• ireland-cliffs-of-moher
    Cliffs of Moher
  • ireland-dingle-town
    Dingle Town
  • ireland-gaelic-music-evening
    Irish Musical Evening
  • ireland-ock-of-cashel
    Rock of Cashel
  • ireland-dublin-walking-tour
    Dublin Walking Tour
  • Ha’ Penny Bridge in Dublin

Tour Questions? Call 425-608-4217

Heart of Ireland in 8 Days Tour

from $2,495 + Air

Optional Single Supplement $625

See Tour Dates

Tight on time? The Heart of Ireland in 8 Days — Rick's personal "best of" distillation of our two-week Best of Ireland tour — starts in Ennis (just down the road from Shannon Airport) and ends in Dublin. Each day along the way, in the good hands of your Rick Steves guide and local experts, you’ll be amazed at all you’ll experience in a mere week of touring the Emerald Isle: must-see historical sites, charming towns, music-filled pubs, artisan visits and walking tours — including the Rock of Cashel, the Cliffs of Moher, Ennis Friary, Adare Village, Dingle Town, the Dingle Peninsula, the Great Blasket Centre, crystal cutting and whiskey tasting, plus the Brú na Bóinne archaeology site and more. Join us for the Heart of Ireland in 8 Days!

Dates & Prices

2015

What's Included

  • A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of Ireland come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 18 group sightseeing events • Cliffs of Moher • Ennis orientation walk • Ennis Friary • Adare visit • Dingle folk concert • Walking tour of Dingle • Whiskey tasting • Gaelic music evening • Dingle's Slea Head Drive • Crystal cutting demonstration • Blasket Islands Heritage Centre • Gallarus Oratory • Rock of Cashel • Dublin walking tour • Trinity College • Book of Kells • Guinness Storehouse • Brú na Bóinne archaeology site...and more

  • All group transportation from Ennis to Dublin
  • 7 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels and B&Bs
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Free stuff including Rick Steves Ireland guidebook, moneybelt and earplugs
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2015
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above

Itinerary

Daily Activity Key
  • Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
  • Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
  • Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.

Day 1: Welcome to Ireland

At 2 p.m., we'll gather together at our hotel for a brief meeting. Then we'll take a drive through County Clare to the dramatic Cliffs of Moher, where you'll find yourself leaning into the wind, teetering on the very edge of Europe, more than 600 feet above the churning waters of the North Atlantic. Afterward we'll return to Ennis and get to know one another over a hearty "Welcome to Ireland" dinner together. Sleep in Ennis (1 night). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 2: Ennis to Dingle Town

After breakfast we'll pack up and board our comfy bus, setting course for Ireland's Dingle Peninsula. En route we'll stop to visit the 13th-century Ennis Friary and County Limerick's lovely village of Adare. At the end of our drive we'll arrive in the pastel-painted, quintessentially-Irish harbor town of Dingle. Tonight we'll enjoy a gourmet dinner of local specialties at our guesthouse, followed by a folk concert at St. James' Church. Sleep in Dingle (3 nights). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 3: All Day in Dingle

This morning we'll have a lively walking tour of Dingle Town, learning about its seafaring heritage, rich history, and perhaps a bit of local gossip. Following a free afternoon to soak in more of the charms of Dingle and dinner on your own, we'll rendezvous for an intimate evening of Gaelic tunes at a local music shop. No bus. Walking: light.

Day 4: The Dingle Peninsula

It's a great day to experience some of Europe's wildest natural beauty and most ancient Christian sites. We'll start our day with a crystal cutting demonstration from a master craftsman, then hop aboard our bus with our local expert to follow the famous Slea Head Drive, our vote for the most beautiful road in Ireland. We'll stop to tour the strikingly-situated Great Blasket Centre, where we'll get a close-up look at the language, literature and daily life of a traditional Gaelic Blasket community. Working up a thirst, we’ll find relief with a tour and tasting at the Dingle "Founding Fathers" Whiskey Distillery. Your evening is free, so no doubt you'll return to Dingle town with a pub in mind, ready for as much dancing and singing with new friends as you can handle. Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 5: The Rock of Cashel and Dublin

