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The Leader in Small Groups on the Road Less Traveled
Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

New! 2018 Irish Adventure: Belfast, Dublin & the Northwest Counties

Ireland: County Clare, Connemara, Donegal • Northern Ireland: Derry, Belfast • Ireland: Dublin

16 Days from only $4795 including international airfare

Activity Level:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Easy

Courtesy by Richard Waghorn
Dublin - Time Lapse in Colour

Sit back and watch the flow of city life go by against the backdrop of Ireland’s beautiful capital.

Courtesy Caspar Diederick
Mystical Island of Ireland

Wander wordlessly through the emerald scenery of Ireland in this well-edited short film.

Courtesy of Alex Pescosta
Dublin

Dance your way through a day in Dublin, the Emerald Isle’s lively capital city.

Courtesy of Silvia Santamaria and Ian Cross
Planet Food: Ireland

From hearty stews to perfect pints, take a mouthwatering look at the culinary traditions of the Emerald Isle.

Courtesy Small World Productions
Ireland’s West Coast

Be charmed by the Celtic culture that abounds on Ireland’s west coast with travel expert Rudy Maxa.

FROM
$4795
16 DAYS
$300/DAY
including international airfare
15 DAYS FROM $4095 Small Group Adventure Only
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Find the Adventure That’s Right for You

Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.

Activity Level 1:

1 2 3 4 5

Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 2:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 3:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderate

Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

Activity Level 4:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Activity Level 5:

1 2 3 4 5

Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.

Itinerary Overview

Encounter a new side of Ireland’s legendary wonders as you explore thousands of years of history along the island’s northern coast. Whether it’s the stunning Cliffs of Moher and Slieve League rising from the Atlantic; the mysterious Hill of Tara strewn with ancient monuments, like the mythical Stone of Destiny; or the sociopolitical art inspired by the Troubles, the rich history and natural splendor witnessed along the Emerald Isle is sure to captivate you. And as you meet local people in small town pubs, during a cooking lesson, or sitting down for a home-cooked Irish meal, you’ll revel in the warmth that makes the island famous.

Make It Your Adventure

Personalize your trip to meet your individual needs, from preferred flights and air routing, to “breaking away” to spend more time in a destination.

  • Did you know that you have control over the way you want to fly with us? O.A.T’s team of Adventure Specialists makes every effort to provide you with non-stop flights and acceptable connection times to and from your destination. You also have several other ways you can personalize your air itinerary, which include:

    • Choose your departure city and airline: We list the most popular gateway cities on our website, but not all of them. If you don’t see yours listed, or there’s one that better suits your needs, let us know. You can also tell us if you have an airline preference and we will try to accommodation your request.
    • Depart from one city and return from another: Just because your flight leaves from one city doesn’t mean you have to return there. Maybe you flew out of Boston and wish to visit friends in Los Angeles after your trip is over. Tell us where you want to go and we’ll do our best to get you there.
    • Upgrade your seat: We’ll gladly arrange a flight upgrade to business or premium economy class if it’s available. 
    • Fly the way you want to: When you fly economy class, we’ll do our best to see that you get your choice of seating preference or even add a special meal request if you have dietary restrictions or needs.
  • You can extend your time abroad and "break away" anywhere you'd like to do more exploring on your own. Stay for a day, a week, or even a month in a favorite locale. Or consider arriving a few days early for a fresh start. Our Adventure Specialists can provide you with information on the accommodations we will use at the beginning of your trip so that you can make your own arrangements. That way, you'll know that you will be exactly where you need to be to meet your group.

  • Many of our travelers choose to take another trip directly after their first one ends. Think about it: If you’re already overseas, why not see more of the region and avoid the expense and length of another international flight? Many of our travelers have taken two or three consecutive trips before returning home. And now you’ll save an additional $250-$350 per person when you reserve two trips right after one another.

