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St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland: Traditions of the Emerald Isle

11 days Special Event Tours
Blessed with outstanding wit, warm smiles and the so-called gift of gab, the Irish people are the Emerald Isle’s true attraction. In the lively pubs and out in the streets, it’s easy to see that the oldest traditions continue to thrive here (and proudly, too). There’s no better time to discover this vibrant spirit than during St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin. Kick off your tour in the capital city to take in the historic sights and join the locals at the legendary St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Then take off to see the ins and outs of this charming country, from Rebel County to the breathtaking Ring of Kerry.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

Local cuisine with beer or wine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

Local cuisine with beer or wine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 9 nights in handpicked hotels

  • Breakfast daily, 3 three-course dinners with beer or wine

  • Guided sightseeing

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Select entrance fees

Overnight Flight1 night

Day 1

Your trip begins with a regularly scheduled overnight flight to Dublin aboard an internationally recognized airline.

Dublin3 nights Hotel info

Day 2

Included meals: Dinner

Welcome to the Emerald Isle! A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport after you clear customs and escorts you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to start discovering the many charms of Dublin. Tonight, meet your fellow travelers at an included dinner.

Day 3

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: St. Patrick's Cathedral, Trinity College

A local guide leads a sightseeing tour of the city. Drive to Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed public park in Europe. Its grounds include the Arás an Uachtaráin (the residence of the Irish President). Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, founded by Ireland’s patron saint in A.D. 450, and then stop by Trinity College, where you can view the illuminated Book of Kells in the university’s library. This afternoon, opt to join an excursion to the mountainous landscapes of Glendalough.

Optional Excursion - Glendalough $29*pp Details

County Wicklow has some of the wildest and most spectacular mountain scenery in Ireland, as well as many of the country’s most important historic sites. Journey through Wicklow’s captivating landscapes to Glendalough, which became famous throughout Europe as a center of Christian learning before it was sacked by Viking raiders in the 10th century. Here, you’ll see St. Kevin’s Cross, marking the place where the saint lies buried, the remains of the sixth-century cathedral and the remarkable Round Tower, thought to have been used by monks as a place of refuge. Your Tour Director will lead you on a tour of the site followed by free time.

Day 4

Included meals: Breakfast

Today is yours to explore on this festive day. You might want to catch a glimpse of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, or take advantage of the many musical, arts and sporting events held throughout the day. Or simply wander through this very walkable city, making sure to take in O’Connell Street, the city’s main boulevard, and cross the River Liffey on the nearby Ha’Penny Bridge, so named for the toll pedestrians were once charged. Make sure to stop into one of Dublin’s many neighborhood pubs and celebrate the day with locals and some live music. Tonight, consider joining an optional excursion for a traditional Irish evening of song, dance and local food.

Optional Excursion - Traditional Irish Evening $99*pp Details

Enjoy this special evening of Irish food, music and live entertainment. Dinner will be served first, giving you a taste of traditional Irish dishes. You’ll then be treated to a live show of Irish music and dance. Join in the fun as you enjoy a merry and memorable night. Please note: The specific venue and day of the week for this optional may change due to availability.

County Cork1 night Hotel info

Day 5

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Irish National Stud, Rock of Cashel

Leaving Dublin this morning, travel a short distance southwest to County Kildare. Stop at the Irish National Stud farm, where world-class race horses are bred and trained. Continue to County Tipperary where you’ll visit the iconic Rock of Cashel. The commanding stone buildings date back to the 12th and 13th centuries and offer a glimpse into Ireland’s past. Later arrive in County Cork, Ireland’s largest county.

County Kerry2 nights Hotel info

Day 6

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Blarney Castle, Queenstown Story Museum

This morning, your Tour Director will acquaint you with Cobh and Cork. Cobh is a fishing village, which served as a launch site for ships bound for North America centuries ago. Here you’ll visit the Queenstown Story museum, whose exhibits tell the story of Irish emigration during the past 150 years. Then, travel to Cork, an island city with an impressive network of channels, docks and quays overlooking a vast natural harbor. Later, continue on to Blarney Castle. This 15th-century fortress is known above all else for the legendary Blarney Stone, said to grant magical powers of eloquence to those who kiss it—which you can attempt by climbing to the top of the parapet and leaning out of the battlements. Later, continue on to County Kerry, where dinner is included tonight.

Day 7

Included meals: Breakfast

Travel around the Ring of Kerry, a 112-mile coastal route that covers some of Ireland’s most spectacular scenery. Pass the pristine Lakes of Killarney and gaze across Dingle Bay to Dingle Peninsula. This afternoon, enjoy unsurpassable views of the Skellig Islands, before continuing to the picturesque village of Sneem, the “Knot in the Ring,” where brightly painted cottages surround the cozy market green. End the day in Killarney.

Galway2 nights Hotel info

Day 8

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Bunratty Castle

En route to Galway, stop for a guided tour of the 13th-century Bunratty Castle. Then continue to the magnificent Cliffs of Moher, towering 600 feet above the Atlantic. Continue the journey through the desolate karst landscape of the Burren. Rife with archaeological sites, the Burren’s grikes and clints are punctuated by portal tombs and ring forts that are thousands of years old. Today’s final destination is Galway, which was an independent city-state for 400 years. As recently as the 19th century, local citizens were still in the habit of setting their clocks 40 minutes behind Dublin time. Tonight, consider joining our optional excursion, Castle Banquet Dinner (seasonal April - October).

