Full Irish breakfast daily; 1 lunch at a local pub; 4 three-course dinners with wine and choice of menus, including a welcome dinner in Dublin
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description.
Day 1 Arrive in Dublin, Irish Republic
Welcome to Dublin! The rest of the day is free to relax in the Irish capital. At 6 pm, join your Tour Director and traveling companions for a welcome dinner with wine at the hotel.
Day 2 Dublin
Today, enjoy an orientation drive through statue-lined O’Connell Street, elegant Georgian squares, and past Oscar Wilde’s Trinity College. Visit ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, which has been at the heart of Dublin’s and Ireland’s history and culture for more than 800 years. This is the final resting place for one of Ireland’s most famous men, Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels and Dean of the cathedral. Why not join an optional dinner this evening at the Guinness Storehouse?
Day 3 Dublin–Downpatrick, Northern Ireland–Belfast
On your way to Northern Ireland, cross the River Boyne, then drive in the lee of the Mountains of Mourne to Downpatrick. Stop at the SAINT PATRICK CENTRE, an exciting interpretative exhibition that tells the fascinating story of Ireland’s patron saint. Then, travel on to Belfast for a “Living History” tour in the company of a Local Guide. See all the famous landmarks, including the Parliament House at Stormont, City Hall, the Albert Memorial Clock Tower, and Queens University. Finish the day with a fascinating visit to the TITANIC EXHIBITION, where you learn all about the construction of the largest passenger steam ship, its maiden voyage, and the tragic night of April 14, 1912.
Day 4 Belfast. Giant’s Causeway Excursion
After a leisurely start to the day, make your way north to the Antrim Coast, where you visit awe-inspiring GIANT’S CAUSEWAY. Hear how millions of years ago the earth cracked open, lava forced its way out, and as it cooled slowly and evenly, more than 40,000 interlocking basalt columns were formed, leading from the cliff foot into the sea. Back in Belfast this afternoon, you have time to discover the city on your own.
Day 5 Belfast–Armagh–Knock, Irish Republic–Claremorris
First on the agenda is a stop in Armagh, seat of the Archbishop of both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland. Then, travel along the rolling hills and reed-fringed lakes of the border counties to Knock, where the Virgin Mary appeared to the townsfolk in 1879. Today, the site attracts pilgrims from around the world. Visit the KNOCK SHRINE, the CHURCH OF THE APPARITION, the BASILICA, and the FOLK MUSEUM. You will also have time to attend Mass.
Day 6 Claremorris–Murrisk–Kylemore Abbey–Galway
This morning, visit the CROAGH PATRICK VISITOR CENTRE at the foot of St. Patrick’s Holy Mountain in Murrisk. Afterwards, visit KYLEMORE ABBEY, the massive yet graceful castle acquired by Benedictine nuns as a precious heirloom for Ireland. Arrive in the port city of Galway, a popular seaside destination and a buzzing cosmopolitan center with colorful shops and a busy café and bar culture.
Day 7 Galway. Aran Islands Excursion
At Rossaveal, board a comfortable, modern FERRY for the 45-minute crossing to Kilronan on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands and where Gaelic is the first language of the islanders. Your fascinating day continues with a presentation about life on Inishmore by an island historian. After LUNCH at a local pub, board a minibus to enjoy your driver/Local Guide’s commentary and tour of the island, ending with a visit of clifftop DUN AENGUS, one of the most spectacular and dramatic prehistoric stone forts in Europe. Back in Kilronan, board your FERRY for the trip back to the mainland. You will have time to attend mass before deciding on your dining preferences for this evening.
Day 8 Galway–Cliffs Of Moher–Limerick
A special treat this morning: at RATHBAUN FARM, watch the farmer shear a sheep and maneuver a flock with the help of a sheep dog, then enjoy your morning coffee with scones, fresh from the oven. Take the scenic route across the desolate limestone plateau known as The Burren, and stop for photos of Poulnabrone Dolmen, a portal tomb dating back to the Neolithic Period. At the CLIFFS OF MOHER, rising 668 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, savor the breathtaking panorama of the Clare coast. Tonight, why not join an optional medieval castle banquet?
Day 9 Limerick–Kilkenny–Glendalough–Dublin
Travel on to the pretty and vibrant county town of Kilkenny, and then to GLENDALOUGH, the early Christian monastic site founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. See the engaging audiovisual presentation Ireland of the Monasteries, then let your Local Guide show you the remains of this ecclesiastical settlement. Back in Dublin, consider joining your traveling companions for a fitting farewell to Ireland: an optional cabaret evening with dinner, followed by dance, song, and laughter.
Day 10 Dublin
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.