This epic trip explores the best of the British Isles. Begin your adventure in the thrill of London, then head north to Scotland via the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales.  Tour old-world relics and sip cocktails in underground drinking dens in Edinburgh before hopping across the border to Lake District National Park.  Journey into Wales through Snowdonia, and relish a dramatically scenic drive to the Cotswolds. Visits to Bath and Oxfordshire complete your Great Britain grand tour.

Highlights

  • Experience the history and culture of London, Edinburgh, Bath, and Oxford
  • Explore the stunning countryside of the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands
  • Stay in elegant city hotels, charming country house hotels, and the finest inns
  • Wander through the quadrangles and dreamy spires of Britain’s oldest university

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Days 1-3 London City of London
Days 4-5 Yorkshire Dales Yorkshire Dales
Days 6-7 Edinburgh Edinburgh
Days 8-9 Perthshire Highlands Stirling
Days 10-11 Cumbria & the Lake District National Park Windermere
Days 12-13 Snowdonia & the Cambrian Coast Snowdonia
Days 14-15 Pembrokeshire Narberth
Days 16-17 Cotswolds & Stratford-upon-Avon Broadway
Days 18-19 Bath & Stonehenge Bath
Day 20 Oxfordshire Oxford

Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3: Explore London

Tower of London
Tower of London

Hit the ground running in London, one of the great capitals of the world. Spend the first three days of your trip choosing your own adventure in this epicenter of culture and history; depending on your mood and passions, you could catch a show in the West End, dine at some of the finest restaurants on the globe, or treat your wardrobe to a luxurious refresh at the impeccably curated Dover Street Market.

Leave time to explore London's most famous sites: tour Westminster Abbey, head to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard, and be sure to peek at the splendor of the Queen's staterooms inside. Wander around scores of incredible museums (with free admission!), like the Tate Modern, which houses an unmissable modern art collection; decode the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum; or geek out in immersive exhibits at the Science Museum.

Since there is so much of London to explore on foot, you'll need sustenance to pound the pavement. Grab a perfect pint and classic fish and chips or opt for nouveau pub fare, hearty curries, or fresh sushi. Indulge in decadent High Teas, complete with pastries and delicate sandwiches, then walk it off as you cross the Millennium Bridge to Sir Christopher Wren’s 17th-century Renaissance masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral, which houses the second-largest dome in the world.

As night falls, take in the skyline from the Shard, London’s highest viewing platform whose Skydeck transforms into a garden in summertime, or watch the sunset beyond the Thames from a perfect view atop the London Eye.

Days 4-5: Yorkshire Dales

Misty Dales
Misty dales in Yorkshire

On day five, you'll escape the city for the Yorkshire Dales, which offers some of the finest scenery in the UK. Tie on your walking shoes to explore unique lush green valleys crisscrossed with white drystone walls built long ago by sheep farmers. You can amble across the verdant landscape or tackle towering limestone cliffs, gorges, and dramatic waterfalls hidden in deep wooded ravines. Be sure to visit the riverside beauty of Bolton Abbey in Wharfedale, which inspired artists like Turner and Ruskin.

Drop by the unique Ancient Fountains Abbey, a World Heritage Site and the finest Cistercian monastic ruin in Europe, framed by elegant Georgian water gardens, and enjoy a picnic on its riverside lawns. Later, sample ‘Old Peculiar’ ale at Theakston Brewery; founded in 1827, it is one of Britain’s oldest established family brewing companies. Finally, visit the quaint towns of Wensleydale, famed for its cheese, before touring Bolton Castle, a 14th-century stronghold notorious for imprisoning Mary Queen of Scots.

Days 6-7: Edinburgh

Edinburgh Rock
Edinburgh Rock looks down upon Scotland's capital

After drinking in the nature and local specialties of Yorkshire, you'll travel on to Edinburgh, Scotland's stunning and lively capital, a beautiful town built amongst rocky hills and crags, filled with quirky charm and enticing nooks to explore. Start your journey at Holyrood Palace, the official residence of Kings and Queens since the 16th Century, then stroll the Old Town’s picturesque jumble of medieval tenements piled high along the Royal Mile. Discover the medieval magic of Edinburgh Castle, a royal fortress that dominates the townscape from its position on Castle Rock.

You'll also savor the deliciousness of Scottish hospitality and cuisine; you're sure to have fun in the characterful old-world subterranean drinking dens. You can tuck into a traditional dinner of haggis, sip a plethora of Scotch whiskeys, or enjoy fresh local salmon. If you time your visit just right, you can catch the annual Edinburgh Fringe, the world's biggest arts festival; if you're in town outside of summer, fear not—local theater, galleries, and performances are aplenty in this arts-loving city. 

Days 8-9: Perthshire Highlands

Statue Robert the Bruce
A statue of Robert the Bruce looking out on the Highlands

It's back to nature on day eight when you'll head to the Highlands, greeted by Perthsire's awe-inspiring scenery - think serene glens, endless expanses of lush forest, beautiful moors, rushing rivers and tumbling waterfalls. Escape into this beautiful wilderness where you can scale awesome peaks like Schiehallion and Ben Lawers and watch some of Scotland's most iconic species in their natural environment; break out the binoculars to spy majestic red deer stags and soaring ospreys. 

Embrace the local fashion and "don the coarse tweed" (in other words, put on a good, warm coat!) and take to the hills to immerse yourself in traditional country pursuits. You can cast a fly for local salmon, learn falconry or try your hand at clay pigeon shooting. If you're a whiskey fan or are interested in learning more about Scotch, take advantage of this great whiskey-producing region and visit the legendary Glenturret, Scotland’s oldest distillery.

