It’s impossible to travel through Europe and the United Kingdom without feeling overwhelmed by the incredible history and jaw-dropping scenery.
Like scenes from the fairy-tale books of your childhood, dazzling castles still line the banks of majestic rivers throughout Europe — standing as tall as they did when when they were built centuries ago.
With an almost unimaginable wealth of historic sites and attractions to enjoy on your Europe or UK holiday, a guided tour will ensure you see all the highlights.
Here are ten top UK and Europe tours, which we highly recommend.
1. Heart of England
Walk in the footsteps of England’s literary giants and explore the rich history of Oxford, The Cotswolds, Bath and Avebury on this magical Heart of England tour with Back-Roads Touring. From the Neolithic era to Roman and Elizabethan times, the charming villages and historic attractions here never fail to delight visitors.
The highlights of this tour include the ancient stone circles at Wiltshire, Oxford’s ‘dreaming spires’, Bath’s Roman history, and the charming architecture of the Cotswold villages.
2. Burgundy canal cruise (France)
There’s perhaps no better way to acquaint yourself with the magnificent French countryside than on Back-Roads’ Burgundy canal cruise. Intimate and immersive, this canal cruise is the epitome of what Back-Roads Touring offers — exquisite small group experiences that highlight off-the-beaten-track destinations, with an emphasis on local history and culture.
This luxury barge cruise will take you through one of the world’s great wine-making regions, where hillside vineyards overlook elegant chateaux. You’ll enjoy fine French food and wine, and as with every Back-Roads tour — you can expect enough free time to go exploring at your leisure.
3. ANZACs Western Front (France)
Tour the European battlefields of WWI, and map out where the brave ANZACs fought and died, on a five-day Back-Roads ANZACs Western Front tour. From the trenches at Ypres, to the emotive Somme, this tour runs on selected dates throughout the season.
This experience is not just for history buffs. It will also introduce you to some of the most charming villages in France and Belgium. April’s six-day tours include the opportunity to attend the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux.
4. Southern Italy and Sicily
The romance of Italy is on full display throughout this fabulous Southern Italy and Sicily tour with Collette. It’s a trip of truly epic proportions. Beginning in Sicily, the tour travels all the way up the Italian coast to Rome. See the monuments of ancient Rome and visit the town of Alberobello with its unusual cone-shaped roofs. No trip to Italy would be complete without a stop at a traditional winery, where you’ll enjoy a wine tasting and a meal of regional specialties.
Walk in the looming shadow of Mount Vesuvius at Pompeii, and take in the cosmopolitan ambience of Sorrento on the magnificent Amalfi Coast. This is the Italian adventure of a lifetime!
5. Emerald Isle (Ireland/UK)
Visit the magical cities and towns of Ireland on this 12-day Back-Roads Emerald Isle tour. Starting in Dublin, the tour winds its way through lush green countryside towards the windswept coast. Dine at an Irish country house, explore Belfast in a traditional black cab, and enjoy an Irish whisky tasting experience.
While there are many inclusions on this tour, travellers have plenty of free time to explore at their own pace. Tour a centuries-old castle, walk a windswept beach or stop by a local pub for lunch and a pint of Guinness.
6. Garden tours of Britain
Themed tours are all the rage as travellers look for immersive experiences that match their interests. A themed holiday can take on an almost magical quality.
For gardeners and nature lovers, the themed tour options are particularly bountiful. Back-Roads Touring offers some of the most fascinating itineraries. For example, see the best of Britain’s gardens as you visit stately homes and manors, explore the florally picturesque towns of Tunbridge Wells and Windsor, and top it off with a visit to the famous Chelsea Flower Show.
7. Monet’s house and gardens (France)
When you visit Monet’s house and gardens in the beautiful French countryside, it’s easy to see what inspired the master artist. Located in Giverny — an hour’s drive northwest of Paris — this cultural and horticultural landmark features a Japanese-style garden with a peaceful pond, exquisite floral sections and an orchard.
The Monet’s house and gardens tour includes entry to Monet’s charming two-storey home, where visitors can walk through the historic rooms at their leisure. The grounds are home to small shops and cafes, but have retained their country charm.
8. Oberammergau Passion Play — 2020 (Germany)
Faith-based tours will take you to some of the world’s most sacred cities and religious sites. Collette are the experts in this type of travel, and the company provides faith-based tours all over the world. One of their most popular destinations in 2020 is sure to be the charming Bavarian town of Oberammergau.
This quaint German village is best known for its Passion Play. Staged every ten years, townsfolk have been performing the play for sell-out crowds since the tradition began in 1634. The now multi-million-dollar production is a dramatic depiction of the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, and will be performed from May to October in 2020.
9. Trails and Peaks of Switzerland
No-one showcases the spectacular Alpine scenery of Switzerland better than Collette. A world leader in coach touring, Collette offers alluring destinations, authentic local experiences and knowledgeable guides.
On the Trails and Peaks of Switzerland tour, you’ll take in the beauty of Lake Geneva, visit charming mountain villages, and admire the dramatic peaks of the Alps. Collette offers plenty of inclusions, such as private transfers to and from the airport, gratuities, and some meals.
10. Amsterdam to Budapest river cruise
The iconic Amsterdam to Budapest river cruise route navigates three of Europe’s greatest waterways: the Rhine, the Main, and the Danube. The fairy-tale scenery along the way features hilltop castles, rolling vineyards, picturesque farming country and traditional villages punctuated with domes and steeples.
Full of wonder and romance, an Amsterdam to Budapest river cruise with Scenic Tours will take you through the very heart of Europe in style. Awaken your imagination to the wonderful possibilities that await onshore.
Do you have any suggestions to add to this list of top UK and Europe tours? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Jason Dutton-Smith is an award-winning publisher, travel writer and content marketing speaker. He has written for Escape, Travel Ideas, Virgin Voyeur and Better Homes and Gardens, and several other outlets. Jason loves travel that is part planned and part spontaneous and is just as comfortable in a big city as a rural village. When at home, he is chief tea maker.