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Exploring the British Isles

27/07/2016

As the saying goes, sometimes there really is no place like home. Celebrate a true British summer this year with a cruise around the British Isles.

Guernsey coastline

The Guernsey coastline is stunning

The world is your oyster, but you don’t always need to go too far to find incredible places. Discover the amazing destinations that lie right on your doorstep with a cruise round the British Isles.

 

From the French influence of the Channel Islands to the wild beauty of the Emerald Isle and the prehistoric wonders of the remote Orkney Islands, you might be surprised by the variety on offer at home. This summer there’s no better time to discover what makes these isles so great, from the bottom right up to the very top.

 

Start at the bottom

It is said that St Peter Port on the island of Guernsey is the prettiest town in the Channel Islands. Situated in the English Channel, Anglo-French influences abound here. Like the rest of the Channel Islands, Guernsey is a Crown Dependency and is not part of the UK, which gives the island its unique feel – reassuringly like home but also intriguingly different.

 

Wandering around St Peter Port, it’s easy to see why French playwright Victor Hugo once called this his home. You will be enchanted by the fine Georgian and Regency houses, tumbling terraced gardens, winding streets and hidden leafy alleyways. Heading to the coast, the island will seduce you with its multitude of gorgeous bays ranging from long, sandy beaches to hidden coves. And for history lovers, St Peter Port is a dream. Discover Castle Cornet, an 800-year-old fortress that guards the harbour, as well as museums dedicated to the German occupation of Guernsey in the Second World War.

 

Visit St Peter Port this year on Oriana’s X614 and X615 cruises, and in 2017 on cruise X715.

 

The Emerald Isle

The rugged coastlines, green pastures and ancient folklore of Ireland await you on a cruise around the British Isles. In Ireland’s capital Dublin, experiencing the buzz of the city’s famous pubs while tasting the Guinness that the country is so famous for is a must – especially in Ireland’s oldest pub, The Brazen Head, built in 1198. Temple Bar is the cultural hub of the city, with bars, boutiques, cafés and restaurants. But Dublin’s pubs aren’t the only things you should experience here. Wander round and soak up the rich history and culture of a city that has been home to a wealth of literary giants and the 8th-century Book of Kells.

 

See the spectacular cliffs and scenic harbour, and soak up the tradition of Killybegs, Ireland’s largest fishing port. Situated in County Donegal on the wild and rugged northwest coast, Killybegs is part of the Wild Atlantic Way, the world's longest defined coastal touring route covering 2,500km of beautiful coastline. Carry on down to Galway, a city that is famous for its festivals, culture and history, and lies in what is often described as one of the most beautiful parts of the world... and perhaps the most Irish. Being the gateway to Irish speaking areas, it’s likely to be the only city where you will hear Irish Gaelic spoken. In Cork (tours from Cobh or Ringaskiddy) you may hear the locals refer to the city as the ‘real capital of Ireland’. The country’s second city was the European Capital of Culture in 2005 and plays host to a thriving festival and Irish music scene. In nearby Blarney you can experience ancient Irish folklore to the max by kissing the famous Blarney Stone. Be warned, you may head home with a newfound gift of the gab.

 

Visit Ireland on Oriana’s Gaelic journey in 2017 on cruise X717. Cruises X614, X615 and X715 also take in the delights of the Emerald Isle.

Portree Harbour on the Isle of Skye

Portree Harbour on the Isle of Skye is a colourful sight

Right to the very top

Scotland’s wild landscape is made up of castles, glacial valleys, mountains and lochs. Its rich history, beauty and cultural exports (Robert Burns, whisky, tweed and tartan to name a few) make it a hugely popular destination to explore.

 

Although not the capital, Glasgow (tours from Greenock) is Scotland’s biggest city and has a unique edgy vibe that has made it a world-renowned destination. European City of Culture in 1990, it’s a haven for shoppers, music enthusiasts and art-lovers, and its Victorian and Art Noveau architecture make it a delight to explore. Further east, Invergordon is the perfect place to try to catch a glimpse of the elusive Loch Ness monster in nearby Inverness. Heading to the busy fishing village of Scrabster on the far north coast of Scotland you will feel on top of the world. A visit to Dunnet Head, the most northerly mainland point of the British Isles, is close by and offers spectacular views of the Orkney Islands from sheer cliffs that drop over 300ft into the Pentland Firth. Take a shore excursion to John O’Groats, and know that you are standing in the furthest village from Land’s End in Cornwall – 876 miles separate the two destinations. While up in the northern Highlands, visit the Castle and Gardens of Mey on a shore excursion, the most northerly inhabited castle on the British mainland, which was lovingly renovated and restored by the late Queen Mother.

 

The natural beauty and archaeological wonders of the Isle of Skye, the Outer Hebrides and the Orkney Islands will astound and enthral you, too. The ancient Norse town of Kirkwall is the gateway to the spellbinding 70-island archipelago of Orkney. Founded in 1035, Kirkwall is still beautifully preserved today, and is a bustling centre full of twisting wynds (lanes), shops, bars and cafés. The breathtaking beauty of Orkney will leave a lasting impression on any visitor – many of the islands are uninhabited and wild, and are full of ancient monuments that are testament to the area’s Neolithic ancestry. A visit to Orkney is a trip through 6,000 years of history.

 

Ancient sites abound in the north of the British Isles. Stornoway, the main town on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, is renowned for its unspoilt natural beauty and stunning scenery of mountains, moorland and golden beaches. But it is also home to ancient stone circles and standing stones, including the famous Carloway Broch. A broch is an Iron Age structure designed to defend and this is one of the best preserved in the Hebrides, dating back over 2,000 years.

 

On the Isle of Skye, the colourful harbour in Portree makes for a picture-perfect view. Skye is the second largest of Scotland’s islands and its original Norse name means ‘cloud island’ – thought to be a reference to the mystical and misty Cuillin mountains. The dramatic landscape, with its jagged cliffs, lakes and shoreline, is wild and unforgettable.

 

See the wild beauty of Scotland for yourself on Oriana’s X614, X615 and X715 cruises.

 

Find out more about cruises around the British Isles >

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