Day 1: Arrive in Dublin, Ireland
Welcome to Ireland! On arrival into Dublin Airport, you will be met by your professional driver guide. Today you will enjoy a city tour of Ireland’s capital city, Dublin. Originally founded by Vikings over 1,000 years ago, your driver guide will help you discover the city’s charms, showing you the elegant Georgian townhouses with brightly-painted doors, the River Liffey, O’Connell Street, St Patrick’s Cathedral, the Guinness Storehouse and much more. A visit to Trinity College with its cobbled courtyards is included in this tour where you will see the famous ‘Book of Kells.’ Take this evening to explore Dublin City at your leisure or retire to your centrally based hotel to rest.
Optional Add On: Literary Pub Crawl: $20.00 per person This lively tour takes you into some of Dublin’s famous pubs where writers like James Joyce and Samuel Beckett were frequently seen.
Accommodation: Option A: 3* Camden Court Hotel, Dublin, 1 night Option B: 4* The Davenport Hotel, Dublin, 1 night
Day 2: Cork & Cashel
En-route to Cork, enjoy a tour to the town of Cashel. The impressive Rock of Cashel looms up in front of you as you approach the town. This cathedral-fortress dates to the time of St. Patrick when he used the shamrock as the symbol of the Holy Trinity as he converted the King of Munster to Christianity. Travel to Blarney where Blarney Castle, a 15th century McCarthy Castle, is legend. You will visit the estate and enjoy a stroll through the estate to the castle and then climb to the top and kiss the Blarney Stone. It is said that you will obtain the gift of eloquent speech by kissing the stone. You might enjoy a visit to Blarney Woollen Mills to browse the Irish wares. Continue to the quaint harbor town of Kinsale, known as the ‘Gourmet Capital of Ireland.’ Marvel at the colored houses dotted on the landscape and explore the boutiques, shops, restaurants and pubs. Accommodation: Option A: 4* Actons Hotel, Kinsale 2 nights Option B: 4* Trident Hotel, Kinsale 2 nights
Day 3: Kinsale & Midleton
Take the morning to continue your exploration of Kinsale. Perhaps visit to the 14th century star shaped Charles Fort before departing. On to Midleton where you will visit the Old Midleton Distillery which is home to Jameson Irish whiskey. Learn about the craftsmanship and complete the tour with a whiskey tasting. Tour on through Cork City, a city more than 800 years old situated on the River Lee. It is the second largest city of the Irish Republic, lively and prosperous with a keen sense of its own cultural identity. Your driver guide will give you an orientation tour of the City. Take some time to explore this historic City before returning to Kinsale to enjoy the remainder of the evening at your leisure.
Day 4: Kenmare & Killarney
Take the scenic coastal route and tour through the scenic West Cork countryside as we travel to Glengarriff and cross the spectacular Caha Pass into Kenmare, a very picturesque heritage town. En-route we will pass picturesque, seaside towns such as Clonakilty, Skibbereen and Bantry to name but a few. Tour north through Moll’s Gap to enjoy the ‘Short Ring of Kerry,’ and stop at Ladies View for a panoramic view over the Lakes of Killarney and Killarney town. Accommodation: Option A: 4* Scotts Hotel, Killarney, 3 nights Option B: 4* Malton Hotel, Killarney, 3 nights
Day 5: Killarney
Today you have the option to continue touring where you will tour the full Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is the most renowned Day Tour in Ireland. Throughout its 110 miles, you will travel around the MacGillicuddy Reeks and the Iveragh Peninsula, along the breathtaking Atlantic Coast, Dingle Bay and Kenmare Bay, returning to Killarney through the famed Molls Gap, Ladies View and Killarney National Park. En route are the lovely coastal villages of Glenbeigh, Waterville and Sneem and the thriving market towns of Killorglin and Caherciveen. The Ring embraces many points of historic and archaeological interest. Alternatively, take the day to relax and enjoy the vibrant town of Killarney. Head to Killarney National Park and take in the stunning scenery of mountains, lakes and woodlands. Perhaps visit the historic Muckross House and Gardens. This 19th century mansion depicts what life was like in Ireland during this period. You might enjoy a visit to the stunning Torc Waterfall which is well worth a look. If you enjoy walking, there are walking trails mapped out beside the Waterfall which are most enjoyable. Also you have options such as a lake cruise, taking a jaunting car ride through the national park or visiting Ross Castle. The balance of the day will be at your leisure in Killarney where you will have the opportunity to enjoy the abundance of restaurants and pubs this evening.
Day 6: Slea Head & Dingle Peninsula
Slea Head is Europe’s most westerly point and its outlying historic Blasket Islands are known locally as the ‘next parish to America.’ The unsurpassed beauty of its rugged coastline and landscape inspired the famous film director David Lean to shoot his epic film ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ on location in the Dingle Peninsula. The landscape is dotted with ancient historic sites and early Christian dwellings such as the Gallarus Oratory [9th century Christian Oratory], Beehive Huts (early Christian Monks dwellings) and the Blasket Islands Interpretative Centre. The route passes through Milltown and Castlemaine before arriving at the beautiful fishing harbor town of Dingle, home of Dingle Oceanworld and Ireland’s favorite dolphin – ‘Fungi’. Return to Killarney to enjoy your evening.
