Category Archives: United Kingdom

Comprehensive North Coast 500 Road Trip Planning Guide

NC500 road North Coast 500 route guide

We’ve put together a comprehensive North Coast 500 guide to help you plan the perfect North Coast 500 road trip in Scotland. The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic route along Scotland’s northern coast that begins and ends in the city of Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands. The North Coast 500 route offers visitors the opportunity to see rugged landscapes, frolic on sandy beaches, spot wildlife, visit museums and heritage sites, stay in castles, sip whisky, sample the local produce, and get to know the people who live there. The NC500 route was designed to encourage more visitors to visit this sparsely populated region of Scotland and it has been very successful. Laurence and I have driven the full route and we have put together this guide to help others who are planning their own North Coast 500 road trip. We’ll explain the North Coast 500 route, Read the Rest…

Finding Churchill: Visiting the Top Winston Churchill Sites in England

Churchill statue Parliament Square top Winston Churchill sites in England

We have put together a list of the top Winston Churchill sites in England and tips on visiting each of these places. As admirers of Winston Churchill ourselves, we know that many people want to visit places associated with Churchill during their travels in England. Best known for his powerful speeches and role in leading Britain victoriously through World War 2, Winston Churchill led a complex and extraordinary life that affected people from all over the world. He served in the military, spent over 50 years serving as a Member of Parliament with two terms as Prime Minister, won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and was even awarded the first honorary United States citizenship. There are thousands of buildings, sites, statues, memorials, plaques, and museum exhibits associated with Winston Churchill throughout England and the United Kingdom, but we’ve narrowed it down to the top 8 places we think were most significant to Winston Read the Rest…

10 Things to do in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Scotland

steamship cruise things to do in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park

There are many things to do in Loch Lomond, and it is a popular weekend destination for locals from Glasgow and Edinburgh in search of nature and outdoor activities. Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park was Scotland’s first national park, designated in 2002. Loch Lomond itself is the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain by surface area, and the park contains a diverse geography that includes 21 munros (Scottish mountains), two forest parks, 22 lochs, and over 50 designated special nature conservation sites that are home to a variety of wildlife. Visitors can go cruising on a lake in a historic steamship, rent a canoe or kayak, spend a day visiting small villages, see Rob Roy’s gravestone, have fun at an aerial adventure park, or go climbing or biking. If you enjoy hiking, there are a number of short and moderate hiking paths to enjoy here, and a few of Scotland’s Read the Rest…

London Itinerary: 6 Days in London

Tower Bridge 6 days in London itinerary

London is one of the world’s most famous capital cities and England’s largest city, offering an endless number of attractions, museums, historical buildings, and entertainment options. London can be an overwhelming city for many travelers, especially those visiting for the first time. We’ve put together a recommended 6 day London itinerary that will help you see the highlights if you have at least 6 days in London. It includes all the major attractions (e.g., Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and the National Gallery), but also includes several lesser known sites and encourages you to explore several of London’s diverse neighborhoods including Westminster, Greenwich, Kensington, and Camden. We suggest using this itinerary as a starting point for planning your 6 days in London, not as a definitive itinerary, and you can edit it to put together your own personal itinerary that reflects your own needs and interests. In addition to the 6 Read the Rest…

North Coast 500 Hotels Guide: Where to Stay along the NC500

Torridon Hotel North Coast 500 hotels where to stay along NC500 Scotland

The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic route along Scotland’s northern coast, offering drivers rugged landscapes, sandy benches, wildlife, museums, castles, whisky distilleries, and so much more! If you are planning to road trip around this scenic area of the Scottish Highlands, you may be wanting to spend the night at some special North Coast 500 hotels. Castle hotels. Historic Georgian and Victorian mansions. Luxury guest houses. Old crofts and farmhouses. Romantic B&B’s. Sea and lochside cottages. All of these and more are possible, but it can be time-consuming to search and choose from the hundreds of properties along the route. So we’ve done it for you, providing a list of 25 personally recommended North Coast 500 hotels that are well-rated, well-located, and/or offer something unique or special. Our list includes everything from 5-star luxury castles to cozy family-run B&Bs, with information, a review, and tips provided for each Read the Rest…

