Best for: Combining three capitals
Travel from London to Scotland with British Airways, arriving in Edinburgh. The capital city is genteel and grand. Both Edinburgh’s historic old and new (18th century) town have UNESCO status.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Skating Minister in the Scottish National Gallery and your ears alert for the gun shot at the magnificent medieval Edinburgh Castle. The 25-pound Howitzer makes an audible impact at 1pm, except on Sundays.
The local food scene has a solid reputation with Michelin-starred Kitchin and romantic tables at The Witchery. Coffee shops caffeinate the city’s student population – among them, The Elephant House. It’s a great stop for fans of JK Rowling; she penned her first pages of Potter here.
Edinburgh is lucky among cities to have wilderness on its back doorstep. Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park offers a challenging clamber. Expect great, if fiercely windswept, views from the top.
Where to stay
Until the highly anticipated Edinburgh Grand opens, the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa remains the most luxurious accommodation in Edinburgh. Fine-tune the mood lighting in your fancy room, savour the hotel bar’s own-brand gin, and bob around in the heated rooftop pool.
Buy your tickets to see the Book of Kells online in advance of visiting Dublin. That way, you'll beat the queue of Medievalists on the door.£99 ppFlights and car hire
Fly to Dublin for the next chapter of your holiday. A city of storytellers, from Joyce to Wilde, sometimes it’s hard to separate fact and fiction.
It’s a fact, though, that Trinity College, Dublin remains one of Europe’s most prestigious universities. It’s famous for The Book of Kells, a Latin Gospel of glorious beauty and intricate decoration, found in the college library.
It’s not true, however, that you can see Guinness being brewed. The famous Guinness tour actually only tours the storehouse. Happily, you still get a pint of the black stuff at the end.
Many choose Dublin for the bar scene. Temple Bar is a famous strip of sticky pubs for ‘craic’-addicts – those after the near-legendary Dublin nightlife.
To clear your head after a long night, visit the large Victorian square of St Stephen’s Green. In leafy Merrion Square, you can meet Oscar Wilde’s statue louchely lounging on a rock.
If you’ve got time to explore the Antrim coast, you’d be mad to miss the geometric basalt at Giant’s Causeway – where, according to legend, a giant once built a bridge to Scotland.
Remember, you’ll need two currencies for this trip: sterling for Scotland and England, and euros for the Republic of Ireland.
Where to stay
They don’t get closer to the action than Temple Bar Hotel. It’s modern and functional, and set at the quieter end of this famous area.
While Edinburgh brings out the bagpipes for the tourists, Scotland’s biggest city is busy having fun. Plus, Glasgow has an even better shopping set-up. You can find culture, too, in a plethora of museums – many of them free.
In 2018 the city is celebrating the 150th year since the birth of Glaswegian designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Visit the Glasgow School of Art or the lovely House for an Art Lover. If you’re not an Art Nouveau lover, pop into the beloved Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum instead. Free to visit, and split into themed galleries, there are Impressionists in the French gallery and feathered helmets in the Armour collection. At 1pm organ recitals ring out in the magnificent central hall.
Where to stay
Indigo Glasgow is a four-star hotel with modern rooms, generous bathrooms and a renowned restaurant: Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill.