Highlights of Southern Ireland
An epic exploration of Ireland's past and present, from east to west
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 specified in the itinerary
- Full support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip
At a glance
This journey weaves the perfect patchwork of castles, forts, ancient markets and quaint colourful towns along Ireland’s epic coastlines and across its lush landscapes.
You’ll begin your journey in the multifaceted Capital of Dublin. Home to Ireland’s most profound historical sites, from castles to gaols, cathedrals to museums marking the very creation of the independent Irish state, you’ll find yourself transported back in time. Also home to the ‘black stuff’, a drink from the source at The Guinness Storehouse will bring you back to the present, for you to fully immerse yourself in the prevailing music scene of Temple Bar.
Sticking close to the coast, from here you’ll journey south. After rejuvenating the senses in the fresh air and the tranquillity of Glendalough, found in the heart of the impressive Wicklow Mountains National Park, you’ll begin your much-anticipated journey west, over to the medieval town of Kilkenny.
In direct contrast to this ancient town, you’ll soon find yourself travelling via the beautiful surrounds of the Waterford Greenway towards the lively cosmopolitan city of Cork. Really get a taste of Ireland at the Jameson Distillery before relaxing over in the picturesque town of Cobh – a place as quaint as it is colourful.
Further west in Kenmare, the Ring of Kerry awaits with its spectacular coastal views for you to enjoy for miles. Arriving in the outskirts of Limerick and resting in the castle grounds of the regal Adare Manor, you’ll then make your way to the famous city of Galway via the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher.
Finishing this epic journey in Galway, you’ll have a farewell feast to remember, exploring the variety of this city’s delightful gastronomy. Eat to your heart’s content, to depart this wonderful country in the best possible taste.
Example Trip Itinerary
Private transfer to your hotel
Accommodation in Dublin
- 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.
- 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.
Both the Republic of Ireland’s capital and largest city, Dublin is truly larger than life. A kaleidoscope of history and modernity, it is generous in its architectural and cultural offerings. Just a quick turn down a cosy laneway could lead you to the bustling restaurants and pubs of Temple Bar, or towards the ancient, yet indominable walls of Dublin Castle. For a city so rich in historic treasures, its bold spirit has not been left in the past. Internationally renowned for their lively spirit and fun-loving attitude, Dubliners certainly know how to grab the present moment with both hands.
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.
The highlight of a trip to Dublin is a visit to the home of the 'black stuff'. Arthur Guinness founded the family business in 1759 at St. James's Gate. The Storehouse, impressively built in 1904 as a fermentation plant, is now an interactive museum on several floors, detailing how four simple ingredients are blended to create the famous stout. Finally, pull yourself up to the almighty Gravity Bar on the 7th floor for the most scenic complimentary pint in Dublin. The 360-degree windows afford exceptional views of the city.
Dublin’s GPO is indelibly associated with the 1916 rising and the events that led to the creation of an independent Irish state. The stern grandeur of its façade,with the Irish flag flying proudly aloft, is an image that evokes a justifiable sense of heroism and nationhood. The General Post Office Witness History Museum is a brand-new immersive exhibition in the iconic GPO building in the heart of Dublin’s City Centre. GPO Witness History’s special effects, soundscapes and heartfelt testimonials from real people in extraordinary circumstances will captivate all age groups, from the curious, young international visitor to the well-informed history buff.
Dublin Castle is the heart of historic Dublin. In fact, the city gets its name from the black tidal pool, which was on the site of the present castle garden, known in Classical Gaelic as 'Dubh Linn'. Generally, the state apartments, medieval undercroft and chapel royal are open to visitors to explore deep into the history of this beautiful city.
Explore one of the largest unoccupied jails in Europe, covering some of the most heroic and tragic events in Ireland's emergence as a modern nation from the 1780s to the 1920s. Attractions here include a major exhibition detailing the political and penal history of the prison and its restoration and the tour of the prison also includes an audio-visual show.
Saint Patrick's Cathedral has been at the heart of Dublin and Ireland's history and culture for over 800 years. For centuries it was the largest enclosed space on the island and it remains the largest cathedral in the country. It has been visited by some of Irish history's most influential individuals from Cromwell, William of Orange and King James I, to Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. We can organise a private vergers tour with behind-the-scenes access.
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.
Glendalough gets its name from 'Gleann dá locha' which translates to ‘Glen of the two lakes' in the traditional Irish language. Situated right in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, Glendalough harbours one of Ireland’s most atmospheric monastic sites. Established by St Kevin in the 6th century, the settlement was attacked time and again by the Vikings, but nevertheless flourished for over 600 years. You'll also stop by Powerscourt Estate, one of the most beautiful country demesnes in Ireland, dramatically situated among Wicklow's mountains. Additionally, you'll get the chance to experience a traditionally Irish sheepdog demo.
Accommodation in Kilkenny
- 32 rooms
- Two restaurants
- Two bars
- Indoor pool
A family home until just a few decades ago, Mount Juliet is still one of the finest country houses in Ireland, retaining the traditions and standards that have contributed to its reputation as an acclaimed estate. There are 32 rooms to choose from in the stately manor house. Among the hotel’s previous guests are The King of Ossory, The Black Earl, Lady Juliana and Fitzwilliam Le Gros, for whom some of the rooms are named. Having been designed during the Georgian era, the rooms are spacious, bright and luxuriously appointed. Each is individually decorated, boasting rich fabrics and carefully chosen antique furniture and decor. Dine at the Michelin-starred Lady Helen Restaurant, named after the previous owner of Mount Juliet, who oversaw the gardens and kitchens. Enjoy views out over the pastures towards the River Nore, while you enjoy dishes created using local ingredients, some of which come from the estate’s own kitchen garden and farm. Named after Major-General Sir Hugh McCalmont and Major Dermot McCalmont, both previous residents, the Major’s Bar is the perfect place to raise a glass to a wonderful day in the countryside, or enjoy pre-dinner drinks surrounded by memorabilia from the estate’s racing glory days. Indulge in therapeutic treatments at the onsite spa. Head out into the grounds for fishing, horse riding, archery and falconry, or make time for a round of golf.
Built from dark grey limestone flecked with fossil seashells, Kilkenny is also known as 'the marble city'. Its unique medieval mile of narrow lanes and historic buildings strung between castle and cathedral along the banks of the River Nore is one of the southeast's biggest draws. Kilkenny is also a centre for arts and crafts, and home to a host of fine restaurants, cafes, pubs and shops.
Nestled in the centre of Ireland’s Medieval Mile, Rothe House and Garden is one of Kilkenny’s hidden gems. A visit is high on the list of things to do in the marble city. Built between 1594 and 1610 this was the home of the renowned merchant, landowner and mayor of Kilkenny city, John Rothe Fitz Piers, his wife Rose Archer, and their eleven children.
Explore one of the most recognisable buildings in Ireland. Kilkenny Castle has been an important site since Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, also known as Strongbow, constructed the first castle in the 12th century. The property was given to the Nation in 1967 and the castle and grounds are now managed by the Office of Public Works.
The world-class 45km Waterford Greenway runs from Waterford to Dungarvan along the route of an old railway line. Along the way you’ll travel over two stone viaducts and have the opportunity to stop at some local villages. The famous Mount Congreve Gardens are along the route and you’ll also encounter stunning sea views as you cycle the final stage into Dungarvan.
Waterford city was founded by the Vikings some 1,100 years ago and had extensive trading links with Viking Settlements overseas. In the nineteenth century the city was the birthplace of the actor Charles Kean and the composer William Vincent Wallace, both, by coincidence, born in the same house! Discover over 1,000 years of history including four national monuments, two Cathedrals be introduced to the range of rakes, rogues, reprobates and revolutionaries who enlivened the city's history. You'll also visit Reginald's Tower, the oldest complete building in Ireland and the first to use mortar, as well as The House of Waterford Crystal.
