Touring by coach – The choice is endless

Touring by coach – the choice is endless

No decisions, no bag handling, no hunting around for somewhere to eat. No speed cameras or looking for somewhere to park. Best of all no driving or filling up the car with £70 of fuel.

Just some of the reasons for going on an escorted coach tour to enjoy and discover some of the UK’s and Europe’s most notable landmarks and attractions, without the hassle of organising travel bookings and visits yourself.

Coaches used to be associated with day’s out at the seaside and school trips but today holiday companies provide a huge choice of tours. At home destinations that are difficult to book for individual travellers, such as the Scilly Isles and the Orkneys, have become popular with coach travellers, as have many of the regions featured on Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys.

Going by coach is the best way to see dramatic scenery, rolling countryside and coastal vistas, whether it’s the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales, the wild west of Ireland or the Scottish Highlands. The great vantage point above the hedgerows and other traffic gives the best view of the passing landscape.

On the Continent escorted tours by coach are for many people still the best way to visit long-standing favourites such as Provence, the Black Forest, the Austrian Tyrol and the Italian Lakes. But today many tours go further – the Norwegian Fjords, Poland, Seville and Alhambra and even as far as Croatia and Montenegro.

Echoing the popularity of cruise holidays, many coach companies now also arrange river cruises on the Rhine and other European waterways. On the Continent, World War I and World War II Battlefield tours, led by experts on the major conflicts, are if anything more popular than ever. There are arts and cultural tours, wine and champagne tasting in France, spa weekends, walking and dancing breaks.

In the UK coach operators have helped drive the resurgence in London theatre trips and concerts while tours to speciality events such as historic festivals and garden shows continue to be a huge draw. New shows opening in London this year such as the Wizard of Oz, Betty Blue Eyes and Million Dollar Quartet are already booking in huge numbers while the locations of popular TV shows filmed in Yorkshire and elsewhere – such as Downton Abbey – are drawing thousands of people on coach tours.

Major sport events can best be reached by coach too. Travel and tickets to see the Grand National, Derby, Royal Ascot and Prix de L’Arc horse races are offered by dozens of operators from across the country. Motor race enthusiasts can travel in comfort to European Grand Prix races such as Silverstone, Monte Carlo and the Belgium, Spanish, German and Italian races.

And while coach companies concentrate on taking their customers on tours overland many of those listed in this Handbook also offer flight connected escorted tour packages. Choices include Jordan, Petra and the Red Sea, The Grand Canyon and Colorado, Russian river cruises, the Great Wall of China, the Gardens of South Africa and watching polar bears in Canada.

On the road the days of the seaside charabanc are long gone. New coaches now cost upwards of £250,000 and feature reclining seats, air conditioning, double glazed windows and on board facilities while on many coaches there are Club Class seats with extra legroom. Premiership football clubs demand only the best in comfort and now travel to matches on coaches run by CTC operators.

Coach tours are not just affordable but offer great value for money too.

Supplied by courtesy of Paul Ovington Coach Tourism Council