3 Weeks in the UK and Ireland Itinerary

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The UK and Ireland are two countries that many people get confused about. These two countries share so much together, from history, culture, traditions, and even the monarchy. The UK and Ireland also sit right next to each other in the western part of Europe.

Don’t get confused with Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the UK, while Republic of Ireland is its own independent country. In this article, we’re talking about the UK (which already includes Northern Ireland) and Ireland (the Republic).

In the UK, you will find the stunning Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge, Lochness, and the Snowdonia National Park. It’s also composed of four different countries; England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. At the same time, Ireland offers you the magnificent Giant’s Causeway, Cliffs of Moher, and its lively atmosphere.

Most travellers to these countries are visiting for the same reasons; to see the ancient and historical sites, try the best fish and chips, drink the incredible Guinness, and more. One thing many people didn’t know though, both countries have amazing hiking trails and very interesting traditions.

It’s also pretty easy to get to this region. Heathrow Airport in London is one of Europe’s busiest and biggest airports. There are tons of flights directly from here, heading almost to any part of the world.

This itinerary of 3 weeks in the UK and Ireland will take you to bustling cities, natural wonders, and historical sites. You can also read our itinerary for 3 weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO THE UK AND IRELAND

4 images - big ben in london, cliff of moher's., snowdonia, ring of kerry - 3-Weeks in the UK and Ireland Itinerary

Before proceeding with the itinerary for those planning to stay for 3 weeks in the UK and Ireland, I compiled some of the most essential tips, such as how to get around and when is the best time to visit. These tips will be helpful when it comes to planning and writing your 3-week itinerary to these two countries.

>> If you want to explore only the UK for now, you can check our 3 weeks in the UK itinerary or maybe you want to travel to western Europe in 3 weeks.

When is the best time to go to the UK and Ireland

The best time to visit the UK and Ireland is quite complicated. The driest months for the UK is from June to August. For Ireland it’s April to July, but it’s also the busiest time of the year, and prices are higher.

The UK has always been the butt of a joke when it comes to weather. This is because it’s quite hard to predict when it’s about to rain. But officially, the UK’s rainy season is from March to May. Make sure to bring umbrellas or raincoats with you whenever you go outside.

Rainfall is immensely common in Ireland, but the rainiest season is from December to January.

If you don’t mind the rain, the shoulder season (April to May and October to November) is a good time to go in terms of fewer crowds and lower prices.

Are 3 weeks enough for the UK and Ireland

20 days in these two countries is doable. However, you will have to smartly choose the places you want to see.

For example, the UK consists of 4 countries. Perhaps on this trip, you can do England and Scotland, then add Ireland. That leaves you to spend one week in England, a week in Scotland, and a week in Ireland.

You can also do a week in Ireland, a few days in Northern Ireland, a week in Wales, then a week in England. Travelling between countries and cities is pretty easy. You can use a combination of domestic flights, trains, ferries, and driving to maximise your time.

Bottom line is plan to see 4-5 cities during your trip and choose ones that are easy from point A to point B.

What to pack

When you pack for a trip to the UK and Ireland, it will be different depending on the activities and season you plan to visit. For example, if you want to include hiking on your travel itinerary, it will be ideal to pack some walking shoes. Exploring London alone will keep you on your feet all day.

We have articles and samples of what to pack for a 3-week vacation. You can also check out our summer packing list for a 3-week trip.

How to get around

You can get around the UK and Ireland by train, it is the most common and affordable way to get from point A to B. You’ll also get to see the lush greenery along the way, which will make your trip more memorable. The cheapest option, on the other hand, is taking the bus.

You can also reach Ireland from the UK without flying. Instead, you can take a scenic ferry ride. If you’re only travelling within Ireland, the main transportation options include trains and buses.

In both countries, you can use ride-hailing apps such as Uber, Bolt, Free Now, and Ola. While renting a car is the most popular choice for visitors, it also gives you so much freedom when it comes to moving around.

However, you will have to figure out how to take the car from the UK to Ireland, or just return the one from the UK and rent another one in Ireland.

RELATED POST: 3 weeks in Europe on a budget

Visa

The UK and Ireland have quite identical visa policies in place for people who wish to enter and travel around. The only difference is the fact that Ireland is a member of the EU, which means that people who possess a passport from another EU member country can enter and stay in Ireland indefinitely (in other words, they have freedom of movement).

While travellers from most parts of America, Oceania, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Botswana, and some countries in the Middle East can enjoy a visa-free for 90 days (180 days for Japan).

For the UK, visitors who have a passport from most Americas, Europe, Oceania, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Namibiam, Botsawana, and a few countries in the Middle East can enter and stay in the UK for up to 6-months visa-free.

The rest of the world has to apply for a visa beforehand. On the other hand, if you have a valid visa for either country, you can use that visa to use on ither country too. For example, if you havea visa from the UK, you don’t need a visa for Ireland. Just use your UK visa to enter Ireland and vice versa.

Other travel tips

We have an article about how to stay safe when travelling alone or travelling as a woman. Whenever I plan a trip, these are the travel sites and services I always use. They have a wide selection and pretty much have options available worldwide:

MUST-SEE PLACES IN THE UK AND IRELAND (pinned map)

Click the enlarge button on the top right corner. Credit: map data: Google

3 WEEKS IN ITINERARY THE UK AND IRELAND

We all know that the UK is famous for fish and chips. And the Royal Family. And the Harry Potter franchise. And the Beatles and basically almost everything related to pop culture. But there’s more to the UK than food, history, cinema, and music.

