SCOTTISH & IRISH GOLD 16 DAYS / 15 NIGHTS
Tour begins at 2:30 PM at your Glasgow hotel. Set out on a tour of central Glasgow’s highlights including red sandstone Victorian buildings, delightful parks, Glasgow Cathedral, and the River Clyde, once famous for shipbuilding. Visit extensive and varied art collections in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Chat with your tour director and fellow travelers over a welcome drink.
Embark on a short cruise of Loch Lomond to appreciate the beauty of this famous loch and admire panoramic views. Browse around the town of Inveraray before taking a guided tour of Inveraray Castle, featured in the “Downton Abbey” series. Journey across Rannoch Moor and through Glencoe, often considered one of Scotland’s most spectacular and beautiful places. Continue to Ballachulish on the shore of Loch Leven.
Take the “Road to the Isles” through some of Scotland’s loveliest scenery, stopping for photos at the Glenfinnan Monument. Enjoy a panoramic tour of the Isle of Skye and Visit the picturesque Eilean Donan Castle. Keep your camera handy as you travel the shores of Loch Ness on your way to Nairn.
A short distance from Nairn is the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre where the British Government forces defeated the army of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, popularly named Bonnie Prince Charlie. Walk around the moorland and the visitor center. Continue through majestic Highland scenery to a local farm for a demonstration of trained dogs herding sheep. Travel through the high peaks of the Grampian Mountains to your gracious manor-style hotel near Pitlochry.
Visit Blair Castle, home of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl. Delve into the history of Mary, Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and how Queen Victoria's famous stay led to the creation of Europe's only private army, the Atholl Highlanders. Go behind the scenes at Blair Athol Distillery for a tour and sample of the finished product. Spend the afternoon at leisure exploring the gardens, hotel museum, or browsing around Pitlochry.
Travel through lush countryside to visit Glamis Castle, the legendary setting of “Macbeth” and childhood home of the late Queen Mother. This majestic building is filled with priceless artifacts and furnishings. Head to St Andrews, the “Home of Golf,” to see the famous Royal and Ancient Clubhouse and the Old Course. Enjoy free time to browse through the medieval town. In Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, enjoy a traditional Scottish evening with dinner, haggis, bagpipes, kilts, and Highland dancing.
Explore Edinburgh to compare and contrast the wide streets and elegant mansions of the Georgian 200-year-old “New Town” with the narrow lanes and medieval townhouses along the Royal Mile, the oldest part of the city. Tour the imposing Edinburgh Castle with its splendid views of Edinburgh. The rest of the day is free for independent exploring, shopping, and dining. On July 28 to August 18 departures enjoy the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at the Castle Esplanade.
Embark on a ferry ride to Belfast and enjoy lunch on board. Immerse yourself in the history of the Titanic through state-of-the-art displays at Titanic Belfast. Tonight in Dun Laoghaire, check out some of the local pubs or restaurants for independent dining.
Journey across the rolling pastures of Ireland’s heartland to visit Clonmacnoise. This monastic settlement was founded in 545 AD and is set on the banks of the mighty River Shannon. See elaborate high Celtic crosses decorated with biblical scenes. Head to Galway for a guided walking tour through the city center. Enjoy free time to explore Galway on your own before dinner.
Explore scenic Connemara to admire how constantly-changing cloud formations give granite hills, sparkling lakes and peat bogs an added dimension. Head to Kylemore Abbey to see elegant rooms and the charming church set beside a tranquil lake. Visit the Victorian Walled Gardens and enjoy a casual lunch. Take a short catamaran cruise of Killary Harbour, a 9-mile fjord (Mar 18 – Oct 28 departures). Return to Galway where the evening is free to explore the city.
Travel south around Galway Bay and through the Burren, a region of rounded limestone hills which has a curious lunar-like appearance. Immerse yourself in farm life and watch trained sheepdogs obey their owner as they direct sheep through various obstacles. View the Cliffs of Moher, which rise almost 700 feet above the pounding Atlantic surf. Embark on a memorable ferry across the River Shannon Estuary and head to Killarney. Head out for a traditional Irish night featuring a lively show with dinner.
Take a traditional horse-drawn jaunting car through the Killarney National Park to scenic Ross Castle, set on the shores of Lough Leane. Head to Muckross House for a guided tour and a stroll through the gardens. Set out on Ireland’s most popular scenic drive -- the Ring of Kerry -- with plenty of stops for photo opportunities. Savor a light lunch and take a break in the colorful village of Sneem. Cross to Valentia Island by bridge and tour the Skellig Experience, which explains the life of early Christian monks on Skellig Michael, a rocky offshore island that was featured in the “Star Wars VII” movie. Return to Killarney for an evening on your own.
Drive through the mountains into rich farming country on the way to Blarney Castle. Kiss the famous “Stone of Eloquence” or explore the tranquil gardens. Treat yourself to quality Irish-made goods at Blarney Woollen Mills before travelling along the coast to the Marine Bar in Dungarvan for some traditional music. Continue to Waterford to witness the creation of crystal masterpieces during your visit to the House of Waterford Crystal.
In the morning join a local guide for a walking tour through the narrow streets of the old city to discover Waterford’s long history and some of its colorful characters. Later, stop in Kilkenny for a look around the compact city center and have lunch on your own. Partake of the Smithwick’s Experience and enjoy a tasting paddle of their famous ales. Travel to Dublin and in the evening head to the popular O’Connell’s Restaurant for a glass of wine and dinner.
Your tour ends after breakfast.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner
All components of this tour (hotels, visits and attractions) for 2019 itineraries are subject to change until finalized in September 2018.