18 Day Grand Tour of Britain & Ireland – Cosmos
Cosmos Coach Tour starting in London and finishing in London
Experience the best of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales on this in-depth exploration tour of the British Isles. Begin your vacation in London with a full day to enjoy the city on your own or to take optional tours, then visit enigmatic Stonehenge with its new visitor center and imaginative exhibitions. Drive through Dartmoor National Park, setting for The Hound of the Baskervilles, and visit Widecombe-in-the-Moor, before arriving in Plymouth, starting point for the Pilgrims’ 1620 voyage. Hear about legendary King Arthur in Glastonbury and explore elegant Georgian Bath, famous for its Roman ruins. Leave England, cross into Wales, and arrive in the capital city Cardiff for an orientation drive. Ferry across St. George’s Channel to Ireland, stopping in Blarney, famous for the legendary Stone of Eloquence, and in the popular resort of Killarney. Along the scenic Ring of Kerry coastal route, see sparkling seascapes, mountains dotted with brightly colored farmhouses, and the spectacular Lakes of Killarney. Savor more splendid views from the shores of the Dingle Peninsula, and in Adare, take photographs of the lovely thatched cottages. Spend the night in the market town of Ennis before heading west to the spectacular 668-foot Cliffs of Moher. Travel via Galway to Dublin, Ireland’s capital, where you’ll see all the major sights. Cross the Irish Sea to Holyhead on the Welsh Isle of Anglesey, then motor to 2,000-year-old Chester in England. Head north through the Lake District, and cross the border into Scotland. Spend the night in Glasgow before traveling into the Highlands. Follow the banks of mysterious Loch Ness on the way to Inverness. Cross Culloden Moor and stop at St. Andrews, the home of golf, founded in 1754. Spend two nights in regal Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, and visit mighty Edinburgh Castle on your guided tour. Continue south to see a section of Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman coast-to-coast defense against marauding northern tribes. Stop in York, England’s most complete medieval city; enjoy time in Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon; and drive through the scenic Cotswolds on your way back to London for the finale of your unforgettable vacation.
Day By Day
Day 1 Arrive In London, England
Uniformed hosts are available to help you make the most of your stay.
Day 2 London
What’s your pleasure? Today is devoted to exploring on your own or enjoying our exciting program of optional activities. You may choose to join a Local Guide for an optional morning sightseeing tour of the city’s famous landmarks: the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Whitehall’s mounted horseguards and the Prime Minister’s Downing Street, Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace and the ceremonial pageantry of the Changing of the Guard (if held). Later on, maybe visit Windsor Castle or the Tower of London with its spectacular Crown Jewels, and tonight, a leisurely cruise on the Thames River would be fun! (B)
Day 3 London – Stonehenge – Widecombe – Plymouth
Meet your Tour Director and travelling companions and depart at 8 am for the West Country. Cross the chalky terrain of Wiltshire and visit STONEHENGE, one of England’s most intriguing mysteries. Explore the stunning visitor centre with its imaginative exhibitions, then admire the magnificence of the monument from up close. In the heart of Dartmoor National Park, ghostly setting for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, visit quaint Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Later, in Plymouth, hear about Sir Francis Drake and see the Mayflower Steps, where the Pilgrim Fathers embarked in 1620. (B/D)
Day 4 Plymouth – Glastonbury – Bath – Cardiff, Wales
Via Glastonbury and its associations with King Arthur to the elegant city of Bath, famed for its amazing Roman relics and Georgian buildings. Cross the spectacular Severn Bridge into Wales and head for the capital, Cardiff. Here, an orientation drive introduces you to all the major attractions: Cardiff Castle, Cathays Park, Millennium Stadium, and the stately civic buildings. A suggestion for tonight: why not join an evening of Welsh entertainment and dinner? (B)
Day 5 Cardiff – Tenby – Tramore, Ireland
Vistas of rich dairy farmland this morning on the way to the pretty seaside resort of Tenby. Then, on to Pembroke, departure point for the FERRY across St. George’s Channel to Ireland. Arrive at Rosslare in just under four hours. (B/D)
Day 6 Tramore – Blarney – Killarney
Today, discover why Ireland is called the “Emerald Isle.” Drive along the southern coast, passing Cork, the country’s second-largest city. Stop in Blarney, famous for its Stone of Eloquence. Time to see the castle and shop for Irish crafts and handmade crystal. After lunch, continue to the popular resort of Killarney. Tonight, enjoy the optional outing to Tralee for dinner and a performance at Siamsa Tire, Ireland’s National Folk Theatre. (B)
Day 7 Killarney. Ring Of Kerry Excursion
At Killorglin, join the road known as the RING OF KERRY for a 160-kilomtre (100-mile) coastal panoramic drive: sparkling seascapes, mountains dotted with brightly coloured farmhouses, winding lanes bordered with subtropical vegetation, and spectacular views of the Lakes of Killarney from Ladies View. Back in Killarney, a special optional adventure: take a horse-drawn jaunting car along the national park lakeshore for pictures of Ross Castle. (B)
Day 8 Killarney – Dingle Peninsula – Adare – Ennis
Breathtaking scenery this morning on the Dingle Peninsula, where the 51-kilometre (32-mile) Slea Head drive affords magnificent vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. See the Blasket Islands and hear about the way of life and unique literary achievements of its inhabitants prior to their evacuation in 1953. Then, travel via Adare, a village known for its prize-winning thatched cottages, to Ennis. Tonight, consider joining an optional banquet at Knappogue Castle. (B)
Day 9 Ennis – Cliffs Of Moher – Galway – Dublin
A scenic route this morning via the CLIFFS OF MOHER and The Burren on the way to the port city of Galway, a popular seaside destination and a buzzing cosmopolitan centre with colourful shops and a busy cafe and bar culture. Continue across the mighty Shannon before arrival in Dublin. The optional dinner suggestion is a fun Irish cabaret evening with dance, song, and laughter. (B)
Day 10 Dublin
A day in the “Fair City” starts with an orientation drive through Eire’s capital, including statue-lined O’Connell Street, elegant Georgian squares, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The rest of the day is at leisure. Why not join an optional dinner at the Guinness Storehouse? (B)
Day 11 Dublin – Chester, England – Liverpool
Take the FERRY across the Irish Sea to Holyhead on the Welsh Isle of Anglesey with its tongue-twisting place names. Follow the North Wales coast to Chester, the ancient county town on the Dee River. See the Roman remains, black and white half-timbered buildings, and the two-tiered arcades called the “Rows.” Overnight in Liverpool, of Beatles fame and once the departure port of the great transatlantic liners. (B)
Day 12 Liverpool – Lake District – Gretna Green, Scotland – Glasgow
Drive into the tranquil Lake District, often considered to be the finest of England’s national parks. Visit Grasmere, home of poet William Wordsworth, and over the border for a visit to Gretna Green, where the blacksmith used to wed runaway couples. Travel through the history-steeped Lowland Hills to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. (B/D)
Day 13 Glasgow – Fort William – Inverness – Culloden Moor – Grantownon – On – Spey
Along the “Bonnie Banks” of Loch Lomond and through wild Rannoch Moor into the Highlands. Via Glen Coe, where the MacDonald Clan was massacred in 1692, to Fort William beneath Ben Nevis. Then, the Great Glen for vistas of the Caledonian Canal, Loch Lochy, and Loch Oich. Follow the banks of Loch Ness, home of the timid and timeless Nessie. Continue via Inverness, the Highland capital, and on the way to tonight’s destination, stop at the battlefield of Culloden Moor with its memories of Bonnie Prince Charlie. (B/D)
Day 14 Grantown-On-Spey – Pitlochry – Perth – Dundee – St. Andrews – Edinburgh
