The Best of UK & Ireland tour combines the finest highlights of the very popular Great Britain tour with another favourite, the Irish Explorer tour, offering coach tours to Ireland from the UK and an unequalled holiday experience. Explore legendary landmarks, medieval castles, rolling green hills and beautiful scenery!
Setting off from London, we call at ancient Stonehenge (optional) and Bath, before the Welsh capital of Cardiff. Liverpool, home of The Beatles, is next. A ferry crossing takes us to Dublin, where your tour includes some of Ireland’s greatest attractions – the historic coastal town of Waterford, Blarney Castle (with its famous stone) and the picturesque town of Killarney. Other sights include the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher and Giant's Causeway.
After crossing the Irish Sea, we tour the rugged horizons of the Highlands, before arriving in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, overlooked by its landmark castle. Next, we head south towards Northumberland, where we call at Alnwick Castle, well-known from the critically acclaimed Downton Abbey television series and Harry Potter films. It is also the home of the Duke of Northumberland. Yorkshire is the next port of call, before we journey onwards to the university city of Cambridge and try our hand at traditional river punting. After this amazing 13 days of touring, we then return to London.
Why this Trip
- All tour dates are guaranteed to depart.
- No minimum numbers required.
- FREE Wi-Fi in hotels.
- Massive early bird savings
- Only 10% deposit or minimum $80.00 required and no booking fees.
Itinerary PrintView full Itinerary here
DAY 1: London - Stonehenge - Bath - Cardiff
Welcome to your tour of the UK and Ireland! Departing from London, we make our way to Stonehenge (optional), the ancient archaeological wonder that has stood for thousands of years in the countryside of south-west England. Ponder the mysteries of this ancient site for yourself and learn about the history of the area. Once we’ve had a chance to look around, we’re off to the beautiful and historic city of Bath, famous of course for the Roman baths built here during the reign of the Empire. Heading into nearby Wales, Caerphilly Castle is our next stop, where you’ll be able to snap a few photos of this ancient attraction, built in the 13th century by Gilbert de Clare, a red-headed Norman nobleman. Finally, we arrive in the Welsh capital of Cardiff, where we’ll stop for the night.
DAY 2: Stratford-upon-Avon - Liverpool
Prepare for your second day of adventure! After breakfast in Cardiff, we make for Stratford, the hometown of William Shakespeare! A market town with more than 800 years of history, the town still has many buildings that would be familiar to Shakespeare if he was still around today. Then we’re off to Liverpool! Liverpool is a famous British port city with a rich history; there’s something for everyone here. Football fans will be delighted to be in the home city of Liverpool and Everton football clubs, while music fans will be enthralled to be in the home of The Beatles. Spot the famous sites with our driving tour of the city, and explore the city yourself during your free time this evening. Why not head to Mathew Street, the beating heart of the live music scene and home to the world-famous ‘Cavern Club’, where The Beatles first made their mark on modern music?
DAY 3: Liverpool - Dublin
Today, we catch the ferry across the Irish Sea to Dublin! Once we arrive, we’ll take a drive tour of the city, and spot a few of the city’s more famous highlights. Afterwards, enjoy some free time in this 1000 year old city. From the city’s Viking past, its medieval castles and its cathedrals, to its many museums that illustrate some of the city’s more turbulent episodes, Dublin is big enough to keep you entertained, but small enough to get across town in no time at all.
DAY 4: Dublin - Free day
Enjoy a free day in the city of Dublin! One of the city’s most famous exports is, of course, Guinness, and today there’s the option of visiting the Guinness Storehouse to see how this famous dark beer is made. Alternatively, visit the National Museums of Ireland, take a walk along the South Wall, visit the city’s most famous park, St Stephen’s Green, see the Irish Museum of Modern Art or try out the many pubs and eateries. Tonight, there’s also the option to visit the Merry Ploughboy Music Pub for a taste of traditional Irish music! Definitely not to be missed – check our Optional Excursions for more information.
DAY 5: Waterford - Blarney Castle - Killarney
Leaving Dublin behind us, we travel onward to Waterford, the oldest city in Ireland! Founded by Vikings in 914, Waterford has a fascinating history and rich maritime tradition. Following our stop here, we’ll travel on to the famous Blarney Castle, where you can kiss the Blarney Stone and hopefully gain the ‘gift of the gab.’ Built nearly 600 years ago by one of Ireland’s most famous chieftains, Blarney Castle is one of Ireland’s most famous attractions. After that, it's onward to the pretty town of Killarney in County Kerry, where we’ll stop for the night.
