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Essence of Ireland
14 Days | 13 Nights
Starting From $5,486
Per person based on double occupancy
Price based on actual customer itinerary for 9 passengers and is subject to change based on seasonality and availability. Can be customized to your exact preferences.
Experience the best of Ireland during this private-drive tour, perfect for the whole family. Visit wild, craggy coastlines, ancient castles and charming towns. During this two-week adventure, you’ll discover the true essence of the Emerald Isle.
Overnight stays in Dublin, Belfast, Galway, Newmarket-on-Fergus and Killarney
Travel along some of Ireland’s most mighty coastlines and explore towns and cities at your own pace
Enjoy the sweeping landscapes of the Ring of Kerry and Antrim Coast
Spend a night in the luxurious and historic Dromoland Castle
Day 1 / 14
Day 1: Arrive in Dublin
Welcome to Ireland! After clearing customs and going through baggage claim, you will be greeted by a private driver to take you to your hotel.
You are on your own today to explore at your leisure. Signposts around town will include both English and the Irish language, and you won’t be hard-pressed to find a pub full of Dubliners young and old singing traditional music. We recommend visiting EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum, and the Ha’Penny Bridge. You also have entrance to the Guinness Storehouse included.
This evening, you may wish to pay a visit to the Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Ireland dating back to 1198. It is famous for traditional live Irish music and delicious food, and is a great way to toast the start of your Irish adventure!
Day 2 / 14
Day 2: Dublin
Enjoy a delicious Irish breakfast this morning and then meet a local guide for a private walking tour of Dublin. This can be catered to your needs specifically, or you can enjoy an introduction to the city with a taste of hidden highlights.
Walk the cobblestone grounds of Trinity College and step back in time to the 18th century while marveling at the university’s architecture. The rest of the day is yours to explore the city at your leisure!
While in the city, you may wish to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, walk down Grafton Street or visit Bewley’s Cafe, a great spot to relax and grab afternoon refreshments. You may also wish to have a pint in one of our recommended pubs: Bruxelles, International, Keogh’s, Long Stone, McDaid’s, Neary’s or the Stag’s Head! Temple Bar has the highest density of pubs in Dublin City, so no problems grabbing a pint there, either.
Day 3 / 14
Day 3: Dublin to Belfast
Check out of your hotel after breakfast and head to the lobby where you will meet your personal driver-guide. Your guide will be with you from this moment until drop-off back in Dublin at the end of your trip.
Before arriving in Belfast, you will stop about a half-hour south for an incredible visit to the Game of Thrones Studios! You’ll step behind the scenes of The Seven Kingdoms and experience the world of Game of Thrones like never before.
After a wonderful and fun visit, your driver will take you to Belfast where you can enjoy a short city tour introduction with your driver and then check into your centrally-located hotel. The city boasts beautifully restored Victorian architecture, a fabulous waterfront lined with modern art galleries, a growing foodie scene and traditional Irish pubs.
This evening, we’ve included dinner at your hotel for a great way to get a good meal and not feel too rushed with the busy day you’ve had!
Day 4 / 14
Day 4: Belfast
This morning you will depart Belfast and travel along the North Antrim Coast with your driver-guide. The northwestern coastline is a 20-mile stretch extending eastward from
Portrush to Ballycastle and is one of the top three prettiest areas of coastal Ireland. It’s a fairly small area, so you can explore most of the area in one day by car.
Commonly called “The eighth wonder of the world,” the Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site. During your visit, you can spend some time climbing over the ancient stones, snapping photos and enjoying the myths and legends that surround this world-famous attraction.
From here, you can make your next stop at Dunluce Castle, a now-ruined medieval castle located on the edge of a basalt outcropping in County Antrim. Clinging fast onto a dramatic clifftop and accessible via a bridge from the mainland, Dunluce is thought to be the most romantic and picturesque castle in Ireland dating back to the 14th century.
Return to Belfast after a full day of exploring for another night in the city!
Day 5 / 14
Day 5: Belfast
First on the agenda today is a visit to Castle Ward. You may recognize this fortress as Winterfell in Game of Thrones. The castle, built in the 1760s, overlooks the bay west of Strangford. Experience an entertaining 45-minute guided tour of the house and servants’ quarters. The sprawling grounds include a Victorian laundry museum, farmyard, 16th-century Plantation tower Old Castle Ward and 15th-century tower house Castle Audley, plus walking and biking trails.
