Considering some self-guided walking tours in the UK? They’re perfect if you enjoy leisure exploration of interesting regions on foot. You’ll find everything from brief walking tours and themed itineraries to more ambitious hikes in the United Kingdom below. Which one is perfect for you?
CONTENTS: In this article, you will learn about the best self-guided walking tours in the UK, including:
- Bath: A Day Trip from London
- Belgravia, London UK
- Eastbourne to Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters
- Formby Beach and Red Squirrel Woods
- Fritham, New Forest
- Hadrian’s Wall Walk in Northern England
- Harry Potter in London
- Harry Potter in Oxford
- Knightsbridge in West London
- Liverpool (William Brown Street to the Docks)
- London’s South Bank (Dog-Friendly)
- Shoreditch Street Art Walking Tour
- The Isle of Wight
- Northern Ireland
- Final Thoughts
Walking Tours in England
Whether you want to take a historic stroll in London, enjoy the bucolic countryside at Hadrian’s Wall, or indulge in a Harry Potter tour (or two!), these self-guided walking tours in England provide easy guidance–and lots of inspiring ideas.
Bath: A Day Trip from London
by Bhushavali at My Travelogue by Bhushavali | Facebook
Bath is one of the 3 UNESCO World Heritage Cities in the UK (the other 2 being Edinburgh & Liverpool), where unlike other sites where individual monuments are protected, here the entire towns are protected by UNESCO.
The city of Bath, England is small and makes an easy day trip from London; it is possible to walk and explore the whole city on this self-guided walking tour in the UK.
The best way to begin the walking tour would be at Bath Abbey.
Though the current structure only belongs to the 19th Century, a church has been standing here since the 8th century The pillars of the original Norman church are still present below the current building. The historic stained glass windows of early 19th C. are a visual treat!
Your next stop on this self-guided UK walking tour in Bath could be Roman Baths.
In fact, the city gets its name from the natural thermal baths. Today the historic baths can only be viewed but not used. This is more of a site-museum with displays of the artefacts retrieved here along with skeletons, coins, jewelry and other pieces of history.
You can take a dip or soak in the natural thermal waters at our next stop, the Thermae Bath Spa. Apart from the regular pool, there’s even a roof-top open air pool here.
Next, be sure to stop-over at on or more of these museums:
- Sally Lunn’s Museum
- Jane Austen Centre
- Fashion Museum
The final stop is, of course, at the Royal Crescent, the most magnificent architecture of Bath.
Ideally, set aside 6-8 hours for this tour, which would include 2 hrs in the Spa.
Belgravia, London UK
By Jiayi from The Diary of a Nomad | Instagram
Belgravia is an incredibly charming neighborhood with lots of cute shops, elegant cafes, and places to relax in. It’s also one of the most photogenic places in London, largely thanks to its impressive amount of stores with gorgeous facades.
This walkable neighborhood exudes a very chill vibe, making it perfect for one of the most relaxing self-guided walking tours in the UK with plenty of interesting stops. Here’s a quick route itinerary that also takes you through the nearby Hyde Park:
- Start off your tour with a visit to Dominique Ansel Bakery. Their storefront is beautifully decorated with plants and flowers, so it’s worth visiting even if you’re not hungry.
- Then, make your way to Peggy Porschen, a stunning cupcake store with absolutely incredible storefront decorations. Its facade is breathtaking, and you can enjoy some delicious cupcakes inside.
- Another photogenic stop is Les Senteurs, a beautiful perfume store just a minute away from Peggy Porschen. Snap a photo of its stylish storefront before you move on to the next stop.
- Head over to Belgrave Square Garden, a peaceful green space perfect for sitting down with a book or people watching.
- Now it’s time to make your way into Hyde Park, an amazing place for a peaceful stroll through more trees and greeneries.
- Make sure to stop by the Serpentine River in Hyde Park. The atmosphere there is amazing, and you’ll also see lots of ducks around
- Hyde Park is huge, and you can easily spend hours exploring its different corners. Once you’re ready to get out of the park, cut straight through it and end your tour in the nearby Saint Aymes, a friendly coffee shop famous for its incredibly picturesque flower walls.
The entire route should take you around 45 minutes to 1 hour by foot if you don’t stop at any of the places. If you do though, it can easily take you half a day.
Eastbourne to Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters
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The seaside town of Eastbourne is positioned right at the start of the South Downs Way—a 100 mile long path through the stunning Sussex countryside.
To walk the entire 100 miles you’ll need a considerable amount of time, but perhaps the most beautiful stretch is from Eastbourne to Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters cliffs.
Not only is the route well signposted, but the views on this walk are breathtaking. (And for the film buffs among us, this was the filming location for the Quidditch World Cup in Harry Potter).
Leave the town at Holywell Beach at the West end of Eastbourne. Tiny Victorian beach chalets stand in a row at the bottom of the cliffs, and there’s a fairly steep climb up the hill to the beginning of the South Downs.
On a Summer day the sea around Holywell can look almost Mediterranean- bright turquoise and crystal clear. Keep heading along the coast away from the town, and you’ll be on the right track.
The walk from Eastbourne to Beachy Head should take around an hour in total. The white chalk cliffs and red and white striped lighthouse are a classic image of Sussex, but be careful when you’re trying to take pictures up here. Cliff falls can happen suddenly and unexpectedly so you’ll see plenty of signs asking you not to step too close to the edge.
If you’re feeling thirsty, you can head to the Beachy Head pub. Sit by a window for views across the fields towards Belle Tout Lighthouse (which is also a B&B), and Birling Gap.
And if you fancy a longer walk, keep going past these landmarks to the village of East Dean. There’s a lovely pub called The Tiger Inn where you can quench your thirst once more!
Formby Beach and Red Squirrel Woods
by Nancy Moore of Around the World At The Weekend
The National Trust site at Formby is one of the hidden jewels of the North West. It boasts wide sweeping beaches, dramatic dunes, and a pine wood populated by adorable red squirrels.
If you are self-guiding around the site, let me offer these important words of advice: avoid sunny days if you want to avoid people! Also, be aware that there are no cafes (only sometimes an ice-cream van) so bring everything with you.
The beach is not that close to the carpark (I advise the lifeboat road car park as it’s less busy) so be prepared to walk.
From the car park, which is free if you are a National Trust Member, walk past the signs in the left-hand corner and you will find after a few minutes a wooden platform with amazing views of Wales.
From there, follow the path up the dunes and you will find yourself on the beautiful beach.
If red squirrels are your thing, then park in the Victoria road car park instead and follow the signs to the squirrell walk. They are at their friendliest in the Autumn. Have fun. It’s a magical place!
How much time should I plan for this tour?
It would take you about 20-30 minutes to get to the sea from the car park as proposed. It’s more like 15 if you just headed straight there. Obviously, if you wanted to walk around the beach it’s 7 miles long and so you can change it according to your fitness/ability. You would want to give yourself 45 minutes to 1 hour to walk around the squirrel reserve.
Fritham, New Forest
By Izzy from The Gap Decaders | Facebook
If you’re taking a holiday in the New Forest, Fritham is a tiny hamlet with a great pub and the start point for many easy walks. Visit Fritham in spring and enjoy the bluebells which carpet the woodland floor or go in October and spot fallow buck deer clashing antlers on the ancient rutting grounds in the area. There is a purpose built car-park in Fritham where you can park. (Get there early on the weekend as it gets busy.)
Follow this guide for a 4.5 miles, two- to three-hour walk through the woods and across Fritham Plain, enjoying dappled shade, New Forest ponies, and far-reaching forest views along the way.
From the car park, walk back towards the road and take a sharp left past the Forestry Commission barrier onto the track.
The track forks about 1/2 miles in; keep to the left fork and enter Islands Thorns Inclosure.
You will cross a stream on a wooden bridge. Keep bearing left on the track.
