England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales—experience them all on this comprehensive vacation. Your adventure begins with a full day to enjoy exciting optional tours in London before heading to Oxford. A walking tour takes in the colleges where Britain’s elite receive their education, then experience the exquisite Cotswolds, Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, and Lady Godiva’s Coventry. Continue to York, England’s most complete medieval city, for a walking tour. See a section of Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman coast-to-coast defense against marauding northern tribes, and enter Scotland for two overnights in regal Edinburgh. Here, your sightseeing tour with a Local Guide includes a visit to Edinburgh Castle to see Scotland’s Crown Jewels. Travel south through the Lowlands to Gretna Green, where the blacksmith used to wed runaway couples. Continue through the Lake District, considered the finest of England’s national parks, visiting Wordsworth’s charming Grasmere and beautiful Lake Windermere, England’s largest lake. Enjoy a walking tour of 2,000-year-old Chester and drive into Wales through breathtaking Snowdonia National Park, Betws-y-Coed, and Llanberis Pass to the Isle of Anglesey. At Holyhead, board a ferry for Dublin, Ireland’s capital, where an orientation drive shows you the main attractions. Head west via Galway to the spectacular 668-foot Cliffs of Moher. Take a break in Adare, known for its remarkable thatched cottages, then enjoy breathtaking views on your drive along the spectacular “Ring of Kerry.” After an overnight in the popular resort of Killarney, travel to Blarney, famous for its castle and “Blarney Stone.” Leave Ireland and take the ferry back to Wales for an orientation drive of Cardiff, capital of Wales. Return to England and stop in the Georgian city of Bath, famous for its Roman ruins, and at enigmatic Stonehenge. Your tour ends back in London with free time—a memorable trip!
Day #1 Arrive in London, England. Check into your hotel. In the afternoon there’s time to rest or to start exploring the lively British capital; uniformed hosts are available to help you make the most of your stay.
Day #2 London. A full day to enjoy our exciting program of optional activities. Morning sightseeing with a Local Guide includes all the famous landmarks: the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben beside the River Thames, Westminster Abbey, Whitehall’s mounted horseguards and the Prime Minister’s Downing Street, Piccadilly Circus, and Buckingham Palace. Highlights are a visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral and the ceremonial pageantry of the Changing of the Guard, if held. This afternoon you may want to visit Windsor Castle or the Tower of London with its spectacular Crown Jewels, and tonight a leisurely cruise on the River Thames would be fun. (B)
Day #3 London–Oxford–Stratford-upon-Avon–Coventry. Meet your Tour Director and traveling companions and depart at 8 am for a memorable day of sightseeing. In Oxford, a walking tour takes in the colleges where Britain’s elite receive their outstanding education. Then travel through the lovely Cotswold Hills to Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon. Take your pictures of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and explore the town at your own pace. Finally, at Coventry, whose center had to be rebuilt after the devastation of World War II bombings, hear the tale of Lady Godiva and Peeping Tom. (B,D)
Day #4 Coventry–York–Newcastle. Leave the Midlands and head north to York, England’s most complete medieval city. Stand in front of the great structure of York Minster, then follow your Tour Director through a maze of quaint streets, including the narrow Shambles. Stop for the night in Newcastle, once an important center for the wool trade and coal mining, now a vibrant modern city. (B,D)
Day #5 Newcastle–Jedburgh, Scotland–Edinburgh. See a section of Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman coast-to-coast defense against marauding northern tribes, then motor through wild Northumberland National Park to the Scottish border. Stop for photos at Jedburgh, with glimpses of the house of Mary, Queen of Scots, and then Melrose with its 12th-century abbey ruins and connections with Robert the Bruce. Afternoon arrival at Edinburgh. Later, a unique optional experience: board the former Royal Yacht Britannia, which for the Queen 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 July 28 through August 18, tickets are included for tonight’s performance of the world-renowned Military Tattoo. (B)
Day #6 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. A suggestion for this evening: a traditional Scottish night out with Highland dancers, bagpipers, and, of course, the Ceremony of the Haggis. (B)
Day #7 Edinburgh–Gretna Green–Lake District, England–Chester–Wrexham, Wales. South through the history-steeped Lowland Hills and a visit to Gretna Green, where the blacksmith used to wed runaway couples. Drive through beautiful scenery in the Lake District, considered to be the finest of England’s national parks. Visit Wordsworth’s Grasmere, then follow the shores of Lake Windermere. In Chester, the historic county town on the River Dee, your walking tour takes in the Roman remains, black and white half-timbered buildings, and the two-tiered shopping arcades called the “Rows.” (B,D)
Day #8 Wrexham–Llangollen–Betws-Y-Coed–Dublin, Ireland. A scenic North Wales drive via Llangollen, home of an annual national competition for poets and musicians, and through the incomparable landscapes of Snowdonia National Park. Pause at lovely Betws-y-Coed before heading over spectacular Llanberis Pass and, finally, cross Britannia Bridge to the Isle of Anglesey. Take your photos at tongue-twisting Llanfair... and at Holyhead, board the ferry for the Irish Sea crossing to Dublin. (B)
Day #9 Dublin. A day in the “Fair City” starts off with an orientation drive through Eire’s capital and includes statue-lined O’Connell Street, elegant Georgian squares, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The rest of the day is free for you to enjoy Dublin at leisure. Why not join an optional dinner evening at the Guinness Storehouse? (B)
Day #10 Dublin–Galway–Cliffs of Moher–Ennis. Head for dairy farm country in the center of the “Emerald Isle.” Stop in Galway, a popular seaside destination and a buzzing cosmopolitan center with cobbled streets, colorful shops, and busy café and bar culture. Then, cross the limestone plateau of The Burren to visit the spectacular 668-foot Cliffs of Moher before heading for Ennis, county town of Clare. Tonight’s optional opportunity: a traditional Irish evening in the setting of a village barn with dinner, wine, and entertainment. (B)
Day #11 Ennis–Adare–Ring of Kerry–Killarney. Stop for photos in Adare, a village known for its prize-winning thatched cottages and monastic ruins. In County Kerry, join the road known as the “Ring of Kerry” for a 100-mile coastal panoramic drive. Focus your camera on sparkling seascapes, mountains dotted with brightly colored farmhouses, winding lanes bordered with subtropical vegetation, and views of the Lakes of Killarney from Ladies View. Later, in Killarney, discover why this is such a popular resort. (B,D)
Day #12 Killarney–Blarney–Dungarvan–Tramore. Across the Kerry Mountains and through County Cork to Blarney, famous for its magical Stone of Eloquence. Time to see the castle and shop for Irish crafts and handmade crystal. After lunch, drive past Cork, the country’s second-largest city, and via Dungarvan to Tramore. Tonight, maybe an optional pub tour before dinner at your hotel. (B,D)
Day #13 Tramore–Cardiff, Wales. An early start for the short drive to the ferry port at Rosslare. In just under four hours you cross St. George’s Channel to South Wales. Continue through rich dairy farmland to Cardiff, where an orientation drive introduces you to the capital’s major attractions: Cardiff Castle, Cathays Park, Millennium Stadium, and the stately civic buildings. Tonight’s optional excursion is to Cardiff Castle for an evening of Welsh entertainment and dinner. (B)
Day #14 Cardiff–Bath, England–Stonehenge–London. A day packed with highlights begins as you cross the spectacular Severn Bridge into England. Stop in the elegant Georgian city of Bath, famous for its Roman relics, before passing Stonehenge, still an intriguing mystery. After returning to London around 3 pm, how about celebrating the success of your tour with a night out on the town? (B)
Day #15 London. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)