Ireland's Luxury Road Trip - 13 Days
- Play a round of golf on an island with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean
- Visit a café and perfumery in County Clare after walking the Cliffs of Moher
- Take a private boat tour in Killarney, followed by a drive around the Ring of Kerry
- Visit the Irish Sky Garden, a giant earth and stone crater at a luxury manor
|Day 1||Arrive in Dublin, Historical Walking Tour, Exclusive Whiskey Tasting||Dublin|
|Day 2||Visit the Shed Distillery in Drumshanbo, Stay at the Lough Rynn Castle||Drumshanbo|
|Day 3||Explore Connemara National Park, Stay at a Coastal Cottage||Ballyconneely|
|Day 4||Golfing at Connemara Isles Golf Club, Spa Treatment||Ballyconneely|
|Day 5||Horseback Riding on the Beach, Explore Inis Mór||Inis Mór|
|Day 6||Walking Tour of Inis Mór||Inis Mór|
|Day 7||Visit Dromoland Castle & the Cliffs of Moher||Kenmare|
|Day 8||Private Boat Tour in Killarney, Drive the Ring of Kerry||Kenmare|
|Day 9||Tour of Liss Ard House & the Irish Sky Garden, Visit Gougane Barra||Skibbereen|
|Day 10||Sea Safari in West Cork||Skibbereen|
|Day 11||Discover Ireland's Hidden Heartlands, Guided Tour of Leap Castle||Birr|
|Day 12||Return to Dublin, Book of Kells & Trinity Long Room||Dublin|
|Day 13||Depart Dublin|
Day 1: Arrive in Dublin, Historical Walking Tour, Exclusive Whiskey Tasting
Welcome to Ireland! Your adventure begins in the country's capital and largest city of, Dublin, which has been the seat of government for over 900 years. Once settled at your hotel, you can spend the day exploring your choice of highlights, whether traveling back through history at Dublin Castle, checking out the modern surroundings at Dublin's Docklands, or visiting the contemporary Spire of Dublin.
First-time visitors may want to start a self-guided tour by strolling through St. Stephen's Green, then crossing over the River Liffey on the Ha'penny Bridge. Treat yourself to an indulgent lunch, perhaps at the Church Restaurant in a 17th-century church. After you eat, take a personalized walking tour of the Guinness Storehouse and sip a pint of Dublin's greatest beverage while enjoying panoramic views of the city.
Another option is to take an in-depth tasting of one of Ireland's most beloved exports—whiskey—with a one-hour tasting tour at the Jameson Distillery. This unique tour offers samples of premium whiskeys exclusive to this distillery and allows visitors to see the office of founder John Jameson (colloquially known as "JJ").
Day 2: Visit the Shed Distillery in Drumshanbo, Stay at the Lough Rynn Castle
In the morning, you'll depart Dublin and drive through the Irish countryside. Your first stop is Drumshanbo, where you'll visit a state-of-the-art distillery called The Shed, the first multi-purpose distillery of its kind in Ireland. It prides itself on the traditional distillation of gunpowder gin and single-malt Irish whiskey using medieval copper stills. Learn more about the techniques on a guided tour, and then enjoy free time to explore the extensive shop, a bar, and a charming café.
Next, head to your overnight location at the beautiful Lough Rynn Castle, set on a stunning lake in a remote part of County Leitrim. This castle is well worth a stay for those who want to avoid the main tourist route and experience an interesting piece of local history. Though the castle dates back to the 18th century, local farmers purchased it in the late 1990s and turned it into a hotel.
Day 3: Explore Connemara National Park, Stay at a Coastal Cottage
Today you'll have a full day to explore nature on Ireland's western coast at Connemara National Park, which covers almost 7,413 acres (3,000 ha) of land. Situated west of Galway City and on the most western seaboard of Europe, this is your chance to experience breathtaking scenery along a rugged and unpolluted coastline. No matter the season, Connemara's unique landscapes react to the changing light and weather from the wild Atlantic Ocean, where you'll see mountains, lakes, bogs, coastal beaches, interconnecting lagoons, and stunning coastal views.