DAY 6: Ring of Kerry
Today you have a free day in Killarney. There are incredible trails to hike, amazing golf courses and beautiful churches to visit. Alternatively, join our free optional excursion as we drive the incredible Ring of Kerry. Keep your camera fully charged and at the ready – it’s going to be a day of stunning scenery! The Ring of Kerry is home to breath-taking coastal views, emerald-green pastures and charming villages, where we’ll make comfort stops. Take the opportunity to amble down the high streets, explore the shops and try the culinary treats on offer from the cute cafes, bars and restaurants. You’ll be blown away by the scenery of this beautiful green valley!
DAY 7: Adare - Cliffs of Moher - Galway
Today’s another day for epic Irish scenery! Making our way up the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’, we’ll be stopping in Adare and Limerick on our way to the famous Cliffs of Moher and the town of Galway. Adare is often called Ireland’s prettiest village, and with its preserved 19th Century thatch-roofed cottages housing craft shops and fine restaurants, it’s not hard to see why. We’ll travel on through the county of Limerick and make our way to the Cliffs of Moher, one of the best-known attractions in all of Ireland. These incredible cliffs rise over 200 metres from the frothing ocean below, and the views on a clear day are absolutely breath-taking. Finally, we’ll arrive in Galway, a bright, bohemian city renowned for its oysters, its live music venues, cafes, weekend parties and contemporary vibe. Explore the city for yourself during your free time and experience all the charms that Galway has to offer.
DAY 8: Derry/Londonderry - Giant's Causeway - Belfast
Leaving Galway behind, we journey on to Northern Ireland, stopping first in Derry/Londonderry. Fresh from its makeover following its moment in the limelight as UK City of Culture 2013, Northern Ireland’s second city has a lot to offer. Next, we’ll stop at Giant’s Causeway, a famous natural oddity made up of around 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. Learn about the myths and legends surrounding the area, and then prepare for the final stop in the Irish leg of our adventure, Belfast. Your tour leader will take you on a combined driving and walking tour, showing you some of the city’s most famous attractions and learning more about the city’s past. Having pulled off quite a transformation in recent years, Belfast is shaking off its reputation that lingered after the times of The Troubles. Fans of Game of Thrones will be pleased to know that a large portion of the series is filmed here, too!
DAY 9: Stirling - Whisky Distillery - Scottish Highlands
Boarding a ferry in Larne, we’ll sail across the Sea of Moyle to Scotland. Once back on dry land we'll drive to Stirling and admire the famous Wallace Monument. Built to commemorate one of William Wallace’s most famous victories at The Bridge of Stirling, the monument is a tower standing on the summit of Abbey Craig, a hilltop near Stirling. Then, we’re off into the Scottish Highlands! We'll stop off at a local whisky distillery, learn more about how whisky is made and try some of the different varieties produced here. Admire the scenery as we travel on to our accommodation in the picturesque Highlands this evening.
DAY 10: Loch Ness - Edinburgh
Today, we set off into the Highlands to further explore this famous region of Scotland. We’ll be stopping at the famous Loch Ness, reputedly the home of the Loch Ness monster! Go for an optional cruise on the Loch and see the ruins of Urquhart Castle. Heading out of the Highlands, we’ll arrive finally in Edinburgh, and enjoy a walking tour of the Scottish capital. Apart from Holyrood House, the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle, keep in mind that this is the city where JK Rowling famously penned the first Harry Potter novel. Fans might find the city strangely familiar!
DAY 11: Edinburgh - Free day
Your time is yours to spend as you like today – revisit some of the highlights from yesterday’s walking tour, or strike out on your own and discover the city for yourself. Explore Edinburgh Castle in full, or if the weather allows, take a stroll up to Arthur’s Seat for panoramic views of the city below. Tonight we offer a traditional Scottish dinner, complete with the famous traditional haggis! Check our Optional Excursions for more information.
DAY 12: Alnwick Castle - York - Yorkshire
Saying goodbye to Scotland, we make for the famous Alnwick Castle, the home of the Duke of Northumberland and the second-largest inhabited castle in England after Windsor Castle. This castle has also featured in many famous films and TV shows, including two Harry Potter films (The Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets), Downton Abbey, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (and the more recent Ridley Scott incarnation), The Black Adder, Star Trek: The Next Generation and many more! Visiting the castle is an optional excursion, details of which are available in our Optional Excursions documentation. Next, we travel into Yorkshire, and to the county capital, York. Home to the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe (York Minster), York is a charming city of winding cobbled streets, lined with little boutiques selling all manner of fascinating things and there are a number of sweet-shops too if you’re looking to satisfy that sweet tooth! We’ll take you on a walking tour of the city to see its most famous sites, before heading to our accommodation in Yorkshire.
