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The Best of Scotland and Ireland

Three of the British Isles most scenic countries combine

From $ per person


3 of the British Isles' most scenic countries combine on a holiday that showcases the best of these Celtic beauties. Beginning in Scotland, explore the majestic Highlands and its most incredible cities before travelling to both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, nations of incredible culture and tradition.

The itinerary for your journey
Tour highlights

What’s included

Days 1-3 - Edinburgh to Inverness
Eilean Donan Castle

We begin our epic Celtic adventure in Edinburgh at the 4-Star Kimpton Charlotte Square hotel, where you meet  the rest of your group and Tour Manager. This evening, we enjoy a Great Scots Night dinner. On Day 2, we transfer to the station, where we take the train from Edinburgh to Inverness. On arrival, we visit the Glen Ord Distillery for a tour and a whisky tasting. Day 3 sees us journey up to Kyle of Lochalsh on the Kyle Line, where we visit Eilean Donan Castle. After some free time to enjoy the castle, we return to our hotel via scenic Loch Ness.

Days 4-5 - The West Highland Line to Glasgow
West Highland Line

After breakfast, we transfer by coach to Mallaig, stopping off en-route at the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre. There is some free time in Mallaig before we board the Jacobite Steam Train and travel to Fort William. On Day 5, we rejoin the West Highland Line, journeying from Fort William to Glasgow.

Days 6-7 - Belfast and Cork
Giants Causeway

We travel to Cairnryan to join the ferry over to Belfast, where we immediately embark on a guided coach tour of the city. After the tour, we check into our hotel. Our excursion on Day 7 is to the Giant's Causeway, stopping off at Carrickfergus Castle for some free time en-route. We also enjoy lunch in Ballycastle. Our time at the Giant's Causeway is at leisure to explore before we return to our hotel.

Days 8-9 - The castles of Ireland
Blarney Castle

Today we visit Hillsborough Castle, the official residence for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and where the Queen resides while visiting Northern Ireland. After time to enjoy the castle, we coach to Dublin Heuston train station for the train to Cork. On Day 9, we explore Ireland's most famous castle, Blarney Castle. We also watch the Celtic Steps show this evening.

Days 10-11 - Ireland's natural beauty
Cliffs of Moher

We take a full-day coach trip around the stunning Ring of Kerry today, with time at leisure for lunch. We also visit the Kerry Bog Village Museum, and enjoy a ride on the Jaunting Cars. On Day 11 we transfer to Tarbet, crossing to Killimer by ferry. Here, we visit the Cliffs of Moher. We then travel to the Burren Centre to learn more about the local history of the area.

Days 12-13 - Dublin and homeward bound
Dublin

After a morning at leisure, we travel by rail to Dublin, where there is some free time to discover the city. This evening, we enjoy dinner at the famous Merry Ploughboys Pub. After breakfast on Day 13, you are free to make your way to the airport for your flight back home.

 

Please note: Departure CEG1902 enjoys dinner and entertainment at Jonnie Fox's Pub Hooley tonight.

Recommended airport

For this tour, we recommend arriving to Edinburgh Airport (EDI), which is approximately 8 miles from your base in Edinburgh. For this tour, we recommend departing from Dublin Airport (DUB), which is approximately 8 miles from your final hotel in Dublin.

Visa Requirements

It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.

Departure Dates

All prices are per person and assume full occupancy of the room.
Please always refer to the website for up-to-date prices and availability.

Trains
Irish Railways
Irish Intercity

Many of our journeys in Ireland are on board Irish Railways' new Intercity trains. These smart, modern trains are comfortable and air conditioned. Other journeys are on board Irish Railways' regional services. The Intercity trains include on board Wi-Fi and power points, and on these trains we travel through the stunning Irish scenery. Irish railways operate on a very unique track gauge of 5 foot 3 inches - the only other place in the world where this particular gauge can be found is in Australia.

Jacobite Steam Train
Jacobite steam train

The wonderful journey on the Jacobite Steam Train takes us along a section of the West Highland Line, which stretches from Glasgow to Mallaig, and takes passengers through some of the most breathtaking mountain scenery in the UK.