There are many hikes to choose from, depending on your time. It takes nearly one hour to accomplish the Diamond Hill trail, and it can get quite windy, so come prepared with layers. Other must-sees in the park include Coral Beach, Inagh Valley, and villages like Roundstone Harbour, Ballyconneely, Costelloe, Renvyl, and the largest town in the Connemara region, Clifden, with local shops and restaurants. In the evening, you can either base yourself in Galway for some city life or stay in the heart of the countryside, like at a luxurious coastal cottage.
Day 4: Golfing at Connemara Isles Golf Club, Spa Treatment
Wake up today with more time to explore the area around Galway and Connemara National Park. If you haven't done so yet, take a unique drive through the remote Maam Cross, stopping to enjoy the views across the heathery mountains and desolate boglands. While in the area, consider a stop at Aughnanure Castle, which was once the seat of the fierce, warlike clan called the O'Flaherty's. Another wonderful attraction is the Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Garden, where you can visit a historic nunnery and take a garden tour.
In the afternoon, you'll have a chance to play golf at Connemara Isles Golf Club, set on the island region of Connemara with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. The nine-hole course and clubhouse are unique as they date back to pre-Famine times. Designed and constructed by architect Pat Ruddy and the Irish International and Walker Cup player, the late Tom Craddock, this charming and challenging course offers some of the finest golf holes in the country. After you play, enjoy a hearty meal at the only traditional thatched clubhouse in the western world.
You can also take some time to relax with a spa treatment at one of the hotels in the area—a lovely way to spend a few hours before dinner.
Day 5: Horseback Ride on the Beach, Explore Inis Mór
Enjoy the fresh air today with a half-day horseback ride along one of Ireland's most famed shorelines, Trá na mBán. Located in the picturesque village of Spiddal, Trá na mBán offers stunning views and is perfect for horseback riding. This tour accommodates riders of all levels and offers a variety of treks in a beautiful area with beaches, mountains, and turf terrain. Possible routes for more advanced riders include visiting the 13th-century Renvyle Castle, or "Sea Pirates' Castle," with a dark history to match its evocative title.
Next, it's time to travel to Inis Mór, the largest and most developed of the Aran Islands scattered off the Galway coast, where you'll stay for two nights. Traditions are alive here, with nightly music sessions, regular dances, and even currach (boat racing). Whether you wander the wildflower-strewn laneways, watch the seals in the clear water, or relax on the beach, you'll undoubtedly be smitten by these people and their unique culture and island heritage.
The best way to see and get around Inis Mór is by bike, where you can explore at your own pace and stop in cafés, bars, and restaurants. You'll also find bookshops, artisan pottery stores, and art galleries.
Day 6: Walking Tour of Inis Mór
Today you'll wake up in Inis Mór to the sound of the sea and the smell of a traditional Irish breakfast. Then it's time to pack up and begin a walking tour along the island's myriad small paths and walking roads. Look for ancient Christian churches and towering cliffs as you make your way to the Iron Age fort of Dun Aonghasa, located on the edge of one of the highest cliffs on the island. Its stone walls are set in three gigantic semi-circles, and they use a complex medieval defense structure known as the "chevaux-de-frise" centuries before they appeared elsewhere. On this high perch, enjoy a packed lunch amid the stirring scenery.
As you trek back to your hotel, listen to the ancient Gaelic language spoken by locals, a tongue as old as the forts. Enjoy a fun evening in town with your choice of restaurants and pubs.
Day 7: Visit Dromoland Castle & the Cliffs of Moher
It's time to head back to the mainland, where you'll spend the day in County Clare with two distinct landscapes. The eastern part offers lush green rolling countryside bounded by the great wide River Shannon, while the western part is dominated by the Atlantic Ocean, which has carved a UNESCO-protected coastline. There's plenty to explore since the entire county is dotted with ruined abbeys, grand castles, and fairy forts, as well as pretty villages and towns offering artisan food and drink.
A good place to start is by heading to the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher. These iconic cliffs run for 5 miles (8 km) along the dramatic coastline on the western edge of Europe. Their towering dominance is best appreciated on foot, so take the morning to explore their wild beauty with a gentle hike—and bring a camera! From here, you can head to nearby Doolin, a small coastal town of colorful cottages known as the traditional music capital of Ireland, and have lunch.
In the afternoon, explore the narrow roads, boreens, that meander through the county's Burren region, known for its glacial-era limestone. Along your route, visit the Ailwee Caves, castles, and abbeys. Make sure to stop at the charming café, Burren Perfumery, where you make your own perfume and shop for locally-made beauty products. At the end of the day, make your way to County Clare's magnificent Dromoland Castle, one of the oldest castles in Ireland owned by the same family where you'll stay for a memorable night.
