Blarney Castle, top Ireland attraction

Ireland - Best Tours & Trips 2019

Rolling green hills and valleys, rugged islands, shamrocks and fisherman-knit sweaters, the Blarney Stone, St. Patrick and not-so-saintly leprechauns, literary giants and the Giants Causeway, and of course music-filled pubs serving up pints of Guinness to thirsty locals and travelers. All of this is Ireland, and so much more.
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DEPARTURE DATES

Trip Type Trip Type Classic Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Guided Experiences Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ocean Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Tour Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Independent Package A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ocean Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Tour Styles

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 66 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

Countries

Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

Travel Theme

Travelers Age

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Rivers & Seas

Cities & Attractions

Activities

Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

Company

Flights & Transport

Continents & Regions

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Top Ireland Experiences and Attractions

Top Ireland Experiences

Touring Dublin with its mansions and townhouses, not to mention impressive literary legacy (home of James Joyce, Brendan Behan, and Oscar Wilde)

Hiking through rolling green hills at the Ring of Kerry on the Iveragh Peninsula, overlooking the craggy outcroppings, ancient ruins, and the sea and islands beyond

Kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle, near Cork (hint: it requires some effort)

Drinking a Guinness – with foam expertly shaped into a shamrock -- in an Irish pub, while gabbing with the locals for hours and listening to toe-tapping music

Sailing with the amazing Irish coastline in view

Taking a short cruise to places like remote Skellig Michael Island, eight miles off the coast of southwest Ireland, and climbing 600 stone steps to the top for a picnic lunch and incredible views

Stepping across the thousands of basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway, remnants of an ancient volcano that extends into the North Channel in Northern Ireland

Exploring the incredible ruins and archaeological sites 

Enjoying water adventures such as surfing or fishing in opal-blue waters of the Dingle Peninsula

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Ireland Trip Reviews

1,219 Ireland Tour Reviews - Summary 91% Recommend

4.5 out of 5
Excellent 734
Great 374
Average 87
Disappointing 16
Terrible 8
Value
4.5
Guide
4.5
Activities
4.5
Lodging
4.5
Transportation
4.5
Meals
4.5

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Go To Ireland... Just Don't Use CIE

3.0
  • Value 2.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 2.0
  • Transportation 3.0
  • Meals 3.0

My wife and I travel often and while we enjoyed our tour itself, we would not use CIE again and would caution anyone else before doing so as well.
By the time our tour guide casually mentioned that their numbers on our particular tour were “way down” (our group had 28 the first week and only 18 the second week on a 50 person bus), I had already figured out why. CIE, as a company, is just not very good. Our group of three in Colorado, booked with some other family, a party of two, in Florida, to make sure we were on the same tour. The problem is, in spite of detailed explanation that we would be traveling separately and paying separately, CIE consistently attempted to treat us as a single party of five, both in payment and logistics. They charged our family in Florida an extra $50 to send their ‘travel bags’ to them directly. They messed up the travel vouchers for our group and even had them scheduled to be picked up at the wrong airport in England. This was clearly communicated on multiple occasions, but was still messed up by CIE.

Then there is their transport company. Before getting to the Denver airport, we received notice our flight into London would be delayed 2.5 hours. I called immediately, giving CIE a ten hour notice, and was told it would cost extra money for them to pick us up later. Apparently, they don’t do pickups afternoon. This would have been good information to have beforehand. Upon arrival, when I called the travel company at 2:00 pm local time, there was no answer so we ended up just taking a taxi and paying an extra $70 just to get to our hotel. Despite multiple requests, CIE has repeatedly refused to refund our $45 that we prepaid for our transfer, claiming a non-refundable policy. Think about this… 5 people on our trip, bringing in nearly $20,000 of revenue to this company, and rather than make it right, when the delay was no fault of our own, they choose to hold firm to their “non-refundable” policy and refuse to refund a measly $45.

I gave 3 stars rather than less because the tour itself was great. Our tour guide and itinerary were top notch. We did the 14 day Irish/British Grandeur and it was a whirlwind fourteen days. We saw a tremendous amount of sites and points of interest, but in doing so, we were exhausted by the end, despite being much younger than most of our tour companions. While there were a couple free afternoons and evenings, there wasn’t a single free morning. The mornings that we were leaving the hotel, we were to have bags out of our hotel room by 6:00 am or 7:00 am and we would be leaving between 45 mins and an hour later. Even when we stayed an additional night, our latest morning departure was 8:15 am. This is most definitely not a leisurely tour so be prepared to get good at sleeping on a bus.
The most disappointing part of it all though was the ‘bait and switch’ of the hotels. This tour was promoted as 4 and 5 star hotels, which was a complete fabrication. We stayed one night at a 5 star, two nights at a 4 star, and every single other hotel was maybe a 3 star. Maybe. Terribly uncomfortable beds, pillows, and poor service from hotel staff. For the price we paid for this trip, the hotels were a total rip-off and we expected better. The moral of the story is this; your numbers are down, CIE, because you’re not a very good company and word is spreading about your poor customer service. Go see Ireland! Just do it with a different company.

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Operator CIE Tours

Ireland Trip was well organized

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

We just got home from this trip and had a great time! The trip was well organized, meals were delicious, and the only hotel we weren't too happy with was the Randle in Killarney. The tour director, Peter Murphy, was very knowledgeable and he and the 9 other people (there were only 11 of us) on the bus were super nice and so much fun to spend time with. They made our first trip to Europe a very memorable one. We would recommend this company to anyone thinking of going to Ireland.

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Operator SmarTours

Very good tour

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

We traveled from July 19. Our tour director is sample of what the tour director should be. Funny, lot of nice jokes, knowledgeable, very well organized and much more. We learned a lot about country, observe its natural beauty and long history. I highly recommend the tour

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Operator SmarTours

Great Staff

5.0
Zegrahms Expeditions Company Reviews
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Awesome itineraries, great staff, best in the business.

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Operator Zegrahms Expeditions

TAKE THIS TRIP!!! Unbelievable!

5.0
Zegrahms Expeditions Company Reviews
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Sunday, 22 July... SVALBARD, Norway. Halfway between the top of continental Norway & the North Pole!

We disembarked & are now back to civilization! WOW!
What a FANTASTIC adventure on the ship Ocean Adventurer!

Once again, Zegrahm delivered! Cruise Director & Expedition Leader executed an unforgettable adventure! SUPERB lectures on ship & field trips from the guest experts in their fields... history of polar explorations... geology... birds... polar bears & other animals!

We saw several polar bears, groups of walrus, one very photogenic seal, reindeer, Arctic fox, a BLUE WHALE (largest of ALL whales!)... & a gazillion birds!

Our small ship was indeed able to circumnavigate the Svalbard (Spitsbergen) archipelago... 3 cheers to our Russian captain! The staff on board were FANTASTIC! And the best food I've had on any ship!

Mostly great weather... quite fortunate! Out on the Zodiacs (rubber rafts), I wore almost everything in my suitcase, in layers all at once, hoping to stay warm & dry... followed by VERY LONG hot showers once back on the ship, while I thawed out!

If you have an interest in polar adventure, TAKE THIS TRIP!!! Unbelievable!

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Operator Zegrahms Expeditions

Ireland Tours and Travel Guide

Ireland Attractions & Landmarks Guide

The name "Ireland" conjures up images of rolling green hills and valleys, coastal promontories and rugged offshore islands, shamrocks and fisherman-knit sweaters, the Blarney Stone and the gift of gab, St. Patrick and not-so-saintly leprechauns, literary giants and the Giants Causeway, charming small towns and sophisticated cities, and of course music-filled pubs serving up pints of Guinness to thirsty locals and travelers. All of it is true (though the leprechauns may be in hiding) and much more, on the Emerald Isle. 

Ireland is one place that seldom disappoints – it’s exactly as you imagine it. 

That is, if you imagine it as a land of emerald green, with impossibly scenic coastlines and rolling hills dotted with grazing sheep; that’s steeped in culture, especially its rich legacy of writers, poets and dramatists; and that’s populated with many great talkers and storytellers who haunt its pubs, often lubricated by pints of Guinness and shots of Irish whiskey. 

