Ireland and Scotland are proudly different countries of sublime landscapes and ongoing tradition. Handcrafted to celebrate the best of both, this private 16-day tour takes in all the famous experiences – like Dublin, Giant’s Causeway, Highland dancing, Loch Ness and Edinburgh – plus all those secrets and cultural memoirs found in between. Click here to learn more about Ireland and Scotland tours on Zicasso.
Dublin – A Lively Welcome in Atmospheric Dublin
Dublin is quick to carry you off on Ireland’s atmospheric blanket. Get to know locals though a bit of craic (banter and conversation) outside a pub, quaint streets painted green, colorful performers all along Grafton Street. Then go inside Temple Bar for a pint of the black stuff (Guinness) as the locals ask your name and welcome you in a gregarious manner that only the Irish seem to know how to do. Ireland has an atmosphere that quickly makes visitors feel at home. There’s something ineffable in the air that you won’t forget and something so distinctly Irish you can’t put your finger on. And this is just the first night. You have another week to explore the nuance of this lively atmosphere.
Dublin – Highlights of Dublin Before Whimsical Cabaret and Storytelling
Now through the streets of Dublin, looking up at St Patrick’s Cathedral then entering into its sanctified realm. Step back in time at the ornate Georgian Square then step into brewing history at the Guinness Storehouse (it tastes different when you’re at the brewery). There’s some free time in the afternoon for an evening of dinner and cabaret. Seanchaithe, traditional storytellers, relate tales of myth and legend, toe-tapping ballads come from the stage, and there’s Irish humor throughout every moment. The food is Irish, from the organic fields of the republic, and an Irish coffee rounds off the experience. While the tales may not be believable on paper, the cabaret of storytelling and song makes the legend come alive.
Waterford – Horse Racing History, Crystal Crafters and Folk Fun
Thoroughbreds gallop across a patchwork of green fields, steeds from the Irish National Stud Farm part of horse racing legend and history. Stroll around the Japanese gardens and open fields that give insight into an important piece of Irish and equestrian history. Travel onwards across sublime landscapes to Waterford, where craftsmen show you the delicate art of making crystal. You spend the afternoon and night in Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city. You might want to visit the Museum of Treasures for a detailed look at Waterford’s past, which has tales of the Vikings no less.
You could simply stroll the waterfront of painted houses and stumble across parts of the early 11th-century walls. This is an iconic place to come eye to eye with traditional Irish folklore. The atmosphere is immersive as the locals sing and play, an evening of entertainment showing how folk dances and traditions are part of every day, not just something made by Michael Flatley and Riverdance. By now you’ll realize that everything in Ireland is tailored around fun, and you should be used to the craic adding humor to a conversation with strangers and friends alike.
Killarney – Kissing the Blarney Stone and Pony and Trap Ride Through Bourn-Vincent
To give the best craic you need the gift of the gab, code-phrase for being able to talk irreverent nonsense that keeps people entertained. To acquire this gift, you bend over backward and kiss the Blarney Stone. After this famous Irish attraction, you travel across the Kerry Mountains, admiring endless hues as you transfer to a trap and ride through Bourn-Vincent National Park in the most traditional of styles. Ponies pull you along and it seems there is no end to the green. Visit a working farm before dropping into the lakeside town of Killarney. Dine in a farmhouse this evening, a traditional dinner backdropped by the lakes and mountains of what many consider to be Ireland’s most picturesque region.
Killarney – The Legendary Ring of Kerry
Oh, the Iveragh Peninsula, a landscape of rolling mountains and lakes that stretches out towards dramatic cliffs and crashing Atlantic Ocean waves. You’re far from the first to be inspired by the Ring of Kerry – countless writers and poets have come before you – but there’s something about this land that instills both a sense of wonder and feeling of calm. Visit Daniel O’Connell’s Cahirciveen, stop for fish and chips in the coastal village of Waterville, then travel through Black Valley and Moll’s Gap. Bizarrely named and intriguingly sculpted by nature, the Macgillycuddy Reeks peaks provide a backdrop as you sweep back into Killarney.
Galway – Thatched Cottages and a Vibrant Cathedral City
It seems like every day you travel a century back in time as you now traverse the west of Ireland. Stop in Adare, where thatched cottages grab the attention, and you drink tea in a cafe mostly unchanged since the medieval era. The road meanders inland then back onto the coast before twisting to Galway, a majestic stone cathedral your compass point for a leisurely afternoon in the city. Draped along the harbor and alive with the strains of folk music, this is a city that’s best explored without a map or a plan. Wind the lanes of the Latin Quarter, glimpse the old city walls, and find another small city that always evokes tradition.
