Here is a list of the top 10 things to do in Ireland that we get asked for consistently over and over again. It is important not to try and visit too many places in Ireland on one trip, talk to our sales representatives about how you can make the best of your time here so that you can visit the places that are important to you but also not go home feeling like you need another vacation! There is so much to see & do in Ireland so please do not limit yourself to just these attractions however these are the places we get asked for a lot;
Top 10 things to do in Ireland
Visit Dublin & The Guinness Storehouse
2. See the Cliffs of Moher
3. Drive the famous Ring of Kerry
4. Take a boat trip to the Aran Islands
5. Tour the Stunning Connemara Region
6. Check out the Festival City of Galway
7. Visit the famous Giant’s Causeway & Causeway Coast
8. Visit Belfast City & Titanic Belfast
9. Visit Blarney Castle
10. Visit the Boyne Valley & Newgrange
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Learn more about the top 10 things to do in Ireland by taking your own trip here! Contact us today to arrange your own vacation in Ireland including some or all of these fantastic locations!
If you are interested in Castles to Visit in Ireland there are plenty but there are also some great castles in Ireland to stay in. Many of them offering an authentic Castle experience.
Check out our Castles & Manors Tours for ready made packages that include many of these great castles and learn more about each property below:
Dromoland Castle is one of the finest castles in Ireland to stay in, a 5-star luxury hotel located near Newmarket-on-Fergus in County Clare. It was the ancestral home of the O’Briens, who are one of the few native Gaelic families of royal blood and direct descendants of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland in the eleventh century.
Ashford Castle is a medieval castle that has been extended over the centuries and turned into a 5-star luxury hotel near the village of Cong, on the shore of Lough Corrib. The castles history stretches back as far as 1228!
Adare Manor is a manor house located in the village of Adare, County Limerick. The Castle was the former seat of the Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl. Although the present house was built in the early 19th-century, it retains some of the walls of the 17th-century structure. It is now the Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort, a luxury 5-Star resort hotel.
Ballynahinch Castle located in Recess in the wilds of Connemara has an interesting history – it was built at some point between the end of the 18th century and the first decade of the 19th and is now a luxury 4-Star hotel and one of the loveliest castles in Ireland to stay in.
Markree Castle, in Collooney in County Sligo is the family seat of the Cooper family, partially moated by the River Unshin. Today it is a small family-run 4-Star hotel.
Lough Eske Castle
Lough Eske Castle is a 5-Star Castle Hotel near Lough Eske in County Donegal, Not far from Donegal Town. In 1861 the new Lough Eske Castle was built on the location of the old Brooke manor, which was itself a rebuilding of an original Jacobean house.
Waterford Castle is located on an enchanting Island surrounded by the River Suir and this site was the ancestral home of the Fitzgerald Family for 800 years. The castle is now a delightful 4-Star hotel and a great option for a castle stay in Ireland.
Ballyseede is a 4-Star Castle Hotel set on 30 acres of pasture and gardens, just a few minutes’ drive from the town Tralee. This castle is a great base to explore Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula.
Kilronan Castle, known previously as Castle Tenison, sits on forty acres of parkland on the shore of Lough Meelagh in County Roscommon. It is now a fantastic 4-Star hotel.
The 4-Star Cabra Castle in Kingscourt in County Cavan was constructed in the first decade of the 19th-century. This building was formerly called Cormey Castle, after the local townland where it was built.
The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit! Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these castles today –
The Ring of Kerry, a 180km circular route around the Iveragh Peninsula in Ireland’s southwest, is quite possibly Ireland’s most well-known driving route. Superb Mountains and coastal settings combined with vibrant towns and villages will make this tour one of the highlights of your Ireland vacation.
All of our Self Drive tours include a detailed suggested itinerary which will help you decide what to see or what to leave out. For those who wish to take a break from driving we can arrange a bus tour through this route.
The 10 Stops to Make on your self-drive or Escorted Ring of Kerry Tour are;
Killorglin is the first town you will meet when you begin your Ring of Kerry Adventure! Home to the famous ‘Puck Fair’, Ireland’s largest and the world’s oldest market fair. The town has some nice restaurants and shops and pretty riverside views.
Glenbeigh & Rosbeigh Beach
The mountainous backdrop here is glorious, and the half circle of hills from Seefin to Drung Hill, nicknamed the “Glenbeigh Horseshoe” is one of Kerry’s finest mountain walks. Near to Glenbeigh Village you will find Rosbeigh Beach with its lovely sand dunes and shale walks.
This is the principal town on the Ring of Kerry and birthplace of the famous Catholic Emancipator Daniel O’ Connell. Pay a visit to ‘The Barracks’, Cahersiveen Heritage Centre which gives an insight into the life and times of Cahersiveen.
You can reach Valentia by the car ferry from Cahersiveen from April to October. Outside of this time take the bridge across to the island from the pretty harbour village of Portmagee. There are a few places to visit on the island including the village of Knighstown with its beautiful period buildings, Valentia Island Lighthouse and Geokaun Mountain & Fogher Cliffs; Valentia’s highest point and a superb spot to enjoy 360 degree views of the island and beyond!
Skellig Experience Visitor Centre & The Skellig Islands
Skellig Michael also known as the Great Skellig is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island was featured in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. At the summit of the 230m high rock there is a 6th century Christian monastery and stone beehive huts which the monks who inhabited the island lived in. Boat trips to the islands can be taken from Portmagee pier. Trips to Skellig are not for the feint hearted however as there are 670 stone steps to climb before you reach the top! You can learn more about the Skelligs at the Skellig Island Visitor Experience which is located on Valentia Island near the bridge across to Portmagee.
Ballinskelligs or “Baile na Sceilge” is one of the few remaining Irish speaking areas in this region of Kerry. Southwest of the village you will find Bolus Head, which looks over St. Finan’s Bay and the Skelligs. The ruins of Cill Rialiag, an early Christian monastic settlement are located nearby. Ballinskellig Beach known locally as Ladies Beach is a stunning place to relax or take a long beach walk!
Waterville is a lovely little village overlooking stunning Ballinskelligs Bay and nestled on the beautiful Lake Currane. The town was a favourite holiday spot of Charlie Chaplin and his family who used to holiday here. They first visited the town in 1959 and came back every year for over ten years.
Caherdaniel and Derrynane House
Caherdaniel is small but striking and perhaps set in one of the most scenic locations on the Ring of Kerry, on the shore of Derrynane Bay. Derrynane House is the ancestral home of Daniel O’ Connell, a 19th century politician who achieved Catholic emancipation for the Irish people. The house is now a public museum.
Kenmare town was founded in 1670 by Sir William Petty and has a history of lace making, demonstrations of which can be seen at the town’s Heritage Centre. One of the most striking features of the town is its colourfully painted houses and shops. There are lots of nice restaurants, pubs and craft shops here also.
Moll’s Gap is a pass on the road from Kenmare to Killarney. Here you will find unrivalled views of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks Mountains. Nearby you will find Avoca Handweavers which sells Irish giftware and local food produce.
To discover these locations and more on your own Ring of Kerry tour, contact us today:
Aran Islands Dress Display (Submitted by Carol Gerling)
All of our 2016 Knitting Tours have been and gone and we were very happy with the feedback. We are busy making changes to our itineraries to further improve them for future groups!A sincere thank you to those that filled out our feedback surveys, some of the comments we received –
Southern Knitting Tour –
”This tour was absolutely wonderful and we had the best time. I would do this again in a heartbeat! In fact, we are considering the Northern tour for next year”.
”Although I have been to Ireland before, I really loved seeing the island at this level. The sites chosen were great and I can truly say I’ve seen southern Ireland. The trip to inis oirr was the highlight of the trip – just loved it.”
Northern Knitting Tour Comments –
”A glorious trip! We had very few wobbles for a trip of this size and complexity, and I very much appreciated the insights and professionalism of our guide, our driver, and everyone at Irish Tourism. Worth every penny and then some.”
