22 Day Britain & Ireland Discovery – Insight Vacations
Day By Day
Insight Vacations Guided Tour starting in London and finishing in London
A well paced tour with a blend of two-night stays in key cities plus the change of pace with two different Irish ferry crossings and pleasant driving days with frequent stops. Hotels are mainly modern in the major cities. While the Highland hotels are mainly traditional and much simpler in style, although typical of the region.
Day 1 From London To Oxford, Cotswolds And On To Stratford
After a warm welcome from your Tour Director, settle into your luxury coach and head westwards through the green Chiltern Hills. Stop in Oxford, the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’, home to the world’s most famous university with its colleges dating back to the 13th century. With time at leisure, why not enjoy a visit to the world famous Ashmolean Museum or just browse through the local indoor market, before continuing via pretty Cotswolds villages to Stratford-upon-Avon. Visit the half-timbered house where the bard was born, now a museum full of memorabilia relating to his life. Later, join your Tour Director for a warm and friendly Welcome Reception, with drinks and the opportunity to mingle and get to know each other over a pleasant evening of dinner and wine. (WR/D) Stay: Alveston Manor, Stratford
Day 2 Head To Medieval York
After breakfast, a leisurely drive brings you to the historic city of York, its story going back to the time of the Romans and the Vikings. Inside the ancient city walls, see the Minster, largest medieval church in northern Europe, then go exploring through the maze of narrow streets to the topsy-turvy ‘Shambles’, where warped, over hanging timber-framed houses lean so far that they almost touch! Now you are at leisure. (BB/D) Stay: Marriott, York
Day 3 Journey Through The English Lakes To Edinburgh
This morning, travel across the Yorkshire Dales and wild Pennines to the picturesque English Lake District. Here a scenic wonderland awaits – rugged mountains and tranquil waters, inspiration to a host of English poets including Wordsworth, Coleridge, Tennyson and Shelley. After a visit to Wordsworth’s grave in the village of Grasmere, cross into Scotland and stop briefly at Gretna Green. This is the famous spot where runaway lovers were married over the anvil at the Blacksmith’s Shop. Then it’s on to the majestic Scottish capital. Tonight, selected departures attend the spectacular Military Tattoo – a colourful mix of pipes and drums, dance and display, set against the floodlit backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. (FB) Stay: Crowne Plaza – The Roxburghe/Crowne Plaza Royal Terrace, Edinburgh
Day 4 Edinburgh, Athens Of The North
After a restful night’s sleep, join a local expert to see the highlights of the ‘Athens of the North’. Drive along Princes Street to see the ornate Victorian Gothic monument to Sir Walter Scott. Then tour the elegant 18th century New Town with its classical Adam facades. Over in the Old Town, visit the castle, home of Mons Meg, the Stone of Destiny and Scotland’s glittering crown jewels. At the bottom of the Royal Mile, stands the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official Scottish residence of the Queen. The rest of the day is at leisure. Perhaps research your family tartan in the Tartan Centre or visit the art treasures in the National Gallery. (FB) Stay: Crowne Plaza – The Roxburghe(Sun/Tue)/Crowne Plaza Royal Terrace(Fri), Edinburgh.
