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The Best of Scotland and Ireland

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Explore the beauty of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland as you traverse these Celtic countries by rail.

You are viewing the 2023 itinerary. Select your departure year
20222023
13 days From $3,995 per person
Travel among a group of like-minded travelers led by a professional tour manager
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2023 Tour code: GR-CEGA-23

About the tour

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

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Edinburgh

We begin our epic Celtic adventure in Edinburgh, where you meet the rest of your group and Tour Manager. This evening, we enjoy a Scottish themed dinner. Overnight Edinburgh.

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 2 – Inverness

We take the train to Inverness, a city nestled at the north end of the Great Glen where the River Ness flows into the Moray Firth. Known as the 'gateway to the Highlands', the city boasts a handsome sandstone castle, thriving culinary scene, and warm and welcoming locals - as well as a fantastic location. We get a taste of Scotland with a visit to the Glen Ord Distillery for a tour and whisky tasting, before checking into our hotel for two nights. Overnight Inverness.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 – The Kyle Line and Eilean Donan Castle

Today begins with a journey to Kyle of Lochalsh on the scenic Kyle Line, a journey that takes us through stunning Highland scenery. Here, we pay a visit to the 13th-century Eilean Donan Castle, nestled on a tiny island in Loch Duich and joined to the mainland by a small and elegant bridge. The photogenic castle is a popular tourist icon in Scotland, and has been used in many films. Next, we continue to Fort Augustus where we enjoy an entertaining 'Clansman Show'. We learn about the culture of the Highlands of old, discovering how families lived, dressed and survived here. Overnight Inverness.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 4 - The Jacobite

We transfer to Mallaig this morning, stopping off to admire the excellent views over Glenfinnan Viaduct, a historic viaduct that was famously featured in three of the 'Harry Potter' movies. There's some free time before we board the iconic Jacobite Steam Train and travel to Fort William, our base for the night. Recapturing a golden era of steam rail travel for a new generation of visitors and enthusiasts, the Jacobite Steam Train was introduced in 1984 and takes us through beautiful scenery, passing dramatic mountains, skirting the shores of lochs and winding past quaint villages and railway stations. Overnight Fort William.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 – Glasgow

We re-join the wonderful West Highland Line for a journey to the vibrant city of Glasgow, an epic rail adventure that takes us through some of the world's most beautiful landscapes. We watch from the comfort of the carriages as the scenery outside the window changes dramatically, with the rugged Highlands giving way to the modern metropolis of one of Scotland's largest cities. Once in Glasgow, we're treated to a delicious afternoon tea at a local tea room before checking into our hotel.  Overnight Glasgow.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 6 - Belfast

We bid farewell to the delights of Scotland today. We travel to Cairnryan and board the ferry to Belfast, taking a guided coach tour of the exciting city on arrival. Birthplace of the RMS Titanic, which famously sunk in 1912, and standing on the banks of the River Lagan, Belfast is Northern Ireland's capital city and has a rich industrial heritage. After getting to know the city, we check into our hotel for the next two nights. Overnight Belfast. 

* Please note: your luggage will travel on the ferry with you, rather than via our luggage service.

 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 – Giant’s Causeway

We visit the atmospheric Dark Hedges, a stunning natural tunnel of beech trees that's known as one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland. We continue to Ballycastle where there's some time for lunch. Later, we enjoy a visit to Giant's Causeway, one of Northern Ireland's most beloved attractions. Here, perfectly hexagonal columns of basalt rock rise from the sea and we enjoy plenty of time to admire this iconic natural sight. Overnight Belfast. 

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 8 – Hillsborough Castle and Cork

Today we visit Hillsborough Castle, an official government residence and the spot where the Queen resides while visiting Northern Ireland. Enjoy some time to look around the glorious royal residence, set within 100 acres of gorgeous gardens that include meticulous ornamental lawns, peaceful woodlands and gently trickling waterways. Later, we take a coach to Dublin, crossing the border into the Republic of Ireland. Here, we board the train to Cork, where we check into our hotel for the evening. Overnight Cork.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 – Blarney Castle

We explore Ireland's most famous castle today, Blarney Castle. The castle is internationally famous, and its most renowned attraction is the Blarney Stone. Also known as the Stone of Eloquence, kissing the stone is said to give the kisser the 'gift of the gab'. There's also a selection of beautifully tended gardens in the castle's extensive grounds that are a delight to explore. This evening, we're treated to a holiday highlight as we're whisked off to watch a Celtic Steps show, enjoying an evening of traditional Irish dance and music. Overnight Killarney.

Day 10 – The Ring of Kerry

We take a coach trip around part of the stunning Ring of Kerry, taking in some of the most dramatic mountain and coastal scenery in the whole of Europe. The route around the Ring of Kerry is 112 miles in its entirety and passes through picturesque villages and breathtaking natural scenery. We pay a visit to the Kerry Bog Village Museum to learn more about Ireland's rural heritage, before taking a trip back in time with a ride on Killarney's Jaunting Cars, a traditional mode of transport here since the early 19th century. Overnight Killarney. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11 – The Cliffs of Moher

We transfer to Tarbet, crossing to Killimer by ferry. Here, we visit the striking Cliffs of Moher, Ireland's most iconic natural attraction and a UNESCO Global Geopark. Here, towering cliffs rise up out of the sea, staggering into the distance. Over 20 species of sea birds, including puffins and razorbills, make their homes in the cliffs, and offshore, the waters are home to dolphins and sharks. We continue to the Burren Centre, a fascinating visitor centre, where we learn more about local history. Overnight Galway.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 12 – Dublin

We travel by rail to Dublin, where there's free time to discover the lively city. With its myriad of cultural offerings, historical monuments and famed entertainment scene, Dublin is truly one of Europe's finest cities, brimming with things to see and do. You could visit the Trinity College Library, Ireland's largest library and home to the famous Book of Kells. Or, perhaps discover St Patrick's Cathedral, which was founded in 1191 and boasts the title of the National Cathedral of Ireland. This evening, we enjoy dinner at the famous Merry Ploughboys Pub, the perfect way to end our explorations. Overnight Dublin.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 13 – Tour Conclusion

After breakfast today you are free to make your way to the airport for your flight back home.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Maldron Hotels South Mall

Maldron Hotels South Mall, Cork

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Cruachan Hotel, Fort William

Cruachan Hotel, Fort William

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Oranmore Lodge Hotel

Oranmore Lodge Hotel, Galway

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Castelrosse Hotel Kerry, Killarney

Castelrosse Hotel Kerry, Killarney

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Doubletree by Hilton Edinburgh, Queensferry

Doubletree by Hilton Edinburgh, Queensferry

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Trains

Irish Railways
Jacobite Steam Train
The Kyle Line
West Highland Line

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Reviews

5.0 stars5.0 / 5 · 2 reviews

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Lynne G, Centerville, OH

5 stars

Submitted 11 Dec 2018

Loved my visit to Ireland!

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Stephen W, Morgantown, WV

5 stars

Submitted 17 Oct 2018

Every detail was covered to make the trip pleasant

Collected by Vacations By Rail

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