16 Days in the United Kingdom and Ireland

The land of afternoon tea and biscuits, beefeater, castles and palaces… overpriced real estate and so much more. This is the United Kingdom!

Getting there:

Getting to London is easy and not expensive. Flights from the USA are about 485 USD for round-trip and you can score even better deals since the competition is getting to an extreme point.  From Hong Kong a round-trip ticket costs about 680 USD and from within Europe, tickets can be found for under 100 USD. Check our guide on where to find the cheapest airfares.

Day 1 and 2: London
Begin your UK Adventure in London, the capital and largest city of both England and of the United Kingdom. The city has been hanging around for two millennia and has been the seat of British Royal Dynasties and of English Governments throughout the history. Having survived fire, invasion and plague in the past, there is now incredible wealth of things to experience, from historical attractions to vibrant city markets.

Where to stay in London:

Hotel 41 ( 41 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0PS, England)

Egerton House Hotel (17-19 Egerton Terrace, Knightsbridge, London SW3 2BX, England)

Corinthia Hotel London ( Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2BD, England)

Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane (Hamilton Place | Park Lane, London W1J 7DR, England)

The Ritz London (150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR, England)

Going on a gastronomic adventure is a must in London. The food scene here evolves so fast as new trends – posh fast food and no reservations restaurants – keep everything constantly fresh. There are plenty of rooftop bars to get that summer vibe and the underground to get a taste of old London.

Westminster Abbey Panorama
View of the North side of Westminster Abbey

On your first day, visit the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster commonly known as Big Ben, one of London’s best known landmarks. Do not miss the Houses of Parliament, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For an excellent spot for taking photos, walk through the Westminster Bridge to the other side of the Thames. Then visit the Westminster Abbey, one of the finest examples of medieval architecture in Europe and is the main burial place for royals. And of course, one of London’s most recognizable landmark, Buckingham Palace is the London residence and principal workplace of the monarchy of the United Kingdom.

Trafalgar Square in front of the National Gallery
Trafalgar Square in front of the National Gallery

Get a full English breakfast to start your second day. A filling breakfast gives you plenty of energy, and you set out this morning for the galleries, museums and shopping streets of London. Start at Trafalgar Square, one of the most popular squares in the world and is a great avenue for people watching. Drop by the National Gallery (we love the National Gallery because its free admission that allowed us to use a clean toilet in the middle of London), located on Trafalgar Square, to see some of the best artworks from Michelangelo, Vincent Willem van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. Spend the rest of the afternoon at Piccadilly Circus, Marble Arch and Kensington Gardens (open from 6:00 am to 6:15 pm).

Day 3 and 4: Oxford and Cotswolds Area

Getting from London to Oxford is pretty easy Paddington Station in London will take you to Oxford in 52 minutes to a little bit less than two hours, depending on the train you take. Round-trip ticket cost about 25 GBP (39 USD) but if you are on a budget than you can opt for a bus ride – one-way tickets cost only 12 pounds (18 USD).

Where to stay in Oxford:

Vanbrugh House Hotel (20 – 24 St Michael’s Street, Oxford OX1 2EB, England)

Galaxie Hotel (180 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7BT , England)

Macdonald Randolph Hotel (Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LN, England)

Holiday Inn Oxford (Peartree Roundabout | Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 8JD, England)

Take this morning to venture to Oxford, situated in central southern England. Visiting Oxford, you will enjoy a city walking tour and see its elegant and prestigious university. This tiny city is always jam-packed but for good reason. You may also avail for a city sightseeing hop-on hop-off tour which is a very convenient way of exploring the famous attractions in Oxford such as the University of Oxford buildings as well as heritage sites like Oxford Castle.

On your fourth day, set out for the incredibly picturesque Cotswolds, a rural area of south central England. Its rolling hills, quaint villages, churches and homes built of local yellow limestone, makes it a place that everyone imagines England to be like.

Cityscape In The Medieval Town Bath, Somerset, England
The Empire Hotel in Bath, Somerset, England is now converted into apartments

The most popular town in Costwolds is Bath, famous for its Roman baths but if you have more time you should definitely check out the surrounding villages (you will be amazed, we promise) . You can find more info about the area and how to get to different parts of it at http://www.escapetothecotswolds.org.uk/visitor-info/

Day 5 and 6: Peak District National Park and Manchester

Where to stay in Manchester:

Hotel Football Old Trafford (99 Sir Matt Busby Way, Manchester M16 0SZ, England)

Premier Inn Manchester City (72 Dale Street, Manchester M1 2HR, England)

Roomzzz Manchester City (36 Princess Street, Manchester M1 4JY, England)

INNSIDE Manchester (First Street, Manchester M15 4FN, England)

Ladybower Reservoir and Bamford Edge, is situated in the Upper Derwent Valley at the heart of the Peak District National Park
Ladybower Reservoir and Bamford Edge, are situated in the Upper Derwent Valley in the heart of the Peak District National Park

On your fifth and sixth day, head up north towards the Peak District National Park. You may opt to choose Manchester as your base and just travel to Peak District. The well-established Trans-Peak (TP) service connects Manchester through the heart of the Peak District, so travelling between two areas won’t be a problem at all. First time travelers are recommended to avail a guided tour in this beautiful countryside as the professional guides will share a wealth of local knowledge about the park. You will have the opportunity to explore scenic areas such as Ladybower Reservoir, The Derwent Valley, Kinder Scout and Castleton, to name a few.

Are you a soccer (of football the rest of the world calls it) fan? Don’t miss the chance to visit Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City.

Day 7: York

Wondering how to get to from Manchester to York? Train!!! Check GoEuro for current prices and timetables for the cheapest options.

Where to stay in York:

View of York, England
Skyline View of York, England

The Grand Hotel & Spa (Station Rise, York YO1 6HT, England)

Premier Inn York City – Blossom St South (28 – 40 Blossom Street, York YO24 1AJ, England)

Best Western Plus Dean Court Hotel (Duncombe Place, York YO1 7EF, England)

Not that far from Manchester, you can easily take a journey to York, a fortress city in northeast England that was founded by the ancient Romans on the River Ouse. Today is spent learning all about the heritage, culture and attractions of York. It’s a wonderfully walkable city, roads are closed to all cars except disabled drivers and emergency drivers between 8 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. Most tourist attractions are only a short walk between one another. Do not miss to see the York MinsterThe Jorvik Viking Centre, York Castle Museum, King’s Manor and Barley Hall, to name just a few.

Day 8 and 9: Edinburgh

Bid farewell to England and travel to Scotland’s capital city. The cities of York and Edinburgh are separated by quite a distance, but there is no shortage of transportation connecting these two destinations. And of course, there can be no better way of exploring the country than to board a train traversing otherworldly landscapes brimming with delightful wildlife. One-way trip by train takes about two and a half hours and cost about 42 GBP (65 USD). If you prefer to ride a bus –  be prepare to spend about the same for the price of the ticket and double the travel time.

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Edinburgh city skyline viewed from Calton Hill

Where to stay in Edinburgh:

The Chester Residence (6 – 9 Rothesay Place, Edinburgh EH3 7SL, Scotland)

Prestonfield (Priestfield Road, Edinburgh EH16 5UT, Scotland)

The Raeburn (112 Raeburn Place, Edinburgh EH4 1HG, Scotland)

Fountain Court Apartments Royal Garden (2 York Buildings, Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1HY, Scotland)

Premier Inn Edinburgh City Centre (121 – 123 Princes Street, Edinburgh EH2 4AD, Scotland)

Then of course, it’s up to Edinburgh, where you will be spending two days, but you can definitely stay longer. The choice is yours! Edinburgh’s numerous castles, cathedrals and its narrow cobblestone streets inspired authors like J.K Rowling. You will not be short of amazing things to look at and to experience. Since Edinburgh is a relatively small city, it is easy to explore on foot. Do not miss the Edinburgh Castle, Scottish National Gallery and The Royal Mile. If you are up for a great adventure – join a ghost tour at the Greyfriars Cemetery. Go after dark for a truly creepy experience!

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
The North Walls of Edinburgh Castle, positioned on top of the Castle Rock

Day 10, 11, 12, and 13: Northern Ireland and Ireland:

It’s an Irish Adventure this time! There are cheap train and ferry tickets between Scotland and Northern Ireland via Cairnryan-Belfast route. It’s a traditional way to go through the countryside by train and across the Irish Sea by ferry. The journey takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes. All ferries have bars, restaurants, shops, cinemas and free wifi. Bring a bottle of wine along to make it a more enjoyable experience (don’t worry, the UK doesn’t have :open containers law”).

Belfast City Hall - Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Belfast City Hall

Where to stay in Belfast:

Premier Inn Belfast Titanic Quarter (2a Queens Road, Belfast BT39DT, Northern Ireland)

Merchant Hotel (16 Skipper Street, Belfast BT1 2DY, Northern Ireland)

Benedicts Hotel (7-21 Bradbury Place | Shaftesbury Square, Belfast BT7 1RQ, Northern Ireland)

Premier Inn Belfast City Centre Alfred Street (Alfred Street, Belfast BT2 8ED, Northern Ireland)

Ireland is a small country that you can cover a lot if you are staying for less than a week. To make the most of it, prioritize what you want to see and experience. Belfast is Northern Ireland’s capital and is said to be the birthplace of Titanic. It’s a great place to explore attractions such as Victorian structures, Titanic Quarter, and the WWI warship that became a floating museum.

Titanic Belfast
Titanic Belfast is a visitor attraction and a monument to Belfast’s maritime heritage on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard in the city’s Titanic Quarter where the RMS Titanic was built. It opened in 2012, a hundred years after Titanic sank

Dublin, on the other hand, is the capital of the Republic of Ireland, located on the east coast. This laid-back city is perfect for visitors who wish to spend time at old-fashioned pubs or just explore attractions by walking. Wanna know more – check THE RHYTHM OF DUBLIN.

Day 14: South Whales

After three amazing days in Ireland, board another ferry service from Rosslare that will cross to the last of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom – Wales! You can compare prices of different ferry carriers and see the most up-to-date timetables at http://www.directferries.com/.  You will arrive in Goodwick, an excellent base to explore the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Here, you will have breathtaking views of the beaches, rugged cliffs and other natural wonders. Pembroke also features a number of historical attractions like castles and cathedrals.

The historic Pembroke in Wales
The historic Pembroke in Wales

Where to stay in Goodwick:

Ivybridge Guest House (Drim Mill, Dyffryn, Goodwick SA64 0JT, Wales)

Dove Cottage Bed & Breakfast (Church Road, Goodwick SA64 0EH, Wales)

Day 15: Bristol:

Start your discovery of Bristol’s treasures, with a City Sightseeing bus tour, departing from Bristol’s historic Harbourside (ask in your hotel or bed and breakfast). Make sure not to miss Bristol Museum & Art Gallery (Queens Rd, Bristol BS8 1RL, United Kingdom; tel: +44 117 922 3571), Watershed in the Harbouside, Clifton Suspension Bridge, Berkeley Castle and so much more! End the day with a sumptuous dinner at one of the many restaurants in the harbour side.

Bristol's Clifton Suspension Bridge
Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge

Where to Stay in Bristol:

The Bristol (The Harbourside | Prince Street, Bristol BS1 4QF, England)

Hotel du Vin & Bistro (The Sugar House | Narrow Lewins Mead, Bristol BS1 2NU, England)

Holiday Inn Bristol City Centre (Bond Street, Bristol BS1 3LE, England)

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bristol City Centre (Redcliffe Way, Bristol BS1 6NJ, England)

Hilton Garden Inn Bristol City Centre (Temple Way, Bristol BS1 6BF, England)

Day 16: Back to London:

You will spend your last day back in London. Getting from Bristol to London is easy – you can get a train to London for about 32 GBP (50 USD) and the trip is a little bit more than one and a half hours. Or if you prefer to save some money than you can opt for a bus ride to London for 10 GBP (16 USD) and the trip is about two hours (check National Express’ web site for u-to-date timetables and prices).

Stonehenge monument near Salisbury
Stonehenge monument near Salisbury

And of course, no trip to the United Kingdom will be complete without visiting its most famous monument – the Stonehenge (if you did not have a chance to visit Bath while exploring the Cotswolds then you should combine Stonehenge and Bath in a single day-trip from London). If you still have time before your international flight, visit the shop at Marble Arch to buy some nice quality souvenir to take home with you. The Transport Museum at Coventry city center does some transport related souvenir which the kids might like.

Tip: If you have an extra day or two you should check the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. Take a bus from London to Poole (or Bournemouth) and and explore the surroundings of Kimmeridge or Lulworth (there is a great castle in Lulworth as well that is open to public and you can explore it for a small fee).

Lulworth castle, Dorset, England
Lulworth castle, Dorset, England

Have you been to the UK or Ireland? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.

backpacking, City exploring, History, United Kingdom

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