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|Itinerary at a Glance
Discover Scotland & Ireland
|3||Glasgow & Inverness|
|7||Ireland's Midlands, Blarney Castle
|8||Ring of Kerry & Muckross House|
|9||Burren & the Cliffs of Moher|
|10||Galway & Lough Corrib|
|11||Connemara & Kylemore Abbey|
|12||Clonmacnoise & Dublin|
|Departs||Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Washington Dulles (IAD), Newark (EWR), Chicago O'Hare (ORD), Houston (IAH)|
|Highlights||Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Cruise on Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, Blair Athol Distillery & whisky tasting, Edinburgh Castle, Kiss the Blarney Stone, Ring of Kerry, Muckross House, Cliffs of Moher, Lough Corrib Cruise, Clonmacnoise Monastery, Dublin City Tour|
|Included in the Price||
|Travel Style||This moderately-paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness.|
Join us on a legendary 13-day tour of Scotland & Ireland. First, cruise Scotland's Loch Ness in search of the elusive Loch Ness Monster, and have a dram at some of the oldest whisky distilleries in the world. The modern and medieval are on display in Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh. Look down upon the city from Edinburgh Castle, perched on extinct volcanoes and rocky cliffs. An optional evening excursion celebrates Scottish food, song and Highland dancers. You’ll overnight in Glasgow, the country’s largest city, the Highlands city of Inverness, and Edinburgh. Visits to art galleries, woolen mills and battlefields round out a fascinating trip to this ancient British Isle.
Next, visit Ireland and savor exploring this beautiful and charming country, where people are friendly, service is great and the places to discover just go on and on. Although it's possible to drive the length of Ireland in less than a day and traverse the width of the country in a few hours, we prefer to settle in and explore a particular region. You’ll kiss the Blarney Stone for good luck, see the Cliffs of Moher and cruise on the River Corrib. Travel through the Connemara Region, one of the most picturesque in all of Ireland, where Gaelic is still spoken, and enjoy the sites of Dublin, Ireland’s lovely, intimate capital.
Enjoy superior and deluxe hotels in Scotland and Ireland, sightseeing tours and more, all for an incredible price!
Throughout 2013, Ireland will open its arms to friends and family from all over the world, inviting them to join in locally organized gatherings and festivals in villages, towns and cities. This year-long homecoming celebration, named "The Gathering", is expected to draw a great many people of Irish descent from throughout the world, making this a wonderful year to visit Ireland.
This was my second trip to Ireland, but my first actual tour. I was very pleased with the tour. My sister had never been to Ireland, and this tour gave her a wonderful introduction to Ireland.
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Day 2: Glasgow. Upon arrival in Glasgow, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Later, enjoy a panoramic city tour, taking you from George Square in the city center, past the impressive Glasgow Cathedral, and the West End’s historic university buildings, the River Clyde, City Chambers, Glasgow Green and People’s Palace. Visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, one of Scotland’s most visited attractions, with over 8000 objects from natural history to modern art. This evening, enjoy a welcome drink and dinner at your hotel. Accommodations: Jury's Inn. Dinner provided.
Day 3: Glasgow & Inverness. This morning, depart Glasgow, travelling northwards along Loch Lomond, through picturesque countryside. The Loch is 24 miles long, 5 miles wide and 600 feet at its deepest point, with many small islands, some of which are inhabited. Stop in Luss for some spectacular views and a photo opportunity. Drive through the peaceful valley of Glen Coe, which is believed to have been the site of a massacre of the Mac Donald clan by the Campbell clan in the 17th century. Visit Spean Bridge Woolen Mill for a chance to buy the famous textiles, and then continue via Fort William and Fort Augustus to Loch Ness. Enjoy a cruise on Loch Ness, famous for its elusive resident, Nessie the Loch Ness Monster. End the day in Inverness. Accommodations: Thistle Hotel. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 4: Inverness, Speyside & Edinburgh. This morning, visit the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Center, the site of the last battle fought on British soil in 1746. See the interactive exhibitions to learn more about this historic event. Drive through the Speyside area, the famous whisky producing region that is home to over half of Scotland’s Malt Whisky distilleries, and arrive in the town of Pitlochry and visit the Blair Athol Distillery, one of the oldest working facilities in Scotland for a guided tour and a chance to sip your dram of Blair Athol 12 Year Old. Here, learn about the process of whisky making from barley, water, yeast and peat, to create the distinctive taste, texture, color and smell of whisky. Continue to Edinburgh. Accommodations: Holiday Inn. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 5: Edinburgh. Today, explore Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, perched on a series of extinct volcanoes and rocky crags rising from the flat landscape of the Lothian’s, and sheltered by the shoreline of the Firth of Forth to the north. Edinburgh is full of medieval lanes and elegant terraces, history and tradition. Edinburgh is a modern dynamic city, with international festivals, art galleries, restaurants and clubs. “Edinburgh”, said writer Robert Louis Stevenson, “is what Paris ought to be”.