Soon you’ll come to the start of a small hill. Half-way up the hill is a cycle route sign on the right-hand side. Opposite this sign, turn left and go through the gate into Amberwood Inclosure.
Keep on this track; it is narrower but gravelled which makes for easy walking.
You will go down a long hill, the track bears to the left. Just after this on your right you will see a rustic wooden bench, stop and take a breather!
Keep on this track and you will cross a stream before going through two five-bar gates. Fallow deer are often seen here.
Follow this track around a few bends and up a hill. At the top go through another five-bar gate and onto the heath.
Follow the track round to the left and keep going until you get back to the car park.
Go through the main parking lot and across the common to The Royal Oak, order a cold beer and a pasty, relax and enjoy!
Hadrian’s Wall Walk in Northern England
by Carol Guttery at Wayfaring Views | Facebook
The Hadrian’s Wall Walk is a great hike for folks who want their outdoor adventure laced with ancient history. The wall itself was built by Emperor Hadrian in 122 AD. He used ingenious Roman engineering to construct a bulwark that guarded Britannia’s northern borders against what he called “the barbarians.”
Today, the remaining ruins are a UNESCO-designated treasure made accessible to hikers by an 84-mile walking path. The path runs from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to Bowness-on-Solway. It traverses the old border and runs right past a series of well-preserved forts and milecastles.
You can see the best bits of the wall along a 40-mile 4-day walk on Hadrian’s Wall.
Top cultural stops along the four-day hike include:
- Great North Museum
- Chesters Fort
- Brocolitia Fort
- Vindolanda Fort
- Thirwall Castle
- Birdoswald Fort
- Lanercost Priory
The hiking itself features a fairly gentle English countryside filled with green grass and sheep. Key natural sites include stunning views of southern Northumberland National Park, Sycamore Gap and coastal estuaries at either end.
Hikers at various budget levels can enjoy this self-guided tour. The budget version has you carrying a full pack and stopping at hostels and bunkhouses along the way. The mid-range option has you self-booking into B&Bs along the route, carrying a daypack and using a portage service for luggage. Or, opt to use an agency for fully booked accommodation, transportation and luggage portage.
Harry Potter Walking Tour in London
If you’re a huge Harry Potter fan, you absolutely must go on your own Harry Potter walking tour in London. Sure, there’s lots of tour options you could pay for, but if you’re up for it, it can absolutely be done on your own for free!
The tour is best done it at least half a day (5-6 hours) but could be done in considerably less or more time, depending on how long you’d like to stay at each amazing spot. All these sights are free, except for the fee you have the option of paying for a photo at platform 9 3/4. Find all of the best stops below.
- St. Pancras International: This train station is the station that was used to film all of the exterior shots of where the Hogwarts Express leaves!
- King’s Cross Station: The real 9 3/4 is here! Unfortunately, you do have to pay a fee equivalent to around $15 just to take a photo there.
- Cecil Court: Some argue that this was the true inspiration for Diagon Alley, but it’s up for debate against the lovely Victoria Street in Edinburgh!
- Trafalgar Square: Anyone who has seen Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince will immediately recognize that a scene was filmed here (hint: Death Eaters!).
- Borough Market: If you’ve seen the first film, you’ll realize this is where Harry first was introduced to the Wizarding world! Scenes from the Leaky Cauldron In Prisoner of Azkaban were also filmed in this area.
- Millennium Bridge: This bridge was actually from the Deathly Hallows movie, part 1. Anyone who’s watched the movie will recognize it immediately since it’s from such a vital chase scene from the beginning of the movie!
Of course, there are more locations in London, but these are the most prominent ones. They’re not all located closely near one another, so be sure to have your Oyster Card ready or wear good walking shoes!
Harry Potter Walking Tour in Oxford
by Happy Go Abi | Facebook
If you’re looking for a fun self-guided walking tour in Oxford, then one you’ll want to consider is a Harry Potter walking tour of Oxford. There are several Harry Potter filming locations across Oxford’s city center and going on a walking tour is the perfect way to experience these places in real life!
