It’s a great time to be an over-60-year-old coach traveller here in the UK. There’s simply no need to go further afield, to Europe or beyond. On these shores, you can find plenty of terrific holidays offered by ABTA-bonded specialists who will cater for the specific needs of 60+ tourists, with special attention given to the single traveller’s requirements.
Whether you just want a day away, a short break or something a little longer, we have the holiday for you among our dozen dynamite destinations. Let’s go!
- Eastbourne with Brighton Christmas Market.
- Bosworth Hall, Stratford and Birmingham Christmas Market.
- Highlands Christmas.
- Blackpool Hogmanay.
- Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath.
- Royal London Tour.
- Llandudno, Snowdonia and Caenarfon.
- Canterbury corner.
- Weekend in Devon.
- Welsh seaside.
- Cotswolds and Downton.
- Scarborough, Whitby and Historic York.
That’s our list. Now let’s see what each of these fab holidays includes.
The UK has upped its Christmas game to compete with the market malarkey going on over in Austria and Germany. The two we’ve picked here are particularly good as they offer a surfeit of things to do alongside haggling over a bauble.
1. Eastbourne with Brighton Christmas Market
This five-day holiday takes you to Eastbourne, one of the relatively unsung gems of the south coast. What a lot of people manage to miss in their rush to reach Brighton and the more celebrated seaside destinations, is that Eastbourne has retained its character and managed to avoid the excesses of modernisation and development that might have befallen some of its neighbours.
Film fact fans may be interested to learn that this is precisely why it was chosen as the stand-in for 1930s Brighton in the 2010 version of Brighton Rock. While you aren’t guaranteed an encounter with Pinkie or any of his underworld pals, you will certainly experience plenty of historic charm when staying in the magnificent Victorian Queens Hotel overlooking the pier.
On Day 2, you’ll be whisked over to Brighton to take in all that the infamous seaside resort has to offer, not least its fabulous Christmas market, with over 150 stalls to tempt you into some souvenir-purchasing.
To top it all off, you can do as the Normans did and head to Hastings, where you’ll spend the final full day of your holiday.
2. Bosworth Hall, Stratford and Birmingham Christmas Markets
Up to the midlands now, where you can spend three nights in Bosworth Hall, a fabulously atmospheric and luxurious hotel that’s actually a 17th-century mansion set in 11 acres of landscaped loveliness.
Your days on this sensationally seasonal sojourn will be spent first at one of the biggest and best British Christmas markets, even though it’s actually German-themed (that’s why it’s called the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market). Wooden trinkets and Black Forest crafts are the order of the day, and after some time moseying among the marionettes and miniatures, you’ll be ready to be bowled over by the bratwurst and glued to the gluhwein.
The next day will see you (Christmas) spirited over to Stratford-on-Avon, Shakey’s hangout. That’s Shakespeare, not Shakin’ Stevens. Sorry to disappoint. Anyway, you’ll be able to see where the bard’s boots actually trod, which is a big deal, and far from Much Ado About Nothing. After that, it’s over to Leamington Spa to check out its festive lights.
That’s all super. But that’s not all. The itinerary promises ‘a place of interest’ on the journey home. Super exciting. If it turns out to be Woodall Services, then we can only apologise.
Christmas and New Year
If your idea of Christmas agony is having to do all that cooking and washing up yourself, then you might be tempted by a holiday like the first of these two.
3. Highlands Christmas
Try this one: the Fort William Christmas. Festive fun takes place in the magnificent surrounds of the Croit Anna Hotel, perched on the edge of Loche Linnhe.
For those who like to get a seasonal outdoors fix, the delights of the Western Scottish Highlands wait to be explored, courtesy of excursions to the Ben Nevis range and to Glenfinnan, where you can pay your respects to the Jacobite rebels of ‘45 (i.e. 1745, not 1945 - just in case you were wondering if they had a problem with rationing or they couldn’t bear another radio episode of ITMA).
