Gems of Northern Ireland
An exciting discovery of Giant's Causeway, Derry, Belfast and Dublin
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- Luxury accommodation throughout
- Private transfers
- All tours mentioned in the itinerary
- Full support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip
At a glance
This 12-day trip introduces you to the beauty of northern Ireland from Donegal and Fermanagh to the cities of Derry and Belfast, finishing in the Republic of Ireland’s intoxicating capital, Dublin.
Your adventure starts as you travel through the Boyne Valley to Lough Erne. From here you’ll explore Enniskillen Castle and marvel at the underground world at the Marble Arch Caves Geopark. Travel along the coast past the dramatic cliffs of Slieve League to reach Lough Eske Castle, your beautiful and historic home for the next few days.
Glenveagh National Park is a vast ares of wilderness perfect for hiking – keep your eyes peeled for the majestic golden eagles that soar overhead. You’ll also get a taste for traditional life at Glencolmcille Folk Village and visit a weaving workshop to get an understanding on this ancient craft.
Prepare yourself for epic scenery as you discover Malin Head, Dunluce Castle and the awe-inspiring Giant’s Causeway. As you pick your way across the hexagonal pillars, your mind will boggle at the sheer power of Mother Nature. The adventure continues in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s colourful and vibrant capital. You’ll take a Black Taxi tour that offers an overview of the city’s turbulant past as you visit iconic sights such as the famous murals. You’ll also travel back in time at the incredible Titanic Belfast.
Your final stop is Dublin, a city with an energy that’s contagious. Discover its history at the Trinity Book of Kells and Christ Church Cathedral, then embrace the present with a connoisseur experience at the Guinness Storehouse and a pub tour.
Example Trip Itinerary
The Boyne Valley, located in the northeast of Ireland and encompassing counties Louth and Meath, holds a UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is the largest and one of the most important prehistoric megalithic sites in Europe. From the summit of the Hill of Tara 16 of Ireland's 32 counties can be seen. Tara is one of the largest complexes of Celtic monuments in Europe and in reading its landscape, you are transported back in time to when the first settlers came 6000 years ago. The Tara spiral is taken from a carving within the 5000-year-old Mound of the Hostages and is said to have reference to a life force pattern that reflects Tara's significance within Irish history.
Newgrange was built during the Neolithic or New Stone Age by a farming community that prospered on the rich lands of the Boyne Valley. Built as a place of astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance, Newgrange is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber by the winter solstice sun on the shortest day of the year, December 21.
Accommodation in Lough Erne
- 120 rooms and suites
- Three restaurants
- Two championship golf courses
Nestled on a 600-acre peninsula overlooking the Fermanagh Lakelands and the Faldo Golf Course, Lough Erne Resort is ideally located for an exploration of north west Ireland. The resort has 120 rooms and suites, traditional in design and reminiscent of an Irish country estate. Many offer views of the Castle Hume Lough and the Fermanagh Lakes. There are also a selection of two- and three-bedroom lodges, perfect for families and groups. Enjoy both classic and contemporary dishes at the three AA Rosette Catalina Restaurant, prime Irish steaks and seafood at The Loughside Bar & Grill and lights bites and drinks at The Blaney Bar. The bar and grill features a terrace so you can enjoy lake views as you dine. At the Lough Erne Spa, guests will be whisked away on a journey east with treatments and decor inspired by Thailand. Unwind in the steam room, sauna, tropical rain shower and relaxation room before indulging in a traditional Thai massage. The resort is also home to two championship golf courses, including the renowned Faldo Course, a golf academy and an all-weather driving range.
Enniskillen Castle, situated beside the River Erne in County Fermanagh, was built almost 600 years ago by the ruling Gaelic Maguires. Guarding one of the few passes into Ulster, it has been strategically important throughout its history. Today, the historic site houses two museums, Fermanagh County Museum and The Inniskillings Museum.
Take a tour of this amazingly preserved Georgian home, one of the most important in Ireland. If you’ve time, walk one of the trails in the gardens and take in the beautiful Fermanagh countryside.