Visit Edinburgh Castle, which dominates the skyline and looks down on the city spread below. The oldest part, St Margaret’s Chapel dates to the 12th century, with additions made later such as the Great Hall, the Half Moon Battery and the Scottish national War Memorial after World War I. The castle also houses the Honours (Crown Jewels). Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure in this fascinating city. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Take advantage of an optional evening to celebrate Scottish food, song and dance at the historic Prestonfield House, including a 4-course dinner with wine, a taste of haggis and a performance of Scottish tenors and Highland dancers, and a tribute to Robert Burns and Auld Lang Syne. This optional excursion can only be purchased locally.
Day 6: Edinburgh/Dublin. After a final Scottish breakfast, bid farewell to Scotland as you transfer to the airport for your flight to Dublin. You will be met and transferred to your hotel. Enjoy the balance of the day to relax in your hotel or explore the city on your own. Dublin has it all, a charming mix of medieval, Georgian and modern architecture, a wealth of history, culture and literary tradition, wonderful shopping and dining. Dublin can trace its origins back over 1,000 years. From a small Viking settlement it has evolved into the vibrant capital city of Ireland. Tonight enjoy dinner at the hotel. Accommodations: Ballsbridge Hotel or similar. Breakfast& dinner provided.
Day 7: Ireland's Midlands, Blarney Castle & Kerry. Today, you will board your touring coach, depart Ireland’s capitol and travel to County Kerry. En route, stop in the town of Blarney for a visit to Blarney Castle. Dating from 1446, the castle is a tower house built on solid limestone. At the top of the Tower you will find the legendary Stone of Eloquence (Blarney Stone). Kiss it and you will never again be lost for words.
Enjoy some time for shopping at Blarney Woolen Mills. The existence of the Woolen Mills during the famine shielded Blarney from the worst effects of the great famine, due to its employment of local workers. The success story at the mills continued until a disastrous fire in 1869. By August 1871, the mill was once again operational with a labor force of over 200 and in 1976 Chris Kelleher, himself a mill worker, bought the old mill property. Within a short period of time Chris and his family transformed the mill into what is perhaps the largest quality craft shop in Ireland.
Continue through Ireland’s Midlands to your hotel in the Kerry region. This evening enjoy dinner with your travel companions at the hotel’s restaurant. Accommodations: Travel Inn Killarney or similar. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 8: Ring of Kerry & Muckross House. Today you can enjoy a superb tour of the Iveragh Peninsula, which will give you the opportunity to discover the Ring of Kerry, taking in the spectacular scenery; mountains, peat bogs, lakes and magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean. Leaving Killarney, pass through Killorglin, famous for its Puck Fair and Glenbeigh, where the cliff road affords panoramic views of the Dingle Peninsula and Dingle Bay. Passing through the peat bogs, arrive at the sea town of Waterville. Continue to Sneem Village, famous because of its brightly colored houses. The road continues through the mountains to Molls Gap and Ladies View with superb views of the famous Lakes of Killarney.
Visit Muckross House, which was built in 1843 by the Herbert Family, in Elizabethan style. This house is one of the most sumptuous residences of Ireland. Muckross, surrounded by beautiful gardens, is in the heart of the Killarney National Park, the first to be opened in Ireland.
This evening enjoy dinner on your own in one of the many restaurants or pubs in Killarney town. Breakfast provided.
Day 9: Burren & the Cliffs of Moher. Travel northwards to Tarbert and take a short boat ride across the mouth of the river Shannon, landing on Clare’s shore at Killimer. Travel along the coast to the Cliffs of Moher. The most majestic cliffs in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher rise 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and extend over four miles in length. On a clear day, you can admire the Aran Islands, the Connemara Mountains and the many sea birds that colonize this area to nest in the spring. Visit the Atlantic Edge Interpretive Center built into the natural landscape. The center is a huge domed cave that contains various exhibits showcasing the mighty Cliffs of Moher.
Later, enjoy a tour of the Burren Region, a strange and unique region in Europe. “Burren” means “large stones”; in fact, its name describes this impressive scenery perfectly well. Often described as lunar, the Burren is a high plateau of porous limestone situated in Northern Clare, between Ballyvaughan and Kilfenora. No trees grow here and no soil covers the stone, but the Burren is not deserted, as different types of flowers grow from the cracks all year round. The Burren Region is also historically rich, with many castles and monastic ruins.