Today we'll bid goodbye to Dingle as our bus transports us across the Emerald Isle to Dublin. On our way we'll stop to tour one of Ireland's most historic and evocative sights: the Rock of Cashel. St. Patrick himself was here more than 1,500 years ago, and ever since, the Rock has been the spiritual heart of Ireland. From the craggy remains of the cathedral and castle to the views stretching out across the Plain of Tipperary, this is where the Irish in you will stir from head to toe. Upon arrival in Dublin we'll stretch our legs with a neighborhood orientation walk, followed by dinner together. Sleep in Dublin (3 nights). Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 6: Prehistoric Tombs and onto Dublin

Today we'll drive an hour out of Dublin to one of Europe's premier archaeological sites: the ancient tombs of Brú na Bóinne. Predating Stonehenge by a thousand years and the pyramids at Giza by 500, these massive "passage tombs" of Newgrange and Knowth are windows into a mysterious, pre-Celtic Ireland, just as it was pulling itself up and out of the Stone Age. This afternoon we'll return to Dublin to tour a different monument: the Guinness Storehouse, home of Ireland's national beer. From here, you'll be free to make your way back to our hotel neighborhood. The rest of the afternoon and evening are yours to explore more of diverse, dynamic Dublin. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 7: The Historic Heart of Dublin

This morning we'll take a walking tour through Dublin, learning about its often calamitous history, from the days of Viking raids to the hard centuries of British occupation, to its remarkable literary legacy, to the modern city of today. We'll begin at Trinity College for an illuminating look at the remarkable Book of Kells, a jolt of Irish creativity that helped pull Europe out of the Dark Ages. The rest of your day will be free to take in some of Dublin's other world-class sights, such as the National Museum or Dublin Castle. Tonight we'll compare notes and celebrate our marvelous week together over a farewell dinner. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 8: Tour Over After Breakfast

Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. You can fly out of Dublin's handy airport, or take the ferry to Wales for further adventures in the British Isles. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Slán leat!

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Activity Level

Our tours are physically active! It’s an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Heart of Ireland in 8 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...

  1. Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
  2. Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
  3. Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
  4. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.

Reviews

Linda

Buchanan, NY

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my second Rick Steves tour and my husband's first. We had a wonderful time and everything was very well organized. The other tour members, the driver and guide were all exceptional traveling partners. We were fortunate enough to have the sun shine during our visit to the Cliffs of Moher and if we could have stayed there longer that would have made the trip outstanding. We managed to pack in a lot of history and local culture in a short time with plenty of free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Cliffs of Moher were my "wow" moment, apparently it is rare to have the sun shine during your visit and they truly are a sight to be seen. Simply breath taking!"

Barbara

Findlay, OH

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I understand that the 8 day Ireland tour was a newly added abbreviation of the 2 week tour. It was perfect for us and I'm sure it will be popular with many people. I am a 60 something woman who traveled with my 40 something son and daughter-in-law and my teen and preteen granddaughters. Finding time for a 2 week tour that would fit everyone's schedules was impossible. This tour certainly hit the highlights and was complete in itself.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I chose Ireland for this, my only trip to Europe, because I wanted to see the waves splashing against the cliffs and the lush green of the countryside, and I was not disappointed. Over and above that, and it is hard to call this a "wow" experience, but I was touched by the warmth of the people. You sometimes think of tourists being a bother to the local population but everyone was genuinely welcoming and I didn't get the "ugly American" feel at all."

Ralph

Issaquah, WA

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very well organized with excellent local tour guides, excellent cultural experiences, great food, and sufficient free time for both exploration and rest along the way. Barry was attentive to the needs of the tour members and offered great advice on ways to use your free time. Overall, another great Rick Steves tour experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me, the music in Dingle was a highlight, particular the special concert at the music store. The drive along the Dingle peninsula was great."

