Cosmos

The Best of Britain & Ireland (9010) - 2014 / 2015

15 Day Tour from London to London


The Best of Britain & Ireland
An old blacksmiths shop at Gretna Green
An old blacksmiths shop at Gretna Green
Cliffs of Moher
The London Eye, also known as the Millennium Wheel
Visit the Cliffs of Moher and see some of Ireland’s most spectacular views
Prehistoric Stonehenge
Visit the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge
Stonehenge
Dublin, Ireland
Pomp-and-ceremony in London
TOUR FOR 8+ PEOPLE

Vacation Overview

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 driving along beautiful Lake Windermere, the largest of England’s lakes. Enjoy a walking tour of 2,000-year-old Chester and drive into Wales through breathtaking Snowdonia National Park, Betws-y-Coed, and over the 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 “Stone of Eloquence.” Leave Ireland and take the ferry back to Wales for an orientation drive of Cardiff, the capital city. Returning to England, stop in the Georgian city of Bath, famous for its Roman ruins, and marvel at enigmatic Stonehenge. Your tour ends back in London with free time — a memorable trip!

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Sightseeing:
Visits to Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, Coventry, Hadrian’s Wall, Jedburgh, Edinburgh Castle, tickets for Edinburgh Military Tattoo (departures July 27 through August 17), Gretna Green, Grasmere, Llangollen, Betws-y-Coed, Llanfair, Galway, Cliffs of Moher, Adare, Killarney, Blarney, Bath, Stonehenge; orientation drives in Dublin, Cardiff; walking tours in Oxford, York, Chester

Scenic Highlights:
Cotswold Hills, Northumberland National Park, Scottish Lowlands, Lake District National Park, North Wales and Snowdonia National Park, The Burren, Ring of Kerry and Lakes of Killarney, Salisbury Plain

Guides:

Local Guide for city sightseeing in Edinburgh; Host service in London. Professional Tour Director while touring


Day 1Arrive 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 2London

What’s your pleasure? Today is devoted to exploring on your own or enjoying our exciting program of optional activities. You may choose to join a Local Guide for an optional morning sightseeing tour of the city’s famous landmarks: the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Whitehall's mounted horseguards and the Prime Minister's Downing Street, Piccadilly Circus, and Buckingham Palace. Highlights include a visit to St. Paul's Cathedral and the ceremonial pageantry of the Changing of the Guard (if held). Later on, maybe 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 3London–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 4Coventry–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 5Newcastle–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. In Edinburgh, 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. A suggestion for this evening: a traditional Scottish night out with Highland dancers, bagpipers, and, of course, the Ceremony of the Haggis. (B)

Day 6Edinburgh

Your choice today: an optional morning excursion to Rosslyn Chapel, made world-famous by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, and also one of Scotland’s most remarkable buildings. You will have ample time to visit the 15th-century medieval chapel, and the visitor center and also to take photographs of the ruins of Rosslyn Castle. Later, another unique optional opportunity: 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 departures July 27 through August 17, tickets are included for tonight’s performance of the world-renowned Military Tattoo. (B)

Day 7Edinburgh–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 8Wrexham–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 9Dublin

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 10Dublin–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 a 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 11Ennis–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 12Killarney–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 13Tramore–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 14Cardiff–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 visiting Stonehenge, still an intriguing mystery. Explore the stunning new visitor center with its imaginative exhibitions, then admire the magnificence of the monument from up close. After returning to London around 3:30 pm, how about celebrating the success of your tour with a night out on the town? (B)

Day 15London

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)

Transportation:
Scheduled transatlantic flights and airport transfers in London if Cosmos issues the air tickets. Private first-class air-conditioned motorcoach. Round-trip Irish Sea crossings by day ferry


LONDON Kensington Close (ST)
COVENTRY Ramada (F)
NEWCASTLE Jurys Inn (F) at Gateshead
EDINBURGH Kings Manor (ST)
WREXHAM Ramada Plaza (F)
DUBLIN Jurys Inn Custom House (F)
ENNIS Auburn Lodge (ST)
KILLARNEY Killarney Court (F)
TRAMORE Grand (ST)
CARDIFF Novotel (F)

Full English breakfast; 5 three-course dinners with choice of menus


With Cosmos, there’s no better way to get to know your destination than through the eyes of your Tour Director. Averaging over a decade... we’d like you to meet a Tour Director, who is representative of the type of expert that will be with you on your vacation.

GEOFF CORDWELL

Years of Experience: 30 years

No tour is ever the same, because each group of travelers is different-and it's the people that make this job interesting. I love the social aspect of the tours. They are full of like-minded and fun people who always get on well. When you add into the mix a dollop of history, a sprinkling of culture, and the great British and Irish countryside, then you have the perfect vacation!

UNESCO World Heritage Sites


The following UNESCO World Heritage Sites can be seen or visited on the The Best of Britain & Ireland:

  • City of Bath
  • Frontiers of the Roman Empire
  • Old and New Towns of Edinburgh
  • Stonehenge


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As recommended by Budget Travel