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Back to back RS Best of England & Best of Scotland Tours

Because we have fewer travel years ahead of us, I have developed the attitude of while we're in Europe we should extend our stay rather than return several times in a year or hope to get there someday.

Planning for 2023, I thought it would be fun to combine the RS Best of Scotland and Best of England tours during one trip. I would try to plan days of rest between the tours.

I've read the posts about this idea, but I'm interested in the England/Scotland approach.

And which time of year you prefer.

Thanks in advance for your time.

Posted by
9928 posts

I have done a number of back to back Rick Steves tours, including the South England tour combined with the Best of Scotland. We did a week in London ahead of time and a few days in Scotland afterward. We went mid-May, so finished the Scotland tour by mid-June. Weather was generally nice but we had drenching rain a few days in Scotland (the Iona day). No midges though!

I had also done the Best of England tour several years before with a back to back of Paris and Heart of France.

TBH, by the time we got to Stirling Castle at the end of the Scotland tour I could not summon the energy to visit one. more. castle. I was totally shocked at myself but there were just too many castles/ruins/same kind of thing on these 2 trips. I generally thrive on them but by this time everything had a sameness about it by the end.

My new rule after that is to choose 2 different cultures for back to backs. TBH, from London where the Best of England ends it's actually quicker and easier (pre-pandemic) to get to Paris than to get to Glasgow where the Best of Scotland now begins. If you are going for 2023 then the Eurostar from London to Paris may be back to being easy again. Only 2+hours city center to city center. Of course, have no idea if you are interested in France or not!

Editing to add: I went back and re-read my Trip Reports for 2015 (Best of England/Paris and HOF as well as Best of South England and Best of Scotland). I forgot several tour members had discussed back to backs on the Best of England tour. Another couple was doing Best of Ireland and Best of England and indicated they felt a sameness to it while one couple had done Portugal and Best of England and was having a wonderful experience with 2 different cultures. Up to you of course as everyone needs to make themselves happy!

Posted by
5152 posts

In 2019 we did two France tours back to back: Paris and the Heart of France, and Best of Eastern France. I did not find too much "sameness" in these tours, but then the focus of each was different. I think had we combined the Loire Valley to the South of France tour with the Paris and Heart of France tour, I would have been castled out by day 2 of the second tour. (I was castled out on the first tour already.)

I did enjoy comparing the very different regions of France that year, and definitely enjoyed just having to study up on one language! Next year we're taking the Loire Valley tour followed by the Best of South Italy, with about a 10 day break in between, which we'll spend in Venice and Rome.

I think if I were you I would look not at where the tours go, but what they focus on.

Posted by
117 posts

We have always done back to back RS tours. We are both retired and have the time. We generally spend 4-5 weeks in Europe on each trip. The best advise I can give is to plan at least 3 days (preferably more) between tours. RS tours can be fairly fast paced and a more relaxing break refreshes you before plunging into another tour. Another point is that departure and particularly destination cities tend to have a lot more to see than your tour will have time for. Taking a break gives you a chance to pick up some of those sites at your leisure. Also time to do laundry and a bit of shopping. We usually stay a week or so either before the first tour or after the last one.

With respect to the England/Scotland tours - we have not taken either but have traveled quite extensively in both. Both tours give a good overview of the countries. RS tours nearly always do. Culture and the people are quite different; it will not be "more or the same". London and Edinburgh both deserve a lot more time than the tours provide. Kind of makes my point.

Posted by
48 posts

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences. You have given me a few things to think about. You have also confirmed that I'm not alone in extending our time in Europe.

Posted by
36 posts

When I did the England tour I felt that way about the churches. Please not one more! Also the pin factory/ gardens, no visit to Stonehenge but a visit to this?

Posted by
67 posts

I think it is a great idea to combine tours. We've done that twice and enjoyed it both times. We combined the Best of England with the Best of Scotland. It was very easy to do. After the Best of England tour we flew to Scotland and stayed a couple of days between tours at the hotel where the tour started in Scotland. However, I agree with some other posters that there was a degree of sameness to the two tours. The other time we combined tours was Belgium / Netherlands with Best of Ireland. We enjoyed both tours and experienced different cultures. It was also easy to fly between Amsterdam and Dublin. Again, we spent the extra two days between tours at the hotel where the second tour started. Both times we found plenty to do on our own between tours.