Westminster to West Ireland, the cathedral of St. Paul’s to the sanctuary of County Kerry, English tea and Irish beer and many else besides, you’ll love your trip to these two nations who have had such a mark on the world. From St. George to St. Patrick, everything worth revering can be found right here.
Day 1: Arrival in London, the Greatest City in Great Britain
This morning sees you entering the heart of the British Empire at Heathrow, ready to explore the best offerings of this famous world capital. After dropping off your bags at your luxurious and comfortable hotel, check out your surroundings in the hotel’s neighborhood: you’ll find that, in London, even the most everyday buildings are filled with a sense of power and pride that comes with being the center of the known world for more than two centuries.
Stroll along the mighty River Thames or wander the beautiful and peaceful grounds of Hyde Park, London’s largest swath of green. Then again, it might just be best to stop in at one of the many London pubs for a pint and some pub food: despite the bad rap English cuisine gets, you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised as you chomp down on fish and chips or discover one of the myriad of the city’s establishments dedicated to serving authentic “ethnic” cuisine.
Day 2: Seeing the Sights in the Queen’s City
London is filled with the history of her glorious past: you see it on the street corners and in the elegant halls of museums, on the lips of the Beefeaters at the Tower or from the clipped and proper speech of the Bobbies on patrol. Today, unearth the treasures at London’s finest museums, from the archaeological highlights like the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum to the varied portraits of English notables at the National Portrait Gallery, and even the eclectic and impressive exhibits at the Tate Modern, which sees nearly five million visitors every year.
Engage your inner tourist as you ride atop one of London’s famous double decker buses, or cruise the Thames to get a different perspective on the bustling streets and gorgeous buildings that line either bank. Farther afield, you can explore Great Britain’s triumphant military past at the Imperial War Museum, dedicated to educating the public on modern warfare and the wartime experience and featuring exhibits detailing the county’s major conflicts since World War One.
Day 3: Touring the Structures that Define Modern London
Head out to discover some of the more iconic buildings in this incredible city. Wander the impressive grounds of the Palace of Westminster, where the British Parliament has been conducting the political business of the country for centuries, famous for its Gothic façade, its striking position overlooking the Thames, and the world’s most famous clock tower housing Big Ben, the giant bell that tolls the hour after the completion of the instantly recognizable Westminster Chimes.
Walk down the banks of the Thames to the towering dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren and one of the largest church buildings in the world. You’ll be amazed at the awe-inspiring interior, and the Cathedral’s dome can be accessed by a flight of stairs, opening out into one of the most spectacular views in the entire city. Cross the Thames over the newly created Millennium Bridge (featured in the opening scenes of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and continue on to the London Eye, a large Ferris Wheel that has become one of London’s most popular destinations: this time, you can get a view from the sky with St. Paul’s in the picture!
Day 4: Hitting the Highlights of South England
Today venture further afield to the plains around London to experience the majesty of the English countryside and the grandeur of some of its most famous structures. Excellent tours are available to a number of sights in southern England, and all feature friendly, knowledgeable guides and easy, stress-free arrangements.
You can explore the venerable Windsor Castle—the home of the British monarchy for more than a millennia and one of the longest continually occupied palaces in Europe—before setting off to roam the grounds of Oxford, arguably the world’s most famous university, the home to the Rhodes Scholarship and some of the smartest people walking the earth. Or perhaps you’d like to engage in a more relaxing circuit, touring the rolling green landscape dominated by the towering spire of Salisbury Cathedral before setting off to the Roman-cum-Georgian spa town of Bath, famous for its gorgeous architecture and the bubbling hot springs tourists have frequented for hundreds of years. Whichever tour you choose, they all end at one of the most mysterious and mystical sites on the planet: the unmistakable ring of Stonehenge, a structure shrouded in mystery and famed for its seemingly impossible construction. This remarkable monument will surely leave you filled with a sense of awe and wonder at its possible intentions and the people who built it, and it will undoubtedly be the high note of your amazing visit through the English countryside.
Day 5: Back for More in Lovely London
Your final day in London is dedicated to exploring the parts of the cities that you might have missed earlier in the trip. Stand in reverence in the shadow of the Gothic façade of Westminster Abbey, where kings are crowned, princes are married, and the heroes of the Empire laid to rest. You’ll see the Coronation Chair of Edward the Confessor, where the British monarch takes their first seat as head of state, as well as the remains of some of England’s most powerful monarchs, from Edward I to Elizabeth I. There are also laymen here, some of the most famous names in history: Newton and Darwin, Chaucer and Browning, Dickens and Hardy and Samuel Johnson.
For more modern amusements, head to London’s swinging West End, where you’ll find the theater district, the best in the world outside of Broadway, though many contend it tops even the Great White Way. You’ll also be awash in the lights from Piccadilly Circus, London’s equivalent to Time Square and one of the most vibrant stretches of street in the entire city. Then turn your eyes upwards to the proud and prominent statue of Admiral Lord Nelson atop his eponymous pillar, guarded by four lions and serving as the focal point of Trafalgar Square, one of London’s most famous, dedicated to a famous naval victory over the forces of Napoleon in the early nineteenth century. Your final night in London can be spent at one of her impeccable fine dining establishments, regaling all of your English adventures and gearing up for the promises of Ireland.
