Ireland: Traditions of the Emerald Isle 11 days
97.1% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
About This Experience
It’s a little ironic that such a rainy country could give rise to some of the brightest, most charming people in the world. Blessed with outstanding wit and the so-called Gift of Gab, the Irish themselves are the Emerald Isle’s true attraction. When an entire pub bursts into song or an entire city rallies around a hurling match, it’s easy to see that even the oldest traditions continue to thrive here (and proudly, too). Discover all that Ireland holds dear, from Dublin and the Rebel County all the way down to the breathtaking Ring of Kerry.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
9 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 3 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Multilingual Tour Director
Private deluxe motor coach
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
The Irish are beyond friendly (& chatty)
Unspeakably gorgeous greenery
Local pubs, fresh pints & traditional music
The Ring of Kerry’s spectacular coastline
You’ll see the cities of Wilde, Yeats & Bono
Heritage remains untouched in the countryside
Overnight Flight1 night
Dublin3 nights - hotel info
Brevity is the soul of wit, and this small capital is among the wittiest
Breakfast (in flight), 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 begin exploring Dublin. Meet your fellow travelers at tonight’s included dinner.
In Phoenix Park, it becomes apparent how this isle got its nickname
Optional Excursion - Traditional Irish Evening
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 visit Trinity College, where you can view the illuminated Book of Kells in the university’s library. Tonight, consider joining our optional excursion for a Traditional Irish Evening.
Traditional Irish Evening $99* pp
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.
Walk up O’Connell, shop on Grafton or wander St. Stephen’s
Optional Excursion - Powerscourt & Glendalough
Discover Dublin at your own pace today. You might choose to sample the perfect pint at the Guinness Storehouse, stroll through St. Stephen’s Green or explore the Writers Museum. Alternatively, you may want to join an optional excursion to County Wicklow, where you’ll visit the beautiful formal gardens at Powerscourt Estate and later continue on to Glendalough, a romantic glen where St. Kevin founded Ireland’s most important monastery in the 6th century.
Powerscourt & Glendalough $79* pp
County Wicklow is home to some of the wildest and most spectacular scenery in Ireland, as well as two of the country’s most important historic sites. Your first stop is at the picturesque village of Enniskerry, where you’ll visit Powerscourt, an elegant country mansion with the finest formal gardens in the country. Later, continue on to Glendalough, which became famous throughout Europe as a center of Christian learning before it was sacked by Viking crusaders in the 10th century. You’ll also see St. Kevin’s Cross, the remains of the 6th-century cathedral and the remarkable Round Tower, thought to have been used by the monks as a place of refuge.
County Cork1 night - hotel info
Travel to Cork, known as The Rebel County, Ireland’s largest county (and proudest)
National Stud Farm, 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
The Irish certainly talk the talk—gain their Gift of Gab in Blarney
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. Continue on to County Kerry, where dinner is included tonight.
Sit back, relax and take in 112 miles of stunning coastline
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
Discover Caisleán Bhun Raithe, the castle at the mouth of the Ratty
Optional Excursion - Castle Banquet Dinner
En route to Galway, stop for a visit at 13th-century Bunratty Castle. Then motor on to Galway, Ireland’s third-largest city. For 400 years Galway was an independent city-state—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).
Castle Banquet Dinner $115* pp
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.
Listen for the guitars and bodhráns resounding from Galway’s pubs
Optional Excursion - Aran Islands
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 of traditional Irish culture that has remained largely unchanged in recent centuries.
Aran Islands $99* pp
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.
County Limerick1 night - hotel info
Look down on the Atlantic from staggering heights
Depart Galway and travel through the limestone plateau known as the Burren. Stop to see the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, which rise 600 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Later, transfer to County Limerick, a beautiful area set among the Silvermine Mountains, Woodcock Hill and the Shannon River. Here, you’ll enjoy an included farewell dinner.
Flight homefor a day
Extend Your Stay
Add Belfast $299*
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
Discover the docks where the infamous “Unsinkable Ship” was built
Journey this morning to Belfast. Upon arrival, get the local perspective of Belfast 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.
