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South of Ireland and Scotland Tour

Day 1: Sunday 3rd April 2016 - Welcome to Scotland

Arrive in Edinburgh and meet your driver & guide and transfer to your hotel.

Enjoy a panoramic tour of Edinburgh City
Edinburgh is one of the world's finest capital cities, because of its cultural diversity and impressive history. The medieval streets run through the whole city telling their own story about the 1000 year old traditions and myths of Edinburgh. Throughout your city tour you will get to know different parts of this city, such as the Royal Mile, the Princes Street Gardens, the Calton Hill and many more. Here you will also have a fantastic view of the city and Leith - the port of the city and many more

Check in to hotel.
*Check in may not be available until 15h00.

Enjoy a welcome dinner and entertainment at Taylors Spirit of Scotland or similar Spirit of Scotland Show involves a rip roaring evening of traditional Scottish song and dance accompanied by a great selection of quality Scottish food to delight your pallet. Our resident band and traditional Scottish Dancers provide breathtaking performances for their audience and never fail to entertain.

Overnight, bed & breakfast at the Holiday Inn Corstorphine Road.

 

Day 2: Monday 4th April 2016 - Edinburgh

Today enjoy a day of exploring the Scottish capital city.

Visit Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh's Castle rock has been a stronghold for over 3000 years. In its dominating position overlooking the capital city, the grand and historical significance of Edinburgh Castle has made it a globally famous icon of Scotland and part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site. Sited on top of an extinct volcano, gaining stunning views across City of Edinburgh, the castle has witnessed many of the defining events of Scottish history. Edinburgh Castle has dominated its surroundings with majesty for centuries. Today the castle continues to attract visitors to its rocky perch. Captivating visitors with its ancient buildings and marvellous views, it continues to spellbind with its wonderful story.

Then visit Palace of Holyroodhouse
Founded as a monastery in 1128, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh is The Queen's official residence in Scotland and is closely associated with Scotland's turbulent past. Mary, Queen of Scots lived here between 1561 and 1567. Successive kings and queens have made the Palace of Holyroodhouse the premier royal residence in Scotland. At the end of Edinburgh's Royal Mile and against the spectacular backdrop of Arthur's Seat, the Palace of Holyroodhouse visitors can explore the 14 historic State Apartments and the ruins of Holyrood Abbey. The Queen's Gallery at the Palace of Holyroodhouse hosts a programme of changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection.

Spend the balance of your evening at leisure, exploring the bars and restaurants of the city

Overnight, bed & breakfast at the Holiday Inn Corstorphine Road.

Day 3: Tuesday 5th April 2016 - St. Andrews

First today you will visit St. Andrews Castle
The ruins of the castle of the Archbishops of St Andrews, dating in part from the 13th century. Notable features include 'bottle-dungeon' and mine and counter-mine tunnelled during the siege that followed the murder of Cardinal Beaton in 1546. These siege works are the finest of their kind in GBPope. A fascinating exhibition in the visitor centre brings the history of the castle and cathedral to life.

Continue to St. Andrews Cathedral
The remains of the largest cathedral in Scotland, and of the associated domestic ranges of the priory. The precinct walls are particularly well preserved. The Cathedral Museum houses an outstanding collection of early and later medieval sculpture and other relics found on the site, including the magnificent St Andrews Sarcophagus of Pictish date. St Rule's Tower, in the precinct, is part of the first church of the Augustinian canons at St Andrews built in the early 12th century. There are splendid views from the top.

This afternoon visit Falkland Palace & Gardens
The only royal palace in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, Falkland Palace is an impressive Renaissance building set in the heart of the town at the foot of the Lomond Hills. Built by James IV and James V between 1501 and 1541, the Palace was a country residence of the Stuart monarchs of Scotland for over 200 years. Lush green lawns, colourful herbaceous borders and many unusual shrubs and trees complete the setting for this memorable property. Experience a day in the life of the Stuart monarchs at Falkland Palace, their country residence for 200 years - and a favourite place of Mary, Queen of Scots. Part of the castle has crumbled, but there's still plenty to discover inside the surviving sections. The original and reconstructed rooms are packed with 17th-century Flemish tapestries, elaborate painted ceilings and antique furnishings. The beautiful, tranquil grounds are worth a visit alone. They're home to the oldest real (or royal) tennis court in Britain, built for King James V, as well as a gardens designed by Percy Cane.

