- Taste Ireland's delicious national drink at Dublin's Guinness Storehouse
- See Blarney Castle and kiss the historic Blarney Stone
- Hike or kayak through the wonders of Killarney National Park
- Brave the hallowed halls of Ireland's most haunted castle
|Day 1||Arrive in Dublin, Guided Walking Tour||Dublin|
|Day 2||Guinness Storehouse, Dublin's Historic Pubs||Dublin|
|Day 3||Drive to Cork, Blarney Stone & Castle||Blarney|
|Day 4||Drive to Portmagee, Skellig Ring, Killarney||Killarney|
|Day 5||Killarney National Park, Lakes of Killarney Boat Tour||Killarney|
|Day 6||Drive to Lahinch, Doolin Village & Caves||Doolin|
|Day 7||Free Day in Doolin, Cliffs of Moher Sea Cruise||Doolin|
|Day 8||Drive to Galway City, Explore Galway||Galway|
|Day 9||Day Trip to the Connemara Region||Galway|
|Day 10||Drive to Birr, Haunted & Historic Castles||Birr|
|Day 11||Drive to Dublin, Jameson Distillery||Dublin|
|Day 12||Kilmainham Gaol, Depart Dublin|
Day 1: Arrive in Dublin, Guided Walking Tour
Welcome to Ireland! After arriving at Dublin Airport, head to your hotel and settle in before taking a walking tour led by a local guide. This centuries-old city has a fascinating history, dating back to the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century and perhaps even earlier. This tour will go into the heart of Dublin's Medieval Quarter, where the 1,000-year-old Christ Church Cathedral can be found, as well as the "younger" 900-year-old St Patrick's Cathedral. Discover the 18th-century architecture of Georgian Dublin, which peppers the city and can be seen in its most impressive form at Dublin Castle.
Later this afternoon, continue your exploration of the city on your own. Visit the library at Trinity College to see the centuries-old Book of Kells and the famous library called the Long Room. From here, head to the River Liffey and its iconic Ha'penny Bridge for some amazing views of the waterfront and city. Take a stroll through St Stephen's Green and Grafton Street for shopping, people-watching, and street performers, or stop in at the exclusive Powerscourt Townhouse shopping mall.
Day 2: Guinness Storehouse, Dublin's Historic Pubs
Dive into the heart and soul of one of Ireland's most well-known beverages with a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. This delicious stout beer originated in Dublin at the brewery of Arthur Guinness in 1759, and has become popular across the globe. Touted as Ireland's national drink and deeply embedded in local culture, the seven-floor storehouse walks you through the Guinness story. Learn about the history, culture, and ingredients of this famous brew, ending with a tasting at their Gravity Bar, which has great views of the city, or their outdoor Yard Bar.
Of course, it wouldn't be a visit to Dublin without checking out the pubs! This evening, visit some of Dublin's most historic pubs and enjoy more libations and traditional Irish food. Stop in at Darkey Kelly's, located on Fishamble Street, the oldest street in Dublin, named after the infamous 18th-century bordello madam. After a blackmail attempt by the local sheriff went wrong, she was eventually tried for murder and executed in 1765. The bar keeps her memory alive with hearty Dublin food, craft beers, and lively Irish music on the weekends.
You can also visit the Temple Bar neighborhood, an energetic district located near the river, with restaurants, shops, live music, and plenty of pubs! The most well-known of these is The Temple Bar Pub, in business since the 1800s and features 24/7 live music, food, and a large selection of Irish whiskeys and beers. Grab a bite to eat and a pint, and relax to the sounds of local musicians.
Day 3: Drive to Cork, Blarney Stone & Castle
Pick up your rental car and drive to Cork, Ireland's southern hub, 161 miles (259 km) from Dublin. Along the way, make a few scenic stops for photo ops and sightseeing. Visit the Rock of Dunamase, located about an hour outside of the city and where you'll find the ruins of Dunamase Castle, an old Norman stronghold. And about halfway into your journey, you'll reach the town of Cashel, where you can see the Rock of Cashel, a medieval ecclesiastical site of Gothic and Romanesque-style buildings, and a 12th-century round tower.
From here, you'll continue to the "Rebel City" of Cork, Ireland's second-largest city. Cork's nickname stems from its prominence in the country's struggle for independence in the 1900s. Modern Cork is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with art galleries, coffee shops, and great restaurants alongside some truly amazing history. Walk across the River Lee and explore the Georgian avenues and 17th-century alleys, or take a stroll along the stunning coastline. Visit the Church of St Anne, built in the 1700s and a noted landmark, and ring the Bells of Shandon while taking in views of the city.
Have lunch in Cork, then head to nearby Blarney Castle. These historic ruins date from the 15th century, on the site where a 10th-century wooden castle once stood. Nature has gloriously taken over, with creeping plants across the inner stone walls. Its most famous asset is the Blarney Stone: according to Irish legend, kissing the stone imparts the kisser with the "gift of the gab" and good luck. This evening, overnight in or around Blarney.
Day 4: Drive to Portmagee, Skellig Ring, Killarney
Head to Portmagee today, a beautiful fishing village on the driving route known as the Wild Atlantic Way, which stretches more than 1,500 miles (2,400 km) along the coast. The village is located on the Ring of Kerry, or Skelling Ring, and offers some great hiking and biking with stunning views of mountains and beaches. Hike to the top of the Kerry Cliffs, relax on the beaches of St Finian's Bay, or take a boat tour to the Skelling Islands, located just off the coast and where you'll see several species of seabirds and the ruins of a sixth-century monastery.
From here, you'll head back the way you came to Killarney, where you'll overnight. Part of Killarney National Park, this picturesque town is surrounded by a wild landscape of mountains, lakes, and forests, as well as some notable history. Visit Ross Castle, a 15th-century keep that sits on the shores of Lough Leane. The interior of the castle has been fully restored, and there are daily tours available. You can also see the ruins of Muckross Abbey, an ancient Franciscan friary with a 700-year-old yew tree in the courtyard. Later, have dinner at a local pub and get treated to some live Irish music.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Killarney National Park, Lakes of Killarney Boat Tour
Explore Killarney National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with lush landscapes, incredible waterfalls, and spectacular hiking trails. You can visit Torc Waterfall, a fairly moderate 3-mile (5 km) hike with easy footpaths, or hit some of the trails in the Black Valley, Gap of Dunloe, or Mangerton Mountain. If you don't want to get too far off the beaten path, walk or bike Knockreer Circular Walk, a 3-mile (5 km) paved path that takes you around the park and offers views of Lough Leane and the MacGillycuddy Reeks.
This afternoon, take a private boat tour on the Lakes of Killarney. Cruise through all three lakes—Lough Leane, Muckross Lake, and Upper Lake—while enjoying panoramic mountain views of the park on all sides. If you'd rather navigate the waters yourself, you can opt for a kayak tour, which departs from Ross Castle and lets you traverse the lakes at your own pace.
Day 6: Drive to Lahinch, Doolin Village & Caves
Make the drive to Lahnich, a seaside town located on the shores of Liscannor Bay—just south of the Cliffs of Moher and part of County Clare. Surfers, kayakers, and paddleboarders the world over prize this golden stretch of storm beaches. Considered the heart of Irish surfing, this is a great place to test your own surf skills, with options to sign up for surf school or take a day clinic to learn the basics. And if surfing isn't your thing, you can rent kayaks, go paddleboarding, or just watch the dramatic waves from the safety of shore!
Visit Loop Head Lighthouse, located just 10 minutes outside of town and offering some great coastal hiking. The lighthouse is centuries old, with panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding areas. You're likely to see seabirds, seals, and other wildlife here. Not far from the lighthouse is the Bridges of Ross, a cliff walk that takes you out to the tip of a peninsula for more coastal views. Later, you can make a stop at JJ Cole's Whiskey Bonders & Distillery, a family-owned farm with tastings of local whiskeys, or visit the Burren Perfumery, where you can make your own perfume and have lunch at their café.
From here, continue to Doolin Village, a lively port town that sits right at the foot of the majestic Cliffs of Moher. Check in at your hotel, then head to Doolin Caves, a labyrinth that takes you down 125 steps and back in time more than 350 million years. The caves descend into a large cathedral, where you'll see the largest stalactite in all of Europe. The tour is about 45 minutes long, and visitors will want to make sure they wear appropriate shoes as some of the ground can be uneven. Tonight, take in some of the live music Doolin is known for alongside a traditional Irish meal.
Day 7: Free Day in Doolin, Cliffs of Moher Sea Cruise
Explore more of Doolin, starting with a hike to the Cliffs of Moher. The hike takes about two hours, with endless ocean views along the way. Stop at the visitor's center for interactive exhibits and information on the history of the area, then stroll around nearby Doonagore Castle, a 16th-century tower located just south of the village. You can also head just a few minutes out of town for a horseback riding tour of the area. Trek along peaceful green roadways and into the Burren, a rocky and somewhat otherworldly landscape.
