I have previously shared a post with all the beautiful cities in the UK to visit when you get a chance. Building on that this post, I am now sharing tips for the perfect 2 weeks in England, Scotland and Ireland! Exploring many of cool places to visit in the UK and Ireland. Iconic cities like London, Edinburgh and Dublin. Taking in all the famous cities in each of the cites in addition to the day trips you can brunch on. So, this two-week itinerary should help you make the most of the beautiful countryside, breathtaking coastlines, and vibrant cities.
Pro-tip: Whatever airport you land in, when arriving in London. Getting to central London or into the city is super easy. See here for my tips on how to get from Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted to central London.
- 1 Two weeks in England, Scotland and Ireland
- 2 England Days 1 -5
- 3 Scotland Days 5-9
- 4 Republic of Ireland Days 10-14
- 5 How To Plan A Trip To England Ireland And Scotland
- 6 The Best Time To Visit The UK
- 7 Recommended Reading & Travel Guides
Two weeks in England, Scotland and Ireland
The perfect UK and Ireland itinerary start with London. While every trip will require budget either that is luxe or shoestring when looking at where to stay in London, I have hopefully made that aspect of the trip with my guide on the best areas to stay in London in addition to the best hostels in London for those on a budget trip. Some hostels also allow you to have private and family rooms so don’t be too quick to write them off completely.
England Days 1 -5
Two days in London
While bus tours aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, it’s worth considering one especially if you’re in London on a limited time schedule. It’s a great way of making sure you don’t miss any important sights. However, if you prefer to do things on your own, below is an itinerary on where to go in London, in addition, I have also shared a DIY walking tour of London in my one day London itinerary post.
Day 1 – Exploring Westminster And London Westend
Pro tip: Check out Attraction Tix for discounts of tickets to London attractions from 2for1 tickets at London Eye, London Aquarium(great if travelling with kids), Harry Potter Studio, London Dungeon and more.
- Parliament Square and Houses of Parliament
Visit the centre of the UK government, home of Big Ben, and watch live debates as they unfold. You can take audio and guided tours through the Central Lobby, Members Lobby and Commons Chamber. You can also follow the same route that the Monarch took at the State Opening of Parliament. When you’re finished with the tours, head outside to Parliament Square and check out the statues of Churchill, Lincoln and Mandela.
- Westminster Abbey
This 700 year old church is the site of the Royal Wedding, the place of coronation for British monarchs and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Audio guides are available as you walk round and admire the paintings, stained glass windows and religious artefacts.
- St James’s Park
This is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a green space in the city. Enjoy views of the lake and fountain, watch the pelicans at feeding time and take photos of the colourful flower beds.
- Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is only open for tours between July and October. However, the Changing of the Guard takes place in the forecourt throughout the year. Make sure you’re there for 11am on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday or Monday.
- Piccadilly Circus
This road junction and public space is one of the busiest in London. Here you can see the Piccadilly Lights, check out the Theatre District and discover some Harry Potter locations. This is also in the Westend which plays host to much of London’s nightlife.
- Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery
This is another public square, and where you’ll find the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. You can also visit St. Martin-in-the-Fields, an old church that holds free concerts at different times throughout the week. While exploring Trafalgar Square, you also check out London’s hidden gem that is the Instagrammable Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden.
- Westminster Bridge
This bridge crosses the River Thames and connects Westminster on the West and Lambeth on the East. This is a great place to take photos of the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Here you can also grab a ride on many of London’s River cruise tours some of which also include afternoon Tea.
- London Dungeon
If you like gory history, then you’ll love the London Dungeons. This is an attraction that recreates gruesome historical events in a humorous style. There are live actors, special effects and rides as well, so you won’t run out of thrills here.
- London Eye
One of the most popular attractions in London, the London Eye is an observation wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames. At 443 metres high, it’s an amazing viewpoint to look over the city, and not one to be missed among many of London’s attractions.
Day 2 – Explore The Southbank And Beyond
While London might be expensive, there are plenty of ways to save money. I have shared money-saving 10 tips when visiting London to help reduce costs.
