Dublin and then drive west, staying in castle hotels along the way. You
will have the opportunity to visit Galway, Clifden, unspoiled, beautiful
Connemara, Gothic Kylemore Abbey, Clare, the Burren, and the dramatic Cliffs of
Moher as well as Tralee, the Dingle Peninsula, the remote Blasket Islands,
Limerick city, the imposing Rock of Cashel, and historic Kildare Town.
DISCOVERY DRIVE PROGRAM – Departs daily - 8-day/7-night package visiting Dublin, Galway, Connemara, the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, the Dingle Peninsula, Limerick, the Rock of Cashel & Kildare. Includes accommodation at castle hotels with breakfast daily, a compact manual rental car for 7 days, and a Heritage Island Explorer Coupon.
- Price Includes
- Taxes and service charges
- Hotels mentioned in the itinerary or similar
- Rental car
- ASTA TOP Tour operator travel funds protection program
- Continental or buffet breakfast
- Price Excludes
- Personal expenses
- Rental car gas, parking and tolls
- Entrance fees
- Sightseeing tours
Day 1 : Dublin – Arrival
Upon arrival, pick up your rental car and check into your hotel. The remainder of the day can be spent exploring this vibrant and historic capital city with its many historic buildings, Georgian streets, and colorful gardens. Your first night is spent in Clontarf Castle, which can be dated back to 1172.
Day 2 : Explore Dublin
Today, why not spend the day exploring some of Dublin's fine museums and galleries? Trace the city's history from early Viking origins through the medieval magnificence of St. Patrick's Cathedral. Visit Dublinia at Christchurch, which brings the turbulent history of medieval Dublin vividly to life. You should also stop by the 16th century Trinity College, founded by Elizabeth I, and now home to the famous illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells. Don't forget about the Guinness Storehouse for a tasting of this world famous "black stuff" before you return to Clontarf Castle for the night. (B)
Day 3 : Dublin – Galway – Clifden (190 miles)
Leave Dublin this morning and travel across the rich midland pastures. Why not visit Belvedere House and Gardens? The magnificent early 18th century stately home of Robert Rochfort, Earl of Belvedere, stands in 160 acres of parkland on the shores of Lough Ennell. Belvedere is one of the finest of Ireland's historic houses, and together with the gardens has been exquisitely restored. Before you cross the River Shannon, Ireland's longest river, you can visit Clonmacnoise, a 6th century Christian site.
Arrive into Galway, which has long traded with Spain and the Spanish influences in the city are many. Of note is the Spanish Arch, a gateway in the old city walls, and the Spanish Parade, where wealthy merchants and their families enjoyed a stroll along the promenade.
Continue out into the wild and rugged Connemara region, famous for the savage beauty of its lake and mountain scenery and on to Clifden where you shall be staying in the wonderful Abbeyglen Castle which has a backdrop of the Twelve Bens. (B)
Day 4 : Explore Connemara (50 miles)
Today, visit Connemara National Park, where Connemara ponies and Irish red deer roam freely through 5,000 acres of scenic mountains, bogs, and grassland. You can also visit the magnificent Kylemore Abbey - a beautiful mansion in a lakeside setting against a mountainous backdrop. Irish Benedictine nuns, with a tradition of over 300 years, run this unique abbey set in the midst of Connemara, overlooking Pollacappul Lake. On your return, you can take a scenic drive through Leenane where you have an option to board a cruise through Killary Fjord which will reveal some of the many hidden coastal and mountain scenery of Connemara. Another night will be spent at Abbeyglen Castle. (B)
Day 5 : Connemara – Clare (160 miles)
Leave Clifden this morning, and travel south through Galway and into Clare, known as the "land of castles". Why not visit Rathbaun Farm and see the animals being tended, or enjoy a traditional tea and scones break?
Travel on through the strange lunar landscape of the Burren or visit the Cliffs of Moher, a spectacular 4-mile long cliff, which rises almost 650 feet above sea level. Stop in the heritage town of Kilrush, before boarding a ferry to Tarbert (not included) in northern County Kerry. Arrive in Tarbert and continue through Listowel and on to Tralee to Ballyseede Castle for overnight. (B)
Day 6 : Explore the Dingle Peninsula (90 miles)
This morning, breathtaking landscapes will unfold in front of your eyes as you drive around the Dingle Peninsula before arriving in Dunquin, on the westernmost tip of the peninsula, where you can visit the Blasket Islands Heritage Centre. This living history museum explores the dimensions of island living, from the land, the sea, and the language, to the weather and the seasons, as well as the distinctive character of the Blasket Islanders. Weather permitting you can embark on a 2- to 3-hour boat trip around the nine main Blasket Islands. The islands are remote, unspoiled, unpolluted, and spectacularly beautiful and are home to an incredible number of breeding seabirds, with the surrounding seas home to dolphins, porpoises, Atlantic seals, and even the occasional whale or orca. Return to Ballyseede Castle for the night. (B)
Day 7 : Limerick – Rock of Cashel – Kildare (180 miles)
This morning, spend an hour or two in the medieval city of Limerick, either exploring its history and architecture or purchasing some of the splendid crafts on offer. Why not visit the Hunt Museum, an exhibit of one of Ireland's greatest private collections of art and antiquities? Leave Limerick and travel eastwards towards Straffan in Co. Kildare. En route, a small detour will bring you to the imposing Rock of Cashel which rises dramatically from the flat countryside. The rock is crowned by a group of buildings, both ecclesiastical and royal, including a round tower, a 13th century Romanesque chapel, and the beautifully restored Hall of the Vicar Choral. Continue through rich pastures of Ireland's midlands before arriving in Kildare for your night in Barberstown Castle, a 13th century castle, located in the heart of the horse-breeding County of Kildare. (B)
Day 8 : Kildare – Dublin – Return (25 miles)
Drive to the Dublin airport and drop off your rental car before for your return flight home. (B)