After leaving your London hotel delve into centuries of history today – tales of star-crossed lovers, tragic kings and Roman emperors are brought to life as we arrive in Stratford-upon-Avon and follow in the footsteps of Shakespeare. Visit his Birthplace and the Visitor Center, before embarking on a scenic drive north to the Viking city of York, where we'll enjoy an orientation walk around its historic streets. View the cobbled Shambles, see the ancient city walls and the magnificent York Minster. This evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner at our hotel in the Victorian spa town of Harrogate, our home for tonight.
We journey through the Yorkshire Dales National Park to the beautiful Lake District, which has inspired poets and writers for centuries. A highlight on our journey is England's pretty Lake Windermere, which we’ll pass as we continue through countryside made famous by the poet William Wordsworth. We'll cross the border, into Scotland, to the runaway wedding capital of Gretna Green. Here eloping couples would tie the knot over the Marriage Anvil. We drive through the Southern Uplands to vibrant Glasgow where our orientation will take us past Glasgow Cathedral and George Square. Tonight, consider joining an Optional Experience featuring a fabulous dinner and Scottish entertainment.
From the cultural capital of Glasgow to enchanting Edinburgh, with its exquisite medieval façades, our encounter with Scotland will see us join a Local Specialist for a memorable sightseeing tour. We’ll visit Edinburgh Castle, perched atop Castle Rock overlooking the city, and see the Royal Mile, the elegant Palace of Holyroodhouse and the new Scottish Parliament. Admire the elegant Georgian architecture in the New Town and amble through the secret lanes of Auld Reekie before returning to Glasgow this evening for a delicious meal at a local restaurant.
Follow the rugged Ayrshire coast, past the island of Ailsa Craig, the stepping stone from Ireland to Scotland. Board the ferry to Northern Ireland, then join a Local Specialist to explore the crossroads of British and Irish culture in Belfast. We’ll view City Hall and the dock where the Titanic was built. This evening, we arrive in the vibrant capital of Ireland where we'll spend the next two nights.
Dive Into Culture and discover the fascinating 250-year-old story of Guinness at its original home, the Guinness Storehouse. Top it off with a taste in their Gravity Bar while you enjoy the panoramic views of Dublin. Drive through the pretty streets of Dublin with a Local Specialist to admire the stately Georgian Squares, Trinity College and St. Patrick's Cathedral, the tallest church in Ireland, before spending the rest of the day exploring the sights alone. Ramble through Temple Bar or Grafton Street, famous for its colorful street performers. This evening, consider joining an Optional Experience to a rousing Irish cabaret performance.
We Dive Into Culture this morning and gain insights into rearing world-class thoroughbreds at the Irish National Stud established in 1946. Enjoy a guided walk through the farm and take some time to stroll through its tranquil Japanese Gardens, regarded as the best in Europe. Admire the imposing medieval castle at Kilkenny before some free time for lunch. Our next stop sees us Dive Into Culture yet again to witness the delicate craft of Waterford Crystal. We'll watch master crafters at work during a tour of the workshop and see the exquisitely crafted pieces in the showroom.
An early start to our sightseeing today sees us cross the Irish Sea to Wales by ferry and continue our journey to the Welsh capital of Cardiff to view the Wales Millennium Center, National Assembly and historic Cardiff Castle, in the heart of the city. This evening, we Connect With Locals in the idyllic Welsh countryside, joining a local family for a Farewell Dinner Be My Guest experience. Visit the oldest and largest vineyard in Wales, you’ll learn how the Norris family are using sustainable farming practices and get to meet some of the resident animals that roam the land freely. You’ll enjoy a homemade meal, enchanting stories of rural life in Wales and warm Welsh hospitality, leaving with the knowledge that your visit supports the family in their efforts to farm sustainably.
Traversing the Severn Estuary into England, we arrive in the glorious UNESCO listed city of Bath, with its elegant Georgian façades and visit the world-famous Roman Baths from which the city derives its name. Journey across the scenic landscapes of Wiltshire, paying a visit to the mysterious monolithic stone circle at Stonehenge, then return to London where your memorable holiday in Britain and Ireland comes to an end.