Our Isle of Man package includes:
5 days /4 nights
4 nights half board accommodation at the 3* Empress Hotel in Douglas – all ensuite rooms - porterage included.
Included excursion package with entrances as per our sample itinerary accompanied by a driver guide.
(For all Manx National Heritage Trust properties (MNH), National Trust and English Heritage members gain free entry on production of a valid membership card, whilst non-members would pay these entrances locally)
The 3* Empress Hotel, Douglas commands a prime position on the Victorian promenade overlooking Douglas Bay and is just a short walk from the town centre. Built at the end of the last century, the hotel has been extensively upgraded and proudly maintains its status as one of the best hotels on the Island. The hotel has 102 bedrooms, all fully equipped with the comforts of home including luxurious en-suite marble bathroom, complimentary refreshments, a range of channels on the latest LCD flat screen televisions, hairdryer, trouser press, broadband internet access point and Free Wi-Fi. Lift to all floors.
Day 1 – Arriving in Douglas, you will be met by our local coach operator who will transfer you to Douglas and your centrally located hotel. Your rooms will not be available until mid-afternoon but your luggage will be stored and you will be served tea & coffee before having free time for you to purchase lunch in Douglas. We will then offer a transfer to the nearby Manx Museum, which is bursting with artefacts and treasures unique to the Isle of Man where you can visit at leisure. The Island’s 10,000 year history is presented through film, galleries and interactive displays. This is the perfect starting point on your journey of discovery of the Island and its Viking and its Celtic past. Alternatively, you might choose to take a ride on one of the Horse Drawn Trams which run along the front (extra cost & subject to date of travel). These trams are the world's oldest surviving horse drawn tram service, dating back to 1876 and are fitted with roller bearings to ease the load on the horses bred to pull them. The trams link the 2 miles distance from the Manx Electric Railway and depot at Derby Castle along Douglas Promenade to the Sea Terminal and Port. You will be transferred the very short distance from the town centre to your hotel later this afternoon where having checked in and freshened up, your evening meal is included.
Day 2 – This morning we travel tothe south of the island. Our first visit is to Cregneash Folk Village (MNH). Cregneash is a living illustration of a farming and crofting community during the 19th and early 20th centuries. You will see plough horses, Loghtan sheep, shorthorn cows, pigs and Manx cats. Cregneash Village was set up as a living museum in 1938, when Harry Kelly's Cottage was restored and opened to the public. Since then the village has seen many of its Manx thatched cottages join the conservation. The Manx National Heritage Trust now owns over 300 acres and over 10 buildings, preserving the area as a site of Manx traditions and way of life. The villagers of the past lived a varied life farming small fields of oats, rye, barley and wheat. Working as weavers during the dark hours of night and fishing with fleets from Port St Mary, the small village on an isolated plateau, was self-sufficient with people proud to be Manx and speak the language. The people living in Cregneash today play an important role in preserving an old and important way of life, living in traditional cottages and houses, village life continues as it has for hundreds of years. Traditional crafts and trades are practised and used in everyday life, keeping the past alive. From here you will be taken to see the view across to the Calf of Man. The Sound Visitor Centre in Port St Mary is one of the most picturesque points in the south of the Island. The large café where you can buy lunch has been built into the headland and offers 180 degree panoramic views of the surrounding area. Learn about the ships that sank tragically in the area, and the subsequent wrecks that entertain divers, the swirling tidal races that are popular with adventurous kayakers and the bird observatory which is located on the Calf of Man. The waters around the Sound and Calf of Man are full of wildlife and the small rocky islet, known as Kitterland, which is located in the middle of both areas is a hotspot for seals that can be found sunbathing on the rocks. The area is also frequented by dolphins and basking sharks. Departing here, we head to nearby Port Erin, known as an old smuggling site because of the sheltered harbour. It was also a Victorian sea side dream and today it is a modern town with a beautiful beach. You will have a little free time before taking an included one way journey on the Isle of Man Steam Railway back to Douglas. Step back in time for a journey you will never forget, experiencing the grandeur of travelling between the south of the Island and Douglas on a Victorian railway, perfectly frozen in time. Sit back, relax and enjoy a journey through the beautiful and ever changing Manx countryside, thanks to Victorian engineering that has well and truly stood the test of time. Opened in 1874, this narrow gauge railway still runs with its original locomotives and carriages, through an ever changing landscape. Arriving in Douglas you will be transferred by coach to the hotel where you might choose to take a stroll along the promenade (weather permitting). A group dinner is included this evening.
Day 3 – Today we start with an included visit to Rushen Abbey (MNH), one of the most substantial and important medieval and religious sites in the Isle of Man. Located in Ballsalla, it was originally a home for monks of the Sauvignac Order in 1134. It later came under Cistercian control and was developed as the Island’s seat of religious power, housing the main body of knowledge and literacy for the Island. During our visit you will learn about Christianity on the Island and what life was like for the Cistercian community here. Walk through the remains of substantial medieval buildings and see where archaeological research has revealed traces of more buildings below ground. Archeological remains are continually being exposed through excavation and brought into the public view. Stroll through the Abbey Gardens for more remains as well as following the footpath to the 14th century Monk’s Bridge in the nearby Sliverdale Glen. Moving then on to Castletown which sits on the site of an ancient volcano, you canbuy lunch. The town was the capital of the island for hundreds of years and the government was run from here before moving to Douglas. Much of what the island is today started in this historical town. Tracing its origins back to 1090, Castletown holds true as one of the oldest towns in the British Isles. Its narrow streets and small fishing cottages prove this ancient past at every corner. The medieval Castle Rushen, once the home of kings and later the government, still dominates the centre of town. Fishing boats continue to fill the harbour, however the end of major commercial traffic to its port came in the 1970's. The on-going expansion of financial and industrial businesses in the area keeps Castletown on the map as an important island town. During your free time here you may choose to visit Castle Rushen (MNH) – one of the best preserved medieval castles in Europe; the Nautical Museum (MNH), home of the world’s oldest yacht; or the Old Grammar School (MNH), a fascinating building dating back to around 1200AD when it was built as the first town church for the settlement that grew up around Castle Rushen. We then re-assemble for a visit to The Old House of Keys (MNH), the former home of the Manx Parliament and centre of 19th Century political life on the Isle of Man. Animated portraits of Keys members and a simulated model of Mr Speaker bring the debating chamber to life. The Secretary of the House welcomes us to join in the debates on law setting in this participatory experience. We will take a seat in the finely restored debating chamber, and then watch as the talking head of Mr Speaker and animated portraits of Members of the House come to life. Discover how democracy developed on the Isle of Man; listen carefully as Mr Speaker demands ‘Order’; shape this Island’s future and introduce motorcycle racing to the Island’s open roads; decide whether women should get the vote; and finally shout ‘aye’ for those in favour and ‘no’ for those against! Dinner is included at the hotel this evening.
