Celtic Wonders

Celtic Wonders

Fascinating history, architectural treasures and scenic splendor await you on this 10-night journey in Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland! Delve into Scottish and Welsh lore at Edinburgh Castle and the imposing fortress castles of Conwy and Caernarfon. See remnants of Britain’s Roman past along Hadrian’s Wall. Be inspired by the marvelous pastoral beauty of Scotland’s Loch Lomond, the English Lake District’s glacier-carved valleys and the rugged mountains of Wales’ Snowdonia National Park. Explore beloved Welsh gems from Llandudno, a Victorian-era seaside resort, to the woodland village of Betws y Coed. Then ferry across the Irish Sea and cap off your adventure with two nights in vibrant Dublin! Local lecturers share enriching insights on the Celts, Welsh history and Dublin’s literary giants. Other unforgettable treats include special performances by Scottish and Welsh musicians. This small-group program features first-class hotels and an ample meal plan.

Trip Itinerary:

September 11 Depart gateway city

AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Edinburgh, Scotland. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: EDI.

September 12 Edinburgh, Scotland

Arrive at Edinburgh Airport. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where an AHI Travel representative will meet you.

Transfer to the Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh City Centre. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

Join your Travel Director for a short walk around your hotel, conveniently located in the heart of the Old Town on the famed Royal Mile.

Tonight, gather for a Welcome Reception and Dinner, featuring local musicians. From bagpipes and fiddles to lively reels and the classic “Auld Lang Syne,” Scottish music strikes a chord with international audiences.

Accommodations – Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh City Centre
Meals – Dinner

September 13 Edinburgh

Enrichment: Scotland Today.
In 1999, Scotland regained its own parliament, although with limited powers. In 2016, 45% of Scots voted for independence from the United Kingdom. In 2020, the UK left the European Union, while 63% of Scots had voted to remain. Learn about these momentous changes and challenges from a local expert.

Discovery: The Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle.
Activity level: Moderate
Take a guided stroll along the historic cobblestone road outside your hotel that leads from the Palace of Holyroodhouse at one end to Edinburgh Castle atop Castle Rock. Ancient geological forces played a hand in this layout. As glaciers wore down the terrain, two valleys formed on either side of a tall basalt rock formation. This elevated spot became the perfect place to build a castle, and over the centuries, the Old Town rose up around the straight section leading up to it. Hear about the fascinating events and people of Edinburgh’s colorful past, then visit the majestic castle. During your visit, admire the crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny while learning how the castle’s history is intertwined with that of Scotland’s.

Free Time: Make your own plans for lunch and the rest of the day. Perhaps you’ll stay in the atmospheric Old Town and meander through its winding passageways known as wynds and closes. For an interesting contrast, make your way to Edinburgh’s elegant New Town. By the 18th century, the Old Town had become crowded and dilapidated, so a competition was held in 1766 to design a new neighborhood. The winning entry, created by the young architect James Craig, featured an orderly grid format, wide boulevards, green spaces and handsome Georgian buildings.

Accommodations – Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh City Centre
Meals – Breakfast

September 14 Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park | Luss

Discovery: Loch Lomond and The Trossachs.
Activity level: Moderate
Delight in the stirring scenery of this national park known for its pristine lochs and munros, or mountains. Begin with a cruise on Loch Lomond. Afterward, stop in Luss on the “bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond,” as the old Scottish song goes, a little village filled with slate and sandstone cottages originally built for workers at the nearby slate quarries. Savor lunch at a lakeshore restaurant there, followed by a scenic drive in the heart of the Trossachs with stops to admire the views and take photos.

Free Time: After returning to Edinburgh, select a special place for dinner on your own. If you need assistance, please consult your Travel Director, who can offer suggestions on sightseeing and restaurant options throughout your trip.

Accommodations – Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh City Centre
Meals – Breakfast and Lunch

September 15 Windermere, England

After breakfast, depart for Windemere and travel through the rolling, emerald hills of the Scottish Borders, the region that adjoins England.

Discovery: Hadrian’s Wall and Vindolanda.
Activity level: Moderate
After crossing the border, see the remnants of Britain’s Roman past in the open countryside and delve into this period with your guide. To protect the northern frontier of the Roman province of Britannia from invaders, Emperor Hadrian ordered the construction of a wall and other fortifications in A.D. 122. It ultimately stretched 73 miles east to west across the country. Visit Vindolanda, the ruins of a Roman military garrison that predates Hadrian’s Wall by several decades, which is an active excavation site. The revealing discoveries made here have shed light on Roman military and civilian life.

After lunch in the area, journey into the enchanting Lake District National Park and drive through Kirkstone Pass toward Windemere.

Check in to the Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa on the shores of Windemere, the largest of the park’s 16 lakes.

Accommodations – Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa
Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

September 16 English Lake District

Discovery: English Lake District.
Activity level: Moderate
Explore this region’s exquisite landscapes, where natural wonders are known by their old Norse names: the fells (hills), dales (valleys), becks (streams) and tarns (small lakes). Its wondrous beauty inspired 19th-century Romantic poets such as William Wordsworth, who penned his famous poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” after a walk near Ullswater. Hear about the Lake District’s geology, history and prominent figures from your guide, and stop in the pretty village of Grasmere, where Wordsworth lived. Continue on your delightful scenic tour amid the wild fells, craggy mountain passes and blue lakes. Later, see the weathered, upright stones that form the Castlerigg Stone Circle, believed to have been built in 3000 B.C. and dramatically set over Thirlmere Valley.

