Iceland. Ireland. Italy.
When it comes to travel in Europe, the “I”s have it: Iceland, Ireland and Italy, that is. All three countries have spectacular landscapes, fascinating histories and rich cultures that enthrall visitors on journeys they won't soon forget.
To experience these fantastic destinations, you need look no further than two companies with a combined 110 years of touring expertise. Trafalgar Tours connects you with the true soul of the people and places you visit. Whether it’s dining with the Telli family on a secluded island on Lake Maggiore, or visiting a local horse farm in Skagafjordur, Iceland, for a first-hand look at the pure Icelandic breed, Trafalgar crafts unforgettable insider experiences.
When considering a Celtic vacation, think Brendan Vacations. Named after the patron saint of navigation, Brendan delivers authentic, personal encounters throughout Ireland and Scotland. With four travel styles — guided, private chauffeur, local hosted and self-drive vacations — they provide options for everyone.
Awestruck in Iceland
Seeking a better life, throngs of Scandinavians left their homelands from around 800 A.D. to the 11th century. Known generally as Vikings or Norsemen, these ocean-faring warriors were known as traders, raiders and settlers through Iceland, Greenland and other parts of Europe. Follow in their footsteps with Trafalgar’s “Ultimate Iceland” itinerary.
Explore Reykjavik, the country's capital, just minutes from some of Iceland's epic natural wonders of volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and lava fields. At the National Museum, a fascinating culture that began with the Vikings' arrival unfolds in exhibits. Hear about myths of elves, ghosts and trolls which have been woven into Icelandic traditions and customs for centuries. Many here believe that dwarves and elves even live nestled in the Dverghamrar (Dwarf Rocks), a protected natural monument.
Though Iceland is roughly the size of Ohio, the Icelandic people's creativity and wealth of literature, music and art is staggering. Its population of just 330,000 has among the highest literacy rate in the world and reading is a national pastime. With intimate itineraries through Trafalgar, you can gain deeper insight into Iceland’s culture and traditions. At a horse farm, you’ll learn about the pony-sized Icelandic breed of horses and watch a riding demonstration. Afterwards, savor a traditional homemade lunch with the locals. A hallmark Trafalgar experience is their Hidden Treasures component, lesser-known aspects of each destination shared by your Travel Director, which deepen your connection with the area you visit.
Most of all, you'll be awed by Iceland's landscape, starting with hot restorative waters at the Blue Lagoon. Head deeper into the island to see how tectonic plates carved the earth’s crust and visit more hot springs where fountains of water and steam shoot high into the air.
Stops at stunning waterfalls are highlights as you journey the south shore and reach Eldhraun, a vast mass of lava, the largest ever to flow on earth.
At Skaftafell National Park, the country's largest glacier glistens and the nearby lagoon is dotted with floating icebergs. The tour takes you over high passes to fjords whose cliffs tower over the Norwegian Sea.
More awesome views await at Lake Myvatn with its twisted rock pillars and chimneys, and spectacular Godafoss Waterfall — the 100-foot wide waterfall “of the gods” — cascades four stories.
Another memorable highlight is exploring Snaefellsnes, an area of volcanoes, glaciers and rock formations. One glacier that lies on the end of a peninsula is the fictional setting of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Emerald Isle Gems
Ireland is an island nation brimming with stunning landscapes and centuries-old legends. Brendan Vacations’ “Best of Ireland” tour gets to the heart of the country including its fabled castles and their opulent gardens.
Dublin is the start of your visit where you'll trace 5,000 years of sometimes-stormy Irish history in this land of storytellers and literary greats and enjoy a pint at a real Irish pub. Journey through the lush green countryside of County Wicklow and visit New Ross, the ancestral home of John F. Kennedy.
A sobering tour of the Dunbrody Famine Ship tells the story of the more than one million starving Irish who fled to North America aboard The Dunbrody during the country’s potato famine. You’ll board a replica of the 1840s emigrant vessel, view poignant recreations and peruse extensive exhibits.
At Waterford, tour the crystal making plant and watch craftsmen create glass treasures. Sample traditional fare, such as freshly baked blaa, a floury bread that's filled with anything you fancy. An Ireland tour isn’t complete without a chance to capture a bit of the proverbial “gift of gab” by kissing the famous stone at Blarney Castle in County Cork.
The natural and man-made beauty at Kylemore Abbey, set in wild and beautiful Connemara, is awe-inspiring. Also, the splendid Victorian-era castle is a national treasure along with its romantic gardens, both built by a financier and member of Parliament in loving tribute to his late wife.
Traditions are an enchanting part of Ireland and you'll experience many on the itinerary, including afternoon tea in a handsome 16th-century home. Explore history-rich Limerick, Galway, Donegal and take the sublime drive along the Ring of Kerry, its sheer cliffs facing the vast ocean.
From lush and dramatic landscapes to the warm and friendly locals, Ireland will likely leave an indelible mark on your soul. You'll wonder what took you so long to visit the Emerald Isle.
Visitors often start a life-long love affair with Italy on their first trip to this land of delicious cuisine, art and enchanting landscapes. Trafalgar's “Best of Italy” itinerary is an ideal way to begin as it offers you a sampling of 15 cities to amore.
Begin in the Eternal City of Rome, and see Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel masterpiece and the wonders of the Vatican. Cross the Tiber River to explore vestiges of ancient Rome and take in the glorious Colosseum and the Circus Maximus, where you can almost hear the sound of the pounding hooves of chariot horses. An emotional visit follows to mountaintop Cassino and its centuries-old Benedictine Abbey, the site of a tragic World War II battle.
Amidst ruins of Pompeii, local guides bring to life Roman civilization at the time of the 79 A.D. volcanic eruption. A boat trip on the Bay of Naples to dreamy Capri is a chance to sit back and enjoy the views of the Italian coastline before exploring the island, dotted with charming boutiques and piazzas.
Head north for a stop at Assisi, where medieval cobblestone streets lead to the 13th-century Basilica of St. Francis, which has stunning frescoes in the burial place of the saint.
Don’t miss a chance to explore romantic Venice, with unforgettable sights by private boat that sails postcard-perfect canals, watch glass-makers and explore St. Mark's Square. In the evening enjoy la dolce vita — the Italian “sweetness of life” — with an aperitivo and cicchetti, Venetian appetizers.
Traveling across the northern Italy you'll reach Milan and discover its breathtaking cathedral, the famous La Scala opera house and take an excursion to Italy's beautiful lake district at the foot of the Alps.
Lake Como is spectacular with its postcard-perfect lakeside villages. At a small island in the middle of equally beautiful nearby Lake Maggiore, you can explore the stunning palace of the Borromean princes (open seasonally).
Explore Tuscany, starting with Pisa and its iconic Leaning Tower and then arrive in the heart of the Renaissance capital of Florence.
Take in the panorama from Piazzale Michelangelo where the view of the marble Duomo — with Brunelleschi's awesome dome — at sunset is unforgettable.
At the charming hill town of San Gimignano, centuries-old towers overlook piazzas, medieval lanes and 13th-century walls. This taste of Italy will whet your appetite for seeing even more of this culturally rich land.
Whichever you choose, Iceland, Ireland or Italy, you're bound to return home with a treasure trove of memories — and ready for your next adventure.
Which country will you visit first? Let your local AAA Travel Agent help you decide. Call today.