Accommodation in Cork
- 108 rooms
- Bar and lounge
- Indoor pool
- Fitness centre
Just a short stroll from many of Cork’s highlights, with views out over the city, this beautifully refurbished boutique hotel offers guests a stylish haven to call home while exploring the area. There are 108 rooms to choose from, with clean, modern design. Decor throughout the hotel is plush and the lighting warm and inviting, with subtle colour accents adding to the contemporary feel. At Panorama Bistro & Terrace you can not only savour the delectable dishes the team of chefs create, but you can also enjoy uninterrupted views out over the River Lee and the city as you dine. The menus are inspired by the region and its fresh, seasonal produce. There’s also an enticing cocktail menu to discover at the bar. The Montenotte Hotel also specialises in lavish afternoon teas and Sunday brunches. When you’re not out exploring, set aside some time for pampering at the Bellevue Spa, swim a few laps in the pool, or settle in for a film in the intimate Cameo Cinema.
- 88 rooms
- Two restaurants
- Wine cellar and bar
- Indoor pool
Set on two acres of beautiful leafy grounds and nestled within peaceful walled gardens, family-owned Hayfield Manor offers guests all the tranquillity of a country escape while still within strolling distance of the heart of Cork. There are 88 rooms, including three grand and one master suite, that combine grandeur of life in a manor house with comfort and modern amenities. Each room features antique furnishings and luxurious fabrics, retaining all the charm of an elegant home. Opulent gold trimming and lush textures make the rooms inviting spaces in which to fully relax and feel pampered. Take a table at Hayfield Manor’s signature fine dining restaurant Orchids, which overlooks the private gardens. Contemporary Irish cuisine is created using the freshest local ingredients. For a slightly more casual dining experience Perrotts Garden Bistro offers a regularly-changing menu inspired by the latest global food trends. Full of sophisticated charm, The Manor Bar, is the perfect spot for morning coffee, afternoon tea and pre-dinner drinks. And The Vine wine cellar is not only stocked with some fabulous bottles, but also offers Irish whisky and wine tastings. Be sure to set aside time to relax your body and mind at the Beautique Spa where there is a full treatment menu to choose from, as well as private leisure facilities like an indoor pool, outdoor Jacuzzi and sauna.
Ireland's second city is first in every important respect, at least according to the locals, who cheerfully refer to it as the 'real capital of Ireland'. It's a liberal, youthful and cosmopolitan place, busily reinventing itself with spruced-up streets, revitalised stretches of waterfront, and an artisan coffee bar on every corner. There's a bit of a hipster scene, but the best of the city is still happily traditional; snug pubs with live music sessions, restaurants dishing up top-quality local produce, and a genuinely proud welcome from the locals.
For over 200 years Dublin was the home of Jameson, but in 1975 the whole operation moved to the green expanses of Midleton, in county Cork and today, every drop of Jameson is produced here. This new home provided the space needed, as well as proximity to barley farmers and freshwater in abundance, key ingredients in Jameson Whiskey! Visit the workplace of Jameson to see for yourself where it all happens. After you receive a hundred thousand welcomes, be guided around these amazing grounds where you will come face-to-face with the largest pot still in the world, see our new micro-distillery in action, experience our live maturation warehouse and much more. With so many things to see, do, taste and learn, there really is no time like the present to explore the past.
Cobh (pronounced 'cove') is located on a glittering estuary, dotted with brightly coloured houses and overlooked by a splendid cathedral. It's popular with Corkonians looking for a spot of R&R, and with cruise liners. Each year around 75 visit the port, the second largest natural harbour in the world (after Sydney Harbour in Australia). Cobh was also the final port of call for the Titanic. Here, a poignant museum commemorates the fatal voyage's point of departure.
Dating to 1788, this is one of the oldest covered markets of its kind known to exist in the world with a great selection of delicious Irish produce. Although it might not be the largest, it is a bustling and pretty place. Lunch is available in the upstairs café and restaurant.
