Day 1 - Belfast, Antrim Coast and Glens
Explore historic Belfast with an insightful city tour and learn about the tragic history of the world’s most famous maritime disaster in the museums and attractions of the Titanic Quarter. Wander the glens and coast at Antrim, an area of outstanding natural beauty that overlooks the superb Scottish coast then walk in a giant’s footsteps at the uniquely stunning Giant’s Causeway.
Departing Dublin, you head north to the border of Northern Ireland. A short journey from the divide lies Belfast, a city famed for its industrial heritage and turbulent past. A historical feast, you take a short city tour which covers the capital’s triumphs, tragedies and soul. Discover the Titanic Quarter, a regenerated hub where the famous liner was built and launched in 1911. Exiting its excellent museums and attractions by the afternoon, you can choose to board the SS Nomadic, the final surviving White Star Line steamship or explore the fascinating Titanic Dock and Pump house.
Leaving bustling Belfast behind, you move through the phenomenal scenery of the Antrim Coast and Glens, an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Moving along the winding roads of Ballycastle, you enter the awe inspiring setting of the Giant’s Causeway, where history and myth collide spectacularly with raw geological power.
Waving farewell to the giant’s steps, you head to Portrush, a charming fishing village that will be your home for the night.
Day 2 - Derry and County Donegal
Marvel at the 17th century walled city of Derry, with its famous seven gates and bustling markets and observe the ancient Gaelic culture of Donegal as you pass through its rugged mountains and thriving natural views then experience the haunting beauty of the remote Glenveagh National Park, home to a stunning Scottish castle.
You make your way to Derry in the morning, the fabulous 17th century walled city that boasts seven ornate gates. Designated as UK City of Culture for 2013, it offers museums, galleries and excellent markets for the curious traveller. Explore the old city before returning south to the Republic of Ireland.
From here, you head to one of the most remote and unspoilt areas in the country, County Donegal, which offers stunning scenery and inimitable Gaelic culture.
Passing through the romantically haunting Glenveagh National Park and the soaring peak of Mount Errigal, you come to the traditional fishing villages of the area. These offer plenty of opportunities for good food, sights and to soak up the local atmosphere before stopping in Donegal for the night.
Day 3 - Carrowmore, County Mayo and Achill Island
Wander amongst the ancient standing stones of Carrowmore, beneath the dramatic mountain scenery of Ben Bulben and range over the bogs and misty moors of County Mayo, with its unbeatable views across to distant mist-drenched hills then gaze in awe at the magnificent sea cliffs of Achill Island.
In the morning, you pass south along the coast near Donegal and into County Sligo. Home to the burial site of famed poet WB Yeats, the land here offers dramatic views of the mountainous Ben Bulben, ideal for photos. Outside Sligo Town lays Carrowmore and the largest collection of megalithic tombs in Ireland, some of which date back over 6000 years.
Moving westwards, you enter County Mayo, an area ravaged in the past by the Great Potato Famine. Winding roads curve through the picturesque farmlands, bogs and open moors, offering views of distant hills and the Atlantic coast, where you’ll visit the dramatic Achill Island. Right on the edge of Europe, the steeply rugged sea cliffs give way to the peaceful beauty of the interior of the island.
After this, you head to Westport, your home for the next two days.
Day 4 - Connemara National Park
Stroll through the superb grounds at Kylemore Abbey and Connemara National Park opens up for you, from verdant marshes to the awesome Diamond Hill, the 500m high centrepiece of the park then in Clifden, the site of the first transatlantic flight landing, you’ll find densely packed beauty and history amidst the delightful castle and first rate views. Enchanting vistas along the Sky Road offer a seemingly infinite blend of earth and sunset amongst the clouds and prepare to be stunned by the legendary Twelve Bens, the famously jagged mountain range in Connemara.
Galway lies on the edge of Connemara, the area you are exploring today. Alternatively, you can visit the magnificently restored 12th century Cong Abbey.
From here, you continue through the heart of Connemara for a visit to the beautiful house and grounds at Kylemore Abbey, where the grand structures and magnificent man-made gardens are a treat for the eye and soul.
