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13 Day Britain & Ireland Explorer – Insight Vacations

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    Insight Vacations Guided Tour starting in London and finishing in London

    The unhurried pace and beauty of the Irish countryside is blended with historic English towns and the austere Scottish Highlands for a truly memorable tour. A comprehensive and well paced tour where the longer touring days, moderated by the two separate Irish Sea ferry crossings and the east coast train from Peterborough to York. Accommodation on this tour varies from modern and conveniently located hotels like the Hotel 53 in York and the new Radisson Blu in central Cardiff, to the beautifully located Windermere Hydro in the Lake District.

    Day By Day

    Day 1 From London To Stratford And On To Medieval York.

    Drive to Stratford, beautifully situated on the River Avon. Visit the birthplace of William Shakespeare, full of interesting memorabilia and artefacts relating to his life. Continue on to York where you walk within the old city walls to the crooked houses of the Shambles and see York Minster, England’s largest medieval cathedral. Tonight, your Tour Director hosts a friendly Welcome Reception with drinks and a uniquely Yorkshire dinner. During the evening, the heritage and ancient art of the humble Yorkshire Pudding is revealed before your eyes! (WR/D) Stay: Marriott York

    Day 2 Across The Tweed To Edinburgh

    This morning, head to the Scottish borders, stopping at Selkirk to visit a Kilt and Tartan Mill. Enjoy a fascinating behind the scenes look at the highly skilled work that goes into making the famous Lochcarron fabrics. Now cross the salmon-rich river Tweed, to reach the elegant Scottish capital, Edinburgh. (FB) Stay: Crowne Plaza Edinburgh Royal Terrace

    Day 3 Edinburgh, Athens Of The North

    After a restful night’s sleep, walk with your local expert inside Edinburgh Castle for spectacular views of the town. Continue down the Royal Mile to the Queen’s Holyroodhouse Palace before crossing over to the ‘New Town’. The afternoon is free to shop on Princes Street. Tonight, selected departures enjoy the Military Tattoo – a colourful mixture of historic battles and military manoeuvres with pipes and drums. (FB) Stay: Crowne Plaza Edinburgh Royal Terrace

    Day 4 To St. Andrews And On To The Highland Capital Of Inverness

    Cross the Firth of Forth into Fife and make your way to St. Andrews, where golf was born on the Old Course in the 15th century. After some time to explore, cross the Tay and drive to the charming Victorian resort town of Pitlochry, famous for its salmon leap. Continue via Blair Atholl and over the Grampian Mountains to the sparkling Spey Valley. The Scottish Border Collie is world renowned for its herding abilities. Visit a working Highland farm for a personal insight into the daily life of a shepherd and his dogs. Continue to stately Inverness, where your hotel is in the heart of town with enviable views over the River Ness and up to Inverness Castle. (BB/D) Stay: The Columba, Inverness

    Day 5 Along The Shores Of Loch Ness, Loch Lomond To The English Lake District

    Keep your eyes peeled for the monster as you drive along the shores of Loch Ness. Mountains and glens greet you as you continue through Glencoe, where the massacre of the MacDonalds took place in 1692. Enjoy a drive along the ‘bonnie banks of Loch Lomond’ before crossing the English border to arrive at your lakeside hotel nestled in the beautiful Lake District. (BB/Three-course or generous buffet-style Dinner with menu choices) Stay: Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa, Bowness-on-Windermere

    Day 6 Drive Through The English Lakes To Chester

    Enjoy the beauty of the Lake District this morning; its fells, lakes and valleys combining to make it one of England’s best loved regions. Perhaps take a cruise on the tranquil waters of Lake Windermere? Visit the village of Grasmere, where the poet William Wordsworth is buried, before continuing to Chester. (BB/D) Stay: Best Western Premier Queen, Chester

