2017 Northern Welcome 9 Days / 8 Nights
Your first hotel on this tour is 50 miles from Dublin Airport so ensure that you have made appropriate transfer arrangements. Your delightful castle hotel is set in spacious grounds with a 9-hole golf course so that you may relax for the balance of the day. Play a round of golf, explore the castle and grounds or soak up the historic atmosphere. Your tour program starts at 6:00 pm in your hotel when you join your tour guide and fellow travelers for a welcome drink and dine in the hotel restaurant.
Admire the gentle slopes of the Mourne Mountains and peaceful coastline as you travel north to Down Cathedral. Tour the ancient cathedral and view the historical burial place of St. Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, marked by a huge boulder. Drive to Belfast to join a local guide for a tour of central Belfast to see prominent buildings, political murals and the docks where the RMS Titanic was built in 1912. Visit the magnificent Titanic Belfast, a state-of-the-art attraction which will fill you in on information about this iconic liner.
Drive north along the Nine Glens of Antrim, one of Ireland’s popular scenic routes to discover lovely views of mountains, valleys and coastline. This area is where many scenes from the “Game of Thrones” series were filmed. Visit The Causeway Coast Discovery Centre for tea with scones and a turf-cutting demonstration. Stop at the Giant’s Causeway, hexagonal columns formed by volcanic activity over 60 million years ago. The different rock formations have spawned a number of legends about the mythical giant, Finn McCool. Continue to your hotel in Derry and relax before dinner.
Join a local guide for a short walk around Derry’s medieval city walls that completely encircle the old city center. Learn about the development of the settlement throughout the centuries and right up to today. Travel around the Inishowen Peninsula, a 100-mile scenic route. Drive alongside Lough Foyle, head to Banba's Crown on Malin Head, the most northerly point of the Irish mainland, to admire stunning seascapes. Savor a casual lunch in a cozy pub and learn about the connection between Buncrana and John Newton’s hymn, “Amazing Grace.” Return to Derry in time for dinner.
(B, L, D)
Travel through rugged countryside with magnificent scenery to Donegal town to tour Donegal Castle, built in the 15th century by an O’Donnell chieftain. Visit the Belleek Pottery Factory, founded in the 19th century to bring employment to the area. Belleek is renowned for its use of fine clay and you will see how the craftspeople shape and decorate the raw material to create the world-famous fine china. Drive through County Sligo and into County Mayo to your hotel in Westport. A local guide will escort you on a gentle walk through this historic and planned town center.
Travel around Clew Bay, which is reputed to have 365 islands, to access Achill Island by bridge. Follow the Atlantic Drive to capture wonderful views of steeply-sloped mountains plunging into the shimmering Atlantic Ocean. Near Slievemore see the Deserted Village and stop in Keel for a casual lunch. Return to Westport for a tour around the stately Westport House, which overlooks the ocean and contains a wealth of interesting portraits, furniture, silver and porcelain. The evening is free so that you may take a stroll around the attractive town and choose one of the many fine restaurants to dine independently.
Drive south for a gentle walking tour around central Galway to see Eyre Square, Galway Cathedral and the Spanish Arch. On Shop Street view the medieval Lynch’s Castle that gave the English language a new word. Then browse around on your own through narrow streets that are closed to traffic. Travel through the center of Ireland to visit Tullamore Dew, to see whiskey production and savor a tasting at the end of the tour. Drive to your hotel in Dublin and head to the Merry Ploughboy Pub for dinner and a lively traditional Irish show.
Take a morning guided tour of Dublin to see elegant Georgian townhouses with brightly-painted doors and the wide thoroughfare of O’Connell Street. Tour Glasnevin Museum, Ireland’s national necropolis, which is a who’s who of modern Irish history. It is the final resting place of Daniel O’Connell, Michael Collins, Charles Stewart Parnell, Brendan Behan and other prominent people. Spend afternoon on an independent open-top bus tour and a visit to one attraction.
Your program ends after breakfast.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner