- Tour York's stunning Minster Cathedral
- Discover Bram Stoker's inspiration at Whitby Abbey
- Explore historic Bamburgh Castle
- Cross the tidal causeway to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne
|Day 1||Arrive in Manchester, Drive to York, Explore York Minster Cathedral||York|
|Day 2||Drive to Whitby, Discover Yorkshire's Abbeys & Cathedrals||Whitby|
|Day 3||Drive to Newcastle upon Tyne via Tynemouth Castle||Newcastle|
|Day 4||Drive to Bamburgh, Explore the Castle & the Holy Island of Lindisfarne||Bamburgh|
|Day 5||Farne Islands Boat Tour, Dunstanburgh Castle, Drive to Edinburgh & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Manchester, Drive to York, Explore York Minster Cathedral
Welcome to the UK! Upon arrival in Manchester, you'll pick up your rental car and drive two hours northwest to York, a city layered with Roman, Viking, and Anglo-Saxon history. Located halfway between London and Edinburgh, this evocative city is dominated by the 13th-century York Minster Cathedral and surrounded by the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors—countryside that has inspired literary giants from Emily Bronte, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, and Herman Melville.
It's impossible not to be moved by the scale and grandeur of York Minster, and today you'll take a guided tour of the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe. Explore the Minster's rich history, whose building work spans from 1225 to 1475, during the Black Death and the War of the Roses. Uncover the cathedral's Roman past—the history of Constantine the Great, the emperor who changed the course of Christianity, and the 31-foot-high (9.5 m) Roman Column that supported the basilica roof upon which site the Minster was built.
Day 2: Drive to Whitby, Discover Yorkshire's Abbey & Cathedrals
After breakfast and a final wander around York, you'll head north to Whitby, a traditional seaside town on Yorkshire's northeast coast. There are several great stops en route, and your first, lying 24 miles (38 km) north of York, is the charming chocolate box town of Helmsley. Discover the town's 12th-century castle and its previous incarnations as a medieval fortress, comfortable Tudor residence, a Civil War stronghold, and romantic Victorian ruin.
Three miles away from Helmsley Castle lies Rievaulx Abbey, both built by Walter Espec, a prominent military figure under the reign of King Henry I. Either walk or drive the 3-mile (5 km) scenic route to the Abbey across the wild North Moors and unearth the compelling history of one of the most powerful monasteries in England—until Henry VIII seized it during the dissolution of the monasteries in one of the most revolutionary events in English history.
From here, it's an hour's drive to Whitby. As you travel through the magnificent dales and woodland of the North York Moors National Park, glimpse the history woven into the tapestry of the landscape that holds the secrets of civilizations past. Arrive in Whitby firmly in the present and sample the seaside town's famous fish and chips, considered the best in the country. Do as the locals and get yours to take away and eat overlooking the harbor. If it's chilly, head to one of the local pubs and cozy up to the roaring log fire as you recall your day's adventures.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 3: Drive to Newcastle upon Tyne via Tynemouth Castle
Today, you'll make your way north to Newcastle upon Tyne, with a few key stops along the way. If you haven't already, try a classic "full English breakfast" to fortify you for today's trip. Before you leave, a visit to Whitby Abbey, just a few minutes from the town, is essential. Originally a monastery founded in around 657 CE, it became one of the most important religious centers in the Anglo-Saxon world. Today, the dramatic ruins of the 13th-century Benedictine abbey dominate the windswept headland and are famous for inspiring Bram Stoker's "Dracula."
Continue your drive north for roughly 73 miles (117 km) until you reach Tynemouth. Explore the town's castle and priory, its origins as a Benedictine monastery in the seventh century, and the burial site of the early kings of Northumbria. Unearth its dramatic history that saw the priory's destruction by Danish Vikings in the 800s, its reincarnation as a Norman castle, and finally, as fortifications against Nazis during World War II. Explore the surrounding rocky headland and the spectacular views overlooking the River Tyne and the North Sea.
After a walk along the beaches and a wander through the town, continue your final leg of the journey to Newcastle upon Tyne—the largest city in northeast England, with a mighty heritage that saw it thrive during the Industrial Revolution. Explore the town's considerable cultural attractions, including the Laing Art Gallery, the internationally acclaimed Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, and Sage Gateshead, an international music venue and home of the Royal Northern Symphonic Orchestra. A far cry from the city's humble origins as a Roman fort on Hadrian's Wall.
Day 4: Drive to Bamburgh, Explore the Castle & the Holy Island of Lindisfarne
Continue an hour north to Bamburgh, a gorgeous coastal village on the northern stretch of Northumberland's dramatic coastline. It's impossible not to be awed by the magnificent Bamburgh Castle, which stands on a 180-foot (55 m) high basalt crag with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Steeped in history, the castle dates back 1,400 years to its time as a fortress when Bamburgh was the center of the largest kingdom in England. Today, it's one of the largest inhabited castles in the country and has been wonderfully restored by the Armstrong family.
Next, it's onto the sixth-century Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island and famous for being one of the first locations in the UK to be attacked by the Vikings. Walk along the causeway that separates the island from the mainland, checking in advance to avoid the twice-daily flooding at high tide, which renders Lindisfarne inaccessible. Follow in the footsteps of the monks who built their priory here almost 1,400 years ago and discover the treasures of this unique place.
With such a rich history, it's easy to overlook the natural wonders of the island, which is home to a number of sea birds and unusual coastal flowers. Take in the beautiful surroundings as you make your way to the 16th-century castle, built in 1550 by the Tudors, to defend the realm against Catholic invasion and an attack from Scotland. Stroll the monastic remains of the priory, founded by St. Aidan in 635 CE, before heading back to the mainland and settling in Bamburgh for the evening.
Day 5: Farne Islands Boat Tour, Dunstanburgh Castle, Drive to Edinburgh & Depart
This morning, it's a quick five-minute drive to the little fishing village of Seahouses, where there are daily boat tours to the Farne Islands. Declared by Sir David Attenborough as his favorite place to see nature in the UK, this archipelago is home to marine wildlife, including puffins, dolphins, seals, and porpoises. Tour the islands and look out for the colony of gray or Atlantic seals, which can often be seen lazing on the rocks or peering inquisitively above the sea.
This northeast coastal stretch has many magnificent walks, and if you want to fit in one more before you leave, head 30 minutes south to Craster. Stroll the beautiful cliffside walk to Dunstanburgh Castle, one of the largest surviving medieval castles built by Earl Thomas of Lancaster in 1313. Navigate the vast ruins and take time to visit the tremendous twin-towered keep. Then it's time to say your goodbyes as you get back on the road and drive two hours north to Edinburgh—where you can continue your adventures or drop off your rental car and catch your departing flight. Safe travels!