  • Many O.A.T. travelers simply don’t want their trips to end. With an array of pre- and post-trip extensions to choose from, you have the chance to experience more of the places you’ve traveled so far to see, including Dublin, Ireland and County Kerry: Killarney & Dingle. Plus, you lower your average per-day costs because you’re taking advantage of your already included international airfare.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 5 nights from only $1995

    Scenic mountain passes give way to lakeside castles ... Centuries-old cottages and stone monuments breathe life into Ireland's history and legend ... Lively music emanates from charming coastal towns ... Discover the allure of southwest Ireland on this adventure through County Kerry, including visits to Killarney and Dingle. 

    View Extension Itinerary
County Clare Dublin Expand All
  • Depart the U.S. today for your overnight flight to Shannon, Ireland.

  • We’ll arrive in County Clare today, where an O.A.T. representative will escort us to our hotel to meet travelers from our County Kerry: Killarney & Dingle pre-trip extension. After checking in to the hotel and getting acquainted with our surroundings, we’ll stop to enjoy some beer with locals at a traditional Irish pub. Tonight, we'll gather at a local restaurant to enjoy a Welcome Dinner with the whole group.

  • After breakfast today, we’ll have a welcome briefing. Then, we'll depart for one of Ireland's most definitive landscapes: The Cliffs of Moher. Estimated at 300 million years old, the cliffs have factored into local lore since the Celtic Age. For five miles, the cliffs outline the Atlantic, rising 702 feet at their highest point. Irish weather can be fickle, but on a cloudless day, you can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, and the mountains of Connemara from here. 

    This afternoon, we’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Ennis, followed by a city tour and a Gaelic lesson with a native speaker. The rest of the day will be at leisure, and dinner is on your own tonight.

  • Today, we'll enjoy a full day at leisure to explore County Clare. Perhaps after breakfast, you'll visit the Ennis Friary. Founded in the 13th century, the Friary boasts dozens of 15th- and 16th-century limestone sculptures, including one of St. Francis displaying stigmata, as well as scenes from the Passion story. 

    Or, perhaps you'll join us for our optional Aran Islands tour. If weather permits, we’ll board a ferry to cross the water to Inis Oirr, the smallest of the islands where 250 residents still speak Gaelic and practice Celtic customs in their daily lives. We’ll meet with local artisans who weave beautiful traditional clothing and after we explore the island on a guided tour, we'll enjoy lunch together before our return to the mainland. 

    This evening, we'll get a taste of Irish cuisine and culture when we regroup for a Home-Hosted Dinner with a local family. 

  • We’ll transfer to Connemara after breakfast at our hotel today, stopping in Galway en route. Long a trade capital, Galway was especially influential as a port for France and Spain during the Middle Ages. Historians say Galway is a modern spin on the word Gaillimh, which means 'stony' and refers to the nearby riverbed. But, popular lore says the town is named for a chieftain’s daughter who drowned here.

    This morning, we get to know Galway on a walking tour. Among its familiar sites are the Spanish Arch built in the 16th century and the Medieval city walls. You'll see remnants of 900 years of history, from 13th-century lanes to modern boutiques, and soak up centuries of Irish tradition in the riverside city. For fans of great cinema, our visit to Cong, the setting of “The Quiet Man,” will be a highlight. The little village gives travelers the sense that they have stepped onto the set of the 1951 romantic comedy, directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne.

    After lunch in a local restaurant, you'll have some time to explore Galway at your leisure. We’ll reconvene for dinner together at a local restaurant.

  • We'll depart after breakfast at the hotel this morning for Connemara. Referred to as a “savage beauty” by Oscar Wilde, sparsely populated Connemara is a scenic delight. A patchwork of bogs, lakes, and mountains adorns the interior peninsula, while secluded beaches, coves, and seaside villages hug the coastline.

    We begin our discoveries with a visit to the Kylemore Abbey. Founded in 1920, this Benedictine monastery sits on a 1,000-acre estate, adjacent to a six-acre, walled Victorian garden. We'll start our day with a guided hike through the expansive gardens, winding our way through trails flanked by woods and water on either side. Then we'll enjoy a tour of the Abbey, whose restored rooms reveal tales both romantic and tragic, and whose rich, complex history predates its use as a spiritual and educational center by half a century. 

    After enjoying lunch together, the rest of the day is at leisure until we reconvene for dinner this evening. 

  • Today we head north, stopping first at the home of a local couple who lives above Lough Gill, a lake prominent in the poetry of W. B. Yeats. After taking delight in a reading of Yeats' work and enjoying lunch with our hosts, we'll finish our drive to Sligo, where Yeats spent his youth. Then, in the nearby village of Drumcliff, we'll witness markers of the other end of his life; Drumcliff is where Yeats was laid to rest, his burial marked with a plaque bearing his famous lines, “Cast a cold eye on life, on death. Horseman, pass by!”

    Once we arrive in Donegal, we’ll check in to our hotel before enjoying dinner together as a group.

  • This morning we depart for Ardara, the home of traditional tweed-making, for a demonstration of hand weaving as it has been done for centuries. For its continued support of the traditional method of crafting Donegal tweed, Ardara was named an Irish Heritage Town.

    Killybegs, Ireland’s largest fishing port, is our next destination. Here, we’ll meet and have a discussion with a local fisherman to learn about the impact of the European Union on Ireland’s fishing industry. Before stopping for lunch, we’ll also visit Slieve League, a mountain with stunning sea cliffs that, though perhaps lesser known, are three times as high as the Cliffs of Moher. We’ll return to our hotel this evening and dinner is on your own.

  • Today, you may enjoy a day at leisure in Donegal. Or, join us on our optional Glenveagh National Park tour, during which we'll explore the castle and enchanting gardens left behind by the infamous John Adair. Dinner is on your own this evening. 

  • Today, we’ll transfer to Derry after breakfast. Divided by the River Foyle, which runs through the city's heart, Derry is one of Europe’s last walled cities, and the only one in Ireland still fully intact. We’ll begin our explorations today with a walking tour along the old city walls.

    Then, we’ll enjoy a guided tour of the many murals inspired by the nearly-three-decade-long time period that has come to be known as “the Troubles,” or the Northern Ireland Conflict. Beginning with the Battle of the Bogside in 1969 and ending with the Belfast Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the Troubles were characterized by political unrest, riots, hunger strikes, and violence stemming from nationalistic disagreements over the constitutional status of Northern Ireland.  

    After enjoying some time at leisure to get lunch and explore Derry on your own, we'll gather for dinner together at our hotel this evening. 

  • We begin our day with a scenic train ride shortly after breakfast that takes us from Derry to Coleraine. Heading east along the Antrim coast, we’ll stop first at the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. Roughly 100 feet high and 70 feet long, the bridge, originally constructed by late 18th-century salmon fishermen, connects Carrick-A-Rede Island to mainland Ireland. Perhaps you’ll challenge yourself to walk across the bridge and back, taking in dramatic views of Scotland and Rathlin Island as its wind-swayed rope handrails shiver within clenched fists. Or enjoy a nature stroll, appreciating the area’s exotic flora and diverse array of seabirds including fulmars, kittywakes, and guillemots.

    From here, we’ll transfer by coach to visit Giant’s Causeway where you’ll have time for lunch at leisure before we explore. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, Giant’s Causeway is an unforgettable landscape formed by volcanic eruptions dating back millions of years. Here, hexagonal basalt columns line the coast, forming natural stairs leading from igneous rock cliffs into the sea.

    Tonight, we return to our hotel for an evening at leisure and dinner is on your own. 

  • We’ll check out of our hotel this morning and transfer to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. On the way, we'll stop first to admire Dark Hedges, a road completely canopied by intertwining beech trees that exude a mystical, almost eerie, beauty. Planted in the 18th century, the trees line the road leading up to Gracehill Manor, the historic home of the Stuart family who bought the land from English and Scottish royalty. Then, we'll visit Glenariff Forest Park, where we'll walk along a beautiful nature trail, admiring peaceful rivers and waterfalls. After lunch together, we'll continue our drive, arriving in Belfast later this afternoon. The balance of the day is yours at leisure and dinner is on your own.

  • Belfast is a city with a turbulent history and rich culture. And today you’ll get to explore it like a local: in Belfast’s famed black taxis. In groups of three or four per car, we’ll get a very personal look at the city through our drivers’ eyes as they share their perspectives on the city's political turmoil and religious divides.

    Perhaps you’ll take the opportunity to ask your guide about Northern Ireland’s troubled past during a visit to the Crumlin Road Jail. Or, discuss the age-old conflict between Catholics and Protestants, which continues to affect life here today. We’ll visit the dividing line between West Belfast’s Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods, where murals on each side depict contrasting sentiments about the deep-rooted conflict.

    We’ll continue our exploration of Belfast today with a guided tour of the Stormont Parliament Buildings. Here, we’ll take part in a question and answer session with members of two of Belfast’s political parties. Lunch is on your own today, and the rest of the afternoon is yours to make your own discoveries. Perhaps you’ll choose to visit Titanic Belfast, a memorial to the famed ship and museum chronicling Belfast’s maritime heritage. Maybe you’ll stroll through Belfast’s scenic botanical gardens, or the regal campus at Queen’s University. Or, you could always choose to post up in one of the city’s many pubs, mingling with locals and sampling Irish beers. We’ll meet for dinner tonight at a local restaurant.

    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    Today we transfer to the final destination of our adventure: Dublin. We’ll begin our exploration at the Hill of Tara, an archaeological complex rich with ancient ruins—and the seat of the ancient High Kings according to Irish folklore. Legend has it that whenever a High King’s fated successor completed the proper set of challenges, one of the site’s artifacts—the enigmatic Lia Fail, or “Stone of Destiny”—would scream loud enough for all of Ireland to hear. We’ll learn more about the legends surrounding the entire site as we tour ruins of forts, ceremonial sites, and more.

    After lunch as a group at a traditional Irish pub, we’ll visit Slane Castle. Home to the royal Conyngham family since the early 18th century, the castle reveals a glimpse into the history of the Peerage of Ireland—or Irish nobility. In 2017, a distillery opened up on the castle grounds, so we’ll have the serendipitous opportunity to tour both the castle and the distillery, treating ourselves to a taste of traditional Irish whiskey.

    After checking in to our final hotel, we’ll enjoy the evening at leisure and dinner is on your own.

    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    Today we’ll enjoy a city tour of Dublin, focusing in part on the landmarks that tell the story of Ireland’s ill-fated Easter Rising of 1916. Also known as the Easter Rebellion, the Rising was a six-day armed uprising against British rule that left Dublin’s inner city in ruins. After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll visit the General Post Office, where Irish rebel forces set up their headquarters and attempted to proclaim their independence. We’ll also visit Dublin Castle and Stephen’s Green, two main battle sites during the conflict.

    The remainder of the afternoon is yours to explore Dublin on your own, and we’ll meet this evening for our Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant. 

    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home, or begin your Dublin, Ireland post-trip extension.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Dublin, Ireland

    4 nights from only $1495

    Ireland’s crown jewel is revealed in all its glory on this Dublin, Ireland extension. We’ll explore Dublin's modern city center, delve into its rich history with visits to monuments and prehistoric artifacts, and witness its beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife. From ruins left behind by Ireland's ancient inhabitants, to the quaint seaside village that was home to one of the country's most notable contemporary writers, Maeve Binchy, we’ll discover a diverse sweep of Irish history.

    View Extension Itinerary

Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on Irish Adventure: Belfast, Dublin & the Northwest Counties

Read Travel Planning Guide

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