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Day One to Three – Dublin
Begin your exploration of Ireland & Scotland by flying into Dublin. Upon arrival you will be met from the airport for limousine transfer to your first accommodation conveniently located within easy reach of the city centre.
What to see and do in Dublin
Once home to literary greats such as James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde, you’ll find references to them wherever you go, such as the striking Wilde statue in Merrion Square just to the south of the city centre or the fascinating Joyce Centre in an 18th-century Georgian townhouse to the north. Take in the Dublin Writers Museum or catch an Irish play at the Abbey Theatre. For far more ancient literature, head for Trinity College, and marvel at the stunning Book of Kells, the 1,200 year old illuminated manuscript. For a complete contrast, head to the Guinness Storehouse and sample the national drink in its historic homeland. Pay a visit to one or both of the city cathedrals, cross the Liffey on the Ha’penny bridge and visit the GPO, site of the famous 1916 Easter Rising. You’ll find traditional pubs, quirky shops and foodie delights around many a corner. We’ll provide recommendations for tours, bars and restaurants to help you make the most of every moment.
Your hotel in Dublin
Your welcoming guest house, comprising two imposing Georgian townhouses, is situated in a peaceful avenue close to St Stephen’s Green and just to the south of Dublin city centre. You are just a short stroll away from a pint or two of Guinness in a local bar, or a delicious meal in one of Dublin’s many fine restaurants.
Day Three to Five – County Kerry
This morning collect your hire car from the city centre. Your self-drive holiday today follows part of the route taken by the Queen past Kildare, the Curragh and Cashel. Whether you have a strong interest in horses or not, we’d recommend a stop at the National Stud to admire past champions, to stretch your legs in the beautiful Japanese gardens, or simply to enjoy some refreshments and gift shopping. Continue your journey to Cashel, where it’s worth a short detour to visit the Rock of Cashel, with its’ dramatic, ruined chapel and well-preserved round tower. Your destination is the far west coast, in County Kerry.
Your hotel in Kerry
Right by the water’s edge, and far from the madding crowds of tourist hotspots such as Kilkenny, this idyllic spot offers the perfect relaxing base from which to explore the Ring of Kerry. Or, if you’re anything like us, you might just decide to spend your time wandering in the 14 acres of wooded and landscaped grounds, and splashing about in the little rowing boat in search of basking seals. It’s impossible not to be captivated by the gorgeous views, the elegant statues and the swaying palm trees. Rooms are simple yet spacious, split between two buildings with quirky art deco, 1950s and 1960s touches. Your hosts welcome you into their home, and will make every effort to ensure that you see the best of the local area. Light suppers are available on request or take a short drive into Sneem or Kenmare for a choice of restaurants.
Things to see & do in Kerry
Few can resist the lure of the Ring of Kerry, a 120 mile circular drive through spectacular mountains, loughs and coastal scenery. Understandably, this is one of the busiest parts of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, but the abundance of laybys and viewpoints mean you can usually find a few quieter corners for yourself. Even better, leave the car behind and head off along one of the many walking trails into the heart of the natural landscape. On a clear day, look for the jagged Skellig Islands out to sea, including Skellig Michael with its remote monastery – now famous for its role in Star Wars.
Day Five to Six – Co. Clare
Head north and take a short ferry trip across the Shannon to reach County Clare, where the power of the Atlantic Ocean is all the more evident, especially at the spectacular Cliffs of Moher. Your next family-run establishment is in the colourful and historic village of Lisdoonvarna, on the edge of the remarkable “Burren.”
Built in 1860, this country inn – now a destination for food lovers from all over Ireland – has a wealth of old world charm and character, with open log fires, a walled garden and bedrooms with views of the surrounding countryside. Reasonably priced, good quality food and comfortable rooms with stripped floors and rustic furniture combine to make this award-winning inn the perfect base for touring the Burren.
Exploring County Clare
The Burren is a landscape like no other: almost 100 square miles of limestone pavement, as though the fields have been turned to stone. It’s a strange sight to witness cows still grazing on what appears to be rock, until you realise the cracks and crevasses harbour grasses and wild flowers. Ask us to arrnage time witha local guide if you want to learn more about this fascinating area, not only a geological wonder, but dotted with ancient tombs, burial sites and legends.
Day Six to Eight – County Galway
Skirting the city of Galway (or taking the opportunity to pay a quick visit if you wish), head a little more off the beaten track into Connemara, one of the last true wild areas of Ireland. Here you’ll discover dramatic coastlines, high mountains and sandy beaches great for walking and cycling as well as touring by car on the narrow roads right by the sea and across the peat bogs. Clifden is a delightful market town, packed with small shops, galleries, restaurants and traditional bars – you won’t need to go far to find some Irish music, either.
Your Hotel in Connemara
Gems don’t come much more hidden than this one. As you head through Clifden and out onto a single track road, the wild countryside and panoramic sea views open up in front of you. Arriving at your destination, the building looks quite simple, but on entering you’ll feel the cares of the world slip away. Wooden floors, natural fabrics, hand-made furniture and many sea-side trinkets give this guest house an exceptional atmosphere. Best of all are the breathtaking views out to the sea, islands and peninsulas from the many picture windows. Clodagh is an infectiously enthusiastic hostess, and will point you in the right direction for walks to empty, secret coves, as well as preparing excellent breakfasts from fresh, local produce. Whether it’s sunny or stormy during your visit, you might find it hard to leave this little haven.
Day Eight – Fly Dublin to Edinburgh
Return your hire car at Dublin airport for your afternoon flight to the Scottish capital. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Day Eight to Ten – Edinburgh
Your Scottish exploration starts in Edinburgh, the capital and one of the top city holiday destinations in the world. Visitors are drawn here by the wealth of historic sites, galleries and museums, shops, restaurants and bars – not to mention the spectacular sight of Princes Street and the castle rock. Yet it’s still perfectly possible to avoid most of the crowds and find quiet cobbled streets, peaceful cafes and bars and, above all, to enjoy this most scenic of British cities.
You could spend the best part of a day at the castle itself, or if you are feeling energetic, climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat for panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside. Jump in a taxi or hop on a bus to Leith for a visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia, a fascinating insight into the lives of The Queen and her family. Or visit the Scotch Whisky Experience for a crash course about the amber nectar, or water of life.
Formed from a pair of classic Georgian Edinburgh terraced townhouses, your hotel in Scotland’s capital retains a wealth of original features, while displaying a skilful integration of modern convenience throughout. Spacious rooms contain vast beds and enjoy superb views towards Fife, while the in-house bar and restaurant each give guest the opportunity to relax away from the bustle just outside.
Best of all, the location is convenient for many of Edinburgh’s attractions, with the East end of Princes Street mere minutes’ stroll away.
Day Ten to Twelve – Cairngorms
Today collect your hire car and head north over the spectacular Forth Road Bridge, through Perthshire and across the Highlands to the Cairngorms National Park. This memorable drive incorporates many potential stopping off points, including Blair Castle and the Highland Wildlife Park at Kingussie, before reaching your next destination.
Surrounded by 10 acres of spectacular pastureland and a Scottish castle, your luxury hotel is a beautifully restored Victorian shooting lodge resurrected to its former glory. The lodge is recognised as a fun-filled hub for shooting, skiing and fishing within the Scottish Highlands.
What to see and do
This is a perfect base to explore the National Park and the surrounding highland landscape of majestic mountains, rivers and lochs. You can enjoy a short trip on the wonderful Strathspey Steam Railway from Aviemore, or “climb” Cairngorm on the nearby funicular railway. The hotel is a mine of information on local walks and excursions. The town of Aviemore is within easy reach, as are the glorious sandy beaches of the Moray coast and the myriad distilleries of Speyside if you wish to continue your whisky education.
Day Twelve to Fourteen – Loch Linnhe
Today’s classic route will take you along the shores of Loch Ness (possibly stopping off at famous Urquhart Castle or even the Loch Ness Monster Centre at Drumnadrochit – do bring your sense of humour) and down the Great Glen, before arriving at the beautiful Argyll coast and your next destination.
Originally the home of Loch Linnhe’s Pier Master, this historic restaurant, with its adjacent modern residence, really is a special place to contemplate the dramatic beauty of the west coast. The views are stunning and the once prolific steam traffic has given way to the blissful sound of silence. Mouth-watering langoustines and lobster are kept fresh off the end of the pier, before being served to you by candlelight in the cosy conviviality of one of Argyll’s finest restaurants. As you contemplate the sunset over the distant Morvern hills, you may be lucky enough to glimpse otters and seals.
What to see and do
During your stay here, the local ferryman might tempt you to board the morning boat to Lismore – an island well worth a day’s exploration either on foot or bike (available for hire locally). Also nearby, Castle Stalker, ancient seat of the Stuarts, stands at the mouth of Loch Laich, whilst Oban is just half an hour away by car for ferries to Mull, Kerrera and other islands.
Day Fourteen to Fifteen – The Trossachs
Today your scenic route passes Loch Etive and Loch Awe, before reaching your next base in the Trossachs, the Scottish Lakeland.
Nestling in the heart of Rob Roy country amidst the beautiful lochs, forest and mountains of the Trossachs, this is primarily an award-winning restaurant, with the added benefit of overnight accommodation so that you can really make the most of your dining experience. The Baronial Dining Room, with its vaulted ceiling and magnificent fireplace, is the focal point of a restored seventeenth century farmhouse and a worthy setting for the superb Franco-Scottish cuisine, which has deservedly been awarded two AA rosettes and a Michelin ‘Bib Gourmand’. An impressive wine list provides the perfect complement to your meal, after which you will not have far to stagger to your pretty bedroom – one of five featuring attractive furnishings and antiques (and one with a romantic four poster).
What to see and do
The hotel is well located for great drives throughout the Trossachs as well as along Loch Tay and around Ben Lawers, Scotland’s tenth highest mountain. Besides boasting many scenic roads, this is great walking country, with several starting from the hotel itself, and is famous for its connections with Rob Roy MacGregor, the outlaw – his grave is in Balquhidder churchyard. A little further afield, you can explore Stirling and its dramatic Castle and old centre, or take a boat trip on the beautiful Lake of Menteith (the only “lake” in Scotland!) and visit the island of Inchmahome Priory, once a hiding place for the young Mary Queen of Scots.
Return home – Edinburgh is within 90 minutes’ drive where you can return your hire car at the airport for your onward journey connections.
This holiday covers Dublin, Kerry, and Connemara in Ireland. From Dublin fly to Edinburgh for a stay before venturing north to the Cairngorms, south West to Loch Linnhe finishing in the Trossachs.
£1950 per person for March, £2050 per person for April & October, £2175 per person for May, June, July & September, and £2250 per person in August.
Prices based on based on two adults sharing a double or twin ensuite room for 14 nights on a bed and breakfast basis and includes the following:
• Transfer from Dublin Airport and Edinburgh Airport to your accommodation
• The hire of a medium manual car in each country (including GPS). Add a further £90 per person if you would prefer an automatic vehicle
• Flight from Dublin to Edinburgh with luggage
• A 7 day Historic Scotland Explorer pass, offering free entry to Scotland’s major historic attractions, including Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart castles
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
Standard of accommodation superb and we had a really enjoyable, restful holiday. McKinlay Kidd service exemplary.Sue & Kevin, Guiting Power, England
This holiday is available from March until October.
To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.
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