This island gem enchants visitors with medieval castles, windswept cliffs and a warm, welcoming culture. Taking a tour of Ireland is an opportunity to get even closer to the people and places who make Ireland such a beloved destination. Traveling with a guide who knows the history, stories and local haunts takes your trip from checking the boxes in a guidebook, to truly immersing yourself in everything Irish.
Here’s what our tours of Ireland look like. View our Ireland vacations and tours.
Many Ireland tours begin in Dublin, the Irish capital. It’s a city of significant history and literary prowess, with attractions spanning the centuries. Descend into a medieval crypt at Christ Church, see the legendary Book of Kells in Trinity College, and explore the grand state rooms of Dublin Castle. Drink a toast to Dublin from the highest bar view in the city at the Guinness Storehouse, then do it again in one of Baggot Street’s legendary music pubs later in the evening.
Killarney & the Ring of Kerry
If your trip goes to Killarney next, you’ll drive through some stunning countryside. (Well, if your trip goes to Galway next, you’ll drive through some stunning countryside, too. It’s all stunning in Ireland.) On the drive through the Wicklow Mountains, you’ll want to stop for quite a lot of photos, and a few attractions as well. Take a tour of the Waterford Crystal Factory and discover the amazing craftsmanship that goes into making the finest crystal in Europe. Waterford is also Ireland’s oldest city, with origins dating back to the days of Viking longships.
And, of course, no tour of Ireland is complete without a visit to Blarney Castle. Even if you aren’t up to the interesting contortions required to kiss the Blarney Stone and acquire that fabled Irish “gift of gab,” you’ll want to tour the castle’s spectacular grounds. Dating back to the 14th century, the remnants of Blarney Castle’s keep and its stunning gardens are a beautiful addition to any vacation. From there, you’ll travel west into the town of Killarney, gateway to the Ring of Kerry.
The Ring of Kerry is one of the most spectacularly scenic drives in the world. Highlights here include the Muckross House estate, the Staigue stone fort, Molls Gap, the Ladies’ View (named for Queen Victoria’s swooning ladies, who adored the view) and Ross Castle. From ancient mountains reflected in tranquil lakes, to remote villages where colorful historic houses cluster on the high street, southwest Ireland’s charm has been drawing visitors for hundreds of years.
For an extra treat, ride through Killarney National park by horse-drawn cart! These jaunting carts have been a popular way to view the lakes and mountains since the nineteenth century. The ride to Ross Castle and Muckross House is even more delightful with a chatty driver sharing local stories and old Celtic legends on the way.
The West of Ireland & Galway
Ireland’s west coast enjoys dramatic cliffs battered by the sea, astonishing limestone formations, and towns bursting with welcoming pubs, shops and restaurants. One favorite stop is Bunratty Castle. Dating back to the 10th century, the castle and its nearby folk park bring medieval Ireland to life. From the traditional village to the tapestries hanging inside the castle’s great hall, it’s an enchanting trip back in time.
Nearby, the Cliffs of Moher wait to be marveled at. These massive cliff-faces have been gazing over the Atlantic Ocean for thousands of years. From as high as 700 feet, you can look down at the churning ocean crashing against the rocks and view some of Ireland’s most spectacular seascapes. Do they look a little familiar? The Cliffs of Moher had starring roles in The Princess Bride as “The Cliffs of Insanity,” as well as cameos in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, among many other movies!
The west coast is also home to the unbelievable landscapes of the Burren. Limestone rock erupts from the earth here — in places, it’s just a scattering of large, flat white rocks in fields. In others, it covers the ground and even rises up in curving mountains of moon-colored stone. Ancient cultures lived in this strange place, and you can find the ring forts and cairns they left behind. Whether you just get to drive through the Burren or you explore it more closely on a longer trip, you’ll never forget this utterly unique place.
Continuing north, you’ll find yourself in a lively city with a thriving arts scene: Galway. Explore the Galway City Museum, which reveals the importance of Galway as a seafaring town since the Middle Ages. Step into the beautiful Galway Cathedral, and stop to admire Lynch Castle, one of Ireland’s great fortified houses, in the heart of the bustling pedestrian-only shopping district. Charming Quay Street is lined with bohemian restaurants and lively, authentic pubs that make for a great place to converse with the local residents. Try the local seafood — Galway is famous for rock oysters, mussels, and fish all sourced locally from the nearby Atlantic.
Amazingly, you can see all of this in just a week with an Ireland tour. Add-ons with Northern Ireland, Donegal, Connemara or additional stays in Ennis, Waterford, and other cities are perfect if you have more time!
On all of our tours of Ireland, our guests stay in fantastic Irish hotels with central locations, perfect for exploring on your own! Plus you can enjoy the service and hospitality Ireland is famous for.