There are three main filming locations to visit: Christ Church College, the Bodleian Library, and New College…but within each of these locations, there are several different sights to see. Actual walking time between these locations is under 20 minutes, but you will want to plan for your tour to take somewhere between 1.5-2 hours so you have time to explore each stop fully. Here are the seven main sights you need to see:
- Bodley Tower Staircase
- Christ Church Dining Hall
- Christ Church Cloisters
- Duke Humfrey’s Library
- Divinity School
- New College Cloisters
- New College Quad
From visiting places like Bodley Tower Staircase (where McGonagall greets the first years in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) to seeing inside the Divinity School (frequently used as Hogwarts’ Infirmary), you are sure to feel the magic of Harry Potter when you step into these filming locations! And when you take a self-guided tour, you can even stop along the way and watch clips from the movies that were filmed in each of these spots. It’s the perfect way to get into the spirit of Harry Potter while exploring Oxford!
As popular tourist destinations, all of these locations do charge small admission fees to enter—if you visit all three places, you can expect to pay somewhere around £19-30 depending on the admission options you choose. But even though there are some costs associated with this self-guided tour, it is a must for any Harry Potter fans and you can be sure you will love the experience!
Hull by Foot
Hull is often overlooked for nearby historic York, but you shouldn’t miss the quaint Old Town that is filled with a unique and rich history. You just need to scratch the surface.
With a variety of museums and protected buildings, Hull has done a good job of documenting its history and keeping the old town in great condition—which is why it’s the perfect place for an interesting self-guided walking tour in the UK. (Just don’t trip on the cobbled roads.)
- Beverley Gate
- Hull Minster
- Old Grammar School
- Streetlife Museum: The history of transport in the area, a great one for the kids.
- Wilberforce Museum: Exhibits on slavery and celebrating the life of a local key player in the abolition of slavery, William Wilberforce.
Start your tour in the docks near Princes Quay shopping center. There you’ll find a large, open excavation site where Beverley Gate stood. This gate was a major part of the old walls of Hull and dates back to the 1300s.
From there you’ll walk dockside along Princes Dock Street and make a left onto Posterngate, where you’ll walk alongside many buildings that date back to the 1800s when the docks thrived with trade.
Continuing down Posterngate, you’ll come to a square where you’ll get your first glimpse of Hull Minster. This church dates back to 1285 and is said to be the largest parish church (by floor area) in England.
Right across from the Minster on South Church Road, you’ll find an old 1500s Grammar school where William Wilberforce, a leader in the movement to abolish the slave trade, was taught.
From South Church Road, continue east onto Market Place and continue north until you see Scale Lane on the right. Take Scale Lane all the way to High street and just north you’ll find Hull’s Museum quarter. All the museums here are free, so you can have a quick look at each to decide which suits you best!
Knightsbridge, West London
By Sarah from Dukes Avenue | Blog
There is no better way to get the feel for the real upmarket and secretive area of Knightsbridge in West London than to spend an afternoon exploring its many sites and streets.
Harrods department store is likely any visitor’s entry point to Knightsbridge accessible from the Piccadilly line platforms from the nearby underground station. Where Harrods is the bustling beating heart of Knightsbridge with its tourists, taxis, well-heeled shoppers and exotic luxury cars, its soul and character are its beautiful residential streets and garden squares either side of Knightsbridge’s main thoroughfare.
A great example is found just across Brompton Road from Harrods, up Montpellier Street. Rows of lovely white-stucco terraced houses surround a lush private communal garden in Montpellier Square, whilst small painted brick houses radiate off it.
Another grand square is Ennismore Gardens. With its charming mews streets and grand stone-facade buildings, it is accessible from Montpellier Village. A wall on Rutland Street once divided the estates of Hyde Park and Knightsbridge; After being destroyed during the Second World War, it was turned into a doorway known by residents as the “Hole in the Wall” to allow foot traffic to and from Hyde Park.
Cross back over to the south side of Brompton Road to Egerton Terrace and then the rows of expensive boutiques lining Walton Street, and end with the red brick mansion blocks of Pont Street, Lennox Gardens, Hans Place, and Cadogan Square—the home to the most expensive street in the UK.