Londonderry – 17th-Century Walls and Murals of Battle
Travel to Northern Ireland with a brief stop in the town of Donegal before a day in Londonderry, perhaps Ireland’s most interesting town. Londonderry was on the frontline of The Troubles, a guerrilla-style civil war that erupted at various points over the 20th century. There were decades of calm but also bloody battles within the urban landscape. Murals depict these battles while memorials honor the fallen (mostly civilian causalities), the two sides of Londonderry illuminating the religious and political battle for power on the island of Ireland.
Belfast – An Extravagant Coastline and Side Streets of Belfast
Back to nature today as you explore the roads that seem to come from a dream. Ireland’s North Coast is all towering cliffs and otherworldly fissures, best known for the Giant’s Causeway. Photos give you an idea of what to expect, but they can’t do justice to this place; the landscape is vast here, and you can spend a couple of hours walking the cliffs. The 4,000 fissures appear like steps, descending into the ocean, buffeted by the roaring sound of the waves. Giant’s Causeway is just one stop on this drive and after treading in the steps of Finn Mac Cool – the guide will explain you’ll know it’s some far-fetched Irish legend that seems real – you arrive in Belfast and have time to walk the streets of Northern Ireland’s charming little capital.
Glasgow – Relaxed Time in Contrasting Cities
A rest day today, the morning in Belfast, then an evening in Glasgow, two cities that have so much in common; gritty, vibrant, pioneers of arts and culture yet deliberately turning away from royal and opulent histories. Except one is Irish, and one is Scottish, which makes for the insightful contrasts. An early-afternoon 45-minute flight connects the cities, and there are no guided excursions today, just airport transfers and time to garner your own impressions.
Glasgow – Embracing Tradition and Scottish Culture
Now you will experience Glasgow with a guide, the best of the town revealed by a proud local. George Square, the River Clyde, shipbuilding heritage, and a blossoming modern art scene easily rival Edinburgh and its fringe. Head out of the city to a small whiskey distillery, where the tasting comes with an insight into how the honey-colored drink has permeated the local culture. With a warm heart, you return to the town and continue to soak up the Scottish atmosphere. As the people will tell you, Glasgow is where you get proper Scottish culture and atmosphere, while Edinburgh is where tourists explore a regal English culture around the Royal Mile.
Skye – So Many Tales in Beautiful Rural Scotland
Travel north, the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond a scenic place to hear about a tragic tale. The water glistens with mountain reflections and the fields have a purple hue distinctive to this corner of the world. You go deeper into nature, along quiet rural roads to the foot of Ben Nevis, a bulbous massif that’s the highest point in Britain. Before boarding the ferry to Skye you cross the viaduct that the Hogwarts Express crosses when taking Harry Potter to magic school. Then on the Isle of Skye, there is silence. Feel the wind in your hair and appreciate the remoteness of the Hebrides.
Skye – Exploring the Rugged Beauty of Iconic Island
Legends and tales cover the Isle of Skye, not quite as fanciful as those in Ireland, but just as evocative as they tell of Celtic warriors, hobgoblins, and giants that live in the glens. Wait, that is fanciful, but it starts making sense on an island famous for its whiskey and sheep. Skye is one of those places that seems alien from every angle, so rugged and windswept, and full of peculiar natural geography and rolling colors. This is an island that makes you swoon from almost every angle, and you won’t be short of otherworldly photos after today.
Scottish Highlands – A Famous Monster and Old Farming Heritage
A monster in a lake? How ridiculous! It’s surely a work of fiction but then you stand at the point where three lochs meet and wonder that there must be some form of magic taking place. Scotland is simply too beautiful, too strange and surreal. Take a boat tour on Loch Ness before a stop at the battlefield of Culloden, the stories turning to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Redcoats. Then go deeper into the Scottish Highlands and a night at a traditional farmstead. Look out from here and there’s nothing but sheep; this is a rural Scottish experience that showcases the grandeur of the Highlands landscape and the heritage it comes with.
Edinburgh – Landscapes From a Dream
Dramatic landscapes are the order of the day as you cross the Scottish Highlands, the road meandering this way and that as peaks look down and stone villages appear abandoned amid the glens (narrow valleys synonymous with Scotland). Cross the Firth of Forth and arrive in Edinburgh, where the Royal Mile invites with its cozy fire-warmed pubs and beguiling atmosphere. It’s a very different side of Scotland to what you’ve seen before but like so many cities on this tour, Edinburgh is where you can walk without a map and always find something exciting and traditional.
