12 Day Country Roads of Ireland – Insight Vacations
Insight Vacations Guided Tour starting in Dublin and finishing in Dublin or Belfast
Come join in the ‘craic’ on this convivial jaunt around the Emerald Isle, furnished with ruined castles, towering cliffs, historic towns, quiet lakes and natural wonders.
Day By Day
Day 1 Welcome To Dublin
On arrival at Dublin Airport, transfers leave for your hotel at 08:00, 11:00 & 13:30. Later, join your Tour Director for a warm and friendly Welcome Reception, with drinks and the opportunity to mingle and get to know each other over a pleasant evening of dinner and wine. (WelcomeD) Stay: Doubletree by Hilton – Burlington Road, Dublin
Day 2 In Dublin’s Fair City
After a restful night’s sleep, become acquainted with Dublin’s elegant squares during a sightseeing tour. See famous O’Connell Street, Custom House and Dublin Castle. Visit Trinity College Library to admire the 9th century Book of Kells, its delicate paintings one of the treasures of the Middle Ages. Upstairs, in the barrel-vaulted Long Room, walk from one magnificent oak bookcase to the next containing 200,000 of the library’s oldest books. This afternoon is free to explore. (FB) Stay: Doubletree by Hilton – Burlington Road, Dublin
Day 3 A ‘Journey Through Life’ From Dublin To Cork
Drive to Kildare for a visit to one of the country’s main racehorse breeding centres and acclaimed 100 year old Japanese Gardens where you can ‘journey through life’. Move on to the medieval city of Kilkenny where you will learn first hand from a true craftsman, the art of making the Hurley, used in the ancient Celtic game of Hurling. Now on past the imposing 13th century castle of Cahir, featured in the film Excalibur, to your spa resort hotel in the heart of Cork. (BB/D) Stay: Radisson Blu, Cork
Day 4 Across The Mountains To Killarney
During an orientation tour of Cork, meet a stallholder at Europe’s oldest trading covered food market and sample the delicious farmhouse cheeses sourced from the finest local producers. Continue to ruined Blarney Castle. Will you hang upside down from the ramparts to kiss the stone and ensure a lifetime of eloquence? Now cross the majestic Derrynasaggart Mountains to the peaceful town of Killarney. (FB) Stay: Killarney Towers, Killarney
Day 5 Ring Of Kerry Experience
Enjoy a good night’s sleep and a hearty Irish breakfast before a leisurely excursion around the magnificent Ring of Kerry. Here, mountains, valleys, lakes and sea blend into a landscape that is often breathtaking beyond words. Journey past lush lakelands and around towering cliffs affording sweeping sea views. Continue through delightful villages like Sneem and cross the peat bogs of the Black Mountains to Moll’s Gap to admire Queen Victoria’s ‘Ladies View’. Return to the three peaceful Lakes of Killarney for a memorable ride on a horse-drawn jaunting car with the local ‘Jarvies’. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. Maybe take the opportunity to hire a bicycle and enjoy one of the many scenic trails around the lake or through the National Park. (FB) Stay: Killarney Towers, Killarney
Day 6 Around The Dingle Peninsula And On To Limerick
This morning, take to the wide skies, peaceful towns and coastal scenery of the Dingle Peninsula, setting for the film Ryan’s Daughter. Drive to dramatic Slea Head at the peninsula’s far end, then continue through the picturesque thatched village of Adare to Limerick, famous for rhymes, lace and elegant Georgian houses. (FB) Stay: George Boutique Hotel, Limerick
Day 7 Drive To Bunratty And The Cliffs Of Moher To Galway
In Limerick, see the Treaty Stone, St. Mary’s Cathedral and medieval King John’s Castle. Then visit Bunratty Folk Park to experience the lifestyle of rural Ireland over the centuries. Move on to the Visitors’ Centre at the 700-foot Cliffs of Moher. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Clare Coast before a delightful drive through the strange, rocky landscape of the Burren to Galway Bay. (BB/D) Stay: Connemara Coast, Galway
Day 8 Galway And Connemara Experience
In the morning, see the Lynch Memorial and Church of St. Nicholas, where Christopher Columbus reputedly prayed before his discovery of America. Also see the Spanish Arch and Eyre Square, dedicated to the late US President, John F Kennedy. Then experience the rugged landscape of Connemara, a wonderland of trout-filled rivers, lakes and silent hills. Tour the workshop of the famous marble factory before visiting Kylemore Abbey, one of Ireland’s greatest neo-Gothic castles. Return to your hotel on the shores of Galway Bay for free time. (FB) Stay: Connemara Coast, Galway
Day 9 Now On To Belleek And Derry
This morning, after a delightful breakfast, continue on to County Sligo, stopping at a peaceful churchyard in Drumcliffe to visit the final resting place of Ireland’s famous poet, Willain Butler Yeats. Afterwards, visit the Belleek Pottery Centre, nestled on the banks of the River Erne. Meet some of the specialist crafts people and see artisan techniques in action during your tour. Admire the Blue Stack Mountains of Donegal as you cross into Northern Ireland bound for the ancient walled city of ‘Derry’. (BB/D) Stay: City Hotel, Londonderry
Day 10 Walk In The Giant’s Steps On The Way To Ballygally
Sightseeing with a local guide takes you inside the city walls, still topped with cannons. Walk down steep Shipquay Street, with its elegant Georgian houses, to the Gothic Guildhall. Continue to the legendary Giant’s Causeway, a geological masterpiece created by the cooling of lava which burst through the earth’s crust millions of years ago. Now prepare yourself for miles of breathtaking beauty as the road clings to the Antrim Coast. Your hotel overlooks the golden sands of Ballygally Bay. Those brave enough can check out the ‘ghost room’, in one of the castle’s turrets. This evening, please join us for a finalé Celebration Dinner, where old-fashioned hospitality is blended with good food and wine for an experience that delights the senses. (BB/CD) Stay: Ballygally Castle
Day 11 Follow the Antrim Coast to Belfast
Continue around the Antrim Coast, past the huge Norman castle at Carrickfergus, to arrive in the Northern Ireland capital of Belfast. Meet your local expert for a panoramic tour seeing the City Hall, Queen’s University, Stormont Castle and new state of the art Titanic Belfast Building. (FB)
Day 12 Depart Belfast Or Dublin
A departure transfer arrives at Belfast Airport at 07:15 and also Dublin Airport arriving at 08:00. (FB)
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- Trip Inclusions
Additional Included Highlights
- Dublin: See Custom House, Dublin Castle and O’Connell St.
