There is something for everyone in Ireland. Whether it is the Irish Whiskey, the lush countryside, golfing, shopping, bicycling, charming pubs, castles, friendly people, music, hearty food, or wandering sheep. There is still lots of tradition in Ireland's culture that hasn't been modified much by the modern times. Visitors admire the service oriented people and the low crime rate. Many people find Ireland's charm irresistible.
You will find many different accommodation types to please all styles of travel and levels of comfort. You can sleep in a castle or a lighthouse or a quaint bed and breakfast. If you can, I recommend staying at as many different types of accommodations as time and budget allows. Ireland is a small country but it is best to take your time and explore all the nooks and crannies that you can.
Another aspect that travelers like about Ireland is the temperate climate and the long hours of daylight during the summer. While summer is a very popular time of year for people to visit Ireland, people enjoy the amber tones of the fall foliage as well as the fresh blooms in the spring.
There are several ways you can tour this country from escorted tours large and small to private chauffeured tour to independent self-driving tours. The possibilities are endless in Ireland!
Make sure you plan your trip with me as I am an Ireland Gold Specialist!
Ireland is an island off the western coast of the U.K. and it is separated by the North Channel, St. George's Channel and the Irish Sea. The coastal areas of Ireland tend to be mountainous and rugged, especially on the western side of the island, which wards off the Atlantic Ocean with an almost unbroken line of cliffs and mountains. By contrast, the central portion is relatively flat, fertile farmland that is dotted with bogs.
The island is about 300 miles long and 170 miles wide, and covers approximately 32,600 square miles. There are about 6 million people living on the island – 4.3 million people live in the Republic of Ireland and 1.7 million in Northern Ireland.
Ireland's natural elements that make the countryside so green make the weather cool and damp—it rains and mists a lot. The weather, even in summer, can be damp and chilly, but then no one goes to Ireland for the weather. Peak season is June through early September as it is generally the most popular time to travel to Ireland and often has the best weather. However, spring and autumn can offer fewer crowds and still have decent and mild weather. Avoid December and January as they are the wettest months. April and June tend to be the driest.
The term "honeymoon" comes from the days when mead—a drink made from fermented honey—was Ireland's favorite alcohol. According to tradition, newlyweds were given enough mead to toast each other until the next full moon.
What's that smell? It's probably the smoke from burning peat, which is still a popular fuel in Ireland. In some rural areas, you may see piles of peat bricks drying beside the bogs where they were cut.
The former headquarters of the pirate queen Grace O'Malley (Granuaile) is on Clare Island. For 40 years she commanded fleets and armies, leading rebellions against Queen Elizabeth I of England. Defeated, O'Malley was sent to London to pay homage to the queen. The Irish say it was a meeting of equals.
Thousands of people make the pilgrimage to climb Ireland's most sacred mountain, Croagh Patrick (Cruach Phadraig) in County Mayo. The annual climb takes place on Reek Sunday (the last Sunday in July).
County Kerry was the first part of Europe sighted by Charles Lindbergh in his 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Using a compass and dead reckoning, the aviator was less than 3 mi/5 km off course after his long ocean crossing.
The Transatlantic Cable, a forerunner of the internet, came ashore at Valencia Island in County Kerry. Because of this, IRA members in New York heard of the Easter Rising in Dublin before the news reached the U.K. government in London.
You could spend many weeks in Ireland and not see all the wonderful sights but most people spend about 10 nights and this is a typical itinerary. This is a private chauffeured tour but you can easily adapt it for a self-drive or escorted tour if you prefer.
The following itinerary is courtesy of CIE Tours.
