2017 Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way 13 Days / 12 Nights
Your Irish trip starts at 2:30 pm when you meet your tour director at your hotel in Ennis, which is 16 miles from Shannon Airport. Take a short ride to the Atlantic Coast to view the Cliffs of Moher, rising above the foaming Atlantic breakers. Get together with your tour director and fellow travelers over a welcome drink to discuss your trip before dinner in your hotel.
Head to Galway for a walking tour to see the medieval city walls, Lynch’s Castle and the narrow streets of the city center. Journey through Spiddal to the lovely Connemara region with its hills, lakes and open land. Stop in Leenane, where the movie, “The Field” was made. Continue to Westport, an attractive estate town built in 1780, with lots of interesting shops and traditional pubs, many with live music. Check in to your hotel where dinner is served.
Cross by bridge to Achill Island and follow the Atlantic Drive for great mountain and ocean scenery. See the Deserted Village, 100 stone cottages abandoned around the time of the 1840’s Famine. Return to Westport and enjoy a casual lunch before for touring Westport House, an 18th century mansion, set in superb parkland with magnificent views. Take a gentle walking tour of Westport and the evening is free.
Visit the Museum of Country Life which features exhibits of domestic goods in daily use during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Drive through Counties Mayo and Sligo and around Donegal Bay to Donegal town. Tour Donegal Castle, built by the O’Donnell chieftain in the 15th century and expanded in the 17th century. Drive through the Bluestack Mountains to your next hotel in Stranorlar.
Travel into the heart of Donegal to Glenveagh National Park where Captain Adair evicted 225 tenants to build Glenveagh Castle in 1870. Learn about the history of the mansion as you tour the rooms and walk around the extensive gardens filled with exotic plants. Then experience the glorious natural beauty of the Grand Atlantic Drive, which winds around the coastline through Downings and Rosapenna. Stop to admire views and take photos. Return to Stranorlar and relax a little before dinner.
In Derry join a local guide for a walking tour to see medieval city walls, the Diamond and St. Columb’s Cathedral. Drive along the north coast, pausing for photos at Dunluce Castle. Explore the Giant’s Causeway, enormous hexagonal columns formed by volcanic activity over 60 million years ago. Experience wonderful scenery along the coastal Nine Glens of Antrim route and continue to Belfast.
Take a panoramic tour around central Belfast followed by a visit to Titanic Belfast to learn about the famous liner through state-of-the-art displays. Visit Down Cathedral to learn about the history of the place and see the historical burial place of St. Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. Travel to Dublin and check in to your hotel. Head to the popular Abbey Tavern for a hearty dinner of Irish specialties and a lively show of traditional music, songs and step-dancing.
Tour Dublin city to see elegant Georgian squares with brightly-painted doorways; pass St. Stephen’s Green and shopping areas around Nassau Street; cross the River Liffey to O’Connell Street and see the General Post Office where the 1916 Rising started. Take a guided walking tour through the campus of Trinity College to view the 8th century manuscript of the Book of Kells. In the afternoon use your independent vouchers for an open-top bus tour all around central Dublin and a visit to Guinness Storehouse or General Post Office Museum.
Drive through prime agricultural country and pause for photos of the stately Rock of Cashel, a limestone outcrop containing 12th century church ruins. Continue south to County Cork and to Blarney. Here you may climb Blarney Castle and kiss the famous “Stone of Eloquence.” Shop at the Blarney Woollen Mills or take a look around the village green. Travel along the picturesque County Cork coast to Rosscarbery and check in to your hotel.
Drive along the coastal route through Bantry and at Kenmare admire the breathtaking scenery along part of the Ring of Kerry. In Killarney, travel by horse-drawn jaunting car to view Ross Castle set on Lough Leane before sitting down to a casual lunch. Head to the Dingle Peninsula, stopping at the South Pole Inn for an Irish coffee before continuing to the hotel on the outskirts of Dingle town. Tonight, choose to dine at one of the many traditional or modern dinner venues located near your hotel. * NOTE for September 25 Departure: Visit the South Pole Inn on Day 11. Bypass Dingle Peninsula, continuing into Killarney to check into your hotel before enjoying some free time exploring the town. Tonight, choose to dine at one of the many traditional or modern dinner venues located near your hotel.
(B, L, D)
Discover the beauties of the Dingle Peninsula, once described by the National Geographic Traveler as “the most beautiful place on earth.” Drive along the south shore of the peninsula for plenty of vistas of heathery mountains, sandy stretches of beach, stunning green landscapes, and rocky headlands. Have your camera on hand for frequent stops at strategic locations for admiring the views and taking photos. Continue to Slea Head at the westernmost tip of the peninsula for lovely vistas and to watch skilled dogs obeying commands from the shepherd to round up mountain sheep. Back in Dingle, embark on a short cruise around Dingle Harbour and Bay for great panoramic views before spending the remainder of afternoon at leisure. * NOTE for September 25 Departure: Stop at the South Pole Inn, former home of Antarctic explorer Tom Crean, for an Irish coffee and talk. Hotel stay in Killarney.
At the Foynes Flying Boat Museum learn about the early days of flight, during the 1930’s and 1940’s and Irish coffee was first created here. Drive to Bunratty and visit the Bunratty Folk Park to see traditional cottages. You may like to spend free time in Durty Nelly’s Pub. Head to either Bunratty or Knappogue Castle for an evening of feasting and song to transport you in spirit to the Middle Ages.
Your tour ends after breakfast this morning.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner