Irish Explorer – 2012 ~ 9 days from Dublin to Dublin, or 10 days incl. travel

     

Vacation Overview

Explore Ireland in depth and hear exciting stories of its rich history, legends, and myths. Begin your trip in Dublin, Ireland’s capital, with an orientation drive that introduces you to Dublin’s major attractions. Then travel north through the Boyne Valley and the Mountains of Mourne to Downpatrick and via Strangford Lough to Belfast, the vibrant capital of Northern Ireland, where you will visit the brand-new Titanic Exhibition. Take the scenic route along the Antrim coast to dramatic Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit Derry and Donegal, then drive along Donegal Bay on your way to Sligo. Via Knock, where pilgrims from around the world flock to the Marian Shrine, and vibrant coastal Galway, head for the breathtaking 668-foot Cliffs of Moher.

Take photographs of the thatched cottages in Adare, then drink in the scenery on the Dingle Peninsula before arriving in the bustling resort of Killarney. More spectacular vistas await you during the coastal drive along the beautiful “Ring of Kerry,” where you’ll see sparkling seascapes, mountains dotted with brightly colored farmhouses, winding lanes bordered with verdant vegetation, and spectacular views of the Lakes of Killarney. Next, stop in Blarney, famous for its castle and Stone of Eloquence, and enjoy a guided tour of the House of Waterford Crystal. Heading north, visit Ireland’s oldest handweaving mill at Avoca, and Glendalough with St. Kevin’s Irish Christianity Centre ruins. Back in Dublin, your vacation ends with an exciting optional tour.

Itinerary

Day 1-Arrive in Dublin, Ireland

Check into your hotel. At 3 pm, meet your traveling companions for an afternoon orientation drive through statue-lined O’Connell Street and elegant Georgian squares to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity College. Your Tour Director will have some suggestions for dining tonight.

Day 2-Dublin–Downpatrick, Northern Ireland–Belfast

On your northbound route today, pass Drogheda, scene of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, then through the fertile landscape of the Boyne Valley, known for its prehistoric passage graves. Cross the border into Northern Ireland and drive through the Mountains of Mourne to Downpatrick, the burial place of Patrick, Ireland’s Patron Saint. Follow the shores of Strangford Lough to the vibrant city of Belfast, where the Titanic was built. Later, why not join a Local Guide on a “living history” tour including a visit to the fascinating, brand-new Titanic Exhibition. (Breakfast)

Day 3-Belfast–Giant’s Causeway–Derry–Donegal, Ireland–Sligo

First stop this morning is Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Let the province’s story unfold as you head for the city of Derry before returning to the Republic to visit Donegal, the ancient town founded by Danish Vikings and home of the O’Donnell Clan. Drive along Donegal Bay with its small fishing ports and hidden beaches before arriving in Sligo, tonight’s destination. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 4-Sligo–Knock–Galway–Cliffs of Moher–Ennis

South to Knock, a village that has attracted pilgrims from all over the world since the townsfolk saw apparitions. Then, to Galway, a vibrant city with a great seafaring tradition, where you hear about the infamous Lynch Stone, commemorating the day Mayor James Lynch Fitzstephen hanged his son for murder. Cross the limestone plateau of The Burren to visit the spectacular 668-foot Cliffs of Moher. Tonight’s optional opportunity: a traditional Irish evening in the setting of a village barn with dinner, wine, and entertainment. (Breakfast)

Day 5-Ennis–Adare–Dingle Peninsula–Killarney

Skirting the city of Limerick, head to Adare, a village known for its prize-winning thatched cottages. Breathtaking scenery this afternoon on the Dingle Peninsula, where the 32-mile Slea Head drive affords magnificent vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. See the Blasket Islands and hear about the way of life and unique literary achievements of its inhabitants prior to their evacuation in 1953. The next two nights are spent in the popular resort of Killarney. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 6-Killarney. Ring of Kerry Excursion

At Killorglin, join the road known as the “Ring of Kerry” for a 100-mile coastal panoramic drive: sparkling seascapes, mountains dotted with brightly colored farmhouses, winding lanes bordered with subtropical vegetation, and spectacular views of the Lakes of Killarney from Ladies View. Back in Killarney, a special optional adventure: take a horse-drawn jaunting car along the national park lakeshore for pictures of Ross Castle. Tonight, enjoy the optional outing to Tralee for dinner and a performance at Siamsa Tire, Ireland’s National Folk Theatre. (Breakfast)

Day 7-Killarney–Blarney–Waterford–Tramore

More scenic splendor as you head over the Kerry Mountains into County Cork. Stop in Blarney, famous for its Stone of Eloquence, with time at your leisure to see the castle and shop for Irish crafts and handmade crystal. After lunch, drive past Cork, the country’s second-largest city. Youghal and Dungarvan are further milestones on your way to Waterford, where a guided tour of the House of Waterford Crystal is included. Spend the night at the nearby seaside resort of Tramore. An optional pub tour might be fun this evening. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 8-Tramore–Enniscorthy–Avoca–Glendalough–Dublin

Highlights on your northbound journey: Enniscorthy, site of the final battle of the Great Rebellion of 1798; a visit to Ireland’s oldest handweaving mill at Avoca; views of the Wicklow Mountains; and Glendalough with its ruins of a center of Irish Christianity, founded by St. Kevin. Back in Dublin tonight, celebrate the success of your tour with an optional dinner evening at the Guinness Storehouse. (Breakfast)

Day 9-Dublin

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)

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