United Kingdom

ENGLAND

The largest member country of the United Kingdom, England draws us into the exciting stories of its people: Arthurian legend and Druid mysticism, the battles of Anglo-Saxons and Normans, the dramatic Tudor reign, Victorian style and Regency wit, the celebrity royals of the modern era, and the immortal names of literature that have persisted in popular culture from Shakespeare to Harry Potter. Across England’s nine governmental regions, you can discover a world of different experiences from modern cities to picturesque countryside to rugged coasts.

 

Where to Go in England

The historic lanes of London are a real feast for the visitor, with famous landmarks, ethnically diverse restaurants, cutting-edge museums and the best in shopping and entertainment. Hit the high-end shops and quirky street markets, step out in the clubs or pubs, and take your pick of events from theatre, sports, rock concerts, dance, opera and more. Of course, you’ll also make time to stroll the banks of the Thames and visit London’s quintessential palaces, parks and skyscraping monuments. 

Visit the East of England to escape among its smooth, tranquil countryside, delightful seaside and wide-open skies. Come for the sandy beaches and excellent seafood, take a boat or canoe out on the Norfolk or Suffolk Broads, see the seal colony at Blakeney Point, visit medieval cathedrals at Ely and Norwich, walk the colorful streets of Lavenham, see the university city of Cambridge, discover unique coastal villages, and go bird watching at the nature reserves.

The Southeast is a scenic corner of the country, facing France across the English Channel. With a history of invasion marked by medieval castles and fortresses, today these counties provide an escape with bucolic meadows, acclaimed gardens and seaside retreats. Come for Windsor Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, South Downs National Park, the coastal resort town of Brighton, and the historic remains left behind by the Romans and Normans.

The Southwest harbors some of England’s most picturesque locales from stately cities to thatched-cottage villages, moody moors, and miles of sand and surf. The remote ‘West Country’ has an inviting tranquility, along with a head-spinning amount of enticements across the peninsula. Come for the Roman remains and Georgian-style buildings of Bath, the stunning cathedral towns of Salisbury, Glastonbury, Wells, Winchester, and Exeter, the Neolithic feats of Stonehenge and others, the draught ciders and cheddar of Somerset, the cream teas, lush gardens and quaint coastal towns of Devon and Cornwall, and the storybook lanes and cottages of the Cotswolds.

Cutting across the center of England, the West and East Midlands offer up reminders of the industrial era, along with a chain of rural shires stretching between Wales and the east coast. The big city of Birmingham was at the epicenter of England’s Industrial Revolution, while today it shows off a revitalized cultural center. Come for appealing market towns and industrial heritage sites, Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon, the legend of Robin Hood in Nottingham, the Lincoln Cathedral, the renowned spires of Oxford, the walking paths of the Malvern Hills, Shropshire Hills and the Peak District, and grand houses like Chatsworth, Hardwick Hall and Blenheim Palace.

The lively cities of northern England, like Liverpool, Manchester, York, Leeds and Newcastle, are known for great nightlife and a proud football clubs. The surrounding countryside holds different charms, such as the rolling fields of the Yorkshire Dales, the inspirational Lake District National Park, and the broad moors of Northumberland National Park. Come for Lake District walks and literary connections, Yorkshire cuisine and historical influences like Roman and Viking, the museums of Manchester and Liverpool, the ancient Hadrian’s Wall, and the astonishing Alnwick Castle used in both Harry Potter and Downton Abbey filming.

 

Typical First-Time Itinerary for England

Many of our clients visiting the United Kingdom for the first time like to combine the major sights of England and Scotland in particular. Some people also prefer to have a rental car to do their own driving. If you would like to focus on just England, we can suggest one possible itinerary including London, Windsor, Stonehenge, Somerset, Bath, and the Cotswolds as a great 5-day, fast-paced option.

Less internationally renowned than its counterparts in the United Kingdom or other recognized Celtic nations, the compact territory of Wales is familiar, yet comparatively anonymous in the most refreshing way. Wales presents a seductive blend of beautiful mountainous landscapes, fairytale castles, friendly villages and a musical language. Once you discover the country’s variety of attractions and famously sociable Welsh character, you’ll be ready to come back again.

SCOTLAND

Where to Go in Scotland

The city of Edinburgh is one of Europe’s great small capitals – a delightful mix of history, gastronomy, and fun. The city has deep roots as seen at Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Park, offering views from ‘Arthur’s Seat’. Come especially for festivals like The Fringe arts extravaganza and the New Year’s party called Hogmanay. Then eat your heart out at Edinburgh’s many Michelin-starred restaurants and wide range of eateries.

As Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow is a friendly and exciting hotspot for culture and nightlife. Come for eye-catching Victorian architecture, impressive museums like the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and the modern Riverside Museum, a street art trail, trendy bars and food joints in Finnieston, excellent shopping, and a world-class music scene (Glasgow is a UNESCO City of Music). For an easy city getaway, you can head to the beautiful shores of Loch Lomond in the Trossachs National Park.

In the south of Scotland, you’ll find pretty rolling hills with great opportunities for walking and cycling, miles of beautiful coastline, and more fascinating history. In the South West, come for the legend of Gretna Green, the enchanting Galloway Forest National Park, and the unmatched Chippendale furniture collection of Dumfries House. In the Scottish Borders region, come for the collection of magnificent ruined abbeys and fine estates such as Traquair House and Abbotsford House, once home to Sir Walter Scott, and the unique Hermitage Castle associated with Mary Queen of Scots.