Day 5 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, the home of golf. 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 centrally located hotel looks over the River Ness and up to Inverness Castle. (BB/D) Stay: The Columba Hotel, Inverness
Day 6 Along The Shores Of Loch Ness To Culloden And Wick
Travel to Culloden Moor this morning, where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite army was finally crushed in 1746. Visit the Culloden Visitor Centre before continuing along the shores of Loch Ness. Keep your eyes peeled for the monster. Now follow the rugged coast north to the fishing port of Wick. Pause at the Old Pulteney Distillery to taste a wee dram of whisky and learn about the production of the national drink. Don’t blink as you drive on to your hotel – you pass Ebenezer Place, which at 2.06m, is the world’s shortest street! (BB/D) Stay: Norseman Hotel, Wick
Day 7 Orkney Islands Experience
On the following morning, drive to the most northerly town on the British mainland, John O’Groats. Board the ferry to the beautiful Orkney Islands – where the hardy locals live ‘below the wind and above the water’. Sightseeing includes visits to the 5000-year-old village of Skara Brae, the mysterious Ring of Brodgar, Kirkwall and the small chapel built by Italian prisoners of war during WWII. Return to your hotel for dinner this evening. (BB/D) Stay: Norseman Hotel, Wick
Day 8 Drive To Ullapool And Over The Sea To Skye
Relax and enjoy the pristine landscapes of lochs and mountains on your way to the fishing town of Ullapool. Then drive alongside Loch Carron and through Glen Carron before crossing to the magical Isle of Skye, the largest and most beautiful island of the Inner Hebrides. Hear the story of the song ‘Over the Sea to Skye’, which tells of young Flora MacDonald and how she helped to rescue Bonnie Prince Charlie, who fled in disguise after his defeat at Culloden. Admire the scenic splendour on the way to your hotel in Broadford. (BB/CD) Stay: Dunollie, Broadford
Day 9 From Skye, Along The Banks Of Loch Lomond To Glasgow
Return to the mainland to see remote Eilean Donan Castle, which under a clear sky offers a perfect reflection in its loch. Move on to the WWII Commando Memorial where there are views of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. Continue on through the pleasant highland town of Fort William to the Valley of Glencoe, its dramatic peaks still echoing with the ghastly cries of massacred clansmen. Stop on the ‘bonnie banks’ of Loch Lomond, the ‘Queen of Scottish lakes’ according to Sir Walter Scott, before arriving in Glasgow. (FB) Stay: Marriott Glasgow
Day 10 Walk In The Giant’s Steps On The Way To Derry
Cross the Irish Sea, enjoying views of the Island of Arran on the way. Now prepare yourself for miles of breathtaking beauty! The road clings to the coastline at the mouth of the famous ‘nine glens of Antrim’, alongside sandy beaches beneath towering basalt cliffs. Stop at the Giant’s Causeway, and hear the legends which surround this geological masterpiece, created by the cooling of lava which burst through the Earth’s crust millions of years ago. Continue to the ancient walled city of ‘Derry’. (BB/D) Stay: Ramada Da Vincis Hotel Derry, Londonderry
Day 11 Drive To Belleek And On To Sligo Bay
Sightseeing with a local guide takes you inside Derry’s well preserved walls, still topped with cannons, and down steep Shipquay Street, with its elegant Georgian houses, to the Gothic Guildhall. Cross the border to see O’Donnell’s Castle in Donegal. Drive south to visit the Belleek Pottery Centre, nestled on the banks of the River Erne. Meet some of the specialist crafts people and see artisan techniques in action during your visit. Continue to the churchyard at Drumcliff, the last resting place of Irish poet WB Yeats. Then it’s on to your country retreat, set on the scenic shores of Sligo Bay. (BB/D) Stay: Radisson Blu, Sligo
Day 12 Through Connemara And Galway To Limerick
Experience the beautiful rugged landscape of Connemara, a wonderland of rivers, lakes and silent hills. Tour the workshop of the famous marble factory then continue to Galway. See St. Nicholas Cathedral, the Spanish Arch and Eyre Square, dedicated to the late US President John F. Kennedy. Move on to your hotel in Limerick, famous for rhymes, lace and Georgian houses. (FB) Stay: George Boutique Hotel, Limerick
Day 13 Bunratty Folk Park Then On To Killarney
An orientation tour shows you King John’s Castle, St. Mary’s Cathedral and the treaty stone. Now experience the lifestyle of rural Ireland over the centuries at Bunratty Folk Park! Continue through the land of song and legend via the picturesque thatched village of Adare, into County Kerry and your Killarney hotel. (FB) Stay: Killarney Towers, Killarney
Day 14 Ring Of Kerry Experience
