Irish Culture & Castles

Package Includes

  • Small groups of 10-18 travelers guaranteed
  • International flights NYC-Belfast, Dublin-NYC
    Other departure cities available. Click on date of departure for selection and prices
  • Airline taxes & fuel surcharges
  • 9 nights in First Class accommodations that evoke the local character
  • Hotel porterage
  • All transfers and sightseeing per itinerary in modern air-conditioned vehicles
  • 22 meals: 9 buffet breakfasts, 6 lunches & 7 dinners (including a home hosted lunch, and welcome & farewell dinners)
  • Bottled water during sightseeing excursions. Water, coffee and tea with all meals. Beer and wine included with dinner
  • Services of local English-speaking tour manager throughout
  • Comprehensive, guided sightseeing and entrance fees per itinerary
  • Active itinerary with unique cultural features

Tour Highlights

  • Thanks to our small group size of 10-18 travelers, we can get to the heart of our destination, visit places that other tours miss, and get to know the locals.
  • Live like royalty during overnight stays in two magnificent castles
  • Explore the Titanic Experience, a new museum in the shipyard where the fated liner was built
  • See the grave of Yeats - and join a local family for a "poetry lunch" that honors the poet’s verse
  • Watch a sheep-shearing demonstration and learn to make real Irish scones at Rathbaun Farm
  • Enjoy lunch with a local family on Molanna Farm and learn about life on an Irish homestead
  • Tour the Flying Boat Museum, where an airstrip served World War II aircraft
  • Learn about thoroughbred breeding at the Irish National Stud, and stroll its breathtaking Japanese garden
  • Tour the Guinness Storehouse and learn about Ireland most famous export

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    DAY 1, Thursday - Depart the USA
    Depart New York for Belfast, Northern Ireland. Your overnight flight includes meals, drinks, and in-flight entertainment for the journey

    DAY 2, Friday - Arrive in Belfast
    Upon arrival in Belfast, transfer to our hotel. You’ll have the balance of the day to rest or explore on your own. Tonight, join your Tour Manager & fellow travelers for a Welcome Dinner
    Overnight: Radisson Blu Hotel, Belfast
    Meals: Dinner

    DAY 3, Saturday - Discover Belfast
    Belfast rests at the mouth of the River Lagan and on the western shores of Belfast Lough. To the northwest, mountains rise to the Antrim Plateau. This lovely setting has given the city a microclimate that nurtures its green spaces. And its location on calm waters has made it ideal for shipbuilding; the most famous vessel christened here was the Titanic. It’s a city rich in history, architecture, and culture, as we’ll see during a full-day tour. The colonnaded façade and towering dome of the Edwardian City Hall start off our exploration. We continue to the hallowed quads of the university district and the newly renovated Ulster Museum, a repository of historic and artistic treasures. We will also visit a neighborhood where buildings are still scarred from The Troubles, which came to an end with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. After lunch at a local pub, we explore the Titanic Experience, a nine-gallery museum in the dockyard where the ship was built. Tonight, you’re free to take in the nightlife of Belfast on your own
    Overnight: Radisson Blu Hotel, Belfast
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    DAY 4, Sunday - Travel to Donegal / Explore Giant’s Causeway /Discover Ulster American Folk Park
    Leaving Belfast, we stop at the imposing Dunluce Castle. These dramatic ruins seem to have been carved directly into a basalt cliff overlooking the sea. Local legend and lore make visiting Ireland especially unique. And there is no shortage of tales to accompany the Giant’s Causeway, our next stop. The giant Finn McCool is said to have created this geological wonder so he could walk to Scotland to confront another giant. From there, the story varies. Today, a massive floor of 38,000 hexagonal stones stretches into the sea. Next we visit Omagh and the Ulster American Folk Park. This open-air museum examines the historic link between Ulster and America by telling the story of 18th- and 19th-century immigration to the U.S. We’ll walk through the Old World of preserved houses, stroll through a full-size replica of an immigrant ship, and "arrive" in the New World via a recreated American street circa 1720. Later, we enjoy dinner at our hotel in Donegal
    Overnight: Lough Eske Castle Hotel & Spa, Donegal
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 5, Monday - Visit to Derry/ Donegal Town
    After breakfast, We make an excursion to Derry, where we enjoy a walking tour of its main sights, including the magnificent St. Columbs Cathedral, Guild Hall, and the medieval walls, among the best preserved fortifications in the Western World. Back in Donegal tonight, we head to the quaint seaside village of Killybegs for a delicious dinner of fresh fish
    Overnight: Lough Eske Castle Hotel & Spa, Donegal
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 6, Tuesday - Visit Belleek / Drumcliff for a "Poetry Lunch" / Explore Knock Shrine
    Begin today with a drive to the famed Belleek pottery factory. Here, porcelain is shaped into thin, iridescent keepsakes. Continue to Drumcliff. This lovely town was home to a young William Butler Yeats. The poet died in 1939 in France, and ten years later his remains were re-interred here by the Irish navy. We’ll visit his gravesite. For lunch, we join a local family to enjoy the vistas over Lough Hill and the "Land of Hearts Desire" that inspired Yeats. They’ve invited us to join them for a "poetry lunch," accompanied by some of his early landscape verse. Sated and inspired, we continue to the town of Knock in County Mayo. Many believe that the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist appeared here in 1879, and so the Knock Shrine in this tiny village hosts 1.5 million pilgrims each year. We’ll visit the shrine that commemorates the sighting. Tonight, we take our meal and rest our heads at luxurious Ashford Castle
    Overnight: Ashford Castle, Cong
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 7, Wednesday - Travel to Ennis / Cruise Lough Corrib / Cooking Demonstration / Discover Cliffs of Moher
    After breakfast, we journey to the tranquil Lough Corrib. Oscar Wilde’s father had a summerhouse on its shores. We'll take a cruise on its calm waters and later continue to Galway, where we’ll tour this lively college town on the sea. After lunch on your own, we return to the countryside and stop at Rathbaun Farm, where sheep-shearing is a fine-tuned skill reserved for the welcoming farmers we’ll meet. While here, we’ll learn the secrets to making traditional Irish scones. Our final stop today is also the most dramatic – the Cliffs of Moher. This rock wall towers 700 feet over the crashing surf of the Atlantic. It’s sure to be one of the most spectacular meetings of land and water you’re likely to see. We conclude our day in Ennis, whose actual name is a mouthful: Inis Cluain Ramh Fhada, or "island of the long rowing meadow"
    Overnight: Old Ground Hotel, Ennis
    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

    DAY 8, Thursday - Enjoy Home-Hosted Lunch / Visit Adare & Flying Boat Museum
    We journey to Limerick City this morning to tour the 13th-century King John’s Castle on King’s Island in the River Shannon.* The fortress has a long history of struggle among Vikings, Normans, Catholics, and Protestants. We continue to Molanna Farm, where we’re invited to join a local family for lunch, complete with stories of life on an Irish homestead. Our hosts have true local charm, but our next stop is prettier than a picture – the village of Adare. We’ll take some time admire its pastel-hued storefronts and thatched-roof houses. Our next stop is Foynes and its Flying Boat Museum. Here, we learn the history of Ireland’s first international airport, used during World War II. During our talk with museum expert, we’ll enjoy an Irish Coffee – invented here in 1943 to keep cold, wet passengers warm
    Overnight: Old Ground Hotel, Ennis
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    DAY 9, Friday - Travel to Dublin / Tour Irish National Stud
    On our way to Dublin today, we pay a visit to the Irish National Stud, a thoroughbred breeding center established in 1946. Horses are bred here for royalty, and we’ll stroll the grounds to admire immaculate stallions, graceful mares, and playful foals. Our guide will explain all that goes into producing high-caliber horses that have won all five racing Classics. We’ll also have time to enjoy the property’s century-old Japanese gardens, considered by many to be the finest in Europe. For many, it’s a soothing experience to amble along paths and cross tiny arched bridges. When the gardens were laid out in 1906, their aim was to symbolize the "Life of Man." We arrive in Dublin, Ireland’s academic and literary center, later today. Our introduction to this historic city takes place in its oldest pub, the Brazen Head, dating to 1198. Irish folklore and storytelling are on the menu amidst candlelit splendor
    Overnight: Clontarf Castle Hotel, Dublin
    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