Return to Edinburgh via the Forth Road Bridge from which you can see the Forth Railway Bridge
Located 9 miles (14 km) west of Edinburgh, the Forth Railway Bridge is a remarkable cantilever structure which is still regarded as an engineering marvel and is recognised the world over. The bridge was built to carry the two tracks of the North British Railway the 1½ miles (2½ km) over the Firth of Forth between South Queensferry and North Queensferry, at a height of 46m (150 feet) above the high tide.

Return to Edinburgh.

Dinner under own arrangements.

Overnight, bed & breakfast at the Holiday Inn Corstorphine Road.

Day 4: Wednesday 6th April 2016 - Edinburgh to Dublin

Today you will journey to Edinburgh Airport for a flight to Dublin Airport -
Arrive at Dublin Airport, meet with your modern motor coach with driver / guide and transfer to Dublin centre

On arrival enjoy a panoramic tour
Discover the north side of the River Liffey. This area offers great striking monuments such as the GPO (General Post Office) on the city main thoroughfare, O'Connell Street, or the Custom House along the quays, as well as the Phoenix Park, the largest public park in Europe. The south side appears more sophisticated with its vast Georgian squares, such as Merrion Square, where Oscar Wilde's House can still be found (today owned by an American College), its colourful doors, along with Grafton Street and its quality shops. Not so far from St. Stephen's Green, in Kildare St., you will see the house of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. This part of the city is also dominated by the students of Trinity College, where the famous book of Kells is permanently exhibited in its library. The university is facing the medieval district where Dublin Castle and the two Anglican Cathedrals can be found.

Enjoy afternoon tea at Fitzpatricks Castle.

Enjoy some time at leisure before ccontinue to your hotel and check in - may not be possible before 15h00.

Overnight, bed and full Irish breakfast at the Ashling Hotel Dublin.

Day 5: Thursday April 7th 2016 - Dublin Fair City

Visit Trinity College & Book of Kells
Trinity was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth 1st on grounds confiscated from an Augustinian priory and is the oldest University in Ireland. The Campanile, erected in 1852, was built on what is believed to be the centre of the monastery. Built to further the education of the ruling Anglo-Irish families, restrictions were imposed to prevent Catholic from attending courses. These restrictions were not fully lifted until the 1970's. Trinity however admitted women in 1902, earlier than most British universities. Most of the main buildings off the main square were built during the Georgian period, some of which replaced older buildings. Within its walls, you will be able to admire Parliament Square and its 18th Century edifices. Trinity College has had many famous students such as Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett who later became a lecturer in French at the university. The Inter-denominational Church is very much worth a visit, should it be open during your visit.

Continue to Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Brewery in Dublin is Europe's largest stout producing brewery and home to the Guinness Storehouse. Opened in 1904, the Storehouse was an operational plant for fermenting and storing Guinness. Today it houses a very fine exhibition dedicated to the Guinness story. Visitors will discover what goes into the making a pint of Guinness - the ingredients, the brewing process, the time, the craft and the passion. The exhibition shows how the brew has been marketed and how it is today sold in over 150 countries. Once the tour has finished your group is invited to the Gravity Bar to enjoy their pint of Guinness. Regular demonstrations on the art of pulling a pint of Guinness also take place in the Storehouse. Launched on the fifth floor in 2011, "Five" at Guinness Storehouse, includes a small replica authentic Irish Bar, an 18th Century inspired Brewers Dining Hall, and a restaurant named Gilroy's where guests enjoy a Guinness gastronomical experience driven entirely by the Irish tradition of wholesome local produce.

Spend the balance of your day at leisure. We recommend a stroll down Grafton Street where you can enjoy the best in street entertainment. The shopping is also great in this area of the city!

This evening avail of evening return transfers into Dublin to sample the popular nightlife.

Overnight, dinner, bed and full Irish breakfast at the Ashling Hotel Dublin.