A Guide to Glasgow Attractions: 25+ Things to do in Glasgow Scotland

Duke of Wellington statue top things to do in Glasgow Scotland attractions

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and there are so many things to do in Glasgow! The city is home to fantastic art galleries, historical National Trust properties, leafy green spaces, amazing street art, and a plethora of live music venues. Glasgow is perhaps not as well-known as Edinburgh to international travelers, but the reward of visiting here is a less crowded city where experiences seem less rushed and more authentic. Glasgow is an easy city to love with its friendly and welcoming residents, dozens of free museums and attractions, burgeoning focus on craft food and drink, thriving live music scene, large number of Charles Rennie Mackintosh buildings, and beautiful country homes and parks. There is something in the city for everyone from those who love art and architecture to those who prefer breweries and music. We’ll share our guide to Glasgow attractions, highlighting all the top things to do Read the Rest…

The Belmond British Pullman Train: Info, Tips, & Lots of Photos

British Pullman train Vera carriage car

The Belmond British Pullman is the sister train of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and is made up of a collection of historic Pullman carriages. Based at Victoria Station in London, the train makes regular luxury day trips and short journeys within England. A journey aboard the gleaming umber and cream carriages of the British Pullman is designed to take you back in time to the glamorous age of luxury train travel. The historical carriages date from the 1920’s to 1950’s and include wonderful art deco marquetry, art nouveau lamps, polished brass fittings, mosaic floors, and plush upholstery. Journeys aboard the train may include brunch, afternoon tea, a murder mystery lunch, and/or musical entertainment. Guests enjoy a meal while they watch the scenery pass by and some journeys include stops at historic cities such as Bath or Canterbury. Although many of the guests are British people celebrating a special day out, it is Read the Rest…

Royal Edinburgh Ticket: How to Save Money on Edinburgh’s Royal Attractions

Holyrood Palace Royal Edinburgh Ticket

The Royal Edinburgh Ticket is a great way to save money when visiting the top royal attractions in Edinburgh Scotland! The ticket covers all three of our favorite royal sites in Edinburgh: the mighty and historic Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace (official Scottish residence of the royal family), and Royal Yacht Britannia (royal yacht used by the royal family from 1954 to 1997). Not only are these the three most important royal attractions in Edinburgh, they are three of the most popular and visited attractions in the city. If you want to visit all three during your trip to Edinburgh, you can save up to 25% by using the Royal Edinburgh Ticket versus buying each entrance ticket separately. The ticket also includes unlimited hop-on hop-off bus transportation around the city for 48 hours! We’ll tell you how to purchase and collect the pass, what it covers, how to calculate your cost Read the Rest…

Comprehensive Guide to the Top Harry Potter Sites in Edinburgh Scotland

Royal Mile Harry Potter sites in Edinburgh Scotland J.K. Rowling

Edinburgh has a deep connection with the wizarding world of Harry Potter and there are several Harry Potter sites in Edinburgh that fans can visit. Most notably, it was the home of J.K. Rowling when she wrote the majority of the Harry Potter books. Rowling has acknowledged her connection to the city stating that “…Edinburgh is very much home for me and is the place where Harry evolved over seven books and many, many hours of writing in its cafés.” Want to sit and sip coffee in the same café that J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books? See turreted buildings that may have been the inspiration for Hogwarts? See graves and streets that may have influenced the names of Harry Potter characters? Drink a pint of butterbeer in a local pub? We’ll provide all you need to know to find these places on your own or visit them on a Read the Rest…

Visiting Wentworth Woodhouse: The Largest Private House in England

visit Wentworth Woodhouse tour Palladian east front

Wentworth Woodhouse is the largest private home in the United Kingdom and it has the longest façade of any country home in Europe; however, very few people have ever heard of this spectacular English house! Starting as a modest Jacobean house in the 17th century, it would be rebuilt and expanded to enormous proportions by a series of aristocratic families. The house would become the seat of the Earls Fitzwilliam who would rise to be one of the wealthiest families in England due to profits from the coal industry. At one time, over 1,000 staff members would be employed to run and look after the 300+ room house and the vast estate. However, a series of scandals, inheritance fights, untimely deaths, and the nationalization of coal would soon lead to both the end of the Earl Fitzwilliam line and the shuttering of this great house. This grand Yorkshire house was closed to Read the Rest…