This walk takes about 45 minutes to an hour, but closer to 2 hours if you’re stopping to take photos, take int he surroundings, and grab a snack. It may take even longe if you decide to stop at Harrods/the boutiques for some shopping!
Liverpool: William Brown Street to the Docks of Liverpool
Liverpool is one of the oldest cities and the cradle of the seafare trade in the United Kingdom. The city is an excellent choice for walking around and most of its landmarks are close to each other. One of the best routes to take on is the one from William Brown street next to St. George’s Hall and to follow down to the docks of Liverpool.
This self-guided tour is perfect for those who would like a carefree walk around the city’s center. I would likewise suggest it to anyone who would like to learn more about the history of Liverpool and the world. Also, there are no entrance fees to any of the museums.
Along the route, you will be able to check out Walker Art Gallery and enjoy world-famous pieces of art like “Dante’s Dream” by Rossetti, a fake “Mona Lisa” painting, and portraits of Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth I.
Then, next to Liverpool’s gallery is the World Museum, which holds one of the greatest collections of Egyptian artifacts and mummies. Along with that, there are dinosaur and animal collections, and a huge Aquarium housing various underwater species.
Going down to the docks of Liverpool, you will find the Beatles Statue at Georges Pierhead street, which is a famous tourist spot. Right next to it is Liverpool’s seaport and the Museum of Liverpool.
The Museum of Liverpool is a very interesting take, showing the history of the city since the very beginning. It starts with the first settlers and gradually leads to the city’s great inventors and major events.
Eventually, you can end up in Merseyside’s Maritime Museum and learn more about seafarer trade. Along with that, you will learn about the Titanic and Lusitania, which were the biggest ships in the beginning of the 20th century.
Finally, stop off at Liverpool’s docks and enjoy the gift of a beautiful sunset over River Mersey.
Set aside a day to complete this walking tour, or about 7-8 hours depending on your pace.
London’s South Bank Walking Tour
London is one of the world’s greatest walking cities. I especially enjoy taking long walks along the River Thames with my French Bulldog, Louie. Here is my favorite route along the south bank of the Thames. This self-guided walking tour in the UK includes some of London’s most famous landmarks, including a few dog-friendly stops.
Distance: 3 miles total
Time: 1-3 hours
- Tower of London & Roman Wall
- Tower Bridge
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
- Tate Modern
- Southbank Centre
- London Eye
- Big Ben & Westminster Cathedral
Beginning at Tower Hill Underground, follow the signs for “Tower Bridge.” The arrows will guide you past remnants of walls dating back to Roman times. You will also walk alongside the grassy moat surrounding the notorious Tower of London.
About halfway across Tower Bridge, there is a unique dog friendly attraction. Buying a ticket (Adult £10.60 / Child £5.30) gives you access to the bridge’s upper level. The views are breathtaking in all directions, including down through the glass floor!
Upon arriving on the far side, begin walking west loosely following the Thames. By the time you reach the Globe Theatre, you will probably be thirsty. I recommend taking a break at the Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe. Dogs are welcome in the bar area, which also offers a menu of contemporary British fare.
After resting up, continue walking along the river.
To your left, you will pass the Tate Modern museum, OXO Tower and Southbank Centre. Crossing over the Jubilee Footbridge, stop for some photos of the London Eye, Big Ben, and Westminster Cathedral. The bridge ends at Embankment Underground.
Manchester Walking Tour
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Located in Northern England, Manchester is a great destination if you are looking for a little weekend getaway.
Even though it is the third biggest city in the UK, Manchester has quite a small city center. It’s easy to navigate and makes it the perfect place to go on a self-guided walking tour in the UK.
Manchester was mainly built during the industrial revolution. As you roam around, you will see that this industrial heritage is everywhere! Old warehouses, Museum of Science and Industry… Manchester has this unique industrial yet modern vibe.