Edinburgh – Best of Edinburgh and Scottish Show With Dinner
An Edinburgh local join you this morning, helping to provide an intimate insight into this glamorous city. Take a walk through Edinburgh Castle and look over the city from Castle Rock. Wander down the hill to the Royal Mile, all the way to the Palace of Holywood and its artistic treasures. Stand before the new Scottish Parliament building and make up your own impression, then rest up before a night of Scottish singing, dancing, and bagpipe music. You’re even given a tartan kilt for the occasion. There’s even haggis on the menu as you dine and dance throughout this last night of the tour.
Edinburgh – Discovering Rosslyn Chapel and Departure
A final treat this morning, the short drive to Rosslyn and its redolent 15th-century chapel. Architectural connoisseurs will be baffled, as the chapel has few similarities with buildings of its age. Unusual and almost haunting, Rosslyn is defined by histories of the Knights Templar and the Masonic Movement, although it’s more recently garnered fame after featuring in The Da Vinci Code. Movie incarnations aside, it’s certainly a building with a strong sense of mystery. Return to Edinburgh where late check out has been arranged so you can relax before the evening flight.
- Compare vibrant traditions that have survived to this day; like folk singing and storytelling in Ireland then Highland dancing and bagpipes in Scotland
- Discover Europe’s extravagant rural roads, like Ireland’s Ring of Kerry and a journey through the Scottish Highlands
- Compare the capitals, two nights in each of Edinburgh and Dublin packed with local surprises
- Contrast the gritty, culture-imbued cities of Belfast and Glasgow
- Embrace the beauty and serenity of the water; travel the North Coast past Giant’s Causeway and navigate the famous Scottish lochs (lakes)
- Explore tales of battle, the modern murals of Londonderry a very different story to Scotland’s medieval battlefields
- Spend a day on the Isle of Skye, away from it all with the wind through your hair
- Beautiful vestiges from the past are all over these two countries: like thatched cottages in Adare, Rosslyn Chapel (made famous by The Da Vinci Code), Galway Cathedral and the Blarney Stone
- Cross the green landscapes of Ireland then find purple beneath the peaks in Scotland
For such small countries, Ireland and Scotland really know how to diversify the visitor experience. Bagpipe music and Highland dancing; whimsical Irish cabaret and traditional seanchaithe (storytellers). Experience the staggering Atlantic Ocean coastline and the serenity of Scottish lochs. Visit Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow and Edinburgh, four cities with completely different identities. Then pay a visit to thatched villages, war murals, the Blarney Stone, the Isle of Skye, then Rosslyn Chapel of The Da Vinci Code and Knights Templar fame. These are countries made for touring, where every day brings you to somewhere and something new. Every moment you spend, there’s the ubiquitous sense of local culture. In the 21st-century, it’s refreshing to explore countries so true to their roots and styles.
Spend the first eight nights in Ireland. Dublin is for stories and soaking up the Irish atmosphere. The country’s south delivers folk fun and glorious landscapes. Along the southwestern coast, you find dramatic landscapes and old-world musing. Traverse the west of the country, through a thatched village to Galway, then onwards to the intriguing tales of Donegal and Londonderry. You’re now in Northern Ireland, and you explore one of the world’s finest coastlines – the North Coast with Giant’s Causeway – before a relaxed 24 hours in Belfast. While the pace seems quick and there is a lot to experience, Ireland’s compact size means you don’t spend that long on the road. The car rides are part of the fun when the landscapes are so improbably green.
Fly across the water to two nights in Glasgow, a city that’s great to compare with Belfast. Then set off into the rural lands that make Scotland so inviting: lochs (lakes), ruined castles, medieval war stories, ragged mountain tops then a ferry to the windswept Isle of Skye. Back on mainland Scotland, you become immersed in the Highlands, traveling through vast open landscapes and onwards to your final two nights in Edinburgh. Along the way, there’s a mythical monster, bagpipes and dancing, farming heritage and all those little secrets that make Scotland such a unique place to travel. Two weeks after exploring Dublin, you’re making sense of the travel memoirs, having to use photos to piece the journey together. Learn more about how the luxury Ireland and Scotland tour companies we work with can personalize the vacation of your dreams.
$5,595 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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