This UNESCO Heritage site is host to magnificent natural and man-made attractions including Tully Castle (a 17th-century ruin), Gortmaconnell Rock, Cuilcagh Mountain Boardwalk, Money Gashel Cashel (remains of a fortified settlement), Drumlane Abbey, Pollnagollum Cave and Whitefather’s Cave, as well as the titular Marble Arch Caves which you can enjoy a guided tour through.
Sweeping down from the mountain of Slieve League are some of the highest cliffs in the world. From the top it's a steep 609m to the Atlantic down below. The nearby centre is full of information on the cliffs and surrounding areas.
You'll also stop by Belleek Pottery. Nestled on the banks of the River Erne, the striking building is home to the world-famous Belleek Fine Parian china. Discover the secrets that have made Belleek Pottery one of the most enduring success stories of Irish craftmanship with a tour through the workshop, talking to employees on the floor and visiting the museum.
Accommodation in Lough Eske
- 96 rooms and suites
- Fitness centre
Once the home of the powerful clans of Donegal, today Lough Eske is a beautiful castle that has opened its magnificent doors to those looking to experience Ireland’s rich heritage. The castle has been sensitively restored and today houses 96 elegant rooms and suites. Natural materials and fabrics are used so as not to detract from the idyllic natural surroundings. Eating at the hotel is a real treat. Produce harvested from the land, shore and sea of this stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way is used to create beautiful seasonal dishes at the Cedar Restaurant, which offers sweeping views of the castle gardens and the surrounding woodlands. In the summer, guests can dine outside on the terrace. The hotel spa with sauna, steam room, tropical showers, treatment rooms and infinity pool is the perfect place to unwind, and there is also a fitness centre for those who like to stay active while away.
The largest tract of land in the wildest part of Donegal, Glenveagh National Park incorporates moorland, mountains, lakes and woods within its 40,000 acres of wilderness. The park, the second largest in Ireland, was once owned by the American millionaire Henry P. McIlhenny and is now in the hands of the Irish government. You may be lucky enough to catch sight of soaring golden eagles which have been reintroduced into the area or chance upon a shy red deer.
Glenveagh Castle is a 19th-century castellated mansion built between 1867 and 1873. It was designed by John Townsend Trench, who appears to have imitated the style of earlier Irish tower houses adding an air of antiquity to the castle. Few of the great houses of Ireland are preserved in this condition, with their original furnishings, and in Glenveagh Castle one catches a glimpse of a lifestyle belonging to an earlier age.
Six replica thatched cottages with original artefacts give insight into life in the area in past centuries. Learn about the local culture and even a few Irish words and phrases.
Eddie Doherty learnt to weave by hand at the age of 16. Now, 40 years and two long stints with large Irish fabric companies later, he uses Donegal wool to handweave pure wool blankets and tweed at his home in Ardara.
Private transfer to Derry
Accommodation in Derry
- 30 rooms and suites
- Restaurant and bar
With its beautiful Edwardian architecture and great location in the heart of the city’s Cathedral Quarter, Bishop’s Gate is a great choice for those looking to explore Derry. The hotel dates from 1899 and has been sensitively restored to honour the building’s heritage. There are just 30 rooms, traditional but not stuffy, and decorated with an elegant palette of soft grey, moss green, rich plum and decadent gold. At the heart of the hotel is the Wig and Gown Champagne Bar and Restaurant. This is an intimate and warm space where guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The restaurant takes a simple and honest approach to food, taking locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and letting them shine.
Northern Ireland's second largest city continues to flourish as an artistic and cultural hub. Derry's city centre was given a striking makeover for its year as the UK City of Culture in 2013, with the new Peace Bridge, Ebrington Square and the redevelopment of the waterfront and Guildhall area making the most of the city's splendid riverside setting. There's lots of history to absorb here, from the Siege of Derry to the Battle of the Bogside and Bloody Sunday. A stroll around the 17th-century city walls that encircle the city is a must, as is a tour of the Bogside murals, along with taking in the burgeoning live music scene in the city's lively pubs.
Malin Head is renowned for its rugged coastal landscape and attractive beaches and is steeped in history and folklore. It is an area perfect for walking, fishing, swimming, photography and studying rock formations or rare flora. It is also close to Inishowen's splendid golf courses. Discover some of the largest sand dunes in Europe once you enter the Malin Head area via the coastal road, along the north of Trawbreaga Bay at Lagg as well as at the famous Five Finger Strand. At low tide, see if you can spot the wreck of the Twilight, which sank in 1889 on its voyage to Derry.
The iconic ruin of Dunluce Castle bears witness to a long and tumultuous history. First built on the dramatic coastal cliffs of north County Antrim by the MacQuillan family around 1500, the earliest written record of the castle was in 1513.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, for centuries countless visitors have marvelled at the majesty and mystery of the Giant's Causeway. At the heart of one of Europe's most magnificent coastlines its unique rock formations have, for millions of years, stood as a natural rampart against the unbridled ferocity of Atlantic storms. The rugged symmetry of the columns never fails to intrigue and inspire our visitors. To stroll on the Giants Causeway is to voyage back in time.
Connected to the cliffs by a rope bridge across the Atlantic Ocean, Carrick-a-Rede Island (home to a single building - a fisherman's cottage) is the final destination. Suspended almost 100ft (30m) above sea level, the rope bridge was first erected by salmon fisherman 350 years ago.
Get off the beaten track on a magnificent cliff walk to the Giant’s Causeway that will take your breath away. Escape the crowds and enjoy more of this coast than the average tourist ever sees. This walk is six miles long and once you reach the iconic Giant’s Causeway, you will have some time to explore the stunning natural rock formation.
Private transfer to Belfast
Accommodation in Belfast
- 62 rooms and suites
- Cocktail and champagne bar
The former headquarters of the Ulster Bank, The Merchant Hotel is a beautiful heritage hotel dating back to 1860. Located in Belfast’s historic Cathedral Quarter, the hotel is just a stone’s throw from the city’s main attractions. The Grade A listed building still has telltale signs of its former life, such as the sculptures depicting commerce, justice and Britannia that look down from the magnificant facade. The grand central dome of the main banking hall is still very much a feature of the hotel today. There are 57 rooms – choose from art deco or Victorian style rooms – and five suites named after Irish writers, poets and playwrights. Surrounding the grand dome, these were once the living quarters of the bank’s chief cashier. The Great Room restaurant with its glass cupola, ornate chandelier and plasterwork detailing is a beautiful space where guests can enjoy two AA Rosette food and exquisite afternoon tea. Travel back in time to 1930s New York and the height of the jazz age at Bert’s Bar, and experience the legendary Irish hospitality at The Cloth Ear pub. There is also a cocktail bar and Veuve Clicquot Champagne lounge where you can indulge in a pre-dinner tipple in front of the antique fireplace. At the hotel spa you’ll find a thermal and hydrotherapy area with hyro pool, sauna and steam room and there is a fitness centre which looks out across the city.
- 130 rooms
- Restaurant and bar
The Fitzwilliam Hotel is ideally located next the the Grand Opera House and in easy reach of the city’s main sights. The hotel’s 130 rooms are chic and contemporary in style with a palette of soft pinks, grey and cream. They are the perfect retreat after a day exploring Belfast’s many attractions. The restaurant, which has been awarded an AA rosette, uses the finest local produce to craft a menu that is contemporary and creative. The bar with its copper-clad lighting and real crystal glasses is an intimate space and the perfect place for a pre-dinner drink.
Enjoy a Black Taxi tour of the city with a loca and learn more about the history of the city as you go. See the famous murals and take in the atmosphere of Northern Ireland’s capital city.
