Five great road trips: self-drive holidays in the UK and beyond
London to Brighton
Most people take the M23 when heading to the seaside but adding 20 minutes to your route and meandering through the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty before hitting the chalk hills of the South Downs, turns the journey into a road trip.
Scotland: The North Coast 500
From Inverness Castle up the east coast, all along the top of Scotland, back down the west coast and across the country to Inverness again. This drive passes the great stacks of rock off the coast of Caithness in the very north, with views over the islands in the west and much of it in glorious isolation outside the height of summer.
The Northern Irish coast has a ruggedness that you won't find in much of the UK, culminating in the magical rock formations of the Giant’s Causeway. A car ferry from Liverpool to Belfast (stenaline.co.uk) will cost around £200 and take eight hours. From Cairnryan in the west of Scotland to Larne, north of Belfast, it’s around two hours, although not much cheaper.
Take the car ferry from Dover to Calais and you could be driving through the hills and forests of the Belgian Ardennes, an overlooked site of natural beauty, just over three hours after rumbling on-board.
To get to the mountains and vineyards on the France-Germany border will take you about seven hours from Dover, including the ferry. Taking your car on 'Le Shuttle' between Folkestone and Calais will cost £67-£87 each way.
Five great train journeys: rail holidays in the UK and Europe
Exeter to Teignmouth, Devon
The Great Western Railway doesn’t get much greater than the stretch at the start of the English Riviera, from the cathedral town of Exeter to the genteel resort of Teignmouth. It runs close enough to the River Exe and the Devon coast that you’ll almost feel the spray on your face as you watch avocets fishing in the waves.
Taking a great train journey? Check out our reviews of the Best and Worst UK Train Companies before you go.
The Jacobite train from Fort William to Mallaig
Even better is the 84 miles between Fort William and Mallaig in Scotland. Starting near the foothills of Ben Nevis, it skirts Loch Eil and then Scotland’s glorious west coast, crossing the spectacular, 30-metre high Glenfinnan Viaduct, a highlight of the Harry Potter films.
The Eurostar to Amsterdam
The Eurostar is still a modern marvel. From the fabulous King’s Cross St Pancras station to Paris, Bruges and, from December, Amsterdam. It’s still the most civilised way to travel abroad.
London to Italy
It takes just two-and-a-quarter hours to get from London to Paris. Another four hours gets you to Zurich before the best bit of any journey to Italy, the trip through the Alps from Zurich to Milan. The last four hours on the Bernina Express will take you from snowy Switzerland, over UNESCO World Heritage bridges, up steep hills and through dozens of tunnels to sunny Italy.
London to Istanbul
If you're feeling a little more adventurous you can take the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, all the way to Istanbul. From Paris you'll spend three nights on the train, plus one night in Budapest and another in Bucharest.
Five British cruises: cruises departing from a UK port
Cruises don't have to be expensive, epic voyages. Cunard has three-night trips to gorgeous, medieval Bruges docking at Zeebrugge, literally Bruges-on-Sea.
Jules Verne offers a 14-night circumnavigation of the British Isles that starts right next to Tower Bridge and takes in the Channel Islands, the Isles of Scilly, and the Hebrides as well as the coasts of Scotland and Northumberland.
Saga has launched an 18-day trip, Jewels of the Canary Islands, that hits Aviles in Northern Spain, before winding down the coast to the Algarve and Cadiz, then heading south to Las Palmas, Santa Cruz in Tenerife and finally Funchal, before returning home.
European River Cruises
Riviera Travel offers Continental river cruises that start with the train from St Pancras to Brussels. A coach then takes you to your ship on the Rhine, for the start of a trip winding through the Black Forest in Germany and south to the glorious Swiss Alps.
Southampton is the gateway to the seafaring world. Trips leave from here all the way to Australia. Cunard has a 48-night epic trip that takes in both the east and west coasts of the US (Florida and San Francisco) before heading to New Zealand and Australia via Honolulu.