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Posted on March 28th, 2023 in Europe, Africa & Asia
Are you ready for a new adventure? Making the leap from domestic to international travel can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to deciding where you want to go. If you’re embarking on your first trip out of the country, you might be looking for a destination with enriching new experiences while still offering the comfort of friendly, welcoming locals that speak English. You’ll find just that with a trip to the UK and Ireland, some of the most popular destinations for a first trip across the ocean. While venturing over the Atlantic might seem intimidating, it’s not as far as you may think – in fact, the flight time is about the same as going to Hawaii!
For guests interested in these spectacular destinations, one question we’re often asked is which trip to choose: Enchanting Ireland or Scotland & Northern Ireland. As travel experts of 50 years, we’re here to break down the main differences between these two phenomenal trips so you can decide which inspires your wanderlust. Just remember, as with every trip you book, you’ll always experience the Holiday Advantage. This includes round-trip airfare, exceptional accommodations, professional Tour Directors, premier attractions, superb dining, guaranteed prices, and a worry-free guarantee.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
Wait, isn’t it all one country? This is a common misconception among first-time visitors and those that are not from that region. While it is in fact one island, it is two separate countries- Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. To start, the Republic of Ireland is a sovereign state and is part of the European Union (EU). Northern Ireland, however, is part of the United Kingdom (UK), which has not been part of the EU since 2020. Therefore, you will also see differences in governance. The Republic of Ireland is governed by their President, currently Michael Higgins, while Northern Ireland is ruled by the British Monarch, King Charles III. However, when it comes to day-to-day governing, both countries are overseen by their respective Prime Ministers, or Taoiseach in Ireland.
If you visit both countries, you’ll need two different currencies. Ireland uses the Euro while Northern Ireland uses the Pound Sterling, as does the rest of the UK. However, the easiest form of money to bring when visiting is Visa or Mastercard as both are widely accepted throughout the entire island.
The primary differences – separation, currencies, and governance – are what mainly distinguish the two countries. Generally, it can be deduced that Northern Ireland follows what the rest of the UK does while Ireland, as its own free state, has more individual standards unique to their country only. There are additional, more in-depth details and a ton of history that goes into why this is how it is, which you can learn when visiting either.
With that cleared up, let’s look into the role Scotland plays in the relationship between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland seem very similar geographically and, in some ways, culturally, but there are some main differences that set the countries apart.
Generally speaking, Scotland has more of a dramatic and diverse landscape than Ireland and Northern Ireland, but comparatively has less of a unique history as Ireland. Since Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, you will still see British influences present today as well as a melting pot of ancestry – Gaelic Celtic, Brythonic Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, and Norse. Speaking to the island of Ireland as a whole, you’ll find most Irish are Gaelic Celtic. There are so many Gaelic Celtic people that you can find areas in Ireland, called Gaeltacht regions, where the Irish language was, until recently, the primary spoken language of most of the community.
Majestic mountains, rugged coastlines, and gorgeous waterways make up Scotland’s natural scenery and are a significant attraction for the country. While Ireland and Northern Ireland also have an abundance of scenic beauty, their historically significant sites and lively night entertainment are what draw in tourists from around the world. When it comes to climates, both the island of Ireland and Scotland are known for heavy cloud coverage and milder climates in comparison to the rest of Continental Europe. Scotland can have more extreme weather, with warmer temps and a touch more humidity than Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Now that we’ve covered some of the history and distinct differences throughout these three incredible destinations, is there one that you find most intriguing? Don’t make your decision quite yet – it’s time to get a glimpse into what you will experience on each of these tours! We’ve compiled some of our favorite activities and attractions from Enchanting Ireland as well as Scotland & Northern Ireland to help make this impossible decision easier.
Do you want to enjoy rich history, natural beauty, and vibrant culture? Look no further than Ireland, a popular destination for first-time international travelers for good reason. There’s no shortage of captivating adventures for everyone to enjoy on the Emerald Isle – from a guided tour of the capital city, Dublin, to a merry feast in medieval Bunratty. If you’re thinking of making the journey to this historic and charming destination, be ready for a memorable trip unlike any other.
Here are some of our favorite unique and unforgettable highlights on this trip:
Admire the stunning Victorian architecture of the neo-Gothic Church of Kylemore Abbey, situated in the heart of the gorgeous and remote Connemara Countryside. Enjoy a scenic walk through the grounds’ colorful gardens and take in the intricate craftsmanship of Kylemore Castle’s interior. Built in the late 1800s, the castle has been owned and inhabited by the Benedictine Community of Nuns since World War I. Experience generations of history, tradition, and nature’s splendor in one day at this magnificent estate.
