All the highlights of Britain and Ireland lie ahead as your epic journey across two mystical islands kicks off in London. The 'Big Smoke's' skyscrapers and boroughs give way to an idyllic countryside as you wind your way to Windsor, the Queen's favourite weekend getaway. Arriving in Bath, you'll admire the honey-coloured Georgian architecture which gives this ancient Roman city its elegant aspect. Cross the Severn Estuary, the border between England and tiny Wales, where tonight its capital sets the stage for the rest of your memorable holiday.
Join this morning's Optional Experience to Cardiff Castle, a medieval fortress which has enjoyed a colourful history spanning centuries. Ancient ruins and lush countryside lie between the Welsh capital and your first stop at Pembroke Castle. But first, your scenic drive will pass Carmarthen, the oldest town in Wales and, legend has it, the birthplace of Merlin. See the 11th-century castle in which King Henry VII, the first of the Tudor line, was born, then board your ferry across the Irish Sea to Ireland.
The delicate crystal for which Waterford is so famous takes centre stage this morning during a visit to the Waterford Crystal Showroom. Leave all that Viking history behind and enjoy the charming scenery en-route to Blarney Castle, where a quick kiss of the Blarney Stone will grant you the 'gift of the gab'. Your scenic drive continues across the Cork and Kerry Mountains. You'll pass Killarney, where you could hop on an optional Jaunting Car ride, before continuing to Tralee, renowned for its annual Rose of Tralee International Festival.
There won't be a moment you're not fixated on this wild landscape of stone monuments, deserted beaches and verdant pastures. Today's drive through the Dingle Peninsula is one filled with tiny villages, colourful fishing harbours and landscapes that have inspired poetry. Those incredible views will linger long after you leave Ireland's most westerly point, but there's more to see as you head to the prettiest village in Ireland, Adare. Continue to Limerick to see its medieval-era St. Mary's Cathedral and view King John's Castle, before arriving at your hotel in Shannon where tonight you'll dine in your hotel.
Your first stop today is Ireland's first 'City of Culture', Galway, or join an Optional Experience to the 15th-century Bunratty Castle and Folk Park delving into what Ireland was like in the 19th century. After a chinwag with the 'locals', drive through the wild landscapes of County Clare bound for Galway, the 'place of foreigners'. See its modern cathedral before heading to the whimsical Irish capital. This evening, an optional dinner and cabaret evening will have your toes tapping and taste buds craving another round of Irish coffee.
You're in good hands this morning as your Local Specialist reveals all their secrets about this charismatic capital city with a small-town feel. View Trinity College, St. Patrick's Cathedral and Dublin Castle, the 13th-century Norman fortress turned museum. This afternoon explore Dublin on your own or join an optional visit to one of the most important monastic sights in Europe. Your Local Specialist will bring the ancient stories of Glendalough to life and show you around the beautiful landscapes of the garden of Ireland.
Say a fond slán go fóill to the 'Emerald Isle', crossing the Irish Sea bound for Holyhead on the Welsh Island of Anglesey. Get ready for a tongue twister you could only capture in a panoramic shot. View the station boasting one of the longest names in the world, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, then head through the north coast of Wales to Chester, to explore its Roman heritage. There's time to walk along its defensive 1st-century walls and view the famous black and white half-timbered buildings before heading to Liverpool where the musical 'Fab Four' had their start.
After a busy week of sightseeing, you deserve an idyllic stop in 'the loveliest spot' that has inspired poetry and prose. Board an exclusive and optional cruise on Lake Windermere, skimming the northern coastline, deserted islands and Wray Castle. See the Lake District landscapes that William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter so admired before crossing the Scottish border bound for Gretna Green. Here you'll learn how eloping couples would tie the knot over the legendary anvil against their parents' wishes. Tonight, an Optional Experience could see you join your travel companions for a delicious traditional dinner at a local restaurant.
Discover the Edinburgh's mystical allure which has captivated writers, poets, politicians and royalty. Your Local Specialist will guide this morning's sightseeing tour past the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Edinburgh Castle. You'll explore the medieval Royal Mile and cross the Forth to the grand Georgian boulevards of New Town. The rest of the day is free to explore Edinburgh on your terms. 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, an Optional Experience could see you visit the ancient village where Knights Hospitaller once settled or dance up a storm to the skirl of traditional bagpipes.
Your journey south ventures through what was once referred to as 'The Debatable Lands' where all that remains of Jedburgh Abbey are its 12th-century ruins. Admire the expansive Cheviot Hills at Carter Bar, snapping a selfie at the Anglo-Scottish border. Continue into Northumberland National Park to view Hadrian's Wall, the largest Roman archaeological feature anywhere in the world. Then cross the Tyne River at Newcastle and stop in York where an orientation tour will reveal the city's medieval heritage and spiritual heart, its Gothic Minster. Wander down the narrow cobbled Shambles, then continue to your hotel in Leeds where dinner is served this evening.
The streets and squares of Stratford-upon-Avon remain much as they did in the time of Shakespeare. Embark on your own exploration of the historic market town where England's famous bard was born and buried. There's time to join an Optional Experience to Warwick Castle and even see the firing of the greatest of medieval siege weapons, the Trebuchet.
Take a step back in time to the Cotswolds, a glorious collection of tiny thatched villages and rolling green hills. Your scenic drive through this historic corner of Britain will bring you to Bladon, where Sir Winston Churchill is buried in the unassuming churchyard at St. Martin's Church. Churchill, widely credited with delivering the British nation from the brink of defeat to victory in World War II, loved the Cotswolds and spent his retirement here. Next up is a visit to Oxford, England's oldest university city. See several of its iconic landmarks before continuing south to London where you'll bid your Travel Director and new friends a fond farewell.