Stride climate

Ireland - Best Tours & Trips 2019

461 trips to Ireland tours from 103 tour companies. 801 reviews. 4.6/5 avg rating.
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.
All Ireland tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages.
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Travel Style Travel Style Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.

Trip Type Trip Type Group 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 Tour 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 Ship 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 Guided 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.
Self Guided / Independent Tour 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 Ship 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.

Itinerary Focus

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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Amazing Ireland Summer 2019

Trafalgar
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
14 days
$ 253 / day
$ 3,540
From : $ 4,354
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : N/A
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • CITY TOUR in Belfast, Londonderry and Dublin
  • ORIENTATION of Donegal, Galway, Cork and Waterford
  • VISIT the Titanic Belfast, the Giant's Causeway, Belleek pottery, Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, the John F. Kennedy Arboretum and the Dunbrody Famine Ship in New Ross and Waterford Crystal
  • VIEW the Antrim Coast, W.B. Yeats grave at Drumcliff, the Marian Shrine in Knock, Trinity College and the Georgian Squares in Dublin
  • SEE City Hall in Belfast and the Cathedral of Galway
  • SCENIC DRIVE around the Ring of Kerry
Visits:
Belfast, Dublin, Galway, England, Ireland
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Magical Ireland

SmarTours
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
13 days
$ 215 / day
$ 2,799
From : $ 7,177
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Merrion Square (Dublin)
  • Christchurch Cathedral (Dublin)
  • Guinness Brewery (Dublin)
  • Castle Ward House & Gardens (Northern Ireland)
  • Titanic Belfast Experience
  • Giant’s Causeway (Antrim)
  • Kylemore Abbey (Galway)
  • Cliffs of Moher (Clare)
  • Ring of Kerry
  • Dingle Peninsula (Kerry)
  • Blarney’s Castle
  • Medieval Castle Banquet
Visits:
Dingle Peninsula, Dublin, Galway, Killarney National Park, Ireland, United Kingdom
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Elegant Ireland

Collette
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
9 days
$ 328 / day
$ 2,949
From : $ 3,627
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Feel like royalty when dining at Dromoland Castle.
  • Enjoy complimentary wine and beer with every dinner.
  • Savor organic Irish ciders and apple syrups with a visit to a family-owned farm.
  • Take in an evening of traditional song and dance.
  • Enjoy an evening of storytelling and song at Castlemartyr Resort.
  • Spend two nights at Dromoland Castle, one of Europe’s most iconic hotels.
  • Jump into Ireland's vibrant capital city — Dublin.
  • Kiss the famed Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle.
  • Stand in awe of the stunning 700-foot-high Cliffs of Moher.
Visits:
Dublin, Kilkenny, Ireland
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14-Night All-Ireland Vacation

14 days
$ 203 / day
$ 2,843
From : $ 3,497
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Dublin 'Hop-On, Hop-Off' 2-Day Sightseeing Double-Decker Bus Pass
  • Guinness Connoisseur Experience
  • Food Folk & Fairies
  • Dublin Vintage Tea Tour
  • Mount Falcon Hawk Walk
  • Irish Whiskey Experience and Chocolate pairing.
  • Belfast City & The Titanic Exhibit
  • The Giant's Causeway & The Glens of Antrim
  • The Connemara National Park & Kylemore Abbey
  • The Cliffs of Moher & Burren Region along the Wild Atlantic Way
  • The Rock of Cashel & Glendalough
  • The Guinness Storehouse
  • Trinity College & The Book of Kells
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral & Dublin Castle
  • The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge & Dunluce Castle
  • Slieve League & Glenveagh National Park
  • Glencar Waterfall
  • Croagh Patrick & Achill Island 
  • Killarney National Park & Ross Castle
  • The Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula
Visits:
Belfast, Dublin, Kilkenny, Derry, Ireland
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The Ultimate Tour

7 days
$ 319 / day
$ 2,230
From : $ 3,011
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Visit Ireland's Rebel City – Cork, Majestic Killarney National Park and The Burren National Park
  • Enjoy Ireland's best Guinness in Westport
  • Experience superb local Irish cuisine
  • Enjoy Scenic Walking and Hiking
  • Explore Galway and the Aran Islands by Bike
  • Surf the Wild Atlantic Waves in Lahinch
  • Visit many Irish Castles, Rock of Cashel and Celtic Ring Forts
Visits:
Connemara, Cork, Dingle Peninsula, Dublin, Galway, Killarney National Park, Ireland, United Kingdom
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Ireland Biking

Butterfield & Robinson
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
6 days
$ 916 / day
$ 5,495
From : $ 5,694
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays. Luxury - 5 star
Highlights
  • Explore the sleepy village of Roundstone on foot
  • Fabulous cycling along the breathtaking Wild Atlantic Way to the famous Cliffs of Moher
  • Ride through the spectacular limestone landscapes of the Burren National Park
  • Enjoy cycle your way through Inagh Valley
Visits:
Connemara, Galway, Ireland, United Kingdom
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Discover Northern Ireland

G Adventures
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
5 days
$ 240 / day
$ 1,199
From : $ 1,619
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Visit the breathtaking giant's causeway
  • Enjoy a guided tour of the oldest working distillery in ireland
  • Explore the cities of derry and belfast
Visits:
Belfast, Derry, Dublin, Ireland, United Kingdom
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Northern Ireland Bike and Sail

UTracks
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 279 / day
$ 2,230
From : $ 3,122
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic - 2 star
Highlights
  • Discover the natural beauty of Northern Ireland
  • Admire the spectacular coastal scenery
  • Visit Irelands oldest licensed distillery
  • Explore Rathlin Island and Giants Causeway
Visits:
London, Ireland
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Irish Shenanigans

