Highlights of Ireland: 7-Day Private Tour

A 7 day trip to Ireland 

Ireland is part myth and part folklore, yet when you visit it is 100% real. The traditions, customs, histories, and landscapes are all more authentic than you can imagine, and it all comes alive on this 7-day private tour. From James Joyce in Dublin to storytelling in Limerick, you will be ingratiated into the heart of Ireland, feeling its atmosphere and long-standing heritage. And on the way, you explore some of the most photogenic landscapes and destinations on earth.

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Dublin, Grafton Street, General Post Office, Dublin Castle, Chester Beatty Library, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College, Temple Bar, Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin Writers Museum, Wicklow Mountains, Powerscourt, Glendalough, Kilkenny, Kilkenny Castle, Waterford, House of Waterford Crystal, Kinsale, Cork, Blarney Castle, County Kerry, Ring of Kerry, Kenmare, Killarney, Killarney National Park, County Clare, Cliffs of Moher, Limerick

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Dublin – Making the Most of Your First Day

Gaelic accents fill the air as you touch down in the Irish capital, and they promise stories and myths, adventure and a certain romanticism that only this island can provide. First impressions here are enduring as the people are welcoming and keen to make jokes, the architecture is laid-back and traditional to its core, the care-free atmosphere perfect for the first day of your vacation. Touch down in Dublin, and you will be met by your local guide for your short transfer to your five-star boutique hotel in the city center, and you will quickly realize just how charming and compact this city center is.

Most transatlantic flights land in the morning, so you can really make the most of your first day. Your guide will take you south of the River Liffey, along Dame Street to the towering frame of Dublin Castle. This medieval fortress suggests grandeur and as you head inside and the Chester Beatty Library will impress. Hidden within here are illuminated manuscripts, the first in many mystical, near-mythical, sights you will encounter in Ireland. You can explore St Patrick’s Cathedral before embracing the old granite architecture of Merrion Square on route to St Stephen’s Green. There are some good museums you might want to visit, dependent on your energy levels – the National Museum, Archeology Museum, Natural History Museum – but you might prefer to check out Grafton Street before resting your feet for the days to come.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour

Day 2: Dublin – James Joyce and Storytelling Folklore

Yesterday you likely saw many of the grand attractions, so today you can delve into the Dublin backstreets and traditions, James Joyce the perfect lens for doing so. You do not need to have read his most famous work Ulysses to follow the footsteps of its hero and protagonist Leopold Bloom. The story follows Bloom during a day in 1904 Dublin and not that much has changed since. Start in Martello Tower, now the James Joyce Museum, and head past the General Post Office and hear about its role in the uprising. Visit a traditional pub that does not seem to have changed since much since 1904.

Check out colors down cobbled lanes and take in the controversial tales of Sandymount. Explore locations that are easily missed, yet are just a few steps from Grafton Street, including Davy Byrne’s literary pub and Number 7 Eccles Street. The head out to the coast, where a lighthouse stands lonely above the Irish Sea, a scene so lovely you imagine why Bloom chose it to propose to his wife. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure, and your guide can point you in different directions, whether you like shopping, pubs, museums or history.

There is a real treat in store this evening as you dive into Irish culture. Seanchai are traditional Irish storytellers, those who have become the keepers of Ireland’s heritage. They spin long yarns, mixing folklore with myth and legend, everything from unicorns to Gaelic gods and heroines who made their name millennia ago. Most of it is fiction, but the art of the storyteller is to make it real. That is what happens when you experience an evening of storytelling and singing, in a traditional venue amid central Dublin. Accompanied by food and drink it’s an authentic look into the Irish world and its atmospheric history, complete with fairies and much folklore.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Wicklow Mountains to Kilkenny – Green Landscapes and Colorful Streets

Into the countryside you go as just 30 minutes beyond Dublin there is nothing but open landscapes with mountain slopes punctuated by sporadic forest and squat stone walls. Head through the shades to the village of Enniskerry, and then onwards until you reach the imposing stature of Powerscourt. It suggests an older, royal era, the estate closer to an archetypal European palace than anything European. After a private tour of the estate, you can stop for lunch in the village, where the typical fare is usually washed down with a pint of the black stuff – Guinness.