Belfast City Hall opened its doors in August 1906 and was designed by Alfred Brumwell Thomas in the Baroque Revival style and constructed in Portland stone. There is also an excellent visitor exhibition, offering a journey from the city's past to the present, showing the vibrancy and diversity of Belfast City Hall across six themed zones. You'll also visit St George’s Market, an award-winning market that is one of Belfast's oldest attractions and one of the best markets in the UK and Ireland.
Located in the heart of Belfast, on the very slipways where the Titanic was built, Titanic Belfast is spread over nine galleries, with multiple dimensions to the exhibition. Drawing together special effects, dark rides, full-scale reconstructions and innovative interactive features to explore the Titanic story in a fresh and insightful way; from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her infamous maiden voyage and catastrophic demise. The journey goes beyond the aftermath of the sinking, to the discovery of the wreck and continues into the present day with a live undersea exploration centre.
Belfast Castle is located in the Cave Hill area of north Belfast. It was built in the 1860s and is one of the city's most famous landmarks. For generations, Cave Hill has been synonymous with Belfast, with its imposing outline visible throughout the city. Named for the five caves located on the side of the cliffs, the area contains a wealth of natural, archaeological and historical features, including Belfast Castle. Its most famous feature, known locally as Napoleon's Nose, is believed to have been the inspiration for Jonathan Swift's novel, Gulliver's Travels. The park is home to the Cave Hill Adventurous Playground, archaeological sites, Visitor Information Area in Belfast Castle, ecotrails, walking and orienteering routes. The estate contains landscaped gardens and mature mixed woodland and offers superb views of the city from a variety of vantage points.
You are invited to join in a bread making class an 18th-century thatched cottage on the shores of beautiful Strangford Lough in County Down. Traditional griddle breads such as soda bread, potato bread, and wheaten breads are made in the farmhouse kitchen here and the local bread maker will be show you how to make these breads using local ingredients and traditional methods. Roll up your sleeves, put on an apron and have a go yourself, or simply sit back relax and enjoy the fruits of someone else's labour! Once the griddle breads are ready and have cooled down a little you will sit around the farmhouse family table and enjoy a lunch of local produce, finishing with traybakes, a Northern Irish sweet treat. You will be given a copy of all the traditional bread recipes so that you can try making them at home. Afterwards, enjoy a tasting of local gins.
Private transfer to Dublin
Accommodation in Dublin
- 205 rooms and suites
- 1930s-style bar
- Fitness suite
The Westbury enjoys a prime location in the heart of Dublin, just moments from the pedestrianised hub of Grafton Street, Trinity College and St. Stephen’s Green. Decor is contemporary and chic but original paintings by Sir John Lavery and Louis le Brocquy ensure there is a nod to Irish history and culture. There are 205 rooms and suites, elegant and contemporary in design with a soft neutral colour scheme. The hotel restaurant WILDE is a beautiful 1930s-inspired space with huge windows and an abundance of greenery. The menu celebrates the finest Irish produce and combines much-loved local dishes with cuisine from around the world. Guests can also enjoy afternoon tea at The Gallery, enjoying views over Grafton Street as you tuck into delectable pastries and savouries. Grab at a drink at the Sidecar cocktail bar, then head next door to the Balfes Bar and Brasserie, an all-day bistro where the vibe is trendy New York eatery meets high-end Parisian brasserie.