Day 8: Private Boat Tour in Killarney, Drive the Ring of Kerry
Today discover the legendary, untamed beauty of County Kerry. Start the day with a relaxing private boat trip through the three iconic Lakes of Killarney with panoramic mountain views of Killarney National Park on all sides. Along the route, you'll stop at one of the loveliest parts of the county, situated along quiet roads and mountain tracks that wind their way through the Black Valley—named so because it was the last place in Ireland connected to the electric grid in the 1970s.
Then, from the lively heritage town of Kenmare, you'll drive along the spectacular Iveragh Peninsula—or Ring of Kerry—that winds its way through the unspoiled coastline with views of the island-dotted Atlantic. Stop along the way to take short or long walks as you look for highlights like Muckross Abbey and the medieval Ross Castle. You can also drive to Molls Gap to admire the Ladies' View, one of the favorite views of Queen Victoria's ladies in waiting.
You may wish to take a boat trip around the jagged island of Skellig Michael, a UNESCO-listed monastic site that has survived since the sixth century. Boats depart from the tiny port of Portmagee or take the little-traveled 11.2 miles (18 km) Skellig Ring route, branching off the Ring of Kerry. This area is wild and beautiful and far from the heavy tourists.
Day 9: Visit Gougane Barra, Tour the Liss Ard Manor & Irish Sky Garden
Today you'll drive into County Cork to enjoy some of southwest Ireland's more scenic countryside at Gougane Barra. With 339 acres (137 ha), the valley can be visited any season and offers many opportunities for cycling or walking in the Gougane Barra Forest Park. While here, look for a tiny island at the edge of the lake where St. Finbarr, the ancient patron saint of County Cork, founded his early Christian monastery in the sixth century. Because of this, the valley is a place of significant spiritual meaning, still attracting pilgrimages.
Day 10: Sea Safari in West Cork
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Today you'll explore Ireland's coast on a 2.5-hour sea safari in the Atlantic Ocean. This thrilling sightseeing tour offers the chance to see dolphins, whales, and seal colonies, depending on the season and weather. You should also keep a lookout for the harbour porpoise, a regular sighting during this trip, and many seabirds.
As for scenery, you'll snag close-up views of many of County Cork's beautiful islands, as well as cliffs, caves, lighthouses, castles, beaches, secluded bays and inlets, and charming coastal villages along this stretch of magnificent unspoiled coastline.
Day 11: Discover Ireland's Hidden Heartlands, Guided Tour of Leap Castle
Today is an excellent opportunity to visit the castles of Ireland's Hidden Heartlands. This unspoiled and magical part of Ireland is filled with quiet roads, historic abbeys and monasteries, and peaty bogland—perfect for those who appreciate the art of slow travel. Wander the halls of the 19th-century Gothic walls of Kinnitty Castle, commune with ghosts in Leap Castle—known as the most haunted place in Ireland—or walk the stunning Slieve Bloom Way through a lush forest as you pass through the imposing ruins of Glinsk Castle.
Day 12: Return to Dublin, Visit Trinity College's Libary & Book of Kells
It's time to drive back to Dublin for your last night of the trip! Depending on your arrival, you'll have a chance to take advantage of anything you may have missed at the beginning of the journey. Make sure to dedicate an hour to the Book of Kells at Trinity College. This remarkable illuminated manuscript is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to 800 CE, and contains the four Gospels of the New Testament. The Book of Kells was created by Irish monks in the early middle ages using local organic paints and inks. The beautiful illustrations are breathtaking, incorporating Celtic, Byzantium, and Saxon artwork.
While here, you'll also want to walk through the college's stunning 1700 CE Long Room—one of the world's most beautiful libraries. Book lovers, history buffs, and curious people alike will be sure to love this experience of the past in the present. Also on display at the library is the original 15th-century Brian Boru's harp. This iconic instrument is featured on the Guinness logo and has become an emblem of the Irish Republic.
Day 13: Depart Dublin
It's time to say goodbye to Ireland! If you have time this morning, do some souvenir shopping on Grafton Street. You'll return to Dublin airport for your departure flight at the appointed time. Safe travels!
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