Hiking/Driving Ireland: Self Guided
Experience the best of both worlds
May 20 - May 31, 2019
(dates are flexible)
From breathtaking landscapes and enchanting castles, to other-worldly formations...
take the roads less traveled and explore the sights and secrets of Ireland.
This package is completely customizable and offers much flexibility in the day to day activities!
Today you embark on your journey to Ireland! Pack your jacket and a camera as you set off for the Emerald Isle!
ARRIVE in Ireland
When you arrive in Ireland you will pick up your rental car and drive to your hotel.
After settling into your hotel, grab a bite to eat in the famed Temple Bar area of downtown (beware, it can get very busy in the pubs at night).
Then, enjoy the city by checking out some of the most popular sites!
Here's a list of the sites you can see/explore:
Upper O'Connell Street (City Sightseeing Shop)
Abbey Street / Abbey Theatre
EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
National Art Gallery
College Green (Irish Whiskey Museum & Dublin Visitor Centre)
Dame Street / Temple Bar
Dame Street / Dublin Castle
Christ Church Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Teeling Whiskey Distillery
Royal Hospital Kilmainham
National Museum of Decorative Arts & History
St. Michan's Crypt
St. Michan's Church
Brian Boru Pub
Do make sure to check out Ireland’s prestigious academic institution, Trinity College. The college sits in Dublin’s city center and boasts alumni including esteemed literary legends such as Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and Samuel Beckett. Founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592 for the exclusive use of Protestant men, the university now welcomes all religions and genders. Tourists from the world over come to wander the historic cobblestoned campus and see the Book of Kells, a prized medieval manuscript housed in the Trinity College Library.
The Book of Kells located within the walls of Trinity College Dublin was written around 800AD. This beautiful and fascinating masterpiece is considered the greatest example of medieval illumination for over 1,200 years.
Described in the Annals of Ulster in 1007 as ‘the most precious object in the western world,’ the historic and cultural significance of the Book of Kells has only increased over time.
You'll stay the night in Dublin
EXPLORE THE WICKLOW MOUNTAINS AND THE MONASTIC "CITY" AT GLENDALOUGH
Check out of your hotel and drive south to the Wicklow mountains.
You begin your day with an interpretive tour of the monastic 'city' at Glendalough. Founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century, Glendalough is an exquisite medieval Irish monastery and remarkable reminder of a uniquely Irish way of life.
Next you'll hike along the Wicklow Way and into Glenlo Valley to experience the beauty and solitude that St. Kevin sought there. At the conclusion of your hike you'll leave behind the austerity of Kevin's hermitage and return to your lodgings in Killiney.
*for those not wishing to hike, you can either stay in Dublin and continue shopping and exploring on your own (and drive to the hotel in Wicklow that afternoon/evening). OR, you can enjoy the calm surroundings at your guest house in Wicklow for the day.
You'll stay one night nearby so you have plenty of time to hike the area.
Rock of cashel
This morning, you'll check out of your hotel and hit the road!
On your way, stop by the town of Kilkenny and the Rock of Cashel.
Kilkenny is an awesome little city in Ireland.
Explore the town in the morning, have lunch, and then continue your road trip, heading to the Rock of Cashel next.
Overlooking the Plains of Tipperary, the Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most historic sights. This was the seat of the ancient kings of Ireland. St. Patrick baptized King Aengus here in 450 AD. Now visitors arrive every day to tour this historic complex of buildings.
You can tour the Rock of Cashel in about an hour, but make sure you also walk downhill to the much less visited and just as awesome Hore Abbey.
Continue on to one of Ireland's oldest, largest and best-preserved castles, Cahir Castle. Built over 800 years ago on a rocky island in middle of the River Suir, the castle's history includes the Norman invasion and capture by the Earl of Essex in 1599.
After exploring the castle you'll check into your hotel for the evening.
HIKE THE KERRY WAY THROUGH BEAUTIFUL KILLARNEY NATIONAL PARK.
This morning, you'll eat breakfast and drive south to Kenmare, where you'll have several options for your day.
Choose which experience you'd like to have:
One favorite section of the Kerry Way, on the Old Kenmare Road, will lead you through old oak forests, along centuries-old droving roads, past waterfalls, and into remote mountain valleys.
Another Kerry Way walk leads to the ancient ruins of Muckross Abbey, down tree-covered serpentine paths beside the shores of Lough Leane and Muckross Lake, and into secluded and rare yew woodlands.
Or you may choose the ascent of Torc Mountain, a hike that combines oak woodland, mountain valleys, a waterfall and an unparalleled bird's eye view of the Lakes of Killarney.
If you prefer to stay closer to the town, Kenmare is a pretty spot with a neat triangle of streets lined with craft shops, galleries, cafes and good-quality restaurants.
Also nearby are the towns of Castletownbere or Kilarney!
You'll stay in Kenmare for the next 2 nights.
HIKE SOME OF THE MOST REMOTE AND LOVELY SECTIONS OF THE BEARA WAY
Quite remote, it has remained perhaps the most unspoilt part of the south west region, and like the peninsulas to the north, is a magical world of mountains and lakes surrounded by a picturesque seacoast.
You'll hike in the spectacular Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve, nestled in the sheltered glen between the Caha Mountains and Bantry Bay. Afterwards, for lunch, you'll journey to Castletownbere, a small, colorful town that is the largest whitefish port in Ireland thanks to its location overlooking Berehaven Harbour.
Then choose which experience you'd like:
One route option takes you to the very tip of the mainland and is a prime spot for whale and dolphin watching.
Another brings you into the far-flung village of Allihies, the village furthest from Dublin in all of Ireland and a former 19th century copper-mining boomtown.
Or hike the Beara Way to the nearby Gleninchiquin Valley to marvel at the magnificent Uragh Stone Circle, an age-old monument set in the midst of the valley with views over Lough Inchiquin.
All walks are sure to yield breathtaking views of cliff and coastal scenery, idyllic Irish farmsteads, and a host of historical sites.
Ring of Kerry
You'll check out of your hotel after an early breakfast, and drive south on the Ring of Kerry to Portmagee.
Take the Ring of Kerry to Portmagee where you will board a ferry to Skellig Michael.
Sail on a grand adventure to the majestic Skellig Islands, which lie 7 miles off the west coast or Ireland.
The first amazing sight is of the Small Skelligs and its snow covered-like appearance, when seen from a distance. Upon sailing closer you realize it is 75,000 nesting gannets that cover the Island.
Onwards to Skellig Michael to marvel the monks, who built the monastery on this remote island 600ft above sea level.
See locations where scenes from Episode VII and Episode VIII of the Star Wars franchise were shot. You will quickly see why this incredible location was such an attractive inclusion for the production team in the Star Wars universe.
Skellig Michael also features birdlife in abundance - puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes to name a few all call these islands home throughout the year. You may also just encounter whales, dolphins, sunfish and even basking sharks roaming the surrounding waters.
When you return to the mainland, cruise along the Atlantic Coast on the Ring of Kerry. On this spectacular mountain road through the towns of Kells, Derrynane, and Glenbeigh, you’ll find a number of impressive sights, with various stopping points and photo opportunities.
From Ross Castle and Muckross House to Torc Waterfall, Bog Village, and the glacial valley of the Gap of Dunloe. The ring also passes the Lakes of Killarney, the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountains, Ladies View, and Dingle Bay looking out to the Dingle Peninsula.
The coastal side of the loop offers a taste of the Wild Atlantic Way, and in County Kerry’s Waterville, visitors tend to stop for photos with the waterfront Charlie Chaplin statue.
As with many ring roads, there is little room to pass at some points. It’s good to note that all tour buses travel counterclockwise from Killarney and that self-driving travelers can head clockwise for less traffic.
At the bottom of the Ring of Kerry, you can take a detour onto the lesser known, Skellig Ring.
Skellig Ring is a predominantly coastal road that offers panoramic views of its namesake, the Skellig rocks. While it might be the Ring of Kerry’s lesser sister, it certainly is far more impressive.
From the highest point of the road you can climb the hill on the seaward side of the saddle in twenty minutes or so for the most magnificent views out to the Skellig Islands, across to the Dingle Peninsula and the Blaskets, and inland to the Iveragh Mountains.
When you are finished with your drive around the Ring of Kerry (and/or Skellig Ring), continue on to the Dingle Peninsula.
You'll stay 1 night in Dingle.
The Dingle Peninsula:
slea Head Route
This is portion of your trip is perfect for driving, where you can stop and sightsee and even do some short hikes along the way.
Hidden away on Ireland’s southwestern coast, Dingle is at the heart of the Dingle Peninsula, and a popular starting point for both the Dingle Way long-distance hiking trail and the Slea Head driving route, which loops around the scenic headland, passing by Europe’s westernmost point at Slea Head.
The drive passes through the village of Ventry which is on the coast and has a good beach for swimming and water sports. Then the drive winds through cliffs and offers views of the Atlantic Ocean as it nears Slea Head. Scenes from Ryan's Daughter and Far and Away were filmed near here. The Slea Head Drive continues through wild landscapes and several villages. One of the highlights is the Gallarus Oratory, the best preserved early Christian church in Ireland. The drive also passes through fishing villages and mountainous regions, including Mount Brandon, the second highest mountain in Ireland.
The Connor Pass is an absolute highlight that cannot be missed. It starts just outside the town of Dingle and ends on the other side of the peninsula near the village Castlegregory. It is Ireland's highest mountain pass. It is a narrow, twisting road surrounded by sharp drops and lakes. As such, buses are prohibited from driving this road.
Just off the very westernmost point on the peninsula you will find the Blasket Islands. Until the 1950s these islands were inhabited and from Dunquin, on the mainland, you can still see the remains of the main village on the Great Blasket island. Many of the old inhabitants became famous writers and poets and the Blasket Centre has a fascinating exhibition on the literary heritage of the islands.
A large part of the peninsula is designated as a so called "Gaeltacht". This means the Irish language is the primary language spoken here. Road signs, for example, are all in Irish language.
After exploring the Dingle Peninsula to your liking, drive north to Ennis, where you'll check into your hotel for the next 3 nights.
Bunratty Castle Banquet
The Aran Islands are one of Ireland’s most unique destinations, but most visitors only admire them from afar. Today, you'll take a round-trip ferry from Doolin to Inis Mór to give you the whole day to explore independently and visit sights such as Dun Aengus, the Black Fort, the Seven Churches, and Clochan na Carraige.
Make your own way to Doolin Pier in time for a 10am departure. Set sail on the around 1-hour and 15-minute journey to Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands, and enjoy spectacular views of Galway Bay and the Cliffs of Moher as you cruise out across the Atlantic. On arrival in Kilronan Harbour, you’ll have the entire day to explore the island at your own pace. Perhaps rent a bike, or ride a horse around the island, and take in sights such as Dún Aonghasa (Dun Aengus), the Aran Heritage Centre, Dún Duchathair (The Black Fort), Na Seacht dTeampaill (The Seven Churches), Teaghlach Einne (House of St. Enda), and Clochan na Carraige.
You could also shop for the islands’ famous Aran Sweaters at the Aran Sweater Market in Kilronan, spot wildlife such as seals and sea birds along the coastal cliffs, and tuck into a typical Irish lunch at one of the harbor’s many pubs, restaurants and cafés.
Make your way back to Kilronan Harbour in time for the return ferry at 4pm sharp. Your tour ends back at Doolin Pier around 5.30pm.
This will give you some time to go back to your hotel, change (drop off any souvenirs you may have purchased) and get ready for your late dinner banquet at Bunratty Castle.
Arrive a little before the starting time of your banquet at Bunratty Castle in County Clare, so you won’t miss a thing.
Please note the characters you meet throughout the evening are playing a part of someone who might have existed during the medieval times.
This 2-hour banquet is being thrown by Earl of Thomond. Be greeted at the castle’s front entrance by a playing piper in a kilt, then cross over the drawbridge into the castle and be offered a ‘Bite of Friendship’ by your host.
During this experience, make a toast with honey mead, watch the crowning of the Earl and his lady, and be serenaded by Irish music. Enjoy a 4-course meal by candlelight in a traditional medieval banquet hall with long wooden tables and wooden benches. You're in store for a lovey night filled with food, friendship, music, and a few surprises.
Cliffs of Moher
Check out of your hotel and take off on the road to Co. Clare.
Start your day by exploring The Burren, one of Ireland’s most unique and photogenic landscapes.
Stretching over 160 square km, the Burren, derived from the Gaelic word Boireann meaning ‘rocky place’, is one of the most visited attractions in the Shannon region.
Aptly named, the karst topography is characterized by its unusual limestone formations, naturally sculpted through acidic erosion over thousands of years. The natural landscape is an otherworldly terrain - a giant jigsaw of rocks, made up of grikes (fissures) and clints (isolated rocks jutting from the surface), with pockets of lush greenery poking between the expanses of bare rock.
Before heading to the Cliffs of Moher, stop by Fitzpatrick's Pub in Doolin. The local seafood is particularly good here, and the cliffs can become especially crowded between 11am and 4pm. This will be a great way to dodge the masses, fill your bellies and see the village of Doolin.
With allegedly more musicians per square mile in this county than anywhere in the world, it’s unsurprising that this small fishing village is hailed as the capital of Irish folk music. Musical traditions still reign strong today, and those looking for an authentic taste of traditional Irish music won’t have to look far in Doolin.
You may want to come back here again for dinner, as the village’s three historic pubs, Gus O’Connor’s, Mcdermott’s and Mcgann’s, all host nightly music sessions, where you can hear Gaelic poetry set to music and admire the soulful timbre of traditional instruments like Celtic harps, tin whistles, fiddles and Irish flutes. Musicians from all over the globe visit Doolin in search of the genre’s roots, and a number of events throughout the year bring together local and international musicians for impromptu jam sessions.
After lunch, drive the short distance to the Cliffs of Moher.
Towering 702 feet above the Atlantic Ocean at their highest point and stretching for five miles along the water, the world-famous Cliffs of Moher define the rugged west coast of Ireland. They are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland.
Once at the cliffs, you can wander a number of winding coastal trails and pathways, capture photos of the dramatic scenery, and walk out to peer over cliff edges at the waves below. The onsite underground Visitor Centre features educational exhibits and a number of arts and crafts gift shops, while the viewing platform atop the historical O’Brien’s Tower provides stellar views stretching west to the Aran Islands, north to Galway, and out along the Atlantic Coast.
When you've finished watching the sun set from the Cliffs of Moher, drive north to your hotel in Galway.
You'll stay 2 nights here.
Today will be a mixture of road trip and hiking. There's so much to see in the Connemara, stop along the road periodically to take in the landscape!
This morning you will head west along the southern shores of Connemara, looking out across beautiful Galway Bay. As you pass through the picturesque villages of Barna, Furbo, Spiddal and Inverin, you will see thatched cottages, dry stone walls, mountains, woodlands, rivers and streams, lakes, Connemara ponies, amazing beaches and unspoilt bogs and deserted islands.
Then it’s on through Connemara’s hidden jewel, Bothar na Scragoige. View the wilderness bog landscape and experience the tranquility and isolation of Connemara.
Head out along the Wild Atlantic Way. To your left will open up the iconic Dog’s Bay Beach stretching a mile out into the Atlantic.
Next is Derrygimlagh Bog (Wild Atlantic Way – Signature Point). This remote site was the centre of the communications (Marconi) and aviation world (Alcok & Brown) in the beginning of the 20th century. After travelling through Clifden, the capital of Connemara, you head skyward.
Renowned worldwide for its heart stopping twists and turns, the Sky Road (Wild Atlantic Way – Discovery Point) swoops and soars above the Atlantic Ocean. The views and photo opportunities from this ‘Discovery Point’ have to be seen to be believed.
Next stop to explore and hike in the Connemara National Park.
After your hike, your final stop of the day is at the magical 19th century limestone and marble Kylemore Abbey.
Tucked in the shadows of the mighty Seven Pins Mountain range, Kylemore Abbey cuts a striking figure against its majestic backdrop. A Benedictine monastery founded in 1853, the Abbey took seven years to build and remains in use today as an all girls’ school governed by Benedictine Nuns - the only Benedictine Community in Ireland - as well as opening its grounds to tourists. With its idyllic surroundings encircled by woodlands and postcard-worthy façade fronted by a glistening lake that perfectly reflects the grand building, Kylemore Abbey has fast become one of County Galway’s most popular iconic sights.
While parts of the 1000-acre estate remain closed to the public, visitors can tour many of the most impressive sights, including the magnificent Gothic Chapel and the Abbey’s beautifully restored main hall. The 6-acre walled Victorian Gardens are another highlight, where pretty walkways, 19th-century flowerbeds and a series of greenhouses are divided by a gurgling stream and enclosed by a brick and limestone wall. The onsite crafts shop and café, where the nuns serve up home-cooked food, are also popular, with the teahouse terrace offering wonderful views over the nearby Connemara National Park.
Depart for NYC
Today you will bid farewell to Ireland.
This morning you will drive back south to Shannon.
You'll return your rental car at the Shannon airport and board your flight home.
DEPARTING May 20, 2019:
NYC (early evening flight)
ARRIVING May 21, 2019:
DUB (arriving in the morning)
DEPARTING May 31, 2019:
SNN (midday flight)
ARRIVING May 31, 2019:
NYC (arriving in the afternoon or early evening)
All accommodations will be in small inns or premier guesthouses.
*Price per person based on double occupancy
**If you are waiting for an updated passport number please provide this as soon as you receive it
Please type Carefully! Inaccurate information will result in travel delays and/or airline change fees.
price Per Person:
(based on double occupancy)
*Prices and availability are subject to change and are not guaranteed until completed through the booking process.
INCLUDED IN THE QUOTE
- Round trip airfare
- Car rental*
- Standard, Automatic
- Picking up at the DUB airport and dropping off at the SNN airport
- Hotel accommodations** (some include breakfast)
- 1 night in Dublin
- 1 night in Wicklow
- 1 night in Cahir
- 2 nights in Kenmare
- 1 night in Dingle
- 3 nights in Ennis
- 1 night in Galway
- Skellig Michael Ferry and Tour
- Inis Mor- Aran Islands ferry from Doolin
- Medieval Banquet at Bunratty Castle
- Most taxes and fees
- Airlines taxes and fees
- Tour taxes and fees
- Service fees and commissions
*Car rental is payable onsite only
**Some hotel reservations require you to pay taxes, VAT and resort fees onsite onsite
- Access fees to most sites (payable onsite only), unless included in a tour/experience
- Fuel/extras for car rental
- Most meals/beverages (unless included in hotel and/or tour)
- Some hotels may require payment of city taxes, VAT and resort fees onsite
- Tips to guides, drivers and hotel staff
- Optional Travel Insurance
- Basic (starting at $99)
- Classic Trip+ (starting at $182)
- Cancel for Any Reason (starting at $189)
SUGGESTED PAYMENT SCHEDULE
Prices and availability are subject to change at any time and are not guaranteed until completed through the booking process.
Payment can be made in full
You can follow a customized payment schedule
Additional fees apply: $50/pp (one time) and 3% processing fee per payment.
- A completed registration form (per person)
- Photo copy of picture/information page of each traveler passport emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Credit Card Authorization form with copy of credit card and Government issued photo ID (like a drivers license or passport)
- Please make sure the credit card belongs to the driver of the rental car
- Payments not received on time will result in reservation cancellation without refund.
