Circle around the Emerald Isle’s breathtaking coasts on this 13-Day self-drive itinerary.
Priced from $1945 per person
Drive the rugged coastlines and countryside as you explore on this classic 13-day itinerary.
See Dublin’s highlights, then head to Belfast as you start your route around Ireland. See Donegal, Westport, Dingle, Waterford, and so much more. This itinerary includes your hotel stays, a hop-on bus ticket and a voucher for a Dublin attraction, and an entertainment experience; other attractions mentioned in this itinerary are suggestions.
- Visit the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin
- Visit Donegall Square in Belfast, including many sites associated with the city's turbulent history
- Drive north along the Nine Glens of Antrim for views of mountains, valleys, and coastline
- Spend some time in Galway soaking in the energy of this bustling, creative city
- Travel along the Ring of Kerry, Ireland’s most famous scenic drive
- Visit Blarney Castle, built nearly 600 years ago by one of Ireland’s greatest chieftains
Begin your trip with a day of sightseeing in Dublin. Take a Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour, and see all the city’s highlights with the freedom to stop off to explore further as you please. Plus, you will have a voucher to admit you to one of Dublin’s top attractions: Choose from the Guinness Storehouse, a seven-story attraction telling the story of Dublin’s iconic beverage, complete with a pint at the Gravity Bar on the top floor; Teeling Distillery, the first new whiskey distillery to open in Dublin in 125 years; EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, telling the story of the people who left Ireland and how they shaped the world; or the GPO Museum, innovatively detailing the fascinating story of the 1916 Rising, the pivotal event that led to Ireland’s independence. (You might choose to save your visit voucher for Day 12.)
Pick up your Hertz rental car and begin your driving journey north. Dine at your hotel in central Belfast this evening, and perhaps enjoy some of the city’s lively nightlife.
Explore Belfast as you wish. There is much to see: Victorian buildings, Queen’s University, the imposing City Hall in Donegall Square, and many sites associated with the city’s often-turbulent history, including the Peace Wall.
Drive north along the Nine Glens of Antrim for views of mountains, valleys, and coastline. This scenic region is one of the locations for “Game of Thrones.” Stop for photos at the ruins of Dunluce Castle, perched dramatically on a cliff. You will probably want to discover the Giant’s Causeway, enormous hexagonal columns formed by volcanic activity 60 million years ago – though legend says they were built by local giant Finn MacCool. In historic Derry, explore the town. Check out the medieval defensive walls that encircle the compact old city, and cross the Peace Bridge, built to unite two communities that were long in conflict. You might stop into the Derry Visitor Information Centre to discover their resources; perhaps consider the Visit Derry Pass, which covers 10 city center attractions.
Travel through the rugged countryside of Donegal, renowned for heathery hills, sheep and the many tweeds made from their wool. You may choose to visit Triona Design in Ardara or Donegal Town, a CIE Tours preferred shopping partner, and perhaps you might even catch a handweaving demonstration. Continue toward County Mayo. Your hotel is in Westport, a heritage town with riverside walks, tree-lined promenades and lovely stone bridges; the design for the town was laid out in 1780 in the Georgian architectural style. This evening, after dinner in your hotel, there are plenty of charming pubs to explore, some with live music.
You might take a drive to the beautiful town of Leenane and Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only fjord. Or visit Achill Island and be charmed by its dramatic scenery, long a source of inspiration to writers and painters. See the haunting Deserted Village, the remains of stone cottages abandoned in 1845. Achill is easily accessible via a scenic bridge. Along the way, enjoy views of the pilgrimage mountain of Croagh Patrick; near the base of the mountain sits the National Famine Monument, commemorating the suffering of the Famine and emigration of the 19th century. Back in Westport, you might be interested in a guided tour of Westport House, an 18th-century home complete with its original contents, including portraits, furniture, silver, and portraits. Spend the evening exploring Westport’s pubs and restaurants.
Travel toward Limerick. You might stop in Galway and spend some time soaking in the energy of this bustling, creative city. Check out its medieval streetscape, its charming shops, and many cafes and restaurants. Continue south and you may choose to visit the majestic Cliffs of Moher, which soar 700 feet above the Atlantic. Walk along the cliffs to see stunning views and the miles of cliffside. Check into your hotel in Limerick.
Travel along the River Shannon into County Kerry. Travel to the rugged mountainous landscapes for a scenic drive to Slea Head on the Dingle Peninsula, described by National Geographic as “the most beautiful place on earth”. Many people speak Irish in this stronghold of traditional culture. Be sure to check out Dingle Town, a charming port town of old-fashioned shops. Head to the friendly town of Killarney, where you’ll dine in your hotel this evening.
You might choose to visit CIE Tours preferred shopping partner Moriarty’s in the Gap of Dunloe. Travel along part of the Ring of Kerry, Ireland’s most famous scenic drive, to see spectacular mountain scenery at Moll’s Gap and at Ladies View. Return to Killarney where you might enjoy a visit to a local pub with live music.
Depart for the drive to Waterford. You might choose to visit Blarney Castle, built nearly 600 years ago by one of Ireland’s greatest chieftains. Climb the winding stairs to kiss the famed Blarney Stone; legend says if you do, you’ll be given the gift of eloquence. Explore the castle’s extensive gardens, set on 60 acres of parkland. Proceed on to historic Waterford – Ireland’s oldest city. First settled by Vikings, Waterford reached peak prosperity in the 18th century, when it enjoyed a brisk trade with Newfoundland. Explore this beautiful port city before dining in your hotel.
You might choose to explore New Ross today, the ancestral home of President John F. Kennedy and perhaps visit the Dunbrody Famine Ship there to learn about the bravery and fortitude of emigrants who left Ireland during the Great Hunger of the 1840s. Drive to Dublin for the evening, where you’ll enjoy dinner and a show at Taylors Three Rock.
Enjoy another day to explore Dublin, a city of elegant Georgian townhouses, beautiful parks like St Stephen’s Green, and lively pubs. You might choose to shop or listen to the buskers on pedestrianized Grafton Street, or visit one of the National Museums, where admission is free. (If you saved a voucher from Day 1, you can use it today.)
Your vacation ends after breakfast. Drive to the airport and drop off your rental car.
- Hotel stay
- Full daily breakfast and many meals
- An evening of Irish entertainment
- Your choice of Hertz rental cars
- Complimentary GPS
- One additional driver
- Many of your daily activities
- All entrance fees to attractions
- Comprehensive travel itinerary
What's not included
- Travel Insurance
- Airfare & airfare taxes
- Items of a personal nature