Chauffeur-drive vehicle (accommodates 2-9 people)
Pick up and drop off at any international airport in Ireland
Comprehensive insurance, gasoline, tolls and parking
Services of a professional driver/guide
Pre-booked stays for 8 nights in hotels listed below
Full breakfast daily except on day 1
Driver’s accommodation, meals & expenses
Dublin open-top bus tour and a visit to one prime attraction
Get Ready! Get Set! Go! – information book with basic travel facts
Ireland Step by Step – 128-page guide with maps and suggested itineraries (one per room)
Ireland at a Glimpse – discount book with 50% vouchers for almost 100 attractions
Deluxe carry-on backpack, ticket wallet, luggage tags & strap
All local taxes, hotel service charges & portage for one suitcase per person
Concierge services of a dedicated travel expert to coordinate planning your tour
Day 1: Dublin Arrival & Touring
Your Irish vacation starts at Dublin Airport. Your hotel is the luxurious Clontarf Castle, which traces its origins to 1172. It is a short ride from the airport and is situated a few miles to the north of Dublin city center in an upmarket suburb. Today you may like to take a tour of central Dublin to see elegant Georgian squares, public buildings and monuments. Suggested visits - Glasnevin Museum. (B)
Day 2: Dublin to Donegal
This morning drive north away from the city and through the heartland of Ireland. Travel on to Donegal town and check in to your hotel, which is located a few miles outside the town. Suggested visits - Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh, Donegal Castle. (B)
Day 3: County Donegal
Today you may choose to head to the fishing port of Killybegs and on to Teelin to reach a point where you can get the best views of the Slieve League sea cliffs. These cliffs reach heights of 1,972 feet making them the highest in Europe. Enjoy breathtaking vistas as they drop to the wild Atlantic waves below. If you wish, continue out along the coast to Malinbeg for more awesome scenery and then head inland through the majestic Glengesh Pass for views of mountains and valleys. As Donegal is renowned for its tweed and knitting industries, you may like to visit a woolen mill to shop. (B)
Day 4: Donegal to Galway
Drive south through the counties of Sligo and Mayo where so many visitors trace their Irish roots. Continue to the charming city of Galway and enjoy a stroll around areas made famous in song and story. Suggested visits - Belleek Pottery Factory, Lissadell House. (B)
Day 5: Connemara Region
Today you may like to explore scenic Connemara to admire how constantly-changing cloud formations give granite hills, sparkling lakes and peat bogs an added dimension. This region is sparsely populated as the poor land does not support farming but is home to many sheep. You will see tracts of bogland where people cut and harvest peat for home heating. Suggested visits - Connemara Celtic Crystal Factory, Dan O’Hara’s Homestead. Return to Galway. (B)
Day 6: Galway to Killarney
Travel around Galway Bay where you could stop to view the Cliffs of Moher, an impressive wall of rock that plunges to the Atlantic Ocean. The cliffs stretch along the coast for five miles and reach heights of almost 700 feet. You could walk to O’Brien’s Tower, located on the highest point, for views of the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. Drive through Limerick and along the River Shannon Estuary. Arrive in Killarney and check into your hotel. Suggested visits Bunratty Woolen Mills, Foynes Flying Boat Museum. (B)
Day 7: Beautiful County Kerry
Take a drive around the Ring of Kerry, possibly Ireland’s most famous and popular scenic drive. You will see how every bend in 100 miles of road reveals breathtaking views as you travel between the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountains, and the heavily indented coastline. Back in Killarney enjoy free time for independent activities and discover some of the excellent restaurants and fun pubs. Suggested visits - Skellig Experience. (B)
Day 8: Killarney to Dublin
Drive through the mountains into the rich farming country of County Cork. You may like make a stop and shop for Irish-made goods at the Blarney Woollen Mills before traveling north. Pause for photos at the stately Rock of Cashel, a limestone outcrop with picturesque ruins and continue to your hotel in Dublin. Suggested visits - Blarney Castle. (B)
Day 9: Dublin Sightseeing
Today you may elect to stay in Dublin city center to browse around the principal sights and do some shopping. Or take a short ride through the Wicklow Mountains to the lovely valley of Glendalough. You driver/guide will assist you in planning a wonderful end to you vacation. Suggested visits - Guinness Storehouse, General Post Office Museum. (B)
Day 10: Depart Dublin for Home
Your program ends after breakfast. (B)