Spotlight on Britain and Ireland

The rolling, green countryside and historic cities of Britain and Ireland offer so much of interest to travelers, you re in for an enriching experience!  The history and pageantry alone offer a very long list of places to visit and events to attend while the beauty and peace of the countryside, highlands and coastlines give us many great spots perfect for that relaxing getaway!

The grandeur of bygone days is still felt when you visit the great estates that dot the British landscape.  Many magnificent country homes are open to the public with some turned into hotels for longer stays. Highclere Castle, better known as Downton Abbey in the PBS hit TV series, is one grand home which is still being lived in today. Sitting on the Berkshire/Hampshire border in the south of England, you can tour the castle and its tranquil gardens then relax at the Tearoom.

Castles are another top draw and you'll find all types from the atmospheric ruins of once great fortresses to restored castles in immaculate condition like stately Arundel Castle.  Explore these fortified structures and learn their intriguing history. Stay overnight at one of the many castle hotels or celebrate a special occasion. You can book a castle for your destination wedding if you like!

Food and drink are an integral part of any new destination and in Britain and Ireland, there is much to relish. A traditional afternoon tea is a must. Enjoy the pubs of Ireland with their live entertainment, the original cuisine at the Guinness distillery in Dublin, single malt whiskey tasting in Scotland, cheese tasting at Cheddar, Cornish Pasties and local cider in Cornwall and of course, the magnificent fine dining experiences of noted chefs which abound in the cities and country houses across Britain. 

There's adventure too from caving to climbing, or how about a classic walking holiday, say along Hadrian's wall in Northumberland, built by the Romans as the border of their British empire. It's always easy to combine history with any endeavor in Britain and Ireland!

Noted for their free and natural style, British gardens are a delight. Throughout the country you'll see outstanding gardens in parks and around country houses including the spectacular Royal Gardens at Highgrove where Prince Charles has created a masterpiece of sustainable and self-sufficient gardening by working with nature rather than against it. The colorful English Lavender fields of Norfolk, Yorkshire and Surrey and the Bluebell fields of Hampshire are also well worth a visit for garden lovers. Don't miss the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, simply known as Kew Gardens in London, which dates from 1840, home to the largest collection of plants in the world.

Cruising is certainly a convenient way to circle the British Isles calling at many ports along the way. For more see the Cruising article.

While London has enough world-class sights and events to keep you well occupied for your entire vacation, be sure to go further afield and discover what lies beyond one of the world's greatest cities. There is a wealth of experiences and exciting destinations just waiting for you to discover on your vacation to Britain and Ireland.

Bodiam Castle | East Sussex, England
December 2016

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