The UK have one of the largest castle in the world, which is Windsor Castle. The locals also have a very interesting annual cheese rolling competition, and one of the world’s largest libraries, with over 170 million items in the catalogue.

Ireland, on the other hand, is known for being the home of St Patrick’s Day, Guinness beer, and Irish whisky and coffee. For visitors to Ireland, there are also natural wonders to explore, such as Killarney National Park, the Rock of Cashel, and the Ring of Kerry. You can also find tons of scenes on Game of Thrones that were filmed in Ireland.

Ireland and Northern Ireland for 5 days

The first thing you need to know is that Northern Ireland isn’t a part of Ireland, it is part of the United Kingdom. If you’re planning to stay for 3 weeks in Ireland and the UK, you could allot 5 days in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The best way to travel around Ireland and Northern Ireland is to rent a car. But you can also buy one of those hop-on hop-off bus tickets that bring you to popular spots in the city. There is a Dublin hop-on hop-off bus and another one for Belfast.

You should visit Ireland at least once in your life because of its unbelievable landscapes. Not to mention, you can visit the Titanic Museum in Northern Ireland.

It also has world-class accommodations, abundant medieval and prehistoric sites, and the world’s longest-defined coastal driving route. Here are some of the things to see and do in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Extra tip: Once you cross the border to Northern Ireland, you can then rent a car there, which you can take with you all the way to England, where you can catch your flight home.

2 images - glenoe waterfall and the ring of kerry - 3-Weeks in the UK and Ireland Itinerary

Things to see in Ireland

Things to see in Northern Ireland

Accommodations in Dublin, Ireland:

Accommodations in Belfast, Northern Ireland:

Scotland for 3 days

One of the main reasons why one should visit Scotland is because of its diversity. It has charming villages, glorious icy mountain peaks, bustling cities, and laidback countryside. Whatever your preferences are, you’ll surely be able to find something quite enjoyable to explore.

Scotland is also known for the local folk story the Loch Ness Monster, while its existence is questionable, the Loch Ness River is a real place and it’s magical as it sounds. From there, you can also visit Loch Ness Castle and this beautiful Glenfinnan Viaduct – a scenic railway bridge.

To reach Scotland from Northern Ireland, you can take a ferry and then a bus. If you have a car, you can also take the car on the ferry. The other choice would be to take a very short flight. You can purchase a hop-on, hop-off bus ticket, which is useful for visiting top sites in the city centre – a ticket for Edinburgh and for Glasgow.

Things to see in Scotland:

Edinburg: 

Glasgow: 

Accommodations in Edinburgh:

Accommodations in Glasgow:

2 images - glasgow cathedral and buckingham palace - 3-Weeks in the UK and Ireland Itinerary

Northern England for 4 days

Northern England doesn’t make it on people’s travel lists that often, which is unfortunate because it has so much to offer.

It has extraordinary landscapes, a strong cultural identity, and beautiful historic architecture, among others. It’s also known for incredible music scene, this is where The Beatles, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Smiths, and Artic Monkeys came from.

You can also spend 3 weeks in England alone which will allow you to travel slower and enjoy hiking.

To reach Northern England from Scotland, you can either take a bus, train, or drive a car. The most recommended option out of all of these is to board the train if you don’t have a rented car.

Once you reach Northern England, you could stay in Manchester, which is a middle spot because it would be easier to get to Leeds, Sheffield, and Liverpool.

Get yourself a hop-on, hop-off bus ticket for Liverpool if you don’t have a vehicle to make exploring much easier.

Things to see in Northern England

Accommodations in Manchester City Centre:

London for 6 days

3 weeks in the UK and Ireland itinerary is not complete without checking out London. It is the most famous city in the UK and understandably so.

It is famous for its architecture, art, fashion, food, and football. Some of the most well-known singers, bands and actors are from this city. It’s also one of the four leading fashion capitals of the world.

London is also home to the oldest buildings in the UK. For history lovers, you definitely have to visit London especially if it’s your first time in the UK – Westminster Hall, White Tower, and London Wall. If you have extra time, you can even head down south to Brighton or east to Bristol

To get to London from Northern England, you could board the train, use rideshare, ride the bus, drive or fly. The cheapest option would be to use rideshare or take the bus. But it’s much easier if you have a car rental.

2 images - big ben clock tower and cliff's of moher - 3-Weeks in the UK and Ireland Itinerary

Things to see in London:

Accommodations in Central London:

Bonus – Day trips from London:

  • The New Forest (90 miles)
  • Deal Castle (just over 80 miles)
  • Mersea Island (69 miles)
  • Margate (76 miles)
  • Hastings (54 miles)
  • Guildford’s Cathedral (31 miles)
  • Cambridge (64 miles)
  • Chichester (80 miles)

SUMMARY OF 3 WEEKS IN THE UK AND IRELAND ITINERARY

So it’s settled, you’re now going to have a vacation for 3 weeks in the UK and Ireland. Travelling between Ireland and the UK is very easy, both countries are connected very well in terms of transportation.

Spending your vacation in this region, you can cover so much, from visiting historical sites, going for incredible hikes, trying out local food, and exploring spots related to famous musicians and performers.

I hope that you found the 3 weeks in the UK and Ireland itinerary helpful. I know weren’t able to feature Wales or explore more of the west and east London, but then that’s something to do on your next visit.

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Backpacking the UK and Ireland takes you through historic cities, rugged coastlines, and green landscapes. Experience the blend of cultures, from the lively pubs of Dublin to the medieval streets of Edinburgh. A journey rich in history and charm. via @threeweektraveller