Best of Ireland Tour (10 Night)

Detailed Itinerary for the 10 Night Best of Ireland Self Drive/Chauffeured Tour of Ireland

This is just a summary of the day to day itinerary. You will be provided with a considerably more comprehensive daily itinerary upon booking your Ireland vacation package.

Day 1: Dublin to Kilkenny

After collecting your rental car your first stop is the National Stud and Japanese Gardens where a Horse Museum tracing the history of the horse in Ireland using artifacts, illustrations and text is located. In fact the winner of the 2003 Californian ‘Breeders Cup Mile’ race is a National Stud horse, the 3rd in the last 9 years. The Japanese Gardens are situated in the grounds of the Stud Farm and were created between 1906 and 1910. They are planned to symbolise the 'Life of Man' from the cradle to the grave. On to Kilkenny - Long renowned as Ireland’s Medieval Capital, the city’s origins date back more than 1,500 years. Characterized by beautifully restored old buildings, Kilkenny City is small and compact enough to explore on foot, yet full of fascinating, historical buildings. Kilkenny Castle is a 12th century castle remodelled in Victorian times and set in extensive parklands. Also in Kilkenny is Saint Canice's Cathedral, the second longest of Ireland's medieval cathedrals. Built on the site of an earlier church, the major portion of the work that produced the beautiful Gothic structure was carried out in the middle of the 13th Century.

Day 2: Kilkenny to Kinsale in County Cork

Your first stop today is the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary. Cashel was once the seat of the Kings of Munster and capital of this southern province. The Rock, which rears above the plain, dominated the land routes southwards. Kings of Ireland as well as Munster came to this spot and St. Patrick is known to have preached on the rock and converted the local King, Aenghus, here in the 5th Century. Just 10 miles further on stop is Cahir Castle, once an important stronghold of the powerful Butler family, which retains its impressive keep, tower and much of its original defensive structure. It is one of Ireland’s largest and best-preserved castles. Just east of Cork City is the harbour town of Cobh. Cobh, situated on one of the world’s largest natural harbours, was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic in 1912 and was the closest port to the site of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. The Cobh Heritage Centre sympathetically recounts these events and tells the story of emigration from Ireland to the United States and Australia from the time of the famine in 1847 up to the 1950s – known as the Queenstown Story. From Cobh to Kinsale. As well as being a charming coastal fishing harbour, Kinsale's International Museum of Wine tells the romantic story of the Irish emigrants who colonised the wine trade throughout the world after being forced to leave their own shores. Also in Kinsale is the 17th century Desmond Castle was turned into a prison. The Charles Fort is also close by.

Day 3: Kinsale & The Charles Fort

If you did not have a chance to visit the following of Kinsale's major attractions, make sure to include them today. Desmond Castle and the International Museum of Wine, which was built in about 1500 had many uses. In 1600 and 1601 it was used as an arsenal by Don Juan Aguilla during the Spanish occupation of the town which lasted for 100 days prior to the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. In the 17th century the castle became popularly known as the "French prison" and was used for prisoners of war, most of whom were captured at sea.During the American war of Independence, the crews of many American vessels were held prisoner in Kinsale in poor conditions. Other notable attractions include Charles Fort, the 17th Century star-shaped fort. St. Multose Church is well worth a visit and was built in 1190. The Courthouse and Regional Museum in was used for ceremonial occasions in the 18th century. In 1915, the Courthouse was used for the inquest into the sinking of the Lusitania. The Regional Museum is now housed in the Courthouse.

Day 4: Kinsale to Killarney

Today you have the option of the scenic but longer coastal route or the shorter route via Blarney Castle. The longer route includes visits to Mizen Head, the southernmost point in Ireland, as well as Bantry House And Gardens and the French Armada Centre, also in Bantry. From Bantry, you will be heading north to Killarney via the Healy Pass. Have your camera’s at the ready for some breathtaking scenery across the Caha Mountains that divide Cork from Kerry. After the mountain pass, you come to the town of Kenmare. The town was founded in 1670 by Sir William Petty and has a history of lace making, demonstrations of which can be seen at the town’s Heritage Centre. The alternative route for todays journey is a shorter one. First stop is the famed Blarney Castle where a climb to the ramparts to kiss the Blarney Stone is said to bestowe the gift of eloquence, otherwise known as ‘the Gift of the Gab’. From there it is straight to Killarney. With its three famous lakes and majestic mountain ranges, Killarney has been the inspiration of poets and painters over many centuries. The Killarney National Park is internationally renowned both for its scenic beauty and scientific interest. There are many walks and trails around Killarney including a 2-hour tourist trail around the town itself. You will also have a chance to visit Ross Castle, the Gap Of Dunloe or simply take a stroll through the streets of this quaint town to enjoy the great pubs and enjoy the traditional Irish music on offer.

Day 5: Killarney, The Ring of Kerry and Muckross House

You have a number of touring options today. Chief amongst these is the Ring of Kerry driving tour. The Ring of Kerry is a journey through some of the country’s most outstanding scenery around the Iveragh Peninsula. Stunning mountain and coastal scenery combined with colourful towns and villages will make this one of the highlights of your tour. For those who wish to take a break from driving we can arrange a bus tour through this route. Following the peninsula drive, you then arrive at Muckross House. Muckross House is a magnificent Victorian mansion completed in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert. The location of the House is spectacular, close to the eastern shore of Muckross Lake and set beneath the impressive backdrop of Torc and Mangerton Mountains. As an alternative to the Ring of Kerry tour you may prefer to take a wonderful tour by pony and trap that takes you through the Black Valley in the Gap of Dunloe. After a snack at Lord Brandon’s Cottage, you will return to Killarney by boat via the beautiful lakes of Killarney.