Shannon

Lowell, MI

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was everything I expected it to be and so much more! Our tour guide, Barry, was wonderful, funny, helpful and so knowledgeable. Our bus driver, Joe, was kind, helpful, and really got to know everyone in our group. The group size was perfect, not too big, not too small. The sights were beautiful and unforgettable. I also learned so much about each sight because of our tour guide, bus driver and local guides. The length of the tour was perfect for my needs.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moment was walking along the Cliffs of Moher. The day was clear with the perfect temperature and a nice wind. The sheer size of the Cliffs and the contrast between the green grass, grey rock and blue water mesmerized me! It was a stunning and memorable way to begin our trip!"

Pamela

Marshall, MI

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

THIS WAS ONE OF THE MOST THRILLING TIMES OF MY LIFE. FROM DAY ONE TO THE LAST DAY, I ENJOYED IT ALL! BARRY WAS AN INCREDIBLE GUIDE AND PERSON, AND THE DRIVING, BY JOE,AMAZING! THE HOTELS WERE EXCEPTIONAL, AND ESPECIALLY LIKED THE OLD GROUND HOTEL. GREAT FOOD AND SERVICE. DINGLE'S B&B'S WERE COMFY AND FRIENDLY, LOVED THEM! THE SITES WE WENT TO WERE JUST WHAT I HAD HOPED TO SEE. THE OLDER THE BETTER! THE ROUTES WE DROVE ON HAD INCREDIBLE LANDSCAPES AND VIEWS. CAN'T WAIT FOR THE NEXT TRIP

Favorite "WOW" moment

"ALL OF THE LANDSCAPE WAS INCREDIBLE, BUT I THINK MY FAVORITE WAS DINGLE! I FELL IN LOVE WITH IT'S CHARM AND BEAUTY. THE PEOPLE OF DINGLE ARE SO FRIENDLY IT MADE ME WANT TO STAY! I AM AN ANTHROPOLOGY BUFF, SO I WAS THRILLED TO GO TO THE KNOWTH MOUNDS. EVEN THOUGH I HAD SOME PHYSICAL ISSUES, I MIGHT HAVE BEEN LAST, BUT DIDN'T MISS ONE IMPORTANT THING! BRINGING MY FAMILY NEXT TIME!!"

Lindsey

Eldersburg, MD

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour far exceeded any expectation I had. Having been on quite a few tours in Europe before I had thought I knew what I was getting myself into, I was wrong. From our amazing tour guide Barry, to our fantastic tour driver Joe aka Handsome Joe, the travel companions, the experiences planned...it was more than I could have imagined.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The concerts in Dingle, those are experiences you do not normally get on other tours. You see the highlights, the tourists attractions, these were intimate cultural experiences that made you feel like part of the community."

Cameron

Newark, OH

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was seamless. Our time was well occupied, never a dull moment, with a good balance of free time to explore on your own and scheduled trips. The tour was a great balance of sights, sounds and society - something for just about everyone!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I say there was close to one "wow moment" after another, maybe that's why it is called "Best of Ireland". If I have to narrow it down I would list these: 1. The Cliffs of Moher, 2. Knowth Passage Mounds, 3. The Great Blasket Center. If challenged I couldn't justify leaving out a lot of things, but here it is!"

Jean

Brandon, FL

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide Barry was great and our driver Joe was too! The hotels were very nice and the entertainment was extraordinary. I had a great time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The entertainment. The musicians and dancers blew me away. Fantastic!"

Karen

Lansing, MI

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved the whole experience. I thought the group size was perfect. If there were less, it might be difficult to find some with shared interests. If there were more, you wouldn't have a chance to get to know who you were traveling with. The accommodations were varied with some exceeding my expectations and some falling slightly short. I felt the same about the meals that were included and appreciated the effort to offer both traditional fare and gourmet options.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite moment was not a moment but a day, Independence Day. I often dread it at home because it seems it has become a month long string of late nights filled with loud noises and bright lights flying in the air. But, in Ireland, the whole country seemed intent on honoring my culture with flags flying and flowers arranged in beautiful red, white and blue bouquets. There were even restaurants offering pecan pie and Kentucky bourbon. The people there are the friendliest I have ever met."