4. Blackpool Hogmanay
So, after all that Christmas caper, you’ll be in the mood for a New Year celebration, no doubt. So, off to Edinburgh, is it? Scotland, of course, has its draws, especially around this time of year, but we thought we’d try something a little different.
The northwest of England tends to be simplified by those who really should know better into a bunch of cities and sports teams (Liverpool, Manchester, St Helens, etc), an incredibly beautiful district full of lakes called, er, the Lake District, and a place which is utterly unlike anywhere else: Blackpool.
For many years, Blackpool was the number 1 European tourist destination. That’s pretty incredible for a town not necessarily blessed with a climate like that of, say, Italy. But there are solid reasons for its popularity that still exist today. It’s got architectural interest, it’s got an amazing beach, and, more than anything, it’s fun, as you’ll find out on the Blackpool Hogmanay trip, where you can welcome in the New Year amid the revelry that this town is famous for.
In the cold of January and February, it’s often the case that we hanker for a quick jaunt out to enjoy something that’s not too weather-dependent. Try these two, which both strike out from London.
5. Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath
This day trip to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath gives centuries of appeal, all in one day.
After exploring the largest occupied castle in the world, the tour whisks you to the enigmatic - nay, utterly baffling - site of Stonehenge, where you can join the endless list of travellers throughout the ages who have stood and wondered what on earth these were erected for (a bit like we all did a few years ago with the Millenium Dome). Then there’s the city that’s as famed for its bonnetry as for its baths, that’s the one-and-only UNESCO city in the UK, glorious Bath.
Thousands of years of history in one day and back to London by 7pm. That’s what you call value.
6. Royal London Tour
While we’re talking about London, if you’ve always fancied spending a right regal day in the capital, you’ll love this experience. You get to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and drive past the Palace of Westminster and the Royal Albert Hall.
The best bit, though, is in the afternoon, when you get to sample the delights of afternoon tea in a cafe tucked into one of the most magnificent buildings in England - Westminster Abbey. After all that royal touring in the morning, an afternoon tea here is the answer to anyone’s prayers.
When the weather starts to improve, it’s lovely to venture out and see the natural world coming back to life. Here are two very contrasting views of it, with a couple of castles thrown in for good measure. Well, it’s the fort that counts.
7. Llandudno, Snowdonia and Caenarfon
One of the wildest corners of the UK can be found in North Wales, where Snowdonia awaits the intrepid explorer with its rugged peaks and magnificent lakes. This is the perfect spot for a springtime trip, and this holiday gives you the very best of the region crammed into a four-night stay in the Victorian seaside resort of Llandudno, in the beautiful Marine Hotel overlooking the Irish Sea.
Included are trips to world-famous mountaineering country, including Betws-y-Coed and Conwy, and Caernarfon Castle, one of the best fortresses in the business. There’s also an optional excursion to Anglesey, for those hankering for some island life.
8. Canterbury corner
Not for nothing is Kent known as the Garden of England, and you can’t beat an English garden in the spring. Kent has an aesthetic appeal that makes it look like Capability Brown had a hand in just about every part. This is especially the case with the 500-acre wonderland that surrounds the misleadingly named Leeds Castle, which is to be found close to Maidstone rather than in West Yorkshire, as you’ll find out on this quick coach trip out to heaven and back.
As well as this picturesque stronghold, you’ll get to see Canterbury Cathedral, one of the most important buildings in Britain, being the Anglican headquarters and the objective of Chaucer’s fabled travellers. Finally, you’re given your chance to get all Dame Vera when you see one of the most inimitable symbols of Great Britain, the white cliffs of Dover. Stirring stuff.
Summer by the sea
For many, this is the quintessential UK holiday. So get your bucket and spade. Ours is a Mr Whippy.
9. Weekend in Devon
Mention Torquay to those of a particular vintage, and a certain hotelier silly-walks his way into the mind, usually hotly in pursuit of a hapless Catalan waiter. It should go without saying, though, that the English Riviera has so much more to it than being just the setting for Mr Fawlty’s unique operation. This weekend in the Trecarn Hotel in Babbacombe will convince you of it.