Later today, see the Cliffs of Moher from a new perspective—aboard a boat around their base! This sea cruise sets off from Doolin and traces the rugged coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way as you travel along the cliffs. Sea level is one of the best ways to truly appreciate the cliffs' height as you scan the massive walls and see ant-sized people on the distant trails. If you want to see more of the surrounding areas, you can also add on a tour of the Aran Islands, a group of three islands at the mouth of Galway Bay and home to the World Heritage site of Dun Aonghasa.
Day 8: Drive to Galway City, Explore Galway
It's back to the bustling city as you make the 1.5-hour drive to Galway. This maritime medieval town was once controlled by 14 merchant families known as The Tribes. Today, it's considered the bohemian capital of Ireland, prized for its art scene, street performances, live music, and buildings painted in primary colors. Once you've gotten situated at your hotel, take a self-guided walking tour to see what this phenomenal city is all about!
Stroll up the High Street and stop in at a local craft store or have tea at a nearby café. Then, walk the Salt Hill Promenade, which takes you to Galway Bay and offers views of the Burren in the distance. See the Spanish Arch along the quay, and visit the Claddagh Museum, where you can learn about the history of the Claddagh, a traditional Irish wedding ring that originated in Galway. And you definitely won't want to miss some of the live music sessions Galway is known for, so later today, stop in at local hotspots such as Taaffes Bar, The Garavan, Tigh Nora, or An Púcán, all of which are known for their nightly music.
Day 9: Day Trip to the Connemara Region
No trip to Galway can be complete without a visit to the beautiful Connemara Region, which is located west of Galway City on the most western seaboard of Europe. Experience breathtaking scenery and a rugged, unpolluted coastline, as well as the wonders of Connemara National Park, where you'll find mountains, rivers, and quaint villages.
Start your adventure by taking the road to Maam Cross, stopping at stunning Aughnanure Castle, a magnificent castle that was the seat of the fierce warlike clan, The O'Flaherty's. You may also want to visit Kylemore Abbey and see its stunning Victorian walled garden, which is set in the Lough Inagh Valley.
Next, visit Connemara National Park to scale the beautiful Diamond Hill. It takes less than an hour to hike, and it's often windy, but you'll be rewarded with some stunning views. Stop for lunch in Letterfrack, or head to Clifden, the largest town in the region full of shops, galleries, potteries, cafés, restaurants, and bars. And if you're interested in seeing some of the coast's natural bounty, take a seafood foraging tour, where you'll walk the coastline to forage for edible seaweeds and herbs and see an abalone farm, with the end reward of a delicious meal.
Day 10: Drive to Birr, Haunted & Historic Castles
Head to County Offaly for a visit to Leap Castle, said to be the most haunted castle in Ireland. Take a guided tour from one of the current owners as you learn about the savage history of brutal murders and in-fighting among the O'Carrolls of Ely Clan that lived there. Built in the 13th century, the castle has been restored and is well-preserved, despite the many battles that took place here across the centuries.
From here, head to Kinnitty Castle, which is located about 6.2 miles (10 km) south of Leap Castle. Now a hotel, the original castle is said to have been built as early as 350 CE, was destroyed and rebuilt by the Normans in the 13th century, and reconstructed as a castellated mansion in 1811. Walk around the grounds and see the amazing Gothic walls or book your night's stay here for a real treat!
Afterward, visit the ruins of Glinsk Castle, built in the 17th century and the former home of the Lord of Clonconway. There's a trail that runs through Kinnitty Forest that will take you to the castle as well, although not all of the trails are well-marked, so make sure you ask about the route before you go. Overnight in Birr tonight at Kinnity or the accommodation of your choice.
Day 11: Drive to Dublin, Jameson Distillery
This morning, drive back to Dublin for your final night in Ireland. If you're not too tired from the drive, this is your chance to see some of the sights you might have missed earlier. Visit EPIC, The Irish Immigration Museum, which takes you through the history of the Irish people and how they've contributed to the world through art, music, sports, and science. You can also see the National Gallery of Ireland, a museum with a collection of works from Irish painter Jack B Yeats, or the National Museum of Ireland for more insight into the country's history.
Day 12: Kilmainham Gaol, Depart Dublin
For your last morning in Dublin, embark on a self-guided tour of Kilmainham Gaol, which functioned as a prison between 1796 and 1924. Journey through Irish history and learn the stories of the folk who've dwelled behind its bars—from ordinary criminals to those involved in momentous events. Most of Ireland's political revolutionaries have done time at the Gaol, so you'll get an overview of Ireland's complex political past, which includes the 1798 Rebellion, the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21), and the Irish Civil War (1922-23).Later today, it will be time to bid farewell to beautiful Ireland as you return your rental car and head to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!