6 Night Viking Tour of Ireland

Day 1: Discovering Viking Dublin

In your personal Irish Tourism sightseeing guide you will find directions and a map for a short Medieval & Viking Dublin self-guided walk, which is a great way to discover Dublin’s Viking connections. This walk has an accompanying audio guide which you can download if you wish and play it on your personal music player, although your Irish Tourism map and guide will have plenty of information if you choose not to do this. The walk begins at the Dublin Tourism Centre which is itself directly connected to the Viking Period as it stands on the site of a former ‘Thigmote’ which was an assembly place for passing laws during this time. Before you reach Christchurch Cathedral you will see the outline of a Viking House marked with red paving stones and in Christchurch itself you can discover Dublinia, Ireland’s only dedicated Viking and Medieval museum. Here you can see what it was like aboard a Viking Ship, learn of Viking Weaponry, Visit a Viking house reconstruction and learn more about Viking language and poetry. Dublin and Christchurch are on the Hop 0n - Hop off Bus route which are included in your travel pack, should you prefer this option.

Day 2: Continuing your Dublin Sightseeing

You might decide to use the Dublin Hop-on Hop-off bus tour today to continue your Dublin sightseeing. This will allow you the opportunity to see many of Dublin’s other major attractions including Kilmainham Gaol, Trinity College and the Book of Kells and the Guinness Storehouse to name just a small number. A highlight of your Ireland tour will be the time you spend in Dublin’s Temple Bar area which is now a thriving hub of bars and restaurants but was once a major marketplace for Viking traders. Beneath the streets here lay the remains of Viking dwellings, roads, graves and animal enclosures. Nowadays you are sure to find the best in traditional Irish food and many lively bars, many of them having nightly traditional Irish music.  Nearby, Fishamble Street is thought to be the oldest street in the city and not too far away, Woodquay was the site of an extensive Viking settlement. Excavations here between 1974 and 1981 revealed a lot of what we know today about their time in Ireland.

Day 3: Dublin to Cork

There are 2 route options to you as you travel to the Viking City of Cork. You may travel via the other Viking city of Waterford which will also afford you the opportunity of visiting the Waterford Crystal Facility, the Jameson whiskey distillery and Cobh Heritage centre. Waterford City and county contains several fascinating sites to visit, some of which are historically important in relation to Viking Ireland. The name Waterford is derived from the old Norse word ‘Vedrarfjiordr’ and this is believed to be derived from either Fjord of the Rams, perhaps a reference to the trade of sheep from the region, or more likely, from windy fjord. Your tour of Viking Waterford is sure to include Reginald’s Tower which has an exhibition that displays a superb collection of historic and archaeological artefacts telling the story of Waterford's Viking past. The alternative route brings you cross country and includes visits to the National Stud in Kildare, the Rock of Cashel, where Brian Boru was crowned King of Munster and went on to defeat the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. From there continue to Cork but perhaps stopping at Cahir Castle and the famous Blarney Castle.

Day 4: Cork to Killarney in County Kerry

Today you have the option of the scenic but longer coastal route or the shorter route via Blarney Castle if not seen the previous day. A climb to the top to kiss the Blarney Stone is said to give the gift of eloquence, or commonly referred to in Ireland as ‘the Gift of the Gab’. The longer route includes visits to Mizen Head, the most southerly 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 Kerry via the stunningly beautiful Healy Pass. Make sure to have your camera’s ready for some breathtaking shots across the Caha Mountains that divide Cork from Kerry. After the mountain pass, you come to the town of Kenmare. Since its' roots in 1678, the town of Kenmare has been one of Ireland's most idyllic destinations. Situated picturesquely at the mouth of the Kenmare Bay, a visit to Kenmare leaves lasting memories with its colorful shop fronts and unrivalled range of restaurants.  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 and Killarney's tourism history goes back at least to the mid-18th century, when Thomas, fourth Viscount Kenmare (Lord Kenmare), began to attract visitors and new residents to the town. There are many lovely sites to visit around the Killarney area including Ross Castle, Killarney National Park and the Gap of Dunloe a scenic narrow mountain pass between the Macgillycuddy's Reeks to the east and Purple Mountain to the west.

Day 5: Touring the Ring of Kerry and surrounding areas

There are numerous day trips to be had while based in Killarney. The two most scenic drives in the area include the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula Driving routes, two of Ireland’s most picturesque drives. The Ring of Kerry includes visits to colourful villages and ancient heritage sites dotted around the peninsula including Skellig Michael just off the Kerry coast which held a monastic settlement that was attacked by the Vikings for the first time in 795AD. The Dingle Peninsula has more interesting antiquities, historic sites and varied mountain scenery than any other part of Ireland. The main town Dingle is the most westerly in Europe and attracts large numbers of visitors each year, many of whom come to learn the Irish language in the surrounding Irish speaking district. Also in the area are An Dún Beag Promontory Fort from 800 BC as well as the Blasket Islands and Gallarus Oratory. Gallarus Oratory was built between the seventh and eight century and is the best preserved early Christian church in Ireland. On to Brandon Creek from where legend has it that St. Brendan discovered the North American continent in the 6th century.

Day 6: On to Adare, Limerick City and Bunratty Castle

Today’s journey brings you from Killarney to Bunratty in County Clare. The longer scenic drive takes you north to the Cliffs of Moher and Burren region of County Clare and then south to Bunratty. 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. Just north of the Cliffs you then have the lunar like Burren region and the ancient Poulnabrone Dolmen Tombs. The shorter route is directly to Bunratty via 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. The history of Limerick city begins with its formation by the Vikings as a walled city on King's Island on the River Shannon in 812, and its charter in 1197. Limerick is an important town in the history of the Vikings in Ireland.  The Viking king, Thormodr Helgason, built the first permanent Viking stronghold on King's Island in Limerick in 922. Just 10 minutes from Limerick is 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.