The unique yachting harbour of Kinsale is one of many colourful gems strung along the coastline of County Cork. Narrow, winding streets lined with a fantastic range of top quality shops and boutiques with many unique designs and great gift ideas, galleries, lively bars and superb restaurants, and a handsome natural harbour filled with yachts and guarded by a huge 17th-century fortress make it an engrossing place to visit.
This vast 17th-century fortification would be worth a visit for its spectacular views alone, but there's much more here. The 18th- and 19th-century ruins inside the walls make for some fascinating wandering. It's 3km southeast of Kinsale along the minor road through Scilly; if you have time, hike there along the lovely coastal Scilly Walk.
Historic Blarney Castle is most famous for its stone, which legend tells has the power of conferring eloquence on all who kiss it. In the grounds of the castle the Rock Close is a fascinating place of ancient trees and far more ancient stones. Blarney Castle, set in acres of parkland filled with rare and unusual trees and plants, offers visitors the chance to stroll in one of the country's most spectacular gardens.
Accommodation in Kenmare
- Two AA Rosette restaurant, The Falls
- Indoor heated pool
Set upon the backdrop of Kenmare Bay and overlooking the picturesque Sheen Falls, this five-star Relais & Chateaux hotel is renowned for its tranquil beauty and just a short drive will lead you to the quaint Irish town of Kenmare. Found within each of its rooms is luxury and comfort at every turn. Some feature open fireplaces and serene views over either Kenmare Bay or the cascading Sheen Waterfalls, providing the perfect haven in which to unwind. Food lovers rejoice, for one of the most renowned features of the hotel is the elegant, two AA Rosette restaurant, The Falls. Here you can indulge in dishes of the highest calibre using local ingredients like home-smoked salmon caught on the estate and organic vegetables grown in the surrounding area. For a more casual experience and to delight a sweet tooth, head over to the Sun Lounge for afternoon tea or enjoy a glass or two at the stylish cocktail bar which boasts the largest wine cellar in Ireland. The 300-acre estate lends itself to a plethora of exciting outdoor activities. Go salmon fishing on the River Sheen or enjoy a round on the nearby golf courses. Meandering walks are a must, and complimentary hotel bicycles allow for riverside cycles. For a more exhilarating experience, ride horseback across the dramatic landscapes of the countryside, or kayak in the surrounding waters. Falconry, clay pigeon shooting, hill walking, and tennis are also on the extensive list. After a long day of exploration, relaxation awaits in the serene and stylish spa. Soak the day away in the Jacuzzi or indoor heated pool, while the sauna and steam rooms provide the perfect place to unwind.
This 179km circuit winds past pristine beaches, medieval ruins, mountains and loughs, with ever-changing views of the island-dotted Atlantic, particularly between Waterville and Caherdaniel in the peninsula's spectacular southwest. If you want to get further off the beaten track, explore the interior of the peninsula on foot, along the eastern section of the Kerry Way from Killarney to Glenbeigh, or by car or bike on the minor roads that cut through the hills, notably the Ballaghisheen Pass or the Ballaghbeama Gap!
Slea Head Drive is a 50km loop around superbly preserved structures from Dingle's ancient past including beehive huts, ring forts, inscribed stones and early Christian sites. Set against staggeringly beautiful coastal scenery, the landscape is especially dramatic in shifting mist.
Framed by its fishing port, the peninsula's charming little 'capital' manages to be quaint without even trying. Some pubs double as shops, so you can enjoy a Guinness and a singalong among screws and nails, wellies and horseshoes. Dingle town is a truly cosmopolitan, creative place. In summer its hilly streets can be clogged with visitors; in other seasons its authentic charms are yours for the savouring. Although Dingle is one of Ireland's largest Gaeltacht towns, the locals have voted to retain the name Dingle rather than go by the officially sanctioned – and signposted – Gaelic name of An Daingean.
