Boats, bikes and automobiles: breathtaking ways to tour Britain

From a landmark-filled voyage along the River Thames to road-tripping through Scotland’s awe-inspiring countryside, there are all number of ways to discover the spell-binding beauty of Britain. And if you’re looking for wish-list inspiration for your next trip, our round-up of touring options could be just the thing.

Glide through London by boat

Skuna Boats in London. Hot tub boats to relax in around London's canals and waterways.

If you’re dreaming of a trip to London and looking for a fresh perspective, why not plan a Thames River cruise through heart of the city. Sightseeing voyages from City Cruises glide past the political hub of Westminster, Big Ben and the Tower of London, before sailing on to the historic heart Greenwich, a maritime UNESCO World Heritage Site. Alternatively, soak up the sights of London aboard an Uber Boat by Thames Clippers, which explores areas including Chelsea Harbour, Waterloo and Woolwich.

For a quirkier cruise around the capital, add a unique Skuna Boat trip to the agenda. You can bob along in a private hot tub or BBQ-boasting boat while being mesmerised by London’s sights. And for adrenaline junkies there’s even the chance to enjoy a kayaking experience, an exhilarating way to explore the city - by day and by night!

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Skuna Boats (HotTug)

See the south west by train

Bath station, Bath, England. A steam train, LMS Royal Scot Class 6100 on the tracks in steam, and a coal tender with a British Railways logo. A driver leaning out of the cab.

Fans of coast and culture can explore England’s charming south-west coast aboard a relaxing train journey. Laden with beautiful views, azure coastlines and historic city stops, these rail routes rumble gently through some of Britain’s most stunning spots. From the Roman relics and Georgian architecture of the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath, you can venture on to discover Bristol’s refreshing harbour-side eateries and panoramic Clifton Suspension Bridge, with the two cities separated by a scenic 15-minute train ride.

Bristol based and Cornwall bound? The train journey from Bristol to St Ives offers five hours of ever-changing landscapes and is famed for its stunning views of the Cornish cliffs and beaches. St Ives is particularly loved by British artists including Barbara Hepworth and Bernard Leach and you will discover a town rich with artistic heritage. If you’re an intrepid traveller keen to continue your coast-bound rail adventure, you can hop aboard to the charming town of St Austell, nestled a little over an hour’s train ride away. This traditional market town is home to a raft of independent shops, white-sand beaches and historic woodlands. It’s also close to the world-renowned botanical havens of the Eden Project and the mystical Lost Gardens of Heligan, which feature mesmerising horticultural displays throughout the year.

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Bath

Roam through Scotland by car

Culzean Castle, Scotland. Credit: VisitScotland/Paul Tomkins.

Fan of the open road? You can take in some of Scotland’s lesser-known gems along the South West Coastal 300, a 300-hundred mile route peppered with crumbling castles and watchful lighthouses guarding the rugged coastlines beyond. This unmissable journey takes in the eternally romantic Sweetheart Abbey, the cliff-top Culzean Castle and the awe-inspiring Crawick Multiverse, an impressive land art installation. Along the way, there’s even the chance to explore Britain’s Viking past in Whithorn’s reconstructed Iron Age roundhouse and to marvel at Scotland’s dazzlingly clear and starry skies at the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, in the heart of the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park.

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Culzean Castle

Discover Cambridge by bike

Rear view of adult on bicycle cycling on a street in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England.

Fancy a shorter tour through one of Britain’s most iconic cities? Cambridge is a dreamy destination for two-wheeled adventurers, offering miles of cycle paths around the city centre and beyond. One of the most picturesque (and gentle) routes takes you on a peaceful journey from Cambridge to Anglesey Abbey, along a seven-mile path partially following the River Cam. Other notable pit stops include the Museum of Technology, which delves into Britain’s rich industrial heritage, and the quaint village of Stow-cum-Quy, as well as many charming riverside greens, commons and meadows.

A romantic relic from the 1500s, Anglesey Abbey is a Jacobean-style country retreat converted from a former priory and elaborately decorated with grand furnishings, rich artworks and opulent clocks. Equally charming is the Abbey’s watermill, which dates back to 1793. Full restored to working order, freshly ground flour can be bought on-site, giving you a true taste of history. Green-fingered cyclists will also appreciate the chance to explore the property’s vast gardens, complete with classic statues, seasonal planting, flora-filled formal grounds and a new Skylight garden.

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Cambridge

Wander Wales and England on foot

Foel Fenlli, Vale of Clwyd, on the Offa's Dyke Path.

If you’re a walker, hiker and rambler, you can look forward to touring the Welsh/English border along the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail, surrounded by panoramic views, ancient relics and the rustlings of native wildlife. The 177-mile route takes an estimated 14 days to complete, passing meadows, Iron Age hillforts and the dramatic Black Mountains of Wales along the way, although there are plenty of shorter sections if you have less time to spare. One exceptional highlight is Offa’s Dyke itself, a vast hand-dug bank dating back to at least the 8th century. Steeped in legend, ancient folklore recounts that the ditch was used by Anglo-Saxon King Offa to divide his kingdom of Mercia from his rivals. Other must-sees include views over Tintern Abbey from the Devil’s Pulpit, Britain’s last remaining fortified medieval river bridge across the River Monnow, and the awe-inspiring ‘stream in the sky’ – the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain, which can be crossed on foot or by boat.

If you’re keen to plan a trip along parts of the route, you can use the trail’s itinerary maker to customise your adventure.

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Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

You are encouraged to always check individual attraction websites for the latest information, as events and details are subject to change.

11 Nov 2020(last updated)

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