Now that the U.K. has eased restrictions for tourists, it’s time to plan a visit to England, Scotland and Wales, for history including UNESCO sites, art and music festivals, picturesque country hikes, and let’s not forget the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June.
There are more ways to get to popular destinations in both countries from North America, with direct flights to London, Manchester, Glasgow, and connections to other cities.
JetBlue now flies from New York to both London Heathrow and Gatwick, and is adding a flights from Boston.
United Airlines has daily direct flights between Newark Liberty Airport New York and Glasgow Airport.
Aer Lingus is now offering new routes from New York and Orlando nonstop to Manchester.
Within Great Britain, low-cost airline Jet2.com can get you to Newcastle, Edinburgh, Belfast, and beyond, to Paris, Rome and Krakow.
Before You Go
The good news for travelers is that international arrivals no longer need to complete a pre-departure test before traveling to the U.K. As of February, 2022, you can take an antigen lateral flow (rapid) test instead of the longer and more expensive PCR, and there is no requirement to self-isolate until test results are confirmed.
As long as visitors complete the Passenger Locator Form and book a rapid test to take within two days of arrival, they will be all set to enter the U.K. and start enjoying the great attractions and world-class hospitality in Britain.
Where to Go Next: Britain
HM the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
One of the year’s biggest celebrations will be the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, marking the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II. The Platinum Jubilee Weekend (June 2-5) will be the focal point with public events and community activities throughout the U.K.
Special events include Tower of London’s Superbloom display, Fortnum & Mason’s Afternoon Tea, the Platinum Jubilee Display at The Palace of Holyroodhouse and the reopening of The Royal Mews, showing the Queen’s carriages, cars and horses.
This is an ideal opportunity to visit some of the the country’s castles and grand stately homes, and royal and historic walking routes.
The past two years left many favorite events either canceled online only. They are back for real and in person in 2022, including iconic experiences such as the Chelsea Flower Show (May), Stonehenge Summer Solstice (June), Notting Hill Carnival (Aug), and PRIDE festivals, including London, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2022.
Plus, it’s a huge year for sports in England with the Emirates FA Cup Final (May), Royal Ascot (June), UEFA Women’s EUROs (July), and Rugby League World Cup (Oct-Nov).
Britain continues to shine as the backdrop for some of the year’s most anticipated films and shows.
Liverpool is the fictional Gotham City in “The Batman” (March).
Highclere Castle once again opens its doors for “Downton Abbey 2: A New Era” (March).
Other exciting releases include “My Policeman” (release date TBD 2022) starring Harry Styles, Emma Corrin and the vibrant Bristol city-center; the new season of “Peaky Blinders” (early 2022), filmed across Birmingham; and “Mission Impossible 7” (September), which features locations across the U.K., including Bedfordshire, Derbyshire and the Lake District.
London’s Hottest New Hotels
These reputable luxury brands, eco-friendly accommodations and unique boutique properties are opening in London this year:
Raffles will make its London debut when it opens in the iconic Grade II-listed Old War Office on Whitehall.
1 Hotel opens its U.K. brand flagship in London’s Mayfair this year.
Art’otel at Battersea Power Station is ready to make a big splash with its rooftop pool and bar as well as its public gallery creative space.
Broadwick Soho is one of the year’s most anticipated openings, with its 47 rooms each with a design inspired by the history, glam and grit of Soho.
West End Theater
This year several of the West End’s most beloved shows return to the stage, including “Dirty Dancing,” “Six” and “Hamilton.”
London also welcomes the debut of “The Glass Menagerie” with Amy Adams, “Prima Facie” with Jodie Comer, “Sister Act,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Life of Pi” and “Back to the Future: The Musical.”
Secret tip: take the West End Walking Tour to tackle it all.
For Art Fanatics & Culture Vultures
Major new attractions include Outernet London (March), an immersive media and entertainment center with restaurants, bars, accommodations and performance venues, and the highly anticipated ABBA Voyage, which will feature virtual versions of ABBA performing in the new ABBA Arena.
Also new is Titanic: The Exhibition, which will take you on a journey from the commissioning of the ship to its tragic end in the North Atlantic; the Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum, which locals call V&A; and the Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern.
2022 brings more flavors and cuisines to try. Recently opened standouts include Six by Nico, an Edinburgh staple that’s made its way to London; Kol, offering Mexican flavors with British ingredients (plus a new Mezcaleria in the basement); and Mr. Ji, whose authentic cuisine has captured the heart of locals.
Tatale, a self-consciously pan-African restaurant opened in January; the Arcade Food Hall, which will bring a new block of restaurants to the former Arcade Food Theatre; and Apricity, which will make sustainability the focal point of all they do.
