Set at the western side of the United Kingdom, with the Celtic Sea to the south and the North Atlantic Ocean to the west, the island of Ireland (and Northern Ireland) has many treasures packed into its compact territory. Its magnificent natural landscapes are strewn with spectacular Nordic castles and gorgeous Georgian country houses. Its vibrant heritage includes a lively traditional dance and music culture, a rich literary tradition, and some of the world’s cosiest pubs. The bustling capital of Dublin offers up an exciting nightlife scene, stately architecture and quaint riverside charm, while beyond the cities, the countryside boasts vast areas of unspoilt wilderness. Add the country’s famously hospitable and humourous locals and it’s no wonder that Ireland appeals to travellers of all ages and from all walks of life.
Days 1 - 2
Stretching along Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland, County Dublin is home to the vibrant city of Dublin, the country’s colourful capital. Aside from the lively capital, the county features rolling green hills scattered with a collection of character-filled villages, an array of beautiful beaches and a rich history. Visitors can enjoy an iconic black beer - the traditional Guinness; learn about Viking history at the Dublinia, a heritage centre; and discover the seaside towns of Malahide and Howth, which both offer scenic coastal paths to explore. Other highlights include the Ardgillan Castle and Demesne in the seaside town of Balbriggan, the charming seaside town of Skerries, and the bustling town of Swords.
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy offering four fascinating countries all rolled into one easily accessible and remarkably diverse island nation. Comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the UK contains more heritage, per square mile, than any other nation in the world. It is also blessed with vast, sprawling areas of picturesque countryside, long stretches of rugged coastline, and some of most the dynamic, multicultural cities in the world. With the quaint medieval villages of the Cotswolds, the impressive architecture of the Canterbury Cathedral, the endless cultural delights of London and Edinburgh, and the hauntingly beautiful landscapes of Wales and Northern Ireland, the UK offers enough variety to satisfy travellers from all walks of life. Whether you are keen to explore massive national parks such as the Yorkshire Dales or Dartmoor, the charming seaside resorts of Blackpool and Bournemouth, or the unlimited supply of wonderful British pubs, there is plenty to keep you blissfully engaged during your time in this extraordinarily diverse nation.
Days 6 - 8
Set among a series of volcanic hills and presided over by its iconic castle, Edinburgh is an architectural treasure trove with enough neoclassical terraces, Georgian grandeur, and late-medieval monuments to thrill even the most avid architecture enthusiast. Visitors can look forward to exploring the renowned Royal Mile with its numerous tourist attractions including the beautiful, hidden Dunbar’s Close Garden, and a Camera Obscura with five floors of holograms and optical illusions. Then head over to Calton Hill to admire the incredible view of Edinburgh's remarkable skyline with its spires, towers, domes, and steeples as far as the eye can see. Add to this a slew of fascinating museums, excellent pubs and restaurants, and a flourishing nightlife, and you have, quite simply, one of the world’s most captivating cities.
Days 9 - 10
Liverpool is a maritime city in northwest England, where the River Mersey meets the Irish Sea. Best known for its world-famous football team and as the birthplace of the Beatles, today Liverpool is a trendy destination. In 2008 Liverpool was selected as Europe’s Culture Capital boasting a booming music scene, an array of historical buildings, superb art galleries and an incredible passion for sports. Don’t miss the hip Albert Dock waterfront area, with its myriad of shops, restaurants, heritage buildings, museums and creative exhibits, including the Beatles Story, which tells the story of this legendary band. To explore a different facet of the group’s legacy, take an after-dark tour of the venues where they used to play and socialise by night, including The Cavern Club, The Jacaranda and The Raz (formerly the Blue Angel).
Days 10 - 12
Situated on the famous River Thames in south-central England, London, the largest city in the United Kingdom, boasts an iconic skyline and dates back thousands of years to the Roman empire. The capital city is home to world-class Michelin star restaurants, and four World Heritage sites: the Tower of London, Kew Gardens, the Palace of Westminster, and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Other phenomenal attractions include Madame Tussauds; The London Eye; the West End Theatres; and premier shopping at several famous markets and iconic department stores. Visitors may also enjoy a river cruise along the Thames past the Houses of Parliament and Westminster, or visit the British Museum, Natural History Museum, Tate Modern and the Science Museum. Don’t miss a visit to the Queen's official residence at Buckingham Palace to view the changing of the guards outside.
France has long been the world’s favourite tourist destination, and it doesn’t take a much imagination to understand why. It has some of the highest mountains, the most dynamic cities, the best beaches and a treasure trove of the some of the world’s most famous artistic, cultural and historical artifacts. The wide open spaces and impressive mountain ranges of the French countryside allow for a vast scope of outdoor activities to thrill even the most adventurous traveller. Those seeking more of an urban adventure won’t be disappointed by the vast range of clubs, shops, fashion and music provided by France’s cities in abundance. Combine all of these riches with the most sumptuous culinary scene in the world, and you may be planning your next trip to France before you even head back home.
Days 12 - 14
With the River Seine gently meandering through it, the enchanting romantic city of Paris has been described in just about every possible way and is a dream destination for plenty of people the world over, even those who have already visited before. With nearly as many famous landmarks as faces it shows in the different light and seasons, Paris enchants one in its magic. The city features monument-lined boulevards, fascinating museums, classical bistros, bohemian art nouveau cafes, creative wine bars, stylish boutiques, and art galleries. Must-see attractions include: the impressive Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, the world-renowned Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe standing guard over the glamourous Champs Elysees Avenue. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample infamous French cuisine at an array of enticing boulangeries, patisseries, and fromageries.