”Best tour I have ever been on!”
”It was a great trip. I really enjoyed being in Ireland. All in all, it was well organized, interesting, and met my expectations.”
Our 2017 Knitting Tours are Very Busy but We do Have some Spaces Available. For More information please visit our website www.irishtourism.com/knitting
Our final blog post in our Aran Islands series explains how to get to the Aran Islands by ferry, flight or as part of a bus or rail tour.
How to Get to the Aran Islands Option 1: Ferry –
You can get to the Aran Islands by passenger ferry from Rossaveel which is about an hour west of Galway City or from Doolin in County Clare. You cannot bring a car across on the ferry.
Weather permitting; the ferries from Rossaveel go year round whereas the ferries from Doolin usually go from around March to October. The ferries can be cancelled if the weather is too bad as the crossing would be too dangerous. The ferries from Rossaveel have less cancelled sailings per year than there are from the Doolin port.
How long does the ferry to the Aran Islands Take?
Rossaveel to Inishmore – About 45 Minutes
Rossaveel to Inishmaan – About 55 Minutes
Rossaveel to Inisheer – About 65 Minutes
Doolin to Inisheer – About 30 Minutes
Doolin to Inishmaan – About 40 Minutes
Doolin to Inishmore – About 90 Minutes
The ferry crossing to the Aran Islands can get very rough, if you suffer from travel sickness, then you should think about your journey before setting off. Think about visiting the island closest to port (Inishmore from Rossaveel and Inisheer from Doolin) and pick up some motion sickness pills before you go. I find sitting outside, looking out to the horizon helps me!
How to Get to the Aran Islands Option 2: Bus Tour/Ferry –
There are a number of companies offering bus transfers with ferry tickets from Galway city. You take the bus as far as Rossaveel and then take the ferry. If you don’t want to drive, this option is included in our Independent Rail Tours.
How to Get to the Aran Islands Option 3: Fly–
You can fly to the Aran Islands in a small passenger plane from Connemara airport. The flight takes about 10 minutes and there is a maximum of 8 people allowed in the plane, depending on the weight of the passengers, there could be fewer than 8. Connemara Airport is located in Inveran which is about 40 minutes west of Galway City. You do need to book your flight in advance with Aer Arann Islands.
Get in touch with us today and take the hassle out of booking your trip to Ireland and the Aran islands!
Inishmore (Irish Spelling Inis Mór) is the biggest and most populated of the famous Aran Islandsoff the coast of Galway in Ireland. The entire island is about 30km squared. As with all of the islands the spoken language is Irish although locals can usually speak both English and Irish. The locals are dedicated to preserving traditional Irish culture and traditional Irish music is very much alive in Kilronan, the islands main village.
When you arrive on the island there are usually mini buses lined up, waiting to take prospective clients on tours around the island which feature all the major sites. There is a small fee for these tours. You can also usually take a tour of the island by horse and trap which is more expensive than the bus tour. There are also several bike hire companies, should you wish to see the island that way!
Some of the main tourist attractions on the island include –
Dún AonghasaFort & Visitor Centre: A superb example of an Iron or Bronze Age Promontory Fort, standing dramatically at the edge of a 100 metre high cliff! The on-site visitor centre will tell you more about how and why it was built.
The Worm Hole: A natural rectangular shaped pool at the bottom of the cliffs south of Dún Aonghasa.
Dun Duchathair (The Black Fort): This fort is situated on the cliffs near Cill Éinne. It is a lot quieter than Dún Aonghasa in terms of visitor numbers. The fort is not easy to access, wear good walking boots and prepare for a bit of a trek if you wish to visit!
Kilmurvey Beach: There is a beautiful sandy beach on the island just off the road between Kilronan and Dun Aengus.
For more general information on the Aran Islands see our Aran Islands blog post here, or for information on getting to the islands clickhere.
Want to book a tour that includes Inishmore?
The best way to learn about Inishmore is to spend time there! Contact us today for a quotation including this location in your Ireland tour!