Regency Era Reigns Supreme
Last year “Bridgerton” transported millions to Britain’s regency era—and that appetite for period dramas has since caught fire. This year, Bath will be the backdrop for “Bridgerton Season 2” (TBD), but also Netflix’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” (spring 2022) featuring Dakota Johnson and “Sanditon Season 2” (March).
Bath in 2022 is the perfect time to roam the quaint, cobbled-stone streets, visit the grandeur filming locations from “Bridgerton” and even attend the annual Jane Austen Festival, The Summer Ball (September). It’s also the perfect time to visit the new World Heritage Centre in Bath, the Archway Project, which is converting the former Victorian Spa Buildings and unveiling previously unseen areas of the Roman Baths.
Liverpool may be known for The Beatles and football, but 2022 is bringing a whole lot more for you to explore.
Exhibitions such as The Tudors: Passion, Power & Politics; Doctor Who: Worlds of Wonder; Radical Landscapes; and The Turner Prize are sure to delight.
Nearby is Prescot, the grand opening of the Shakespeare North Playhouse completes the Shakespeare Triangle, with its core 350-seat theatre, modeled on the cockpit-in-court design popular during the Elizabethan era.
After all that exploring, settle in at the new Novotel Paddington Village, which is part of the £1 billion Padding Village Scheme in the city’s buzzing Knowledge Quarter.
While most Americans fly into London, new flight routes along with a multi-million cultural investment gives visitors even more reasons to try Manchester as part of their trip.
In 2022, Manchester Museum adds a South Asia Gallery and a new China Gallery, the opening of Mayfield Park, the city’s first new park in over 100 years; and the long-awaited reopening of Band on the Wall.
There’s even a brand new neighborhood to explore, St. John’s, which brings world-class hotels, intimate streets and lively courtyards, and the soon-to-open Factory, which is billed as North England’s new flagship cultural venue.
Don’t forget, Manchester also serves as a great Gateway to the North, allowing visitors to venture out to Liverpool, the picturesque Lake District, North York Moors National Park, which celebrating its 70th anniversary all year, or even join in on the countless performances and activities planned throughout the year to mark 1900 years of Hadrian’s Wall.
Manchester is also where local businessmen Charles Rolls and Henry Royce met in 1904, and agreed to start building and selling motor cars together.
Hit the Coast (All 2,795 Miles of It)
The England Coast Path is closer than ever to being connected in full, making it the longest continuous walking path in the world.
This year, choose a coastal getaway in Southern England to get a taste of history, heritage, beautiful beaches, lively LGBTQ scenes and more. Bonus points for unique seaside accommodations like pubs, cottages or cliffside boutique hotels.
In Kent, travelers can embrace beautiful beaches and bays, indulge in fresh oysters and even stray off course for a taste of England’s best wineries. Brighton, Cornwall and Bristol are just a few of other favorite spots for a summer getaway in England, each with its own adventure trail along the coast.
Britain Gets Unboxed
Unboxed 2022 is a series of 10 large-scale projects taking place across the U.K. and on digital platforms, each seeking to bring people together while celebrating the U.K.’s creativity and innovation. Brought together by some of the brightest minds in science, arts, culture and technology, project highlights include:
About Us, which will combine multimedia installations and live shows in Caernarfon, Derry-Londonderry, Hull, Luton and Paisley to explore human connections with the universe;
Green Space Dark Skies, which will celebrate Britain’s natural landscapes while raising awareness of how to protect them;
Our Place in Space, which will provide a new perspective of the world using a vast scale-model of the solar system, spread over a 10 kilometers sculpture trail in Belfast, Derry-Londonderry and Cambridge;
See Monster, which will breathe new life into a former North Sea offshore platform as part of a regeneration and sustainability project on the coast at Weston-Super-Mare and many more.
See Britain Sustainably
Ever since the U.K. hosted this year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the country’s commitment to climate action came into focus on the global stage.
More travelers and tourism businesses are considering their environmental and social impact, and Britain offers a wide range of attractions for visitors looking to travel more sustainably.
From eco-friendly accommodation to dark sky reserves, locally sourced and vegan-friendly cuisine to epic train journeys and cycling routes, there are ample choices for a responsible stay in Britain any time of year.
Choose to travel by train in 2022 and book a trip on Lumo, a brand-new train service traveling the east coast of the U.K., connecting Edinburgh and London, which will provide affordable and low-carbon travel. Lumo will initially offer fares for as little as £14.90 to encourage more environmentally friendly travel between the two capitals, and 60 percent of all single fares will cost £30 or less.
