Tours Christmas & New Year Tours UK & Ireland Christmas & New Year

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Summary

Enjoy the festive season with a Great Britain and Ireland Christmas and New Year vacation! Celebrate Christmas Day in Ireland and ring in the new year in Edinburgh. See the Giant’s Causeway, the Cliffs of Moher and enjoy an optional visit to Stonehenge. Visit castles, stroll through bustling Irish towns and join a local guide for a driving tour of Belfast. Sip whisky in Scotland and search for the Loch Ness Monster! Explore Liverpool, Bath, York and Cambridge. Revel in the festive cheer over 13 days on this Christmas in Ireland and UK New Year tour! 

Highlights

  • Celebrate Christmas in Dublin and Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) in Edinburgh
  • Experience the stunning scenery of the Scottish Highlands
  • Marvel at the beauty of Giant's Causeway and Cliffs of Moher
  • Visit the historic cities of Bath, York and Cambridge

Start Point

Outside Novotel London Greenwich hotel | 06:30 AM
Hotel lobby at Holiday Inn Express London - Greenwich | 07:00 AM

End Point

Outside Hotel Novotel at Greenwich station | 06:00 PM
DAY 1: London - Bath - Cardiff

Welcome to the first day of this Christmas & New Year tour! The tour begins first thing this morning as it departs Greenwich. The first stop is Bath, a beautiful and historic city famous for the Roman baths built during the reign of the Empire. Learn more about Bath on an orientation tour. After the tour, enjoy some free time in Bath where a visit to the Roman baths is highly recommended. Alternatively, discover another iconic historical site with an optional visit to Stonehenge! Jump at the opportunity to discover this ancient archaeological phenomenon’s many myths and legends. Later, drive to Cardiff, the capital of Wales. Enjoy an included welcome dinner together with the rest of the group. 

Meals: Dinner

DAY 1: London - Bath - Cardiff

Welcome to the first day of this Christmas & New Year tour! The tour begins first thing this morning as it departs Greenwich. The first stop is Bath, a beautiful and historic city famous for the Roman baths built during the reign of the Empire. Learn more about Bath on an orientation tour. After the tour, enjoy some free time in Bath where a visit to the Roman baths is highly recommended. Alternatively, discover another iconic historical site with an optional visit to Stonehenge! Jump at the opportunity to discover this ancient archaeological phenomenon’s many myths and legends. Later, drive to Cardiff, the capital of Wales. Enjoy an included welcome dinner together with the rest of the group. 

Experiences

Bath Orientation tour: Your Expat Explore tour leader will point out all the main attractions of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its ancient Roman baths and gorgeous architecture. After the orientation tour, enjoy free time to further explore the area.

Visit Cardiff: Arrive in the Welsh capital this evening and enjoy some free time to explore. A welcome dinner is included tonight which offers a chance to get to know your fellow travellers better.

Meals

Dinner

Accommodation

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On Tour Excursions

DAY 2: Stratford-upon-Avon - Liverpool

Today’s adventure begins with a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon; home of William Shakespeare! Enjoy free time to explore this 800-year-old market town. Or, join the optional excursion to see Shakespeare’s childhood home. Then, travel to Liverpool, the British port city famous for football and The Beatles! Be dazzled by the Christmas lights while exploring the city in your free time this evening. Football fans can delight in the home of Liverpool and Everton football clubs, while music lovers enjoy the city’s deep connection with The Beatles at the Cavern Club, where they played hundreds of times. An optional visit to The Beatles Story & Museum is also highly recommended for a unique and detailed insight into this iconic band’s history.

Experiences

Visit Stratford-Upon-Avon: Visit the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Enjoy free time to wander the city, and visit some of the Shakespearean attractions, such as the historic 16th-Century house where he grew up.

