day 01 Dublin-Drogheda-Belfast-Portrush
Departing Dublin at 09.00am, you will travel north towards the border with Northern Ireland. From here it is a short journey into the city of Belfast, famous for its industrial past and turbulent history. After a short tour of some of the key areas of the city you will arrive in the newly redeveloped Titanic Quarter where you will have time for lunch and a visit to the award-winning new museum. In the afternoon experience the contrasts between the busy city and beautiful scenery of the Antrim Coast and Glens. The tour follows part of this coast from Ballycastle along to the world famous Giants’ Causeway – a stunning piece of coastal scenery. You will spend time exploring this area before arriving in the holiday town of Portrush for the night.
day 02 Portrush-Derry-Donegal
Today the tour makes its first stop in the historic walled city of Derry - designated as UK City of Culture in 2013. You will have some free time to explore the old city or one of the many museums or galleries before crossing the border again back into the Republic of Ireland. You will now travel into one of the most remote and unspoilt parts of the country – County Donegal with its stunning scenery and strong Gaelic culture. The route passes Glenveagh National Park and Errigal Mountain then follows the coast through traditional fishing villages. Along the way there will be plenty time for walks, photos and soaking up the local culture before arriving at your overnight stop in Donegal.
day 03 Donegal-Rosses Point-Carrowmore-Westport
Travelling south along the coast from Donegal will take you into County Sligo – and grave of famous poet WB Yeats. On route look out for the dramatic mountain scenery of Ben Bulben – great for photographs! Near Sligo Town at Carrowmore is the largest collection of megalithic tombs in Ireland – dating back over 6000 years. The route now turns westwards into County Mayo – an area hit hard by the great potato famine and from where many people emigrated to North America. The road takes you through large areas of farmland, bog and open moor with views to distant hills before coming back to the Atlantic Coast and Achill Island. Here you really are right on the edge of Europe and you will have time to savour the peace and quiet of this beautiful area. From here it is a short drive to Westport – your base for the next 2 nights.
day 04 Westport
Westport sits on the edge of Connemara and that is the area you will explore today. The itinerary will depend on the weather and your guide will advise on the best visits for the day. Possibilities include the beautiful house and grounds at Kylemore Abbey, the Connemara National Park, Clifden (the first transatlantic flight landed here), the Sky Road and the Twelve Bens of Connemara. Along the way there will be many opportunities for photos of this dramatic landscape. Overnight again in Westport – why not sample some local seafood in one of the many excellent restaurants.
day 05 Westport-Cong-Galway
After a leisurely start you will leave Westport behind and travel inland through the heart of Connemara to the village of Cong on the shore of Lough Corrib – where the classic film “The Quiet Man” was made. There will be time for a visit to Cong Abbey or the Quiet Man Museum. From here you pass through the Maam Valley and then on to Galway City. 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 guide.
day 06 Galway-Burren-Kilfenora-Killarney
From Galway City it is only a short drive along the coast to the Burren – one of Ireland’s great natural treasures. This is a land of limestone pavements, barren hillsides, rare flora, early Christian settlements and ancient stone monuments. You will spend most of the morning exploring this unique area. You will then stop in Kilfenora, the “town of the crosses”, for a visit to the old cathedral and lunch in the village. After lunch you will visit the stunning Cliffs of Moher, which drop almost 700 feet straight into the crashing Atlantic waves. Here you can walk the cliff top trails, watch the numerous seabirds or visit the award winning environmental exhibition. From here you travel south through County Clare passing the famous golf course and beach at Lahinch to catch the ferry across the Shannon estuary and into County Kerry to the beautiful lakeside town of Killarney – your base for the next 3 nights. The pubs here are great for food and most have live music in the evenings – your only problem is which one to choose!
day 07 Killarney-Dingle-Slea Head-Killarney
The tour today will explore the wonderful Dingle Peninsula – one of the most scenic parts of Ireland and a heartland of Gaelic culture and tradition. The first stop of the day is the beach at Inch – a vast expanse of sand facing out into the Atlantic and very popular with surfers. From here increasingly narrow roads lead onto the peninsula itself through the town of Dingle and out to Slea Head. This is an area of ancient forts and dwellings going back thousands of years and you will visit some of the best examples along the way. The views here are impressive with the nearby Blasket Islands rising dramatically from the sea and the mountains of the Ring of Kerry to the south. Weather permitting you will be able to walk on the beaches or along the cliff tops to fully appreciate the fabulous scenery. This area is very important in Gaelic literature and you will learn more during the day. The circuit of Slea Head leads back to Dingle town with its brightly coloured buildings and busy harbour. You will spend the rest of the afternoon here before returning to Killarney. If the weather is good you could take an evening walk in the Killarney National Park – just on the edge
day 08 Killarney-Cahersiveen-Portmagee-Coonmaskista-Killarney
Today you will tour one of the world’s classic routes, the Ring of Kerry - 100 miles packed full of interest. After departing Killarney on a clear day there will be views to Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil after which we join the coast road through Glenbeigh and Kells to Cahersiveen. There will be plenty opportunities for photos stops along the way with great views across to the Dingle Peninsula. Possible stops include the Daniel O’Connell’s birthplace and Cahersiveen ring fort before reaching the little fishing village of Portmagee. Here you can relax and sample local seafood for lunch or alternatively cross to the island of Valencia for a visit to the Skellig Experience where you can learn about the nearby rocky islands and the small community of monks who once lived there. In the afternoon you will make photo stops in Waterville - a favourite holiday place for Charlie Chaplin and then at the top of Coonmakista Pass for one of the best views in the country. From here the road drops down to sea level for a visit to Derrynane House – family home of Daniel O’Connell. There are walks in the gardens and down to the beach as well as the house itself. The tour continues on around the Ring with stops at Moll’s Gap and the Ladies View. There will just be time for a short walk to the Torc Waterfall before arriving back into Killarney. B
day 09 Killarney-Macroom-Blarney-Dublin
Today you will head back east through the mountains of West Cork and the market town of Macroom then along the Lee Valley to Blarney Castle. Here you will have time to visit the castle, explore the woodland walks and mystical Rock Close as well as visiting the village of Blarney itself – a good place for a bite of lunch and a bit of shopping. There may even be the chance to kiss the famous Blarney Stone although in peak season it can be very busy. In the afternoon the tour continues on to the Rock of Cashel with its mediaeval monastery complex sitting high above the town and finally Kilkenny, a bustling city with a fine Castle and Park, riverside walks, the National Craft Centre and plenty pubs for one last Guinness before hitting the road again for the last leg of a wonderful journey arriving back into Dublin at about 19.30.
Includes: twin share 3* hotel, breakfast daily, coach transport, driver-guide, local taxes and service charges.
Note: itinerary is subject to change