Cosmos

Grand Tour of Britain & Ireland (9050) - 2014 / 2015

18 Day Tour from London to London


Grand Tour of Britain & Ireland
Enjoy the beautiful views along the Ring of Kerry in Ireland
Enjoy the beautiful views along the Ring of Kerry in Ireland
Tower of London on a sunny day
View over Auld Reekie in Edinburgh, Scotland
Buckingham Palace in London
Glasgow, Scotland
Enjoy the sounds of bagpipes and drums at the Military Tattoo performance
The Ring of Kerry is located in County Kerry, Ireland
Take in the beautiful scenery of the Killarney National Park
An old blacksmiths shop at Gretna Green
800.276.1241

Vacation Overview

Experience the best of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales on this in-depth exploration tour of the British Isles. Begin your vacation in London with a full day to enjoy the city on your own or to take optional tours, then visit enigmatic Stonehenge with its new visitor center and imaginative exhibitions. Drive through Dartmoor National Park, setting for The Hound of the Baskervilles, and visit Widecombe-in-the-Moor, before arriving in Plymouth, starting point for the Pilgrims’ 1620 voyage. Hear about legendary King Arthur in Glastonbury and explore elegant Georgian Bath, famous for its Roman ruins. Leave England, cross into Wales, and arrive in the capital city Cardiff for an orientation drive. Ferry across St. George’s Channel to Ireland, stopping in Blarney, famous for the legendary “Stone of Eloquence,” and in the popular resort of Killarney. Along the scenic “Ring of Kerry” coastal route, see sparkling seascapes, mountains dotted with brightly colored farmhouses, and the spectacular Lakes of Killarney. Savor more splendid views from the shores of the Dingle Peninsula, and in Adare, take photographs of the lovely thatched cottages. Spend the night in the market town of Ennis before heading west to the spectacular 668-foot Cliffs of Moher. Travel via Galway to Dublin, Ireland’s capital, where you’ll see all the major sights. Cross the Irish Sea to Holyhead on the Welsh Isle of Anglesey, then motor to 2,000-year-old Chester in England. Head north through the Lake District, and cross the border into Scotland. Spend the night in Glasgow before traveling into the Highlands. Follow the banks of mysterious Loch Ness on the way to Inverness. Cross Culloden Moor and stop at St. Andrews, the home of golf, founded in 1754. Spend two nights in regal Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, and visit mighty Edinburgh Castle on your guided tour. Continue south to see a section of Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman coast-to-coast defense against marauding northern tribes. Stop in York, England’s most complete medieval city; enjoy time in Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon; and drive through the scenic Cotswolds on your way back to London for the finale of your unforgettable vacation.

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Sightseeing:
Visits to Stonehenge, Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Plymouth, Glastonbury, Bath, Tenby, Blarney, Killarney, Adare, Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Liverpool, Grasmere, Gretna Green, Glasgow, Culloden Moor, Pitlochry, St. Andrews, Edinburgh Castle, tickets for Edinburgh Military Tattoo (departures July 19 through August 9), Jedburgh, Hadrian’s Wall, Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon; orientation drives in Cardiff, Dublin; walking tours in Chester, York

Scenic Highlights:
Salisbury Plain, Dartmoor National Park, Ring of Kerry and Lakes of Killarney, Dingle Peninsula, The Burren, Lake District National Park, Scottish Lowlands and Highlands, Loch Lomond, Northumberland National Park, Cotswold Hills

Guides:

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


Day 1Arrive in London, England

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 (except on Sundays) 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–Stonehenge–Widecombe–Plymouth

Meet your Tour Director and traveling companions and depart at 8 am for the West Country. Cross the chalky terrain of Wiltshire and visit Stonehenge, one of England’s most intriguing mysteries. Explore the stunning new visitor center with its imaginative exhibitions, then admire the magnificence of the monument from up close. In the heart of Dartmoor National Park, ghostly setting for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, visit quaint Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Later in Plymouth, hear about Sir Francis Drake and see the Mayflower Steps, where the Pilgrim Fathers embarked in 1620. (B,D)

Day 4Plymouth–Glastonbury–Bath–Cardiff, Wales

Via Glastonbury and its associations with King Arthur to the elegant city of Bath, famed for its amazing Roman relics and Georgian buildings. Cross the spectacular Severn Bridge into Wales and head for the capital, Cardiff. Here, an orientation drive introduces you to all the 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 5Cardiff–Tenby–Tramore, Ireland

Vistas of rich dairy farmland this morning on the way to the pretty seaside resort of Tenby. Then on to Pembroke, departure point for the ferry across St. George’s Channel to Ireland. Arrive at Rosslare in just under four hours. (B,D)

Day 6Tramore–Blarney–Killarney

Today, discover why Ireland is called the “Emerald Isle.” Drive along the southern coast, passing Cork, the country’s second-largest city. Stop in Blarney, famous for its Stone of Eloquence. Time to see the castle and shop for Irish crafts and handmade crystal. After lunch, continue to the popular resort of Killarney. Tonight, enjoy the optional outing to Tralee for dinner and a performance at Siamsa Tire, Ireland’s National Folk Theatre. (B)

