2015 Best of Britain 9 Days / 8 Nights
Your vacation starts at your Windsor hotel at 2:30 pm when you meet your tour director. Close to your hotel, visit Windsor Castle, residence of The Queen and the largest inhabited castle in the world. See the lavishly decorated State Apartments and courtyards. In the evening meet your tour director and trip participants over a welcome drink to discuss your itinerary before dining in your hotel. After dinner take a brief walk around this compact and historic town with a local guide.
Head out into the English countryside today and travel through the delightful Cotswolds. This region developed and had a thriving economy during the Middle Ages when the wool produced was vital to the economy. Most of the villages date back centuries and are built in the local warm-toned stone. Stop in one of the villages for a look around and take photos before driving to Stratford-upon-Avon. In the center of this attractive town, visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace to see an exhibition about his life and work. Then enter the house where he was born to see rooms furnished as they would have been in his day. Drive north to Yorkshire and check in to your charming traditional hotel in central Harrogate, a spa town famous for colorful floral displays.
Drive to nearby York for a walking tour through medieval streets to see black and white half-timbered houses. Stroll along the Shambles, one of the city’s narrowest alleyways where the overhanging upper floors almost form an arch across the street. Tour the stately York Minster, which towers over the old city. It is built in Gothic style and is renowned for magnificent medieval stained glass windows. Travel north through the Northumberland National Park and pause in Jedburgh to view its picturesque abbey ruins. Continue through the hilly countryside of the Scottish Borders to Edinburgh where your hotel is set in spacious grounds a few miles outside the city. Enjoy a lively Scottish Evening with dinner and entertainment right in your hotel.
Explore central Edinburgh this morning, starting in the 200-year-old “New Town” with its planned streets and elegant Georgian houses where many famous writers and inventors lived. View Princes Street, the city’s premier shopping street. See the Royal Mile where the medieval houses are clustered closely together with some as high as 11 floors. Tour the massive Edinburgh Castle to see the Crown Jewels of Scotland and the Stone of Destiny and enjoy great panoramic views from the ramparts. The afternoon is free for independent activities. You may like to visit some of the many museums or browse in the little shops along the Royal Mile. On August 9 to 23 departures watch the spectacular Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the Castle Esplanade.
Stop in Gretna Green, the first village across the border from England where eloping couples used to cross into Scotland to be married at the Old Blacksmith’s Shop. While it still holds many weddings, today it is a popular shopping stop for quality Scottish goods. Drive through the Lake District, a region associated with Beatrix Potter who worked tirelessly for its preservation. See stunning views of lakes, gentle hills and valleys. Stop in the peaceful village of Grasmere where William Wordsworth penned some of his popular lines and you can see his grave in the village churchyard. Continue to Liverpool to visit The Beatles Story where you can hear their music and learn about their lives and work. Check in to your centrally-located hotel and after dinner you may head to the world-famous Cavern Club.
Drive south through Shropshire, close to the Welsh border and one of the most unspoiled parts of rural England with gentle hills and picturesque farms. Stop in Ludlow, a town that can trace its origins back 900 years, to see the huge castle and quaint old black-and-white houses. Continue south through the lovely Welsh countryside to visit the picturesque ruins of Tintern Abbey, founded in 1131. It was a prosperous Cistercian abbey which thrived until it was dissolved in 1536 by order of King Henry VIII. In the 18th century it became a popular haunt of the poet, William Wordsworth. Continue to Cardiff, the youngest and fastest-growing capital city in Europe and check in to your hotel. Enjoy a Welsh Evening to get a real flavor of Welsh culture with a special dinner and entertainment.
Take a panoramic tour around the highlights of Cardiff including the older buildings as well as the iconic Wales Millennium Centre. A short drive will bring you to the spa city of Bath, popular for its natural hot springs with the Romans 2,000 years ago and again in the 18th century Regency period. Visit the Roman Baths and Pump Room, wonderfully preserved after two millennia, with hot springs still sending out healing waters. At Salisbury Plain marvel at the prehistoric circle of vast monoliths of Stonehenge and learn about the primitive builders who managed to create such an enduring monument. A short drive will bring you into London and check in to your hotel. The evening is free for independent activities.
This morning take a panoramic tour of central London to see famous landmarks including Piccadilly Circus with its statue of Eros, Nelson’s Column flanked by huge lions in Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Visit the mighty Tower of London to see the many fortresses, Beefeaters, ravens and the priceless Crown Jewels. The afternoon is free for further exploring and there is no shortage of great things to see and do. In the evening you are free for dinner.
Your tour ends after breakfast.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner