Validity: March to December 2017
Breathtaking, lush landscapes combined with vibrant cities and historic attractions—all of this and more await you on this Irish Explorer tour, including Northern Ireland. Starting and ending in Dublin, explore Ireland in depth and hear exciting stories of its rich history, legends, and myths.
On an Ireland tour, you expect to see amazing scenery, and this tour does not disappoint. See the 668-foot Cliffs of Moher on Ireland’s west coast, offering breathtaking views of rugged cliffs dropping into the ocean. Join the Ring of Kerry, a 100-mile drive with sparkling seascapes and mountains dotted with brightly colored farmhouses. In Northern Ireland, visit awe-inspiring Giant’s Causeway, basalt columns formed millions of years ago, by volcanic eruptions. On the amazingly green Dingle Peninsula—perched on Ireland’s westernmost tip and dominated by the range of mountains—enjoy one of Europe’s most dramatic drives passing seaside villages, ancient monuments, and views of the Blasket Islands.
On this Ireland tour, you’ll also visit some of its vibrant cities—including Dublin, Belfast, and Galway—and charming towns, including Killarney. Stop in Adare, founded in medieval times and known today as one of Ireland’s friendliest and prettiest villages. Visit Knock, a major pilgrimage site since 1879 when 15 townspeople saw apparitions, and Glendalough, an early Christian monastic site set in a glaciated valley founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. In Waterford, enjoy a guided tour of the House of Waterford Crystal, where you’ll see the highly-skilled artisans at work in the production of this famous crystal. You’ll also see artisans at work on your visit to Ireland’s oldest handweaving mill at Avoca. In Northern Ireland, visit Derry, one of Ireland’s best-preserved fortified cities, and Downpatrick, burial place of Ireland’s Paton Saint.
Arrive in Dublin, Ireland.
Check into your hotel. At 3 pm, meet your traveling companions for an afternoon orientation drive through statue-lined O’Connell Street and elegant Georgian squares to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity College. End the day with an optional Irish cabaret evening, including dinner, dance, song, and laughter.
Dublin – Downpatrick, Northern Ireland – Belfast.
On your northbound route today, pass Drogheda, scene of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, then through the fertile landscape of the Boyne Valley, known for its prehistoric passage graves. Cross the border into Northern Ireland and drive past the Mountains of Mourne to Downpatrick, the burial place of Patrick, Ireland’s Patron Saint, and on to the vibrant city of Belfast, where the Titanic was built. Later, why not join a Local Guide on a “living history” tour, including a visit to the fascinating Titanic Experience?
Belfast – Giant’s Causeway – Derry – Drumcliff, Ireland – Sligo.
First stop this morning is awe-inspiring GIANT’S CAUSEWAY, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then, let the province’s story unfold as you head for Derry, one of the finest examples of a walled city. Back in the Republic see the grave of native son and poet W.B. Yeats at Drumcliff before arriving in Sligo, tonight’s destination.
Sligo – Knock – Galway – Cliffs of Moher – Ennis.
South to Knock, a village that has attracted pilgrims from all over the world since the townsfolk saw apparitions. Then, head to Galway, a popular seaside destination and a buzzing cosmopolitan center with colorful shops and a busy café and bar culture. Cross the limestone plateau of The Burren to visit the spectacular 668-foot CLIFFS OF MOHER. Tonight’s optional opportunity: a medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle.
Ennis – Adare – Ring of Kerry – Killarney.
Skirting the city of Limerick, head to Adare, a village known for its prize-winning thatched cottages. At Killorglin, join the RING OF KERRY for a 100-mile coastal panoramic drive featuring sparkling seascapes, mountains dotted with brightly colored farmhouses, winding lanes bordered with subtropical vegetation, and spectacular views of the Lakes of Killarney from Ladies View. The next two nights are spent in the popular resort of Killarney.
Dingle Peninsula Excursion. Breathtaking scenery this morning on the Dingle Peninsula, where the 32-mile Slea Head drive affords magnificent vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. See the Blasket Islands and hear about the way of life and unique literary achievements of its inhabitants prior to their evacuation in 1953. Back in Killarney, a special optional adventure: take a horse-drawn jaunting car along the national park lakeshore for pictures of Ross Castle. Tonight, enjoy the optional outing to Tralee for dinner and a performance at Siamsa Tire, Ireland’s National Folk Theatre.
Killarney – Blarney – Waterford – Tramore.
More scenic splendor as you head over the Kerry Mountains into County Cork. Stop in Blarney, famous for its Stone of Eloquence, with time at your leisure to see the castle and shop for Irish crafts and handmade crystal. After lunch, drive past Cork, the country’s second-largest city on the way to Waterford, where a guided tour of the HOUSE OF WATERFORD CRYSTAL is included. Spend the night at the nearby seaside resort of Tramore. Later, an optional pub tour might be fun.
Tramore – Enniscorthy – Avoca – Glendalough – Dublin.
Highlights on your northbound journey: Enniscorthy, site of the final battle of the Great Rebellion of 1798; a visit to Ireland’s oldest HANDWEAVING MILL at Avoca; views of the Wicklow Mountains; and Glendalough with its ruins of a center of Irish Christianity, founded by St. Kevin. Back in Dublin tonight, celebrate the success of your tour with an optional dinner evening at the Guinness Storehouse.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.