Meals

Breakfast

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On Tour Excursions

DAY 3: Liverpool - Dublin

This morning, take a driving tour of Liverpool’s most famous sights, including Albert Dock, Penny Lane and John Lennon’s house. Stop at Strawberry Field, the inspiration for The Beatles' single Strawberry Fields Forever. Then, travel back to Wales for a visit to Conwy, a walled market town known for its impressive 13th century castle. Next, enjoy a photo stop in the town that boasts the longest place name in Europe - Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch! Then, board a ferry across the Irish Sea to Ireland! Arrive in Dublin, the bustling capital city, and enjoy a free evening. Why not soak up the Christmas Eve atmosphere at one the many pubs in the iconic Temple Bar neighbourhood?

Experiences

Liverpool driving tour: Take a driving tour to see some of the city's highlights including the Albert Dock, and various locations connected to The Beatles and some of their most beloved songs.

Visit Conwy: Enjoy a comfort stop and lunch in the charming Welsh town of Conwy - a walled, market town famous for its 13th century castle.

See Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch: Make a photo stop at the village with the longest place name in Europe - try to capture the whole name in a photo and pronounce it correctly on your first go!

Meals

Breakfast

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DAY 4: Dublin (Christmas Day)

Merry Christmas to you! Or Nollaig Shona Duit as they say in Irish! There is so much to see and do in this beautiful city and you’ll be introduced to just a few stunning sights on a driving tour after breakfast. Admire and learn more about top attractions including Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College and more. The rest of the day is free to spend as you wish! Why not join today’s optional excursion which offers the opportunity to visit the breathtaking Wicklow Mountains? Later, enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner at the hotel with the rest of the group.

Experiences

Dublin driving tour: Discover some of Dublin’s top sights and learn more about the city’s fascinating history on a driving tour with your tour leader. Highlights include the Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College, Penny Bridge, the Oscar Wilde statue and much more.

Christmas Day in Dublin: Soak up the festive spirit with a full free day to experience Christmas Day in Dublin! Admire the many magical Christmas lights and decorations, wander the streets, enjoy a pint of Guinness or listen to Christmas choirs and carolers. Later, enjoy an included dinner with the group at the hotel. 

Meals

BreakfastDinner

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On Tour Excursions

DAY 5: Waterford - Blarney Castle - Killarney area

Leave the bustling, festive city of Dublin and travel to the oldest city in Ireland; Waterford. This city was first settled by the Vikings in 914 AD! Enjoy free time to explore and grab some lunch. Then, head to the famous 15th century Blarney Castle! Will you be brave enough to hang over the edge and kiss the Blarney Stone for the ‘gift of the gab’? The last stop for the day and home for the night is Killarney. With some free time in the afternoon, why not walk through the beautiful town centre and feel the Christmas spirit all around? Sit down for a meal at the hotel this evening and experience that warm Irish hospitality!

Experiences

Visit Waterford: Spend some time in the oldest city in Ireland. Founded over 1,000 years ago, remnants of the city’s Viking origins can be seen in ruins of ancient fortified walls. Waterford’s history is far-reaching and colourful. Here, feel the atmosphere of medieval Ireland like nowhere else!

Visit Blarney Castle: Blarney Castle is a medieval stronghold located just outside Cork, and it has an interesting claim to fame - it is home to the Blarney Stone! Legend says that if you kiss the famous Blarney Stone you might ­­­­­­gain the ‘gift of the gab'!

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BreakfastDinner

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DAY 6: Ring of Kerry: Free Day

Enjoy a free day in this beautiful part of Ireland! Choose to join the optional Ring of Kerry excursion for a truly unforgettable experience. Any trip to Ireland is synonymous with rolling green hills, charming villages and breathtaking coastal views, and the Ring of Kerry absolutely ticks all these boxes. Get blown away by the scenery of this gorgeous green valley and picturesque stretches of coastline. En route, stop in picture-postcard villages and quaint towns. Here, stroll down the high streets, relax in charming cafés or browse the souvenir shops. Attend a sheepdog show and enjoy a jaunting (carriage) ride to take in the stunning scenery of Killarney National Park.

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On Tour Excursions

DAY 7: Adare - Limerick - Cliffs of Moher - Galway - Ballina

Today is filled with more epic scenery as the coach drives up the Wild Atlantic Way coastal road. Stop along the way in Adare, described as the ‘prettiest village in Ireland’. Then, visit Limerick to see the Treaty Stone and King John’s Castle. The next stop is a must-see on any trip to Ireland - the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs rise over 200m above the sea, and the views are nothing short of spectacular! Later, reach Galway and enjoy free time to explore this charming harbour city. Don’t miss the opportunity to listen to live traditional Irish music in one of the pubs here! Finally, travel to tonight’s accommodation in Ballina.

Experiences

Visit Adare: Take a few photos in the “prettiest village in Ireland”. This village has perfectly preserved thatch-roofed cottages that house craft shops and restaurants today.

Visit Limerick: Pay a visit to the Treaty Stone; legend says the Treaty of Limerick was signed here, which ended the Williamite War in Ireland between the Jacobites and the supporters of William of Orange, and concluded the Siege of Limerick. Snap some great photos of the 13th century King John’s Castle from across the river.

Experience the views at the Cliffs of Moher: Get those cameras ready for awe-inspiring views of rugged cliffs and crashing waves! The Cliffs of Moher are truly breathtaking and certainly one of the top Ireland travel highlights.

Meals

Breakfast

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DAY 8: Derry/Londonderry - Giant's Causeway - Belfast

Today, the journey continues to Northern Ireland. First stop is Derry/Londonderry a city famous for the 17th century Derry Walls, which remain intact to this day. Next up is the Giant’s Causeway; an awe-inspiring natural phenomenon brimming with myths and legends.Today’s final stop is Belfast. Embark on a driving and walking tour with a local guide who will highlight some of the city’s most famous attractions and explain its history. Belfast is shaking off its reputation that lingered after the times of The Troubles and has transformed into a modern city with a rich cultural heritage. Fans of Game of Thrones will be pleased to know that a large portion of the series was filmed here!

Experiences

Visit Derry: Still 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, including a beautiful waterfront and well-preserved city walls.

Marvel at the Giant’s Causeway: This natural wonder is surrounded by myth and legend. Did a giant build this sight, or was it an ancient volcanic activity that formed the 40,000 basalt columns? Clamber over the rocks, experience it up close and decide for yourself!

Guided tour of Belfast: A local guide will introduce some of the city's highlights, including Shankill Road and the Falls Road. These roads are associated with loyalist and republican communities respectively and are separated by peace walls. Belfast is shaking off its reputation that lingered after the times of The Troubles and gaining a reputation as an exciting city which blends traditions with modernity.

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BreakfastDinner

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DAY 9: Belfast - Scottish Highlands

Explore more of Belfast with some free time this morning Later, travel across the Sea of Moyle via ferry to a brand new country - Scotland! Scotland is rich in history, from famous battles and towering castles to Celtic legends. It is also known and beloved for its unique and distinct culture. Admire the scenery as the tour travels on to the accommodation for the evening in the picturesque Highlands. Later, sample some authentic Scottish whisky during a tasting experience. Enjoy dinner at the hotel tonight.

Experiences

Whisky tasting: Taste authentic Scottish whisky, also known as Scotch, during a tasting experience! Learn about the types of Scotch and discover why Scottish whisky is revered all over the world.

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BreakfastDinner

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DAY 10: Glen Coe - Loch Ness - Edinburgh (New Year’s Eve/Hogmanay)

While exploring the stunning Scottish Highlands landscape, visit the famous Loch Ness! To get a better look at the home of the mythical Loch Ness monster, join an optional cruise on the loch. See the Urquhart Castle ruins from the water and try to spot “Nessie”! Admire the last of the Highland views en route to Edinburgh, Scotland’s magical capital city. This evening, celebrate Hogmanay (what the Scots call the last day of the year) and ring in the New Year, Edinburgh style! This tour includes a ticket to the official Hogmanay celebration, described as ‘the ultimate party’. Marvel at the fireworks at midnight which light up the sky with Edinburgh Castle as an epic backdrop!

Experiences

Scenic drive through the Scottish Highlands: Take in the spectacular scenery while driving through the majestic Scottish Highlands. Stop in quaint villages and, if the weather is clear, catch a glimpse of the grand Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain.

See Glen Coe: Admire this spectacular glen (Scottish for a deep valley in the Highlands). This is where the Massacre of Glencoe took place in 1692, one of the most fascinating yet tragic stories in Scotland’s history.

Visit Loch Ness: Try to spot the legendary Loch Ness monster with a visit to the place said to be her home! Enjoy free time to explore or take an optional cruise along the water.

Visit Edinburgh: Spend New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in Scotland’s vibrant and historic capital city! Tomorrow offers a full free day to explore or to join the Conquer the Capital optional excursion which provides a unique insight into what makes this city so special.

Experience Hogmanay: Ring in the New Year with an included ticket to Edinburgh’s world-famous Hogmanay celebrations! Be entertained by street performers, DJs, artists, bands and many other forms of entertainment. The celebrations conclude with an epic firework show over Edinburgh Castle!

Meals

Breakfast

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On Tour Excursions

DAY 11: Edinburgh - Free day (New Year’s Day)

It’s a brand new year! Today offers a full free day to explore Edinburgh at your own place. Revisit some of the places seen yesterday or take a walk around Edinburgh’s cobbled streets and pop into a pub or two. Alternatively, see Edinburgh’s highlights on today’s optional excursion! Learn more about this fascinating city during a visit to Calton Hill, see Holyrood Palace, wander along the Royal Mile and see St. Giles’ Cathedral and finish off with time to explore Edinburgh Castle! End the first day of the year with an included group dinner.

Meals

BreakfastDinner

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On Tour Excursions

DAY 12: York - Yorkshire

Say goodbye to Scotland and head back to England. On the way, stop at Scott’s View - a viewpoint in the Scottish Borders. After crossing the border, enjoy a photo stop at the impressive Angel of the North sculpture. Later, arrive in York. Founded by the Romans, York is a centuries-old, walled city which is home to the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe. This charming city is full of winding cobbled streets lined with small boutiques selling all manner of fascinating souvenirs and sweet treats. Join your tour leader on a walking tour to see York’s most famous and historic sights, before heading to tonight’s accommodation in Yorkshire. Enjoy an included dinner at the hotel this evening.

Experiences

Stop at Scott’s View: Before crossing the border into England, visit Scott’s View -  a magnificent viewpoint in the Scottish Borders. Overlooking the River Tweed, this was said to be one of famed Scottish poet and novelist Sir Walter Scott’s favourite views!

Photo stop at Angel of the North: Marvel at this impressive steel artwork believed to be the largest sculpture of an angel in the world! Snap a few pictures with this icon of Northern England en route to Yorkshire.

Orientation tour of York: Join your Expat Explore tour leader on a walking tour of the beautiful city of York. See top attractions including York Minster (the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe), the medieval city walls, Clifford’s Tower and The Shambles.

Meals

BreakfastDinner

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DAY 13: Cambridge - London

It may be the last day of this adventure-packed Christmas and New Year tour, but it’s far from over! On the way back to London, visit the fascinating city of Cambridge. The University of Cambridge was founded here in 1209, and is the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university. Walk in the footsteps of the world’s brightest minds! Charles Darwin, John Milton, William Wordsworth, Sir Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking and David Attenborough are all Cambridge alumni. While here, take part in the age-old tradition of punting down the river in a wooden punt boat! Travel to London in the early evening and bid farewell to your fellow travellers after a memorable start to the New Year!

Experiences

Go punting along the River Cam: Enjoy a traditional punt along the river and admire the views. An experienced punter will propel the punt by pushing against the river bed with a pole, while introducing you to the city’s history and telling you some of its most famous tales.

Meals

Breakfast

What's Included

Accommodation

  • 12 nights in 2, 3 & 4* hotel accommodation in twin rooms with private bathrooms
  • Single travellers have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure a private room

Meals

  • 12 Breakfasts, 6 Dinners 
    *Vegetarian options available for all meals on request

Transport

  • Modern air-conditioned coach with reclining seats and toilet onboard 
  • Any public transport used as part of the tour (excludes free days) 

Tour Leader

  • Fully guided tour with experienced tour leader
  • Tour leader will accompany group throughout and manage all logistical details

26 Experiences!

  1. Discover historic Bath on an orientation tour
  2. Visit Cardiff, the capital of Wales
  3. Visit Stratford-Upon-Avon; birthplace of Shakespeare
  4. See Liverpool, home of The Beatles, on a driving tour
  5. Visit the village with the longest name in Europe
  6. Explore Conwy; a Welsh castle town
  7. Spend Christmas Day in Dublin, Ireland’s vibrant capital
  8. Discover top sights on a driving tour in Dublin
  9. Explore Waterford; the oldest city in Ireland
  10. Kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle
  11. Stop in Adare, Ireland’s prettiest village
  12. See the treaty Stone and King John's Castle in Limerick
  13. Marvel at the Cliffs of Moher
  14. Experience the bohemian vibe of Galway
  15. Stop in Derry/Londonderry; Northern Ireland's second-largest city
  16. Visit the Giant's Causeway, a true natural wonder
  17. Enjoy a driving tour of Belfast with a local guide
  18. Taste Scottish whisky
  19. Embark on a scenic drive through the Highlands
  20. Marvel at the beauty of Glen Coe
  21. Try to spot Nessie at Loch Ness
  22. Experience Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) in Edinburgh
  23. Admire the views from Scott’s View
  24. Enjoy a photo stop at Angel of the North
  25. Uncover medieval history on a walking tour of York
  26. Visit Cambridge and take a punting trip through the university

Accommodation

Hotels are chosen closer to departure date. We do use a variety of hotels in each destination, so you may stay in a hotel different to that listed here.

Cardiff

Photos of the tour

Stonehenge

Tick off a bucket-list-worthy experience with a visit to Stonehenge, one of the most famous structures in the world! The prehistoric monument is shrouded in myth and legend. While nobody knows the exact purpose behind the 5,000-year-old mysterious circle of upright stones in southern England, the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site has been attracting visitors from around the world for centuries! Visit to see the enchanting site and learn the history, traditions and customs surrounding Stonehenge.

Optional Excursions

Unless marked as “Pre-Book”, all optional excursions can be booked on tour and paid for in cash (in the stated currency) to your tour leader.
Prices and availability are subject to change

Dates & Rates

2025 dates for this tour will go on sale soon. To book now with early access to the lowest price, please complete this enquiry form.

Our pricing model: Lowest-priced seats are sold first, then the price increases slightly. The quicker you book, the less you pay. Select a date below to secure your seat.
Years
Start Date / End DateFlexible BookingStatusPrice Per Person

Additional Information

For pre-departure and visa information, as well as frequently asked questions regarding preparing for and travelling on this tour, please visit our Help Centre.

Additional Information Help Centre

Reviews

Reviews powered by: Power Reviews

11 reviews
A
Anne Verified Buyer 2023-01-25
A wonderful holiday
A wonderful holiday thanks to our fantastic tour guide, Shabby, who was so knowledgeable, entertaining and patient and qur driver, Ashley, who effortlessly negotiated all sorts of weather conditions and roads for approximately 2500 miles! They both went out of their way to see that we had the best tour possible and I am sure none of us will hear the Wham song "wake me up" without having fond memories of the tour and all the new friends we made.
A
Annette Verified Buyer 2023-01-06
Fantastic trip
This trip covered a huge part of UK and Ireland. It provided the perfect snapshot of British and Irish history, what to see and where to come back to. Because it covered so much, there were a lot of early mornings and long drives, but our tour guide extraordinaire Shabby, and amazing driver Ashley made all this fun and enjoyable. Though many things were closed over Christmas and new year, and we weren't able to get the real taste of Dublin and its live pub music for example, Shabby went out of her way to organise our visits and ensure we got as full an experience as possible. All thanks to her.
C
Cara Verified Buyer 2023-01-03
An amazing experience
This tour was a great experience I will never forget, some dreams came true, tour leader shabby is the reason I will be coming back,
D
Dave Verified Buyer 2023-01-01
Incredible tour
Well organised, a few improvements could be made to the hotel selection
T
Taylor Verified Buyer 2020-01-11
Nonstop Adventure
I had the time of my life on this tour. Ireland and Scotland had been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. This tour covered everything and more that I wanted to see!! Our tour guide Perci went above and beyond to help us discover new hidden places in down time.

Why this tour?

Have a very merry Christmas and New Year’s Eve fun on this Great Britain and Ireland tour! Travel through England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland to see the highlights and enjoy the festive holidays in just under two weeks. 

On our festive Christmas tours, travellers will get to see bucket-list sites, explore charming towns and experience warm British and Irish hospitality during the festive season. Highlights of this Christmas in Ireland and British New Year vacation include the best places to go between Christmas and New Year in the UK. You will get to:  

  • Celebrate Christmas in Dublin! Enjoy all things merry while in Ireland for Christmas! You will be free to explore Dublin as you wish and enjoy a delicious Irish Christmas lunch.
  • Marvel at the Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh! The city plays host to world-famous New Year's Eve celebrations (known as Hogmanay). Ring in the new year in the UK with street parties, fireworks and jolly vibes!
  • See the breathtaking Giant’s Causeway, which is an impressive landmark made up of over 40,000 basalt columns and shrouded in myth and legend!
  • Grab your chance to visit the mysterious Stonehenge on an optional excursion.
  • Admire the natural beauty of the Cliffs of Moher, the English Lake District, Glen Coe and the Scottish Highlands.
  • Get your fix of fantastic Irish destinations that are some of the best places to visit in Ireland at Christmas, including Blarney Castle, Galway, Derry, Adare, which is Ireland's prettiest village, and Waterford - which is the oldest city in Ireland.
  • Embark on a locally guided driving tour of Belfast to learn more about the city's tumultuous past.
  • Enjoy unique Irish and Scottish traditions; watch an Irish music show in Dublin and enjoy a whisky tasting in one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries.
  • Enjoy the options to visit Shakespeare’s House in Stratford-upon-Avon and the Beatles Museum in Liverpool. 

Is this the right tour for me? 
What kind of accommodation will I be staying in? 
The Expat Explore team selects quality hotels and travellers will share twin rooms with someone of the same gender. Anyone who would prefer their own space can pay for a single room supplement. 

What should I pack for Christmas in UK? 
The temperatures drop during winter in Great Britain and Ireland so be sure to pack warm clothes! Layer up with coats, sweaters/jerseys, beanies and scarves. It may be chilly while walking around outside but most indoor venues have heating.

What is the main mode of transportation? 
You will travel comfortably by coach. 

Wondering “where to vacation between Christmas and New Years? 
This tour covers it all in England, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. See historic towns, bucket-list sights, natural wonders and enjoy the festive atmosphere! 

Travel tip: For a different way to experience Scotland, jump aboard our Scotland Rail Express rail tour! 

If you’re looking for exciting, fun and affordable UK holidays over the festive season, look no further! The tour price includes accommodation, transport, fun activities and most meals. It’s the best way to experience a Great Britain Christmas vacation and New year celebrations!