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Grand Tour of the UK

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13 days From $3,995 $3,595 per person
4.2 stars(9 reviews)
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The United Kingdom has some of the most rewarding places in the world to explore by train. We discover the length and breadth of Britain, experiencing ancient attractions, modern cities, and wild landscapes.

Travel among a group of like-minded travelers led by a professional tour manager
Save up to $400

Offer ends June 27th: Save up to $400 off per person on select 2024 escorted vacations.

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Mobility Rating 4

2024 Tour code: UKS24

About the tour

Journey through the heart of Britain's most iconic cities and landscapes. Starting in the bustling streets of London, we continue to the historic city of York before our journey leads us to the captivating Scottish capital, Edinburgh. From here, experience the breathtaking West Highland railway line, explore Liverpool's musical heritage, and discover the dynamic port city of Bristol.

A visit to the enigmatic Stonehenge adds a touch of mystery to our holiday before returning to London for a royal experience at the Tower of London. Throughout our adventure, savour local cuisine, admire breathtaking vistas, and make memories with fellow travellers.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 – An exciting beginning in London

Our holiday begins as we meet at our hotel in lively London. Once you've checked in, the rest of your afternoon is at leisure until dinner this evening. You could head out into the bustling streets to soak up the capital's vibrant atmosphere. Our hotel is in an excellent spot in the city centre with Regent's Park, the British Museum, and Camden Market all within walking distance.

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 2 – Exploring London

After breakfast, we delve into the sights and sounds of London on a guided coach tour. We see all the iconic landmarks including Buckingham Palace and Big Ben as our onboard guide narrates the highlights of the city. This afternoon, we leave London behind for now as we travel by rail to the amazing city of York. After checking into our hotel in the city center, we meet with our group and Tour Manager at the lovely sky bar for a welcome drink before dinner. Take in the fantastic panoramic views of the cityscape as we toast our upcoming adventure.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 – Historic York and lively Edinburgh

We discover more about the long and fascinating history of York today on a guided walking tour. We see the iconic Minster, one of Europe's largest Gothic cathedrals, and visit the Shambles, a quaint, cobbled street lined with overhanging timber-framed buildings, that is virtually unchanged since the Middle Ages. With time at leisure after our tour, wander the ancient streets at your own pace. You could visit the Yorkshire Museum, the ruins of St Mary's Abbey, or the city Art Gallery. Later, we take the train to Edinburgh, our base for two nights. For dinner this evening, we enjoy a private dining experience at a popular restaurant in the city.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 - Discovering Edinburgh

We head out on a guided tour of Edinburgh today, taking in the city's main sights. The center is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a wonderful melting pot of old and new, with an atmospheric, medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town. With an afternoon at leisure, you could visit the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, stroll through the wonderful Botanical Gardens or the Old Town. There's no dinner at the hotel this evening giving you the perfect chance to experience a local pub or restaurant.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 5 – The West Highland Line to stunning Fort William

This morning, we head to Glasgow by rail where we journey the famous West Highland railway line to Fort William this morning. One of the most beautiful rail journeys in the UK, the route takes us from urban landscapes to the rugged Highland mountains, passing by Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Arriving in Fort William, a delightful port town nestled within the mountains and hills of the highlands, we check into our hotel in time for dinner. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 – The enchanting Jacobite Steam Train and Glasgow

After breakfast this morning, we board the wonderful vintage carriages of the Jacobite Steam Train. Finding our seats, we get comfortable, ready for our journey to Mallaig. Pulling out of the station, Ben Nevis, the UK's highest mountain, passes by our window followed by fishing boats bobbing on shimmering lochs, beautiful heathers and the seasonal colours of Scotland. We could even spot some of the local wildlife, such as red deer, grazing on the hillside.

The railway is famous for its role in the Harry Potter movies, and you'll immediately recognise it as we cross the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct. Continuing through charming Scottish villages and past historic landmarks, our train journey ends in Mallaig. With some time at leisure, you can explore the village's shops, cafes, and restaurants or simply roam the charming streets admiring the colourful architecture.

We then board our coach back to Fort William where there's some time to relax before we board the train to Glasgow. On a late arrival into the city, we check into our hotel for a peaceful night's rest.

On early/late season departures the Jacobite Steam Train excursion is replaced by the scheduled Scotrail service.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 7 – Legendary Liverpool

After a relaxed morning in Glasgow, we travel by first-class rail to Preston. Our train sweeps past the charming countryside of northern England, revealing lush green landscapes, quaint villages, and rolling hills. Arriving in Preston, we join our coach to Liverpool. A modern and welcoming city with a fantastic cultural heritage, the city is a fascinating place to explore. We check into our hotel where we spend the next two nights.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 8 – Exploring Liverpool

We get to know Liverpool on a magical mystery tour of the city today. Liverpool is fondly regarded as the home of The Beatles, and we're introduced to this musical heritage with our guide, visiting the Cavern Club, known as the birthplace of the band, and Strawberry Field, immortalised in the hit 'Strawberry Fields Forever'. We also take in the Waterfront Pier Head, Penny Lane and the vibrant China Town.