At a local distillery in a renovated Victorian farmstead, enjoy lunch and a spirits tasting and tour. Your day in the Lake District concludes with a pleasant cruise across Derwentwater from Lodore to Keswick.

Return to the hotel late this afternoon.

Accommodations – Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa
Meals – Breakfast and Lunch

September 17 Chester | Deganwy, Wales

After breakfast, depart Windemere this morning for Wales.

Discovery: Chester.
Activity level: Moderate
On your route, stop in Chester for lunch and a guided walk along the original Roman walls that encircle its historic city center. Around A.D. 70, the Romans built a red sandstone fortress on this site known as Deva Victrix, which housed one of their legions.

Then, head eastward across the border into Wales and arrive in Deganwy. Check into the Quay Hotel & Spa by the waters of the Conwy Estuary.

Enrichment: The Land of Song.
Singing is an abiding passion of the Welsh people, who grow up singing everywhere – at church, school, family parties and even rugby matches. During an informative session with local musicians, discover the Welsh fondness and talent for music in both melodies and lyrics.

Accommodations – The Quay Hotel & Spa
Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

September 18 Conwy | Bodnant Gardens | Llandudno

Discovery: Bodnant Gardens and Lladudno.
Activity level: Moderate
On the other side of the estuary in neighboring Conwy, marvel at its magnificent, imposing 13th-century castle. Strategically set on a rocky outcrop with commanding views of River Conwy and the Irish Sea in the distance, it was built by King Edward I and his architect James of St. George in just four years between 1283 and 1287. Its daunting appearance was intentional. After the English king invaded Wales in 1277, he erected a series of strongholds to exert his dominance over the Welsh people. With your guide, explore the castle grounds which features eight huge towers and a high curtain wall. Extending out from the castle, you’ll see some of Europe’s finest and most intact town walls. Originally built to protect a garrison town, they stretch three-quarters of a mile with 21 defensive towers and three gatehouses along the circuit.

Afterward, roam the flower-filled terraces and winding paths of Bodnant Gardens, an 80-acre paradise of lush plants collected from around the world, and relax over lunch. Then, imagine Victorian ladies and gentlemen promenading along the waterfront as you visit Llandudno, a much-loved, 19th-century resort town. With an elegant pier and wide, sandy beaches nestled by the Great Orme headland, it retains the appealing charms of holidays by the seaside.

Accommodations – The Quay Hotel & Spa
Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

September 19 Caernarfon | Snowdonia National Park | Betws y Coed

Enrichment: Wales, Past and Present.
Examine the history of the Welsh nation and its modern identity.

Discovery: Caernarfon Castle, Snowdonia National Park and Betws y Coed.
Activity level: Moderate
Travel today to another of Edward’s formidable castles, Caernarfon, where the River Seiont and Minai Strait converge. This mighty, dramatic structure was the king’s administrative headquarters, as well as his family residence. It was here in 1284 that his wife, Queen Eleanor, gave birth to the first English Prince of Wales, the future Edward II. After a guided tour, savor Welsh specialties for lunch.

Next, prepare to be dazzled by ruggedly beautiful Snowdonia National Park. Spread over 823 square miles, it’s filled with spectacular natural vistas of deep valleys, rivers, lakes and mountain ranges. More than 25,000 people live in the towns and villages inside the park’s boundaries, and their main language is Welsh. On your journey through the park, visit a slate quarry to learn about this once dominant Welsh industry. Then, spend some time in cozy Betws y Coed, a resort town in Gwydir Forest popular with hikers and outdoor adventurers.

Accommodations – The Quay Hotel & Spa
Meals – Breakfast and Lunch

September 20 Holyhead | Dublin, Ireland

After breakfast this morning, drive to Holyhead, where you’ll embark a ferry and cruise across the Irish Sea to Dublin.

Discovery: Dublin.
Activity level: Moderate
Once you’ve arrived in Ireland, enjoy a panoramic tour. While your guide shares insights, revel in Dublin’s lively streets, brimming with grand Georgian architecture and lovely green spaces.

Check in to the Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin across from the lush oasis of St. Stephen’s Green.

Free Time: Spend the afternoon exploring Dublin on your own! Rich with world-class museums, inventive cuisine, distinctive shops and terrific live music, Dublin offers something for everyone. For a taste of local life, sip a pint of Guinness at a pub and enjoy the “craic,” Irish for “a good time.”

Enrichment: Literary Dublin.
Love of the written word runs deep in Ireland, which boasts four Nobel Prize winners in literature. In this UNESCO City of Literature, delve into Dublin’s literary culture, which thrives on its libraries, independent booksellers and book festivals.

Accommodations – Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin
Meals – Breakfast

September 21 Dublin

Free Time: Dublin is yours to explore today! Many top attractions are near your hotel, including the National Gallery of Ireland and Trinity College, which contains the hand-illuminated, ninth-century Book of Kells.

During tonight’s Farewell Reception and Dinner at the hotel, celebrate with your fellow travelers and toast your wonderful adventure together!

Accommodations – Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin
Meals – Breakfast and Dinner

September 22 Depart for gateway city

After breakfast, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for Dublin Airport for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.

Meals – Breakfast and appropriate in-flight meal service

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