Best of Ireland Chauffeur Drive Tour 6 Days
5 Night Tour From $2,216 pps
This tour arrives into Dublin and departs from Shannon, but these arrival/departure points can be customised.
Destinations / Itinerary
Day 1: Dublin City
Take a deep breath as you leave the terminal at Dublin airport and breathe in the fresh Irish air for the first time. You’re in the capital of Ireland and this veritable melting pot of culture and tradition is a joy to explore. Your expert guide will greet you and drive you to your accommodation .You’ll be itching to get out and about as scenic teasers fly by on the other side of your window. Busy streets packed with Dublinersshow that the “Céad Míle Fáilte” (“a hundred thousand welcomes”) is still strong here. You know you’re in Ireland when you pass by homely Irish pubs adorned with the artistic handiwork of John Gilroy – creator of the iconic 1930/40’s Guinness adverts. “My Goodness my Guinness”, you’ll have to fit in a pint or two of the “black stuff” while you’re here.
It can be hard to know where to start, but you can't go wrong with a trip to Trinity College Dublin on your first day in Ireland. This is one of Dublin’s premier visitor attractions and not without reason. Within the grounds of Ireland’s first ever college (established in 1592) you’ll find stunning architecture, The Douglas Hyde Gallery, The Oscar Wilde centre, “The Book of Kells” and arguably the “greenest grass in Ireland”. There are also regular walking tours around the campus where you’ll discover all the history and intricacies of this esteemed university. “The Book of Kells” resides in Trinity’s Old Library. This book, which is a 9th Century gospel manuscript contains lavish illustrations and is accompanied in the library by an exhibition – “Turning Lightness into Dark”.
For the art-lover Dublin has a whole host of museums and art galleries from the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle to the National Gallery or the Irish Museum of Modern Art. What’s more, entry is free, so there’s no excuse not to sample some of the more artistic delights our “Fair City” has to offer. And for a touch of architectural grandeur, you can visit Christ Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral - two of Dublin's landmark structures.
Taking a break from sight-seeing, Grafton St. (Dublin’s favourite shopping district) has everything you need to relax. Visit Bewley’s Café and enjoy an Irish coffee in a favourite venue of many of Dublin’s literary greats. Venture down Wicklow St. to find quaint bistros and the Powerscourt Shopping Centre, which boasts the perfect combination of variety and a stunning setting or maybe go alfresco with a picnic in St. Stephen’s Green. Once you’re refreshed, it’s back on the trail again seeking out all that Dublin has to offer.
As the day draws on you might find yourself hankering for that pint of Guinness, but fear not because the Guinness Storehouse has got you covered. During the tour you’ll discover all the history behind this famous brand and get an insight into the magic behind the “black stuff”. Or maybe you’d prefer a hot drop of Whiskey? The Jameson distillery has got just what you need. Learn about John Jameson and the inspirational story behind his world-renowned whiskey, topped off with a tasting session.
The sun may begin to dim as it tucks in for the night, but that doesn’t mean your fun has to end there. In fact for the full Dublin experience you have to witness the thrilling ambience of its nightlife. So it’s off to Temple Bar - often referred to as Dublin’s cultural hub. As you walk around the narrow cobbled streets (a feature which has been preserved from medieval times), lilting Irish melodies will waft through the air beckoning you into one of the many Irish pubs with regular sessions. Or maybe you’ll get a sniff of some steaming fresh Irish grub. Either way, Temple Bar is a great place to while away the evening whether you’re in The Old Storehouse at one of their daily sessions or sharing a pint and a story with one of the friendly locals.
Your visit to Dublin will be packed with fond memories, unforgettable sights and sounds, but you still have the treat of a full Irish breakfast ahead of you the next morning. You’ve seen the best of Dublin and tomorrow you will continue on your trip to see the Best of Ireland.
Day 2: Kilkenny City
Savour the Dublin morning as you taste your first full Irish breakfast of the tour. It’s time to hit the road again as the sun rises and begins to breathe life back into the city. If you’re an early riser you may have the time to do one last quick sight see before you part with Dublin and head for Kilkenny or alternatively you could use that time to take a bit of a de-tour and visit Kildare. And the Irish National Stud.
The National Stud was established in 1946 and holds a key role in the development and promotion of Irish bloodstock. This is the only stud farm in Ireland, which is open to the public and here you’ll also find the Japanese Gardens (famed as one of the most famous Japanese Gardens in Europe), Saint Fiachra’s Garden (complete with lakeside and woodland walks) and the Horse Museum (a modern art exhibition, which breathes life into the Sport of Kings). Swing by the Kildare Village boutique outlet centre while you’re in the area for quick browse and a spot of lunch before you hit the road againor check out the Newbridge Silverware Visitor centre, where you can see some stunning pieces from their collection.
Kilkenny or “The Medieval Capital of Ireland” is the next port of call on your journey. Historic buildings lie in wait around every corner and culture thrives through the many artisans’ workshops operating from the city. If you’re looking to pick up some authentic Irish keepsakes the Kilkenny Design Craft Centre stocks an impressive array of Irish handcrafted gifts. The centre also prides itself on showcasing emerging talent from the Irish craft world, proving that the creativeness of the Irish nation has never waned.
You’ll find the centre right beside Kilkenny Castle, in the building which once acted as the stables for this medieval monument. Kilkenny Castle has over 18 centuries worth of history encased in its walls, all of which will be divulged to you over the course of the castle tour. The Smithwick’s Brewery Tour in St. Francis Abbey Brewery is another highlight in this exciting and varied city, where you can enjoy the perfect blend of historical wonders and new age creativity.
That night, join in on the Kilkenny Traditional Irish Music Trail and be guided through Kilkenny’s history and musical roots led by two local musicians leaving you with Irish melodies easing you to sleep that night.
Day 3: The Rock of Cashel and the Blarney Stone
Departing Kilkenny, today, your nest destination will be Killarney, but before that, there’s so much more to see along the way. Your guide will bring you along the scenic route, surrounded by vast and rolling pastures stretching on for miles, painted with vibrant shades of green.
Heading south you’ll be visiting the town of Cashel in County Tipperary. Visitors come to Cashel in their droves to see The Rock of Cashel. This towering complex consists of 12th and 13th Century buildings featuring a combination of Celtic and medieval architecture. Formally known as St. Patrick’s Rock or The Rock of Kings, this was a site long held in revere as the seat of the High Kings of Munster. In the town of Cashel you’ll also find a Georgian Cathedral, a 21st Century library and the Bolton Library, which holds the quirky claim to fame of housing the smallest book in Ireland.
From Cashel to Blarney and from an famous rock to an famous stone you’ll be visiting the famous Castle which resides there. Legend has it that planting a wet one on the Stone of Eloquence will endow you with the gift of the gab and you’ll never again be lost for words. Millions of visitors have flocked to Blarney to do just this, but you’d be foolish to think that that’s all there is to Blarney.
Built nearly 600 years ago by one of Ireland’s greatest chieftains, Cormac Mac Carthy, the castle contains many attractions aside from the famous stone. The Battlements View, the Wishing Steps, the Witches Stone, Rock Close and Badgers Cave are some of the other attractions for you to explore at Blarney that will give you plenty to talk about with your new found gift of eloquence.
Blarney is also famed for its woollen mills, which is now home to Ireland’s largest gift store, stocking the best of the best in quality Irish gifts, stocking Waterford Crystal, Belleek China, Aran Sweaters, Celtic Jewellery, and Irish linen and lace. So if you’re looking for some gifts to bring home or even a souvenir or two for yourself, it’s the perfect one stop shop for all things Irish.
Next it’s off to see Cork City where you’ll be settling into your accommodation for the night. The city dates back to the 7th Century and was founded by St. Finbarr. The place is literally teeming with fine examples of centuries old architecture including the 300 year old tower of St. Anne’s Church (home to the Shandon bells) and St. Finbarr’s Cathedral.
At Cork City Gaol you will find two of Cork’s most memorable tourist attractions. The building is a castle like structure and once acted as a prison back in the 19th Century. Today this unique heritage centre and see visitors stepping back in time to experience what life was like in Cork from both sides of the prison walls.
The second attraction you’ll find here is the Radio Museum. Situated in the former Governor’s House, this unique experience incorporates a restored 6CK Radio Broadcasting Studio along with a plethora of archived reels from the RTÉ Collection (Radio Telefís na hÉireann – Ireland’s national television and radio broadcaster).
Fota Wildlife Park is just fifteen minutes outside of Cork City, nestled in the heart of Cork harbour. The park is a mixture of free roaming animals and birds from all over the world and highly endangered species such as the European Bison, so every trip is sure to conjure new and fond memories.
Finally it’s onto Killarney for the night. There are plenty of restaurants or pubs here where you can enjoy fine food or a lively traditional Irish music session so make the most of your night here before tucking in.
Day 4: The Ring of Kerry
Full after another morning of a full Irish breakfast;the wonderful town of Killarney awaits you. This picturesque town surrounded by greenery and buzzing with cheerful locals is the perfect base to take a stroll and exploreall that Killarney has to offer. Refreshed and eager to explore you’ll be back on theroad and this time you’re bound for the famous Ring of Kerry
Every visitor to Ireland’s south-west talks about The Ring of Kerry but this attraction is really one that must be seen to be believed. You’re best to dedicate a whole day to exploring the Ring of Kerry (or the Iveragh Peninsula) and all it has to offer because there is just so much to do and see. This beautifully natural and somewhat magical area of Ireland features expansive beaches, sites dating back to ancient Ireland, and some truly moving landscapes.
Take in the views of the sublime MacGillycuddy’s Reeks (Ireland’s highest mountain range) from Moll’s gap, traverse the Gap of Dunloe and admire its majestic lakes or maybe you’ll find yourself at Ladies View staring out over the horizon. These are just snippets of what the Ring of Kerry has to offer that may leave you lost for words.
Killarney National Park is a favourite feature for many along the Ring of Kerry - home to Ireland’s only native red deer and the idyllic setting for Muckross House and Gardens. This delightfully restored Victorian house dates back to 1843 and has a total of 65 rooms.
