If you're making the effort to travel all the way to the United Kingdom, then you're bound to want to see the all the best bits. So why not do so with an escorted tour? One of the best UK tour packages is the comprehensive Britain and Ireland Grandeur escorted tour, which shows off our islands to perfection.
You get to visit England, Wales, and Scotland, which make up Great Britain. Add in Northern Ireland and the tour has covered the United Kingdom. But you also get to spend several days in glorious southern Ireland, so now the United Kingdom and Ireland are included. Confused?
Well, you would not be the only ones. Even us Brits get it wrong from time to time!
As you travel around the British Isles on this most exiting of UK tour packages, things will become clearer. You'll see different landscapes and explore cities, meet people of different cultures, and locals with distinctive regional accents. And you'll enjoy all manner of local food, music and entertainment. Pack a range of clothing for all weather, bring a quality folding umbrella, and make sure your phone and camera have lots of free memory for all your photos on, as this will be a trip of a lifetime…
At Essentially England we write mostly about England, but we believe that if you have travelled far to get here, then why not take the opportunity to explore and discover as much as possible and branch out into our neighbouring countries, be it Wales, Scotland, or the Emerald Isle.
This tour - one of the best escorted UK Tour Packages - is designed to help you do just that. We’ve travelled most of its route - except for Northern Ireland - and would say that this is going to be a great experience. So come with an open mind and explore...
The tour starts in one of the world’s greatest cities, London. Enjoy your free time and take a relaxing cruise on the River Thames, or visit some of the great sites, museums, or art galleries.
Discover Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey with a local specialist. Your free time will allow you to explore more London sites, like Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, or Trafalgar Square. In the evening there may be the chance to watch a West End show or have dinner in Covent Garden and watch the street entertainers.
Just a quick note. If you want tickets for West End shows it is probably best that you book them before arriving here, otherwise on the day there may be little choice, and what tickets are available might be very expensive.
Your journey around the UK and Ireland starts with a bang. The tour travels west to the remote landscape of Salisbury Plain, to the ancient, mythical site of Stonehenge. Discover how the stones were transported and moved into position, and if you know what they were for, then tell all the top archaeologists and historians because after years of study it’s still a mystery!
The day ends in the naval city of Plymouth in Devon, where the tour stays for two nights. The most popular areas of Plymouth are The Barbican and Hoe, where you can find many historical features, including the Mayflower steps, Royal Citadel, vibrant cobbled streets with Tudor and Jacobean buildings, magnificent views, and the bowling green where Sir Francis Drake famously finished his game of bowls before setting off to defeat the Spanish Armada.
Your fourth day begins with an introduction to Plymouth and a visit to the Royal Citadel and the Mayflower Steps, from where the pilgrims set off for America in 1620.
After that, you cross the River Tamar on a fine suspension bridge and head into Cornwall to visit the fishing villages of Looe and Polperro. Both are lovely, picturesque places, but Polperro is something very special. It’s full of small, narrow streets and tiny old fisherman cottages. One of the best views is to walk up the cliff footpath away from the harbour!
There are three optional extra experiences for today. Your evening could be spent in a quaint Devonshire village full of old thatched roof houses for a pub dinner, or you could explore the wilds of Dartmoor, meet wild Dartmoor ponies, and see the eerie Princetown Prison before dinner at an inn. That’s a difficult choice!
And then there is an interesting cruise around Plymouth Harbour and the Royal Navy Dockyard.
On day 5, the tour sets off for the capital of Wales, Cardiff, stopping en route in the elegant Georgian city of Bath. In Bath, you get to see the stylish architecture of the Georgian period and visit the Roman Baths after which the city is named.
Leaving Bath, the journey continues over the River Severn on one of the suspension bridges and enters south Wales. One thing you’ll notice as the road heads to Cardiff is that all the road signs are in Welsh and English. It takes one or two signs to get your eye in.
In the evening you have free time to explore Cardiff, or you have the choice of two optional extra evenings out. Both include dinner, but if I was to choose one, then I would go to the old church and listen to the harpist and Welsh singers. Welsh choirs are something special!
In the morning there is a sightseeing trip around Cardiff, and an optional extra private tour of Cardiff Castle. Then it’s time to travel down to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park to pick up the ferry from Fishguard. This southwestern corner of Wales is very pretty!
After crossing the Irish Sea, it is a short hop to the hotel in Waterford, which is famous for its crystal.
