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Cultivate your own Irish luck by embarking on an adventure that will make your friends and family green with envy. And who could blame them?
After all, the Emerald Isle has long captured the hearts and imagination of artists and poets with its ruggedly romantic terrain. Travel to the homeland of native sons William Butler Yeats and Samuel Beckett and experience the most enchanting charms of Ireland. From viewing the medieval Book of Kells to kissing the Blarney Stone, and from embarking on a “jaunting car” ride through Killarney to marveling at dramatic coastlines and lush greenery along the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, and the Dingle Peninsula, this journey has it all.
This comprehensive itinerary also shines a light on remote and lesser-known gems, like the Slieve League Cliffs and local farm life in County Galway. Plus, you’ll soak up the characteristic merriment of the Irish with curated lectures and lively entertainment, including a bagpipe performance and traditional music at a famous inn!
Why simply tour magnificent castles when you can actually live like a king and queen with stays in both 4- and 5-star accommodations — including the sprawling Castlemartyr Resort and the historic Lough Eske Castle Hotel & Spa.
Further enhance your understanding of both contemporary and historic Irish life as you journey to Belfast, Northern Ireland, including an optional extension in the charming and revitalized capital city. With its sociopolitical and Titanic history, Belfast is just the tip of the iceberg on this epic Irish getaway that offers history, music, literature, food, drinks, and merriment in spades.
Fly to Dublin, Ireland
Your Gaelic adventure begins with an overnight flight to Dublin.
Arrive in Dublin and enjoy a hearty dinner
If you’ve purchased your airfare through Vantage, you’ll be met at the airport by a representative who will assist with your included transfer to your hotel in the heart of Dublin’s most popular district — in walking distance to pubs, restaurants, shopping, and other attractions.
The rest of the day is yours to relax. This evening, we’ll gather for a Welcome Dinner in the hotel.
Explore Dublin's highlights and visit Trinity College
After a hearty Irish breakfast, we set out for a special day discovering Dublin’s main sights, including the prestigious Trinity College, where Ireland’s most precious medieval artifact, the Book of Kells, lives. One of many Irish treasures, this illuminated manuscript of the four gospels dates back to around 800 AD. The college also hosts the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic and the Brian Boru harp, a national symbol of Ireland featured on the Guinness label.
Marvel at the lush greenery of the city’s beloved Phoenix Park — home to 1,750 acres of woodlands, lakes, historic buildings, and its own herd of wild fallow deer.
Or, take the rest of the day to explore Dublin on your own.
Free time in Dublin
Explore Dublin as you like. Your Adventure Leader will be on hand to offer plenty of ideas for what to see and visit. Perhaps you’ll visit the Jameson Distillery for a little extra pep in your step before trekking to St. Patrick's Cathedral, the largest in Dublin, and the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. The National Gallery showcases masterpieces from the Renaissance to French Impressionism. Or search for your own masterpiece in trendy boutiques along Dublin’s renowned Grafton Street before popping into one of the Temple Bar pubs for lunch or a late afternoon pint.
Discover Kilkenny’s many treasures, including Kilkenny Castle and the Black Abbey
As we depart Dublin for County Cork, we’ll stop in one of Ireland’s most charming yet smallest cities, Kilkenny. Home to several historic buildings and a number of breweries, we’ll start our tour with a photo stop at the Black Abbey, built in 1225, before continuing on by mini-train to Kilkenny Castle, a sprawling 12th-century manor and the onetime residence of several royal families.
Afterwards, we’ll explore the Kilkenny of more modern times: An arts and crafts hub, as you’ll soon uncover at the Kilkenny Design Centre, home of the National Design & Craft Gallery — this will be the perfect place to pick up gifts and specialty items before lunch in the village. Upon checking in to your hotel, you may enjoy the rest of the day relaxing at the stunning Castlemartyr Resort. At this 18th-century manor house, you’ll enjoy all modern amenities with a true sense of history and luxury.
Dinner is at the hotel tonight.
Panoramic Cork views, Titanic walking tour, and home-hosted meal in Cobh
We'll make our way to Cobh beginning with a panoramic tour of Cork, a compact, 800-year-old city and Ireland’s foodie capital whose attractions include the busy English Market, the 18th-century Huguenot Quarter, and the magnificent French neo-Gothic cathedral. In Cobh, we'll meet up with a local author who will lead us on a special walking tour of this town, the last port of call of millions of Irish before leaving for America as well as the RMS Titanic. Our guide will provide us with insightful commentary about Cobh’s historic harbor, including interesting tidbits about the Titanic.