Frances Evelyn

Tualatin, OR

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Memories were certainly made. I enjoyed my tour very much and felt like I will do another one. The overall feeling was amazing and I continue to relive the moments in my heart and mind. I enjoyed our Bed and Breakfast but wish it would have been closer within Dingle. The food was amazing and any concerns anyone had seemed to be delt with very quickly. I especially appreciated our cheerful and kind bus driver Steven. Patrick was always very accomadating and made us feel valued. Great tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Dingle peninsula."

Pam

Orono, MN

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I could not be happier! Every aspect of the tour was more than I could have imagined - Pat did a fantastic job as our guide, and I love that the group was smaller than other tours. I plan on going back to Ireland at some point.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think the Newgrange tomb was just stunning."

Nancy

South Bend, IN

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I cannot praise this tour highly enough. The sights were amazing, Pat was a terrific guide, Stephen guided our bus through some very narrow spaces, the mix of activities provided something for everyone and my fellow tour members were delightful. As always, the tour was a good mix of structured and free time. I particularly enjoyed the two concerts in Dingle, which provided us with a wonderful dose of traditional Irish music.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This tour had many WOW moments, but my favorite had to be Bru na Boinne. Actually being able to enter the Newgrange passage tomb was incredible and it was humbling to think that ancient people stood in the same place 5,000 years ago."

Ella

Lawrence, KS

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall, the experience on the tour was great. I had honestly expected just to be riding along with 26 strangers for a week but by the end everyone had made a few new friends. I also definitely feel like the tour covered a lot for being 8 days, rather than the 2 weeks, and I saw almost everything I wanted to see.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think my "wow" moment was visiting the John B. Keane pub. I really am a huge fan of Irish lit and Keane has always been on of my favorites. Getting to meet Billy Keane and hearing his stories of his father and family was just so amazing. And he was so kindhearted and wonderful. Getting to sit in the very same pub as John B. Keane was just so great."

Melody

Eugene, OR

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Our Ireland tour was taken following our Scotland tour and we were "spoiled" in Scotland. There was a different vibe on the Ireland tour, feeling more like a history classroom. We visited interesting and significant places and were treated to some out-of-the-ordinary experiences. I appreciated the knowledge and practiced information that Pat brought to our tour. I wished there had been follow through on doing the "buddy bio" during our first day, because I think it would have bonded us better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was the significance and amazing tombs of Bru na Boinne. To stand in a place that was that ancient, to realize the magnitude of what was accomplished was phenomenal!"

Anne

Tallahassee, FL

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This 8-day Ireland experience was both lovely and relaxing! It was exactly what we hoped for. We explored many Irish ruins and historical sites, with knowledgeable, and welcoming local guides. Local guides in Dingle and Dublin were wonderful. All the Irish natives who hosted us, or whom we met in various places were extremely welcoming and helpful. Meals especially tasty! Temps were a little chilly, even for Ireland in late-May, so we encourage a weather phone app! Great group, too.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My experience was pretty "even" in terms of "wow-factor." Probably the most impressive was the Book of Kells at Trinity College."

Laurel

Red Oak, IA

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our whole family had a wonderful time on the Rick Steves tour. It was well planned out, not too much was packed into each day and we were given time to explore on our own. We have traveled Europe on our own for ten years so it was a unique experience to join a tour. It took some of the stress off of the planning and it was fun to be part of the group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Dingle was amazing. The concerts were magical. The Blasket Island day was so much fun. We were wow-ed pretty much the whole time."

Nancy

Bay Village, OH

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 1 of 5

The reason we signed up for a Rick Steve's Tour is because we were hoping to have a better overall experience then we have had with other tours. By that I mean, we were looking forward to the tour guides insight into the culture,influence of the church, politics, past history, current events, future, etc. All the insights one would expect from a Rick Steve's Tour. That didn't happen. Our tour guide was very nice however there were hours of silence on the bus. That time could have been used.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Dingle Peninsula."

Theresa

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great tour guide (Rozanne) and bus driver (Steven)!! I felt that the tour covered 90% of my wish list of what I wanted to see in Ireland. I think the accommodations were above averge and the food great! Enjoyed the "local tour guides walking and the one that joined us in dingle for the day tour. I felt they added to the local, new and ancient history. Really ENJOYED our tour and have already discussed which tour will be next and when.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Trinity library was a really "wow" moment for me. Amazing, beautiful and a group after us broke into to song while in the library and it was absolutely angelic."