- Tower of London
See the Crown Jewels in this historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames and one of the world’s most famous fortresses. It has served as a royal palace, a prison, an armory and even a zoo. You can take tours which are guided by the Beefeaters. I covered the Tower of London when I visited during the WW commemoration exhibition.
- Sky Garden
This is one of the best places to enjoy views over the city. While the rest of the skyscraper is an office block, the top of the building is a public viewing space complete with a garden, open air terrace, two restaurants and a bar. I have shared a post on the blog on the Sky Garden and how to book a ticket.
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
This iconic cathedral offers a multimedia tour or a guided tour to help you explore its beautiful interior. You can also venture down into the crypt and learn about the tombs and memorials of important people in British history, such as the Duke of Wellington. Make sure to visit the Whispering Gallery and the Golden Gallery for views over the city.
- Shakespeare’s Globe
Shakespeare fans shouldn’t miss this attraction – it’s a reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre, and is now a lively performing arts venue. There are guided tours, a gift shop and restaurant on site, and you can even catch a play while you’re there.
- Tower Bridge
Arguably the most iconic bridge in London, this is a must see. You can visit the Glass Floor and learn about the story of the Bridge, through interactive displays and videos. Tower Bridge is just as beautiful during the day and at night.
- Borough Market
Grab some lunch at Borough Market, one of the largest and oldest food markets in London. You’ll be spoilt for choice here with cuisine from all over the world. One of the best places for a good hearty breakfast as well so be sure to check this place out.
- The Shard
The Shard is a 95 storey skyscraper and is the tallest building in the European Union. It includes three different viewing platforms , as well as a choice of restaurants and bars. I have shared a post on our stay at Shangri-La which it located within The Shard. For what to expect when visiting the viewing decks at the shard I have shared pictures from the Shard.
- West End Show
The West End is a region of London that is home to many theatres. Some of the most famous ones include the Lyceum Theatre, Apollo Victoria and the Adelphi Theatre. For tips on the best theatre shows to watch in London I have a post on the blog in addition to where to stay in Soho.
Day 3 in Cambridge(Day Trip From London)
With beautiful architecture, fascinating museums and a picturesque river running through the city, you won’t run out of things to do in Cambridge. Here are some of the best things to see:
- Go punting along the river
What better to way to take in the sights than from a romantic little boat? There are plenty of boat tour companies offering trips down the River Cam.
- The Bridge of Sighs
This is a beautifully ornate covered bridge across the Cam, connecting the Third Court at St John’s College Cambridge with the New Court. If you go punting, you’ll float underneath it.
- Visit university buildings
The Cambridge University buildings are spread out on either side of the River Cam. It’s worth visiting them just to admire the amazing architecture, especially St. John’s College.
- Fitzwilliam Museum
If you like arts and antiques, then this is the place to be. It’s home to artefacts from as far back as 2500 BC and has over half a million artworks.
- Botanic Garden
The Botanic Garden is home to an amazing collection of plants from around the world, spread over 40 acres. There are also several glasshouses which are filled with vibrant flowers and plants.
Day 4 in Oxford, Bath and Stonehenge tour (Day Trip From London)
The famous university city of Oxford, the ancient city of Bath and the mysterious and fascinating Stonehenge will give you a glimpse into the history of England. I haved blogged about how to do a day trip to Oxford from London if you want to do it on your own. Otherwise I recommend doing a tour which covers a lot of ground in one go. There are plenty of tours that combine Oxford, Stonehenge and Bath into one tour.
- Oxford Castle
Oxford Castle was originally built in the 10th century, before being used as a prison in the 14th century. You can take a tour to discover the history of the castle, which includes climbing to the roof for a view over the city.
- Take an architectural tour though Bath
Bath is the only city in the UK that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a walking tour to take in centuries of architectural art. You can find some pictures from a few visits in Bath.
- The Roman Baths
No trip to Bath is complete without visiting the Roman Baths. These were used for bathing by the Romans until the end of the 5th century. Although you can’t bathe there today, you can use interactive exhibits and CGI to learn about how important these baths were.
- Stonehenge tour
Stonehenge is arguably the world’s most famous prehistoric monument. This ring of standing stones is a World Heritage Site and attracts millions of people each year. You can also visit Neolithic houses and the visitor centre to learn more about Neolithic life. There are plenty of companies running tours, so you won’t have difficulty finding one.
Day 5 in London then flight/train to Edinburgh
Spend one more day exploring the capital before you head north to Scotland.
- Kensington Palace
This is the offices and residences of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Some historic parts of the palace are open to the public and are available for tours.
- Kensington Gardens
These were once part of the Kensington palace grounds, but are now open to the public. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and relax in the beautiful greenery. Visit the Serpentine Galleries or admire the Albert Memorial.
- Maggie Jones’s Restaurant
For some lunch, head to Maggie Jones’s restaurant. This farmhouse-style venue serves up simple, British classics like fish pie and apple crumble.
- Victoria and Albert Museum
This art and design museum covers 12.5 acres and has 145 galleries filled with 5000 years of art from around the world. It’s a great way to spend the afternoon, and it’s worth checking to see what exhibitions they have on.
If you are leaving on a late flight to Edinburgh and have some flexibility I highly recommend checking out the cool places to visit in Shoreditch. A chic and hip area of London that is full of colourful street art.
Pro tip: Check out Omio for train, flight and coach times and compare prices for each mode of transportation on one site.
Flight/train to Edinburgh:
- By flight: a nonstop flight would take 1 hour 15 minutes. Depending on the airline, the cost varies between £30 and £85, with EasyJet being the cheapest option.
- By train: a train would take between 4.5 hours to 5.5 hours. Depending on the time, an advance single ticket would cost around £73.
- Edinburgh also provides a gateway for those that want to combine travel Scotland and Faroe Islands as part of an itinerary.
Scotland Days 5-9
2 days in Edinburgh
Discover Scotland’s hilly capital and immerse yourself in the rich culture. There are plenty of tours you can do in Edinburgh. From food tours to ghost tours and whisky tasting tours as well as castle tours and Highlands tours. If you are visiting Edinburgh with a partner and need inspiration on romantic things to do in Edinburgh, I have just the guide.
Day 6 In Edinburgh
- Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle sits high above the city, offering panoramic views. It’s home to many items from Scottish history, including the Scottish crown jewels. At 1pm every day, the gun is fired from here, and this is not one to be missed. While you are here, also make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to dine in the Secret Garden at the Witchery.
- Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
This is right next to Edinburgh Castle, and is packed full of exhibits on optical illusions. There are holograms, a mirror maze and a camera obscura on the top of the building – a fascinating insight into how light and prisms work.
- St. Giles’ Cathedral
Founded in the 12th century, St. Giles’ Cathedral is a stunning gothic style building. You can explore the building in your own time or take a guided tour. Make sure to visit Thistle Chapel to see the beautiful interior.
- The Royal Mile
This is a stretch of streets running through the heart of Edinburgh. It runs from Edinburgh Castle all the way to Holyrood Palace, and is dotted with attractions, historical sites, souvenir shops, restaurants and pubs. For more also read my post on things to do in Edinburgh on weekend.
- Watch a traditional Scottish show
If you want a full cultural experience, you should see a traditional Scottish show, such as the Spirit of Scotland experience. Local performers will put on a show with musicians, dancers, bagpipes and full Highland dress. A four course traditional Scottish meal is also included.
Day 7 In Edinburgh
- Holyrood Palace
Holyrood Palace is the official residence of the Monarchy in Scotland. However, it is open to the public to explore the 14 State Apartments, the ruins of the 12th century Holyrood Abbey and royal gardens. You can purchase your tickets to the palace in advance.
- Arthur’s Seat
Arthur’s Seat is an ancient volcano sitting 251 metres above sea level, situation in Holyrood Park. It dates back to 2000 years ago, and is one of four hill forts that are well preserved. It takes about 1-2 hours to climb, so prepare enough time beforehand.