We begin in the town of Fort William, spectacularly situated with Ben Nevis as its backdrop. As we leave Fort William we travel along the shores of Loch Linnhe before tackling the increasingly demanding Highland terrain. At Glenfinnan we reach the most scenic and dramatic section of the line, as the train crosses the 21 arches of the Glenfinnan Viaduct: a magnificent feat of railway engineering.

Leaving Glenfinnan, the landscape opens up and we catch our first glimpse of the sea and the small islands close to the shore. During this section of the journey, the Jacobite Steam Train travels across two more viaducts: Gleann Mama and the Borrowdale Viaduct before reaching the small towns of Morar and Arisaig. On a clear, sunny day, the white sandy beaches along this stretch of coastline provide a beautiful contrast with the blue waters of the sea. From here, it is only short distance to our final destination, the busy fishing town of Mallaig.

The Kyle Line
Travelling on the Scotrail service to Kyle of Lochalsh on the Kyle Line

The Kyle Line takes us on one of the most scenic rail journeys in the British Isles, travelling between Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh.

On leaving Inverness, the line hugs the shores of the Beauly Firth before heading north to Dingwall. From here, the line immediately turns inland and climbs over the Highlands. As a result of a dispute with the landowners of the time, the builders of the railway were forced to make a sharp detour around Strathpeffer. After a steep climb to Black Rock the line descends through beautiful wooded hillsides until it reaches Garve on the shore of Loch Garve. On a still clear day this loch perfectly mirrors the surrounding hills and trees. From Garve station the line climbs up to the broad straths leading to the West Coast before climbing to the summit of the line at Luib.

The line then descends to the magnificent scenery of Loch Carron, where it twists and turns in and out of the loch side inlets. Plockton station and village, with yachts anchored in the shelter of its beautiful bay, is the next passing point, and was the location for the BBC Television series 'Hamish Macbeth'.

The final section of the journey is perhaps the most dramatic (and the most expensive), as it was carved through the solid rock that leads to Kyle Pier. Kyle of Lochalsh ("strait of the foaming lake") sits at the entrance to Loch Alsh, opposite Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye. The two villages were formerly connected by a ferry service, but this was replaced by the Skye Bridge in 1995.

Please note: some of our tours travel on this route in reverse from Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness or travel just part of this route. See individual tour for details. 

Read about the experiences of a member of the Great Rail Journeys Marketing team during his journey on the Kyle Line

West Highland Line
West Highland Line

Also known as 'the Iron Road to the Isles', a journey on the West Highland Line is an epic rail adventure that takes passengers through some of the world's most beautiful and dramatic landscapes. In fact the line has twice been voted the world's best rail journey by readers of Wanderlust magazine.

Running from Glasgow's Queen Street station, the train runs through the city's outskirts and on to Helensburgh. From here the train begins its ascent into the famous Highlands.

Soon the train skirts the beautiful Loch Long, followed by the immense Loch Lomond, as it makes its way up the ever-increasing gradients. The journey continues alongside the Loch - Britain's largest body of inland water - whilst winding through pretty wooden slopes.

Continuing northward through charming isolated villages, the train then climbs more than 500 feet (150 m) in just five miles, before arriving at the tiny hamlet Crianlarich. Here the West Highland Line splits into two branches. One continues to Fort William and Mallaig, the other heads west to Oban.

Hotels
Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre, Belfast
Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre

Located close to the city centre and a railway station, is our hotel, the 4-Star Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre. This excellent hotel is the perfect base from which to conduct our explorations, and comes with a restaurant, a bar, a coffee shop, and a well-equipped fitness centre. The rooms are decorated in light colours, and come with en-suite bathrooms throughout. Other amenities in the rooms include a television, a hairdryer, complimentary toiletries, a minifridge, tea & coffee-making facilities, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Maldron City Centre Shandon, Cork
Maldron City Centre Shandon

The Maldron Hotel Shandon is a 4-Star hotel in the heart of Cork city, close to the historic Shandon Bells. The hotel's convenient location makes it suitable for guests to access landmarks like the Opera House, and the Pairc Ui Chaoimh Stadium. Each room has Wi-Fi connectivity, a television, tea & coffee making facilities, an iron and ironing board, desk, a telephone, and laundry service (payable locally). The inhouse grill restaurant serves signature Maldron dishes cooked with locally sourced ingredients. We have complimentary access to the leisure centre, including a gym, swimming pool, sauna, and Jacuzzi.

