in England that you won't be able to see it all in 20 days. I'm afraid if you tried to add Scotland and Ireland you will be rushing all the time. There isn't any need for a tour, you could do it all on your own.

Posted by
27 posts

I disagree with the others. If you potentially have the chance to come back in future, then do all 3 countries (though poor Wales will obvously feel left out). See this as a taster of the British Isles. I would recommend that you move around generally under your own steam by rail and/or car, but also that you use tour companies for day trips where appropriate. So in Scotland, do Edinburgh on your own: must sees are the Castle, the Royal Mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. And then take a (long and tiring) day trip up into the Highlands with Rabbies If you have more time, do Stirling and Glasgow. For England: London, Bath, York, Liverpool. Maybe Stratford on Avon. For some fun, try Brighton. For Ireland, Dublin and maybe a day trip out into the Wicklow Mountains. I would recommend flying to Ireland rather than doing the Ferry, because getting to the Ferry can take so long within England/Wales/Scotland by road or rail. There are airports other than Heathrow - you should be able to fly to Dublin from Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Birmingham (close-ish to Stratford) and others. of course there are tons of other places too: Oxford, Cambridge, Cornwall, the Cotswolds, the North York Moors, the Peak District, Northumbria, the New Forest, Lochaber, Orkney, the Hebrides, the Giant's Causeway, the North Wales Castles, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Canterbury, Salisburty, Stonehenge, Limerick, the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula, Skellig Michael (recently starring in Star Wars!), the Isle of Wight, Inverness, Chester, Exeter, Linlithgow, Fort William and Ben Nevis, Snowdonia, the Ffestiniog Railway, the Bluebell Railway, Hastlngs, Battle, Rye, Distilleries, Abbeys, Castles, Temples, Beaches, Hills, Valleys, Glens, Vales; places where they speaking English, Scots, Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh - I could go on. Also if you want to stay in a cool building, try the Landmark Trust which has Castles, Cottages, Forts, Prisons, Manor Houses, Follows, Towers, Pigsties (I kid you not) and Stables to stay in. Have a great time and come back: over and over again.