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From prehistoric forts and dramatic cliffs to World War II ports, trace the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland—and their far-flung isles—aboard the National Geographic Explorer. Explore the nautical capital of Portsmouth and the quaint fishing villages of Ireland and Wales, and delve into remote places where Gaelic culture still thrives. Then head north to discover the vestiges of ancient cities on the windswept Shetland and the Orkney Islands.
Uncover clues to an ancient past at the burial mounds of Sutton Hoo and the Neolithic Standing Stones of Callanish.
Sail around magical Skellig Michael, crowned by the beehive huts of an ancient monastery.
Spot whales and seabirds off Skomer Island, and take a walk along the shores of Wales on the magnificent Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
Explore Staffa’s coastal caves, lined with geometric basalt columns, and sail beneath Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher.
Itinerary - 19 Days
Days 1 through 4 — U.S./Edinburgh, Scotland/Holy Island, England/Ipswich
Arrive in Edinburgh for a city tour before embarking the National Geographic Explorer. Sail to Holy Island, where the illuminated Lindisfarne Gospels were created, and climb Lindisfarne Castle. Join a scholar at the seventh-century burial mounds at Sutton Hoo, or explore charming Ipswich.
Days 5, 6, & 7 — Portsmouth/Fowey/Isles of Scilly
Delve into Britain’s maritime history in Portsmouth, home to the HMS Victory and the Tudor-era Mary Rose. Continue to Fowey and journey across the Cornish countryside to visit the Eden Project or the Lost Gardens of Heligan. See the Abbey Gardens on the Isles of Scilly.
Days 8 & 9 — Skomer Island, Wales/Pembrokeshire/Cobh, Ireland
Spot marine life in the waters surrounding Skomer Island, and then go for a hike along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Alternatively, explore prehistoric sites or stroll Fishguard’s quaint center. Cross the Irish Seato Cobh, and trace its history at the Cobh Heritage Centre.
Days 10 & 11 — Ireland’s West Coast
See Skellig Michael’s monastic beehive huts before exploring the ancient sites and colorful towns of the Dingle Peninsula. Admire the Cliffs of Moher as we sail beneath them, and continue to the Aran Islands to visit Dun Aengus, a Celtic ring fort perched at the edge of a sea cliff.
Days 12, 13, & 14 — Connemara/County Donegal/Iona and Staffa, Scotland
Hike the mystical Connemara coast with naturalists, or explore by kayak or Zodiac. In County Donegal, visit the fishing harbor of Killybegs or take an excursion to nearby archaeological sites. Next we sail to Scotland to see the Iona Abbey and the dramatic basalt columns and sea caves of Staffa.
Days 15 & 16 — Outer Hebrides/Orkney Islands
On the windswept Isle of Lewis, where Scottish Gaelic is still spoken, encounter the massive neolithic Standing Stones of Callanish. In the Orkneys, visit the Ring of Brodgar and the stone-slab village of Skara Brae before stepping into Kirkwall’s St. Magnus Cathedral.
Days 17 & 18 — Shetland Islands
Land in Fair Isle and visit the bird research station, located on the migration flyway. Then climb the Iron Age stone tower on the uninhabited isle of Mousa. The next day, we dock in the Shetlands to explore the ancient ruins at Jarlshof.
Day 19 — Bergen, Norway/U.S.
Disembark in Bergen and transfer to the airport for your flight home.