Enjoy fun and fellowship this afternoon when we split into small groups and join some local Cobh families in their homes. Be treated to an authentic Irish lunch and warm hospitality. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure.
Kiss the Blarney Stone, then visit Killarney for a ride to Muckross House & Gardens
Wave goodbye to Castlemartyr this morning as you get ready to wave hello to one of Ireland's most iconic landmarks. In Blarney Castle, you’ll find the Blarney Stone, where lore holds that snogging the 600-year-old landmark bestows you with the “gift of gab” and the characteristic crackling Irish wit.
Afterward, we'll head to the medieval town of Killarney. Discover its iconic beauty and charm as we ride through town aboard traditional, single horse-drawn carriages called “jaunting cars.” Our destination is Muckross House, a Victorian mansion situated on the grounds of Killarney National Park. Then, we’ll check into our Killarney hotel and enjoy an included dinner.
Ireland’s lush greenery and dramatic landscapes: The Ring of Kerry
We set off for County Kerry to discover a region brimming with renowned and dramatic landscapes. We’ll drive down the spectacular Ring of Kerry and, because our direction contradicts the tried and true tourist route, we’ll be rewarded with unhindered countryside views. From Molls Gap to Kenmare, this is classic Ireland — stony hillsides dotted with sheep, fog-shrouded mountains, and narrow lanes hugged by greenery. We’ll be treated to a delicious lunch along the way.
Then, we make our way back to Killarney, where you’ll have the remainder of the afternoon to explore the town’s shops, pubs, cathedral, and Franciscan friary.
Enjoy dinner on your own tonight. Shuttle service from the hotel puts it all within your reach.
Dingle Peninsula’s sweeping beauty, enjoy traditional Irish cuisine and entertainment
Discover the dramatic coastline of the Dingle Peninsula, boasting more archaeological monuments than any other landscape in Western Europe, and renowned for its cinematic beauty, as many Star Wars fans already know. As we journey to Slea Head, the westernmost point of Europe, we will pass glittering coves, rugged mountains, and ancient Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) communities dotted with beehive-like huts. Huts like these were featured in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Learn more about what life is like here when we visit the Blasket Centre, a heritage museum chronicling daily life on the nearby islands and on Dingle itself. Enjoy exhibits of artwork, architecture, vignettes, and videos before we head to Dingle town, where you can enjoy lunch on your own.
Tonight, be treated to an unforgettable night of fun and merriment at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, a famous inn on the Gap of Dunloe, which has been owned and operated by the same family for 150 years. Feast on traditional Irish cuisine as you enjoy the live entertainment, which will include costumed folk dancers and musicians playing traditional instruments like the fiddle, mandolin, bodhrán, uilleann pipes, and tin whistle.
Scenic and cultural marvels along the Cliffs of Moher and the Wild Atlantic Way
After a buffet breakfast, bid farewell to County Kerry as we head north to County Clare, crossing the picturesque River Shannon via ferry, and then making our way to Galway. Named a UNESCO Global Geopark, the iconic Cliffs of Moher are one of the world’s most recognizable and mesmerizing natural masterpieces — beloved for the epic scale of the cliffs, combined with the dramatic sound of crashing waves. Its cinematic beauty has lured Hollywood as well and has been featured in numerous films, including The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The landscape also attracts local wildlife and is one of the few areas in the world that you can see a puffin in its natural habitat, along with more than 30,000 nesting seabirds. While here, we’ll gain a deeper understanding of the fascinating background on the region’s geology, flora, fauna, and folk legends.
The stunning scenery continues to enthrall with a ride along the world’s longest defined coastal route: The Wild Atlantic Way. Entering County Galway, we’ll stop to explore Rathbaun Farm, a private, family-owned sheep farm with over 80 gloriously sprawling acres. We’ll learn about traditional farm life from our genial hosts, visiting the stone and thatch farmhouse and outlying cottages, and enjoying sheep-shearing demonstrations. Perhaps you’ll lend a hand by feeding the newborn lambs before learning how to roll out pastry dough to bake fresh scones and enjoy it with hot Irish tea. After, we’ll dine on a hearty dinner at the hotel in County Galway’s namesake city.