Maldron Hotels South Mall, Cork
Maldron Hotels South Mall

Maldron Hotel South Mall is a newly opened 4-Star facility in Cork. It is located right at the heart of the city's shopping and entertainment centre. Each room comes with climate control facilities, a coffee machine, a flat-screen television, Wi-Fi connectivity, complimentary mineral water, luxury toiletries, a safe, bathrobe and slippers, and complimentary newspaper delivery. The hotel houses 2 restaurants - one serving local delicacies, the other whipping up authentic Italian dishes - and a coffee shop.

North Star Hotel, Dublin
North Star Hotel

Located in the very heart of Dublin city centre, the North Star Hotel is the perfect base for exploring this gorgeous capital. The main Ilac shopping centre is also accessible from the hotel, perfect for a day of leisure in this city.

This 4-star hotel offers free Wi-Fi, flat-screen televisions and tea & coffee making facilities for guests. You can ensure a relaxing stay with the North Star Hotel's Scandinavian saunas and fully equipped gym, free to use after a busy day seeing the sights!

Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel, Edinburgh
Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel, Edinburgh

The Kimpton Charlotte Square is a 4-Star hotel in Edinburgh, overlooking some of the most beautiful private garden squares. The hotel is situated at the heart of the city's New Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The rooms are furnished with tuckboxes, robes, and yoga mats to ensure maximum comfort for all guests. The hotel has a spa service (payable locally), an indoor pool, fitness centre, fixed wine hour in the evenings, and dry cleaning and laundry services (payable locally). The hotel is happy to supply guests with a mobile phone charger, lip balm, a coffee maker, straightening or curling irons, deodorant, and a host of daily use products.

Cruachan Hotel, Fort William
Cruachan Hotel, Fort William

The Cruachan Hotel in Fort William is a 3-Star hotel overlooking Loch Linnhe and the Morven Hills beyond. The hotel has a terrace offering panoramic views of the loch and surrounding landscapes, while each en suite room has a bedside lamp, hairdryer, Wi-Fi access, tea & coffee making facilities, a spacious desk area, and an iron and ironing board (on request). The inhouse restaurant serves diverse cuisine, and the bar offers a variety of drinks that can be enjoyed alongside the tranquil views.

Oranmore Lodge Hotel, Galway
Oranmore Lodge Hotel

The 4-Star Oranmore Lodge hotel was originally a manor house built in 1850 and has now been fully renovated. It is located a few minutes' walk from Oranmore village.

Amenities at Oranmore Lodge include Wi-Fi, flat-screen televisions and tea & coffee making facilities. The on-site leisure centre includes a fitness room, heated indoor pool and hot tub for guests. Guests may also enjoy spa treatments (payable locally).

Killarney Oaks Hotel, Killarney
Killarney Oaks Hotel

Killarney Oaks is a family-run 4-Star hotel in Killarney, close to the town centre. The hotel is located by the 3 breathtaking lakes of Killarney, on the edge of Killarney National Park. The owners extend a warm Irish welcome to all guests, with each room featuring free Wi-Fi, a television, tea & coffee making facilities, a hairdryer, an iron and ironing board, and a telephone. The inhouse restaurant serves a wide selection of drinks, along with mouth-watering dishes prepared from local ingredients.

Upgrades

We offer a selection of upgrades and 'add-ons' designed to help you make the most of your holiday - and make it even easier!

This page was printed from www.greatrail.com/ca/tours/the-best-of-scotland-and-ireland/#CEG20 on 26 February 2020.
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