Spanning 700 miles north to south, three distinct countries, and 12,000 years of history, the United Kingdom would take months to explore fully. Still, with even as little as four days you can explore London's most famous sights, plus perhaps one nearby region, while two weeks lets you roam widely. With an entire month at your disposal, you can cover much of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland with a breadth of active adventures and cultural excursions.

Planning Your Trip to the United Kingdom

From the rolling softness of the Cotswolds and Yorkshire Dales to the rugged allure of the Lake District, the Scottish Highlands, Wales' Snowdonia National Park, and Northern Ireland's Giants Causeway, the UK's physical diversity seems endless. To get a full taste of the region, you need to travel the length and breadth of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

With limited time, it's best to focus on one or two specific regions, then add additional areas if you have more time. With only five days, it's best to focus on London or Edinburgh, perhaps with a day excursion nearby. You can add one other region in a week, while 10 days allows you to tick off three or four distinct areas. And finally, two or three weeks allow you to begin to combine England, Wales, Scotland, and even Northern Ireland. And a month would allow you to do a complete circuit of the UK.

Travelers with specific interests may want to plan their itineraries to include relevant sites, festivals, or events. The annual calendar is packed with cultural festivals worth adding extra days to any sightseeing itinerary.

The United Kingdom in 5 Days

Big Ben clocktower is compelling at dusk, as viewed from Trafalgar Square, London

If you only have five days to spare, focusing on a dynamic city or a compact region is well worth your time.

This whirlwind tour of London begins aboard a double-decker sightseeing bus tour, reaching most city highlights, including Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, and Big Ben. On day two, venture out to 900-year-old Windsor Castle and nearby Eton with its world-famous boys' school. Next, explore Kensington Palace—the former home of Princess Diana and today the London home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children—before afternoon tea at the Savoy Hotel. You'll then visit Hampton Court Palace, the former home of Henry VIII, before spending the afternoon roaming the British Museum.

Meanwhile, this Northern Ireland adventure has you settling into Belfast with a visit to b before following your route to Ballycastle. You'll venture through the Glens of Antrim, an area of outstanding natural beauty, before stopping to snap pics of the famous Dark Hedges. On day three, you'll board the ferry to small Rathlin Island to walk the island and see basking seals. Then it's off to Bushmills, the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world. Your trip ends on the rugged Antrim coastline with a visit to Dunluce Castle, Fair Head, an exciting walk across Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and exploring the Giants Causeway.

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The United Kingdom in 7 Days

In a week in Scotland, you can easily add in Glencoe

One week gives you added time to combine cities with additional nearby regions. 

This week-long itinerary is dedicated to London and the English countryside. You'll spend two days taking in the top sites of London, including Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul's Cathedral. The next day you'll journey to the spa town of Bath, with its Roman baths and 18th-century Georgian architecture, before giving day four to Windsor Castle. On day five, enjoy a private car transfer to the Cotwolds, with lovely medieval villages like Broadway and Chipping Camden. Then you'll spend a full day around Oxford, including a guided tour of Blenheim Palace.

Experience Scotland's unique culture, history, and landscapes with this Edinburgh and the Highlands itinerary. You'll first explore Edinburgh and its attractions like Edinburgh Castle and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Then you'll venture to Stirling Castle and, in the Cairngorms, fairy-tale Blair Castle, with an overnight near the historic battlefield site of Culloden. The next day, a stop at Eilean Donan castle precedes a visit to the Isle of Skye, with its many gourmet seafood restaurants and geological marvels like the Old Man of Storr, reached by a hike before returning to Edinburgh via Glencoe.

Check out this article for more seven-day itineraries. 

The United Kingdom in 10 Days

Conwy Castle
Add a second country like Wales to your England trip (Conwy Castle)

In 10 days, you can explore the highlights of Edinburgh plus multiple regions of Scotland, including the Highlands and several whiskey-producing islands. Or combine a quick trip into Wales after touring the English countryside from north to south.

This scenic Scotland tour begins with Edinburgh's highlights, like the Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace, and Arthur's Seat, before a foodie tour the next day. Afterward, it's off to the Highlands to explore Inverness, Culloden, Loch Ness, and Urquart Castle. On day three, you'll overnight in Portree on the Isle of Skye, discovering the island's whiskey heritage and the Isle of Raasay's. Back on the mainland, you'll drive to Oban, join a boat tour of the Firth of Lorn, and then indulge in a meal or two in Scotland's seafood capital. On day seven, you'll fly to the Isle of Islay to delve into the world of Scotch whisky and tour some of the island's best.

Combine England with an easy stopover in Wales. You'll begin with a sojourn to Stonehenge, then the lovely former Roman and Georgian spa town of Bath, and Glastonbury, the setting for many Arthurian legends. Two days along the Cotswolds Discovery Trail leads you through half a dozen beautiful medieval villages, plus a visit to Hidcote Manor Gardens, before a half-day exploring Stratford-upon-Avon. You'll then journey through northern Wales, visiting three iconic castles—Conwy, Caernarfon, and Beaumaris—before heading back to London to see Shakespeare's Globe Theater and high tea at the Savoy.

Check out this article for more 10-day itineraries. 

The United Kingdom in 2 Weeks

Views across Malin Head on the Inishowen Peninsula.
Views across Malin Head on the Inishowen Peninsula

Two weeks in the UK gives you enough time to explore multiple regions within a country as well as catch a short flight to a neighboring one.

Combining Scotland with Northern Ireland, begin in Edinburgh before renting your car and venturing north into the Highlands. You'll make your way to Inverness, Stirling Castle, and Pitlochry and spend quiet time with a tour of Culloden Battlefield and Bronze Age Clava Cairns. After Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, and Fort William, you'll board the Jacobite Express steam train, followed by a drive through rugged Glencoe and the misty shores of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Once in Glasgow, fly to Dublin for a night, then it's off to discover Belfast, the Antrim Coastline, and the Inishowen Peninsula.

Meanwhile, you can combine England, Scotland, and Wales for a triptych adventure. Start in London before you head north to Scotland after time spent amid the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales. Then from Edinburgh and the Highlands, you'll venture south to Lake District National Park before journeying to Snowdonia, in Wales. From here, enjoy the dramatically scenic drive to the Cotswolds and visits to Stratford-Upon-Avon, Bath, Stonehenge, and Oxford.

More Great United Kingdom Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the UK? Check out these other United Kingdom itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.