After spending most of the morning here, your driver can take you farther into County Down to the Tollymore Forest Park. Here, you will discover castles, beaches, forest parks, stately homes, a Royal Palace and the world’s top links golf course.
Nearby to Tollymore is the incredible Peace Maze in Castlewellan. For a bit of adventure this afternoon, we highly recommend a visit here. This peace symbol doubles as the world’s second-largest hedge maze and was designed to commemorate the peace and reconciliation efforts of Northern Ireland in the past century. Try your best to get to the center of the maze where a victory bell is waiting to be ringed!
You’ll head back to Belfast after a relaxing but wonderful experience to spend more time in the city.
Day 6 / 14
Day 6: Belfast to Galway
Pack your things again this morning after breakfast and make your way west towards Galway for the next two nights of your trip!
Galway is one of Ireland’s most engaging cities. Brightly painted pubs are filled with live music, while restaurants and cafes offer front-row seats for observing buskers and street theater. Remnants of the medieval town walls lie between shops selling handcrafted Claddagh rings, books and musical instruments, bridges arch over the salmon-stuffed River Corrib and a long promenade lead to the seaside suburb of Salthill, on Galway Bay, which is also famous for its oysters!
Enjoy the stone-clad cafes, boutiques and small shops that line the Latin Quarter of the city this evening and be sure to enjoy traditional Irish music at one of the many pubs in the heart of town!
Upon arrival in Galway and after checking into your hotel, you will enjoy a wonderful high-tea experience, perfect for all ages! Dine on pastries, little sandwiches and, of course, tea (or coffee!) as you take in the beautiful ambiance of the room and spend time relaxing after the long drive.
For dinner, we recommend Quay Street Kitchen.
Day 7 / 14
Day 7: Galway
Today is a full day with your driver-guide dedicated to exploring the stunning area of the Connemara National Park!
Located in the rugged west of Ireland, you could think of Connemara as a vault, where Ireland’s traditions are stored. Passing through the desolate yet beautiful valleys, the landscape tumbles down to the dark waters of Killary Harbour, a stunning fjord framed by olive-colored mountains. This region is most romantic, with its old gray stone walls, wild ponies and bright, grassy landscape.
Next, you will head to the shores of Pollacapall Lough. Admission is included to Kylemore Abbey, a beautiful, stately estate built in 1871.
Drive along the Sky Road in Clifden, a favorite attraction along the entire Connemara region. The route (a circle) is 11 km long and takes you west from Clifden. The scenery along Sky Road is stunning. Very few places in Ireland can match the rugged beauty and range of scenery that can be seen from Sky Road.
Pass through Maam Cross and Oughterard before arriving back in Galway. McDonagh’s is a great spot for dinner tonight with some of the best seafood in the area!
Day 8 / 14
Day 8: Galway to Newmarket-on-Fergus
Check out of your accommodations in Galway this morning and meet your driver-guide again for your journey down the Wild Atlantic Way! Make the first stop of the day in the fishing village of Kinvara just an hour south of Galway to visit the Dunguaire Castle, a fortress dating back to the 16th century and located on the picturesque shores of Galway Bay.
As you travel south, you will journey along the Wild Atlantic Way where the ocean pounds County Clare’s coastline year-round, eroding rock into fantastic formations and creating sheer cliffs, including those of the iconic Cliffs of Moher in Doolin.
You will then arrive at the Dromoland Castle. We recommend arriving pretty early to take advantage of all this stunning estate has to offer. There’s an entire world of historic grandeur inside paired with the finest modern comforts. With lavish dining, impeccable decor and fabulous views, this is a place to make yourself at home.
Day 9 / 14
Day 9: Newmarket-on-Fergus to Killarney
Enjoy a wonderful breakfast this morning at the castle and then meet your driver-guide as you say farewell and continue on your way to Killarney for the next three days.
Situated in southwest Ireland, County Kerry boasts some of the finest scenery in the world. Its high mountain ranges, inlet-studded coast, woods, lakes, waterfalls and the ever-changing drama of its skies make for the perfect backdrop for your drive before arriving in Killarney.