Continuing towards Kilkenny the landscapes grow more dramatic. Lakes wait peacefully beneath barren peaks, a glassy shimmer to their surface. Gaelic crosses stand alongside old stone churches, hidden in the most pastoral of settings. Ireland always makes you feel relaxed; the Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough increase this feeling, bringing you into a realm of Irish simplicity and serenity. There’s nothing ostentatious here, nothing over the top or boastful. And that’s what makes Ireland and its traditions such a getaway. Sometimes it’s good to keep things simple and have space to focus on all the small pleasures. Such as walking the streets of Kilkenny and allowing for any serendipitous encounter to inform your evening.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Waterford to Kinsale – The Treasures of Ireland’s Oldest City; Quiet Harbor Tradition

Colorful townhouses line up against the river in the very south of Ireland. Each is a different hue, yet the rooftops are the same, creating a partial harmony that Waterford is known for. This is Ireland’s oldest city, and over the centuries things have fallen down. New buildings have been built, and while the architectural styles have changed somewhat with the centuries, there is a certain symmetry to Waterford, from the cobbled pedestrianized streets to the chatter that emanates from pubs and cafes. The Waterford Museum of Treasures and House of Waterford Crystal are the two famous attractions here, but the real highlight is connecting them by walking through the city’s heart.

Stay in Waterford for lunch and take your time here, this being a city where you could walk the same street a hundred times and never get bored. This afternoon you will be off to the quiet harbor town of Kinsale, the most colorful of all the Irish towns, even if the main attraction is a vast gray stone fortress with no color at all. It is ideal to walk the streets without a plan, especially if you are a keen photographer. Kinsale has evolved into a boutique destination thanks to an impressive selection of hotels and restaurants. You will have dinner and wine pairing booked for tonight, a fine-dining experience that contrasts with some of the other eateries you’ve experienced thus far.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Days 5 – 6: Kenmare – Classic Experiences on the Ring of Kerry

Ah, the Ring of Kerry, the world-famous route along Ireland’s coast. The tiny single-lane bridges are so iconic it seems there could be a Gaelic god living beneath their curves. Cliff-lined coastlines abound as the crash of waves sends salty scents through the air, and you can tell that there is nothing between her and America. The remains of a 2000-year-old fort remains, with each of the bricks held together without cement or mortar. Mountains rise and fall, hiding a smattering of lakes and relics from an early Gaelic era.

The area is wonderfully scenic with almost every way you turn, except for when you see a car park covered in tour buses. Many tours cover the full Ring of Kerry in one day to and from Killarney, as if it’s a ritualistic imperative that everyone rushes through everywhere on the route. With two days on your side, you can slow down and spend time in those beautiful places that most people only view from the bus or car window. Your base is Kenmare, a neat and tiny town back-dropped by a druid-style ancient stone circle and a working sheep farms.

There will be the chance to don some boots for some hands-on sheep herding and shearing demonstrations on day five, or you can head straight out towards the Ring of Kerry attractions closest to Kenmare. You will need an early start on day six, with your guide taking you clockwise to avoid the standard counterclockwise tour-bus procession. Check out of the relaxed town of Sneem and wonder about the strange names and directions they have. Admire the drama of Staigue Fort, a drystone fortress from the age of tribal wars and cattle rustling. Look out towards the silhouette of Skellig Michael, where monks preserved literacy during the Dark Ages.

As your journey continues, there will be no end to the viewpoints. It may also seem that there is no end to the villages with each appearing more traditional than the last. With a private tour, you can stop and explore one or two, taking your time in places where the first language is Irish, not English. Two staggering ring forts are unmissable as you start looping back towards Kenmare, Cahergal and Leacanabuaile built when copper created affluence in this green corner of the world. Back in Kenmare, you can reflect on the landscapes and history, acknowledging why this is the place that every visitor to Ireland must see. 

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Cliffs of Moher to Limerick – Astonishing Cliffs and Local Experiences

It will be the size of the cliffs that make them so memorable as they are perilously tall shards of precipitous rock that twist along the Atlantic Ocean coastline. Of course, they are popular, perhaps the most popular of all the Irish attractions, but as you set off on the coastal trail, it will not be long before there are moments of silence. Wind whistles through the cliffs, and it will seem that nature is singing to you, teasing you with its translucent beauty. You will now be in County Clare, and it will not be far onwards to The Burren, a landscape of rough-hewed limestone rocks that seem to stretch on and on and on.

Rocks shimmer in the late-morning light with some of them stacked like prehistoric monuments, while others appear like stepping-stones to a mythological place. There are some hiking trails you might want to explore here, but you could decide to head straight to Limerick. Improvised verses are very much part of culture here, as is the tradition of storytelling. Your final night in Ireland is one with the locals, hearing tales said with a thick Gaelic accent and appreciating how original this island can be. Limerick is a quiet place to spend the night, and your hotel is along the River Shannon.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Shannon – Departure

After breakfast you can transfer to Shannon Airport nearby. From here, there’s a short change of planes in Dublin before your international departure.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$4,545
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.