- Additional bookings after the final payment deadline may result in higher prices, less availability and additional administrative fees.
- Fee amounts imposed are at the discretion of Zone Travel.
Cancellation in writing must be received by Zone Travel prior to departure for appropriate refund on the land tour cost minus the following fees. Airline penalties are not part of the percentages below and vary based on each individual airline policy.
- 30 Days Prior or less: 100% of tour cost
Commissions and Travel insurance are non-refundable.
TRAVEL INSURANCE - AVAILABLE FOR ALL PASSENGERS - DUE 10 DAYS AFTER DEPOSIT
Zone Travel LLC strongly suggests purchasing Trip Cancellation insurance. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider as most U.S. medical coverage will not cover you outside of the country.
Insurance costs are based on the total package cost, including air taxes and charges listed under "Included."
Approximate amounts can be given at time of reservation in order to purchase the appropriate amount of insurance.
Your may think you can't afford both the fun and the insurance to protect it. The Basic Plan is so affordable that you can have it all, while still staying in a budget. The plan offers existing medical condition coverage and 24-hour assistance services, allowing you to purchase your trip with complete confidence.
Trip Cancellation: Trip Cost
Trip Interruption: Trip Cost
Emergency Medical/Dental Coverage: $10,000.00
Emergency Medical Transportation: $50,000.00
Baggage Coverage: $500.00
Baggage Delay: $200.00
Travel Delay: $300.00
Travel Delay: $150.00
24-Hour Hotline Assistance: Included
When you book your family on an international vacation, you want the peace of mind that you purchased the right amount of coverage. Classic Trip+ doubles nearly all the post-departure coverage of the Classic Plan, including Emergency Medical and Dental, Emergency Medical Transportation, Baggage Loss, Baggage Delay, Travel Delay, and Missed Connection.
Trip Cancellation: Trip Cost
Trip Interruption: Trip Cost
Emergency Medical/Dental Coverage: $50,000.00
Emergency Medical Transportation: $1,000,000.00
Baggage Coverage: $2,000.00
Baggage Delay: $600.00
Change Fee Coverage: $250.00
Frequent Flyer Miles Redeposit Fee: $250.00
Travel Delay: $1,600.00
Missed Connection: $1,600.00
24 Hour Hotline Assistance Plus: Included
You can enjoy the extra flexibility of knowing you can cancel your trip for almost any unforeseen reason that the Classic plan does not already cover at 100% and receive 80% of their non-refundable trip cost back in cash. With features like comprehensive trip cancellation, primary emergency medical coverage and 24-hour travel assistance, the Classic with Cancel Anytime plan is there if life throws an unexpected wrench in your travel plans. Plan must be purchased within 10 days of the first payment date and must cover the full non-refundable trip cost ($10,000 maximum).
Trip Cancellation: Trip Cost
Trip Interruption: Trip Cost
Emergency Medical/Dental Coverage: $25,000.00
Emergency Medical Transportation: $500,000.00
Baggage Coverage: $1,000.00
Baggage Delay: $300.00
Change Fee Coverage: $250.00
Frequent Flyer Miles Redeposit Fee: $250.00
Travel Delay: $800.00
Missed Connection: $800.00
24 Hour Hotline Assistance Plus: Included
How can I make a payment?
You can make a payment (Mastercard, Visa, Discover or American Express) or, if you prefer a check, you can make checks payable to:
"Zone Travel LLC"
235 Binns Blvd
What time does the Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet start?
The banquet starts at 845pm and goes until 11pm
What is included in the Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet?
- Entrance fees
- All taxes, fees and handling charges
- Unlimited wine
- Live entertainment
- 2-hour medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle in County Clare, Ireland
- Be greeted by the music of a kilted piper before watching a crowning
- Enjoy a 4-course meal with wine and honey mead in a traditional medieval-themed banquet hall
- Vegetarian options are available upon request at the time of booking
- Listen to beautiful melodies played on an Irish harp and fiddle
- No beer available