- Dynamic Earth
This is a fun, interactive museum all about the history of Earth. There is something for everyone here, with a time machine ride into the past and a spaceship simulation.
- HMY Britannia
For over forty years, this ship was the residence of the Royal Family. You can visit the ship and see where Prince Harry and Prince William spent their summer holidays, and where kings and queens and high profile celebrities and leaders dined.
Day 8 in Glasgow
Explore this port city which is also the most populous city in Scotland. Again plenty of tours to immerse yourself into the city’s history, gastronomy and other fun tours for Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands.
- Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis
Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis are a must see to get an insight into the city. The cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in the city, consecrated in 1197. Marvel at the high Gothic arches and beautiful stained windows. Just behind the cathedral is the Necropolis, which has approximately 3500 monuments and over 50,000 grave sites.
- Merchant City
This is one of the most interesting areas in Glasgow, and one of the oldest. Dating back to the 1750s, it was once home to warehouses belonging to traders. Today, the warehouses have been taken over by cool bars, restaurants, designer boutiques and galleries.
- The West End
This is a district 10 minutes’ drive from the city centre. It has been voted one of the UK’s trendiest neighbourhoods and is you’ll find cute little lanes and leafy streets at every turn. Harry Potter fans shouldn’t miss out on the main building of the University of Glasgow.
- Glasgow Botanical Gardens
Located in the West End, these gorgeous gardens are a lovely place for a riverside walk. There are several glasshouses featuring exotic plants, a herb garden and a world rose garden.
Day 9 Highlands tour Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands day tour from Edinburgh
A trip to Scotland wouldn’t be complete without exploring its Scotland’s scenic drives and the amazing natural wonders of the Scottish Highlands. Visit the home of the mythical Loch Ness Monster, the valleys of Glencoe and Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK. Check out a day tour here. As part of your Scottish Highlands itinerary, for the Harry Potter fans, it might be worth checking out the Harry Potter train on the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Protip: Getting from Glasgow to Dublin. I would check out options via Omio or book your tickets in advance from RyanAir. The early in advance you book the cheaper the tickets. With RyanAir just make sure you are able to print your boarding passes or download the app so that you can have the boarding passes on your one. NOTE: phone boarding passes are only allowed for those passport holders not requiring a visa to enter the country. If you had to get a UK/Ireland visa in advance then you will need a paper print out that has to be visa checked at the check-in desk.
Flight to Dublin from Glasgow:
- A nonstop flight would take 1 hour, and start from £22 with Ryanair
Flight to Dublin from Glasgow:
- A nonstop flight would take 1 hour 10 minutes, and start from £29 with Ryanair
Republic of Ireland Days 10-14
2 days in Dublin
The capital of the Republic of Ireland is a mix of heritage and hedonism, and you’ll soon find out why. Note that I have not included Belfast in this UK and Ireland itinerary but you can get tours from Dublin that also include Belfast for those that want to add in the Giant Causeway. You have options like this tour from Dublin to Giant Causeway. This way you can do one day in Dublin and one day for the Giant Causeway.
You can also book your tickets in advance for tours like the Guinness Tours, Jameson Whiskey Tours, Big Bus as well as the Dublin Pass.
Day 10 In Dublin
- Irish Emigration Museum
The Irish Emigration Museum tells the story of the millions of people who emigrated from Ireland to different places around the world, many of them to America. You’ll learn about why they emigrated, the process behind it, and building their new lives.
- Jeanie Johnston Tallship & Famine Experience
This is a replica of the original Jeanie Johnston ship that carried cargo between Ireland and North America. During the Irish Famine it transported emigrants instead. You can take a tour to learn more about what life was like onboard.
- Trinity College and the Long Room
Part of the University of Dublin, Trinity College has several impressive buildings that you can visit. The Old Library is one of the most popular ones, housing over 200,000 books including the Book of Kells – the world’s most famous medieval manuscript.
- National Gallery of Ireland
This gallery boasts an incredible collection of Irish and European art. It hosts over 10,000 works of art and 2,500 paintings – including those of Turner and Rembrandt.