- 246 rooms
- Three restaurants
- Two bars
- Indoor swimming pool
- Fitness centre
Situated south of the river in the heart of Dublin city centre, The Shelbourne thoroughly encapsulates classic Irish charm and elegance. First opened in 1824, this stately hotel has remained a perennial favourite for visitors to the city and enjoys a prime location overlooking St Stephen’s Green. Catching your eye upon arrival are the delicate touches of gold leaf and ornate chandeliers, a visual promise of the luxury found within these walls. The warmth of deep mahogany and pastel green found throughout the hotel evoke Ireland’s quintessential greenery. Yet while these natural hues pay tribute to Ireland’s vast natural offerings, the Shelbourne is far from rustic. The 246 rooms and suites are classic and elegant and designed to emulate a homely yet luxurious hideaway. Balconies overlooking the natural beauty of St. Stephens Green can be found in some of the rooms while deep bath tubs are perfect for slipping into after a day exploring the city. The food enthusiast in you can rejoice over the choice of award-winning restaurants. The Lord Mayor’s Lounge offers a classic high tea experience while the Saddle Room restaurant specialises in hearty steaks and succulent seafood. The hotel’s most recent addition, the 1824 Bar, lures you in with its sophisticated style. Featuring a 19th-century Kilkenny limestone fireplace and oak bookshelves filled with books by famous Irish authors, it is reminiscent of a stately home gallery and library. The hotel’s facilities range from a state-of-the-art fitness centre and indoor heated pool to a full-service day spa. Exclusive to The Shelbourne and cementing the hotel’s bond between past and present, is the unique services of the genealogy butler. This allows you to delve deep into your own history to discover where your true ancestral roots lie.
- 142 rooms and suites
- Two Michelin-starred restaurant
- Garden terrace
- Cocktial bar
- Swimming pool
The Merrion is a beautiful hotel located in the heart of Dublin’s city centre, just a few minutes’ walk from the museums, galleries and shops of Grafton Street. The hotel occupies four Georgian townhouses which have been sensitively renovated so as not to detract from the heritage of the original buildings. There are 142 rooms and suites, light and airy and decorated with colours and fabrics chosen from a subtle palette inspired by Paul Henry’s paintings of the Irish landscape – one of these beautiful paintings hangs at the foot of the Merrion’s main staircase. The hotel has strong culinary credentials with Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud the only restaurant in Ireland to hold two Michelin stars. The Cellar Bar, located in the original 18th-century wine vaults, and the Garden Room offer a more casual dining experience. In spring and summer guests can dine on the terrace overlooking the beautiful gardens, while the drawing room with its open log fire is the perfect place to hole up with a drink or enjoy an indulgent afternoon tea. The No.23 cocktail bar has the feel of a private lounge with pieces of art from the Merrion’s private collection on the racing green walls. Here you can enjoy a glass of champage or Irish whisky. At the hotel spa you’ll find an indoor swimming pool, steam room, private treatment rooms and a fitness centre.
A five-star Guinness tasting experience for the ultimate Guinness connoisseur. This intimate session takes place in a private bar where expert staff will be your personal guides on a sensory journey filled with tales and traditions.
Trinity College’s Old Library and the Book of Kells Exhibition is a must see for all visitors to Dublin. Located in the heart of Dublin City, a walk through the cobbled stones of Trinity College Dublin will bring you back to the 18th century, when the magnificent Old Library building was constructed.
Christ Church Cathedral is Dublin's oldest building and a place of pilgrimage for almost 1,000 years. Renowned for its beauty, architecture and exquisite floor tiles, it is home to the famous 12th-century crypt, one of the oldest and largest in Britain and Ireland. Perfectly located in the heart of medieval Dublin, it was founded in 1030 by Sitriuc, King of the Dublin Norsemen and was incorporated into the Irish Church in 1152 and eventually led by the famous Archbishop and patron saint of Dublin, Laurence O’Toole.
Over the years, Christ Church has borne witness to many significant events including the crowning of Lambert Simnel as Edward VI in 1487. Today, it houses the important Treasures of Christ Church which features manuscripts and ancient artifacts as well as a spectacular exhibition of original 16th-century costumes from the historical series 'The Tudors'. Designed by Emmy award winning designer Joan Bergin, the opulent costumes from the drama have travelled the world including a display in Macy’s New York.
Dublin’s musical pub crawl takes participants to two city centre pubs where musicians, also acting as your guides along the route, demonstrate their Irish traditional instruments and tell the story of Irish music. This is a great way to participate in some Irish ‘craic’ (fun), song and a couple of pints.
Private transfer to Dublin airport
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Gems of Northern Ireland
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Each time you travel with us, you preserve an acre of precious rainforest through our partnerships.
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