4. CIE Tours International: Taste of Ireland
For those looking to experience the major highlights that Ireland has to offer but have limited time to do so, CIE Tours International’s 7-day Taste of Ireland itinerary will take guests on a fast-paced trip that will serve as the perfect introduction to the Emerald Isle. Travelers will start this whirlwind tour in the heart of Dublin before moving on to the Blarney Castle, where they’ll get to kiss the famous “Stone of Eloquence,” and then take a ride along the 100-mile Ring of Kerry offering stunning coastal views. Star Wars fans are sure to enjoy a stop at the Skellig Experience, from where they can see the offshore island that became Luke’s hideaway in the “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” film. Other highlights include a visit to the Cliffs of Moher and a medieval-style feast in a castle.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, CIE Tours International is also offering discounted roundtrip airfare to Dublin or Shannon for as low as $399 from select cities on the East Coast of the U.S. (sale ends March 20). Rates for the Taste of Ireland tour starts at $1,150 pp dbl. For more information, visit cietours.com.
3. Freewheel Holidays: Cycling Galway and Connemara
Cycling enthusiasts can test out their skills on the mountains and hills of western Ireland’s countryside on Freewheel Holidays’ Galway and Connemara tour. The journey starts in the busy city of Galway from where travelers will cycle through the south Connemara countryside to the village of Carna and the town of Clifden. Leaving Clifden, riders will cycle through the Lough Inagh Valley to Leenane along the shores of Killary Harbour. Cyclists will then set their eyes to the east while they pedal into the Maam Valley and Joyce’s country before finishing the trip in the village of Cong. From Cong, the trip brings the likely tired travelers back to Galway.
In addition to cycling through some of the stunning landscapes of Ireland, travelers on the Galway and Connemara tour will also visit Kylemore Abbey, take a cruise to Ireland’s only fjord, and more. The tour is suitable for riders of all levels, and can also be modified to suit families with younger children, or those who want to cycle at a more leisurely pace.
Rates start at $1,143 pp dbl. For more information, visit freewheelholidays.co.uk.
2. Austin Adventures: Journey to Winterfell
“Game of Thrones” (GOT) viewers have a long wait until the show’s final season premieres in 2019, but Austin Adventures is offering the most dedicated (or impatient) fanatics a chance to get up-close and personal with the HBO series on its Journey to Winterfell tour. Departing on July 1, 2018, this 7-day itinerary takes travelers on a hiking and touring journey through Northern Ireland that includes visits to castles and landscapes where filming for the series took place. Throughout the journey, guests will collect stamps for their “Game of Thrones” passports. Each stamp represents a film site visited. These sites include Castle Ward, the setting of Winterfell, Carrickfergus Castle, and the alley of trees known as Dark Hedges. GOT fans will also explore non-GOT sites such as the Giant’s Causeway, Dublin, and Belfast.
Rates start at $3,998 pp dbl. For more information, visit austinadventures.com.
1. Vagabond Small-Group Tours of Ireland: Great Irish Adventure
Active travelers can hike, horseback ride, kayak and surf their way around the Emerald Isle on the Giant Irish Adventure made just for them by Vagabond Small-Group Tours of Ireland. On this 12-day itinerary, guests will circumnavigate Ireland out of Dublin as they explore the island nation through guided walks; excursions to historical, archaeological, and natural sites; demonstrations of local craftsmen at work; as well as a variety of optional activities for the true thrill seekers. Highlights of the tour include visits to the Cliffs of Moher, Macgillycuddy Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range, and the option to visit other sites such as Dunluce Castle, Stone Ring Fort, Blarney Castle, St. Patrick’s Rock, and more.
Rates start at $3,431 pp dbl. For more information, visit vagabondtoursofireland.com.