2014 The Scots Irish Tour 11 Days/10 Nights
Your Scottish trip starts at 2:00 pm when you meet your tour director at your Edinburgh hotel and drive to Leith for a tour around the Royal Yacht Britannia, the floating home of The Queen on many of her travels around the world. See the various parts of the ship, including staterooms and public spaces, together with photos of important visits. Return to your hotel for a welcome drink and you are free for independent dining this evening.
This morning tour Edinburgh to compare and contrast the wide streets and elegant mansions of the Georgian 200-year-old “New Town” and Princes Street with the medieval Royal Mile. Walk along part of the Royal Mile to view narrow lanes and townhouses, some of which are 11 stories tall. Visit Edinburgh Castle, which contains the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Scone. The balance of the day is free. Dine at a Scottish Evening and enjoy a lively show with songs, stories and traditional dancing. On August 9 to 25 departures attend the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle.
Travel north to Pitlochry to visit Blair Athol Distillery to see how whisky is made and enjoy a “wee dram.” Continue through majestic Highland scenery to Leault Farm where dogs herd sheep through various obstacles. Drive to your hotel in either Inverness, the principal town in the Highlands, (Sunday departures) or Nairn, in a rural location near the North Sea (Tuesday departures).
Drive alongside Loch Ness and enjoy views of this deep lake, famous for tales of the monster. Continue through wild Highland scenery, pausing for photos at the picturesque Eilean Donan Castle and cross to the Isle of Skye by bridge. Drive through part of the island and visit the Clan Donald Centre at Armadale Castle to discover the history of the powerful Lords of the Isles. Return to the mainland by ferry and take the “Road to the Isles” through some of Scotland’s most popular scenery, stopping for photos at the Glenfinnan Monument.
This morning enjoy final views of the magnificent Highlands as you drive south through the awesome peaks of Glen Coe and alongside the lovely shores of Loch Lomond. Stop briefly in Alloway to visit the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide as a pioneer of the Romantic movement. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language. Travel along the coast to Cairnryan for a short ferry ride to Belfast.
This morning a Belfast guide will show you Victorian buildings, the imposing City Hall in Donegall Square and the shipyards where RMS Titanic was built in 1912. Visit Titanic Belfast to learn about this famous liner through state-of-the-art displays and take a walking tour around part of central Belfast. Sample lunch before heading to the Ulster Folk Park to find out about country life and old-style farming. The evening is free to dine on your own.
Drive along the scenic route of the Nine Glens of Antrim, for views of mountains, valleys and coastline. Stop at the Giant’s Causeway, enormous hexagonal columns formed by volcanic activity 60 million years ago which have spawned legends about the mythical giant, Finn McCool. In Derry join a local guide for a short walking tour around the defensive walls of the compact city before driving to Letterkenny.
Travel to Donegal town for a tour of Donegal Castle, built by the O’Donnell chieftain in the 15th century. The castle is located in the central square of the town and it was expanded in the 17th century. Today it is furnished throughout in period style and a guided tour will fill you in on the history of the region. Pause at Drumcliffe Churchyard to view the grave of W. B. Yeats, the Nobel Prize-winning poet, who based many poems on the delightful countryside around Sligo. Continue through County Mayo to the pilgrimage town of Knock, one of the world’s leading shrines. See the church where villagers saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in 1879. Continue your journey south to Galway.
Start your day with a walking tour through the narrow and historic streets of Galway with a local guide. Drive through the picturesque scenery of Connemara to visit Kylemore Abbey, a stately 19th century mansion owned by an order of Irish Benedictine nuns. Walk through the lovely furnished salons of the main house and take a stroll along the lake shore. Sample a casual lunch before returning to Galway where the evening is free.
Stop at Rathbaun Farm to see traditional farm animals as well as a sheepdog display and sample some home baking with tea or coffee. Drive through the Burren to view the Cliffs of Moher, a dramatic wall of rock that plunges to the Atlantic Ocean. Check in to your hotel in Ennis and in the evening head to 15th century Bunratty Castle for a fun medieval-style banquet.
Your tour ends after breakfast.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner