The United Kingdom is one of my favorite places to visit. There’s just something about the traditions, friendly people, afternoon tea, fish n chips, and the green countryside that has me coming back again and again. My last trip to the UK I visited London, York, and Edinburgh. This made for the perfect UK itinerary for 10 days…and could actually easily work for any trip 7 to 12 days in length. York is perfectly situated between London and Edinburgh for travel via train. The train ride from London to York and then York to Edinburgh is easy, quick, and beautiful. If you have 10 days in the UK and are looking for the perfect UK itinerary continue reading for a complete guide on how to divide your time, get from place to place, and what to do!
How to plan your time for 10 Days in the UK
This 10 day UK itinerary will give you a perfect sample of the thriving and historic city of London, time to slow down in charming York, and a dose of Scottish culture in Edinburgh. All three cities are very different from each other and will offer something unique. The fact that it’s so easy and quick to get from London to York and York to Edinburgh via train makes this UK itinerary a no brainer.
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London: 4 nights. London is the perfect city to start your UK itinerary since it has several major airports and most cities in the US (and around Europe) have non-stop flights. 4 nights will give you enough time to see the major sights, hit a museum or two, take a walking tour, explore outside the city with a day trip, and sample plenty of scones and clotted cream during afternoon tea.
I strongly advise a minimum of 4 nights if this is your first visit to London. If you have more than 10 days in the UK add your extra days here. This is a sprawling, thriving metropolis with many neighborhoods to explore and with more history packed into its streets and buildings than you can imagine. Thankfully, the Tube (London’s underground metro), makes moving around the city quick and easy…which means you can fit a lot of tourist attractions and sights in each day.
Plan on spending 3 full days in the city and leave one day open for a day trip outside of London. You could combine a very busy day to Stonehenge and Bath, visit the university of Oxford or Cambridge, or tour Windsor Castle.
The first 4 days of your UK itinerary will be the busiest…don’t worry…you get to slow down once you arrive in York. Just keep in mind that London is a city that deserves multiple visits so don’t try to fit everything in your first 4 days. List out your priorities and know you will return.
York: 2 nights. York is tiny when compared to London and will feel like the perfect city to recover after your busy sightseeing in London. You can easily see the main sights in York in a day, but I recommend having 1.5 to 2 full days so you can slow down, maybe sleep in, take a morning jog or walk along the river, have a few leisurely meals, and try not to feel like a worn out tourist. York is small enough that you can get to the main sights by foot. Gaze at the imposing York Minster, take an evening ghost tour (did you know York is supposedly the most haunted city in England), visit The Shop That Must Not Be Named if you’re a Harry Potter fan, and walk along The Shambles several times to get plenty of pictures and engrave this charming area in your memory.
Edinburgh: 4 nights. Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities in Europe. The architecture is just out of this world and beyond picturesque. Spend 3 full days in the city and save one day for a trip to the Highlands. Visit Edinburgh Castle, climb down to the chilling underground vaults with a ghost tour, sample whiskey in cozy pubs, try traditional Scottish cuisine like haggis and cullen skink soup, walk down Victoria Street (a Diagon Alley lookalike for Harry Potter fans), and appreciate Georgian architecture in New Town. Three full days in Edinburgh will give you just enough time to see the top sights and even revisit a few favorite streets or areas. A trip to the Highlands is a must on any Scotland itinerary and will break up your time in Edinburgh.
Logistics between London, York, and Edinburgh
This UK itinerary, 10 days in London, York, and Edinburgh is a breeze via train. York is perfectly situation between London and Edinburgh and is a great way to break up the journey. The earlier you book your tickets the better chance you’ll have at getting a cheaper price as the cheapest tickets sell out quickly. You can book up to 3 month in advance.
Not only is traveling by train from London to York and York to Edinburgh cheap, no checked bag fees here, but it’s also extremely convenient. Both train stations in York and Edinburgh are walking distance to the city center. Trains typically have WiFi, though it’s usually spotty. But honestly, you should put your phone away and look out the window. The views you’ll get are beautiful and will give you a taste of the English countryside.
London to York Train
The London to York train takes less than 2 hours. The National Rail offers non-stop service from Kings Cross station about every 30 minutes. You can snag tickets for £50 of cheaper if you book early. It’s a 10 minute walk from the station to the city center.
York to Edinburgh Train
The York to Edinburgh train take about 2.5 hours. The non-stop service, also offered by the National Rail, has departures about every 15 minutes. Tickets can be found for under £20 if booked in advance. The Edinburgh Waverley train station is located right in the city center and perfectly situated between Old Town and New Town, so there is a good chance you will be walking distance to your hotel. Uber is available in Edinburgh if you booked a hotel outside the city center.
Have more or less time on your UK itinerary?
If you have more than 10 days for your UK itinerary, I recommend by adding 2 nights around London. If you want to see additional museums and fit in more sights, add more time in London. You could also add additional nights in London in order to add additional day trips. If you think 4 nights in London is enough, make one of your day trips into an overnight or longer. My first pick would be 1 to 2 nights in Bath.
If you have more than 12 days, I would recommend adding time in Scotland. You could spend a few nights in the Highlands or visit the Isle of Skye.
If you have less than 10 days for your UK itinerary, I recommend taking 1 day off of Edinburgh. It will make for a hurried visit, but you will still be able to see the main sights. If you need to take off more than 1 day then I would nix York. Doing London and Edinburgh would make for a perfect 8 day trip and you can plan on visiting York on your next visit to the UK.
I hope this UK itinerary, 10 days in London, York, and Edinburgh gives you a head start in planning your trip. This is one of my favorite UK itineraries as it combines the hustling metropolis of London with medieval York and breathtaking Scotland.
See my other United Kingdom blog posts
Have your own favorite UK itinerary for 10 days? Let me know how you would split your time for the perfect UK itinerary in the comments below!
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