If you are spending a day in Manchester, here is the itinerary you should follow:
- Piccadilly Station
- Alan Turing Memorial and Sackville Gardens
- Gay Village
- Piccadilly Gardens
- Market Street
- Royal Exchange
- Corn Exchange
- Manchester Cathedral and gardens
- Northern Quarter
The Gay Village is a very lively neighbourhood. You will discover iconic LGBT landmarks and bars such as The New Union Pub.
As you keep going towards Piccadilly Gardens, you enter what feels to be a different version of Manchester that’s more modern and shopping-oriented. This part was revitalised after the IRA bombings.
Keep going towards Manchester Cathedral and the Northern Quarter. This is Manchester’s trendiest neighborhood. You will find loads of cute restaurants and bars but also a lot of street art.
Manchester has so much to offer and is an amazing destination for music and history lovers!
Set aside 2 to 3 hours to complete this walking tour of Manchester. However, if you stop along the way to check out the murals, grab lunch, and go inside the buildings, you might plan for a whole day.
Shoreditch Street Art Walking Tour
by Greta Omoboni of London Dreaming | Facebook
If you’re interested in street art, then you should definitely visit Shoreditch in London.
Shoreditch is the edgy and quirky neighbourhood in London and has a reputation for being a bit hipster. Over time, beautiful street art has popped up all over the area.
You can easily do your own self-guided Shoreditch street art walking tour. The main stops you should visit are:
- Doughnut Time on Old Street
- Rivington Street
- Crossing between New Inn Yard & King John Court
- Whitby Street
- Brick Lane
- Fashion Street
Walking a route that touches all these spots will probably take around 2 hours, taking into account time for pictures and getting side-tracked by epic graffiti down a random side street.
If it sounds like a long walk, don’t worry. This is one of the liveliest parts of London! There are plenty of restaurants, shops, markets, and coffee shops where you can grab food and drinks and sit for a bit if you need it.
There are many guided tours of Shoreditch but to be honest, unless you want a guide to tell you about the artists and story behind the street art, you don’t need one. Part of the fun is wandering around the streets of Shoreditch and stumbling across pieces you might not have known were there.
My favorite thing about street art in Shoreditch is that every piece is unique. Some artists may have similar styles, but every piece differs from the next. I love how, despite being so different, they look awesome as a whole.
The Isle of Wight
by Zoe at Together In Transit | Facebook
This lovely little UK island is a hidden beauty spot full of nature areas and cute seaside villages. I highly suggest that you bring your hiking boots for this self-guided walking tour of The Isle of Wight and recommend hiking the whole island, from east to west. This is hiking from one side with sunrise, to the other with sunset, or earlier depending on your speed!
The amazing “Walk The Wight” route allows you to depart from the pretty nature area of Bembridge and head west towards the villages of Brading and Arreton.
From Arreton, you can continue the footpath all the way to Carisbrooke. This is the halfway point of the walk. Many people like to stop here and do the 2nd half another day, but for the true hikers, you can continue straight on.
From Carisbooke, it starts to get harder as the elevation rises towards the white cliffs near Freshwater Bay.
The last stretch is hiking to Alum Bay, which is also a perfect location for the sunset.
See here the distances:
- Route 1: Bembridge to Alum Bay (Whole) – 26.5 miles / 42 km
- Route 2: Bembridge to Carisbrooke (1st Half) – 12.5 miles / 21 km
- Route 3: Carisbrooke to Alum Bay (2nd Half) – 14 miles / 21 km
Hiking this route offers incredible island horizon views, allowing you to stop off for a drink or a bite to eat in the villages too.
Like mentioned above, Route 3 (the 2nd half) is the most challenging due to steep elevations. So if you are already tired at Carisbrooke, save the rest for another day. Or start at Carisbooke and complete the 2nd half first!
by Coralie from Grey Globetrotters | Instagram
Compact and enclosed by a city wall, a self-guided walk is one of the best ways to experience York, which claims to be the most haunted city in the world! Expect to see gorgeous half-timbered houses, winding cobbled streets, and architecture dating back to York’s settlement by the Romans in AD71.