    DAY 10, Saturday - Explore Dublin / See Book of Kells / Lunch at Guinness Storehouse
    We begin our exploration of Dublin with a visit to Phoenix Park, one of Europe’s largest walled city parks. More than green space, it is home to numerous monuments, the presidential residence, and Ratra House, the boyhood home of Winston Churchill. We might also see fallow deer grazing in the fields. We continue to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the National Cathedral of Ireland founded in 1191. Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, was dean of the cathedral from 1713 to 1745. On O’Connell Street, we admire the handsome buildings that line the city’s main thoroughfare. Next, at Trinity College, one of the oldest gospel books grabs our attention, the Book of Kells. This illuminated manuscript was created in the year 800 by Celtic monks. For lunch, we stop at the Guinness Storehouse. You can pull your own pint here, and browse the award-winning multimedia exhibits about the city’s best-known export. This evening, we bid farewell to Ireland during our Farewell Dinner at a special venue
    Overnight: Clontarf Castle Hotel, Dublin
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 11, Sunday - Depart for the USA
    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home
    Meals: Breakfast

    *May 9 Departure: Day 8, The King John’s Castle tour will not operate due to closure for renovation. A visit to Bunratty Folk Park will be included followed by a view of King John’s Castle.

    Dates & PricesLand OnlyAir & Land
    Dates & PricesLand Only
    Dates & PricesAir & Land
    This package is currently unavailable. Please check back later or call Discovery Tours for more information.

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    *Not Included:
    Prices do not include optional tours and gratuities for guides/tour managers.

    Additional Information:
    Land only prices do not include arrival/departure transfers.

    Entry Requirements:
    Passengers traveling abroad require a passport valid for six months beyond their travel dates. All travelers are responsible to check if a visa is required for all countries on their itinerary. For visa information, check our Visas page.

    Is This Trip Right for You?

    This is a moderately active trip. Our small group covers a lot of ground each day, and we spend 2-3 hours on our feet during tours. The pace is moderate, with 1 one-night stay and 4 two-night stays. Some of our tours require walking over uneven surfaces. This tour is not recommended for people who have difficulty walking or who have heart conditions.

    Getting Ready to GoAbout Your FlightsArrival and DepartureAccommodationsAt Your Destination

    Know Before You Go
    Although most of the planning and preparation is taken care of for you, there are still a few things you should know and some details you should take care of to ensure your comfort, safety and peace of mind. Please review the following information before your departure to ensure that any surprises along the way will only be pleasant ones.
    Getting Ready to Go
    Passports and Visas
    It is each traveler's responsibility to have a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel and a visa if required. Please check the information at www.gate1travel.com/visas.aspx for the specific country/region you are visiting for more details. IMPORTANT: Passengers who are not U.S. citizens must check with the respective consulate or a visa agency to determine what personal identification is required. Passengers who enter, leave and then re-enter the same country on their itinerary should check if they require a double-entry visa. Passport applications are available at most U.S. Post Offices, as well as at regional Passport Agencies. Passengers requiring visas, whether obtained in advance or locally upon arrival, should ensure that their passport has unstamped visa pages.

    Trip Preparation
    A little pre-planning can make your trip go a lot smoother. Several weeks before your trip, make a list of what you will need to take with you. Make sure your personal documents (passports, visas, driver’s license) are in order and that you have enough prescription medications to last through the trip. We suggest that you make photocopies of passports, visas, personal ID and any other important travel documents and pack them separately from the originals. Pack a list of medications including dosage and generic names. If you lose the originals while traveling, you'll have copies for easier reporting and replacement. You may consider bringing a small supply of over the counter medications for headaches and/or anti-diarrhea pills (especially when traveling outside of the USA and Western Europe). We recommend that you pack a portable alarm clock. Avoid placing valuables such as cameras in your checked luggage. Airplane pressure can cause similar pressure in your body, most notably in ears, as well as liquid tubes and bottles. Your physician can suggest medication for decongestion. As for the liquid containers, we suggest that you squeeze out excess air from those containers and place into Ziploc bags to catch any leaks.

    Cell Phones & Calling Cards
    You may wish to carry a cell phone while traveling. Check with your cell phone provider if your phone will work in the destination(s) you are visiting. U.S. service is dominated by the CDMA technology standard, while most of the world uses the incompatible GSM standard. Some U.S. providers do offer GSM, but you may incur high international roaming fees. With GSM, however, you can often choose to have your phone unlocked and then add a local SIM card for lower fees. If you can access the Internet as you travel, you can take advantage of email or a Skype Internet telephone (VOIP) account for the best value. Alternatively, you may investigate renting a cell phone before you leave or buying an inexpensive phone locally.

    When calling the U.S. from a foreign country, you may also use a prepaid calling card; normally, the only additional charge (besides the prepaid long distance charges) is a local fee of a few cents and possibly a connection fee if you are using your card at your hotel. It is best to check with the hotel’s reception desk prior to making phone calls to avoid unexpected charges.

    Making Telephone Calls from One Country to Another
    When dialing a number from one country to another, you should proceed as follows: dial your country's Exit Code + destination Country Code + Phone Number.
    For most countries, the exit code is 00. Exceptions include the USA and Canada (011), Hong Kong and Cambodia (001), Australia (0011), and Russia (8 Pause 10*). For Brazil, please consult with the local telephone company. If the international number you wish to call starts with a 0 (zero), you must drop this starting digit when dialing the number.

    Wireless Internet Access
    Passengers traveling with WiFi enabled devices (such as a personal computer, smartphone, tablet, or digital audio player) may be able to connect to the internet via a wireless network access point (or hotspot). WiFi access in hotels and/or cruise lines often involves a fee which, in some cases, can be very expensive. Availability of WiFi varies by country, hotel and/or cruise line. Even if WiFi is available, signal strength is subject to local conditions and not guaranteed. Internet availability on cruises is unpredictable due to the ship frequently changing locations while sailing through multiple countries. Passengers requiring internet access may seek out internet cafes or may be able to locate free WiFi hotspots such as libraries or coffee shops. Hotspots can often be located and planned in advance via an online search. Planning ahead may help avoid unnecessary fees.

    Staying Healthy While Traveling
    All travelers should familiarize themselves with local conditions, such as high altitude or required immunizations, which could affect their health. We recommend you consult with your personal health-care provider, the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) and/or theWorld Health Organization (http://www.who.int/en/) for their recommendations.

    There are several easy steps you can take to stay healthy while traveling which may help prevent contracting an illness while away from home.

    • Watch what you eat. Try new foods in modest quantities, and depending upon your destination, you may want to avoid street foods, salad bars, raw vegetables and fruits, unless they have thick peels like bananas or grapefruit.
    • Stay hydrated. Drink bottled water and avoid consuming ice cubes made with tap water.
    • If you have allergies to foods, medications or insect bites, or have any other unique medical issues, consider a medical alert bracelet and/or a physician’s note detailing required treatment should you become ill.
    • Wash your hands regularly and carry hand sanitizer.
    • Where appropriate, pack sunscreen and insect repellant (for both active and warm destinations).
    • You may also want to bring a small first-aid kit with bandaids, antibiotic cream, pain killers, bug bite cream, digestive aids like antidiarrheal or anti-bloat medications, antacids, and cold medicine. This is in addition to any prescription medications which should be adequate for the entire trip.

    Notice on Aircraft Cabin Insecticide Treatment - Please note that some countries may require aircraft cabin insecticide treatment for in-bound foreign flights. A list of such countries is available at: http://www.dot.gov/office-policy/aviation-policy/aircraft-disinsection-requirements.

    Climate & Clothing
    Britain - Spring and Fall: 40°F–60°F; Summer: 50°F–70°F; Winter: 35°F–45°F. Bring comfortable walking shoes, a sweater, clothes you can layer, an all-weather jacket, and an umbrella. Some religious sites may require modest dress to enter (no shorts, short skirts, or sleeveless tops).

    United Kingdom Average Temperatures: http://www.gate1travel.com/weather/europe/default.aspx#britain-weather

    Ireland - Spring and Fall: 40°F-60°F; Summer: 50°F-70°F; Winter: 35°F–45°F. Bring comfortable walking shoes, a sweater, clothes you can layer, an all-weather jacket, and an umbrella. Some religious sites may require modest dress to enter (no shorts, short skirts, or sleeveless tops).

    Ireland Average Temperatures: http://www.gate1travel.com/weather/europe/#britain-weather

    Weather and Safety at the Cliffs of Moher - Please note that weather at the Cliffs of Moher can be very unpredictable and travelers should be prepared for a variety of conditions. These include extreme wind, heavy fog and rain. We highly recommend bringing warm and waterproof clothing for your visit.

    In addition, designated signs and official paths near the cliff edges and overhangs should be followed at all times. Children should be under constant supervision.