United Kingdom - Best Tours & Trips 2019
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Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.
Group Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Tour Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ship Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Guided Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Self Guided / Independent Tour A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ship Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.
Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.
Price Per Day
Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.
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Rivers & Seas
Cities & Attractions
Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.
Flights & Transport
Continents & Regions
- In-depth Tour with Prominent Visits
- Explore five Capital Cities
- Spectacular Scenery
- Opportunities to visit Historic Castles
- Enjoy 2-Night Stays in Most Locations
- Opportunities for Individual Pursuits
- Explore Cornwell
Glorious Highland Scenery
The Highlands cover most of the northern part of Scotland with hills and mountains. This unspoilt region provides wonderful scenic views of hills, valleys, lakes and coastline.
This fun evening starts with a 4-course dinner where you can sample the traditional Scottish dish of haggis, neaps and tatties. Then the music, dance and storytelling begins and offers you an insight into many aspects of Scottish life.
Blair Athol Distillery
Blair Athol Distillery is one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland. After enjoying a leisurely conducted tour, you can mull over the distinctive character of the finished article as you sip your dram of Blair Athol 12 Year Old.
Loch Ness Cruise
This large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands is approximately 23 miles long and forms part of the Caledonian Canal. It is the second largest Scottish loch by surface area at 21.8 square miles after Loch Lomond, but due to its great depth, it is the largest by volume. Loch Ness is best known for the alleged sightings of the legendary Loch Ness Monster, also known as “Nessie”.
St Andrews - Home of Golf
Golf has been played on the Links at St Andrews since around 1400 AD and the Old Course is renowned throughout the world as the Home of Golf. By the 19th century it was part of the way of life for many local people and golf. Golf still plays a major part in the culture and economy of St Andrews today.
The rock on which today’s castle stands has been a stronghold for over 3000 years and Edinburgh Castle has dominated its surroundings for centuries. See the 12th century St. Margaret’s Chapel, the monumental great hall of James IV, opened in 1511, the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny.
- Tailor this trip to your style and budgey with our fine choice of city-center hotels.
- Travel through the Chunnel aboard the Eurostar Train from London to Paris… with private rail station transfers to make your travel truly carefree!
- Our included hop-on/hop-off sightseeing tours in both cities make it easy to see all the sites on your list.
- Enjoy a cruise on the Thames and ride the London Eye.
- Ride the buses and subways for free with our included transport passes in both cities.
- Gain free entry to the top sites of Paris with our 2-day Museum Pass.
- Join acclaimed Road Scholar theater expert Giles Ramsay and guest speakers on a complete immersion into the life and works of William Shakespeare.
- Enjoy a private reception at Shakespeare’s birthplace — a shrine to millions — and get a tantalizing glimpse into his world and take dinner in the RSC Rooftop Restaurant.
- Enjoy three performances at the Royal Shakespeare Company and two at the Globe, an amazing reproduction of the original Elizabethan playhouse.
- Set out on one of the ten best long-distance hikes in the world!
- Step back into England’s fascinating history as you explore sites from prehistory to the Roman era to the Tudors and beyond.
- Visit the home of poet William Wordsworth in the enchanting Lakeland village of Grasmere.
- Stay in picturesque inns that exemplify the character and charm of the region.
- Based in a classic country home in the heart of Lake District National Park, discover a myriad of spectacular homes and gardens.
- Experience Fountains Abbey, a 12th-century abbey ruins and a World Heritage Site set on 800 acres of beautiful countryside.
- Meet the head gardener of Levens Hall and explore this magnificent Elizabethan mansion and its world-famous award-winning gardens laid out in 1694.
- London : Guided sightseeing, visit St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Oxford : Walking tour
- Stratford-upon-avon: Take pictures of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, visit Shakespeare’s birthplace
- Warwick: Welcome dinner; private pre-public-opening guided tour of the castle
- York : Walking tour
- Abbotsford: Guided tour of Sir Walter Scott’s house
- Edinburgh : Guided sightseeing, visit Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace
- Pitlochry : Visit the Victorian mountain resort
- Culloden moor: Visit the battle site’s visitor center
- Fort william: Guided tour of the Ben Nevis whisky distillery
- Loch lomond: Cruise the loch in a private boat
- Liverpool : Visit the Beatles Story
- Holyhead–dublin: Cross the Irish Sea by ferry
- Dublin : Orientation drive
- Kildare : Guided tour of the Irish National Stud
- Limerick : Orientation drive
- Cliffs of moher: Savor the spectacular views
- Rathbaun farm: Visit and Afternoon Tea
- Ring of kerry: Scenic peninsula drive
- Waterford: Guided tour of the House of Waterford Crystal
- Rosslare–pembroke: Cross St. George’s Channel by ferry
- Bath : Visit the Roman relics
- Dartmoor: Dinner at a local pub
- Cornwall : Visit the fishing village of Looe and Plymouth, Plymouth Sound cruise
- Stonehenge: Visit the prehistoric monument
- From the lively cities to the breathtaking scenery, discover the very best of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland on this British Isles tour
- You’ll have 2-night stays in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Limerick and Exeter as well as an overnight in Warwick, York, Inverness, Glasgow, Liverpool, Killarney, Waterford and Cardiff
- Custom Walking & Hiking Itinerary
- Small Group of 14 or Less.
