United Kingdom Overview

There’s much more to UK holidays than pounding around London or Edinburgh. Tourism hotspots give the lie that this entire island is overcrowded, when there are plenty of wide open spaces to be found – from the parks and protected areas of England and wildernesses of Wales, to the peaks and lochs of Scotland and dramatic coasts of Northern Ireland. Flick through some of the UK’s classic literature to understand how these landscapes inform the culture here. The best way to explore the UK? Strap on your walking boots or head out on two wheels. Learn more in our UK travel guide.

Our top United Kingdom holidays

Scotland by railway holiday

From £1135 to £1195
8 days ex flights
Experience authentic Scotland independently and car-free

Devon eco lodge accommodation, England

From £205 to £810
per accommodation per week
Quirky eco lodges, 1 with Hot Tub, on a Devon nature reserve

Orkney & Shetland self drive holiday, Scotland

From £840 to £955
7 days ex flights
Island hop the wild Scottish Northern Isles on this week's holiday to Orkney and Shetland

Best time to go to the United Kingdom

Brits are weather obsessed, more as a reliable conversation topic than as a serious meteorological appraisal. Some things are for sure. Autumn leaves on the track delay trains. People call September an ‘Indian summer’, when in fact it’s nearly always gorgeous. The cold weather kicks in around January and February. It’s always about 3°C warmer in the south than the north. When it’s hot, motorways come to a standstill. And as poet Gerard Manley Hopkins said: “Nothing is as beautiful as spring.” There’s no best time to visit the UK, because the weather may be unpleasant at times, but it’s always interesting.
United Kingdom temperature and rainfall chart

Walking in England

Walking in England takes you through landscapes that have inspired poets, writers and painters for centuries: Wordsworth’s Lake District; Lewis Carroll’s Cotswolds; John Nash’s Chilterns. Walking the Thames Path from Gloucestershire to London is like travelling through ‘liquid history’, while strolling atop the White Cliffs of Dover unfailingly brings to mind strains of Vera Lynn. Our England walking holidays guide elaborates on the joys of getting out and about – and how easy it is to get from one place to another, with accommodations pre-booked and luggage transferred ahead. Just be sure and pack for any and all weathers, even in summer.

Rail holidays in Scotland

Train travel is the most convenient, enjoyable and unarguably romantic way to get around Scotland. On popular routes – including the coast-to-coast Kyle Line and four-day Caledonian colossus the West Highland Line – some of Scotland’s most wildly beautiful scenery unfolds before you like a film. Punctuate your journey with stop-offs to explore historic castles, walk around a loch, or sample a few drams of whisky. And if cabin fever doesn’t bother you, consider including a tour of the Hebrides. Expert holiday companies can craft tailor made rail-sail itineraries while ensuring your berths are reserved all-round. Find out more in our Scotland railway holidays guide.

Family adventure holidays

Rather than dragging the kids between museums, art galleries and restaurants with suspiciously expensive tourist menus, family adventure holidays in the UK put smiles on faces and keep them there without resorting to ice-cream bribery. Professional instructors keep a watchful eye on kids running wild (within limits) in the Lake District: think rock climbing, orienteering, sailing and gorge walking. In Wales everyone will relish well-organised itineraries of mountain biking and stand-up paddleboarding on the north coast, or kayaking, coasteering and surfing in Pembrokeshire, where you’ll retreat to an eco-friendly lodge for hearty meals in the evenings.

More holiday ideas

Skye and the Small Isles sailing holiday

From £1320 to £2280
9 days ex flights
Sail Scotland's Small Isles and visit spectacular Skye
Small group2021: 24 Jul, 23 Sep, 2022: 16 Apr, 3 May, 4 May, 14 May, 31 May, 21 Aug, 25 Aug, 10 Sep, 2023: 2 May, 6 May, 10 May, 3 Jun, 28 Jul, 9 Aug, 16 Aug, 23 Aug, 4 Sep, 5 Sep

Wildlife holiday in the Isle of Mull, Scotland

From £645 to £695
5 days ex flights
Spot whales, otters and eagles on Isle of Mull, Scotland

Winchester to Canterbury Pilgrims way

From £1569
15 days ex flights
Walk the Pilgrims Way from Winchester to Canterbury

Lake District family activity holiday

From £995 to £1035
7 days ex flights
Walk, climb, abseil and canoe around the Borrowdale Valley.
Small group2021: 29 May, 3 Jul, 10 Jul, 17 Jul, 24 Jul, 31 Jul, 7 Aug, 14 Aug, 21 Aug, 28 Aug, 23 Oct

Northern Ireland walking holiday

From £399
6 days ex flights
Self guided walking tour of the Causeway Coastal Way.

Family adventure holiday in Wales

From £475 to £675
6 days ex flights
Discover, Explore and Adventure on the Pembrokeshire Coast
Small group2021: 24 Oct

More about the United Kingdom

Small ship cruising in Scotland

Scotland is practically nirvana for small ship cruising holidays. The Caledonian Canal links Neptune’s Staircase with Loch Ness (no introductions necessary) and the Moray Firth, and then the Inner and Outer Hebrides, which teem with wildlife. Expect fellow passengers to number between six and 12, and captains to set the schedule by what the weather’s doing every morning. Weather-wise, you’re pretty much guaranteed four seasons in a day. However, most cruises operate between the calmer months of April and October, with wildlife watching at its finest in summer. Find out more in our Scotland small ship cruising holidays guide.

Where to go in the UK

About the only things the four countries that make up the UK have in common are a largely shared first language and reliably unreliable weather. England holidays focus on London or other busy market towns such as Stratford-upon-Avon. You’ll have a far more relaxing time exploring the countryside. Over the border, a sleeper train ride from London takes outdoor activity enthusiasts to Scotland’s wild beauty. Wales is Blue Flag beaches, ancient castles and a rugged coastline that demands that you put on a wetsuit. Over the Irish Sea, meanwhile, you’ll find tumultuous recent history, staggering natural landscapes, and a real sense of community in Northern Ireland.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about UK or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
[Walking in England: Ted and Jen] [Rail holidays in Scotland: Jack Anstey] [Family adventure holidays: Anne Burgess] [Small ship cruising in Scotland: kris1138] [Where to go in the UK : Preseli Venture]
Photo credits: [Page banner: Mikadun] [Walking in England: Ted and Jen] [Rail holidays in Scotland: Jack Anstey] [Family adventure holidays: Anne Burgess] [Small ship cruising in Scotland: kris1138] [Where to go in the UK : Preseli Venture]