    Day 7 Explore Chester, Through North Wales And Over To Dublin

    Step back into Roman times in Chester. See the city’s ancient encircling walls and remarkable 13C black and white ‘Rows’. Continue into Wales, past the massive Conwy Castle before crossing over to the Isle of Anglesey. The village with the longest name in Europe is coming up now – see if your Tour Director can recite it for you! From the port of Holyhead, set sail for Dublin in Ireland. (FB) Stay: Ballsbridge Executive Rooms/Clyde Court, Dublin

    Day 8 In Dublin’s Fair City

    After a restful night’s sleep, become acquainted with Dublin’s elegant squares during sightseeing. See famous O’Connell Street, Custom House and Dublin Castle. Then experience Ireland’s National and world famous drink with a guided visit to the Guinness Storehouse. Learn how to pour the perfect pint and gain a fascinating insight into the history and traditions behind its production. The rest of the afternoon, you are free to drink in the Irish atmosphere or browse among the shops along Grafton Street. (BB/CD) Stay: St Mellion International Resort, Saltash

    Day 9 A ‘Journey Through Life’ From Dublin To Killarney

    Drive to Ireland’s premier thoroughbred horse breeding region for a fascinating visit of the National Stud and acclaimed 100 year old Japanese Gardens where you can ‘journey through life’. Continue to view St. Patrick’s great Rock of Cashel, crowned with the noblest group of medieval monuments in Ireland. Cross the rolling pastures which encircle Tipperary before reaching Killarney. Tonight, your Dine-Around evening offers you authentic and intimate dining with your friends at a selection of fine local restaurants. (BB/DA) Stay: Killarney Towers

    Day 10 Ring Of Kerry Experience

    In the morning, join a delightful trip around the Ring of Kerry, a world of towering cliffs, lush lakelands and remote villages. Get a sense of the unhurried pace of Irish life as you pass through Ireland’s highest mountain range and make your way to the three peaceful Lakes of Killarney. In the afternoon, perhaps take an optional ride with the locals on one of Killarney’s jaunting cars. (FB) Stay: Killarney Towers

    Day 11 Drive To Blarney Castle And On To Waterford

    Visit Blarney Castle this morning, the home of the famous stone of eloquence, once kissed, never forgotten! Travel on through the scenic port of Dungarvan to the historic walled city of Waterford, where you enjoy a guided visit of the world famous crystal factory and to meet a master craftsman.This evening, after miles of fun and fascinating sights, spirits are high during your Celebration Dinner. Toast to your new found friends – Sláinte! (BB/CD) Stay: Dooleys Hotel, Waterford

    Day 12 Across The Irish Sea To Cardiff

    From the port of Rosslare, board your ferry to cross the Irish Sea. Now a pleasant drive takes you into the rural scenery of Pembrokeshire. Continue past the valleys of South Wales to the Welsh capital, Cardiff, famous for its imposing castle and the brilliant Millennium Stadium. (FB) Stay: Thistle Cardiff City Centre / Radisson Blu Cardiff

    Day 13 On To Roman Bath, Stonehenge And London

    Cross the Severn bridge, spanning the Bristol Channel between Wales and England. Continue to Bath with its Georgian streets and crescents. Visit the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms built over the site of Britain’s only hot, mineral springs. Then cross Salisbury Plain for a visit to mysterious Stonehenge – no-one can be sure why they were built, or even how prehistoric man could move such huge blocks of stone. Your journey ends back at London’s Thistle Marble Arch Hotel. (FB)

