Edinburgh, St Andrews, Fife, Pitlochry, Loch Ness, Skye, Portree, Glencoe, Glasgow, Dublin, Kilkenny, Cobh, Blarney, Killarney, Ring of Kerry, Adare, Ft William
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Mysteries and movie moments cover Ireland and Scotland; the Hogwarts Express, Loch Ness Monster, Blarney Stone, a James Bond castle, and stories from Titanic. These two countries are dominated by landscapes and legend, with something to excite all ages. Handcrafted for curious families, this private tour balances the best of Scotland and Ireland for contrasting ages, creating a journey to the heart of the mysteries. Think culture, castles, and all the unusual history. Are you planning your once-in-a-lifetime...
Edinburgh – Panoramic Highlights of the Scottish Capital
The great thing about Edinburgh is that you don’t need to do anything in order to get an intimate feel of the city. A majestic castle peers down from the hill, onto a lane of cobbles and charming buildings from times past. Cathedral spires rise above the cityscape and palace buildings glimpse at a royal history. There are some extravagant monuments to explore. Yet the Edinburgh experience is equally made up of strolling the Royal Mile to discover what makes the country and capital unique. It’s hard to know the mood and energy levels after your flight to Scotland. A guide greets you at the airport and tailors a day around how you are feeling; it can incorporate a panorama of grand highlights or be more of an orientation on the central streets.
Fife – Medieval Musing and a Night in a Castle on a Loch
St. Andrews appears different depending on your interests. For some it’s the home of golf, others reminisce about where William and Kate met. There’s a university full of secrets and a cathedral in an evocative state of ruin. Everyone is connected by the town’s medieval center, a mishmash of cobbled streets and buildings that lean precariously towards each other. It’s like you’ve stepped into a bygone era, which is also how it feels at Fernie Castle. Perched on a loch and surrounded by woodlands, this is the first of the castles you spend the night in. Look out, and the landscape is like the Scotland of the imagination, especially when the mist rolls in or the trees are covered in autumnal colors.
Ft. William – Searching for the Loch Ness Monster and a Highlights Distillery
The Loch Ness Monster, the perpetuated myth that never fails to amuse. If anything symbolizes Scotland’s mystery, it’s this long and fanciful tale. You’ll be surprised how many children and adults think they’ve spotted the monster. You’ll also be amazed at the surrounding landscape; while the monster is a myth the loch is sublime, a setting that you have to photograph so it doesn’t later blur into fantasy. Searching for Nessie comes after an intimate tour of Edradour Distillery, a small place to taste the difference in Scottish whiskeys. After the loch, you travel to Fort William, a quaint town that’s ideal for families to explore on their own.
Island of Skye – Riding the Hogwarts Express and a Famous Castle From the Movies
Steam rises, and the locomotive engine chugs, the Hogwarts Express taking you through the Highlands of Western Scotland. It’s the same train that featured in the Harry Potter movies, taking you past Ben Nevis, Loch Morar, Loch Nevis, and Glencoe. Disembark here, and you’ll find Hagrid’s hut and a bridge leading to the Hogwarts entrance. From there, it’s a short ferry ride to the island of Skye, where the landscape is a legend. Skye can appear more fictional than Harry Potter with ruined castles, Viking fortresses, rolling fields, and crashing Atlantic waves. You’ll discover the castle from Highlander and a James Bond movie, and then have some free time to explore the pastel-hued houses of Portree.
Glasgow – So Many Stories That Give Scotland Its Mystery
The mountains of Glencoe are mysterious without the mist and magical beyond the tales of Harry Potter. The tales of MacDonald and the Campbells are true stories to excite the kids. Venture up and down across the peaks to Stirling Castle, where the Great Hall shimmers with a different kind of history. Glasgow is next, a city that you’ll find to be completely different to Edinburgh. This is a day of contrasting landscapes and highlights, with something for all ages and a real sense of why Scotland is unique. It’s your last night in Scotland so enjoy a traditional music show with dinner, bagpipes playing as you tuck into food from another era.