Optional Excursion - Castle Banquet Dinner $115*pp Details

Enjoy a feast fit for a king inside Dunguaire Castle, a 17th-century castle overlooking Galway Bay. Sip from a goblet of mead and learn the history of the castle before proceeding up the spiral staircase to the banquet hall, where you’ll enjoy a sumptuous, four-course dinner and an evening of live entertainment, including songs and stories. Please note: This excursion is seasonal from April to October.

Day 9

Included meals: Breakfast

With another free day in Galway, you might choose to explore the city’s cultural highlights or cross the River Corrib to see University College. Alternatively, you may join an optional excursion to the Aran Islands (weather permitting), a rugged region overflowing with traditional Irish culture that has remained largely unchanged in recent centuries.

Optional Excursion - Aran Islands $99*pp Details

Board a ferry across Galway Bay for a guided tour of Inis Mór, one of the three remote Aran Islands. An outpost of Irish culture that has remained essentially unchanged over the past few centuries, the Aran Islanders still speak Gaelic and rely on fishing and farming to make a living. Local crafts produced here include hand-knit “fisherman” sweaters. While you're here, you’ll also visit the ruins of Dún Aonghasa, a prehistoric fort. Please note: This tour involves a fair amount of walking over somewhat rugged terrain. Travelers should be accustomed to moderate physical activity. This excursion is weather dependent, and weather conditions may also result in a rough sea crossing.

Dublin1 night Hotel info

Day 10

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Transfer to Dublin. Enjoy your last afternoon in the capital of Ireland, before being treated to a farewell dinner.

Day 11

Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

A Go Ahead representative accompanies you to the airport for your return flight home.

Add Belfast $299 pp

The city of Belfast was once the largest in Ireland, the home of Irish linen and the most productive shipyard in the world, a place whose hills inspired Jonathan Swift to write Gulliver's Travels. Come discover the charming Victorian architecture of the cultural heart of Northern Ireland.

Belfast2 nights Hotel info

Day 11

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Titanic Museum

Journey this morning to Belfast. Upon arrival, get the local perspective of the city on a guided tour, where you’ll glimpse the copper-domed city hall and the recently restored Grand Opera House. Learn all about Belfast’s long history—from its origins in the Bronze Age and its rise as an international seaport to its role in the conflict known as The Troubles and its favored son, the soccer player George Best. Finally, enter the newly opened Titanic Museum for a look at the vessel’s infamous history.

Day 12

Included meals: Breakfast

Take a day to explore Northern Ireland’s up-and-coming capital on your own. Or, consider joining an optional excursion to Giant’s Causeway.

Optional Excursion - Giant's Causeway $105*pp Details

Pay a visit to the rugged Giant’s Causeway, a series of naturally formed hexagonal basalt columns. The columns, which you can walk on, are 60 million years old and originated as volcanic lava. A colorful local legend says that mythical giant Finn McCool built the walkway so that he could cross the sea to Scotland. Please note: Raingear is recommended for this excursion.

Day 13

Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

A Go Ahead representative escorts you to the airport for your flight home.

How's the weather?

  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Cork, Ireland
  • County Kerry, Ireland
  • Galway, Ireland
  • Belfast, Ireland
Temperature Precipitation
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Passport & Visa Requirements

In order to enter Ireland, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.

Baggage Allowance

Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs. Contact your airline for detailed information regarding luggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that Go Ahead travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other internal transfers, which may include train connections or flights. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 total inches (length + width + height). Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag.

Clothing & Packing Tips

We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. For sightseeing, we suggest bringing a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers, as well as a lightweight jacket or rainwear. If you’re planning a visit to a high-end restaurant or performance, you may also want to bring dressier attire. Also, please be respectful and avoid showing bare legs or shoulders when visiting churches or other religious sites (entrance may be denied on this basis).

Health

There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Ireland. However, it’s always advisable to check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates.

Cuisine

Traditional Irish cooking is simple, relying heavily on meat-based dishes. Traditional Irish stew and bacon and boiled cabbage are always popular choices. Soda bread is delicious and very filling, as are Irish cakes, such as scones and Barm Brack. The thick black stout known as Guinness is a national institution. In recent years, Dublin has seen something of a culinary revolution, and the city now boasts an impressive array of new restaurants offering exciting and sometimes unexpected cuisine.

Transportation

Round-trip flights arrive in and depart from Dublin (or Belfast on the extension). Included transportation is by private motor coach. Most of the destinations are easily walkable, but you may want to spend your free time exploring Dublin by a combination of walking and public transportation. The city is serviced by numerous buses, and if you wish to take excursions on your own outside of Dublin, use the very efficient Dublin Area Rapid Transport (DART) trains, which hit most locations on the coast.

Electricity

Ireland operates on the European standard 220 volts. For those on the post-tour extension trip, Belfast operates on 220-240 volts.

Time Zones

Ireland falls on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Currency

The euro is the currency you’ll be using on your tour (and the British pound on the extension). Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks as needed. You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.

Tipping

At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.

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