- Start with a scenic walk along the best-preserved city walls in Europe, for stunning views over the city. Check out the “bars” or gatehouses dotted around the wall, which were used in medieval times as toll gates.
- Take your pick from York’s museums. I recommend the York Castle Museum where you can walk through the centuries of York’s history and visit a Victorian street, complete with shops to explore.
- Head to the soaring 900-year-old gothic York Minster which dominates York’s skyline and which took 250 years to build. Take the Tower Tour if you’re feeling fit. There are 275 steep, winding stone steps, but the reward is the best view of the city from the top!
- Wander the medieval warren of shops known as “The Shambles” – the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. The streets are so narrow that you could almost reach out and shake hands with someone in the house opposite, from the upper floors.
- Visit the York Chocolate experience to learn about how chocolate-making was one of York’s major employers. You’ll even get to make your own chocolate lolly.
- Take in a free ghost tour then stop for a drink in one of York’s 365 atmospheric pubs. Try The Guy Fawkes near the Minster, the Evil Eye or the spectacularly odd House of the Trembling Madness
Don’t forget comfy shoes. This walk could take 4-5 hours, depending on how often you stop. There are entrance fees for the Minster, York’s museums, and the York Chocolate experience, but you can save money with a one day York Pass.
Scotland Walking Tours
You’ll find several self-guided walking tours in Scotland on tap for you here, including one Glasgow and two in Edinburgh.
City Centre Mural Trail, Glasgow
by Kathi from Watch Me See | Instagram
Glasgow is Scotland’s beating heart—the biggest city in the country and famous for its thriving music scene, the plethora of great restaurants and pubs, and an endless selection of sites and museums.
While there are many beautiful neighborhoods waiting to be discovered, it’s hard to beat the quirky and colorful surprises waiting on the City Centre Mural Trail. If you have only one day in Glasgow, make sure you include a few hours exploring this beautiful public art trail.
This route crisscrosses Glasgow’s city center and includes stops at the most famous murals of Glasgow. From the giant sports-themed murals commissioned during the 2014 Commonwealth Games to the numerous contributions of world-renowned artist Smug (St. Enoch and St. Mungo, both near Glasgow Cathedral), the trail offers a lot to discover.
Many of the murals are painted by local heroes like Rogue-One. (Make sure to see his latest contribution, Bubbles on Renfield Lane.) However, international street artists have also contributed to the trail. One of them is Stormie Mills, whose “Lost Giants” can be seen in many cities around the world. As is the nature of street art, while some murals disappear from time to time, there are always new pieces added as well.
While following the Mural Trail, you will come past many of Glasgow’s top attractions, such as Glasgow Cathedral, the Lighthouse and George Square.
You can download a free map of the trail here and the brochure also includes brief descriptions of the murals and the artists.
Edinburgh’s New Town
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Edinburgh is a great city to explore on foot. The city center is split between the Old Town and the New Town and both areas are quite compact. You’ll find most of the city’s tourist attractions in the Old Town, however the New Town is also home to some lovely sites, which you can visit on a self-guided tour.
- Start your walk from the west end of Princes Street and walk down Queensferry Street towards Dean Village. Tucked away along the Water of Leith (a small river that runs through Edinburgh’s New Town), Dean Village is a quiet neighborhood with postcard-perfect buildings.
- From Dean Village, walk along the Water of Leith until you reach Stockbridge, a pretty neighborhood home to several charity shops and indie cafes.
- After enjoying a nice coffee in Stockbridge, get ready for a bit of a steep hill as you head up North West Circus Place and then Howe Street. Along the way, check out Circus Lane—a crescent-shaped cobblestoned street with cute houses.
- When you reach Queen Street, pop into the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. (Entrance is free.) Housed in a red, Neo-Gothic building, this art museum is home to several old and contemporary artworks by Scottish artists.
- From the art museum, head back to Princes Street and make your way towards Calton Hill. The way up may seem a bit intimidating, but climbing Calton Hill is one of the most amazing things to do in Edinburgh. After a long walk through the New Town, you can just plonk yourself on the grass and have a wee snack while enjoying panoramic views of Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth.