Not to mention a certain amount of blarney, whether found in a legendary stone or in tales of mischievous leprechauns and lucky shamrocks. 

Ireland fashion seems most comfortable in fisherman-knit sweaters and rain slickers to ward off the damp; while Irish history is reflected in a mix of grand country estates, smart Dublin townhouses, and gritty Belfast Victorians as well as hilltop castle ruins and occasional graffiti remnants of The Troubles that plagued the island throughout much of the 20th century following its partitioning in 1921. 

The Emerald Isle has now been at peace with itself throughout the 21st century, and it’s helped to focus more on the similarities between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and less on the latters allegiance to staying in the United Kingdom, which isn’t necessarily due to any great love of the British. Ireland is very much its own island, despite its historical class and sectarian differences.

The Main Cities - Dublin and Belfast

Many Ireland tours begin in Dublin, and deservedly so. James Joyce immortalized it in Ulysses, Oscar Wilde studied art and aesthetics at Trinity College, and playwright Brendan Behan declared “I’m a drinker with a writing problem” here, having sampled most of the city’s 750-some pubs. 

Among Dublin sights and experiences not to miss are:

The ancient Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript kept well-guarded in the Old Library at Trinity College; 

St. Stephen’s Green, the city’s nicest and most popular park, lined by brick Georgian buildings and the famous Shelbourne Hotel; 

Merion Square, the heart of Georgian-era Dublin; 

The National Gallery of Ireland, for great artworks; 

A visit to the Guinness Storehouse, for a look at the history of Ireland’s magic elixir, complete with samples at the end; 

The vibrant nightlife in the Temple Bar area, known for its pubs, and the lively atmosphere of Grafton Street, Ireland’s best known shopping street. 

Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, which is part of Great Britain, is perhaps most recognizable as the site of turmoil between Protestants and Catholics in the late 20th century. But since a peaceful settlement was reached in 1998,, Belfast has blossomed into a pleasant base for exploring one of the most scenic and historic regions of the entire island. You can get a good pint of Guinness here, listen to Irish music, and even tour the shipyard where the Titanic was built.

The Scenic Southwest

If you enjoy hiking over hills and dales with scenery galore – including lush vegetation, herds of sheep and gushing waterfalls -- it’s hard to top County Kerry in southwestern Ireland. The town of Tralee is the gateway to the county’s Dingle Peninsula, while the town of Killarney is the gateway to the equally spectacular Iveragh Peninsula. Killarney National Park contains some of the country’s best known hiking trails, and the 135-mile-long Kerry Way loops around the entire peninsula.

The little fishing village of Portmagee is the base for boats that ferry passengers to Skellig Michael, an island off the craggy coastline that served as the setting for the dramatic last scene in the most recent Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. The island is home to beehive-shaped stone huts that are remnants of a 1,400 year old Christian monastery, as well as winding hiking trails to the top.

Elsewhere Around the Republic of Ireland

In County Cork in southern Ireland, you can kiss the precariously situated Blarney Stone, located at Blarney Castle. While it may be the most touristy activity in the entire country, you may wish to join the fun if you want to acquire the gift of gab (as it’s reputed to impart). Just don’t try a selfie, since it’s a long drop down if you let go of the hand gripper.

You’ll find the dramatically situated Cliffs of Moher in County Clare on the west coast, and, a bit farther north, Galway Bay, with the Aran Islands sitting at its mouth. The islands are strongholds of traditional Irish culture: language, music, food, and fashion. 

Throughout Ireland you’ll find towns with familiar names that beckon you to explore them: Limerick, Kilkenny, Donegal, Sligo…the list goes on. 

Elsewhere Around Northern Ireland

Perhaps surprisingly, Northern Ireland is actually the region where Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick, did most of his missionary work in the 5th Century AD. You can visit some of the key sites of his life here; the St. Patrick Centre in County Down is a good place to start. (To be sure, St. Patrick also did some of his work in southern Ireland as well – at the Rock of Cashel, he’s said to have converted the King of Munster to Christianity.)