    Trip Inclusions

    Additional Included Highlights

    • Stratford: Appreciate the architecture of this pretty town.
    • York: See York Minster, city walls and medieval ‘Shambles”
    • Edinburgh: Enjoy a guided city tour down the Royal Mile past Holyrood house and over to the 18C ‘New Town’
    • St Andrews: See the university town to see the golf course.
    • Loch Ness: Drive along the shores in search of the monster.
    • Lake District: Visit William Wordsworth’s grave in Grasmere.
    • Chester: See the Cathedral, famous ‘Rows’ and city walls.
    • Ludlow: See the walls of the castle and Jacobean buildings
    • Cashel: See the great Rock where St Patrick preached.
    • Waterford: See Reginald’s Tower, the ruined city walls and enjoy a guided visit to the Waterford Crystal Factory and Showrooms.
    • Cardiff: See the castle and Millennium Stadium.
    • Bath: View Bath Abbey and the fine Georgian architecture
    • Scenic drives: Scottish Highlands, Grampian Mountains, Glencoe, English Lake District, Ring of Kerry, Severn Bridge.

    Highlight Hotels And Locations

    • Bowness-on-Windermere: Nestled on the shore of England’s largest lake, experience traditional country house charm at The Old England Hotel.
    • Other accommodation on tour varies from the sleek Radisson Blu, Cardiff’s tallest building, to the more traditional setting of the Apex Waterloo Place at the east end of Edinburgh’s Princes Street.

    Signature Dining

    • Killarney: Choose from a fine selection of local restaurants on your Dine Around evening.
    • Waterford: Celebrate the culmination of your tour with wine, good cheer and palate pleasing cuisine.
    • Welcome Reception (WD), 12 Full Breakfasts (FB), 1 Dine-Around (DA), 3 three-course Dinners with choice, or buffets, plus tea or coffee (D) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD).

    Signature Experiences

    • Stratford: Venture inside the timber-framed building where Shakespeare was born and grew up.
    • York: The Yorkshire pudding is a staple of British Sunday lunch – discover how a simple mixture of flour, eggs, milk and salt gained a place in the culinary hearts of a nation.
    • Selkirk: A tartan expert literally puts you through the mill – from spinning the yarn to the finished article.
    • Edinburgh: Walk with a local expert within the walls of the majestic castle perched on its rock, to view the Scottish Crown Jewels, Stone of Destiny and Mons Meg.
    • Edinburgh: For a limited time in August, you are witness to the breathtaking spectacle of the Military Tattoo.
    • Highlands: Amidst the stunning scenery of a real working Highland farm, the sheepdogs of Neil Ross are put through their paces, and you meet the collie pups.
    • Dublin: Visit the Guinness Storehouse and learn the history and traditions behind its production. Try your hand at pouring a pint of the ‘black stuff’.
    • Kildare: Join an equine professional for a behind the scenes look at the Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens.
    • Killarney: Venture into a world of towering cliffs, lush lake lands and remote villages, as you tour the Ring of Kerry.
    • Blarney: Visit the castle and climb the battlements for the chance to kiss the Blarney Stone for the gift of eloquence.
    • Waterford: A guided visit of the crystal factory.
    • Bath: Visit the Roman Baths, where offerings and curses were thrown to the Roman Goddess Sulis Minerva.
    • Stonehenge: Visit the mysterious circle of upright stones, which stands as strong today as it did 3500 years ago.

    What’s Included

    • An expert Insight Tour Director – at the pinnacles of their careers, will smooth your way throughout your journey. They are your ‘travelling concierges’, expert guides, consummate organisers and friends in a foreign land.
    • Insight motorcoach – Enjoy the unique comfort of Insight’s luxury air-conditioned 40 seat coach with extended leg room and on-board restroom. It’s business class comfort.
    • Personal radio headsets – gives you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights without missing any of your local expert’s fascinating insights and commentaries.
    • Baggage handling everywhere – with seamless and prompt delivery to your door at every hotel.
    • Hotel and restaurant tips included – you’ll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency. Plus we include all taxes and porterage charges at hotels.
    • Complimentary WiFi – the majority of Insight hotels have free WiFi access in lobby or bedroom areas. You will also find that WiFi is generally available on most touring coaches.
    • Insight Flourishes – from time to time, your Tour Director will enchant you with local tidbits, each representing authentic food or beverages unique to the destination.
    • London Airport transfer service available