In the morning, enjoy a trip around the Ring of Kerry, one of the world’s greatest scenic journeys! See towering cliffs, lush lakelands, remote villages, Ireland’s highest mountain range and the three peaceful Lakes of Killarney. With time at leisure, perhaps hire a bicycle and take advantage of the many cycle trails that Killarney has to offer, around the lake or through the National Park. Tonight your Dine-Around evening offers you authentic and intimate dining at a selection of local restaurants, ranging in style and ambience. (BB/DA) Stay: Killarney Towers, Killarney
Day 15 Journey To Blarney Castle And Waterford
Cross the rugged Derrynasaggart Mountains this morning and head for Blarney. Visit the ruined castle, the home of the famous Stone of Eloquence, once kissed – never forgotten! Continue on to Cork, Ireland’s second most populous city, built on the River Lee. See the City Hall and St. Finbarr’s Cathedral, before a delightful coastal drive brings you to historic Waterford, with its 9C Reginald’s Tower and remains of the old city walls. (FB) Stay: Dooleys Hotel, Waterford
Day 16 Waterford Crystal, Then On To Kilkenny And Dublin
First admire the sparkling display of crystal on your guided visit to the world famous crystal factory and meet a master craftsman. Then drive to Kilkenny where you will experience first hand the ancient Celtic game of Hurling. Hear all about the world’s oldest and fastest field game and learn first hand from a true craftsman, the art of making the Hurley. Continue to Ireland’s lively capital, Dublin, and spend a leisurely evening relaxing, exploring or perhaps taking in a famous Irish Cabaret show? (FB) Stay: Doubletree by Hilton – Burlington Road, Dublin
Day 17 In Dublin’s Fair City
Next morning, see the elegant Georgian squares, Irish President’s home, O’Connell Street and The Customs House with a local expert. 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. This afternoon is at leisure. (FB) Stay: Doubletree by Hilton Dublin – Burlington Road
Day 18 Across The Irish Sea Via Caernarfon To Chester
Bid farewell to Ireland this morning as you board the ferry to Wales. Cross the Isle of Anglesey (via the village bearing Britain’s longest name!), then continue over the Menai Straits to Caernarfon for a stop in the shadow of the mighty castle. Now follow the north coast of Wales, to re-enter England at Chester. This fine town still boasts relics of its history as a Roman fortress, as well as the unique ‘black and white’ shopping arcades known as the ‘Rows’. Your sightseeing shows you the well preserved city walls, Jubilee Clock and impressive cathedral. (BB/D) Stay: Best Western Premier Queen Hotel, Chester
Day 19 Drive Through The Welsh Marches To Cardiff
Follow the Welsh border today to ancient Ludlow. Today’s bustling town is still dominated by the massive castle, built to resist the frequent Welsh raids, while the medieval timber framed buildings and Georgian mansions reflect a later time of peace and prosperity. Continue through the countryside to the Welsh capital and see the Millennium Stadium and civic buildings before checking in. (FB) Stay: Thistle Cardiff City Centre/Mercure Cardiff Holland House
Day 20 On To Roman Bath And Exeter
Cross the soaring Severn Bridge to reach the elegant Georgian city of Bath, built amphitheatre-style on the surrounding hills. An orientation tour shows you the impressive Royal Crescent and Pulteney Bridge, both built in mellow local stone. See the angels climbing Jacob’s Ladder on Bath Abbey before visiting the Pump Room and ancient Roman Baths. Stay tonight in the Cornish Countryside. (FB) Stay: St Mellion International Resort, Saltash
Day 21 Plymouth And The Cornish Coast Experience
In the morning, cross the rugged moorlands of Dartmoor, home to ‘wild’ ponies, on your way to maritime Plymouth. Numerous famous voyagers have set off from this ancient port and you see the ‘Mayflower Steps’, from where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for America. Cross the River Tamar to enter Cornwall, the land of legend and of smugglers’ coves. Visit the picturesque fishing village of Looe, where contraband was once landed in the dead of night! Experiences shared lead to lasting friendships. Back in Saltash, enjoy a glass of wine with your new found friends at tonight’s delectable Celebration Dinner and toast to an inspiring journey of discovery. Cheers! (BB/CD) Stay: St Mellion International Resort, Saltash
Day 22 Head For Glastonbury And Ancient Stonehenge To London
Leave for Glastonbury this morning, reputedly the resting place of the legendary King Arthur and the Holy Grail. After some time to explore, continue across Salisbury Plain to visit pre-historic Stonehenge, whose strange and awe-inspiring monoliths are reputed to be up to 5,000 years old. Your trip concludes back at London’s Thistle Marble Arch Hotel. (FB)
Additional Included Highlights
- Oxford: See the ‘spires’ and colleges of Oxford.