- Amazing Highlands
- Beautiful Seacoasts
- Expert Walking Guides
- Excellent Local Cuisine
- Sample Fine Whiskey and Brews
- Historical Inn Accommodations
- Rich Scottish History
- Hosted By Gene & Jo Ann Taylor
- Merrion Square (Dublin)
- Christchurch Cathedral (Dublin)
- Guinness Brewery (Dublin)
- Castle Ward House & Gardens (Northern Ireland)
- Titanic Belfast Experience
- Giant’s Causeway (Antrim)
- Kylemore Abbey (Galway)
- Cliffs of Moher (Clare)
- Ring of Kerry
- Dingle Peninsula (Kerry)
- Blarney’s Castle
- Medieval Castle Banquet
- London City Tour
- National Museum of Wales
- The Big Pit Museum (Blaenovan)
- Worcester Cathedral
- Ann Hathaway’s Cottage (Stratford-upon-Avon)
- Liverpool City Tour
- Lake District Visit
- Edinburgh City Tour
- Highlands/Loch Lomond Visit
- Discover Edinburgh
- Enjoy contemporary and arts at the Fringe Festivals in Edinburgh
- Visit Gothic cathedral
- Explore Doune Castle
- Visit Skellig Islands
- Explore Dingle Peninsula
- Visit Killarney National Park
- Discover Blarney Castle, Cork and Beara Peninsula
- Visit Ireland's Rebel City – Cork, Majestic Killarney National Park and The Burren National Park
- Enjoy Ireland's best Guinness in Westport
- Experience superb local Irish cuisine
- Enjoy Scenic Walking and Hiking
- Explore Galway and the Aran Islands by Bike
- Surf the Wild Atlantic Waves in Lahinch
- Visit many Irish Castles, Rock of Cashel and Celtic Ring Forts
- Visit Mont-St.-Michel UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Discover London
- Explore Paris experience a special drive as we continue to celebrate the freedom
- Enjoy the Palace of Versailles
- Discovering Paris the Louvré, Notre Dame & Eiffel Tower
- See the amazing Benedictine abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most revered wonders of Europe
- Explore the sleepy village of Roundstone on foot
- Fabulous cycling along the breathtaking Wild Atlantic Way to the famous Cliffs of Moher
- Ride through the spectacular limestone landscapes of the Burren National Park
- Enjoy cycle your way through Inagh Valley
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Top United Kingdom Experiences
Watching the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in London, a daily (in summer) exercise in pomp and tradition.
Eyeing the British Crown Jewels in the Tower of London, once a notorious prison.
Taking a scenic boat ride up the Thames from London to Greenwich to stand on the Prime Meridian, the line marking zero degrees longitude and dividing the hemispheres.
Touring London’s Westminster Abbey, a 700-yard-old Gothic cathedral, to visit the graves of England’s noble and famous, and nearby Parliament for a look up at Big Ben, the world’s best-known clock.
Strolling through London’s Hyde Park and stopping to listen to self-proclaimed orators solve the problems of the world, or rant against them.
Viewing Stonehenge, the mysterious ring of stones near Salisbury that date back as long as 5,000 years.
Touring York, a city with a fascinating dual history of violence and architectural genius.
Visiting the town of Bath, known for its Roman-era baths.
Taking a walking tour through the stone-built villages of the Cotswolds, which define the word “quaint.”
Riding the Snowdon Mountain Railway in Snowdonia, Wales, to the top of Snowdon Peak for fantastic views.
Hiking out to Worm’s Head at the tip of Wales’ Gower Peninsula, one of the most hauntingly beautiful spots in all of Britain.
Climbing the hill up to Edinburgh Castle in Scotland for a tour of the historic fortress that overlooks the city on Castle Rock.
Keeping an eye out for Nessie, the alleged monster, at Scotland’s Loch Ness.
Playing a round of golf at legendary Scottish courses like St. Andrews or Gleneagles.
Clambering over some of the thousands of basalt columns at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, a World Heritage Site and natural wonder.
Downing a pint of Guinness and listening to Irish folk music at a pub in Belfast.