Within the Muckross estate, you’ll also find a sunken garden, rock garden, stream garden and Arboretum. If you’re visiting during the months of April to July you can look forward to blossoming red and pink Rhododendrons to compliment the already stunning gardens. Right next to Muckross house is Muckross Traditional Farms where you can witness what it was truly like to live and work in a rural community in the 1930’s through the ingenious working recreation on display here.
Bikes can be rented so you can whisk around the park, from one lush setting to the next. Or if you’re feeling romantic, hop into a jaunting car and take a horse and trap tour of the park, followed up with a picnic surrounded by truly wonderful scenery and nature.
If you’d like, your guide can Veer slightly off the Ring of Kerry route and take you for a visit to the heritage town of Kenmare. Bright shop fronts line the streets and a variety of restaurants offering gourmet foods will get your taste buds going. Here the spirit of Kerry’s favourite Antarctic explorer lives on in Tom Crean’s Fish and Wine Restaurant. This lovely spot offers up a sumptuous (but reasonable) meal and is run by Aileen d’Arcy (Tom Crean’s Granddaughter).The recently opened Tom Crean room is decorated with memorabilia and photographs from Tom’s life and adventures.
As you head back to your accommodation in Killarney for the night you should have plenty to talk about. So settle in because it’s off to the Cliffs of Moher and Burren in the morning.
Day 5: The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher
Over the next 24 hours you will be treated to some of the grandest natural treats in the West of Ireland. Bags packed and leaving Killarney behind you it’s time to exploreClare and the Burren region.
This truly unique area of limestone rock covers mountains, valleys and streams, each as awe-inspiring as the last. There is a beautiful contrast between the natural flora and fauna and the ancient man made megalithic tombs, which predate the Roman and even Egyptian civilisations. Before you trek out into the unknown, you can visit the Burren Visitors Centre in nearby Kilfenora, where you’ll get an introduction to the many secrets of the Burren.
The Burren Smokehouse is just a ten minute drive down the road from Kilfenora so drop in and sample some of their acclaimed smoked salmon, see the original kiln used at the smokehouse and browse their range of products, which include various crafts and delicacies from the Clare region.
From the Burren to the Cliffs of Moher your trip today is packed full of scenic eye-candy. Atop the cliff, the panoramic views of the Aran Islands, The Twelve Pins, The Maum Turk Mountains and Loop Head will take your breath away. The visitors’ centre, which has been aptly named Atlantic Edge, can be found close to the cliffs within an underground building. Various studies of the cliffs are on display here focusing on four main themes: Ocean, Rock, Nature and Man.
While you’re in the area, why not pop into Doolin Cave. Less than ten minutes drive up the coast from the Cliffs of Moher you’ll find this fascinating cave, which is home to the longest stalactite in the northern hemisphere, measuring 6.54m (20 feet).
Also along the coast is Lahinch. If you’re up for a spot of water sports or just a stroll on the beach, a visit to Lahinch is a great way to take in Clare’s beautiful coastline. Every year, budding surfers visit Lahinch’s golden sands to catch some waves, so whether you’re there to join in or just spectate, there’s definitely fun to be had. The town also boasts two golf courses (Lahinch Championship Course and Lahinch Castle Course).On both you’ll find yourself teeing off with a backdrop of stretching coastal scenery, so if you have the time a quick round is a must.
Continuing to explore Clare you’ll find Bunratty Castle – a 15th Century castle, which is the acclaimed setting for the 19th Century Bunratty Folk Park. Built in 1425 and restored to its former medieval glory in 1954, Bunratty Castle is the ultimate medieval fortress in Ireland. Within the castle hang many 15th and 16th Century tapestries, furnishings and works of art, which really create a sense of authenticity. You will feel transported as you wander around the vast castle halls and for a truly unique experience you can also attend the Medieval Banquet - a night of rich food and entertainment.
The Bunratty Folk Park will see you surrounded by 19th Century living. You’ll be interacting with all the locals - the Bean an Tí (Woman of the House), the Policeman, and Schoolteacher as you discover the ins and outs of their daily routines. As you walk from house to house you’ll be immersed in a wonderful bubble of sights, sounds and senses, making this a truly enchanting experience for all ages.
Weary from your travels you may want to pop into Durty Nelly’s (just beside the castle) for a pick me up. The history and heritage surrounding Durty Nelly and her public house date back to 1620 and include: a toll bridge, an Irish wolfhound and a miracle cure. For years travellers have enjoyed the hospitality and warmth of this one of a kind pub and now with live Irish music seven days a week, you can’t help but be lured into Nelly’s cosy welcome.
As the entertainment dies down for the night it’s off to bed for the last time on this Ireland adventure. You’ll be staying in Clare so the trip to Shannon Airport won’t be too long the next morning and you can take your time enjoying your last morning in Ireland.
Day 6: Departure from Shannon
Your stay in Ireland has been a short one, but eventful nonetheless. As you bid adieu to your helpful guide at Shannon Airport and board your plane, rest easy, knowing that you’ve seen so much of what makes Ireland so special and taken a journey that you will never forget.