Drive through more spectacular Highland scenery for a stop in the pretty Victorian mountain resort of Pitlochry. The routing then takes in Perth and Dundee before crossing the Tay Bridge to St. Andrews, whose Royal and Ancient Golf Club, founded in 1754, has given us the rules of golfing. Continue through Fife and over the mighty Forth Road Bridge to spend the next two nights in Edinburgh. A suggestion for this evening: enjoy a traditional Scottish night out with Highland dancers, bagpipers, and, of course, the Ceremony of the Haggis. (B)
Day 15 Edinburgh
A full day to enjoy the Scottish capital. Morning sightseeing with a Local Guide introduces you to the 200-year-old “New Town” and famous scientists, inventors, and novelists. In the “Old Town,” drive up the narrow Royal Mile to EDINBURGH CASTLE to admire Scotland’s Crown Jewels. Afternoon at leisure. Later, a unique optional experience: board the former Royal Yacht Britannia, which was once the perfect royal residence for glittering state visits and family holidays. Tour five decks and see how the Royal Family and crew of 240 lived and worked on board. Dinner rounds off this optional evening. For departure numbers 0723 through 0813, tickets are included for tonight’s performance of the world renowned MILITARY TATTOO. (B)
Day 16 Edinburgh – Jedburgh – York, England – Sheffield
At Jedburgh, glimpse the house of Mary, Queen of Scots, and see the abbey ruins before heading towards the Cheviot Hills and the English border, then through wild Northumberland National Park. On the way, see a section of Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman coast-to-coast defence against marauding northern tribes. In York, England’s most complete medieval city, stand in awe in front of the great structure of York Minster, then follow your Tour Director through a maze of quaint streets, including the narrow Shambles. Overnight in Sheffield. (B/D)
Day 17 Sheffield – Stratford-Upon-Avon – London
In Shakespeare’s Stratford upon- Avon, take photos of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and explore the town at your own pace. After returning to London around 4 pm, how about celebrating the success of your tour with an optional night out on the town? (B)
Day 18 London
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)
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- INSIDE VISITS AND SPECIAL FEATURES: Shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description including admission charges where applicable.
- SIGHTSEEING: Visits to Stonehenge, Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Plymouth, Glastonbury, Bath, Tenby, Blarney, Killarney, Adare, Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Liverpool, Grasmere, Gretna Green, Glasgow, Fort William, Culloden Moor, Pitlochry, St. Andrews, Edinburgh Castle, tickets for Edinburgh Military Tattoo (departure numbers 0723 through 0813), Jedburgh, Hadrian’s Wall, Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon; orientation drives in Cardiff, Dublin; walking tours in Chester, York.
- SCENIC HIGHLIGHTS: Salisbury Plain, Dartmoor National Park, Ring of Kerry and Lakes of Killarney, Dingle Peninsula, The Burren, Lake District, Scottish Lowlands and Highlands, Loch Lomond, Northumberland National Park, Cotswold Hills.
- GUIDES: Local Guide for city sightseeing in Edinburgh; Host service in London. Professional Tour Director while touring.
- TRANSPORTATION: Private first-class air-conditioned motorcoach; roundtrip Irish Sea crossings by day ferry.
- HOTELS: Rooms with private bath or shower, hotel taxes, porterage, tips,and service charges.
- MEALS: Full English breakfast (B); 5 three-course dinners (D) with choice of menus.
- 17 Breakfasts
- 5 Dinners
- Hotel Classifications: Superior First Class (SF), First Class (F), Moderate First Class (MF), Superior Tourist (ST), Deluxe (D), Moderate Deluxe (MD), Best Available (BA), National Park (NP)
- London Novotel London West (F), Plymouth Jury’s Inn (F), Cardiff Park Inn (F), Tramore Majestic (ST), Killarney Killarney Court (F), Ennis Auburn Lodge (ST), Dublin Jurys Inn Custom House (F), Liverpool Holiday Inn Liverpool City Centre (F), Glasgow Pond (F), Grantown-On-Spey Craiglynne (F), Edinburgh Novotel Edinburgh Park (F), Sheffield Jurys Inn (F)
- Accommodation, itinerary and inclusions subject to change.
- Prices are for land/cruise only. Flights not included.