Sample Itinerary Two

Complete Ireland Experience 11 Day Tour

An amazing combination of three of our shorter tours to create a complete circuit of the island of Ireland. You will discover the incredible beauty and variety of the country from lively modern cities such as Belfast and Derry to the dramatic rugged coastlines of Dingle and Kerry. You will pass through areas rich with Gaelic culture, visit some of the highest sea-cliffs in Europe, explore ancient forts and standing stones and spend time with the locals in one of the many traditional pubs and restaurants along the way. If you truly want to get to know the real Ireland this is the tour for you.

Day 1

Departing Dublin, you 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 arrive in the newly redeveloped Titanic Quarter where you have time for lunch and perhaps a visit to the award-winning new museum. Other options here include a visit to the SS Nomadic, the last surviving White Star Line steamship, HMS Caroline, the fascinating Titanic’s Dock and Pump-house or perhaps take a black cab tour of the city. 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 spend time exploring this area before arriving in the holiday town of Portrush for the night.

Day 2

Today the tour makes its first stop in the historic walled city of Derry - designated as UK City of Culture in 2013. You 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 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 3

Travelling south along the coast from Donegal will take you into County Sligo – and the 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, you will have the chance to visit 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 4

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 5

After a leisurely start you 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.

Day 6

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 spend most of the morning exploring this unique area. You will stop in Kilfenora, the “town of the crosses”, for a visit to the old cathedral and then have lunch in one of the pretty local villages. After lunch you 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 7

The tour today explores 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 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 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 of town.

Day 8

Today you 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.

Day 9

Today you 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 you will explore the beautiful coastline south of Cork before arriving into the lovely little fishing village of Kinsale in the late afternoon. This is your overnight stop and the town is known as the gourmet capital of Ireland. You will have a free evening to explore the narrow streets filled with lively traditional pubs and restaurants.

Day 10

Today is spent exploring some of the highlights of the South East staring with the historic port of Cobh - the major departure point for Irish emigration through the 19th and 20th centuries as well as famously the last port of call of the Titanic on its ill-fated maiden voyage. From here you continue east towards Waterford along what is known as the “Copper Coast” – a Unesco Geopark with beautiful scenery and a fascinating history. You make a stop in Tramore – a popular beach for surfing before arriving in Waterford – Ireland’s oldest city, founded by the Vikings in the 9th Century. Here you have the chance to visit the famous Waterford Crystal factory or perhaps one of the excellent museums or just explore the Viking Triangle yourself on foot. In the late afternoon you depart Waterford and travel north to Kilkenny, a bustling city with a fine castle and park, riverside walks, the National Craft Centre and plenty pubs and restaurants. Voted Ireland’s friendliest city this will be your overnight stop.

Day 11

You have a couple of hours free to explore the city centre before you depart Kilkenny for the Wicklow Mountains. This area contains some of Ireland’s highest peaks and most impressive valleys. The mountains are mainly made of granite and the deep valleys have been carved out by glaciers. One of the most impressive areas is around Glendalough (“valley of the lakes”) where you have the choice of taking one of the beautiful walking trails or exploring the ruins 6th century monastery with its famous round tower. After a couple of hours here you continue on the last section of the tour - travelling through the heart of the Wicklow Mountains National Park and crossing the famous Sally Gap before descending the short distance back to Dublin arriving around 18.30.