After our tour, you can explore at your own pace. There are some incredible museums in Liverpool; you could immerse yourself in the city's maritime history at the Maritime Museum, where there's a fascinating exhibition on Titanic, or visit the World Museum where you'll find a range of historical artefacts. There's a choice of good restaurants for dinner too.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 9 – Buzzing Bristol

This morning, we travel by train to Bristol via Birmingham New Street. An important sea trading port thanks to its location on the Severn Estuary, Bristol has evolved into a dynamic and cosmopolitan city. After checking into our hotel, there's time to familiarise yourself with our new surroundings before dinner this evening. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10 – Beautiful Bath

After breakfast, our coach takes us to the historic spa city of Bath, known for its natural hot springs. This Georgian city has a wealth of architectural, cultural and historical heritage, and many eclectic shops, bars and restaurants. We embark on a guided tour, taking in the city's main sights, including the stunning Abbey, which dates back to 1611 and features exquisitely ornamented stonework. We also see the Royal Crescent, a famous semi-circular terrace that's one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in England.

This afternoon, there's time to explore Bath at your own pace. Back in Bristol later, there's no dinner at the hotel giving you the opportunity to spend an evening at leisure in the city.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 11 – Sensational Stonehenge and London

Leaving Bristol, we head by coach to the fantastic prehistoric standing stones of Stonehenge. One of the most impressive Bronze Age monuments in the country, this ring of standing stones has long mystified archaeologists. We experience the unforgettable atmosphere in the shadow of these structures and walk among the 4,000-year-old Neolithic houses of prehistoric people.

Next, we continue to London and check back into our hotel for the next two nights. With no dinner at the hotel this evening, you could experience one of the restaurants in the city.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 12 – A royal experience at the Tower of London

An early start today allows us to witness the Opening Ceremony at the Tower of London. We meet with a Yeoman Warder who gives us a short talk, before the ceremony and time to explore the famous landmark. Built in the 11th century, the Tower has been used as a prison and now houses the Crown Jewels.

The rest of your day is at leisure in the capital. You could see the famous lion statues in Trafalgar Square, stroll along the Thames, or experience amazing views across the city from the London Eye. Our group meets back at the hotel for our final dinner together this evening.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 13 – Homeward bound

After breakfast this morning, our holiday comes to an end. Once we've said goodbye to our new friends and fellow travellers, you can check out of the hotel and make your way home.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour features the same excursions, they may not necessarily be in the order listed above.

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Novotel Bristol Centre, Bristol

Novotel Bristol Centre, Bristol

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Nevis Bank Inn

Nevis Bank Inn, Fort William

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Malmaison, York

Malmaison, York

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Radisson Blu Edwardian Grafton, London

Radisson Blu Edwardian Grafton, London

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Novotel, Liverpool Centre

Novotel, Liverpool Centre

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Trains

Jacobite Steam Train
West Highland Line

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Reviews

4.2 stars4.2 / 5 · 9 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (3)
  2. 4 stars
    (5)
  3. 3 stars
    (1)
  4. 2 stars
    (0)
  5. 1 star
    (0)

CJ

4 stars

Submitted 20 Nov 2023

The Grand Tour of the UK included many interesting sights and informative day tours. It was certainly a worthwhile experience, and our Tour Manager was well-informed and very helpful. We did have some problems with baggage handling and lodging, but after the tour I contacted the Vacations By Rail Customer Service Manager and was able to receive appropriate compensation for the problems we encountered. I was glad to see that Vacations By Rail was responsive to our complaint.

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SharonLacey

3 stars

Submitted 06 Oct 2023

The trip was fine. Trying to get an itinerary or any information about the trip prior to going (and well after paying IN FULL) was TERRIBLE. If I've paid a lot of money for a trip, I should at least be able to get the CORRECT ITINERARY at the time of payment or soon after! We had to wait until just days before the trip to get any details! UNACCEPTABLE!

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Chris Menges

4 stars

Submitted 03 Oct 2023

Wonderful trip, destinations and hotels were lovely. Better communication from Vacations by Rail about the luggage limitations and confirmed physical capability of passengers to haul their own luggage through cobbled streets and up stairs should have been clearer. My husband and I were fine, but several people in the group really had a hard time. It should be clearly stated when booking the trip that walking unassisted over rough streets and stairs on and off buses and trains is required. We walked a minimum of 3 miles per day. Placing luggage (up to 50lbs) overhead was common on the first 4-5 days of the trip. People should know this in advance.

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Carol Saathoff

4 stars

Submitted 01 Oct 2023

We enjoyed the tour and our tour mates. Prior communications I felt were a bit lacking. Other tour companies have given much more information up front, not waiting until the last minute.

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Greg

4 stars

Submitted 24 Sep 2023

Interesting train tour of the United Kingdom. We had 24 people on our tour and several were elderly. We were expected to schlep our luggage from the train station to our hotels often 2-4 blocks away. All breakfasts and some dinners included. In Edinburgh, a visit to Edinburgh Castle wasn't included and by the time we got there, tickets were sold out. Also in Bath, ticket to the Roman Baths weren't included (why would you visit Bath if you weren't going to visit the baths?) Tour guide informative but sometimes had to check where the hotel/restaurant was located. Hotels generally pretty good.

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HARKEY, GREGORY ALAN

5 stars

Submitted 21 May 2023

Very professional and customer focused. They delivered a top quality rail tour.

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