- York: See York Minster, city walls and walk through the topsy-turvy ‘Shambles”.
- Lake District: Visit William Wordsworth’s grave in Grasmere.
- Gretna Green. Visit the spot where runaway lovers were married.
- Edinburgh: Drive along Princes Street, see the Sir Walter Scott monument. Tour the 18th century New Town. Drive along part of the Royal Mile to see the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
- St Andrews: See part of the ‘old course’ home of golf.
- Loch Ness: Look for the monster.
- Wick: See the world’s shortest street.
- Eilean Donan: Photo opportunity at the famous castle.
- Derry: Walk inside the walls to the Gothic Guildhall.
- Drumcliff: Visit the last resting place of Irish poet WB Yeats.
- Connemara: Tour the workshop of the famous marble factory.
- Galway: See St Nicholas Cathedral, the Spanish Arch and Eyre Square.
- Limerick: See King John’s Castle, St. Mary’s Cathedral and the treaty stone.
- Adare: See the picturesque thatched cottages.
- Cork: See the City Hall and St Finbarr’s Cathedral.
- Waterford: See Reginald’s Tower, the ruined city walls and enjoy a guided visit to the Waterford Crystal Factory and Showrooms.
- Kilkenny: See the Norman Castle and ancient Cathedral.
- Dublin: See the Georgian squares, Irish President’s home, O’Connell Street and Customs House.
- Caernarfon: Stop in the shadow of the mighty castle.
- Chester: See the unique ‘black and white’ ‘Rows’, well preserved city walls, Jubilee Clock and impressive cathedral.
- Ludlow: Explore the narrow streets and lanes in front of the castle. Admire the medieval timber framed buildings and Georgian mansions.
- Plymouth: See the ‘Mayflower Steps’, Barbican and Hoe.
- Looe: Visit the picturesque fishing village.
- Glastonbury: Drive past the ruined Abbey.
- Scenic drives: Cotswolds, Lake District, Highlands, Glencoe, Isle of Skye, Loch Lomond, Antrim coast, Connemara, Ring of Kerry, Severn Bridge, Cornish Coast, Dartmoor.
Highlight Hotels And Locations
- Hotels are mainly modern in the major cities, like the Marriott York and refurbished Doubletree by Hilton in Dublin. While the Highland hotels are mainly traditional and much simpler in style, although typical of the region.
- Killarney: Choose from a fine selection of local restaurants on your Dine Around evening.
- Exeter: Celebrate the culmination of your tour in style with wine and palate pleasing cuisine.
- Welcome Reception (WD), 24 full Breakfasts (FB), 1 Dine-Around (DA), 8 three-course Evening Meals with choice, or buffets, plus tea or coffee (D) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD).
- Stratford: Venture inside the timber-framed building where the ‘Bard of Avon’ was born and grew up.
- Edinburgh: For a limited time in August, you are witness to the breathtaking spectacle of the Military Tattoo.
- Edinburgh: Within the walls of Edinburgh Castle, view the Scottish Crown Jewels, Stone of Destiny and Mons Meg.
- 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.
- 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.
- Wick: The Old Pulteney distillery produces whisky with a distinctive flavour, bursting with the power and subtlety of the sea! Share a wee dram with a master distiller who imparts the age-old techniques of whisky production.
- Orkney Isles: Join a fascinating excursion of discovery on the very fringes of Britain. Strewn across the windswept Orkneys are relics that span human history; from pagan stone circles to reminders of wartime tragedy.
- Giant’s Causeway: The towering hexagonal basalt columns are a geographical spectacle to behold.
- Belleek: Enjoy a guided tour of the porcelain production process and meet some of the specialist crafts people.
- Bunratty: Explore the Folk Park, a living museum which takes you back to the days of old Ireland.
- Killarney: Venture into a world of towering cliffs, lush lakelands 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.
- Dublin: Visit the Guinness Storehouse and learn the history and traditions behind its production. Try your hand at pouring a perfect pint!
- Kilkenny: Learn first hand from a true craftsman, the art of making the Hurley, used in the Celtic game of Hurling.
- 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
- 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