Dublin – Storytellers, Songs, Fairies, and Guinness as You Explore Dublin
Georgian elegance fills the streets of Dublin, a vibrant capital that puts a smile on every face. Meet your guide at the airport, and it’s easy to cover the city’s main highlights in an afternoon, including a pint of creamy stout at the Guinness Storehouse and the Book of Kells in Trinity College. It’s amazing how tradition lives on in Ireland and this is wonderfully epitomized in Dublin’s oldest pub, where a Seanachi, storyteller, entertains with fanciful tales of Celtic warriors, flying fairies, legendary deeds and many other pieces of history. A fire glows and songs are sung, all making for a romantic family introduction to the island of Ireland.
Wicklow – The Great Green Fields of Ireland and Four-Leaved Clovers
Onto the Gardens of Ireland, where trees tower above walking trails and vast rugged valleys flank striking terraces. It’s a landscape that’s cultivated yet wild, serene but imbued with nature’s dramatic power. It’s also a landscape that evokes so many dreams of Ireland; a stone monastery stands on one hill, extensive town ruins mark another, and the settings are so scenic you want to pack them up to take home. As with most places in Ireland, Wicklow provides space for the children to run around and let off steam – valuable after the traveling over the last two days – along with many cute family-friendly pubs for a filling dinner and sense of history.
Kilkenny – Relaxing Into the Irish Vibe and an Evening With the Locals
Horses dot the land in Kilkenny and you’re invited to ride, a variety of mares and ponies available dependent on your family’s experience. Rich farmland extends and the scenic landscapes keep on rolling as you travel to Kilkenny. At one end of the medieval town, you find the castle, to the other The Black Abbey and St. Mary’s Cathedral. Cobbled streets connect everything and all will be engrossed in the sights and stories of a medieval era. Tonight you dine with the locals, a homely family experience that’s also a great opportunity for children to share cultures and ideas. Expect rich, home-cooked food as well; they know how to feed in this corner of the world.
Killarney – Kissing the Blarney Stone and Stories From the Titanic
If they made a prequel to Titanic it would be set in Cobh, the small fishing village where many of the Irish immigrants on board hailed from. A local tells you the stories over a mug of tea in one of the colorful waterfront cafes. If they made a movie about your family trip to Ireland then Blarney would be central, a strange stone that you lean back and kiss, as someone holds you by the ankles. Why? The guide will help illuminate. These destinations are part of a leisurely journey through landscapes of green, to your lakeside destination from the 19th century. This evening you dine in a musical pub, local entertainment showing you another side to popular Irish culture.
Killarney – Discovering the Ring of Kerry and Some Lord of the Rings
Limestone rocks rise in jagged formations. Waves crash against boulders and empty beaches. Green cliffs stand above Atlantic waters. Waterfalls cascade like a bride’s veil. The road clings to the coast, and you spend the day exploring, hopping along the stops of the Ring of Kerry. Along the way, there’s a Lord of the Rings pub for a hearty lunch. Yet it’s hard to know what is more real, snippets of Mordor or the Kerry coastline. Ireland is famed for its landscapes and the Ring of Kerry is arguably the finest on the island, so take your time and watch the kids enjoy the chance to run.
Adare – A Pony Ride to a Thatched Village and Medieval Castle Dinner
For the last few days, you’ve been flirting with a bygone era. Today you’re immersed in a medieval town. Sail across the Lakes of Killarney to Ross Castle. Travel by pony and cart to the thatched village of Adare, where tradition is stoically maintained in the 21st century. Continue to a castle surrounded by a moat and a fun-filled family dinner, where everything is a reenactment of medieval times. Then spend the evening and night in Dromoland Castle, another place where you feel the history and get involved with old-world Irish culture; they sing Irish ballads in the bar, and you’ll hear various tales from the time of Brian Boru and Lord Inchiquin.
Shannon – Departure
Shannon is the closest airport to Dromoland and has flights to destinations across Ireland and Great Britain. However, you could end the journey in Dublin and fly direct from the capital across the Atlantic. It’s been 12 days in Scotland and Ireland, and even now the countries seem like mysteries.