DAY 13: Cambridge - London
It’s the last day of your UK and Ireland tour, but we're finishing off with a real treat - today we make our way to the historic university town of Cambridge! Along with the exquisite architecture, quirky traditions and deep history, there are a significant number of bright sparks who have passed through the city’s famous university: John Milton, Charles Darwin, David Attenborough, Sacha Baron Cohen, Siegfried Sassoon, John Cleese, Nick Drake, Stephen Fry, William Wordsworth, Hugh Laurie, Rachel Weisz and, of course, countless others. We’ll do the traditional thing and go punting along the river before we return to London where our tour concludes. What a ride! Be sure to share your details with your fellow travellers to keep in touch after your journey. We hope you’ve enjoyed exploring the British Isles as much as we enjoyed introducing them to you!
- 12 nights' accommodation in twin rooms with private en-suite facilities. Single travellers have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure a private room.
- Services of your Expat tour leader, who will be on hand with advice and tips to ensure that you get the most from your trip. You can also book any of the optional excursions available during your tour with your tour leader – please see the 'Essential Information' tab for more details.
- 12 breakfasts, 6 dinners
- All taxes and fees
- Any public transport used as part of the tour (excludes free days)
- Modern air conditioned coach with reclining seats, TV for showing DVDs, and toilet.
- 20 Experiences (including guided walking tours, orientation walks, driving tours of cities plus other exciting experiences)
- Free Expat Explore tour souvenir – a memorable gift of your once in a lifetime trip.
Optional ExcursionsOptional excursions are payable in cash currency to your tour leader whilst on tour.
- Roman Baths
- Irish Music Evening
- Guinness Storehouse
- Loch Ness Cruise
- Shakespeare's House
- Alnwick Castle
- The Beatles Story & Museum
- Spirit of Scotland Show
- Edinburgh - Conquer the Capital
- Ring of Kerry day-trip
Return customers get 10% off!
If you have traveled with us before you qualify for a 10% rebate. To claim your rebate, simply type your previous Booking Number in the "Special Notes" box at the final Payment step of the checkout.
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How we make awesome trips affordable
- No intermediary: You book directly from the tour operator so you don't have to pay any travel agent.
- As a Europe leading bus tour operator we have 11 years of experience finding the best hotels for your budget and continuously optimizing our selection based on customer feedback.
- We book our hotels well in advance so we get early bird rates that we can pass on to you!
- Thanks to the great number of people who travel with us each year, we can negotiate great deals that would be quite impossible for you to find on your own.
Detailed Info Pack
- Tour start & end points
- Pre-departure information
- Pre-tour accommodation
For more information on, starting points & times, emergency contact details, budgeting for your tour & much more you can download our information pack here.
Helpful Pre-Trip Info
On tour costs
Please refer to the tour itinerary above for full details of what activities are included, which meals are included and what is excluded. We would recommend budgeting €25-€40 per day (this excludes optional excursions).
Please note, by default all rooms are twin bed rooms.
- Partners: When you book for more than one person, we will by default group you together in a room (unless you specifically request us not to). If you are unequal numbers (3, 5, 7 etc.) and we are unable to secure a triple room then the the remaining traveler will be roomed with another passenger of the same gender.
- Single Travelers: If you are travelling alone there is no compulsory charge - you will share a twin room with another passenger of the same gender. There is an optional single supplement/private room upgrade available for single travellers who wish to have a private room. This can be added at the time of booking or by contacting our customer services team. Please note that the room provided may be a single room with a single bed.
- Triple Room requests: We can generally provide a triple room on request; however it is not guaranteed to be available in every destination. Please contact our customer services team to request a triple room. Please note that in some hotels, the triple may be a double and a single bed, or the third bed may be a pull-out or bunk-bed. Where we cannot provide a triple room the rooming will consist of one twin room and the third passenger sharing with another single traveller of the same gender.
In some destinations you will have a full free day, where you can choose to join our optional excursions or explore on your own.
Your tour starts and finishes in London. Please have a look at our essential tour help page for detailed information.
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If you have any medical conditions that may be affected by where you sit, please discuss them with your Tour Leader, but note that the seat rotation policy will most likely mean that your request may not be honoured.
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Is travel insurance compulsory?
For a relatively small price, travel insurance provides you with the peace of mind so that you can enjoy your tour without any worries. To receive a quote from one of our preferred travel insurance partners, please visit WorldNomads (for all nationalities) or Hollard (for South Africans).