Day 7Killarney. Ring of Kerry Excursion

At Killorglin, join the road known as the “Ring of Kerry“ for a 100-mile coastal panoramic drive: sparkling seascapes, mountains dotted with brightly colored farmhouses, winding lanes bordered with subtropical vegetation, and spectacular views of the Lakes of Killarney from Ladies View. Back in Killarney, a special optional adventure: take a horse-drawn jaunting car along the national park lakeshore for pictures of Ross Castle. (B)

Day 8Killarney–Dingle Peninsula–Adare–Limerick–Ennis

Breathtaking scenery this morning on the Dingle Peninsula, where the 32-mile Slea Head drive affords magnificent vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. See the Blasket Islands and hear about the way of life and unique literary achievements of its inhabitants prior to their evacuation in 1953. Then, via Adare, a village known for its prize-winning thatched cottages, and Limerick to Ennis. Tonight, an optional banquet at Knappogue Castle. (B)

Day 9Ennis–Cliffs of Moher–Galway–Dublin

A scenic route this morning via the Cliffs of Moher and The Burren on the way to the port city of Galway, a popular seaside destination and a buzzing cosmopolitan center with cobbled streets, colorful shops, and a busy café and bar culture. Continue across the mighty Shannon before arrival in Dublin. The optional dinner suggestion is a fun Irish cabaret evening with dance, song, and laughter. (B)

Day 10Dublin

A day in the “Fair City” starts with an orientation drive through Eire’s capital, including statue-lined O’Connell Street, elegant Georgian squares, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The rest of the day is at leisure. Why not join an optional dinner evening at the Guinness Storehouse. (B)

Day 11Dublin–Chester, England–Liverpool

Across the Irish Sea to Holyhead on the Welsh Isle of Anglesey with its tongue-twisting place names. Follow the North Wales coast to Chester, the ancient county town on the River Dee. See the Roman remains, black and white half-timbered buildings, and the two-tiered arcades called the “Rows.” Overnight in Liverpool of Beatles fame and once the departure port of the great transatlantic liners. (B,D)

Day 12Liverpool–Lake District–Gretna Green, Scotland–Glasgow

Drive into the tranquil Lake District, often considered to be the finest of England’s national parks. Visit Grasmere, home of poet William Wordsworth, and over the border for a visit to Gretna Green, where the blacksmith used to wed runaway couples. Travel through the history-steeped Lowland Hills to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. (B,D)

Day 13Glasgow–Fort William–Inverness–Culloden Moor–Grantown-On-Spey

Along the “Bonnie Banks” of Loch Lomond and through wild Rannoch Moor into the Highlands. Via Glen Coe, where the MacDonald Clan was massacred in 1692, to Fort William beneath Ben Nevis. Then, the Great Glen for vistas of the Caledonian Canal, Loch Lochy, and Loch Oich. Follow the banks of Loch Ness, home of the timid and timeless Nessie. Continue via Inverness, the Highland capital, and on the way to tonight’s destination, stop at the battlefield of Culloden Moor with its memories of Bonnie Prince Charlie. (B,D)

Day 14Grantown-On-Spey–Pitlochry–Perth–Dundee–St. Andrews–Edinburgh

Drive through more spectacular Highland scenery for a stop in the pretty Victorian mountain resort of Pitlochry. The routing then takes in Perth and Dundee before crossing the Tay Bridge to St. Andrews, whose Royal and Ancient Golf Club, founded in 1754, has given us the rules of golfing. Continue through Fife and over the mighty Forth Road Bridge to spend the next two nights in Edinburgh. A suggestion for this evening: enjoy a traditional Scottish night out with Highland dancers, bagpipers, and, of course, the Ceremony of the Haggis. (B)

Day 15Edinburgh

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. 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 July 19 through August 9, tickets are included for tonight’s performance of the world-renowned Military Tattoo. (B)

Day 16Edinburgh–Jedburgh–York, England–Sheffield

At Jedburgh, glimpse the house of Mary, Queen of Scots, and see the abbey ruins before heading towards the Cheviot Hills and the English border, then through wild Northumberland National Park. On the way, see a section of Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman coast-to-coast defense against marauding northern tribes. 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. Overnight in Sheffield. (B,D)

Day 17Sheffield–Stratford-upon-Avon–London

In Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, take your pictures of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and explore the town at your own pace. After returning to London around 4 pm, how about celebrating the success of your tour with an optional night out on the town? (B)

Day 18London

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 Novotel London West (F)
PLYMOUTH Quality (ST)
CARDIFF Park Inn (F)
TRAMORE Majestic (ST)
KILLARNEY Killarney Court (F)
ENNIS Auburn Lodge (ST)
DUBLIN Jurys Inn Custom House (F)
LIVERPOOL Holiday Inn Liverpool City Centre (F)
GLASGOW Pond (F)
GRANTOWN-ON-SPEY Craiglynne (F)
EDINBURGH Novotel Edinburgh Park (F)
SHEFFIELD Jurys Inn (F)
LONDON Kensington Close (ST)

Full English breakfast; 6 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 Grand Tour of Britain & Ireland:

  • City of Bath
  • Frontiers of the Roman Empire
  • Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City
  • Old and New Towns of Edinburgh
  • Stonehenge


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As recommended by Budget Travel