- Ride the Jacobite Hogwarts Express, the train from Harry Potter taking you through the Scottish highlands
- Spend the night in three different castles, including the fabulously mysterious Dromoland
- Search the Loch Ness Monster after tasting at a boutique whiskey distillery
- Ireland is full of mysteries for all ages: kissing the Blarney Stone, searching for four-leafed clovers, and ride a pony along a lake to the thatched village of Adare
- Explore Scotland’s diverse history, from the pastel houses of Portree to Viking fortresses, cobbled streets in Edinburgh, and the castle from a Bond movie
- Experience Ireland’s traditions, like storytelling in a Dublin pub, Celtic folklore in a local room, plus memoirs to a Catholic history
- Journey across otherworldly landscapes, the 12-day tour incorporating the Scottish Highlands, the Ring of Kerry and the open green pastures of southern Ireland
There’s something about both Ireland and Scotland that brings out the child in everyone. Take the Loch Ness Monster as an example. It’s such an unbelievable tale you want to go searching, especially after a tasting at an intimate whiskey distillery nearby. Or consider the Irish Seanachi storytelling tradition, oral tales of fairies and Celtic warriors told with a pint of creamy stout in hand and soft drinks for the kids of course. You can sleep in castles that seem to come from children’s movies, yet are dappled with artistic details. The Hogwarts Express is another example for all the ages, a vintage steam train of mechanical brilliance, unmissable for some because it’s the same one used in the Harry Potter movies.
Handcrafted to provide something for all ages and interests, this family tour takes you through the heart of Scotland and Ireland. Along with a sense of mystery, there’s another ubiquitous element to the tour, being landscapes. From the Scottish Highlands and islands to great green pastures and the craggy Irish coast, this is a tour dominated by incredible visuals. These are rural countries, and the landscapes are unlike anything else you’ll find in Europe, tranquil yet wild and rugged, seeming to stretch for eternity but suddenly disappearing beneath the weather. Castles and villages dot these landscapes, and on many mornings you open the curtains to iconic vistas.
Your adventure in Scotland with the family starts with Edinburgh. There are plenty of highlights to explore with a private guide, the first day’s program dictated by your interests and energy levels following the flight. Travel north to St. Andrews, where some may muse over where William met Kate, others may be excited by the home of golf, and the cobbled streets will charm all. That night is your first in a castle, set upon a loch in a setting that screams Scotland. The Loch Ness Monster is a legend of make-believe which somewhat obscures the dramatic natural beauty of the surrounding land. Next, you ride the Harry Potter train through the Highlands. Viking fortresses, pastel-hued townhouses, Celtic myths, sublime coastal trails will be spotted along the ride.
There’s some more time in the Highlands before you travel south through Stirling to Glasgow, a city that’s almost the polar opposite of nearby Edinburgh. This whole tour runs at a relatively fast pace, with almost every night in a new destination. Make sure that your family desires a fast pace trip for this vacation. Those with a curious mind and the sense of adventure will be royally entertained, Scotland, and Ireland able to offer a superb wealth of experiences in a relatively small geographic area. One moment you’re in the castle from Highlander and a James Bond movie, then you’re taking a walk in the mountains of Glencoe before getting to know an evocative post-industrial city.
Fly to Dublin, and there’s nothing like the Seanachi storytellers for introducing the Irish experience; except perhaps for a creamy Guinness, which you drink at the brewery’s old storehouse in central Dublin. Songs are sung as you hear fanciful tales, all of them adding to the mystery you are about to explore. The next morning, you explore the Garden of Ireland and a monastery from the 7th century. Then it’s through turf fires and bogs to Curragh, a great opportunity to go horse riding and the place where you eat with a local Irish family – children usually love the accents and try to decipher what’s being told.
The Blarney Stone is yet another legend, and you can kiss it – hold onto your kids’ ankles as they do it – before discovering stories that came before the Titanic; many of the passengers were from Cobh, a small fishing village you visit on route to Killarney. There’s now a Lord of the Rings pub in County Kerry, but it’s nothing more surreal than the outlandish scenery along the Ring of Kerry. As with other evenings, you enjoy music in a country pub and spend the night enchanted by Ireland’s commitment to tradition.
On the final day, you ride by pony and cart to Ross Castle, then onwards to a thatched village and a medieval-themed dinner at Bunratty Castle. Dromoland is the final place you lay your head, a five-star castle hotel where they sing ballads in the bar and reminisce of 1460. Transfer to Shannon Airport to start the journey home, a small airport that seems to sum up the laid-back Irish style.
$4,195 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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