You’re excellently placed to enjoy all that this seaside wonderland has to offer, so it’s a great trip for the summer months. Included is a trip to the bustling city of Exeter, and there’s an optional trip to the jewel of East Devon, Sidmouth, which is like a little secret that nobody has let you in on, until now. This is why visitors are asked to sign a secrecy clause on leaving this simply gorgeous Regency town by the sea.
10. Welsh seaside
The UK has, of course, more than its fair share of fabulous seaside resorts. From the vast sandy stretches of Scotland to the balmy coves of the Isle of Wight, we are truly blessed in Britain in this regard. For our money though, one of the finest seaside experiences to be had is over in Porthcawl, a lovely resort nestled right on the edge of the outstanding Glamorgan Heritage Coast.
This coach trip to the Principality takes you to this enchanting part of the country for a good old-fashioned seaside holiday, with trips to Cardiff and Swansea thrown in for good measure. Blooming bendigedig, as they say in Wales. Well, the ones who can speak Welsh do.
As the nights draw in, it’s tempting to think cosy, and there’s not much cosier than Downton Abbey. There’s a good deal cosier than a night among Yorkshire ghouls however…
11. Cotswolds and Downton
Not every holiday gives you the chance to tread in the footsteps of our nation’s most popular PM and our nation’s most popular aristocratic dynasty. Take this coach to the Cotswolds, and you’ll be rewarded with an experience you’ll never forget.
Where you’re headed is, ultimately, the incredible sight of Blenheim Palace, truly one of the world’s greatest stately homes. Think Versailles, but one or two less fountains, no language barrier and easier to get to. It’s the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough, and the birthplace of one Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, the inspiration both for a country torn into tatters by wartime strife and that nodding dog on the television.
However, before checking out where baby Winnie had his nappies changed, you’ve got an earlier treat to experience. You’ll be taken to Bampton, the very place where Downton Abbey’s village scenes are filmed, and you’ll see Isobel Crawley’s home and the local cottage hospital. The coach then takes you to Bourton-on-the-Water, the unfeasibly gorgeous ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, before you come face to face with Churchill’s old gaff.
12. Scarborough, Whitby and Historic York
When it comes to Halloween, there’s only one serious contender in terms of places to go. It has to be the singularly scary town of Whitby, famed for its associations with Dracula and for the no-holds-barred fright-fest that takes place there every year.
This holiday will take you up to a hotel in Scare- sorry, Scarborough, where you’ll stay four nights, and from there, you’ll be taken on an excursion to fascinating York, with its imposing Minster and quirky Shambles (and don’t forget to make tracks for the National Railway Museum).
And, for those not too terrified to brave it, there’s a journey to the mouth of hell, well, near enough. Actually, Whitby is a fantastic place to visit, full of interesting little shops and historic corners. The abbey ruins are not to be missed - truly atmospheric and a view to die for. Did somebody say die for?
OK, Whitby has certainly made a name for itself as the go-to Goth and Steampunk Halloween happening. The streets become thronged with cavorting people enjoying the darker side of life, or just having a nice toffee apple and posing for selfies.
In all honesty, it’s a fabulous homegrown street carnival, and if you like exciting vibes, then you’ll love Whitby at the end of October. If you like something quieter, venture this way in September. It’s after the tourists have gone, and it’s not too cold. Don’t want you getting any chilling experiences…
Time to go home
So, we’ve taken you on a whistle-stop (or are these just trains?) tour of UK coach holidays, and you’re probably itching to get out there. We certainly are. The beauty of it all is that, no matter what you want to do, there’ll be a coach holiday for you. Want to discover the quieter corners of Cornwall? Want to be sent to Coventry? Or do you just want to be taken somewhere with tinsel? There’s a tour manager just waiting to take you there.
We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. We haven’t even mentioned Northern Ireland, for instance, or the award-winning options for self-drive and even river cruises that you can link to a great over 60s UK coach holiday. Wherever you go and whatever you do, whether it’s bashing around Bristol or bobbing about Bournemouth, we hope you have a truly wonderful time.