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England, Scotland, & Ireland

My niece and I are planning a trip for 2015-2016. She is 20 and we are both Beatle enthusiasts and we enjoy history. With so much history, culture, and sites available in these 3 countries, over and above the Beatles, what would be 'must see' locations, photography ops, places for the best cuisine, etc, for average travelers on a moderate budget? What time of year would be best for off-season cost effective travel and mild weather conditions? We enjoy cool to mild temperatures, some misty days are good, but the heat and humidity are not desirable. We are also considering some tours, but we want the freedom to do our own thing with some direction. We like the adventure of getting a little lost and we also want to experience the true culture and history instead of the commercialized hot spots. Any help and suggestions would be welcome. Any additional travel tips and words of wisdom/caution is greatly appreciated. Thanks you.

Posted by
3428 posts

How long do you have? Ideally you would want AT LEAST 1-2 weeks for each country. Remember you 'loose' your arrival and departure days, and at least 1/2 day each time you change locations. If you only have 2-4 weeks, I'd suggest leaving Ireland for another trip for several reasons. It's geographically 'disconnected'; it does not have nearly as good a public transportation network; finally, while its history is tied with the other 2, it has its own really rich history. So, given that, if you have 2-4 weeks, here's what I would do Arrive London- spend 3-9 days depending on how many day trips you plan. Lots of easy ones by train on your own (Windsor, Bath,Winchester, Canterbury, Dover, Stratford-upon-Avon, Cardiff, Bristol, etc.). Train to York- 2 nights Train to Edinburgh- 2-5 nights, depending on day trips Train to Aviemore- 2-4 nights (whisky distillery tours, Cairngorm mts., etc.) Train to Inverness- 4-7 nights- depending on day trips and where else in Scotland you want to overnight (you can do LOTS of day trips with tour companies out of Inverness- even a long one to Orkney)
From here you could head to the islands, or Orkney or Glasgow. If you tell us a bit more, we can suggest more specifics. What period of history- or are you wide open. "Moderate budget" doesn't tell us much. What is moderate for me, might be extravagant for you- or vice versa. Give us a total amount, or a per day hotel cost, at least. What kind of accommodations do you desire? Hostels, hotels, apartment (if you stay put 3 or more days in one place it can be a positive),etc. What are your 'must haves'- ensuite bathrooms, etc.? Do you want to mostly use public transport or do you plan to drive some or all?

Posted by
2391 posts

My suggestion would be for the two of you to sit down and decide how long can you both afford to be away. Then what would be your budget. Then get some good guidebooks, maybe start with Europe through back door and then country specific books. As above poster said, moderate prices mean different things to everyone. Only definite suggestion would be to go in spring or fall, never had problem with humidity in any of those countries and those seasons are less touristy than summer. Can't really give answers without knowing how you will travel,type of places you want or can afford to stay,time frame etc.

Posted by
5678 posts

I would recommend early September. It's a wonderful time in Scotland and England and I'm sure that Ireland is equally as wonderful. I have the most advice for Scotland. Check out the Undiscovered Scotland websites. Perthshire is one of my favorite areas of Scotland. Also, check out the Historic Scotland site. Many of the historic place you want to visit are run by this agency. Visit Scotland is another excellent site. You can travel by train in Scotland to many places, but as Toni knows, I'm going to recommend a car. You can get to the hidden places really well and have more control over your travel. And, it really is not that hard to drive on the left. ;) Rick Steves books on Great Britain are good, but not comprehensive. I like the Footprint Guides. There are lots of wonderful fiction and nonfiction books to read. I would recommend checking out Ian Rankin, Nigel Tranter and Iain Banks' book Raw Spirit. Good luck with your planning. Pam

Posted by
56 posts

Well, I would hire a cheap car or get the bus if travelling on a tight budget, the train can be very expensive unless you book in advance and don't change you mind...try a website called he is a renowned British financial expert who will give you the cheapest and best deals for anything British including travel Everyone goes on about Edinburgh ..and the east of Scotland ..NO NO NO Scotland is the WEST coast...ok see Edinburgh but trust me if you haven't been up the WEST coast you aint seen Scotland....