9/18 Day 0 The group flies out of Chicago OHare Terminal 5. The plane will begin boarding about 3pm.
9/19 Day 1, You will arrive in Dublin a little blurry eyed at approximately 5:30 am their time. Take your time. Wake up to some coffee or grab some breakfast. If you are a chocolate person, look for Butler's Chocolate. Wonderful chocolate drinks and chocolate bars. Get through customs. Get your luggage. Get oriented. Dublin Airport
I will meet those you arriving on the group flight and those of you arriving early on that morning about 5:30 just past security. Others are making arrangements to meet us at Guinness Storehouse later. Then we meet our tour coach at 7am at the airport.
Our driver/guide will take us to some of the points of interest in and around Dublin. Around 10:00 we will visit the Guinness Storehouse and Gravity Bar. You will have a chance to “pour a perfect pint”. Sip a wee bit too. There is a tasting room to sample their drinks and you can either pour your own in the academy and take it up to the Gravity Bar or have one of the their barkeeps pour you a perfect pint.
After the tour you will have time to shop and grab a bite of lunch on your own along Nassau Street near Trinity College. Not in the mood for lunch? Head up to the National Museum of Ireland and see the mysterious Bog Bodies. Dublin maps will be available. Another option from this location would be to go see the Book of Kells. (Insider tip - There are 2 lines for the Book of Kells. One is General Admission and quite long. The other is a Pre-Book kiosk. Often times you can buy tickets with the Pre-Book for right then and just walk right in, avoiding the long line.)
That evening we will have a group Welcome/Fàilte Dinner. Location is pending due the size of our group. Our hotel whilst in Dublin is the Arlington O'Connell Street Bridge
9/20 Day 2, We will start the day with a good Irish breakfast at the hotel. At 8:00 we will board the coach and take a scenic drive to tour Leap Castle outside of Roscrea. A DarlaTours exclusive and one of the most haunted places in Europe as featured on many tv shows and YouTube channels. This is the private home of Sean and Ann Ryan. Sean is a historian and world-class musician as well as spending decades restoring Leap.
We will stop in Roscrea for lunch on your own. There is a variety of restaurants and shops.
We will return back to Dublin for you to have supper on your own. Maybe in the Temple Bar area.
NEW - We will have a Haunted Night Walk of Dublin featuring the Docklands. Guides will meet us at the hotel and split the group into 2 groups. Be sure to dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes. These are private tours.
9/21 Day 3,
We will end our stay in Dublin with another full Irish breakfast at the hotel. We will board the coach for Moy in County Tyrone at 9 am. This is a cozy little town rich in history and antiques. There are cafes, coffee shops and farmers' markets to grab a quick bite.
After lunch and exploring, we will head to the ancient Beaghmore Standing Stones with local Medium, Maura Brooks. Little is known about this rock formation discovered while local farmers were cutting peat. Strange energies abound. Maura is known to kidnap us for a short time and show us other little-known mystic or holy sites.
Then we will continue north to Belfast. If time allows, we will do a city bus tour of the Peace Murals, Game of Thrones Studios, the Europa Hotel, the Crown Bar, and the Grand Opera House. If not this day, we will fit it into the next. We will check into our hotel, the IBIS City Centre .
We will gather for a group dinner before retiring for the night or hitting the local pubs.
9/22 Day 4, After a full breakfast at the hotel, we will head out to the northern county for the day starting at 8 am. First we will travel to Bushmills Distillery for a quick stop at the gift shop. Also during this day, we will visit the beautiful Giants Causeway and discover the myth of the giant, Finn McCool. We will do a photo stop of the ruins of Dunluce Castle. Several ghosts are said to reside among the cliffs and rubble. You may recognize this from Game of Thrones. Lunch will be on your own either at the guest center at Giant's Causeway or the cafe at our next stop, Belfast's Titanic Museum. The museum is located at the shipyard were the ill-fated steamer set sail. I can personally vouch for the fish and chips and the desserts.
We will then return back to Belfast where you will have the evening to explore for yourself. Dinner is on your own.
9/23 Day 5, After an early Irish breakfast, we will leave for Scotland. Time to be announced. We will board the lavish Stena Lines. Our first stop in Scotland will be Ayr, the home of Robert Burns. You can also grab a bite to eat for lunch on your own. Next we will travel to Stirling Castle and tour the castle and grounds including the dungeon and the graveyard. This is part of the Castle Explorer pass.
NEW - On our way to Edinburgh, we will stop at Doune Castle. This is a 13-14th century castle full of many tales but you will also know it from Game of Thrones, 1952 Ivanhoe, Outlander as Castle Leoch, and Monty Python’s Holy Grail. There will be time to tour the castle.
In the late afternoon we will check into our hotel in Edinburgh, the Radisson BLU, seated along the Royal Mile, steps away from Mary King's Close.
City Ghost Walk - You can go at either 7pm or 9:30pm. The tour meets at the Royal McGregor on the Royal Mile, just steps from our hotel. Last about 1.5 hours. You can go on both if you want.
9/24 Day 6, Breakfast at the hotel in Edinburgh. Edinburgh Castle is just a short walk from the hotel up the exciting Royal Mile. Lunch on your own with some shopping/exploring time. Dinner is on your own as well. Enjoy getting to know this beautiful city. In the evening, we will have a private tour of Edinburgh known as the City of the Dead. Wear comfortable shoes are a must for this 2 hour hike through crypts and graveyards.
9/25 Day 7
We say goodbye to Edinburgh with a full breakfast at hotel.
NEW- On the way to St. Andrews, we will stop at Blackness Castle. Blackness Castle is actually more of a fort and was used as Fort William in the Outlander filming. You will be able to stand where Jamie was flogged by Black Jack Randall. We then head to St. Andrews. While at St. Andrews, there will be some time to explore and have lunch on your own. St. Andrews is home to more than just golf. The beautiful seaside ruins and graveyard will have you enchanted.
Our next official stop will be Inverness. Inverness is known as the Gateway to the Highlands and is full of eeriness and Scottish mist as it sits on the banks of the river Ness. We will gather for a group dinner in the evening. Hotel - Holiday Inn Express Inverness.
9/26 Day 8, After a hardy breakfast at the hotel, we will spend a good share of the day driving to and exploring the mystical Isle of Skye. NEW - On the way, you will have a photo stop at Eilean Donan Castle, one of the most photographed castle in Scotland. Lunch will be on your own in Portree. We will later return back to Inverness for dinner on your own.
9/27 Day 9, We will have a full breakfast at the hotel before leaving Inverness and heading to Loch Ness. At the shores of Loch Ness we will visit Urquhart Castle. That afternoon we will journey through the Highlands. be ready for breathtaking scenery and photo stops. We will travel on to Glasgow. Here we say our good-byes to some new found friends as they stay on in Glasgow and have other travel plans. Many will take an evening flight to Dublin for a night near the airport for easy boarding in the morning. Hotel for the evening in Dublin is Red Cow Moran. Shuttle transportation available to and from the airport.
Day 10, Enjoy a good Irish breakfast at the hotel. No need to rush. Check your departure times. Allow for a 20 minute journey on the shuttle and allow 3 hours at least to get processed through Dublin Airport.
(As always, there may be slight changes in this itinerary. Things happen. Also drivers and guides like to share non-scheduled bonuses. Or weather can make some sites unreachable.)
As always, please feel free to email Darla with questions about this or other trips at Darla@darlatours.net.