5 Day Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands Itinerary

Glencoe Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands itinerary trip Scotland

In August, I had my very first look at the beautiful Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye! Spectacular landscapes, castles, mysterious lochs, waterfalls, tasty seafood dinners, and Highland coos are a few of the many treasured memories associated with our Scottish Highlands itinerary. The Highlands make up the northwestern part of Scotland, and designate a primarily historical divide with the Lowlands area where there were once much larger cultural and language divides. Although a huge land area, the Highlands and the northern islands of Scotland are sparsely populated, primarily rural, rugged, and full of biodiversity. This area is perfect for those looking for natural beauty and an escape from cities. We did this first trip to the Highlands and Isle of Skye with Edinburgh-based small tour operator Rabbie’s Travel, and we’ll share our own trip experiences and lots of photos on that tour! We’ll also provide a general Scottish Read the Rest…

Tips for Buying and Using the Oyster Card in London

London Oyster Card

London is one of the top travel destinations in the world, but navigating this large city can be overwhelming for a first time visitor. Using an Oyster card, a credit card sized transport smartcard, is an easy way to save time and money if you are planning to use public transportation in London. An Oyster card can be used on just about every form of transport within London including public bus, tram, and rail services within the city. Our goal is help you decide if an Oyster card is a good fit for you and to help you effectively use your card on public transportation in London. First we’ll cover the main types of Oyster cards that are available, how to choose the best one, and how to buy an Oyster card. Then we’ll talk about where you can use them, how to use them for travel, how to recharge Read the Rest…

Hidden Edinburgh Attractions: 30 Lesser Known Things to Do in Edinburgh

Dean Village hidden top Edinburgh attractions Scotland

There are so many fantastic Edinburgh attractions and we keep discovering new ones as we delve deeper into this historical city. A first time visitor to Edinburgh will generally stay busy exploring the city’s many highlights such as Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, most of these main attractions are located within the UNESCO designated Old Town and New Town. However, for those visitors who have already seen the highlights, there is much more to see beyond these top Edinburgh attractions. So whether you have a long stay in Edinburgh or are visiting for the second or twelfth time, we’ll share some Edinburgh attractions we think are worth visiting that you may have not yet visited. These lesser known attractions include Edinburgh’s second castle, small museums on the Royal Mile, two National Trust sites, hidden gardens, walking paths, mysterious underground passages, local markets, and even a beach! We’ll also talk about lesser Read the Rest…

Edinburgh Festivals in August: An Essential Planning Guide to 5 Festivals

Edinburgh festivals in August guide festival Edinburgh festivals in August guide

Edinburgh festivals are well-known around the world, lending the city one of its nicknames, Festival City. But did you know that five major festivals take place in Edinburgh during the month of August? Edinburgh is home to 11 major festivals each year, and five of these festivals take place in August. These summer festivals celebrate art, theater, culture, books, and even the performance of military bands. Events range from the traditional (opera) to the intellectual (talks by famous authors) to the downright zany (performance of an acrobat doing handstands on eggs)! August is a busy but special time in Edinburgh as the historical capital city welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world. There are hundreds of events and performances each day in the city during August, and in one day we actually attended events from all five different Edinburgh festivals! We’ll share our own experience of attending the Read the Rest…

21 Things to do in Edinburgh Scotland: The Highlights

top 21 things to do in Edinburgh Scotland

There are so many things to do in Edinburgh Scotland! We have been living in a village near Edinburgh since February and are still discovering so many new things each time we visit. But I wanted to share a guide to some of the top things to see in Edinburgh for those planning a visit. A first time visitor naturally wants to see some of the highlights of this gorgeous city that holds two UNESCO designations for its higgledy-piggledy medieval Old Town and its well-planned Georgian New Town. Our recommendations include visiting the city’s iconic medieval castle, climbing an extinct volcano, visiting the world’s largest monument to a writer, seeing Scotland’s crown jewels, sipping whisky, going underground to explore some of the city’s medieval past, viewing world-class art, and paying homage to a famous little dog. If you have control over the timing of your visit, you may want to plan Read the Rest…