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Gaelic Adventure: Ireland's Cultural Capitals & Northwest Counties - 2021

Dublin • Cork • Killarney • Galway • Donegal • Belfast
  • Ireland's Cultural Capitals Land Tour including Dublin, Cork, Killarney, Galway, Donegal and Belfast
  • Blarney Castle, Cork, Ireland, Europe
  • Ashford Castle, Lake Corrib, Ireland, Europe
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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 touring the fascinating capital city of Dublin 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.

Dublin to Belfast

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DAY 1:

Fly to Dublin, Ireland

Your Gaelic adventure begins with an overnight flight to Dublin.

DAY 2:

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.

Included meals:


DAY 3:

Explore Dublin's highlights

After a hearty Irish breakfast, we set out for a special day discovering Dublin’s main sights, including ttouring the interior of Dublin Castle. This major complex is now an active conference center as well as a popular travel destination, but was the seat of the British government's administration until 1922.

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. This afternoon, you’ll have the opportunity to sample the whiskey Ireland is so famous for during a tour of the Teeling Distillery.

Included Features:

  • Dublin city tour
  • Teeling Distillery visit

Included meals:


DAY 4:

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.

Included meals:


DAY 5:

Discover Kilkenny’s many treasures, including Kilkenny Castle and the House of Waterford Crystal

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.

This afternoon, we'll pay a visit to the House of Waterford Crystal. Here you'll tour the factory and see the manufacturers of these high-end products in action! It's a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the process if making these sought-after items.

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.

Included Features:

  • Kilkenny city tour
  • Visit Kilkenny Castle via mini train
  • Visit to the House of Waterford Crystal

Cultural Discovery:

  • Visit the Kilkenny Design Centre

Included meals:

Breakfast & dinner

DAY 6:

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.

Included Feature:
  • Panoramic tour of Cork
  • Titanic history walk

Cultural Discovery:

  • Home-hosted lunch with Cobh families

Included meals:

Breakfast  & lunch

DAY 7:

Discover Blarney Castle, then take a “jaunting car” ride to Killarney

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.” Then, we’ll check into our Killarney hotel and enjoy an included dinner.

Included Features:

  • Blarney Castle visit
  • Killarney city tour, with "jaunting cars" excursion

Cultural Discovery:

  • “Jaunting car” ride

Included meals:

Breakfast & dinner

DAY 8:

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 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. During your tour, you’ll even witness a sheepherding demonstration! 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.

Included Feature:

  • Ring of Kerry tour, with lunch in a local restaurant
  • Sheep herding demonstration

Included meals:

Breakfast  & lunch

DAY 9:

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. We’ll then 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, bodhránuilleann pipes, and tin whistle.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day Dingle Peninsula tour

Cultural Discovery:

  • Irish Night at Kate Kearney’s Cottage with food, music, and storytelling

Included meals:

Breakfast & dinner

DAY 10:

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. This afternoon, learn 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.

Included Features:

  • Shannon River ferry crossing
  • Scenic drive, with visit to the Cliffs of Moher

Cultural Discovery:

  • Scone-making demonstration

Included meals:

Breakfast & dinner

DAY 11:

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.

Included Feature:

  • Galway walking tour
Active Feature:
  • Rent a bicycle and explore Galway on two wheels!

Included meals:


DAY 12:

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.

Included Features:

  • Lake Corrib cruise
  • Drumcliffe village visit
  • Ashford Castle excursion with lunch
Cultural Discovery:
  • Visit the burial site of William Butler Yeats
  • Enjoy a lively bagpipe performance;

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 13:

Discover the majestic and sheer beauty of the Slieve League Cliffs

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.

This afternoon, we will visit the town of Donegal, where 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 rest of 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.

Included Feature:

  • Slieve League Cliffs visit

Cultural Discovery:

  • Weaving demonstration in Donegal

Included meals:

Breakfast & dinner

DAY 14:

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.

Included Feature:

  • Guided Belfast city tour
Cultural Discoveries:
  • Lecture on the Irish Peace Process
  • Learn about mass Irish immigration at the Ulster American Folk Park museum

Included meals:

Breakfast & dinner

DAY 15:

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.

Included meals:


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.

Contact Vantage

CALL 1-800-848-5773

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