Debra

Flagstaff, AZ

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We enjoyed the pace of this tour and seeing the highlights of Ireland. Rozanne was extremely knowledgable about the history of Ireland. The local guides were also excellent and added to our experience. We loved being in most places for 3 nights and spending a bit more time than the usual RS tours where we were 2 nights on stops. The tour was a good combination of small towns, big city and time on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many wow moments, but some of my favorites were the beautiful Cliffs of Moher, the folk music in Dingle and the fascinating Bru Na Boine. Dingle was definitely our overall favorite stop on the tour. We loved the place and the people!"

Bryan

Farmington, UT

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

The guide was pleasant enough, she didn't seem to be passionate about the country or the culture. We had to rely on city guides and our own reading to give information. We enjoyed Ireland and the stops we made, but the lack of enthusiasm by our guide did color our overall experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The pubs in Dingle...the music and the friendliness of the people."

Dawn

Farmington, UT

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 2 of 5

After taking six previous Rick Steves tours we had come to expect a certain level of excellence. We were excited for the shorter Ireland tour which fits our schedule better. However, the lack of leadership from our guide was a great disappointment. This colored our satisfaction with our tour experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The high school students that broke into song in the library at Trinity College. Lovely madrigal singing in a spectacular setting."

Nicole

Enid, OK

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Heart of Ireland tour was an wonderful experience. I enjoyed every aspect of the vacation. It was wonderful to go from a busy daily routine to a relaxing vacation.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Favorite "wow" moments, well there were several. The history and ruins we encountered as well as the beautiful views from the cliffs of moher to dingle bay to just the average countryside were amazing!"

Christopher

Enid, OK

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My first European trip traveling with a tour group. The overall experience was fabulous, it was energetic, informative and yet seemed really stress free. The transportation, coach, hotels, tour guides and local guides were all top notch. I personally like this way of travel, packing light, small group, getting closer to the local people. The tour stayed on schedule, maximized the sites to be seen, provided you with information overload of local history, while throwing in some personal time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My personal "WOW" besides the scenery, the friendly people, the history lessons, the wonderful food and drinks "never a bad meal" was meeting and watching Sean Daly cut crystal at his shop in Dingle. I do not like shopping in general, especially on vacation. So I did not let my wife go in to Dingle Crystal on Green St in Dingle. Well the next day our tour visited Sean's shop in Milltown, we watched Sean and his son cut crystal "by hand", it was amazing. I bought Dingle Chrystal!!!!"

Arnie

Edmond, OK

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my second tour with you and liked this one even more! Our Tour Guide (Rozanne) was so knowledgeable and so nice at the same time. She really made the tour outstanding. Our local guides were great too.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The two music events were awesome!!!!"

Beverley

Pittsfield, MA

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I enjoyed the trip overall. I saw things that I would otherwise have missed, learned a lot about and feel that I saw a good deal of Ireland, appreciated the special dinners, and was very glad to have a good amount of free time as well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the Gallarus Oratory. It was stunning. Other highlights: Cliffs of Moher, the town of Dingle, seeing the countryside, concert at St. James Irish Church in Dingle and at the Dingle music shop (Dingle Record Shop?). I was excited to see the Book of Kells but wish that the arrangement for viewing it were better. I know that setup has nothing to do with Rick Steves' tours but thought I'd pass it along."

Craig

Pittsfield, MA

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall I had a very good time. The hotels, dinners, guides, and sights were all very good. I got to see and do some things that I would not have seen or done on my own. The weather the first four days was difficult, unseasonably cold (many of the locals were apologizing for it)and seasonably rainy. I expected the group to "gel" better than it did. Everyone was pleasant but not really connected.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We arrived two days early and experienced our wow moments at Cragaunowen and Quinn Abbey. The OPW at Quinn Abbey was delightful and gave us a great tour. They should be added to your tours. On the tour, the Slea Loop Drive and Newgrange were pretty special."