Your journey then continues to Connemara National Park, where abundant wildlife resides amongst the ancient tombs and intimate woodland paths. You will view the truly magnificent Diamond Hill, a 500m peak that rivals any summit in Europe, and then on to Clifden, famous home of the first transatlantic flight landing.
Here you enjoy the unbroken and infinite majesty of the Sky Road, as well as the sharp peaks of the Twelve Bens of Connemara. This distinctive mountain range offers an excellent photo opportunity, before you head down and back for the night to your cosy residence in Westport.
Day 5 - Lough Corrib and Galway
See the iconic locations from “The Quiet Man” on the scenic shores of Lough Corrib.
Travelling inland through the Maam Valley to the village of Cong, you come upon the shore of Lough Corrib. Famously the setting for the film classic “The Quiet man”, you are free to tread the halls of the excellent local museum devoted to the movie.
You will be dropped off at your accommodation in Galway before the first tour returns to Dublin.
The afternoon and evening are free to explore this lively University City. You will be collected from your accommodation the following morning by your new tour driver-guide.
Day 6 - Burren and Cliffs of Moher
Roam the Burren, a national treasure of Ireland, beautiful and mysterious in equal measure and home to some of Ireland’s most profound spiritual and natural experiences and marvel at the steep Cliffs of Moher and the stunning 700ft drop into the waves of the Atlantic Ocean then unwind with traditional Irish music in the atmospheric pubs and bars of Killarney.
A short drive along the coast from Galway City lies the Burren, one of Ireland’s national treasures. A region of broad limestone pavements, rare flora and ancient stone monuments, this elemental reserve is home to one of the earliest Christian settlements in Ireland.
After a thorough exploration, you travel to Kilfenora, the “town of the crosses” and it’s fabulous ancient cathedral and superb collection of religious artefacts. After lunch in a charming village, you head to the incredible Cliffs of Moher, which drop nearly 700ft into the fierce Atlantic Ocean. Walk the stunning cliff trails as seabirds swoop through the clear air above you. Learn more about the unique ecosystem here in the award-winning environmental exhibition nearby.
The tour then moves south through County Clare, passing its famous golf course on the way to the picturesque beach at Lahinch.
From here, you board a pretty ferry across the Shannon Estuary to the lakeside town of Killarney. This energetic and charming town will be your base for the next three nights, so take your time sampling the fine collection of traditional pubs and music.
Day 7 - Dingle Peninsula
Traverse the Dingle Peninsula, famous for its natural scenery and as a bastion of Gaelic culture and wander ancient forts and religious sites of the past at Slea Head, whilst walking Ireland’s easternmost point then stroll the beautiful length of Inch Beach on your way to Dingle, with its views of offshore islands and the powerful mountains of Kerry.
The tour navigates the fabulous Dingle Peninsula today, the scenic heartland of Gaelic culture and tradition.
Your first stop is Inch Beach, a vast expanse of sand stretching out into the Atlantic that’s popular with extreme sports fans. Venturing down the narrow roads away from the beach leads you through the town of Dingle, popular for its dolphin tours. You pass on towards Slea Head, a promontory loaded with ancient forts and millennia-old dwellings. See captivating views of the nearby Blasket Islands rising dramatically from the sea making this excellent space for photos.
If the weather stays pleasant, you can ramble along the beaches and cliff tops to fully appreciate the incredible vistas. A landscape steeped in Gaelic literature, you have the chance to learn about its influence on Irish literary culture.
Arriving back amidst the brightly coloured houses and jolly harbour of Dingle, you spend the remainder of the afternoon enjoying delicious seafood in this idyllic setting.
In the evening, you head back to Killarney, with time for an evening stroll in the National Park that borders the town.
Day 8 - Ring of Kerry
Tour the world renowned Ring of Kerry, hailed globally for its incredible scenery and cultural significance. Spectacular photo opportunities abound!
Today you tour the Ring of Kerry, a spectacular route through some of Ireland’s most historically and visually incredible areas. You head out in the morning for over 100 miles of unbeatable scenery, stopping first at Ireland’s highest mountain Carrauntoohil.
