British Isles - Grand Tour

A 21 day tour of the Best of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland

March - November Groups Only

Day 1  Departure
Overninght flight to the UK.

Day 2  Arrival in London, England
Your tour manager will greet you and help to help you make the most of your stay.

Day 3 London
After a hearty English breakfast, morning sightseeing with a professional London guide includes all the famous landmarks: Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Palace and the area's splendid museums, Knightsbridge with Harrods, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben beside the River Thames, and Westminster Abbey. Highlights are a visit to ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL and the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, if held. Free time in the afternoon for independent activities or to join an optional excursion to Windsor Castle or the Tower of London with its fabulous Crown Jewels. Tonight maybe an optional dinner followed by a cruise on the River Thames?

Day 4 London-Stratford-Warwick
Meet your tour director and traveling companions and depart London at 8:30 a.m. for a lovely day of sightseeing. Admire the ORNAMENTAL GARDENS of Henry VIII's Hampton Court Palace; drive through Runnymede, site of the sealing of the Magna Carta; enjoy a walking tour in the university town of Oxford; admire the scenic Cotswold Hills. At Stratford-upon-Avon visit SHAKESPEARE'S BIRTHPLACE and take your pictures of Anne Hathaway's Cottage. Before dinner at Warwick join your tour director for a toast to happy touring.

Day 5 Warwick-York-County Durham
A spectacular start to the day: on your special guided tour of magnificent WARWICK CASTLE, marvel at the opulent Great Hall and State Rooms and visit the former private apartments in which a royal weekend party of 1898 has been recreated. Later skirt Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest on the way to 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 County Durham.

Day 6 County Durham-Edinburgh, Scotland
Inspect a section of Hadrian's Wall, the Roman coast-to-coast defense against marauding northern tribes. Through wild Northumberland National Park motor to the Scottish border in the Cheviot Hills, and on to Jedburgh, where the abbey ruins and the house of Mary, Queen of Scots, are pointed out to you. Next visit Sir Walter Scott's ABBOTSFORD HOUSE for an enlightening guided tour. Spend the next two nights in Edinburgh, the "Prince of Cities." Tonight an optional Scottish evening with Highland dancers, bagpipers, and the Ceremony of the Haggis.

Day 7 Edinburgh
Morning city sightseeing with a local expert 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, then explore HOLYROOD PALACE, the Queen's official Scottish residence. The afternoon is free to enjoy this "Prince of Cities" at your own pace. 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.

Day 8 Edinburgh-Inverness
Over the elegant Forth Road Bridge and through Fife to St. Andrews, whose Royal and Ancient Golf Club has given us the rules of golfing. Through Braemar, home of the Royal Highland Games, to BALMORAL CASTLE. (Before May 1 and after July 31, when the Royal Family is in residence, visit CRATHIE CHURCH instead.) From here take the scenic route through the vast expanses of heather in the Grampian Mountains. At Culloden VISITOR CENTRE hear about the story of the crushing Hanoverian victory over Bonnie Prince Charlie's Scottish clans. Overnight at Inverness, the Highland capital.

Day 9 Inverness-Glasgow
A day full of Highland splendor: Loch Ness with its mysterious monster; Fort William located beneath Ben Nevis. Skirt Loch Linnhe and enter haunting Glen Coe, where the MacDonalds were treacherously massacred by the Campbells in 1692. Across wild Rannoch Moor to the "Bonnie Banks" of Loch Lomond for a CRUISE on the Loch before heading south to Glasgow.

Day 10 Glasgow-Lake District, England-Chester
On the way through the history-steeped Lowland Hills stop at Gretna Green, where the blacksmith used to wed runaway couples. Enter the beautiful Lake District and follow the shores of Ullswater. Then over Kirkstone Pass to visit Bowness-on-Windermere. On your walking tour of Chester see the Roman remains, black and white half-timbered buildings, and the two-tiered arcades called the "Rows."

Day 11 Chester-North Wales-Dublin, Ireland
Into North Wales and visit picturesque Llangollen, then travel through the incomparable landscapes of Snowdonia National Park, via lovely Betws-y-Coed and over spectacular Llanberis Pass. After a break at Caernarvon it's across Britannia Bridge to the Isle of Anglesey for photos at tongue-twisting Llanfair... At Holyhead board your ferry for the Irish Sea crossing to Dun Laoghaire. Ask your tour director for dining suggestions in Dublin.

Day 12 Dublin
An orientation drive in the Irish capital includes statue-lined O'Connell Street, elegant Georgian squares, and St. Patrick's Cathedral. Then visit Oscar Wilde's TRINITY COLLEGE, famous for the 1,200-year-old Book of Kells and the magnificent Old Library. Afternoon at leisure. Tonight an optional Irish dinner and show. (FB)

Day 13 Dublin-Limerick
Across the Curragh to the IRISH NATIONAL STUD at Kildare. Lots to see on the way to Limerick: the Rock of Cashel where St. Patrick preached; Tipperary, made famous in a wartime marching song; and on arrival an orientation drive acquaints you with St. Mary's Cathedral, King John's Castle, and the Stone where the Treaty of Limerick was signed in 1691. Tonight's recommendation: an optional banquet at Knappogue Castle. (FB)

Day 14 Limerick. West Coast Excursion
A breathtaking view of the Clare coast from the 668-foot Cliffs of Moher, then a drive across the limestone plateau of The Burren to the port city of Galway. Hear about the infamous Lynch Stone, commemorating the day Mayor James Lynch Fitzstephen hanged his son for murder. Drive into the unspoiled region of Connemara, and at Moycullen visit a CONNEMARA MARBLE FACTORY. (FB)

Day 15 Limerick-Ring of Kerry-Tralee
Via quaint Adare, with its pretty thatched cottages, and Killorglin on Dingle Bay, the setting for Ryan's Daughter, join the spectacular "Ring of Kerry" for a 100-mile panoramic drive around the island's southwestern tip. Take your photos of the Lakes of Killarney then visit this popular resort. Spend the night in Tralee, the Kerry county town.

Day 16 Tralee-Waterford
Morning visit to Blarney, renowned for its Stone of Eloquence. Time for lunch, to walk up to the castle, and to shop for traditional Irish handicrafts. In the afternoon proceed via Cork to Waterford, a stronghold founded by the Danish Vikings. Time still for a visit to the world-famous WATERFORD CRYSTAL FACTORY.

Day 17 Waterford-Bath, England
By ferry from Rosslare across St. George's Channel to Fishguard and a drive through South Wales. Cross the River Severn and end a pleasant day with an overnight stay in the elegant Georgian city of Bath.

Day 18 Bath-Exeter
First this morning, time to explore the amazing excavations of the ROMAN BATHS. Then focus on Cheddar Gorge and King Arthur's Glastonbury. The next two overnights are in cathedral city of Exeter, the county town of Devon.

Day 19 Exeter. Cornwall Excursion
A day filled with West Country sights. At Plymouth see the Mayflower steps where the Pilgrim Fathers embarked in 1620, and hear about Sir Francis Drake. Also available, an optional cruise on Plymouth Sound. Cross the River Tamar on your way to the pretty shark-fishing village and former smugglers' port of Looe. Return to Exeter across wild and romantic Dartmoor.

Day 20 Exeter-London
Two sightseeing highlights on the last leg of your journey: first try to figure out the intriguing prehistoric riddle of STONEHENGE; then stroll through pretty Salisbury with its vast cathedral, the ultimate in Early English Gothic. Return to London around 4 p.m. How about celebrating the success of your tour by taking in one of the great West End shows?

Day 21 Home
Your homebound flight arrives the same day.

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