Sightseeing: Visits to Stamford, Hadrian’s Wall, Jedburgh, Melrose, Edinburgh Castle, tickets for Edinburgh Military Tattoo (departure numbers August 2, August 9, August 16), Gretna Green, Grasmere, Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, Broadway, Bath, Stonehenge; orientation drive in Cardiff; walking tours in York and Chester
Scenic Highlights: Northumberland National Park, Scottish Lowlands, Lake District National Park, Cotswold Hills, Salisbury Plain
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 start exploring the lively British capital; uniformed hosts are available to help you make the most of your stay.
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. A highlight is 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)
Meet your Tour Director and traveling companions and depart at 8 am for a day of northbound travel. Take a break in the market town of Stamford and in 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. Stop for the night in Leeds. (B,D)
Day 4Leeds–Jedburgh, Scotland–Melrose–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 in 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 departures August 2, August 9 and August 16, tickets are included for tonight’s performance of the world-renowned Military Tattoo, a vast spectacle of massed Scottish pipe bands that takes place in an arena on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. (B)
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. Tonight an optional Scottish evening with Highland dancers, bagpipers, and, of course, the Ceremony of the Haggis. (B)
Day 6Edinburgh–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 includes the Roman remains, black and white half-timbered buildings, and the two-tiered arcades called the “Rows.” Overnight in Wrexham. (B,D)
Day 7Wrexham–Stratford-upon-Avon, England–Broadway–Cardiff, Wales
Back in England, tour fascinating Stratford-upon-Avon, a living monument to William Shakespeare, before driving through the scenic Cotswold Hills with a stop for photos in picture-book Broadway. Overnight in Cardiff, where an orientation drive introduces you to the capital’s major attractions: Cardiff Castle, Cathays Park, Millennium Stadium, and the stately civic buildings. A suggestion for tonight: why not join an evening of Welsh entertainment and dinner? (B)
Day 8Cardiff–Bath, England–Stonehenge–London
A day of memorable highlights with a stop first 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)
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
Full English breakfast; 2 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.
Years of Experience: 3 years
I've been a Tour Director all my life. My father has been a Tour Director since before I was born, so I have literally been brought up to do this. The soundtrack of my childhood was the stories of British history, and I've always loved sharing those stories with others. Now, I get to do just that!