The excitement of discovering the different cultures and landscapes of England, Wales, and Scotland comes alive whilst travelling on one of the best tours of Great Britain, the 9-day “Real Britain”. The tour visits the capital cities of each country, together with the English cities of Bath, Liverpool, and York.
When you add in sightseeing at Stonehenge, Ludlow with its Tudor buildings and medieval castle, the glorious scenery of the Lake District, romantic Gretna Green, Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, and Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon you’ll understand why this is one of the best tours of Great Britain.
And the "Real Britain” tour is very highly rated and organised by a company that has had over 5 million guests!
Arrive at your London hotel and start to sightsee London in your free time.
After breakfast you’re joined for the morning by a London specialist and start your journey around some of London’s best sights, including Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. For the rest of the day, you explore London on your own and could possibly see Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, or visit museums and art galleries, or even take a boat trip along the River Thames. In the evening there is the chance to see a West End show or have dinner in Covent Garden and watch the street entertainers.
Your exploration of Britain starts as the tour heads west from busy London to Cardiff, the capital of Wales. The tour starts with a bang, as the first stop is the world-famous Stonehenge in Wiltshire. This fascinating five-thousand-year-old pre-historic monument must be on every traveller’s to do list. Marvel at the stone monoliths and the story of how they got here and put into position. It’s an amazing tale of endeavour and ingenuity!
In a way you could consider yourself a time traveller during the short journey from Stonehenge to the beautiful spa city of Bath, as the Roman baths, from which Bath is named, are only around two thousand years old!
But Bath is more than just Roman baths, as it is also famous for its elegant Georgian architecture, its Abbey, Pulteney Bridge, and has ties to Jane Austen who stayed here for several years and wrote two Regency novels about the city.
Leaving the city of Bath, you cross the longest river in Britain, the River Severn, and into Wales. One of the first things you’ll notice as you pass into Wales is that all the road signs are in two languages, Welsh and English. During your stay you may even hear the people around you speaking the Welsh Celtic language, so don’t be surprised if you don’t understand everything you hear!
In the lively city of Cardiff there is plenty to see and do, including Cardiff castle, the cathedral, museums, and the bay area. In the evening you’ll celebrate the start of your exciting journey around Great Britain with a welcome reception.
There is an optional extra Cardiff Castle tour in the morning before setting off on your travels through the Welsh countryside into Shropshire. The medieval town of Ludlow is known for its Norman castle, black and white half-timbered buildings, and excellent food. At one time, even though it is in England, Ludlow was the capital of Wales!
The tour passes through glorious hilly Shropshire landscape into the flatter planes of Cheshire and into the vibrant city of Liverpool, the birthplace of The Beatles. I strongly recommend the optional extra guided tour of Liverpool on which you’ll discover its rich maritime past, the two cathedrals, and of course some famous Beatles sites.
Oh, and good luck with trying to understand the Scouse accent!
If you’ve enjoyed the journey so far, then the trip between Liverpool and Edinburgh is a stunner. The views through the Lake District are just captivating and have inspired the likes of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. The tour stops at Lake Windermere where there is a choice of optional extra. A boat cruise on England’s largest lake, or a boat cruise on the lake and short stream train ride between Lakeside and Haverthwaite. One of these must be a must, and I know my preference as I love a good steam train ride!
Back on the road, you pass through Cumbria and across the England-Scotland border just before entering Gretna Green.
You’re now in the land of Haggis, bagpipes, great legends, and men who wear tartan skirts.
As the closest Scottish town to the English border, Gretna Green became popular for young English couples to elope to and marry because the Marriage Act of 1754 introduced in England and Wales forbad anyone under 21 marrying without their family’s consent. And guess what, the Blacksmith’s workshop was the first building in Gretna Green the fleeing couple would see. The Blacksmith’s ceremony would include a few words and then he would seal the marriage by bringing his hammer down on the anvil.
There is a busy little visitors’ centre, including the Blacksmith’s workshop, a museum, sculptures, and shops, and if you’re lucky you may be there when another couple follow the romantic tradition as we did in 1992.
Your journey continues to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, which is your home for two nights. In the evening there is an optional extra night out in the old city and enjoy some night-time sightseeing and evening dinner.
Part of the day is spent exploring Edinburgh with a local expert taking in the sightseeing sights of the Royal Mile, Old Town, Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. In the afternoon you have the choice of enjoying more of Edinburgh’s sights or joining the tour director on an optional extra visit to The Royal Yacht Britannia which was the Queens floating palace for more than forty years.
In the evening there is a choice of evening out as an optional extra. There is a scenic drive to historic Torphichen which is associated with Scottish Kings and the Knights Hospitaller. You are entertained in the Torphichen Inn with a dinner of local specialities. Or you could have a grand night out at an Edinburgh Scottish Show with dinner, singing, and dancing. We’ve done something similar in Fort William and it was a very entertaining evening!
Hopefully you didn’t party too hard last night as today your tour of Britain is back on the road, and you return to England. On the journey from Edinburgh to York the tour traverses the route of Hadrian’s Wall which crosses England between Newcastle and Bowness-on-Solway. It was built by the Romans in the year 122 to guard the north-western frontier of the Roman Empire and is Britain’s greatest Roman ruin.
There is so much to do in York and there are some fantastic photo opportunities. You can walk around the city wall, climb up to Clifford’s Tower, enter the tightly packed Shambles, or visit York minster. There are some great museums, including the Norvik Viking Centre, York Castle Museum, and the National Railway Museum, or you could try a boat cruise along the River Ouse. If you want to experience something really usual, then there is the York Cold War Bunker.
In the evening is the Trafalgar “Connect with the locals” where you join a family in their stately home for a home-cooked farewell dinner.
I suspect you may be up early today to try and take advantage of your time in York. It really is a special place for the traveller.
Sadly, though, this is the last day of your tour, and you leave York to return to London. However, it’s not all bad news as on the way you do visit wonderful Stratford-upon-Avon to discover Shakespeare’s life. It is a beautiful town with many nice buildings.
You arrive in London in the late afternoon, so there is a last chance to catch up on any London sites you missed before setting off on your travels.
Now it's time to say goodbye to London.
What a wonderful tour. It gives you a real taste of Great Britain and is a good introduction to our beautiful island. There is so much history and culture, and then all those stunning landscapes to take in.
The Real Britain itinerary makes it one of the more best tours of Great Britain available and the reviews tend to back this up. Please be aware that the details in this page were correct at the time of publication and may change. For full up to date details…