Day 6: Friday April 8th 2016 - Wicklow Mountains

In the morning the group departs in a southern direction for Wicklow
Known as "the Garden of Ireland" it is home to Powerscourt, Mount Usher and Russborough, to name a few of its many houses and gardens. This region features all the various types of scenery that makes Ireland so beautiful. The coastline is bordered by charming sea resorts such as Bray or Greystones. In the heart of its gentle and rounded hills are nestled Enniskerry and Avoca, both very picturesque villages. Discover its romantic and quiet beauty, the deserted mounts where nothing but heather grows, the small forests and the lush prairies illuminated by yellow gorse in spring.

Enjoy a visit to Powerscourt House and Gardens
Powerscourt is one of the most beautiful estates in Ireland. Situated in the mountains of Wicklow it was originally an important strategic site for the Anglo-Normans who came to Ireland in the late 12th century. By the year 1300 a castle had been built and was in the possession of the le Paor family. The succeeding centuries saw the castle change hands many times. In 1603 Powerscourt castle and lands were granted to a new English arrival in the area, A Richard Wingfield. His descendants were to remain in Powerscourt for over 350 years. Powerscourt was much altered in the 18th century, when the famous German born architect Richard Castle remodeled the castle and grounds. It involved the creation of a magnificent mansion in the Palladian style around the shell of the earlier castle. The house was burnt down in 1974 but fortunately the plans of the house were saved and reconstruction started in 1974. Today the house has been restored to its former glory. The visitor can take a self-guided tour of the house including the ballroom, which was the last part of the house to be restored. The entrance hall now features an exhibition describing the fascinating history of Powerscourt, while shops, a terrace café and other visitor facilities are also located in the house. Powerscourt gardens are a magnificent example of aristocratic gardens from the 19th century. The gardens were initiated around 1745 and restyled in the 19th century. The gardens have many features including the Triton pool with its 100-ft fountain. There are statues of winged horses (emblems of the Wingfield coat of arms) flanking a grotto by the pool. To the left are American and Italian gardens; while below them is a Japanese garden. The Bamberg Gates to the walled garden are believed to come from a German Cathedral in Bamberg in Bavaria. There are many rare plants and wonderful views of the Great Sugar Loaf Mountain. Not to be missed is the pet cemetery with its headstones dedicated to the family dogs.

Continue to Glendalough (site only)
The English name Glendalough originated from the Irish "Gleann Dá Locha", which translates as "The valley of the two lakes". It was here that St. Kevin ~ son of the king of Leinster founded a monastery in the 6th century. From a simple beginning the site grew to become famous as a centre of learning throughout Europe. Standing for 600 years it was destroyed in 1398. Much of what is to be seen today dates from the 10 to 12th century. One of the most attractive features is the fine 34m high round tower. A cathedral, stone churches and decorated crosses also survived albeit as ruins.

Return to your hotel.

Overnight, bed and full Irish breakfast at the Ashling Hotel Dublin.

Day 7: Saturday April 9th 2016 - Dublin to Killarney

Depart Dublin for Killarney.

En-route visit Blarney Castle
Attracting visitors from all over the world, Blarney Castle is situated in Blarney village, 8 km from Cork City. An ancient stronghold of the McCarthy's, Lords of Muskerry, it is one of Ireland's oldest and most historic castles, and indeed one of the strongest fortresses in Munster. Built in 1446, Blarney Castle is famous for its Blarney stone, The Stone of Eloquence, which is traditionally believed, to have the power to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who kiss it. Many legends tell the story of the Stone, but why not kiss it and find out the truth behind the legend. The Castle gardens covering 60 acres of land are under constant change and over the past few years, a water garden, fern garden and poison garden have been developed and are all open to the visitor.

Enjoy lunch at a local bar/restaurant

Dinner at hotel.

Overnight, dinner, bed and full Irish breakfast at the Killarney Plaza Hotel.