Inisheer (Inis Oírr) is the smallest and most easterly of the famous Aran Islandsoff the coast of Galway in Ireland. The entire island is about 8km squared and has a population of around 300. Like the other Aran Islands the spoken language is Irish although locals can typically speak both English and Irish.
When you arrive on the island there are usually coaches lined up, waiting to take potential customers on tours around the island which feature the major visitor attractions. There is a small fee for these tours, payable directly to the driver. You can also usually take a tour of the island by horse and trap which is more expensive than the bus tour. You can also hire a bike to get around on the island if you prefer.
The main village is called Baile an Lurgáin and you can walk to it from the pier. In the village you will find the local shop, pubs, B&Bs and restaurants.
Some of the main tourist attractions on the island include –
The Wreck of The MV Plassey: The MV Plassey ran into Finnish Rock on Inisheer in 1960 and the entire crew were rescued by a group of local men. The wreck was made famous when it featured in the opening credits of Father Ted.
O’Brien’s Castle: This castle ruin is located on one of the highest points of the island overlooking the beach and pier. This castle is thought to have been built in 14th century.
An TráBeach: As you approach Inisheer by boat you can’t miss seeing the white sandy beach known simply as ‘An Trá’ which in English means ‘The Beach’! On a fine day, the water is a beautiful shade of blue.
Áras Éanna Arts Centre: Inisheer has a dedicated arts and culture centre which displays traditional Irish and modern arts. The centre has a programme of events and exhibitions from artists resident on the islands which changes frequently.
For more general information on the Aran Islands see our Aran Islands blog post here, or for information on getting to the islands clickhere.
Want to book a tour that includes Inisheer?
Learn more about Inisheer by spending time there. Contact us today for a quotation including Inisheer today –
Our 2017 Knitting Vacations are now on sale and some dates are looking particularly busy. It is best to book early to avoid disappointment.
Feedback from our Knitting & Craft Tours has generally been excellent. From our first tour in 2016 for example an amazing 100% of respondents said that they were satisfied with the tour overall and the same 100% said that they would recommend us to a friend!
Here is a quick update on our 2016 and 2017 availability
14th May 2017- Spaces Available (Filling Up Quickly)
09th Jul 2017 – Spaces Available (Filling Up Quickly )
24th Sep 2017- Spaces Available
Non – Knitter Discount
Do you have a partner or friend that doesn’t knit? They are welcome to come along, ask our sales representatives about the non-knitter discount!
You Can Trust the Irish Tourism Group
The Irish Tourism Group is considered one of Ireland’s premier inbound tour operators and, in the last decade in particular, our regular attendance at the major travel expos throughout the world has only served to raise this profile. Testament to this is the reputation that we have developed over the years with the top accommodation, transport and other service providers within the country, a reputation we are extremely proud of.
We are also proud to be members of the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA), the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA).
Book your Knitting Vacation Today
We do urge you to book early to avoid disappointment. For more information on both tours please visit our website or give us a call
When planning your Ireland vacation you should consider in advance which airport in Ireland is best for you to fly into and depart from. You could always choose to fly into one airport and out of another so as to make the best of your vacation time. If you are booking a tour with us, discuss this option with your sales team and they will gladly give you the best advice.
International Airports in Ireland:
Located about 15km north from Dublin City, Dublin Airport is Ireland’s busiest airport. If Dublin city is a must see on your itinerary then it makes perfect sense to begin your Ireland vacation here. There are connections via London from most US & Canadian cities and you can currently fly direct from Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, St. John’s, Montreal and Toronto. The airport has great links to the UK with flights to more than 15 UK cities including Newcastle, Edinburgh and London. There are many options to travel further afield in Europe from this airport also. Check out theDublin Airport Website for up to date destination information.
Shannon Airport is located on the west coast of Ireland 24 KM north of Limerick, 22 KM south of Ennis and 90 KM south of Galway. Shannon is a great option if you wish to explore the west and southwest of Ireland. This region is much more peaceful than Dublin should you wish to get away from city life. There are connections via London from many US and Canadian cities and you can currently fly direct from Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Boston. The airport has great links to the UK with flights to Edinburgh, London, Birmingham and Manchester and there are many options to travel further afield in Europe from this airport also. Check out the Shannon Airport Website for up to date destination information.