- Little Museum of Dublin
For a smaller, more intimate look into history, visit the Little Museum of Dublin. Here you can learn about what life in Dublin was like in the 20th century and has over 5,000 artefacts on display, as well as an exhibit on U2, Ireland’s most famous rock band.
- Sunset over River Liffey
Towards the end of the day, make your way down to the River Liffey to catch the sunset. It runs through the centre of the city, and has several bridges which serve as great viewpoints.
- Temple Bar district
The Temple Bar district is the place to be if you’re looking for live music and pints of Guinness. There are tons of bars and pubs here, but some of the most popular ones are Bad Bobs, The Temple Bar and The Old Storehouse.
Day 11 In Dublin
- Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle is actually home to several government buildings that are built up around the old medieval castle. You can take a self-guided tour or a guided tour to explore the main castle, the Chester Beattie Library museum and the Irish police museum.
- Christ Church Cathedral
This is Dublin’s oldest medieval cathedral, dating back to 1028. While the Gothic architecture is impressive in itself, you can also visit the crypt to see a number of attractions including a mummified cat and rat, and collection of silverware.
Dublinia is a fun museum where you can learn about medieval and Viking Dublin. There are exhibits and model houses which show you what life was like back then. You can also climb up to the top of St. Michael’s Tower to take in the views.
- Kilmainham Gaol
Although this is further away from the city centre, it’s definitely worth visiting. There have been several noble inmates who were executed here during the 1916 revolution. Some scenes in the original The Italian Job film was filmed here, as well as Paddington 2.
- Guinness Storehouse
Dublin’s most popular attraction is the Guinness Storehouse. This seven storey attraction is located in St. James’s Gate Brewery, where Ireland’s favourite drink has been brewed since 1759. You can learn all about Guinness here, and a pint is included in your ticket price.
Day 12 in Galway
This little harbour city on the west coast will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to Medieval Ireland. An unmissable stop on any Ireland road trip.
- Galway City Museum
Galway City Museum exhibits three floors of the history of Galway City, and is located with fantastic views over the Spanish Arch, River Corrib and Galway Bay.
- Galway Cathedral
This cathedral is one of the most impressive buildings in the city, and its huge octagonal dome is visible from miles away. Although it was only constructed in the 1950s, it is designed with some eclectic Renaissance and Romanesque details. It has a stunning collection of art which is also worth a visit.
- Eyre Square
Situated in the heart of the city, Eyre Square is a public park and a great place to take a break from exploring. It is officially called the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, in remembrance of the US President who made a speech there.
- Dunguaire Castle
This is a gorgeous 16th century tower house on the shore of Galway Bay, and is within walking distance from the city centre. It is open to the public all year, and in the summer months it offers local entertainment and banquets.
- Kenny Gallery
This was originally a family-run bookshop in WW2, and has now expanded into an extensive art gallery. Apart from hosting over half a million books, it also showcases the works of local and international artists.
Day 11 Cliffs of Moher (+Options)
These stunning natural masterpieces are only a 90 minute drive from Galway city. They run for 8km along the coast and rise to 214m. It is a haven for wildlife and you can spot puffins, peregrine falcons and razorbills. Take the Doolin Cliff Walk and explore the beautiful cliff views. We rented a car from Dublin and this region of Ireland on our own but you have the option to let someone else take the reigns and sort out transport and stops for you and do a tour from Dublin. I have shared a detailed post on the best tours from Dublin to Cliffs of Moher.
- Optional day:
- Chill and explore more of Dublin
Take the opportunity to explore more of Dublin. Whiskey fans can take a tour of the old Jameson Distillery and learn about how the spirit is made. You can also stroll around the city and take in the sights like St Patrick’s Cathedral, the Spire of Dublin and the Ha’penny Bridge.
- Day trip to Giant’s Causeway
Another option is to visit the Giant’s Causeway and see the majestic 40,000 basalt stone columns which were left behind by a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. Explore the trails and take in the coastal scenery at this UNESCO Heritage Site. Personalised guided tours and audio guides are also available.