Topdeck
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 156 / day
$ 1,249
From : $ 1,686
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Walking tour of Dublin
  • Visit the Giant’s Causeway
  • Guided tour of the Guinness Storehouse
Visits:
Belfast, Derry, Dublin, Galway, Cork, Ireland, United Kingdom
View Trip

Irish Highlights

7 days
$ 225 / day
$ 1,575
From : $ 1,937
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • City tour in Dublin
  • Scenic drive of the Ring of Kerry
  • Orientation of Galway, Limerick and Waterford
  • See the Cathedral of Galway
  • View St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, King John's Castle and St. Mary's Cathedral in Limerick
  • Visit Bunratty Folk Park, the Cliffs of Moher, Blarney to kiss the stone and gain the 'gift of the gab', the Crystal Showroom at Waterford and the famine ship in New Ross
Visits:
Dublin, Ireland
View Trip

The Ireland - County Kerry Untour

7 days
$ 137 / day
$ 959
From : $ 1,295
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Visit Skellig Islands
  • Explore Dingle Peninsula
  • Visit Killarney National Park
  • Discover Blarney Castle, Cork and Beara Peninsula
Visits:
Cork, Dingle Peninsula, Killarney National Park, Ring of Kerry, Ireland, United Kingdom
View Trip

Kerry & Dingle Guided Walk

UTracks
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 365 / day
$ 2,920
From : $ 4,088
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : N/A
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic - 2 star
Highlights
  • Trekking with an expert guide through stunning coastal scenery
  • Learning about the history, mythology and traditional Irish culture
  • Enjoying the flexibility of walking with a daypack from village to village
  • Exploring the highlights of both the Kerry and Dingle regions
Visits:
Derry, Dingle Peninsula, Ring of Kerry, Galway, Ireland
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Castle-Stays on the Emerald Isle

Evaneos
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 648 / day
$ 4,230
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Visits:
Ireland, United Kingdom
View Trip

Spectacular South and West Tour

5 days
$ 210 / day
$ 1,085
From : $ 1,465
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Visit Ireland's Rebel City – Cork, Majestic Killarney National Park and Burren National Park
  • Enjoy Scenic Walking and Hiking
  • Explore Galway by Bike
  • Visit the Rock of Cashel
  • Visit many Irish Castles
  • Discover Celtic Ring Forts
Visits:
Cork, Dingle Peninsula, Dublin, Galway, Killarney National Park, Ireland, United Kingdom
View Trip

Enchanting Emerald Isle Summer 2019

Trafalgar
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 248 / day
$ 1,980
From : $ 2,435
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : N/A
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • WALKING TOUR in Killarney National Park
  • CITY TOUR in Dublin and walking tour in Westport
  • ORIENTATION of Galway and Killarney
  • VISIT EPIC - The Irish Emigration Museum, Strokestown Park House, Kylemore Abbey, Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, Kilkenny Castle and Trinity College
  • SCENIC CRUISE across the Shannon Estuary
  • VIEW St. Patrick's Cathedral, Galway Cathedral, the mountains of the Connemara and Torc Waterfall
  • SEE Dublin's Georgian Squares
  • SCENIC DRIVE along the Ring of Kerry
Visits:
Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Ireland
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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

view more

Ireland Trip Reviews

801 Ireland Tour Reviews - Summary 96% Recommend

4.6 out of 5
Excellent 608
Great 121
Average 47
Disappointing 16
Terrible 9
Value
4.6
Guide
4.6
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.6
Transportation
4.6
Meals
4.6

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Great expectations fulfilled and more!

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

This June, I led a group of 12 on a tour to Ireland. Maggie Lunde was my group specialist who did an excellent job helping me achieve the desired plans for our visit. She was thorough and very responsive to our needs. Our chauffeur for the tour was Martin McAviney, a delightful guide and great friend to us. From the start, he let me know that he was there to fulfill all our plans and wishes and to feel free to communicate them clearly to him. He not only delivered but once he had a sense of our group, he gave us excellent additions which fit perfectly for us. His warmth and great sense of humor added greatly to the enjoyment and success of tour. Members thanked me afterward for "making our dreams come true" and another described the tour as "life-changing" I whole-heartedly share these accolades with Martin and Maggie.

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Operator Authentic Vacations

Irish eyes are smiling

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

We had a great week long self guided tour around Ireland. Lainie put together a topnotch package for us. We didn't know she booked premium air for us but what a Godsend it was!

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Operator Authentic Vacations

Effortless travel planning!

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

Effortless travel planning! Heather listened well to our desires and planned an impeccable vacation for us. From flights to rental car to a great itinerary and incomparable B&Bs we were thrilled at every detail.

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Operator Authentic Vacations

Thank you Ayana and Jared!

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

From panic to success!
Had some issues with getting my trip rescheduled after a family emergency . Ayana & Jared were most helpful in getting it resolved and helping straighten out the confusion. I look forward to my new travel plan with the company.

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Operator Aer Lingus Vacation Store

It was well planned out vacation

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

It was well planned out vacation. We did the bus tour and everything ran as planned. It was a great vacation for my family of adult children.

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Operator Authentic Vacations

Jocoya was wonderful!

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

The trip Jocoya helped us arrange was perfect! I honestly couldn't think of anything that could've been done differently, from arranging the car rental to a night in a beautiful castle. It was a wonderful trip that was everything I'd asked for - and more! We'll definitely be calling Authentic Vacations for our next trip!

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Operator Authentic Vacations

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 of Ireland

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 Ireland trips. 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 traveling 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 4.6 for all Ireland trips.

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