Your whirlwind journey through Great Britain and Ireland launches in London. As the boroughs of the 'Old Smoke' give way to the beautiful shires north of its skyscrapers, you'll enjoy a scenic drive through lush green landscapes bound for Shakespeare country. Visit Stratford-upon-Avon where you'll come face to face with the legacy of England's beloved bard before heading to York. Your Travel Director will take you for an orientation walk through its medieval streets to the sacred York Minster, where every piece of stained glass and limestone block was placed for the glory of God. Continue to your hotel in Bradford where tonight you'll dine in a local restaurant.
You're in for a serene start to your morning as you wind your way through the limestone hills and valleys of the Yorkshire Dales. Rustic stone villages, sheep-filled pastures, castles and abbeys line your route to England's celebrated Lake District. At Lake Windermere, an Optional Experience could take you back to the days of Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth who proclaimed the area 'the loveliest spot that man hath found'. Board an optional cruise on a private boat, skimming the northern coastline, deserted islands and Wray Castle. Then cross the Scottish border and stop in Gretna Green where eloping couples would tie the knot over the anvil. Continue to Glasgow later today. Your afternoon orientation of this former industrial hub turned vibrant modern metropolis will include views of the cathedral, the Clyde River and George Square where many of Scotland's most famous sons are immortalised in stone.
A day spent exploring Scotland's exquisite capital will leave you in no doubt as to why it captured the hearts of Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte and even Queen Victoria. Your Local Specialist will reveal all the highlights of 'Auld Reekie'. View the Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in the shadow of Arthur's Seat and Edinburgh Castle which watches over the city from Castle Rock. Exchange the medieval façades of the Old Town for grand Georgian-lined boulevards of the 18th century New Town. You'll have some time to explore Edinburgh your way or consider joining one of two special Optional Experiences, boarding the Royal Yacht Britannia for a brush with royalty or exploring what lies behind the impenetrable walls of Edinburgh Castle. This evening surrender to the skirl of bagpipes during an optional dinner in Stirling with views of its Castle and the Wallace Memorial by night.
Your visit to Scotland culminates in a scenic drive along the Ayrshire coast, the rugged landscapes where Robert Burns, Scotland's National Poet, was born and raised. Pass Ailsa Craig, the figurative stepping stone from Scotland to Ireland before boarding your short ferry crossing to Northern Ireland. You won't dally in its trendy capital, but there's time to see the City Hall, Queen's University and the dock where the ill-fated Titanic was built. Head south to Dublin, your home for the next two nights. There's no better way to embrace the energy of the city than joining an optional dinner at one of its most popular restaurant-pubs. Rub shoulders with the locals as you enjoy dinner and a solid dose of Irish craic.
You're in for a 'grand' time in the Irish capital this morning as your Local Specialist shares all the highlights. See Trinity College and St. Patrick's Cathedral, founded in the 12th century. Its 43-metre spire makes this the country's tallest church. See the stately Georgian Squares then spend the rest of the day on your own. Head down to Grafton Street or Temple Bar for a pint of the 'Black Stuff' or stroll along the Liffey through the heart of Dublin. This evening, an optional dinner and cabaret evening will have your toes tapping and taste buds craving another round of Irish coffee.
You won't need to don your Sunday best to visit stylish County Kildare, although the heart of Ireland's horseracing community with its elegant estates will have you wishing you could linger a little longer. Continue through the splendid countryside bound for Kilkenny where you'll see its beautiful 12th-century castle, an enduring symbol of Norman occupation. Later you'll arrive in Waterford where a visit to the Waterford Crystal Showroom will reveal a wonderland of delicate crystal, from stemware to fine china. You're in for a riveting history lesson when you join an Optional Experience for a walking tour with a Local Specialist and visit one of the area's oldest pubs for a pint. Dinner tonight is at your hotel.
Say your goodbyes to the 'Emerald Isle', crossing St. George's Channel to Wales. Small in size but significant in stature, Wales is the fifth country on this journey across the United Kingdom and Ireland. Its vibrant capital is your final destination today. Here you'll view the Millennium Centre, the National Assembly and the historic castle at its heart. Climb the 900-year-old Norman keep and perhaps walk on the battlements during an optional private tour of Cardiff Castle this afternoon. This evening could see you venture into the Welsh countryside for dinner at a 14th-century inn or enjoy an evening of Welsh music, culture and humour at an Optional Experience.
Today may be our final day together, but it's packed with things to see. Cross the Severn Estuary into England and venture to Bath with its elegant Georgian architecture. The city's healing waters saw it emerge as a wellness centre as far back as Roman times and you could choose to visit what remains of its Roman Baths before heading to Windsor to view the world's oldest and largest inhabited castle. There's time for a quiet stroll along the banks of the river and shop for Royal souvenirs before arriving in London later where your epic holiday comes to an end.