Northern Ireland’s winding Antrim Coast is home to the Giant’s Causeway, a geological wonder whose thousands of step-like columns appear to lead the way to Scotland. (A myth claims that a giant built it.) Many scenes from the HBO series Game of Thrones were shot nearby. Also nearby is the Old Bushmills Distillery, which may have you believing in giants and the Iron Throne after a few samples. 

Whether or not it’s St. Paddy’s Day, or whether or not you have any Irish blood coursing through your veins, you can uncover your own inner Irish person by booking a tour to Ireland. And that’s no blarney.

Top Ireland Travel Companies

Things to Know Before You Go

Ireland tours are available all year round, but it does get quite chilly. Often tours in Ireland feature a lot of time outdoors along the coast, so be sure to dress warmly!

Walking is a very popular activity on many tours to Ireland. It is advised to bring a pair of warm, sturdy walking shoes or broken in hiking boots to protect your feet from blisters.

What to expect from a Tour in Ireland

Touring Ireland is a wonderful experience, full of jovial fun, fascinating history, and of course a pint or two. If you enjoy beer, it’s safe to say you will enjoy a tour in Ireland. If you don’t enjoy beer, don’t worry, but be prepared for a few pub visits. You may like the taste of beer by the end of your trip!

American travelers in particular may be surprised by the pub atmosphere in Ireland and the wider UK. The Irish pub experience is far more family friendly than a typical bar or pub in the United States. Going by yourself to hang out with a book is perfectly acceptable. But if you’re a more outgoing person, and enjoy meeting and hanging out with locals, the pub is the place to be; and you will be considered a local by the end of your trip if you go consistently. This is one reason why Ireland tours for singles are so popular.

Other than whiskey and beer, Ireland has much to offer in the way of history. Guided tours of Ireland will definitely touch on some of this, in varying degrees depending on which tour you choose.  

Ireland Tour Routes

You may be wondering whether your trip in Ireland will visit both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. In most cases, Ireland tours do visit both. The Republic of Ireland is dramatically larger than Northern Ireland, so you will spend most of your time in this area.

Some likely stops on this part of your tour include the Ring of Kerry, a stunning scenic route dotted with various historical sites. The Cliffs of Moher, which are only a short distance from Dublin, are another popular spot. The only thing that makes these breathtaking cliffs more stunning is the powerful, heart-stopping wind that blows in off the sea.

Northern Ireland is home to the Titanic Museum in Belfast, a very popular tour attraction. Giants Causeway is also a main attraction in Northern Ireland, especially for being a Game of Thrones filming location. Finally, your small group tour in Northern Ireland will likely include some historical components about recent conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in this part of Ireland.

Ireland Walking Tours

Because of Ireland’s natural beauty, relative accessibility and general safety, going on hiking and walking tours is one popular way of visiting the country. Going on a walking tour around Ireland is a great way to remove yourself from the routine, and place yourself in an otherworldly landscape.

If you decide to visit the Western coast of the country, you will be confronted with contrasting, dramatic stone landscapes and beautiful mountains. This region is known for  both its rough seas, and its population of wildflowers.

If you want to experience the entire island, consider a coast-to-coast walk. On this route, you are sure to experience many more cultural landmarks, including the some of the earliest Christian landmarks.

If the call of England and Scotland are too irresistible to you, you are in luck, as many tours combine visiting the three, similar locations. This way you can get triple the dosage of intense historical drama, jaw-dropping natural landscapes, and good drink and pub food.

What is the weather like in Ireland?

As it is nearly surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Ireland’s climate is both kept temperate by the water, and also made irregular because of it. As a result, Ireland’s weather is relatively unpredictable -- but not extreme.

When traveling to Ireland in the winter, you should dress warmly, but don’t worry about freezing temperatures. It rarely drops much below 46 degrees, and a result, don’t expect any heavy snows either.

In the summer, temperatures are in generally in the upper 50’s, and reach highs of around 66 degrees. Unlike in Scotland, you never have to worry about extremely long rain spells, nor will it rain consistently enough to make you wish you had your own pair of wellies. Either bring a light rain jacket just in case, or use every drizzle as an excuse to grab a Guinness in a cozy pub -- the choice is up to you!

All Ireland tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.5 for all Ireland trips.

433 trips from 74 tour companies with 1,219 reviews

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