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England, Ireland, Scotland, 2 weeks doable?

We are in the very early stages of planning a trip, and I am very interested in the UK. With 2 weeks, is it reasonable to see these 3 locations and get a good feel for them, or would we feel rushed? Would you recommend focusing on 1 or 2 instead? What if we could extend it to 3 weeks? Thanks!

Posted by
410 posts

My short answer would be no - whether 2 weeks or 3 but I guess it depends on what you mean by 'get a feel of'. These are 3 quite different countries and while small, have a lot to see and travelling times can be quite long. Also may depend on whether you want to see the major cities only or some of the country - personally I think to see only the cities would not give you a feel for the particular country. You may also be the traveller who likes to rush about and see a lot - in which case you could probably do it. Time of the year is also a consideration - if you are planning the trip in summer you have much longer days.

Assuming you have not been to the UK before, I would perhaps focus on England - a few days in London and the rest of the time at a couple of different places in England - you are spoilt for choice but ideas could include Bath, Cotswolds or York.

Posted by
800 posts

Our first "blitz" European trip took us from London to Edinborough & back in 11 days. We decided that sort of quick travel was not for us. Since then we have returned to England (but still have Scotland on the list) and also visited Ireland.

We did 2 weeks in southern Ireland alone, never getting to Northern Ireland, but had a great time seeing Dublin, Cashel, County Cork, Dingle, Connemara & The Burren - flew into Dublin and out of Shannon. We were driving and it takes a lot longer than you think to get around.

You could do a quick tour of England that includes London, Bath, Cotswolds, Lake District, York and add Edinborough if you want to "include Scotland" but I would save seeing more of Scotland for another trip. Our best trip to England had us touring for 3 1/2 weeks and we only did the lower half of the country (including Cornwall which was fabulous) plus some of Wales.

Planning to return to see what we missed is part of the fun!

Posted by
19 posts

I guess a lot of what I was wondering is about travel times, how long it takes to get around the cities etc. I'll admit I haven't done a lot of research yet on this area, as we are just at the point of trying to consider different parts to visit.

Basically I do not want to fell like we are spending more time getting to our destinations then enjoying them.

We recently returned from 16 days in Japan, and their transit system is amazing. Even though we traveled over a good deal of the country, I didn't feel like we were glossing over much.

The reason I posed this question is that I am really interested in all 3 of these countries, and it is hard to just choose 1 or 2!

Posted by
20 posts

We just returned from a trip to Great Britain -- we spent four days in London, took the train to York, then spent seven days "on the road" visiting Yorkshire, North Wales, the Cotswolds and Bath by car. I can tell you that we wished for more time in each of these places -- could have easily used three weeks just to appreciate the areas we visited. I just don't see how you could add Ireland and Scotland (!) and come away feeling anything but rushed.

Posted by
934 posts

I faced the same problem two years ago.I wanted to see Ireland and Scottland.After much research I decided that if I wanted to see Ireland I needed two weeks and save Scottland for another trip.I havnt regreted my decision.We toured all of Ireland including Northern Ireland where most people dont go.The Giants Causeway,Antrium Coast,Belfast are all great places.Best regards

Posted by
3428 posts

I'd leave Ireland for another time, though you could include Wales if you want. Here's what I'd suggest- London 3-4 days with day trips tosome of these: Bath, Windsor, Stratford-upon-Avon,Cardiff Wales, Canturbury or Dover. Train to York- 1 or 2 nights. Train To Edinburgh- 2 nights. Train to Aviemore- 2 or 3 nights with day trips for Whiskey tasting or castles, etc. Train to Inverness- 5-6 days with day
trips to Isle of Skye, Orkney, Loch Ness and Drumnadrochit, Culloden, etc. Train to Sterling-1 night. Train to Stratford-upon-Avon if you didn't do a day trip there-1 night. Train to London- 1 night before flight home. Feel free to contact me for more ideas- I've done this more than 40 times.

Posted by
87 posts

I second Kent's suggestion. Just pick out the bits that suit.

Posted by
3580 posts

Three weeks would be much better than two. Pick a couple of places in each country and don't try to "do it all." How about: London-York-Edinburgh-Dublin-Galway. Catch a cheap flight from Edinburgh to Dublin. Use train or bus for the other traveling. Fly open-jaws into London and return from Shannon. You would probably have time for a couple of daytrips from these cities. From London take a daytrip to Bath; from Galway take a daytrip to one of the Aran Islands.

Posted by
57 posts

This was the 2 week trip my sisters & I took: Wed - arrived in London, hit Southbank, Thurs - Evan Evan's tour(Windsor, Bath, Stonehenge), Fri - caught some London hi-lights, Sat - took bus to York, spent weekend there, Mon - bus to Edinburgh, Tues - toured castle (5 1/2 hours there) & upper part of Royal Mile, Wed - Heart of Scotland tour (Highlands & Loch Ness), Fri - climbed Arthur's Seat, strolled around city, Sat - flew to Dublin (spent long, wet weekend), Mon - flew to London (had nice relaxing dinner @ Sherlock Pub), flew home on Tues. We didn't feel rushed & only saw what interested us (yes, there are people on this planet who aren't that interested in London to constitue us spending more than a couple days there, so don't feel obligatged, everyone's different). In York, we walked the walls, toured the town, & visited the Natl. Rail Museum. Only regret - Dublin, would have spent that time in another part of Ireland or more time in Edinburgh. Remember, you can always go back!

Posted by
3551 posts

you will be rushed! slow down enjoy britain for 2 wks then Scotland 1 week. this is a minimum in my opinion.Best do England 3 weeks it is so spectacular! Last yr was my 15th trip to uk and I concentrated on Wales (first visit) and London and surrounds (many visits).
spending a solid day in travel transit is common you want to avoid it. Even with high speed trains.

Posted by
1806 posts

Whether 2 weeks or 3, if you intend to fly from the West Coast of the U.S. (easily a 12 hour flight) and zip through 3 countries, you'd better take another week off work to recover when you get back. I spent 2 months in just Ireland and England, and it still wasn't enough time to do everything I wanted to do.

You're going against the whole Rick Steves' philosophy. Do you want to wake up and not be quite sure where you are and say "If this is Tuesday, then I must be in Edinburgh, right?".

Add the 3rd week if you can, but scale back to 2 countries - 1 if you really want to cover it thoroughly. Also, don't forget to throw in a day of downtime every week. You need time to do laundry, sit on a bench and people watch for a couple hours. If you blitz through everything, you'll be exhausted and won't remember what you saw.

If you insist on 3 countries, pick 3 cities to base out of (Galway, London, Edinburgh) spend a week in each and do day trips to the countryside.

Posted by
32069 posts

Mike, IMO it would be a mistake to try and tour England, Scotland and Ireland in a two week period. If you were able to increase the time to three weeks, it should be possible (although this still wouldn't be adequate time to really "get a good feel for them").

If you can increase the time, I'd highly recommend open-jaw flights, perhaps into London and home from Dublin (I don't know what flight options are available from Portland?). In any case, some precise planning will be important, so that you don't waste ANY valuable touring time.

Good luck!