- Kilkenny: See the Castle and visit the Design Centre.
- Cahir: Stop for a photo of the massive castle.
- Cork: Enjoy an orientation tour.
- Dingle Peninsula: Enjoy a scenic tour to Slea Head.
- Adare: See the main street lined with thatched cottages.
- Limerick: See King John’s Castle, the Cathedral and Treaty Stone.
- Galway: See St. Nicholas Cathedral, Spanish Arch & Eyre Square. Drumcliffe: Visit the final resting place of Irish poet Willain Butler Yeats.
- Londonderry: See ‘Derry’s Walls’ and Gothic guildhall.
- Carrickfergus: Drive around the immense Castle.
- Belfast: See City Hall, Queen’s University and Stormont Castle.
- Scenic drives: Antrim coast, Connemara, Ring of Kerry, Dingle, Burren.
Highlight Hotels And Locations
- Cork: The elegant Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa offers a country retreat close to urban delights.
- Killarney: Choose from a selection of fine restaurants for your Dine Around Evening.
- Ballygally: After circumnavigating the Emerald Isle, there’s bound to be a fare share of craic in the room at your grand finalé Celebration. Sláinte!
- Welcome Reception (WD), 11 full Breakfasts (FB), 3 three-course Evening Meals with choice, plus tea or coffee (D) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD).
- Dublin: Breathe the air thickened by the musty tomes of Trinity College Library and see the lavish 9C Book of Kells.
- Kildare: Experience a behind the scenes look at the Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens.
- Kilkenny: Learn first hand from a true craftsman, the art of making the Hurley, used in the ancient Celtic game of Hurling.
- Blarney: Dangle from the ramparts to kiss the Stone of Eloquence, and never be lost for words again!
- Cork: Visit the English Market and meet a local market stallholder who introduces you to a taste of delicious farmhouse cheese.
- Killarney: Venture into a world of towering cliffs, lush lakelands and remote villages, as you tour the magical Ring of Kerry.
- Killarney: A local ‘Jarvie’ informs you of the history, legend and folklore of Killarney aboard a famous jaunting car ride.
- Bunratty: Explore the Folk Park, a living museum which takes you back to the days of old Ireland.
- Cliffs of Moher: Stop by the Exhibition Centre and look out over the Wild Atlantic Way from these majestic cliffs.
- Connemara: Visit Kylemore Abbey, one of Ireland’s most romantic buildings.
- Belleek: Meet some of the specialist crafts people and enjoy a guided tour of the porcelain production process.
- Giant’s Causeway: Learn about the towering hexagonal basalt columns – a geological spectacle to behold.
- An expert Insight Tour Director – at the pinnacles of their careers, will smooth your way throughout your journey. They are your ‘travelling concierges’, expert guides, consummate organisers and friends in a foreign land.
- Insight motorcoach – Enjoy the unique comfort of Insight’s luxury air-conditioned 40 seat coach with extended leg room and on-board restroom. It’s business class comfort.
- Personal radio headsets – gives you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights without missing any of your local expert’s fascinating insights and commentaries.
- Baggage handling everywhere – with seamless and prompt delivery to your door at every hotel.
- Hotel and restaurant tips included – you’ll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency. Plus we include all taxes and porterage charges at hotels.
- Complimentary WiFi – the majority of Insight hotels have free WiFi access in lobby or bedroom areas. You will also find that WiFi is generally available on most touring coaches.
- Insight Flourishes – from time to time, your Tour Director will enchant you with local tidbits, each representing authentic food or beverages unique to the destination.
- Included airport transfers at scheduled times on arrival and departure days.