Listen to the rhythms of Galway
Historic, bohemian Galway is considered Ireland’s music capital — it has the pubs, buskers, and concert venues to prove it! After your breakfast buffet, your Adventure Leader will guide you around the city’s charming medieval streets dotted with pubs, boutiques, and cafés. Walk along the Spanish Arch — a riverside remnant of the medieval walls — to the imposing Galway Cathedral. At the Hall of the Red Earl, you’ll learn about the ancient de Burgo family, one the infamous “Tribes of Galway,” whose further exploits are chronicled at the Galway City Museum.
Continue to spend the rest of the day discovering this quintessentially Irish city on your own, perhaps soaking up the local atmosphere by listening to street performers and browsing the Galway Market, the perfect entrée into local art, handicrafts, and street food. You can choose to rent a bike and see the beauty of Galway on two wheels.
Later, return to Galway and enjoy an evening at leisure, with dinner on your own.
Enjoy a bagpipe performance on your Lake Corrib cruise to Ashford Castle
As we embark on our scenic cruise across Lake Corrib and sail toward Ashford Castle, be on the lookout as you may get to see falcons flying up ahead, as falconry is an ancient artform that has long been practiced and celebrated here. A lively bagpipe performance will accompany you from the pier to the majestic Ashford Castle, which fans of the classic John Ford-John Wayne film The Quiet Man will surely recognize. We’ll explore the castle’s opulent grounds and chambers and savor an elegant lunch with a flavorful menu that may include Roast Angus striploin, generous servings of vegetables, and a glass of wine or beer. This 13th century castle is now a historic property that welcomes guests as an elite 5-star member of the Leading Hotels of the World.
From the castle, we will venture through the village of Drumcliffe. As your Adventure Leader recites poetry from the Irish Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats, we will visit the poet’s final resting place at St. Columba’s Church. Fans of his writing will recognize the epitaph on his headstone. Later, we will arrive in Donegal refreshed and on time to dine at our hotel.
Discover the majestic and sheer beauty of the Slieve League Cliffs and enjoy colorful Killybegs
Today, we will explore the bucolic hills and pastoral scenery of Donegal. Among the highest sea cliffs in all of Europe, the dramatic Slieve League Cliffs are nearly triple the height of the Cliffs of Moher and offer unrivaled views across the Atlantic Ocean.
After, we will visit the quirky town of Killybegs, Ireland’s largest fishing port, and embark on a walking tour that will take us along some of the town’s most picturesque sights and lead us to the Maritime & Heritage Centre, housed in a former carpet factory. Along with fishing, carpet was once the town’s most important industry. You’ll learn how the signature, Turkish-style Donegal carpets and tapestries were traditionally woven, and even try out the hand-knotting technique on a loom.
The afternoon is yours to relax at our stunning lakeside resort or take a walk in the area. Tonight, celebrate your journey and the friends you’ve made at a sumptuous Farewell Dinner in our hotel’s lakeside restaurant.
Celebrate the ties that bind at the Ulster American Folk Park, then discover Belfast
After a delicious breakfast, we’ll cross into County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and head for the town of Omagh. We’ll begin our journey by looking to the past in Omagh’s Ulster American Folk Park museum. Here, we’ll learn about the circumstances that sparked a mass exodus from Ireland in the 18th century, with most immigrants hailing from Ulster, once the site of a thriving textile industry.
We’ll explore the museum’s numerous exhibits, including interactive features with actors in period dress who will introduce the challenges and joys of everyday Irish life. Enjoy lunch on your own before we continue to Belfast for a panoramic tour of Northern Ireland’s capital.
Before dinner at the hotel, attend an illuminating lecture on the Irish Peace Process and learn about Belfast’s important role in that struggle.
Return home, or begin your post-trip extension in Belfast
Transfer to the airport for your flight home, or remain in Belfast to enjoy your post-trip extension.
You’ll get a taste of Belfast on the last day of your base program. But why not take advantage of this value-packed opportunity and discover even more of this newly hip European capital city? A cultural treasure trove that accentuates the positive contributions of its Anglo-Irish heritage. Enjoy its pulsating new waterfront district, acclaimed galleries and dining venues, and historic architecture. Your value is enhanced by the inclusion of a must-see attraction: The Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO Word Heritage Site you’ll experience during an included excursion to the glorious Antrim Coast. Also included are visits to the Titanic Belfast, the Ulster Folk Museum, and the Ulster Transport Museum. With deluxe accommodations in Belfast’s most desirable, downtown location, this is the best Belfast value you will find.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert.
Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary. That hotel ratings are based on the hotel and a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.