Immerse yourself in a unique cultural experience at Kate Kearney’s Cottage. This award-winning restaurant and bar has been family-owned for 150 years and is nestled in Killarney’s charming countryside, near the entrance to the famous Gap of Dunloe. The building is adorned with red doors that lead inside to a quaint gift shop and an interior brimming with rustic charm. Enjoy the ambiance of a traditional Irish night with folk music by local musicians and costumed dancing.
Visit Blarney Castle to revel in 600 years of fascinating history. Legend has it that kissing the Blarney Stone will give one the gift of gab, or the ability to speak with eloquence and persuasiveness. This fabled stone is a large part of what attracts tourists, but there’s plenty more to do here. Lush gardens dot the land surrounding the castle, growing everything from poisonous herbs to carnivorous plants. Admire a wide variety of rare tree species, some of which are nearly 300 years old.
Scotland is a charming country home to a wealth of fascinating history and folklore. That, along with the splendor and beauty of Northern Ireland, makes this another incomparable and spectacular trip. Since this consists of two separate countries, it’s intriguing to experience the difference between cultures and accents – though both are English speaking. On this trip, you’ll enjoy unbeatable views and engage in riveting cultural activities.
Discover the magic of Inveraray Castle, the long-time seat of Clan Campbell and reminiscent of something you might find in a fairy tale. This sprawling fortress on the 50,000-acre Argyll Estate has sat overlooking Loch Fyne since the 1400s, although a fire in 1877 resulted in some rebuilding and the eye-catching conical roofs of the castle corners. It remains a private residence today to the 13th Duke of Argyll but you are still able to view many of the luxurious rooms, such as the Armoury Hall and grand State Dining Room. Gorgeous gardens thrive on the property around the castle and multitudes of deer can be seen wandering the estate grounds.
Learn the history of royalty in Edinburgh, where we receive a guided tour of The Royal Yacht Britannia, also referred to as a “Floating Palace.” The Britannia has sailed over one million miles around the world and the Royal Family, including the late Queen Elizabeth II, has used it as a vacation home for over 40 years! It was staffed with 240 Royal Yachtsmen and has been part of Royal honeymoons, family holidays, official receptions, and much more.
Travel to Northern Ireland’s majestic coast to discover the geological wonder known as Giant’s Causeway. You have likely seen photos of this breathtaking attraction and wondered at the phenomenon. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Giant’s Causeway is one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions due to its fascinating natural beauty. Step out onto ancient basalt columns, formed around 50 million years ago during volcanic activity in the area, to take in the surreal views. Witnessing this unbelievable feat of ancient history is an opportunity you won’t want to pass-up on.
Now that you have a better understanding of these awe-inspiring regions and a glimpse of what to expect on each trip, we hope you feel clarity on which trip is perfect for your next dreamy getaway. There is no right or wrong answer – in fact, we believe both trips are a must because each destination is uniquely its own. No matter your choice, we will be here to provide worry-free travel filled with enrichment and excitement.
If you have additional questions about the trips before making a decision, we invite you to call our expert Tour Sales Consultant team at 1-888-867-2190. They look forward to sharing all of the information you need to travel confidently. And when you’re ready to reserve your spot on either (or both!) of these adventures, all it takes is a call and a $200 deposit that is fully-refundable if you need to cancel for any reason prior to the final payment date. We look forward to bringing you on a memorable trip across the pond!
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Tour days tend to be shorter in length, at a relaxed pace, and include lots of unscheduled time for leisure. Expect standing and walking for extended periods of time on flat surfaces, mostly low altitudes, and consistent temperatures.
Tour days usually move at a leisurely pace. Some days’ scheduled activities last longer than others. Expect standing and walking for long periods of time on occasionally uneven terrain. You may experience changes in altitude or temperature.
Tour days tend to be long, move at a consistent pace, and may include long travel days. Expect standing and walking for long periods of time on uneven surfaces. Some destinations may have changes in altitude and/or temperature.
Tour days tend to be long, move at a brisk pace, and may include lengthy travel days. Expect long periods of walking and standing on uneven surfaces. Scheduled activities may require physical effort or have distinct changes in altitude or temperature.
Tour days tend to be long, move at a vigorous pace, and may include lengthy travel days. Expect long periods of walking and standing on rough surfaces. Scheduled activities may require physical effort or have distinct changes in altitude or temperature.