There are two airports in Belfast, Belfast International and Belfast City Airport, the latter has mainly UK connections. Belfast International airport is the busiest airport in Northern Ireland and the second busiest airport on the island of Ireland after Dublin. Flying here is a great option if you wish to explore Northern Ireland and Donegal in the North West. There are connections via London from many US cities and you can currently fly direct from New York, Orlando and Las Vegas. Check out the Belfast Airport Website for up to date destination information.
Cork airport is located 6.5 km south of Cork city in an area known as Farmers Cross. The airport services mostly UK and European Airports but you may be able to route a flight from the US to Cork via London or another European Connection. Check out the Cork Airport Website for up to date destination information.
Regional Airports in Ireland:
There are four main regional airports in Ireland; Belfast City in the North, Knock in the West of Ireland, Kerry in the Southwest and Waterford in the southeast. These airports are quite small and mostly do not support on bound connections to the US or Canada. Destinations include Europe and the United Kingdom.
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The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation starting at any of these airports today –
You will find some of the liveliest pubs in Ireland in the Temple Bar district located between Dame Street, Westmoreland Street and Fishamble Street. We always recommend stopping by Temple Bar on your vacation to Ireland, even if you are not into the Irish pub scene, it’s a nice place to walk around during the day or to grab a good pub lunch. At night this area comes alive with tourists and locals alike. There are some great pubs to check out including The Temple Bar, The Porterhouse, Teac Na Ceibe, The Turk’s Head, The Palace Bar, Oliver St.John Gogarty’s and The Auld Dubliner.
2. Kilkenny City
At the heart of this medieval city along its narrow cobblestoned streets you will find some fantastic traditional music and some of the best pubs in Ireland! Kilkenny is known for its many annual festivals including the Kilkenny Arts Festival in August and the Cat Laughs Festival in June. It’s always packed with and Stag Parties (Bachelor Parties) and Hen Parties (Bachelorette) and there is usually a great atmosphere. Be sure to call to Kyteler’s Inn, Langtons, Biddy Early’s and The Hole in the Wall which is housed in the oldest surviving townhouse in Ireland.
3. Galway City
Nicknamed Ireland’s Festival Capital, there is always something going on in Galway and this makes it a great spot for those looking to find a good pub and some friendly Irish hospitality! Perhaps the most famous pub in the city is Tigh Neachtain at the corner of Cross and Quay Street, this pub’s claim to fame is that it has been in business since 1894! Other pubs include Tig Coili, The Quays and the Roisin Dubh. The Crane Bar and Monroe’s have music on most nights.
4. Dingle, Co. Kerry
What I love the most about the pubs in Dingle is how they have managed to retain a traditional character that other pubs in Ireland have lost to a large extent. In days gone by the local pub served as a general store, water hole, meeting place and anything else that was required! You can still see this in Dingle – take Foxy John’s for example, this is a hardware store/pub, Dick Mack’s has a small leather shop and in Curran’s Bar you can purchase a cap and a shirt if you like! For some fantastic traditional music try An Droichead Beag, John Benny’s or MacCarthy’s Pub. Another famous pub near Dingle is the South Pole Inn in Annascaul, this was the homestead of our very own artic explorer and famous Kerryman, Tom Crean.
5. Doolin, Co. Clare
If you are looking for great traditional Irish music then a couple of days in Doolin should definitely be on the agenda! The town has been renowned for traditional music for years with four pubs at the epicentre – McDermott’s, McGann’s, Gus O’Connor’s and Fitzpatrick’s pub at Hotel Doolin. There are two fantastic music festivals in the town every year, the Russell Memorial weekend in February and the Doolin Folk Fest in June. While you are there make sure to try the towns own brew, Dooliner Beer!
Get in Touch-
The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –