- Tour Edinburgh Castle, the most famous landmark in Scotland
- Travel to the Scottish Highlands and whisky distilleries
- Visit Belfast and its "Game of Thrones" shooting locations
- Discover the Cliffs of Moher and Kilkenny Castle
- Immerse yourself in Irish culture on Dublin city tours
|Day 1||Arrive in Edinburgh, Tour Edinburgh Castle||Edinburgh|
|Day 2||Edinburgh Food Tour||Edinburgh|
|Day 3||Transfer to Pitlochry: Queen's View, Castle & Distillery Tour||Pitlochry|
|Day 4||Visit Cairngorms National Park, Transfer to Oban & Distillery Tour||Oban|
|Day 5||Coast of Mull Boat Tour, Folk Music & Dining in Glasgow||Glasgow|
|Day 6||Fly to Belfast, Hike to Cave Hill||Belfast|
|Day 7||Game of Thrones Private Tour||Belfast|
|Day 8||Transfer to Clifden, Stop at Slieve League & Fjord Boat Tour||Clifden|
|Day 9||Kylemore Abbey, Connemara & Galway Tour, Transfer to Doolin||Doolin|
|Day 10||Cliffs of Moher Cruise, Rock of Cashel & Transfer to Kilkenny||Kilkenny|
|Day 11||Visit Kilkenny Castle, Transfer to Dublin & Food Tour||Dublin|
|Day 12||Hidden Homes of Dublin, Guinness & Jameson Tour||Dublin|
|Day 13||Depart Dublin|
Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh, Tour Edinburgh CastleWelcome to Scotland! Your grand tour begins in Edinburgh, the capital of the country. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in the city. After checking in, you can head out and explore this bastion of Celtic history and culture.
Day 2: Edinburgh Food TourScottish food is often stereotyped (think whisky and deep-fried Mars bars). Today, you'll put those stereotypes to rest on a three-hour foodie tour of Edinburgh. During this culinary odyssey, your professional chef/food writer guide will take you around the city and reveal how Scottish cuisine is evolving while still adhering to long-standing culinary traditions. Along the way, you'll stop at a few of the city's top eateries to meet shop owners, taste artisanal products, and discover some of the best-kept secrets of Scottish culinary traditions.
For example, you'll walk through the charming, upscale area of Stockbridge, popping in at gourmet food shops. Perhaps visit Scotland's most famous deli and wine merchant to discuss the influence Italian immigrants had (and still have) in shaping the tastes of Edinburgh. You'll also stop at the first independent coffee shop in Edinburgh to savor locally roasted beans. Later, visit a butcher to see the season's wild game and sample meat pies, then try hot and cold smoked salmon, haddock, and trout from an award-winning smokehouse.
Throughout the tour, you'll examine how all of these shops, restaurants, and produce purveyors factor into the Scottish diet. You'll also learn how poverty and wealth have influenced Scottish eating and drinking habits. The tour reveals firsthand how Edinburgh and its surrounding areas have become the epicenter of Scotland's fine dining and cutting-edge food trends. Afterward, you'll return to your hotel.
Day 3: Transfer to Pitlochry: Queen's View, Castle & Distillery TourAfter breakfast, your driver will pick you up for the ride out of Edinburgh and into the famous Highlands region of northern Scotland. Your destination is the town of Pitlochry, a 19th-century Victorian village nestled in a forested glen (valley) on the River Tummel. Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and can then stretch your legs with a walk around town followed by lunch.
Day 4: Visit Cairngorms National Park, Transfer to Oban & Distillery TourIn the morning, you'll leave Pitlochry on a drive north to the adjacent Cairngorms National Park, located in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. At 1,748 square miles (4,528 sq km), it's the largest park in the UK. This protected area is home to some of the greatest diversity of wildlife in the country, so keep your camera ready as your expert guide leads you on a tour through these virgin landscapes. Exotic and threatened species you might see include the Scottish mountain hare and wildcat. Of course, the real prize on this safari is the majestic red deer, the largest land mammal in the park.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Coast of Mull Boat Tour, Folk Music & Dining in Glasgow
After an early breakfast, you'll head over to the harbor in Oban and board a boat for a two-hour tour around the Isle of Mull. During this unforgettable experience, you'll leave Oban Bay and sail to the Firth of Lorn. This inlet between the Isle of Mull and mainland Scotland features many islets that are habitats for various exotic wildlife. From the boat's deck, you're likely to spot sea eagles, seals, and the occasional dolphin. You'll also pass a few ancient castles, like Dunollie, which dates back to the seventh century.