How To Plan A Trip To England Ireland And Scotland
Deciding when to visit the UK is an important aspect as prices for flights and hotels in the UK will all rise and fall depending on season. So if you are for example coming to watch the NYE fireworks in London, expect to pay a premium for hotels and flights but the more in advance you book the better. Among the best times to visit London are just after new years, just before Spring, in addition to autumn. I find that prices are a little more reasonable. Visiting in the summer is also a delight everything just looks beautiful when the sun is out and you can experience summer in many of our beautiful parks.
Whatever time you visit the UK, the cities are still beautiful even when its raining. For tips on what to pack when visiting London in spring or summer I have shared a guide on all the essentials to bring. While this winter has been mild, also read my guide on things to pack for London in winter so you don’t miss anything. If this is your first time visiting Europe I also have a guide on the essential items to pack for a trip to Europe.
Below are some guide books for travel in UK and Republic of Ireland to help you plan your trip even further. The beauty of the itinerary above is that you can split and cut any way you want. If you only have time to do the London and Scotland itinerary part or you can just to England and Scotland itinerary and skip Ireland. If you have the full two weeks you can complete the whole England, Scotland and Ireland travel itinerary. For those lucky enough to be travelling a month in the UK and Ireland you can really take your time to explore the countries and maybe even add more UK cities not included in this two-week itinerary. If you have additional time to spare, be sure to add Cork’s famous Blarney Stone.
UK Travel Tips – Planning your travel for the England Scotland Ireland itinerary:
I have linked to many post on the blog that also provide you with additional information on putting together your itinery. From where to stay, things to do to getting around in London, Scotland and Ireland.
London/England Travel: You have buses, trains and tram making it super easy to see the city. London is actually a walkable city, which surprises many American tourists considering not many US cities are walkable. You do not need to rent a car in London but may choose to do so if you are visiting Oxford or Cambridge. Again you only need the car to get there. Those cities do not require a car to explore.
Scotland Travel: There plenty of trains leaving London to Scotland which means you can start with either Glasgow or Edinburgh. You have plenty of options. You can also fly there cheaply! Sometimes the flight is cheaper from London to Scotland than the train is. Yep – think how irritating that must be for us. Getting around Edinburgh and Glasgow is super easy. There are buses and the cities are walkable as well so you can walk off all that haggis!
Ireland Travel: Travel in Dublin is great, with the city being walkable but for some areas, you will obviously need to use the trams which are plenty in Dublin. The problem I find occurs when you are traveling outside Dublin as transportation is not that great. There are trains but for places like Cliffs of Moher which I will post about in more detail, you really either need to do a tour or drive yourself there. This way you have the flexibility to stop in Galway and many other towns in between.
The Best Time To Visit The UK
While any time is a great time to visit the UK, you will find that the best time to visit would be between end of March to late September because the UK weather is at is most ideal for exploring. The end of March is when the weather starts to get better. We get a lot less rain making it ideal to explore on foot. As we head into Spring/Summer, you have more activities that open up to you, particularly outdoor activities. I also just love being able to chill in the park without the rain, or dining outside cafes and restaurants while the sun is shining.
Visiting during a long itinerary such as this when the weather is at its best means that you can get more options for ways you choose to explore, particularly when it comes to Ireland where transportation isn’t as great as the UK. In poor weather, you may find it best to hire a car, whereas when the weather is great you don’t mind getting the buses so much.
Recommended Reading & Travel Guides
Love the UK? Also read:
- The Best Affordable Afternoon Teas In London
- The Best Cities In Europe To See Cherry Blossom
- Pros And Cons Of Living In London
- How To Do London And Paris In One Itinerary
- What To Wear In Europe In Spring
- Romantic things to do in London
- Cheap Hotels In London Near London Eye
- The Best Museums To Visit In London
- Self Catering Hotels In London
- Top Things To Do In Greenwich
- The Best Beatles Towers In London
- The Perfect Itinerary For London, Paris & Amsterdam
- Exploring London’s Notting Hill
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