If you love green fields and rolling hills, quaint villages and magnificent castles, and the warm welcome of a traditional country pub, then look no further than Great Britain and Ireland for your next dream vacation.
For those of you who are excited to travel again and keen to explore these luscious lands, Luxury Gold has three magical luxury guided tours that take in some of the prettiest villages, small towns and landscapes that Britain and Ireland have to offer. We’ve selected ten of the best, so take a read, and picture yourself there.
Unsurprisingly, many of the most beautiful spots in Britain and Ireland are also home to magnificent castles and elegant stately homes, exactly the kind of places Luxury Gold guests should frequent! On our regal Castles & Kingdoms three-week luxury guided tour, you will enjoy the most splendid settings, along with exceptional hotels, exquisite dining and VIP experiences. Here are five of the prettiest villages and small towns en route on this tour:
The cobbled market town of Alnwick is a fairytale jewel in the heart of Northumberland. Soak up true English traditional charm as you explore beautiful streets, quaint shops and great cafes. Presiding proudly over the town is the majestic 11th century Alnwick Castle, a true masterpiece of medieval architecture with magnificent interiors and spectacular gardens.
Travel on a Luxury Gold Chairman’s Collection departure and meet Her Grace, The Duchess of Northumberland for a private tour of her exquisite garden, lovingly restored to its former 18th century glory over the last twenty years.
Tudor-style Blarney is a history-buff’s dream – one of its most impressive features being a superbly preserved village square, a focal point of village life. An essential for visitors is to see the famous Blarney Stone, a block of limestone built into the 15th century castle, said to give the “gift of the gab” to those who kiss it. Extensive parkland surrounding the castle features a network of trails and themed gardens – you can still tiptoe your way around Poison Garden to see trees like nightshade, rue, and poison hemlock peacefully coexisting.
In the heart of England’s exquisite Lake District, on the banks of heavenly Lake Windemere sits the sprawling small town of Bowness-on-Windemere. One of England’s most picturesque locations, this is the perfect spot to enjoy a coffee, savor unrivalled views and enjoy the comings and goings of life on the water. On our Castles & Kingdoms luxury guided tour you will stay at the sophisticated Belsfield Hotel, featuring all the charisma and stylishness of a charming country house, from which this magnificent lake district scene is visible at every turn.
This Lake District town of Penrith is surrounded by waters and hills so gorgeous they could be straight out of a romance novel. Surrounded by four castles and two henges, Penrith is beauty and history all rolled into one. Here we visit the Dalemain Mansion and Gardens and meet Jane Hasell-McCosh whose ancestors have been living at the manor since the 17th century. She’ll take you on a personal tour of the beautiful gardens and tell you all about the prestigious international Homemade Marmalade Award founded that she founded – yum!
What better way to see the magic and charm of the prettiest villages than on board the world-famous Royal Scotsman steam train? The ultimate in exclusive travel, our 16-Day British Royale luxury guided tour includes four nights aboard this luxury train. Live like a VIP as you snake through the most enchanting parts of Scotland – here are three of the most amazing spots you will stop at along the way:
- Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland
Kyle of Lochalsh, the land of castles, hills and lochs, is a gateway to the Isle of Skye, and the stunning north-west coast. An attractive collection of whitewashed houses sits on the banks of the lake, flanked by two of Scotland’s finest mountain ranges, providing amazing views. The area’s most famous attraction is Eilean Donan Castle, one of Scotland’s most iconic sights, perched on the banks of Loch Duich.
- Plockton, Scotland
Up the coast from Kyle of Lochalsh is Plockton, a pretty fishing village perched on the shores of a sheltered bay overlooking Loch Carron. The village is known as ‘the jewel of the Highlands’ for good reason – it is stunningly picturesque and has a range of outdoor activities, shops and local attractions. On our British Royale luxury guided tour, savor the views from the crystal clear west coast waters, as you take a boat ride to see a colony of wild seals.
- Carrbridge, Scotland
Picture perfect, with iconic sights including a famous 18th century packhorse bridge, and lying beneath the Monadhliath Mountains, the village of Carrbridge with its traditional cottages is an enchanting location. Part of the magnificent Cairngorms National Park, this is the perfect place to soak up the full charm of Scotland. It also serves as an ideal base for gentle walks and hikes in the nearby rolling hills, and from which to explore the nearby Balindalloch Castle.
Last but definitely not least, there are few places more beautiful than the villages and small towns of Ireland. Here are three of the prettiest, and you can visit them all on our 12-day Ultimate Ireland luxury guided tour.
Picturesque Adare is one of Ireland’s prettiest villages and is designated as a heritage town by the Irish government. Its charming main street is lined with thatched cottages and medieval buildings, and the village is rich in archaeological remains dating back to 1200 AD. The River Maigue weaves through the middle, with the captivating ruins of Desmond Castle sitting on its banks. You will have the chance to explore the stunning architecture of the Trinitarian Monastery and Augustinian Abbey and savor the boutique ambiance as you enjoy the many cafes, shops and pubs.
Situated among the serene Lakelands of Galway and Mayo, Cong is famous for being the location for the 1952 Oscar-winning movie The Quiet Man, staring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Quaint in size but grand in character, its 12th-century abbey in the town center is one of the finest examples of medieval ecclesiastical architecture in Ireland. Home to the magnificent five-star Ashford Castle, your exclusive hotel for two nights on our Ultimate Ireland luxury guided tour, this relaxing retreat boasts sumptuous rooms and unique historic features. On arrival you’ll walk across a bridge to the castle, behind a lone piper who is playing just for you. A truly spine-tingling experience!
No journey to Ireland is complete without a visit to beautiful Kilkenny. Known as the Marble City, the streets are paved with Kilkenny marble flagstones which glisten when wet, giving a magical glint to this small medieval town. Stroll the Medieval Mile, a scenic a trail that links Kilkenny Castle to St. Canice’s Cathedral and enjoy this vibrant town, with its outdoor market, live music and colorful shops selling all manner of traditional crafts and souvenirs. Just outside the town is the Michelin-starred Lady Helen Restaurant, where you will enjoy a delicious meal prepared using locally sourced ingredients.
If you’re feeling inspired by these three luxury guided tours, take a look at our website.