When you return to land, you'll transfer about two hours south into the western lowlands to Glasgow. This port city on the River Clyde rivals Edinburgh, as it boasts a world-class art scene and historic architecture ranging from Victorian to Art Nouveau. Once you've settled into your hotel, you'll discover this fascinating city on a walking tour that focuses on Glasgow's storied folk music scene. It begins with an hour-long guided walk around Merchant City, after which you'll stop at a local restaurant. The upmarket menu features everything from haggis and meat pies to fresh seafood and seasonal produce.
As part of the tour, you'll also enjoy two contemporary folk music sessions during the tour from a rotating line-up of Glasgow's up-and-coming musical talent. Hearing such authentic music performed live is the best way to learn about one of the great traditions that define Scottish culture.
Day 6: Fly to Belfast, Hike to Cave HillIn the morning, you'll transfer to the airport in Glasgow for the 45-minute flight to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. When you arrive at the airport. a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in the city. Then you can spend the rest of the day exploring this modern metropolis at your own pace on a self-guided walking tour.
A good place to start is the Cathedral Quarter. Wander the cobblestone streets of this historic trading center that today is home to trendy bars, clubs, and restaurants. Admire the street art followed by a stop for lunch and/or coffee. Then head to the outskirts of the city for a walk up Belfast's most famous landmark: Cave Hill. A two-hour hike will take you to the top of the mountain, where you'll enjoy incredible panoramic views over basalt cliffs to Belfast and the countryside below.
Day 7: Game of Thrones Private TourThe day begins with a 9 am pickup from your hotel in Belfast. Your driver/guide will take you about an hour up to the coast and the town of Ballycastle. This is where you'll begin your half-day "Game of Thrones" tour, as many sites along this section of coast in Northern Ireland were used as filming locations in the famous HBO series.
First, travel to the village of Cushendun and visit the ominous Cushendun Caves, the site where the character Melisandre gave birth to her "shadow baby." Continue to Murlough Bay, which doubled as Renly's Camp and Slaver's Bay. Next, head over to the coastal cliff Fair Head, which became famous as the Dragonstone Cliffs of season seven. Another highlight is the harbor at Ballintoy village, which was featured as the Free Cities in the series and was where the character Varys was born.
Take a break from the world of fantasy and enter the realm of Irish mythology as you embark on a guided walking tour along the famous Giant's Causeway. This UNESCO World Heritage Site features around 40,000 cylindrically shaped basalt rocks packed so close together they create a unique geometric formation. The name refers to the legend of Finn MacCool, an ancient Irish giant who supposedly built a causeway to do battle with an invading Scottish giant. After the walk, you'll return to Belfast.
Day 8: Transfer to Clifden, Stop at Slieve League & Fjord Boat TourAfter breakfast, you'll leave Belfast and head south, crossing the border to the Republic of Ireland and continuing to Clifden, a coastal town in County Galway. The drive there takes about five hours, but you'll stop along the way at Slieve League, a coastal mountain whose famous sea cliffs rise 1,972 feet (601 m) over the ocean. There's a hiking trail that runs a few miles to the cliffs, where you'll enjoy stunning views over the Atlantic.
Day 9: Kylemore Abbey, Connemara & Galway Tour, Transfer to DoolinIn the morning, leave Clifden on a road trip to some of the most famous places in County Galway. The first stop is at Kylemore Abbey. Built in the 19th century, this historic estate has been home to a Benedictine order of nuns since 1920. On a two-hour tour, you'll learn about the abbey's rich history plus visit its famous Walled Gardens, a Victorian marvel that is the largest enclosed garden in Ireland.
Then you'll head over to Connemara National Park. This 7,000-acre (2,832 ha) is a vast expanse of mountains, lakes, bogs, and heathland that's home to the famous Connemara pony, a breed of horse native to the region. No less than Oscar Wilde remarked on the "savage beauty" of Connemara. You'll experience it for yourself on a one-hour hike along one of three marked trails in the park.
After Connemara, you'll get back in the car and continue 1.5 hours south to the city of Galway, the capital of the county. This is the beating heart of Ireland's west, as it boasts artistic, musical, and culinary scenes second to none. Speaking of which, when you arrive, you'll enjoy a walking tour that focuses on the cuisine of Galway, which has been ranked as a top foodie destination in Europe by publications like the BBC. Later, with a full stomach, you'll leave Galway and continue another 1.5 hours south into County Clare and the colorful seaside village of Doolin, where you'll overnight.