After snapping some shots of its imposing size, you join the scenic coast road through Glenbeigh and Kells on the way to Cahersiveen. Possible stops include the site of “The Liberator of Ireland” Daniel O’Connell’s birthplace and an impressive ring fort outside Portmagee, your stop for lunch. This quaint fishing village offers a chance to relax whilst indulging in the local seafood.
Alternatively, you can head to the island of Valentia for a visit to the Skelling Experience, where you learn about the ancient community of monks who made the outcrop of rocky islands their home.
In the afternoon, there’s a photo stop in Charlie Chaplin’s favourite holiday “home away from home” of Waterville before a trip to the very top of Coonmakista pass and the divine views it offers. Winding down from the peaks, you head to sea level on the way to Derrynane House, home of the family O’Driscoll, who’s most famous son Daniel O’Driscoll holds a special place in Irish hearts as an emancipating force from colonial rule. Stroll in the scenic gardens here, as well as exploring the main house where so much Irish history was forged.
Continuing along the Ring, you stop at Moll’s Gap and the Ladies View, offering two stunning sights perfect for memorable pictures. Stroll a short way to the Torc Waterfall before heading back to Killarney.
(On some tours, Days 7 and 8 are switched).
Day 9 - Blarney Castle and roam Kilkenny Castle
Kiss the famed Blarney Stone amidst the walls of the medieval stronghold of Blarney Castle and roam Kilkenny Castle and its impressive craft centres.
Heading east through the mountains of West Cork, you weave along the Lee Valley until you reach Blarney Castle, the impressive medieval fortress that lies on the outskirts of Cork. You have time to take in the castle grounds and wander its woodland trails.
Visiting the nearby village, you may even get the chance to kiss the famous Blarney Stone and receive the “gift of the gab”!
In the afternoon, you change driver-guide and pass along the beautiful coastline south of Cork before arriving in Kinsale. This charming little fishing village is your overnight stop, so you can take in the delights of the “gourmet capital of Ireland”, with its first rate local restaurants and lively pubs.
Savour your free evening whilst exploring the narrow streets and brightly coloured houses around your accommodation.
On tours departing after March 2018, you also visit the Jameson Whiskey Distillery.
Day 10 - Cobh
See where the Titanic made its last fateful port of call before its ill-fated maiden voyage and follow the rugged “Copper Coast” to Waterford, Ireland’s most ancient city then discover Ireland’s Viking heritage or marvel at the exquisite craftsmanship at the famous Waterford Crystal factory.
Leaving Kinsale in the morning, you make your way to the historic port town of Cobh. The major departure point for Irish emigration for the 19th and 20th centuries, this was the last port of call for the Titanic on its infamous maiden voyage.
After unearthing the stories from Ireland’s past, you head east along the Copper Coast, a Unesco Geopark famed for its beauty and intricate histories.
You continue until you reach Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city, founded by Vikings in the 9th century. Survey the wondrous craftsmanship at the Waterford Crystal factory, explore the selection of fine museums or wander the ‘Viking Triangle’ on foot.
In the late afternoon, you travel north away from Waterford and over to Kilkenny, a vibrant city with an impressive castle and parklands where you stay for the evening. With riverside trails, the National Craft Centre and a thriving pub and restaurant culture, you are certain to see why it was voted Ireland’s friendliest city!
Day 11 - Kilkenny Castle and Wicklow Mountains
Roam Kilkenny Castle and its impressive craft centres and traverse the Wicklow Mountains and the majestic national park, known as “the Garden of Ireland” then witness the ancient structures at Glendalough, from the distinct high crosses to the 6th century monastic site.
In the morning, you have free time in Kilkenny and its superb castle. Match the calm pace of life in the charming town centre and its fine craft centres.
You then head north into the Wicklow Mountains, where the National Park will impress you with its steep granite mountains and captivating green paths. The famous valleys open up before you, carved by ancient glaciers. You follow winding paths that lead to Glendalough, site of an awe-inspiring 6th century monastery at the heart of the park’s woodland trails. This offers a perfect opportunity for photography, from the verdant natural setting to the much admired round tower of the monastery.
After this, you head through the centre of the National Park to cross the famous Sally Gap, before descending the short distance to Dublin.