– We start today with an included journey along the coast on the Manx Electric Railway
. This unique railway, built between 1893 -1899 is located on the eastern coast of the Isle of Man connecting the towns of Douglas, Laxey and Ramsey. The line still operates with the majority of its original Victorian and Edwardian rolling stock in daily use along arguably some of the most scenic stretches of railway in the British Isles. Disembarking the train at Laxey
you will visit the Great Laxey Wheel (MNH),
the largest surviving working wheel of its kind in the world. Designed by the Victorian engineer, Robert Casement, the wheel was built in 1854 to pump water from Glen Mooar part of the ‘Great Laxey Mines’ industrial complex. The impressive 22m diameter structure found immediate popularity and has remained one of the Island’s most dramatic tourist attractions for over 150 years. A climb to the top of the wheel is rewarded with breathtaking views across the valley, while the mines trail displays the remains of a once thriving mining complex and offers a pleasant walk through the Glen Mooar. Re-joining the coach we travel on to the Snaefell Mountain Railway,
a unique Victorian enterprise which has been in operation since 1895 and is the only electric mountain railway in the British Isles. On arrival at Snaefell’s summit, at approx 630m above sea level, you may be able to see some, or all, of the Seven Kingdoms - England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the kingdoms of heaven and the sea (subject to weather conditions). Our last visit of the day is to Ramsey
, the main town in the north of the island which is known as the island's agriculture town. Named by the Norse as 'Wild Garlic River' due to settlements nearby where wild garlic grows in abundance. In the past its harbours saw the shipping of livestock and seed but that was not all its harbour here saw as there were many invasions upon its shores, most notably in 1079 (King Orry), and then in 1313 with Robert the Bruce. Being the most convenient harbour to England, Scotland, Ireland and Scandinavia, Ramsey has had many armies pass through, on their way to battles far and wide. There will be a little free time here before we return to the hotel where you can relax before this evening’s included meal.
Day 5 – Having checked out of the hotel, today’s excursions start with an included private ‘behind the scenes’ guided tour of the Gaiety Theatre which is located just a short walk from the hotel. First opened in 1900, the Gaiety Theatre has since undergone extensive restoration to ensure it remains one of the finest entertainment venues in the British Isles. The Gaiety, which is home to the only surviving Corsican Trap in the British Isles, played host to the Hollywood film Me and Orson Welles in 2008, providing the backdrop for the story and replicating the Mercury Theatre in New York in 1937. You will learn more about this during your tour as knowledgeable theatre staff regale stories of the magnificent venue and show you the behind the scenes action. Afterwards we head north to Peel for your included free flow visit to the House of Mannanan (MNH). Here the Island’s mythological sea god Manannan welcomes you to his fascinating Kingdom and guides you through the Island’s rich Celtic, Viking, and Maritime past. Step inside a Celtic roundhouse; listen to Egodonas, the Celtic Storyteller; see Manannan speak from the gently falling waters of Spooyt Vane. Stroll through a Viking longhouse from Cronk-ny-Merriu, see the mist rising through stone crosses and listen to stories which span a thousand years. You can also explore 19th Century Peel quayside, discover the sights and smells of a Manx Kipper Yard and walk through the quayside warehouse to discover ‘sailmakers’, ‘coopers’ and ‘chandlers’ shops. Lunch can be purchased whilst in Peel which is the only city on the Isle of Man, and is home to the Island's Cathedral. Fishing has a long history in Peel as it once was the island's main fishing port and to this day, the harbour can be seen filled with boats of the fishing trade. It is here that Herring is cured to make the famous Manx kippers which you might choose to purchase to take home with you. Known as the most Manx town of the Island, there is an old style feel to the place with many narrow streets and small houses near the coast. At Peel Castle (MNH) you will take an audio tour of this magnificent castle which occupies the important site of St Patrick’s Isle. The Castle’s Curtain Wall encircles the ruins of many buildings which are a testimony to the site’s religious and secular importance in Manx history. These include St. Patrick’s Church and the Round Tower from the 11th century, the 13th century Cathedral of St. German, and the later apartments of the Lords of Mann. On our way to the airport, we stop briefly at Tynwald Hill, which is located in St Johns and plays host to an open air meeting of the Island’s Parliament, once a year. The hill, which measures around 24m high, is thought to be made from piles of stones bonded together with soil from all of the Island’s 17 ancient parishes. It is believed that the open air ceremony, which takes place on July 5th, was established by Norse Viking settlers over a thousand years ago with the hill thought to have been built in the 13th century. Ancient graves have been also uncovered near the hill and a temple dedicated to the Norse god Thor was found near to the site of St John’s Church.
Please note that at older attractions there are multiple stairs and walking is involved throughout this tour.