Home to incredible natural beauty and a colorful history including famous figures like William Wallace and Rob Roy, Central Scotland is a major draw for visitors. Come to play the nation’s sport in the worldwide ‘home of golf’, especially on the Old Course in the university town of St. Andrews, eat seafood in the quaint fishing villages along the coastline of East Neuk, and visit incredible castles like the ones at Stirling and Doune.

Scotland’s North East has a wide reputation for its numerous fine castles and whisky distilleries. Come to follow the trail of historic elite retreats including Balmoral, Craigievar, Crathes, Dunnottar, Fraser, Fyvie, Kinnaird, Tolquhon and more. Make sure to stop in for a dram at a distillery around Speyside. Then you can see the wondrous carved stones from the Picts during the Dark Age, get out in nature in the Grampian mountains, and discover beautiful fishing villages set off by rocky cliffs and sandy beaches.

The Scotland of many people’s dreams is met in the breathtaking landscapes of the Scottish Highlands and the unspoiled beauty of the Western Isles. The Inner and Outer Hebrides offer a refuge for wildlife such as eagles, seals, orca whales and basking sharks. This wild northern region is also a paradise for humans who long to escape to fresh coastal breezes and majestic mountains. In the Hebrides, come to discover small isles like Mull, Iona, and Skye, taste local whisky and catch-of-the-day dishes, and experience a living Gaelic culture. In the Highlands, come for the outdoor entertainment at Aviemore, Fort William, Cairngorms National Park and Ben Nevis, and the stories told about Loch Ness, Culloden Moor and Glen Coe.

In the North Sea between Scotland and Norway lie the archipelagos of Orkney and the Shetland Islands – a separate world of dramatic scenery and rich history. Come for quiet windswept beaches, remarkable seascapes, abundant bird and wildlife, Neolithic sites and stone circles, Viking history, a lively traditional music scene, and a time-honored way of life dominated by a close relationship with the sea.

 

Typical First-Time Itinerary for Scotland

Many of our clients visiting the United Kingdom for the first time like to combine the major sights of England and Scotland in particular. Some people also prefer to have a rental car to do their own driving. If you would like to focus on just Scotland, we can suggest one possible itinerary including Stirling, Loch Lomond, Fort William, the Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, Inverness, Perth, St. Andrews, and Edinburgh as a great 8-day, fast-paced option.

 

WALES

Where to Go in Wales

Cardiff is the vibrant Welsh capital, voted Britain’s most sociable city. Here you can find everything from medieval castles, a world-famous sports stadium and speedway, excellent shopping venues, a stylish waterfront district, and plentiful live music. In the surrounding South East, the beautiful landscapes of the Wye Valley and the Brecon Beacons are calling, along with fanciful castles, industrial heritage sites, the bookshops of Hay-on-Wye, and gourmet dining in Abergavenny.

The South West is home to the country’s second-largest city of Swansea, but it’s really the beautiful beaches of the Gower Peninsula that draw visitors. Not to mention the dreamy scenes and walkways of the Pembrokeshire Coast. Come for water activities like surfing and sailing, as well as the area’s lovely market towns, idyllic countryside, and castles upon castles.

Mid Wales boasts a rolling expanse of fertile countryside in Powys, the fantastic natural terrain of the Brecon Beacons and the Cambrian Mountains, outlined by the unsullied coastline of Ceredigion and Cardigan Bay. Come for hiking and biking, dolphin-watching, swimming and surfing, fresh farm-to-table cuisine, and witness the graceful bird of prey known as the red kite.

The region of North Wales is what’s generally thought of when one pictures the typical Welsh image of snow-capped mountains and rich lyrical tradition. Come for a wealth of treasures like Snowdonia National Park, the medieval center of Conwy with its magnificent castle, former quarry towns, narrow mountain railways and outdoor adventures, fine seaside resorts, and the romantic island hideaway of Anglesey.

Typical First-Time Itinerary for Wales

A first-time visitor to Wales looking to immerse themselves in the culture and stories of this special destination will love our classic one-week itinerary. You can do it as a self-drive adventure or we’ll include a driver. Discover all three national parks of Wales – Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire and Brecon Beacons – as well as the scenic Wales Way and plenty of historic castles and picturesque villages in between.

Travelers are enticed by the romanticized landsapes and fierce heritage of the Scots. This is a country we tend to discern for its castles and kings, clans and tartans, immortalized battlefields, haggis and whisky, and colorful language. Scotland has a variable climate and can see changeable weather in the course of one day or even a short drive between destinations. When the mists lift, you are greeted by romantic ruins and prehistoric stone circles, put in balance by dynamic modern cityscapes and museums, upmarket hotels and top-notch cuisine.

What is Included?

In general, our custom travel itineraries include everything needed to ensure a smooth trip. This can always be modified according to your needs and where you are in your stage of planning:

  • Hotel accommodation with breakfast daily
  • Airport transfers
  • Transfers between destinations (whether by car, van, boat, train, ferry, etc.)
  • Private or group sightseeing as requested (including entrance fees)
  • Personalized support, with contact before, during and after your trip

We are also happy to provide when requested:

  • Flights between North America and Europe
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa assistance

Our programs do not include:

  • Optional gratuities to guides, drivers, yacht crew etc.
  • Laundry and personal items
  • Bottled beverages or alcohol, and meals where not listed
  • Hotel city tax

Let’s Start Planning Your Adventure