Bernice

Woodway, WA

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Thought it was great. Have no complaints.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved all the music choices on the bus. Loved the pub scenes in the Dingle area. Enjoyed the library at trinity."

Randy

Calgary, AB

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Country, People & Scenery exceeded my expectations. Perfect mix of urban and rural environments. Chose first tour of year as we anticipated crowds may be an issue during the summer period. With the exception of spending a Saturday in Dublin our activities were not impacted. That Saturday was positioned as the announcement date of the national plebiscite and could be considered an exception. Perhaps spending Saturday in Dublin could be avoided?

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I enjoyed having the opportunity to interact with the local people. musicians, storytellers, writers & day guides."

Katherine

Orono, ME

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour covered all the things I most wanted to see in Ireland - - the wild western coast, the traditional music scene (in Dingle), the Newgrange prehistoric site, and the early stone buildings at Cashel and on the Dingle peninsula. The inclusion of special things like the crystal cutting demo and the visit to John B Keans' pub were also good. It was the perfect introduction to Ireland and I personally find the items included in this itinerary to be better than the 14-day Ireland tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Everything was enjoyable."

Joan

Bar Harbor, ME

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The "Heart of Ireland" 8 day tour was exactly that. Every place we went we were giving history by local guides and community members who were so genuine in how they shared this knowledge. The bus drivers, hotels and restaurants were fabulous and I feel all good choices. There was the right mix of time together as a tour group and time on or own. Our tour guide Pat made extra efforts for us to get to know the people of Ireland.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved every moment, but the standout was Bru' na Boinne, the passage tomb of Newgrange."

Bob

Tulsa, OK

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As usual, the total experience was great. Pat was truly outstanding - this was the first ever RS 8 day tour of Ireland and he worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth experience for all of us. One of the ladies was having a couple of unrelated problems and he went over and above expectations to help her have a positive outcome and experience. He selflessly spent several of his evenings to give us an insider's taste of Ireland. Great guide, great group, great places to experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Meeting Billy in his pub for lunch and two nights later getting to see a play in Dublin (thanks again Pat) that had been written by Billy's father. This made for a very personal taste of Irish culture."

Weather

Ireland / Dublin

Dublin Weather

Pre-Tour

We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.

Trip Resources

Learn more about Ireland: Check out a collection of Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, plus find a list of recommended books and movies.

Transportation

Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations. The town of Ennis, where our tour starts, is an easy half-hour bus ride from Shannon Airport.

Many tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.

There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. Most tour members will arrange to fly into Shannon and out of Dublin (“multi-city” on flight booking websites). Booking round-trip to one city will require a connecting flight, bus trip, or additional overnight stay in Ireland. Both Shannon and Dublin are major transportation hubs, making additional travel before or after your tour quite easy.

Note: If you plan to spend a few days in the UK as part of your itinerary, you’ll find a better selection of post-tour Dublin-London flights to choose from than pre-tour London-Shannon flights. Rick Steves Great Britain and Rick Steves London guidebooks have London sightseeing, hotel, and restaurant suggestions.

For information about flying within Europe, ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines

Read Rick's train travel and rail pass tips to decide if your travel plans merit a rail pass.

If you have additional European travel or tour questions, contact the Tour Department at 425-608-4217 or email tour@ricksteves.com.

Sightseeing On Your Own

If you arrive in Ennis before your tour begins, use Rick Steves Ireland guidebook to get oriented. Wander the city center, join a day trip to the nearby Burren, try a pint in a cozy pub, and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.

If you plan to spend extra time in Dublin before or after the tour, here are suggestions for sightseeing that we will not be doing as a group: “hop-on/hop-off” bus tour; National Gallery; Dublin Castle; Kilmainham Gaol; Dublin Writers' Museum. For details and other possibilities, see your Rick Steves Ireland guidebook.

Packing

Many of this tour’s activities are outdoors, and Ireland’s weather can be unpredictable. We recommend you pack along a rain jacket and a warm layer for underneath it (light sweater or microfleece liner). Also bring comfortable walking shoes with good traction.

For more advice on what (and what not!) to pack, see Rick’s packing tips.