Days 10-11: Cumbria & the Lake District National Park

Sheep in field
Sheep pause to say hello in the field

Your second week in Great Britain continues in Cumbria, home to Lake District National Park, a World Heritage Site considered one of England's most outstanding areas of natural beauty. This most romantic of landscapes is laced with beautiful lakes, unspoiled shorelines, and lofty peaks. Take a spectacular cruise on Lake Windermere, wrapped by magnificent mountain scenery, secluded bays, and many wooded islands.

This region is particularly beloved by fans of literature, specifically of the writers and poets from the Romantic era. Visit poet William Wordsworth's family’s home, Rydal Mount, or gaze around the gardens of Beatrix Potters idyllic Hill Top farmhouse for an inspirational rabbit or two. Walk a lakeside trek or, if you're up for a real adventure, head west to the stark beauty of Wasdale and the challenge of Scafell Peak, England's highest mountain. Take time to explore the timeless views and Roman history of Eskdale; Hard Knott Roman Fort, built between AD120 and AD138, must have been one of the loneliest outposts of the Roman Empire but remains a lovely place to stop and take in the scenery.

Days 12-13: Snowdonia & the Cambrian Coast

Historic view
Historic view in Wales

Onwards to Snowdonia, which has a unique place in Welsh history, tradition, and culture. Surrounded with magnificent medieval castles, its unique mountainscapes spring tumbling rivers roll down to a dramatic coastline. Embrace a traditional British Seaside experience and walk the Victorian Llandudno Pier which reaches seemingly forever into the sea.

Explore the fortresses of Conwy Castle, one of the finest of its kind, and the wonder of Harlech, perched high above the Irish Sea; then be sure to embrace the eccentricities and architectural whimsy of Portmeirion. If you’re not one for hiking to Wales’s tallest peak, you can instead enjoy the mountain railway to the top of Mount Snowdon to view the extraordinary panorama across this historic land of myth and legend.

Days 14-15: Pembrokeshire

Coastal Path
Scenic coastal path in Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire is world-renowned for its breathtaking seascapes along its 186 miles of coastal path. Ramble through Stackpole Estate, blessed with soft sandy beaches, wooded valleys, and famous lily ponds, then find Café Mor at Freshwater West and treat yourself to fresh lobster rolls as you watch the Atlantic waves crash into this dramatic beachscape.  

Take a boat to Skomer Island to experience the Atlantic puffin colony or make an excursion to the enchanting Caldey, a holy island where Cistercian monks continue the Celtic tradition that dates back to the 6th Century. Make time to visit tiny St. David’s, the de facto ecclesiastical capital of Wales, a magical city with a spectacular Cathedral. If you're looking to experience more of the land by foot, you can trek an ancient 8-mile track along the top of the rugged Preseli Hills, dotted with prehistoric sites; you'll be rewarded with panoramic views across Pembrokeshire and the stunning coastline.

Days 16-17: Cotswolds & Stratford-upon-Avon

Thatched cottage
An iconic thatched cottage

On day sixteen, prepare to be taken back in time in the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, peppered with ancient honey-hued limestone villages and market towns that date back to the middle ages. You can scale Broadway Tower, a unique Capability Brown folly with unrivaled views perched on the Cotswold escarpment.

Explore the Cotswold Way and its delightful scenery as you stumble across historic thatched inns that offer the best of local hospitality, washed down with the finest English ales, then visit some of England’s finest gardens, like Snowshill Manor and Garden or Hidcote. Experience Olde England at Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, where you can embrace the great bard with the help of the Royal Shakespeare Company's incredible actors and theater spaces. 

Days 18-19: Bath & Stonehenge

Roman Baths
Roman baths

Bath is a historic spa town renowned for its Roman-built baths; beautifully established in the River Avon Valley, the city has been the ultimate thermal spring spa destination for thousands of years. Visit Bath Abbey, founded in the 7th century, and explore the town to properly appreciate its renowned Regency and creamy limestone Georgian architecture that inspired Jane Austin, who was a resident here.

After you've explored Bath, it's off to a short day trip south to see Stonehenge and its prehistoric and iconic standing stones. Give yourself at least two hours to see the stones and the informative Visitor Center, which showcases over 250 archeological artifacts and dives into theories about how and why historians Stonehenge was built and how the site was used. Be aware that the Stone Circle is fully exposed, so you'll want to pack a hat, an extra layer, and a small umbrella just in case the weather shifts. After seeing the stones, head to Castle Combe, a nearby 14th-century market village which has been the location for countless films.

Day 20: Oxfordshire

Streetscape
Streetscape in Oxford

Spend the final day of your grand tour visiting Oxford, a city where life revolves around its prestigious university, established in the 12th century. Wander through the quadrangles and dreamy spires of Britain’s oldest university and stop into some of the country’s most important museums: learn about Zoology, the arctic, or the history of science.

Afterward, give your brain a break and try your hand at punting on the willow-lined banks of the Thames. Be sure to take a picnic hamper with English strawberries and a glass of champagne to enjoy afterward.

Pop over to Blenheim Palace, arguably the country’s finest stately home, and take in the magnificent Capability Brown designed landscaped gardens. The palace itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site containing a spectacular collection of art and artifacts, a butterfly house, and the famous Marlborough Hedge Maze

Map

Map of Grand Tour of Great Britain: London, Edinburgh, Bath, & Oxford - 20 Days
Map of Grand Tour of Great Britain: London, Edinburgh, Bath, & Oxford - 20 Days