Day 6: Killarney to the west coast of County Clare

One of your longest but most dramatic days of your tour brings you from Killarney to the west coast of County Clare. First stop will be the Village of Adare in County Limerick. Adare is regarded by many a seasoned traveller as Ireland’s prettiest village with its charming thatched cottages, manicured public park and ancient church. From Adare continue along the N20 towards Limerick City of ‘Angelas Ashes’ fame and home to King Johns Castle. Shortly after this, you arrive at Bunratty Castle. Built in 1425, this majestic castle was restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendour. Within the grounds of the Castle is Bunratty Folk Park where 19th century Irish life is vividly recreated. Continuing on to the magnificent ‘Cliffs of Moher’. The majestic Cliffs of Moher are without doubt one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights and overlook the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of West Clare. You then arrive at the village of Doolin. Doolin is world-famous for its wealth of Irish folk music and in recent years has been attracting crowds to spontaneous sessions in any one of its excellent pubs. Just north of the Cliffs you then have the lunar like Burren region and the ancient Poulnabrone Dolmen Tombs.

Day 7: West Coast of Clare to Galway

Today we travel to the university city of Galway via the lunar like Burren Region and the ancient Poulnabrone Dolmen Tombs. Also on route, you will have a chance to visit Dunguaire Castle was built in 1520 by the O'Hynes clan on the picturesque shores of Galway Bay. Galway, the ‘City of the Tribes’ is also known as Ireland’s Cultural and festival capital. With its street entertainers and traditional pubs with great music, Galway and in particular, the Quays area of the city centre will enthrall you particularly in the evening time. Other sites in Galway include Ireland’s largest medieval parish church, the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas of Myra dating back to 1320. Christopher Columbus reputedly worshipped in this church in 1477. Also nearby are Galway Cathedral, the Spanish Arch and Eyre Square.

Day 8: Galway and the Connemara Region

Today, the hauntingly beautiful Connemara Region awaits you. Just west of Galway, Situated on the most western seaboard of Europe, this unspoilt region boasts breathtaking scenery. The characteristic features of Connemara include its rugged, unpolluted coastline, dramatic mountains, numerous lakes and rivers and woodlands and the renowned Connemara National Park. Visit Kylemore Abbey and the Lough Inagh Valley as well as the spectacular Sky Road near the town of Clifden. You can also visit the fishing village of Roundstone and see how a ‘Bodhran’ (traditional Irish Drum) is made. Alternatively, you may prefer to take the ferry to the Aran Islands. Aran will take you back to an Ireland of Celts and Early Christians. Take a pony and trap, or a guided tour from the pier up the island to the stone fort of Dun Aengus. Dún Aengus is located on top of a 300ft high sea cliff andis one of the finest prehistoric monuments in Western Europe. This evening, back to the Quays area of the city for some of the best traditional entertainment in the country.

Day 9: Galway to Dublin via Clonmacnoise

Todays journey to Dublin takes in some of Ireland’s most historical landmarks. First of these is the ancient monastic settlement at Clonmacnoise. This is an early Christian site founded by Saint Ciaran in the 6th century on the banks of the River Shannon and includes the ruins of a cathedral, eight, two round towers, three high crosses and a large collection of early Christian grave slabs. From here, we travel either to Dublin or take a slight detour to the megalithic tombs of Newgrange. One of the great wonders of the ancient world, Newgrange is older than Stonehenge, Mycenae or even the Pyramids of Egypt and is foremost among the passage-tombs of Europe. From here, we travel south to Dublin City. Dublin city centre is a compact area, with all points of interest being easily accessible on foot. As a result you will find a large number of walking tours available, the most popular of which include the “Historical Walking Tour” and the “Literary Pub Crawl”. You may of course wish to visit many of the sights in your own time either on foot or with the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus service that stops at all of the major attractions including Dublin Castle, Trinity Castle & the Book of Kells, Kilmainham Gaol, the National Museum of Ireland and The Guinness Storehouse to name just a few.

Day 10: Dublin city centre and Trinity College

Continue your sightseeing in Dublin today visiting the many historical and modern attractions that this cosmopolitan city has to offer. Other attractions include Christ Church Cathedral which was founded in the year 1030 by Sitric, King of the Dublin Norsemen, the James Joyce Centre & the Dublin Writers Museum. Of course, you may wish to take time out to shop in Grafton Street or any one of a number of narrow and quaint streets that the café strewn city centre has to offer. This evening, why not spend some time in the Temple Bar area. This small area boasts a dazzling choice of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops to suit all tastes and pockets, all within easy walking distance of Temple Bar's many cultural centres and galleries. Its narrow cobbled streets are pedestrianised and are ideally suited to a leisurely stroll through the quarter. There is also the opportunity to experience an evening’s entertainment at The Abbey Tavern or the more intimate Irish House Party where good food combined with exception traditional music and dance are the order of the day.

End of Tour

This morning, check out of your hotel for the journey home.