The day starts with a trip to the House of Waterford Crystal for the chance to see the craftsmen at work.
The tour then moves on to Blarney Castle near Cork, giving you the opportunity to kiss the Blarney Stone. This tradition has been around for hundreds of years and is supposed to improve your “eloquence and persuasiveness”. The stone is at the top of the castle, and you must lay on your back and bend your head back to kiss the stone. It’s not all about kissing the stone, though, as the castle and gardens are very attractive.
Home for two nights is the beautiful town of Killarney on the shore of Lough Leane and part of the Killarney National Park. In the evening you have a choice of optional extra entertainment, either Celtic or Gaelic music, song, and dance. I’m not sure that I would know the difference between them!
Hopefully the singing and dancing from last night hasn’t left you feeling too tired, as today’s itinerary includes exploring The Ring of Kerry. This is a spectacular scenic route around the Iveragh Peninsula in county Kerry with many beauty spots, pretty towns, and historical sites.
An optional extra during the day is a ride in a traditional pony and trap ride.
The journey today is one of contrast, as the first stop is historic Limerick. Sightseeing includes King John’s Castle, St. Mary’s Cathedral, and the Treaty Stone on which the Treaty of Limerick was signed in October 1691.
From Limerick the tour visits the dramatic Cliffs of Moher where the craggy cliffs dive to the wild Atlantic Ocean. The experience is enhanced as you get to enjoy a high quality multimedia show at the visitor’s centre.
After taking the fresh sea air, your journey continues into Galway for the night. Galway is considered the capital of Ireland’s music, song, and dance, so it could be another exciting evening!
In the morning, before leaving Galway, explore the stunning Galway Cathedral that dominates the city’s skyline. There is also time to wander around Eyre Square, which was officially renamed the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park after he visited in 1963.
The journey to Donegal passes through the seaport of Sligo, which boasts abbey ruins, a cathedral, and strong links with the famous Irish poet WB Yeats.
In Donegal, you have free time to explore the city and its fifteenth century castle.
The route today crosses the Irish border to visit the second-largest city in Northern Ireland, Londonderry, or Derry. Here you join a local expert and explore the seventeenth century walls that surround the city, where there are fine views of both the inner and outer city. After walking around the city wall, you visit the Bogside area to admire the street murals that have been created by the Bogside artists.
Leaving Derry, the tour continues to the north coast and the legendary Giants Causeway. This icon basalt rock formation was apparently made by the mythical giant Finn McCool who wanted to get to the Scottish island of Staffa to fight another giant.
The next stop is Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, and the home of the shipyard that built the Titanic. There is free time to explore the city, and, in the evening, you have a choice of an optional night out.
The day starts with a driving tour of Belfast with one of the knowledgeable local taxi drivers. You’ll catch up on the local history and see the best sites.
Later, the tour leaves Belfast for Dublin, where you join a great sightseeing trip with a local expert. In the evening, there is an optional extra Dublin dinner and Irish Show.
It’s an unusual start to the day, as you visit the Guinness Storehouse before the normal admission time. Learn about the history behind one of Ireland’s most famous products and try to pour the perfect pint. I’m sure there’ll be some tasting involved, even if it is a little early in the day!
The rest of the day is free to explore the sights and sounds of Dublin. You could continue with the drinking theme and visit the Irish Whiskey Museum and Jameson Distillery, or try deer spotting in Phoenix Park.
There is also an optional visit to the historic monastic site of Glendalough in the beautiful Wicklow Mountains. We visited this peaceful site in the autumn and the surrounding landscape was stunning.
You’ll need your sea legs today as the tour leaves Ireland, and crosses the Irish Sea to Holyhead on the Isle of Anglesey in north Wales. The route travels through lovely countryside and crosses the Menai Strait to join mainland Wales near the Snowdonia National Park, where you may catch mountain views. The route continues westward, and you arrive in the third country of the day, England, where we enter the Roman walled town of Chester, and then move on to the home of The Beatles, Liverpool. If you're still inte mood to explore, there's an optional extra tour around Liverpool that introduces its maritime past, cathedrals, and of course The Beatles.
Today’s adventure takes you to the beautiful Lake District and the landscape that has inspired artists, poets, and writers. Expect stunning scenery!
At England’s largest lake, Lake Windermere, there is the opportunity for an optional cruise on the lake, or a cruise and short steam train ride.
Your tour now reaches Scotland and stops at romantic Gretna Green, where couples used to elope to get married in front of the Blacksmith’s anvil.
After Gretna, it’s on to Falkirk to hopefully see the Falkirk Wheel in operation as it lifts/lowers canal boats between the Union Canal and the Forth and Clyde Canal. The only rotating boat lift in the world is an engineering marvel and quite a spectacle besides!
Home for the night is Glasgow, where you’ll get to see the cathedral and the infamous George Square, named after King George III in 1781.
We’ve driven most of today’s route several times and it comes highly recommended. First stop is Loch Lomond, where you can take an optional boat trip to explore the “Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond”.
The road then twists and turns its way through the Highland mountains, and if the weather is clear, the views will be spectacular. You pass through Glencoe, site of the 1692 massacre, and towards Fort William at the base of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.
You head for the coast and the fantastic Skye Bridge that takes you across to the rugged Isle of Skye. On the way you pass the thirteenth century Eilean Donan Castle and pass through the picturesque Kyle of Lochalsh.
There is an optional extra drive around Skye, where your local expert will talk about the culture and way of life on the island. We drove across Skye in March 2022, and must have had a bit of every kind of weather. The landscape is wild and mountainous, and we were lucky to see snow-capped mountains!
Today, the tour continues to explore the Scottish Highlands. Will you spot Nessie, the famous Loch Ness monster, as you travel along the banks of Loch Ness? Whenever, we’re up this way, we stop and do a bit of Nessie hunting. We even stayed in a hotel opposite the loch, and at the Loch Ness Youth Hostel, which was right on the bank of Loch Ness.
Next on the list is the site of the Battle of Culloden, near Inverness. Here, Bonny Prince Charlie and his army were defeated in a bloody battle in 1746.
The tour now starts heading south towards the Cairngorms National Park, where you’ll stay for one night. This is mountainous country and is a popular winter sports centre.
From the Cairngorms the route takes you south towards Edinburgh where you stay for two nights. On the way you get to visit pretty Pitlochry which is famous for its hydroelectric dam and salmon ladder. There is also an optional tour of Blair Castle, which is the historic home to the Duke of Atholl and home to the last private army in Europe.
Leaving Pitlochry, you head southeast to St. Andrews, where you’ll find the oldest golf course in the world.
It’s onwards to Edinburgh now. Crossing the River Forth, there are fine views of the famous Forth Bridge railway crossing, before arriving in the Scottish capital. This evening there is a choice of optional extra night out.
You start this day with a sightseeing trip with a local expert and visits Edinburgh Castle, Castle Rock, The Royal Mile, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. There’ll be free time to explore further on your own, or you could take the optional drive out to the small town of Rosslyn and its famous chapel, which is connected with the Knights Templar, Masonic movement, and the film “The Da Vinci Code”.
In the evening, there is a choice of optional nights out. Stay in Edinburgh and enjoy a Scottish Show and dinner, or visit the village of Torphichen, which is linked with Scottish kings and the Knights Hospitaller, for dinner and entertainment.
You're now heading back into England with a visit to the medieval market town of Alnwick and its great castle. Alnwick Castle is the second-largest inhabited castle in England after Windsor Castle and is home to the Duke of Northumberland. Alnwick Castle is no stranger to film crews and has appeared in the Harry Potter films and Downton Abbey series along with many others.
Travelling south, the tour heads into York for the night. This is a fantastic city to explore and has a great city wall walk. Make sure you visit York Minister and the nearby pretty shopping lanes of the Shambles. You’ll be spoilt for choice for things to do in York!
In the evening, there is the chance to “Connect with Locals” and have a traditional dinner with a Yorkshire family.
The journey around the UK and Ireland is almost complete as it now heads back into London. Along the way, you visit picturesque Stratford-upon-Avon and learn about the great Bard, William Shakespeare. This is a lovely town that has so many wonky, timber-framed buildings and great views from the banks of the River Avon.
In the evening, there is free time for you to do your own last sightseeing around London.
After breakfast, it’s time to say goodbye as one of the most inclusive escorted UK tours comes to an end.
The extensive itinerary makes the Britain and Ireland Grandeur one of the more exciting UK tour packages available, and it has received great reviews from customers. Please be aware that the details in this page were correct at the time of publication and may change. For full up-to-date details...
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