Private transfer to your hotel near Limerick
Accommodation in Adare
- Four restaurants
- Indoor pool
- Fitness centre
- Championship golf course
Adare Manor is located in the picturesque village of the same name, surrounded by 840 acres of pristine parkland. The manor house, built almost two centuries ago, has been meticulously restored with great care taken to maintain the building’s heritage. The original timber in the doors, paneling and floors was repaired, stone floors and walls gently cleaned and lime plastered walls and ceiling restored. The hotel’s rooms and suites are traditional and elegant in design with beautiful artwork, marble bathrooms and views of the gardens, river, golf course or courtyard. There are plenty of options for food and drink, from formal dining at The Oak Room and The Carriage House to light bites, craft beer and whisky at the Tack Room. The Drawing Room which overlooks the formal gardens is where you’ll enjoy breakfast and can indulge in afternoon tea. Unwind at the hotel spa with a treatment, take a dip in the heated indoor pool or enjoy a workout in the fitness centre. There are a wealth of activities to keep you busy from cycling and horse riding to golf on their championship course and watching films in their movie theatre.
The Cliffs of Moher are a dramatic 14km (9 mile) length of Atlantic coastline at the southwestern edge of the Burren region. They run from their southern end at Hag's Head up to a maximum height of of 214m (702 feet) close to O'Brien's Tower, built in 1835 by Sir Cornelius O'Brien as an observation tower for the Victorian tourists, and the site remains one of the most popular sites in Ireland. From the tower, you can see out to the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, the Maumturks and Twelve Pins mountain ranges to the north, and Loop Head lighthouse to the south.
The Burren (meaning 'great rock') stretches across northern Clare, a windswept, lunar-like landscape of barren grey limestone that was shaped beneath ancient seas, then forced high and dry by a great geological cataclysm. Wildflowers in spring give the Burren brilliant, if ephemeral, colour amid its stark beauty. Villages throughout the region include the music hub of Doolin on the west coast, Kilfenora inland and charming Ballyvaughan in the north on the shores of Galway Bay. South of Ballyvaughan, a series of severe bends twists up Corkscrew Hill. Built as part of a Great Famine relief scheme in the 1840s, the road leads to prehistoric and Iron Age sites including Gleninsheen Wedge Tomb, Poulnabrone Dolmen and Caherconnell Fort. Throughout the region, there are fantastic opportunities for walking and rock climbing. A part of the Burren forms the Burren National Park, the smallest of the six National Parks in Ireland
Private transfer to your hotel in Dromoland
Accommodation in Dromoland
- Two restaurants
- Cocktail bar
- Swimming pool
In County Clare, a short way north of Limerick, Dromoland Castle is one of Ireland’s most prestigious addresses. Entering its gates and following the meandering driveway through its pristine parkland, you’ll be transported back to the early 19th century when the current baronial country mansion was built. Now a fabulous hotel, and recently renovated with no expense spared, its rooms include suites whose canopied beds look out over the lake, and spacious family rooms, while even the more modest rooms still feature lavish furnishings, modern luxuries and exquisite bathrooms. The grandeur peaks in the public rooms such as the drawing room, cocktail bar and at the restaurant, the Earl of Thomond, a formal venue with a menu celebrating the best of local produce. The Fig Tree Restaurant in the Golf & Country Club is a more relaxed venue. Elsewhere in the sprawling 450-acre estate, find a championship golf course, swimming pool, tennis courts, and space to pursue all manner of country pursuits from horse riding to archery, fishing and falconry.
Brightly painted pubs heave with live music, while restaurants and cafes offer front row seats for observing buskers and street theatre. Remnants of the medieval town walls lie between shops selling handcrafted Claddagh rings, books and musical instruments, bridges arch over the salmon-stuffed River Corrib, and a long promenade leads to the seaside suburb of Salthill on Galway Bay, the source of the area's famous oysters. While it's steeped in history, the city buzzes with a contemporary vibe, thanks in part to students, who make up a quarter of the population.
Enjoy a walking tour of the city and experience the best of Galway’s local cuisine. Your local private guide will show you Galway’s hidden food treasures, from new artisans to traditional family businesses. Indulge your taste buds and get to see the best of this vibrant city.
Private transfer to Shannon Airport
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Highlights of Southern Ireland
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