Day 7: Adare to Shannon/Limerick
Depart for Shannonside and enjoy a stop at one of Ireland’s prettiest villages Adare. Watch out for the quaint thatch roof cottages, cafes and boutiques. Next visit Bunratty Folk Park, a living reconstruction of the homes and environment of Ireland of over a century ago. Roam through the park and see the rural farmhouses, village shops and streets which have been recreated and furnished to a time that once was. Visit Bunratty Woollen Shop for your last chance to pick up some gifts. Afterwards you might like to visit ‘Durty Nelly’s traditional Irish pub for refreshments.
Optional Add On: Medieval Banquet at Bunratty Castle: $80.00 per person. Enjoy a feast and entertainment at the Bunratty Medieval Banquet in Bunratty Banquet.
Accommodation: Option A: 3* Bunratty Castle Hotel, 1 night Option B: 5* Dromoland Castle Hotel, 1 night
Day 8: Cliffs of Moher & Galway
This morning, depart for Galway and travel onwards to the majestic Cliffs of Moher which soar over 700 feet above the pounding waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Travel through the Burren, an eerie expanse of land scraped bare by the glaciers during the Ice Age. Enjoy an orientation tour of Galway city. View Eyre Square, Spanish Arch, the Claddagh District and Galway Cathedral, built on an island in the River Corrib on the site of an old prison. Explore the pedestrianized streets of this vibrant city this evening. Accommodation: Option A: 3* Forster Court Hotel, 2 nights Option B: 4* Meyrick Hotel, 2 nights
Day 9: Connemara Excursion
Travel through the Connemara region which is known for its mountains, the Twelve Bens and the beauty of the landscape with its changing colors. Stop at the Connemara Marble Factory just outside Moycullen and then keep an eye out for “The Quiet Man” bridge outside Oughterard. Enjoy the breathtaking views as we drive through the Maam Valley in the shadow of the Maamturk Mountains. Continue on to the picturesque town on Leenane at the top of the Killary fjord and onto the famous and beautiful Kylemore Abbey, a former Benedictine Abbey and private school for girls. Take the scenically breath-taking Inagh Valley road by the 12 Bens Mountain Range back to Galway.
Day 10: Donegal
It’s off to tour Donegal, famous for its tweeds and woolen goods. You will have a chance to shop at Magee’s of Donegal, before you tour out along the coast to Killybegs. On to explore Donegal Town; stroll about this interesting old town with 16th century castle ruins, a 17th century church and a ship’s anchor shorn from one of Napoleon’s frigates when his fleet unsuccessfully tried to thwart the British in an Irish uprising in 1798. The center of town is diamond shaped, with streets spoking off in all directions with wool and tweed shops lining the street fronts.
Accommodation: Option A: 3* Mill Park Hotel, 1 night Option B: 4* The Sandhouse Hotel, 1 night
Day 11: Omagh & Derry
Cross into the North, touring to Enniskillen and Omagh where you visit the Ulster-American Folk Park, located on the farm of Thomas Mellon, whose cottage home has been preserved. Exhibits trace the strong connections between Ulster and colonial America and 12 US Presidents. Continue on your scenic drive through Counties Fermanagh to Derry City – a 6th century walled city founded by St. Columcille. Enjoy an orientation tour of the city, see the massive City Walls and Gates and the Guild Hall where the City Council sits. Visit the Derry City Museum, which takes you back through time from St. Columcille in the 5th century to the ‘Troubles’ of the late 20th century. Be sure to stop at the Heritage Center on Bishop Street. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon exploring and shopping in this vibrant city.
Accommodation: Option A: 3* Waterfoot Hotel, 1 night Option B: 4* Tower Hotel, 1 night
Day 12: Antrim Coast
Depart Derry and visit to Dunluce Castle, the main fort of the Irish MacDonnells, chiefs of Antrim. You tour along the Antrim coast to the Giant’s Causeway. This impressive area of hexagonal columns was formed over 60 million years ago by cooling lava and has given rise to many legends as the basalt resembles giant steps. The legend has it that Finn McCool, the mythical giant, built this bridge to Scotland to reach his beloved. The hexagonal shaped stone pilings and pillar are a geological marvel.Perhaps try the Carrick-a-Rede rope challenge before continuing along the coast road to Belfast City.
Accommodation: Option A: 3* Ibis City Centre Hotel, 2 nights Option B: 4* Europa Hotel, 2 nights
Day 13: Belfast
Belfast was the center of the industrial revolution in Ulster. The capital of Northern Ireland is a cosmopolitan city with a vast and varied history. Frommers voted it as one of their Top 12 destinations to visit. Take a sightseeing tour of the city which will include Stormont, the parliamentary buildings and a stop at the Titanic visitor center. The newly built center is located on the slipways where RMS Titanic was built. Enjoy the pedestrianized city center, the architecture, museums and the shopping.
Day 14: Boyne Valley
Travelling south to Lisburn and the Irish Linen Center to see the recreation of Ulster’s greatest industry during the 19th century. Continue our scenic drive through County Down, viewing the beautiful Mountains of Mourne. Return to the Republic of Ireland and travel to Bru Na Boinne Visitor Center at Newgrange. It presents one of Europe’s great archaeological mysteries, along the Boyne Valley, and Newgrange or Knowth Neolithic burial tomb, which predates the pyramids. Continue south as you return to Dublin for your final night in Ireland. Accommodation: Option A: 4* Carlton Airport Hotel, 1 night Option B: 4* Carlton Airport Hotel, 1 night
Day 15: Boyne Valley
This morning you are transferred to Dublin airport for your return flight home.