Day 6: Welcoming You to the Emerald Isle
After departing from Heathrow this morning, you land at the airport in Shannon, the major hub of western Ireland and an up-and-coming city in its own right. From here, your options for exploring this rugged and beautiful region of Ireland are virtually endless: if you’d prefer, we can pre-book a stay at one of the areas quaint and quiet bed and breakfasts, or you can retain a flexible schedule and make it up as you go.
Western Ireland has a myriad of comfortable and charming hotels, and you’ll find yourself enchanted by the warmth of the locals and their fantastic stories. And those looking for a bit of luxury will not be disappointed, as you’ll have the choice to spend your first night in one of the area’s incredible renovated and restored castle hotels. Those looking to explore Ireland’s northwest would do well to visit the impeccable grounds and faultless service at Ballynahinch Castle or AbbeyGlen Castle in County Galway, while those with an eye to the south will love the opulent ambience at Ballyseede Castle in County Kerry.
Day 7: Around the Incomparable West of Ireland
Today, awake to a filling Irish breakfast and the promise of the most beautiful countryside you could ever hope to experience. Drive to the top of one of Ireland’s most famous geographical landmarks, the sheer and soaring Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. Towering above the surf of the Atlantic Ocean, the Cliffs have served as the backdrop for fantasy movies and classic postcards, and have come to epitomize sea-cliffs the world over.
Those unafraid of heights might want to head to O’Brien’s Tower, built by a certain Irish merchant looking to promote the Cliffs as a tourist destination and to impress the young ladies who flocked to this astounding promontory near the highest point of the entire structure. A clear day will allow you to gaze out over the Atlantic’s expanse into Galway Bay and espy the craggy visage of the famous Aran Islands, while turning your eyes inland offers the magnificent view of the Maumturks and Twelve Bins mountain ranges, two of Ireland’s most prominent ridges. If your eye is particularly sharp, you just might be able to spot the lighthouse at Loop Head far down the coast to the south.
Day 8: An Otherworldly Landscape in the Heart of County Clare
Travel a little further north of the Cliffs of Moher to take in one of the most unique and vibrant landscapes in all of Europe, a vast swath of limestone alvar known in Irish as simply “great rock” and Anglicized to the Burren. Here, in one of the largest karst landscapes on the continent, you’ll find an incredible variety of life that belies the regions bleak and seemingly inhospitable appearance. You’ll find beautiful flowers of every color forcing their way through the cracks of the limestone floor, martens and butterflies fluttering through the air, and the azure backdrop of the tranquil waters of Galway Bay framing it all in the background. There are also karst domes to be found here, as well as the remains of the ancient Celts who called the surrounding area home: you’ll see the balancing boulders marking a portal tomb, and a series of stone forts that are among the more impressive in Ireland.
Day 9: A Scenic Drive Through the Spectacular County Kerry
Head south for your final day in Ireland to experience the very best that the southwest of Erin has to offer, in renowned County Kerry and her many stirring sights. Tour the Lakes of Killarney and primeval forests of oak and yew in Killarney National Park and cruise the roads around what might be planet Earth’s very best drive: the singular Ring of Kerry.
Marvel at the verdant rises of Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and the plunging valleys throughout, including the awe-inspiring Gap of Dunloe. Rest at the Ladies’ View and take in the rich palette of greens and blues and reds, earth tones and hues created by the sun, the rich azure of the lakes and streams, the tumbling whites of Torc Waterfall, the deep and daring silver of the sky above the sea. Nor will the power of nature be the only marvel on this voyage; there are human feats here, as well, including the imposing Ross Castle and the ivy climbing the walls of the Tudor ramparts at Muckross House. You’ll be dazzled by the one-of-a-kind visages here, all proudly proclaiming the poetic beauty that is the southwest of Ireland.
Day 10: Homeward Bound
After arriving at the airport at Shannon, today sees you returning to your home country, filled with the incredible experiences of the past ten days still light in your eyes, ringing in your ears, and singing in your heart.
- Tour mighty London and see all of her most famous landmarks, from the British Museum and the Tate Modern to St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey
- Venture into the plains of southern England to discover some of her most famous locales, like the University of Oxford, Windsor Castle, Salisbury Cathedral and the iconic Stonehenge
- Explore the fascinating west of Ireland and her most famous shoreline, taking a view from high in the sky at the top of the immense Cliffs of Moher
- Lose yourself in the unique scene at the Burren, where some of Ireland’s most unique species and best archaeological remains reside
- Cruise along one of the planet’s most arresting drives, as you’ll revel in the splendor of the unparalleled Ring of Kerry
- Architecture / Cultural Activities / Historical Sites / History & Archaeology Tours / Landmarks / Market / Bazaar / Monument / Memorial / Museums & Galleries / Performances: Concerts – Theaters – Shows – Dances & Musicals / Gourmet Dining / Music / Palace / Castle / Mansion / Parks / Scenic Drive / Shopping / Small Towns / Villages / Walking Tours / Gardens / Nature
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