Continue to Limerick and check-in at your hotel. Enjoy the balance of the day at leisure. Accommodations: Clarion Hotel or similar. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Take advantage of an optional Medieval Banquet at Bunratty Castle on the banks of the Raite River including transportation, entertainment, a four-course meal and wine. ($79 per person)
Day 10: Galway & Lough Corrib. This morning travel to Galway. Upon arrival enjoy an orientation tour of the city. Galway City is a delight with its narrow streets, old stone and wooden shop fronts, good restaurants and busy pubs. The city has attracted many musicians and artists, which add so much to the character of the city.
Start at Galway’s modern Cathedral, which was built between 1958 and 1965, and stands on the site of the old city jail. One of the largest and most impressive buildings in Galway City, its architecture draws on many influences. The dome and pillars reflect a Renaissance style, and other features, including the rose windows and mosaics, echo the broad tradition of Christian art. The Cathedral dome, at a height of 145 feet, is a prominent landmark on the city skyline. The exterior design may not be to everybody’s taste, while the interior, with its high curved arches and central dome, has a simple but solid elegance.
Later, embark on the Corrib Princess and cruise the majestic River Corrib. The journey offers wonderful views of the historic monuments and scenery, which make this one of the most spectacular waterways in Ireland. While you cruise, enjoy an Irish coffee demonstration sampling this classic beverage and freshly made scones.
Continue to your hotel and enjoy the balance of the day at leisure. Later this evening enjoy dinner at the hotel. Accommodations: Clayton Hotel, Oranmore Lodge Hotel or similar. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 11: Connemara & Kylemore Abbey. Today, travel through the beautiful Connemara Region. Connemara is a land of lakes and rivers, bogs and mountains. In this area of small villages, Gaelic is still the spoken language and little has changed since the beginning of time. It is without a doubt the wildest and most romantic part of Ireland. Connemara is a vast peninsula bordered by the arid and rocky coastline of Galway Bay in the south, a land characteristic for its stone walls and thatched cottages. On its northern shore the land is harsher and more secret, with spectacular views of the Ocean, the fjord of Killary Harbour, as well as the steep mountains overlooking numerous lakes and large bog areas.
Enjoy some leisure time in the Connemara National Park, which encompasses 11 square miles from Letterfrack in the west to the peaks of the Twelve Bens Mountains. Hike one of the three main trails, or stop at the visitors’ center and learn about the park’s unique landscape and wildlife.
Next, visit Kylemore Abbey in the Kylemore Pass in Connemara. Mitchell Henry built the house in 1868, after having spent his honeymoon in the area. The architecture is best described as neo-gothic and the house still displays all the characteristics of that period. One of Kylemore Abbey's most famous features is its miniature cathedral, built in 1870 and known locally as the Gothic church. Today, the Abbey is home to the Irish order of Benedictine nuns. They bought the house in 1920, having fled their convent in war-torn Belgium in 1914. Breakfast provided.
Day 12: Clonmacnoise & Dublin. Depart Galway for Dublin via Clonmacnoise. Situated in the wilds, on the banks of the Shannon, 6th Century Clonmacnoise is nowadays partly in ruins. Stop at the Visitor Centre where the original Celtic crosses are exhibited, followed by a tour of the site where you will see high towers, the 11th Century cathedral and the wonderful reproductions of the High Crosses.
Continue to Dublin and set out on a panoramic tour to discover Dublin’s Fair City. The north side of the River Liffey offers great striking monuments such as the General Post Office (GPO) on the city main thoroughfare, O'Connell Street, or the Custom House along the quays, as well as the Phoenix Park, one of the largest public parks in Europe. The south side appears more sophisticated with its vast Georgian squares, such as Merrion Square where Oscar Wilde’s House can still be found, its colorful doors, along with Grafton Street and its quality shops. Not so far from St. Stephen’s Green, in Kildare Street, you can see the house of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula.
Visit Trinity College, the oldest University in Ireland, founded in 1592 by Elizabeth I. Within its walls, you will be able to admire Parliament Square and its 18th Century edifices. The visit of the ancient library, containing over twenty thousand manuscripts, is often surprising by its splendor. The 9th Century Book of Kells, famous for its precious illuminations, is exhibited in these premises. Enjoy the balance of the day at leisure. Accommodations: Clyde Court Hotel or similar. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Take advantage of an optional evening of festive entertainment at a local pub including a 3-course dinner & live music. ($69 per person, excludes beverages).
Day 13: Dublin/USA. After a final Irish breakfast, bid farewell to Ireland as your journey comes to an end. Transfer to the airport for your return flight. You will arrive in New York later today. Breakfast provided.
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