United Kingdom Trip Reviews
152 United Kingdom Tour Reviews - Summary 97% Recommend
United Kingdom Tours and Travel Guide
United Kingdom Attractions & Landmarks Guide
Unless you’re touring Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland separately, most tours of the UK start in London, which frequently competes with Paris as the world’s most visited city.
London is a city of fascinating and diverse neighborhoods, of splendid parks and eye-catching architecture, of the river Thames (which cuts through its heart) and little-known canals, of atmospheric inns and pubs, of world-class museums and art galleries, and, of course, of frequent displays of royalty and grandeur.
London’s Key Sights
Even those who’ve never been to London can probably identify Big Ben, the huge clock that keeps time above the Parliament building; the Tower of London, home to the British Crown Jewels; Tower Bridge, an iconic crossing over the Thames; and Buckingham Palace, one residence of the Queen. The Queen’s Guard, with their red uniforms and bearskin caps and who stand stony faced and ramrod straight, are the subjects of countless photographs.
For those who love history and culture, the enormous British Museum is a must, as is Westminster Abbey. Art lovers gravitate to the National Gallery and the Tate. And everyone wants to see Piccadilly Circus, the Times Square of London.
Chic and sometimes shabby neighborhoods like Soho draw gawkers and shoppers alike, while Hyde Park attracts both lovers of flowers and those who like to listen to the speakers who mount platforms at Speakers’ Corner and say whatever is on their minds, which is often quite a bit.
Most London tours also take in nearby attractions such as Windsor, site of Windsor Castle, where the Queen spends summers; and Winchester, site of an enormous Gothic cathedral.
Farther afield, tours of England are likely to take in Bath, named for its Roman-era baths and a huge tourist draw; the Cotswolds, where stone houses populate impossibly quaint little villages; Stonehenge, the ring of giant stones whose prehistoric origins have mystified scholars for ages; and, perhaps, Cornwall on the far southwestern coast, where rugged cliffs stand sentry against the waves of the North Atlantic.
England’s Lake Country has been celebrated in poetry by Wordsworth, while much of Yorkshire retains a rural feel. The walled medieval city of York is one of England’s jewels, where attractions include York Minster, an imposing Gothic cathedral with medieval stained glass windows. Also worth a look is Hadrian’s Wall, which marked the Romans’ farthest north advance into Britain.
Wales is King Arthur country, and those who skip it are missing some of the best scenery in the British Isles: mountains, rivers, castles, cliffside ocean views, and narrow winding roads that cry out for the expertise of native left-side-of-the-road drivers. One of the top spots for views is the tip of the Gower Peninsula, called Worm’s head, which is ideal for hiking on a misty, breezy day.
Snowdonia is a section of Wales known for its scenic Snowdon Mountain Railway, which climbs to the peak of Snowdon Mountain. You can also visit the unusual village of Portmerion, used as the setting for the old cult-favorite TV series, The Prisoner. And be sure to take a picture of the railway station marking the 58-character village of lanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, the world’s longest town name.
Scotland is known as the birthplace of golf at St. Andrews, where the Old Course is still playable with advance reservations; the nation that produces the finest whisky (Scotch); and the land where men wear plaid skirts (kilts), play bagpipes, toss cabers, and “bag” Munros, which equates to climbing any 3,000-foot-plus-high mountain in Scotland.
Edinburgh and Beyond
Most Scotland tours start in Edinburgh, home of Edinburgh Castle, the fortress that dominates the skyline. The Royal Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe International Festival draw thousands of visitors each August.
North of Edinburgh are Loch Ness, with its famous mythical (perhaps) monster; the Highlands; and the Whisky Trail, where you can visit a number of Scotch whisky distilleries -- another time when taking a guided tour, and leaving the driving to the fellow who didn’t imbibe, is a very useful idea. Windswept and remote Scottish islands -- the Arans, the Shetlands, and the Hebrides -- are a special treat for nature lovers.
Peace seems to have settled into Northern Ireland after decades of Protestant versus Catholic violence in the late 20th century.
The region’s top draw is the Giant’s Causeway, the stuff of myth and legend about a giant named Finn McCool building a causeway of some 40,000 basalt columns leading across the sea toward Scotland. One of Britain’s most remarkable natural attractions, the Causeway is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Leading up to it is the Causeway Coastal Route, a 120-mile scenic drive along the northern Irish coast that features cliffs, waterfalls and mountain streams.
Wherever you decide to go in the United Kingdom, Stride can help you plan by pointing you in the direction of the top tour operators and the itineraries that best suit your needs and budget. And that makes some tough decisions a whole lot easier.
All United Kingdom tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.8 for all United Kingdom trips.