This walk through the New Town can take between 3-4 hours.
Old Town Edinburgh, UK
Edinburgh is the modern-day capital of Scotland, but it’s also filled with a fascinating history that dates back to the early Middle Ages. Most of this history can be found in Old Town, which is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Within the Old Town, you’ll find Greyfriars Cemetery, where your self-guided tour will start. Have a wander around the eerie tombstones. Or if cemeteries aren’t your thing, head straight to Greyfriars Bobby’s Statue, just outside the cemetery. This devoted dog is one of the city’s most famous landmarks.
From here, you can head North on Candlemaker Row before taking a left on Cowgate Head, where you will run into Grassmarket. This quaint historic square was of great importance from the 1400s until the early 1910s, not only because it was a popular place for executions. It was also an important horse and cattle market within the city.
Today it holds lovely shops and restaurants. Before you leave, be sure to look up the legend of Maggie Dickson and learn her story before you head into the nearby pub that still bears her name.
Once you’ve had your fill of ale, make your way towards Edinburgh Castle, which has overlooked the city since the 12th century. You will probably encounter a good amount of stairs or a long but steady incline up the High Street depending on which way you take towards the castle. But the views at the top are well worth the climb.
Once there, leave enough time to fully explore the castle, and don’t forget to have a peep into St. Margaret’s Chapel, which is the oldest building in the complex.
After you explore the castle, head back down the Royal Mile and meander your way in and out of the local shops. On your way downhill, you’ll pass the Parliament House, St. Giles Cathedral, Mercat Cross Monument, and several notable museums on Scottish history.
This is the end of your tour, so don’t be afraid to get lost in Old Town’s winding streets.
- Greyfriars Cemetery & Bobby’s Statue
- Edinburgh Castle (fee)
- Royal Mile
The tour will take you 2-5 hours depending on if you explore Edinburgh Castle, which has an admission fee of £17.50-19.50. Prices range for seniors and youth and whether you buy tickets online or at the castle.
Walks in Northern Ireland
Music lovers (and others) will enjoy this unique self-guided walking tour in Northern Ireland featuring Van Morrison.
Van Morrison Trail in Belfast
By Emer and Nils from Let’s Go Ireland | Pinterest
Belfast in Northern Ireland is a beautiful city, and has lots of cool, yet also touristy things to do. If you are yearning for something slightly different with less hustle and bustle, then why don’t you explore the Belfast Van Morrison Trail? Van Morrison is probably the most outstanding singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland (‘Brown Eyed Girl’ or ‘Gloria’) and one of the most influential musicians still alive.
Begin your walk perhaps at Queen’s University Belfast where Van Morrison received an honorary doctorate and then head east to take a trip through the Belfast of Van Morrison’s youth.
During the walk you will encounter many places that Van Morrison references in his music and lyrics. The walk with stops such as Elmgrove Primary School (where Van went to school for 7 years), The Hollow (referenced in ‘Brown Eyed Girl’), 125 Hyndford Street (he was born here), Orangefield Park (this is where he spent a lot of his free time as a child) or Cyprus Avenue (from the eponymous song) is roughly 3.5 km long and will roughly take about two hours.
- Queen’s University Belfast (optional)
- Elmgrove Primary School
- The Hollow
- 125 Hyndford Street
- Orangefield Park
- Belfast & County Down Railway
- Cyprus Avenue
- St. Donard’s Church
- Soul Food
Wear comfortable gear and prepare for some liquid sunshine as well, as steady weather in Northern Ireland isn’t guaranteed.
Final Thoughts on Self-Guided Walking Tours in the UK
The United Kingdom offers a rich and diverse selection of self-guided walking tours with almost unlimited potential. I hope you work in one or more of what we think are the best self-guided walking tours in the UK to your itinerary.
Which one(s) are high on your bucket list? Have we forgotten a favorite? Please share in the comments, below!
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