Rick Steves' Best of Ireland in 14 Days Tour, Day by Day
Rick's Best of Ireland tour kicks off with the best of Dublin, followed by Ireland's must-see historical sights, charming towns, music-filled pubs, and seaside getaways. And all along the way, the friendliness of the Irish people will surely steal your heart. Hop aboard this slideshow for a sneak peek of our Best of Ireland in 14 Days tour. Let's go…
Days 1 & 2: Welcome to Ireland
Meet your guide and fellow tour members at our hotel at 5 p.m. After a group meeting, we'll enjoy a "Welcome to Ireland" dinner together, followed by an orientation walk through the heart of Dublin.
The next morning we'll take a walking tour through Dublin, learning about its rich history from the days of Viking raids to the hard centuries of British occupation to the proud and progressive city of today. We'll end our tour at Trinity College for an illuminating look at the remarkable Book of Kells, a creative jolt that helped pull Europe out of the Dark Ages. You'll have the rest of the day free to feel the pulse of a city thriving with street poets and musicians.
Days 3 & 4: The Rock of Cashel and Kinsale
On our way out of Dublin, we'll stop at Kilmainham Gaol and learn about its place in Ireland's stirring struggle for independence less than a century ago. Then we'll continue on to the green Plain of Tipperary, where we'll tour the ecclesiastical center that thrived in St. Patrick's time: the evocative ruins of the Rock of Cashel. Our day will end with dinner together in the picturesque harbor town of Kinsale, where we'll sleep.
The following day, we'll be treated to a walking tour that brings Kinsale's past to life, places its story in the wider sweep of history, and makes the stony sights much more than buildings. Inspired by all we've learned, we'll continue on to explore the massive and (for its time) revolutionary Charles Fort, which overlooks the harbor. You'll have the afternoon and evening free to make your own tasty discoveries in Kinsale, known as Ireland's gourmet capital.
Days 5 & 6: Killarney and the Dingle Peninsula
Today we'll take a scenic drive along the forests (Ireland's largest), mountains, and lakes of Killarney National Park. Then we'll balance-off this peacefulness with a visit to a local sheep farm, marveling at its talented dogs in action. We'll end our day in the Dingle Peninsula, where we'll enjoy dinner together and one of the country's best traditional music scenes.
The next day provides a great opportunity to experience some of Europe's wildest natural beauty and most ancient Christian sights. We'll start our day with a crystal cutting demonstration from a master craftsman, then hop aboard our bus with a 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 designed Great Blasket Centre, where we'll get an intimate look at the language, literature, and daily life of a traditional Gaelic Blasket community. Tonight we'll return to our home village, Dingle, with as much dancing and singing with new friends as we can handle.
Days 7 & 8: More Dingle and the Cliffs of Moher
Today is all yours…free on the Dingle Peninsula. Take a long walk along the local paths and lanes, hire a bicycle and pedal the scenic 30-mile Dingle Loop, sail for the day to the rugged Blasket Islands, or simply savor your generous Irish breakfast and hang out in town.
The next morning, we'll 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. Farther up the road, we'll tour the rocky moonscape of the Burren to learn about its unique ecosystem and hardy prehistoric residents. Tonight we'll share dinner together and sleep in Galway.
Days 9 & 10: Galway, the Aran Islands, and Connemara
This morning we'll hop aboard a ferry bound for the stark beauty of Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. There you can join your guide for a minibus tour 'round this dramatic island, including the site of its ancient, cliff-hanging Celtic fortress, Dun Aengus. Or, you'll have plenty of time to set out on foot, hire a pony cart, or pedal a bike to explore this windswept island on your own.
The next morning, we'll drive through the Connemara region, enjoying the beautiful Irish countryside. We'll stop in the charming town of Cong (where Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne filmed The Quiet Man in 1951), stroll through the picturesque abbey ruins, and visit the School of Falconry at Ashford Castle. Then we'll drive north to County Mayo and Westport, where we'll settle in for the evening.
Days 11 & 12: Derry and the Giant's Causeway
We'll seamlessly cross into Northern Ireland today. In Derry, a local guide will take us on a tour of the town, sharing stories about "the Troubles" and the infamous "Bloody Sunday" of 1972. Then we'll drive on to the nostalgic seaside resort of Portrush, where we'll have dinner together and sleep.
The next day, we'll explore Northern Ireland's spectacular Antrim Coast, marveling at the bizarre basalt columns and local legends of the Giant's Causeway. After taking time to fortify yourself with a wee dram at the venerable Old Bushmills Distillery, we'll cross the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge (weather permitting) and visit the romantic, clifftop ruins of Dunluce Castle.
Day 13: Belfast and the Titanic
This morning, we'll drive to Belfast, the vibrant capital of Northern Ireland. We'll begin at the Titanic Belfast visitor experience, located on the very site where the great ship was built. After lunch, we'll join a local guide for a walking tour of historic Belfast. A visit to the Discover Ulster Scots Center will provide a glimpse into the rich heritage of this influential Protestant group, known in the US as the Scotch-Irish. Then we'll board our coach for a rolling tour that takes us along reminders of the past decades' Troubles, including the striking political murals of Shankill and Falls Road. Our day will end as we kick up our heels at a tasty farewell supper together, where we'll share travel memories and toast new friends. Sláinte!
Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast
Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. You can fly out of Belfast or Dublin's handy airports, or, for those not ready to return home yet, both cities are a great jumping off point to Paris, London, Amsterdam, and many other exciting destinations. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Slán leat!
Learn more about Rick Steves' Best of Ireland in 14 Days tour.