Wales & Wild Atlantic Islands
The latest addition to our ‘Undiscovered Europe’ portfolio is an in-depth discovery of Wales, Scotland’s northernmost islands, and the legendary Faroe Islands. Our 24-day tour reveals a wealth of cultural heritage, magnificent scenery and the extraordinary bird life of these remote Atlantic Islands.
The tour begins with a 10-day exploration of some of the truly hidden gems of Wales, from the vibrant capital, Cardiff, to the Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire Coast, and the old walled town of Conwy in the north. Along the way we visit the extraordinary Caerphilly Castle, discover the Welsh mining culture with a visit to an underground mine, and take a trip on a horse-drawn narrow boat on the River Dee. Leaving Wales behind, we head north via the delightful English city of Chester, to arrive into Scotland’s capital Edinburgh where our expedition cruise begins. Over the course of the 10-night expedition aboard Sea Spirit we get right off the beaten track on a remarkable journey to the ruggedly beautiful wilderness, rich history and abundant wildlife of Scotland’s most northern islands, and the Faroes. Our voyage takes us to the Orkneys, Fair Isle and Shetland Islands where we immerse ourselves in the history of ages past as we visit ancient brochs, standing stones and stone circles. Continuing north we arrive at the legendary Faroe Islands where we spend four days exploring the rugged beauty and ancient Viking heritage of the archipelago. Our expedition team will guide us to remote corners of these pristine islands to see bird cliffs and natural wonders that take the breath away. Finally we sail back to Edinburgh where we conclude our momentous tour. Join us on a memorable journey to ‘Wales & Wild Atlantic Islands’!
Tour Fitness Level: Active
*Price based on Main Deck cabin (pp twin share) – limited availability
** Early Bird discounted price is available on bookings confirmed by 24 November 2023, and subject to availability.
- Explore the exciting Welsh capital, Cardiff
- Explore the extraordinary Caerphilly Castle – the biggest in Wales
- Go underground to a mine at The Big Pit National Coal Museum
- Visit the magnificent Brecon Beacon’s National Park
- Visit the lovely seaside town of Tenby
- Explore the smallest city in Britain – St Davids – located inside Pembrokeshire National Park
- Ride one of the ‘Great Little Trains of Wales – the Vale of Rheidol Railway
- Explore UNESCO Heritage listed Caernarfon Castle
- Visit the ancient walled town of Conwy
- Visit Betws-Y-Coed – home to the famous Swallow Falls
- Take a horse-drawn canal boat on the River Dee
Scotland & the Faroe Islands
- Explore Scotland’s beautiful capital, including Edinburgh Castle
- Enjoy a 10-night expedition voyage of the northern Scottish Isles and Faroe Islands aboard Sea Spirit
- See the amazing Ring of Brodgar
- Visit the Viking cathedral of St Magnus
- See Fair Isle’s puffins at close quarters
- Visit the cliffs of Fair Isle where fulmars, kittiwakes, gannets and shags breed from April to August
- See the remarkably well-preserved Mousa Broch in the Shetlands
- Visit the remote island of Foula, home to the largest colony of great skuas in Great Britain
- See the remarkable traditional turf-roof dwellings of the Faroes
- Explore the quaint capital of the Faroes, Torshavn
- Visit Kirkjubour, the cultural centre of the Faroes in the Middle Ages
- Explore remote areas of the Faroe Islands to see bird cliffs and natural wonders
- All ground transportation
- All hotel accommodation (twin-share)
- Twin-share stateroom aboard Sea Spirit
- All meals as specified
- All meals while onboard ship
- Complimentary tea and coffee onboard ship
- Travel Directors’ tour leader (land portion only)
- Expert local guides
- Experienced expedition leader throughout the expedition voyage
- Use of rubber boots for landings throughout the voyage
- All port fees
- Onboard lectures held by expedition team
- All entrance fees in specified sightseeing
- All tips and gratuities
Please note that the whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the above pricing, currency fluctuations beyond our control can affect final costs. A booking form is to be completed by all passengers, and a non-refundable deposit of AUD $6,000 per person paid at the time of booking. All escorted tours are based on a minimum group size of 10 people travelling.
09/05/2024 Australia – Dubai
Depart from your chosen capital city on your flight to Dubai.
10/05/2024 Dubai – Birmingham – Cardiff (D)
Depart Doha Qatar Airways QR 33, 08.05
Arrive Birmingham 13.15
On arrival into Birmingham we board our coach for the 2h 10m transfer to Cardiff. On arrival in the Welsh capital we transfer to our hotel in the city centre. The rest of the day is at leisure to rest or take a stroll in this welcoming and vibrant city. In the evening we enjoy a welcome dinner.
Coal Exchange Hotel
11/05/2024 Cardiff (BLD)
Compact, multicultural Cardiff has a wealth of cultural and historic sights and this morning we set out on foot to explore the city and surrounding areas. Our tour takes in such key landmarks as the Principality Stadium, the National Assembly of Wales and the Senedd. After lunch we visit Cardiff Castle, one of the leading heritage attractions in Wales. Located within beautiful parklands in the very heart of the city, the castle is at once a Roman fort, Norman stronghold and Victorian Gothic masterpiece, with more than 2,000 years of history concealed within its walls.
12/05/2024 Cardiff – Brecon Beacons (BLD)
Wales has 641 castles in total and today we visit the biggest of all – Caerphilly Castle, just outside Cardiff. Built by Gilbert ‘the Red’ de Clare in the 13th century, it is a stone behemoth, surrounded by a series of moats and watery islands. Continuing north we enter the Brecon Beacons National Park, a natural wonder and home to almost 300 monuments, as well as rushing waterfalls and caves. Later we learn about the historic mining culture of Wales at the ’Big Pit’ National Coal Museum, a World Heritage site. Here we enter a cage and descend 90 metres to the pit floor below, where we see the pit pony stables and hear stories from former colliery workers.
13/05/2024 Brecon Beacons – Tenby (BLD)
The Pembrokeshire coast offers stunning beaches and bays including Tenby and Saundersfoot, and as we leave the Brecon Beacons behind, we discover these and more. We begin our scenic journey towards the coast, stopping en route at Velfrey Vineyard where we enjoy a tour and tasting of their award-winning wines. After lunch we continue on to Tenby, a lovely seaside town rich in history and culture, and renowned for its glorious beaches and fine Victorian houses.
14/05/2024 Tenby – Aberystwyth (BLD)
Delving deeper into the Pembrokeshire National Park, we visit the smallest city in Britain – St Davids. Here we explore the wonderful cathedral which is the resting place of the patron Saint of Wales, Saint David – or Dewi Sant, as he is called in the Welsh language. Across the road from the cathedral sits the magnificent Bishop’s Palace which dates back to the 6th century and is one of the most important religious sites in Wales. Continuing north we enjoy the views along the beautiful Cardigan Bay as we head to the wonderful university town of Aberystwyth. The afternoon is at leisure to explore the town and perhaps enjoy a walk along the promenade before checking into our stately accommodation for the night – a Grade-1 listed Georgian mansion!
15/05/2024 Aberystwyth (BLD)
Wales is famous for its heritage train network, and today we travel on one of the ‘Great Little Trains of Wales’ – the Vale of Rheidol Railway. A narrow-gauge steam locomotive takes us 19 km up the beautiful Rheidol Valley, clinging to the mountainside as we cross through lush valleys to the remarkable Devil’s Bridge. We learn the story of the three bridges and then take a leisurely walk around the waterfalls. Later we return to Aberystwyth.
16/05/2024 Aberystwyth – Caernarfon – Snowdonia (BLD)
This morning we leave the coastal town of Aberyswyth and drive to the busy market town of Caernarfon. We explore the imposing medieval castle which dominates the town and boasts eight towers, two twin-towered gateways and a well-deserved UNESCO World Heritage status. Later we cross the Menai Strait to the island of Anglesey, an area of outstanding natural beauty, where we delve deep into the past with a visit to the Iron Age and Celtic sites for which it is famous. After our visit here we enter the magnificent Snowdonia National Park, home to the largest mountain in England and Wales – Snowdon – and transfer to our hotel.
Hilton Garden Inn
17/05/2024 Snowdonia – Conwy – Betws-Y-Coed – Snowdonia (BLD)
The delightful walled market town of Conwy is one of Europe’s finest surviving medieval towns, and today we make the short drive to explore two of its remarkable ‘houses’. Conwy Castle is Edward I’s most striking and powerful fortress, and perhaps the most impressive of all the Welsh castles. After our exploration here we visit the tiny Quay House, reputed to be the smallest house in Great Britain, at just 1.8m wide and 3.1m high. Later we drive to Betws-Y-Coed, where we walk along woodland trails to a series of waterfalls and the famous Swallow Falls. After our visit here we return to Snowdonia.
18/05/2024 Snowdonia – Chester (BLD)
Leaving Snowdonia we head east to the town of Llangollen, famous for hosting the International Eisteddfod. Another claim to fame for the town is Thomas Telford’s famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, that takes the Llangollen canal soaring above the valley of the River Dee. Here we take a horse-drawn canal boat ride, before leaving Wales behind and heading to England’s Roman city of Chester. Chester’s city walls are the most complete city walls in Britain, with some sections still intact from 120AD. From here we see great views of this beautiful city and the adjacent landscapes, and later visit the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre just outside the city.
Grosvenor Pulford Hotel
19/05/2024 Chester – Edinburgh (BLD)
After an early breakfast we begin our road journey to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland and the starting point of our expedition cruise. Edinburgh is rich in history and culture, lying in the shadow of the famous Edinburgh Castle. We have time this afternoon to stroll through the town and admire the medieval and classic 18th-century architecture.
20/05/2024 Edinburgh: Board Ship (BLD)
This morning we enjoy a city tour. Among the highlights of Scotland’s grand capital are Edinburgh Castle, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which sit at either end of the fabulous Royal Mile. We enjoy a stroll down the Royal Mile soaking up the atmosphere and, perhaps, stopping to taste one of Scotland’s greatest contributions to world civilisation – shortbread! If your palate leans towards something stronger, there are many pubs where you can taste a range of famous Scottish single malt whiskies. In the afternoon we transfer to the nearby Port of Leith where we board our ship, Sea Spirit, our home for the next 11 nights.
21/05/2024 Kirkwall (Orkney Islands) (BLD)
Kirkwall is small, quiet town, and the capital of the remote Orkney archipelago. On arrival we head into the west of Mainland – Orkney’s largest island – and into the Neolithic heartland of Orkney, which is a designated a World Heritage site due to its wealth of pre-historic archaeology. We pass the Standing Stones of Stenness, and stop at the Ring of Brodgar – a huge ceremonial circle of stones dating back 5,000 years, en route to the ancient village of Skara Brae. After our visit here we return to Kirkwall and explore the famous St Magnus Cathedral, considered the finest medieval building in the north of Scotland.
22/05/2024 Fair Isle (Shetland Islands) (BLD)
Fair Isle is an isolated island of rolling moorlands and rugged coastline, sitting about halfway between Orkney and mainland Shetland. The island is famous for its abundance of British birds, and for its eastern rarities and migrants. Fair Isle is one of the best places to watch seabirds – especially puffins – at close range. The island is also notable for its wildflowers, and seals are commonly seen in its bays. During our visit we will also have the opportunity to see and purchase articles hand-knitted in the intricate and distinctive style for which Fair Isle has been celebrated for hundreds of years.
23/05/2024 Lerwick (Shetland Islands) (BLD)
Today we come alongside at the port of Lerwick on Mainland – the largest of the Shetland Islands. We take a walking tour of the historic town before boarding a coach for a scenic overland drive through the fertile countryside of Dunrossness to discover the best of Shetland. We visit the historic lighthouse at Sumbburgh Head, the southernmost point of Mainland Shetland, where rugged cliffs attract thousands of seabirds. We also visit Jarlshof, one of the most remarkable archaeological site sin the British Islea. Here we discover beautifully preserved stone structures spanning 5,000 years of human settlement, including Bronze Age oval houses, Pictish wheelhouses, an Iron Age broch, a Viking longhouse, and a medieval farmhouse.
24/05/2024 Papa Stour & Foula (BLD)
Lost in the Atlantic Ocean, Foula – another of the Shetland Islands – is a perfect destination for birdwatching. Foula cliffs are home to numerous seabirds including the largest colony of great skuas. However Foula is also rich with folklore and history, which we discover during our visit. We also visit another Shetland Island – Papa Stour, where erosion of the soft volcanic rock has sculpted an extraordinary cliff scenery including caves, stacks, arches and blowholes – all supporting a range of marine flora and fauna.
25/05/2024 – 28/05/2024 Faroe Islands (BLD each day)
National Geographic Traveller has designated Faroe Islands as ‘authentic, unspoiled and likely to remain so’. It seems that the Nature spares no colours in ‘painting’ the islands. Deep-green hills, bright blue sea, colourful houses and boats, and orange-red puffins’ beaks make the landscapes unforgettable, while traditional wooden dwellings with turf roofs look like they belong in a fairy tale. The rugged Faroese are proud of their Viking heritage and their love of the sea. During our four days here we explore the archipelago including Tórshavn, the capital and largest city of Faroe Islands, including a visit to Kirkjubøur, the ecclesiastical and cultural centre of the Faroes in the Middle Ages. It was the site of the Bishop’s residence until the Reformation, when the Faroese diocese was abolished. The imposing Gothic ruin of the late 13th-century Saint Magnus Cathedral still dominates the site. The Roykstovan, standing on the wide stone foundation of a portion of the Bishop’s palace, has been the home of farmers in Kirkjubøur for centuries and occupied by the same Faroese family for 17 generations. Our expedition team will search for remote areas of the archipelago to visit or pause, where we can take advantage of the ship and possibly zodiacs to see bird cliffs and other natural wonders that are otherwise difficult to access.
29/05/2024 At Sea (BLD)
While we’re at sea en route to Edinburgh, take the opportunity to learn about the unique flora and fauna of the British Isles, with onboard lectures and briefings.
30/05/2024 Edinburgh (BD)
After breakfast aboard Sea Spirit we disembark at Leith and transfer to Edinburgh. We continue exploring the city and in the evening enjoy a farewell dinner.
31/05/2024 Edinburgh – Doha (B)
This morning we transfer to the airport for our flight to Doha.
Depart Edinburgh Qatar Airways QR 30, 14.45
Arrive Doha 23.40
01/06/2024 Doha – Australia
On arrival in Doha connect with the flight to your chosen Australian capital.
Why is the tour fitness level classed as ‘Active’?
This tour involves a reasonable amount of walking, climbing steps and stairs and getting on and off boats and zodiacs. In the Scottish Isles there is a lot of uneven terrain at the historic sites and hiking poles can be be useful. In order to get the most out of this tour and fully explore the islands, a reasonable level of fitness is required.
If I travel alone, do I have to pay the single supplement?
If you wish to have sole use of a hotel room on the tour, you will need to pay the single supplement. If you are travelling alone but willing to share a room, we will endeavour to match you up with another solo traveller of the same gender. We cannot guarantee that a share-match can be provided, and in the event that this cannot be arranged at the time of final payment, you will need to pay the single supplement. Please note, POA for single occupancy aboard Sea Spirit.
How long is the flight from Australia to Cardiff?
Flying time to Dubai is between 11 and 14.5 hours, depending on your Australian capital city of departure. Flight time from Dubai to Birmingham is 7 hours 45 minutes. The road transfer from Birmingham to Cardiff is approximately 2 hours 10 minutes.
What are the average temperatures at this time of year?
The temperature varies along the route. In Wales, temperatures during the day can get up to 18 – 20C. In the Scottish Isles it is considerably cooler with a temperature range of around 10 to 13C.
What is the best currency to take on this journey?
The best currency is GBP, in small denominations. i.e. 50s, 20s, 10s.
How much spending money do I need for the entire trip?
Because almost everything is included, we would suggest an amount of £900 per person as being ample for the whole journey.
Are credit cards acceptable?
Credit cards are widely accepted throughout the journey and ATMs are available in the main towns and cities. However it is not recommended to rely on these as your main source of funds. The ship accepts credit cards and cash in GBP and Euros.
Can I extend my stay in Edinburgh at the end of the tour?
Yes, it is possible to stay on in Edinburgh after the group departs – or have additional days in Cardiff at the beginning of the tour. Our consultants will be happy to make the arrangements for you. If you wish to take up this option, all arrangements must be confirmed before leaving Australia.
Do I need any visas for this tour?
No, visas are not required on this tour.
A lot of companies have many expensive optional extras on their tours. Do you?
We don’t believe in a lot of expensive ‘optional tours’. Our itineraries are designed to make the best possible use of time and to include all the must-see sights, plus additional surprises. Therefore, practically everything is included in the tour cost.
Is the water safe to drink en route and what is the general standard of hygiene?
The standard of hygiene is high along the entire route and tap water is of a high quality and perfectly safe to drink.
What is the standard of the hotels?
The hotels are generally 4-star quality, comfortable, clean and all with en-suites.
Are there internet facilities en route?
Most of the hotels we use have internet facilities.
Do mobile telephones work?
Telstra and Optus mobiles work throughout the entire journey. You will need to ensure you have global roaming. Contact your service provider for further details. Or you can download apps for your phone such as WhatsApp and Viber.
How much should we tip the guides and porters?
There is no need to tip guides or porters as all tips and gratuities are included in the tour cost. Tipping aboard Polar Pioneer is also included.