Where to Go Next: Scotland
Following a multimillion-pound refurbishment, The Burrell Collection, one of the world’s greatest personal collections, is set to reopen in March 2022 in Glasgow. With new gallery spaces and a focus on low carbon design, the collection, set against the beautiful backdrop of Glasgow’s largest green space, Pollok Country Park, displays objects from Europe and Asia representing five millennia of art and history.
My favorite place to hang out in Glasgow is The Pot Still Pub, reputed to have the world’s largest selection of whiskies – more than 800 single malts and blends – plus cask ales and beers, and traditional pub food and friendly service.
Visit Scotland’s Distilleries
Take your whisky to new heights this year at Port of Leith Distillery, opening summer 2022.This will be Scotland’s first vertical distillery offering panoramic views from the top floor double height whisky bar.
After a long day of hiking, head to the Cairn Distillery overlooking the Cairngorm mountains, which will open an immersive visitor experience this spring.
If visitors are checking out St. Andrews, don’t miss Edin Mill, set to become one of Scotland’s first ever carbon-neutral single malt whisky distilleries, which welcomes travelers to its new visitor center in Guardbridge.
There’s also The Whisky Trail, between Glasgow and Inverness, dotted with distilleries. Just don’t drink and drive.
Go UNESCO Hopping Across Scotland
Recently launched, Scotland is home to the world’s first ever UNESCO trail, connecting 13 different UNESCO destinations, reaching from the biosphere in the south of Scotland to the island of St. Kilda in the west, the North West Highlands Geopark, and the creative cities in the east, with much more in between.
Speaking of UNESCO, Perth has become the first city in the U.K. to be awarded status as a UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Arts, and will join the trail in 2023.
Scotland’s Newest Hotels
After a busy day exploring Scotland’s cities, hiking the Highlands, sampling some whisky or relaxing on a loch, there are plenty of new hotels and accommodations opening where visitors can rest.
In Edinburgh, the Gleneagles Townhouse will bring countryside flair to the city (opening this spring), the W Hotel in the revamped St James Quarter offers panoramic views (opening this winter), and at 100 Princes Street, the new hotel from Red Carnation, where you can enjoy excellent service alongside unrivalled views of Edinburgh Castle (opening this summer).
In Glasgow, the boutique hotel House of Gods has opulent rooms paired with a decadent cocktail bar (opening this spring), and in Portree on the Isle of Skye, stop at the Bracken Hide Hotel, a one-of-a-kind pod hotel and Finnish sauna retreat with a beautifully designed restaurant, whisky room and large glass windows to blend into nature (opening this spring).
Festivals & Events Return
Home to 11 world-class festivals, Edinburgh is renowned as the world’s leading festival city, attracting an audience of more than 4.5 million every year.
In 2022, the capital comes alive with shows and events for all ages, and next year marks the 75th anniversary of the Edinburgh International Festival (August), the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (August) and the Edinburgh International Film Festival (TBC).
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (August) returns for the first time since 2019 to its iconic home on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, and the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews will be held in July back home in Scotland where golf began.
Where to Go Next: Wales
Take a Hike
Wales Coast Path celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2022.
From sunset picnics on the Gower Peninsula and foraging along the shores of Pembrokeshire to stargazing in Snowdonia’s international Dark Sky reserve, the 870-mile path along the entire coast of Wales offers hundreds of unique outdoor experiences for visitors looking for breathtaking views or a taste of adventure in this unique corner of Britain.
Get Up to Speed
Experience the sheer exhilaration of racing and explore the brand new Sands of Speed Museum set to open in spring 2022 in Wales. The museum sits on Pendine Beach, home to many land speed records over the past 100 years thanks to its long flat surface that makes it an impressive racetrack. Visitors also can also get the adrenaline going with a visit to the recently opened Zip World Tower.
Fly over the Welsh countryside on Phoenix, the world’s fastest seated zipline, or take a spin on Europe’s first and only Tower Coaster.
A Warm Welsh Welcome
Visitors can make themselves at home and extend their stay at one of Wales’ newest hotels.
The Albion, from the creative and sustainability minded team at Fforest, opens in Cardigan this spring, offering contemporary comfort and style while celebrating the town’s maritime history along the River Teifi.
Enjoy a more cosmopolitan luxury experience at the recently opened Parkgate Hotel in Cardiff, or head north to discover the mountains, valleys and rich heritage of Snowdonia from Plas Weunydd, an award-winning 24-bedroom luxury boutique that opened last year in the heart of North Wales.