Explore Northern Ireland's up-and-coming capital
Optional Excursion - Giant's Causeway
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.
Giant's Causeway $45* pp
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 MacCool built the walkway so that he could cross the sea to Scotland!
Passport and 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 are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
There are no major health risks associated with traveling on this tour. However, it’s always advisable to check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates.
Traditional Irish cooking is simple, relying heavily on meat-based dishes. Traditional Irish stew, 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 its own right. 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.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
Clothing & Packing Tips
To ensure you’re comfortable while out exploring, 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 remember that it’s preferable to avoid showing bare legs or shoulders during visits to churches or other religious sites (entrance may be denied on this basis).
Round-trip flights arrive in Dublin and depart from Shannon (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.
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.
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.
97.1% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
A great time and a wonderful adventure! We saw all the main sights and in as short a time as was possible. If you are thing about going, do it!
an even pace
What I liked best about the overall tour was that it wasn't all "rush, rush." We saw lots of interesting sites but I never felt pushed to "move it" Now that I'm older, this was important to me. There was a good variety of sites and options. I have one complaint and I don't know if you can do anything about it...the plane trip home was horrendous! from bed to bed it was 24 hours! to have to go thru two of the most huge and awful airports - Heathrow and OHare - was just too much. It really put a bad taste on the whole trip to the point I swore I'd never do that again!
This was an excellant tour Our hotels were well located we had just the right amount of time to shop and explore the included dinners were awesome and the guide excellant
Best Tour Everything! New Friends and Great Memories!
This tour was perfect. It was a small group so everyone got to know each other very well. We are now great friends. One person fell and hurt themselves on this trip and the director and driver handled the situation very well. Kudos to them. Thanks to GoAhead and the team.
Ali tour director
This was my second tour to Ireland with Go Ahead. It went by so fast, too fast almost. we needed to have more time at some of the spots where we stopped. However, Ali recommended a book, Star ofthe Sea by JosephO'Connor, that I read and marveled at.
This tour was the perfect way to visit Ireland for the first time. We visited all of the highlights and had a fair amount of free time. We were lucky enough to have beautiful weather for the entire trip - it only rained one day! Our tour director Ally was fantastic! She was probably the main reason the tour was as amazing as it was. She knows so much about her country, is a great storyteller, and she kept us on schedule without making us feel like we were too scheduled. Our driver Frank was great. His bus driving skills were impressive, especially on the many narrow roads in Ireland. The hotels were acceptable except for the last night at the Maldron Hotel in Limerick. I don't have anything positive to say about this hotel. Overall this was a wonderful vacation and I would recommend it without reservation. I already miss beautiful Ireland and the friendly people who call it home.
Best Time of My Life!!!
I went to Ireland back in 2008 with Go Ahead and it was the absolute best time of my life! I went by myself, so I was a little worried, but everyone was so welcoming and easy to talk to. This is one beautiful country with lots to see and do on the tour. We also had an amazing tour guide, Sean. I'm looking forward to going back in the next couple of years!
The Emerald Isle was amazing! Our tour director, Jonathan, was outstanding! He was extremely knowlegable and very accommodating. We loved that we had time on our own in most every city! This gave us time to see extras of our choice that weren't on the itinerary. The itinerary itself was awesome as well! We saw many amazing sights, but weren't overwhelmed with too much packed into each day!
We recently completed a three generation trip to Ireland. It was a wonderful experience. The island is beautiful, and steeped in history and tradition. Our tour director, Johnathon, and our bus driver Tommy, made the experience even better as they answered all our questions and arranged for us to maximize our time on tour. Thanks so much for everything. You guys are the best.
The Tour Director is a Gem
I thoroughly enjoyed my 13 days in Ireland, mostly because of the caliber of the tour director and my fellow travelers. Ally is one of the most knowledgeable and entertaining tour directors I have traveled with. This was my first Go Ahead - but I have led several study abroad groups and I know the value of a gifted guide. I highly recommend this tour and Ally as guide for future travelers.