Highlights of Ireland
Day 1 Dublin
Arrive at any time. We recommended arriving a day or two early to fully explore this lively city. With many sightseeing options – like the Temple Bar area, Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery – any extra time here will be well-used.
Day 2 Newgrange/Sligo (1B)
Enjoy a half-day tour of Newgrange, built in 3200 BC. After, head northwest to Sligo. Newgrange was built over 5,000 years ago, making it older than the pyramids in Egypt. Built during the Stone Age by a farming community, Newgrange is now listed as a UNECO World Heritage Site. This ancient complex seems to be something like an ancient temple for pagan worship. it covers over one acre and is decorated with megalithic art. There are two other main buildings and throughout the region as many as 35 small mounds. After our tour at Newgrange, we'll drive northwest to the town of Sligo, near the border of Northern Ireland. The name Sligo means "Shelly River" in Gaelic. Its rugged landscapes and uncrowded streets make this one of the most picturesque places in all of Ireland. A walkway along the Garavogue River is full of cafés, shops and restaurants while Sligo Abbey (built in 1253) demonstrates gorgeous ancient architecture. Stop by the quirky statue of Yeats, paying tribute to the works of the poet who immortalized Sligo in his poems.
Days 3-4 Galway (2B)
Head out for a morning walk around Ben Bulben mountain and visit Drumcliff and Yeats' tomb. Arrive in Galway for a guided walking tour through the medieval heart of the city. On Day 4, enjoy a full-day excursion to the Cliffs of Moher. Walk along the Wild Atlantic Way and soak in the views. Drumcliff is famous as an early Christian site with the remains of a round tower, a high cross, a monastery and, in the Drumcliff churchyard, Yeats' tomb. The detailed architecture and humble grave make for an interesting stop before the trip to Galway. Galway started as a fishing village around Galway Bay. It became a walled city in 1232 and some sections of the wall can be seen today near the Spanish Arch. Today Galway is a thriving, bohemian city popular for its beaches, winding promenade and cobblestoned streets with colourful shops and cafés. This is a great city to listen to traditional music in a pub while sipping away at a real Irish Guinness. From Galway we'll travel south to visit the beautiful Burren. This region in County Clare is famous for its barren landscape with unique rock formations along with diverse plants and animals. The area contains archaeological sites like tombs, burial chambers and the famous Celtic high cross.
Days 5 Aran Islands (1B)
Head to the Aran Islands to visit the Dun Aengus Fortress and cycle through the rugged countryside. Overnight on these charming islands.
Day 6 Killarney (1B)
Return to the mainland and continue on to Killarney. Orientation walk on arrival, then enjoy free time to visit the town or the national park. Opt to rent a traditional jaunting cart to take you through the park - a great way to get a feel for this scenic place.
Days 7-8 Cork (2B)
Take a train to Cork, the destination for the next two nights. Take a CEO-led orientation walk before a free evening to enjoy the city. On Day 8, enjoy a free morning to see the sights of Cork and opt to visit the Titanic Museum in Cobh. In the afternoon visit the Blarney Castle and Blarney Stone. As the second largest city, Cork will feel like a metropolis compared to the teeny villages you've been visiting. Built on the River Lee, the city is built on islands created by the channels cutting through the city. Cork is known for its many universities, theatres, art schools and general diversity and culture. With many immigrants settling in the inviting city, it's easy to find different types of foods, shops and cafés lining the streets. Definitely make some time to hit up a traditional pub, listen to some music and drink a pint or two – Murphy's Irish Stout hails from Cork. Nearby sights we'll visit include the Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone. The Blarney Castle was built nearly 600 years ago and has become one of the most famous sights in Ireland. The "Stone of Eloquence" is found at the top of the tower and you'll need to hang upside down and kiss the renowned Blarney Stone for the gift of gab. Enjoy a final night out on the town with your group and toast a pint to this beautiful island!
Day 9 Cork (1B)
Depart at any time. We recommend staying an extra day or two to fully experience all this city has to offer.