Killarney is a beautiful town located on the shores of Lough Leane and a stop on the famous Ring of Kerry drive. This afternoon, you will board a Jaunting Car for a one-hour scenic tour through the National Park to Ross Castle. Your tour journey takes you through areas where, for your convenience, no motor traffic is permitted, allowing you to experience an absolute paradise.
Day 10 / 14
Day 10: Killarney
Today you will meet your driver-guide for an incredible drive around the scenic Ring of Kerry.
The Ring of Kerry is a famous area in the Southwestern corner of Ireland on the Iveragh Peninsula. It offers a thoroughly magnificent drive through mountains, past lakes, historic buildings and some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
Travel through the many passes and valleys of the reeks along the shores of Dingle and Kenmare Bays. After a stop at the famous Bog Village, you will visit the Kissane Sheep Dog Trail, which is one of the real highlights of the Ring.
For dinner, we recommend visiting the Danny Mann Pub in town. The legendary pub has been entertaining visitors and locals alike for over 70 years. With its large open fireplace, flagstone floors, timber beam ceilings and old-world furniture, this is the quintessential Irish pub.
Day 11 / 14
Day 11: Killarney
Today is a full day to explore the Dingle Peninsula with your private driver-guide, or for those that want to relax, you can stay back and spend time in Killarney.
The Dingle Peninsula, located just one hour from Killarney on Ireland’s southwest Atlantic coast, is ringed by beaches and steep, craggy cliffs. Inland are rolling hills and mountains, including 952-meter Mount Brandon. Dunmore Head, mainland Ireland’s easternmost point, has fantastic views of the Blasket Islands, which are known for Irish-language memoirs documenting rural life in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Depending on where you want to spend most of your time today, Conor Pass is one of the highest mountain passes in Ireland and is the most scenic way to cross from the north to south coast of the Dingle Peninsula. This narrow, winding road runs for 12 km between the town of Dingle and Kilmore Cross, where roads fork to Cloghane/Brandon or Castlegregory. The views from the road are awe-inspiring, with a landscape of mountains, corrie lakes and a sweeping valley spread out below.
If you decide to stay behind, there are wonderful hiking options to consider with various outlined trails clearly marked for visitors. Visit the beautiful aforementioned Muckross House and Torc Waterfall, both within walking distance from the main drop-off area of the National Park.
Day 12 / 14
Day 12: Killarney to Dublin
Say farewell to Killarney this morning as you meet your driver-guide for the last time as they escort on your way back to Dublin.
Along the drive, you may have the opportunity to stop and explore a few places, depending on time and your interests. One option is the incredible Rock of Cashel, one of Ireland’s 7 Wonders. As one of the most photographed sites in Ireland, the Rock of Cashel towers over the town of Cashel from a 200-foot-high outcrop of limestone.
Kilkenny is also an option and boasts a proud food heritage, and there is plenty to choose from for dining this evening, including artisan cafés and charming gastropubs! Our personal favorites include Lanigan’s and Tynan’s Pub.
If you’ve come to Wicklow, chances are that a visit to Glendalough is one of your main reasons. And rightly so, for this is one of the most beautiful corners of the whole country and the epitome of Ireland’s rugged, romantic landscape.
No matter what you choose to explore today, it will be beautiful and at the end of the day, your driver will drop you in Dublin at your centrally-located hotel for the final two nights of your trip!
Day 13 / 14
Day 13: Dublin
You have today to explore at your leisure! Dublin is a lively capital city that’s as intimate as a village and as friendly as your local Irish pub. With its blend of classic visitor sights, excellent social scene and the natural backdrop of Dublin Bay and the Dublin Mountains framing it on all sides, this laidback city is an adventure in itself.
Want to catch some local talent? Make your way to a gig. Feeling hungry? Indulge in trendy Dublin favorites at The Woollen Mills. And if you want to slow the pace a little, stroll the city’s charming coastal villages like Howth or Dalkey, or follow one of the Dublin Discovery Trails to uncover the city’s secrets.
Day 14 / 14
Day 14: Departure to Dublin Airport
It is time to say goodbye to the Emerald Isle! Check your flight status, meet your private transfer this morning to head to Dublin Airport.