11 Days/10 Nights Explore & Adore Tour of Ireland
Looking for the perfect vacation in Ireland - then try out this suggested Blue Book tour, with breathtaking landscapes and luxurious accommodation.
Arrive in Shannon airport and travel along the coast northwards. The majestic Cliffs of Moher overlook the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard of County Clare. Overnight: The Blue Book recommends Gregans Castle, a chic, manor house, perched on Corkscrew Hill.
Overnight: Gregans Castle
Lots to see and explore in this unique county so it is best to stay here for two nights. Drive around the Burren, a rugged area of limestone hills and stop by the Burren Visitor Centre in Kilfenora.
View the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a Neolithic burial place, dating back to 4,000 BC. The Ailwee Caves are also worth a visit.
Overnight: Gregans Castle
Along the drive to Galway, you will see cute little villages and towns but do stop just south of Galway city at Paddy Burke’s in Clarenbridge, for a glass of Guinness and some oysters. If visiting in September you will be in the thick of the Clarenbridge Oyster Festival. When you arrive in Galway you will behold a vibrant city exploding with charisma, inextricably linked with history, culture and music. Overnight: For a countryside option close to Galway City, consider Currarevagh House situated on the shores of Lough Corrib in 150 acres of private woodland or Glenlo Abbey Hotel also situated on the shores of Lough Corrib.
You are now heading into the heart of Connemara, so put on your favourite music and drive through the rich bogland landscape with the Twelve Bens mountain range in the distance. If you fancy a hike, the mountains provide excellent walking and climbing opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. Overnight, you have three delightful options: Rosleague Manor, a beautiful Georgian house overlooking Ballinakill Bay and set in 30 acres of secluded woodland, Cashel House Hotel set in 50 acres of grounds on the beautiful coastline of Cashel Bay with Cashel Hill rising behind or Delphi Lodge, a delightful 1830s Country House Hotel located in a wild and unspoilt valley of extraordinary beauty, surrounded by the tallest mountains in Connemara, overlooking the rivers of Delphi Valley.
From Rosleague, it is just a short drive to the renowned Kylemore Abbey, located in Connemara National Park. Stroll through the reception rooms, visit the Gothic Church or the six-acre walled Victorian garden. Moving on you will travel alongside the mountains between Galway and Mayo, making time to visit another must-see place en route - Croagh Patrick, otherwise known as ‘the crowned mountain of Ireland’. Thousands of pilgrims journey to the top of Croagh Patrick each year.
A visit to one of the islands off the west coast is akin to finding your soul and it is possible to drive to one of these islands – Achill Island, which has connected by a road to the mainland. Stop for a paddle on one of the beaches here. Overnight Options: Enniscoe House, a listed heritage house of Ireland situated on the shores of Lough Conn. The Ice House a truly iconic building overlooking the spectacular and ever-changing River Moy or Belleek Castle, an iconic castle, gourmet restaurant and hotel on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Sligo borders Mayo and is known as Yeats Country, because of its association with the poet W.B. Yeats, who is buried at Drumcliffe Churchyard. Another place to see is the cairn is the summit of Knocknarae, known locally as Queen Maeve’s grave. To recover from your climb a gentle tour of Lissadell House, once home to Countess Markievicz will complete the day. A choice for overnight. Coopershill House, an ancestral Georgian mansion, which has been in the same family for 8 generations.
Overnight: Coopershill House
On the road back to Dublin ensure to stop off in the heart of the midlands where there are hundreds of lakes to explore. Headfirst for the Wineport Lodge, a wonderful cedar lodge on the lake’s edge for an overnight stay. The owners can arrange with the local boatman, Paddy, to bring you around the lakes, with perhaps a little picnic for the excursion.
Overnight: The Wineport Lodge
Having explored a good portion of the country, you have choice of heading towards the city centre and staying at the luxurious 5 star Merrion Hotel or The Wilder Townhouse for your last night, or alternatively you can drive to Barberstown Castle and arrange for a chauffeur to pick you up and bring you into the city for a whistle-stop tour and then back to the Castle for a sumptuous meal and overnight. Or perhaps you would prefer to stay in the King Sitric in the picturesque fishing village of Howth close to Dublin. All options are very convenient for your departure from Ireland the following day.