Day 8: Sunday April 10th 2016 - Ring of Kerry

Today enjoy touring the Ring of Kerry (166km), Ireland's most famous and panoramic route. The astonishing beauty of this large peninsula, Iveragh, comes from the great diversity of its scenery, which offers incessant contrasts. En route around the Ring, take in spectacular scenery - mountains, peat bogs, lakes and magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean as one travels along the coast road. Leaving Killarney pass through Killorglin, famous for its Puck Fair, then to Glenbeigh where the cliff road affords panoramic views of the Dingle Peninsula and Dingle Bay. Continuing to Cahirciveen, you'll pass the birthplace of our National hero, Daniel O'Connell. Next, continue on through peat bogs to the town of Waterville. Continue to Sneem Village, famous for its brightly coloured houses. The road then continues through the mountains to Molls Gap and Ladies View with superb views of the famous Lakes of Killarney.

Enjoy a photo stop at two of the Ring of Kerry's famous beauty spots - Molls Gap & Ladies View
Molls' Gap is a spectacular photographic viewing point on the famous Ring of Kerry Tour. The visitor is presented with a magnificent view of Death Valley. Close by is the famous Ladies View viewing point with gives a different perspective of this magnificent countryside, with the 3 Lakes of Killarney all surrounded by the Kerry Mountains. Ladies View received its name from Queen Victoria, who was so impressed with the view that she insisted that her ladies-in-waiting should also visit here.

Overnight, bed and full Irish breakfast at the Killarney Plaza Hotel

Day 9: Monday April 11th 2016 - Dingle Peninsula

Today you will enjoy a full day exploring the stunningly scenic Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula
Some of the finest coastal scenery to be seen in Ireland can be found in West Kerry, on the Dingle Peninsula, the most northern of the Kerry Peninsulas. This peninsula is famous for its Celtic, pre-Christian monuments and Christian churches. It is also a 'Gaeltacht' (Irish speaking) area, where the Irish language and traditional ways of life are preserved. Dingle town itself is a thriving fishing town and offers plenty of opportunity for shopping or simply savouring the atmosphere of a typical country Irish town with its plentiful pubs, narrow streets and busy harbour. The road around the Peninsula is truly spectacular. It passes through a chain of Mountains, called Slieve Mish. From Inch, a long beach bordered by dunes and made famous by David Lean's movie "Ryan's daughter," admire the Iveragh Peninsula and Rossbeigh Beach. From Dingle, drive around the coast to Slea Head. Here the blue of the marine landscape surrounds the Blaskets Islands, deserted since 1953. In the distance are the two rocky Skellig islands, where the ruins of an early Christian Monastery can be found. The Dingle Peninsula will charm you with its villages painted in bright colours and will bewitch you with the dramatic beauty of its landscapes.

This afternoon visit Blasket Island Heritage Centre
The Blasket Centre in Dún Chaoin, is located on the tip of the Dingle Peninsula, and is a celebration of the story of the Blasket Islanders. It celebrates the unique literary achievements of the island writers ~ native language, culture and tradition. Sadly the Great Blasket was abandoned in 1953 and this caused the decline of its once vibrant population. The centre provides an incidental showcase of marvelous stained glass, ceramics and weaving.

Overnight, bed and full Irish breakfast at the Killarney Plaza Hotel.

Day 10: Tuesday April 12th 2016 - Killarney to Tralee

Depart Killarney for Tralee.

En-route visit the Rock of Cashel
Possibly the most photographed site in Ireland, the Rock of Cashel towers over the town of Cashel from its perch on a 200-foot high outcrop of limestone. Once the seat of the Kings of Munster. St. Patrick visited the rock in 450 AD, while Brian Boru was crowned the first high King of Ireland here in the tenth century. Granted to the church in the twelfth century, by the O'Brien clan, today the impressive stone walls enclose a round tower, a cathedral, a twelfth century Romanesque chapel and high crosses. The Vicars Choral has been recently restored and its basement houses a small museum of artefacts found on the site. One of the leading visitor attractions in Ireland, in 2011 it was visited by Queen Elizabeth II on her historic first visit to the Republic of Ireland. Conservation work will continue on Cormac's Chapel and at the site until further notice. Access may be restricted to the chapel and other parts of the site while these works are ongoing.

Continue to your hotel where you will have free time to enjoy the hotel.

Overnight, dinner, bed and full Irish breakfast at the Ballyseede Castle Hotel.

Day 11: Wednesday April 13th 2016 - Farewell

After breakfast transfer to Shannon Airport for your flight home.
*The transfer to Shannon Airport will be approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.

 
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