It is easy to understand why Italy is one of the world’s most celebrated tourist destinations. This is a country that truly does have it all: exquisite landscapes, an abundance of art and architectural treasures, world renowned museums and a national obsession with decadent food and fine wine. Not to mention the country’s sun-kissed olive groves, glacial lakes, fiery volcanoes and snow capped peaks. Dive the clear green waters of the Mediterranean, browse the market stalls in Naples or experience the diverse wildlife inhabiting the country’s national parks. And if you find the vast range of choices overwhelming, take some advice from the locals: sit back, relax and take a moment to indulge in the “bella vita” (the good life). As they say: when in Rome!
Days 15 - 16
Venice is a small, unique city in Italy’s Veneto region, a historical centre consisting of 118 small islands in a lagoon of the Adriatic Sea, linked together by a complex web of canals and footbridges. Imagine the audacity of building an entirely man-made city of marble palaces on a lagoon with no visible means of support. The inexplicable nerve required to undertake such a project is part of the mystery of this astonishing island city. The stately palaces and ancient churches exist as fascinating remnants of what was once an important trading centre between Europe and the Orient. From the famous Gothic Palazzo Ducale, and the breathtaking Basilica di San Marco to the incomprehensible radiance of Titian's Assunta altarpiece illuminating an entire cathedral, Venice has remained virtually unchanged in the past 600 years.
More than 2000 years of turbulent history have resulted in a fascinating country that boasts a wealth of historical attractions within the Hungarian countryside and in its cosmopolitan capital, Budapest. No European tour would be complete with a trip to this sophisticated capital, a bohemian metropolis with an array of attractions in the form of museums, galleries, monuments, and historic buildings as well as a thriving nightlife and numerous gastronomic establishments that thrill food lovers with all manner of culinary delights. Beyond the cities, Hungary’s natural beauty unfolds in all its glorious splendour. The countryside is strewn with charming towns and villages adorned with medieval squares and picturesque castles. Visitors can take in the panoramic views of the vineyards around Eger, relax in the thermal mineral baths of Balatonfured, or stroll around the charming old-world towns of the gorgeous Danube Bend. Hungary's remarkable landscapes and its array of cultural delights make it a wonderful addition to any European holiday itinerary.
Days 16 - 17
Fondly known as the “Pearl of the Danube”, the unique metropolis of Budapest straddles the banks of this mighty river, occupying perhaps the most dramatic setting of any European capital. Over a thousand years of turbulent history has resulted in an eclectic treasure trove of architectural gems. Roman, Turkish, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Art Nouveau, and Bauhaus styles are blended together into an architectural goulash that is at once overwhelming and fascinating. Equally diverse are the choices of activities: take a relaxing soak in one of the many sumptuously decorated bathhouses; explore the incredible maze of caves that lie beneath the streets of this ancient city; or take a nostalgic joy ride on the number two tram which tours all the big sights. Throw in some world-class museums, a vibrant nightlife and a sophisticated culinary tradition and it is easy to see why Budapest is fast becoming known as one of Europe’s most underrated cities.
Winston Churchill once famously described Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”. This monumental nation remains as elusive today as it ever was. With its vast landscapes as varied and mysterious as its history, visitors will be treated to towering volcanic peaks, frozen Siberian wastelands and some extraordinarily extravagant cities. While the majority of travellers beeline for the west to marvel at the cultural delights of Moscow and St Petersburg, there is plenty to be seen beyond these two central hubs. The Golden Ring is dotted with enchanting historical towns brimming with ancient architecture; the glorious River Volga will transport you south towards the beautiful Caspian Sea where you will witness Russia at its most traditional and authentic; and the famed Trans-Siberian Railway will take you through a land of sublime natural beauty. Whether you are seeking historic cities, idyllic countryside, artistic riches, or vodka-fuelled debauchery, Russia won’t leave you disappointed.
Days 17 - 19
Russia’s vibrant capital is characterised by an intriguing blend of contrasts and contradictions. Visitors are typically surprised to find simple Bohemian beauty alongside glamourous extravagance and exquisite 16th century churches resting in the shadows of glistening modern skyscrapers. This fusion of the old and the new creates a fascinating tapestry of ancient and modern cultural treasures. While Moscow’s all-night-party scene provides unlimited opportunities for revelry, less nocturnal travellers can spend their days marvelling at the city’s array of impressive sites including St. Basil’s Cathedral, the formidable Red Square, and the 14th-century Kremlin. Culture enthusiasts are equally well sated with endless high culture. The Moscow Philharmonic, the Bolshoi Theatre, mind-blowing art exhibitions and a thriving live music scene continue to put Moscow on the cutting-edge culture map. Whether you are looking for medieval history, communist nostalgia or high-rolling glamour, Moscow has got you covered.
Days 20 - 22
Constructed under the creative watchful eye of the visionary Tsar Peter the Great as "a window to the west," St. Petersburg is a planned city spanning across more than a hundred islands in the Neva Delta. With its pastel palaces, gilded domes, immaculate gardens, grand statues, candlelit cathedrals and arched bridges over graceful canals, St Petersburg is urban Russia at its most extravagant. Despite its rich heritage, the city has eased into modernity without sacrificing any of its old-world charm. Its shopping malls, alternative cafés and techno clubs exist harmoniously alongside ancient architectural delights and breathtaking historical monuments. Whether visiting some of the world’s greatest art museums, strolling through the Summer Garden, peeping into a gorgeous little neighborhood church, or taking a boat cruise through the canals, you are bound to find plenty to keep you blissfully engaged in this dazzling metropolis whose sheer grandeur never fails to amaze.