(Dublin, Sligo, Galway)
Explore the heart of Ireland on a fascinating small group tour that combines the best-known icons of the ‘Emerald Isle’ and local lesser known gems. Take a journey through this charismatic country, from north to south, east to west, steeped in history, offering wild open vistas, spectacular coastlines of towering cliffs, pristine sandy beaches and picturesque local villages. Enjoy a Guinness or two off the beaten track to get a taste of the true Irish way of life. Visit the Titanic quarter in Belfast, stay in an Irish castle hotel, explore the stunning Dingle Peninsula, and enjoy traditional Irish evenings.
Small group tours typically depart every Monday from April 13 - October 5, 2015 and are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 participants. In general, the maximum group size is 16.
Consider adding additional days to your trip with the services of a private guide and/or driver to see more of the country - your time on either side of your small group tour can be customized to suit your needs (and private guided tours can be added throughout your small group experience as desired).
After being picked up at the airport, your Driver Guide will give you a Panoramic Tour of Dublin City's highlights based on your expressed interests. He will point out the major attractions and places of historical and cultural importance from the monuments of the Phoenix Park, Custom House, Millennium Spire and Trinity College in the City Centre. Once you are familiar with the city your driver will take you to your hotel to relax after your flight. You may also be dropped at any of the attractions in the city centre such as the Guinness Storehouse or Trinity and your luggage taken to your Hotel. There are a host of shopping and museums and galleries to explore in the historical Georgian district near St Stephens Green. We highly recommend the National Museum, Natural History Museum and the National Gallery to name a few. In order to give as much flexibility as possible, we have not included entrance fees and these can be paid in person on site.
A welcome package with a city map, train tickets (if relevant), and any other touristic information that we deem you may find useful will be waiting for you upon your arrival at your first hotel on your trip.
Spend the afternoon as you wish, perhaps visiting one of the many attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse or the Jameson distillery.
Located in the heart of the St James’s Gate Brewery, the Guinness Storehouse is Ireland’s No. 1 Dublin Tourist attraction. The state of the art interactive museum and audio visual exhibition takes one on an incredible journey through the history and making of Guinness and includes some very entertaining advertisements that were used throughout the past fifty years. Finish off your discovery by sipping on a complimentary pint from the birds eye viewing room located at the top of the building and take in the panoramic views of the city and coast.
The Jameson Distillery provides a fascinating visit of its factory and introduces the visitor to the various stages that go in to the process of premium whiskey. At the end of the tour you can sit down and do a tutored vertical tasting of various whiskeys from around the world and you'll be sure to appreciate Jameson's premium whiskey all the more!
Other places of interest in the city include St Patrick's Cathedral, Christchurch and Trinity College incorporating The Book of Kells. You may also enjoy Irelands historic and cultural resourses at the world class museums on Kildare Street. There is also excellent shopping on Grafton Street and nearby Nassau Street as well as Dublin's European Style Boulevard of O'Connell Street.
Transfer to the small group meeting point using a local taxi. Please note that this is not included in trip price and is payable locally.
You will meet your guide and fellow adventurers for your multi day small group tour this morning at The Gresham Hotel, 23 Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland at 8:30am. Please ensure you are at the meeting point at least 15 minutes prior to departure.
Your tour departs from Dublin where you begin your journey to the amazing prehistoric site at Newgrange (entry to tomb itself conditional on availability). Here, step back into the mists of time, to almost the very beginning of history. This New Stone Age passage grave is regarded as among the most impressive prehistoric monuments in Europe. Next, stop at the site of the Battle of the Boyne, one of the defining events in the history of Ireland, where the Protestant William of Orange defeated James II’s troops. Ultimately, this battle led to the continuation of Protestant supremacy in Ireland. Even now, celebrations of this battle are an important and controversial event in the North of Ireland.
From here you travel a short distance to the Hill of Tara, historically the foremost spiritual and political centre of Ireland. Afterwards you will make your way towards Belfast where you will overnight and enjoy a welcome dinner together.
Enjoy an escorted tour of Belfast's political murals on a famous Belfast Black Cab tour. Learn more about the city’s turbulent past as we drive through both sides of this divided city, seeing the many famous murals along Falls Road and Shankill Road before finishing in the Titanic Quarter. You will have time to see the Titanic museum.
This afternoon, visit the intriguing Giant’s Causeway, a World Heritage Site and the jewel in the crown of the fabulous coast of Antrim. The sheer strangeness of the place and the bizarre regularity of the 37,000 basalt columns have made it the subject of many legends. Finally, you head to your friendly Irish accommodation along the winsome Northern Ireland coastline.
This morning, enjoy a historical guided walk along the ancient city walls of Derry and hear how the shutting of the city gates, prohibiting entry to an English king, led to over 300 years of hostility. The day continues with a visit to an Iron Age fort, Grianan Aileach, offering stunning views of Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly. The coastal drive will take you to the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal, a lesser known, but one of the most enchanting and beautiful parts of Ireland.
Drive through Buncrana and then through the breath-taking mountain pass of the Mamore Gap. At the Isle of Doagh Visitor Centre you will hear an alternative view of the devastating Irish Famine.
Your day commences at the Ulster-American Folk Park. Arguably one of the best of its kind, it examines why two million people left Ulster for the New World in the 18th and 19th centuries. The park has more than thirty historic buildings, including a variety of thatched Irish cottages, a Pennsylvanian farmstead, a reconstructed shopping street and a full size replica emigrant ship.
Stop in Belleek, home to Ireland’s oldest pottery, and pass through County Fermanagh to County Sligo and W.B.Yeats country. For those already familiar with the great 20th century poet, a visit to sites associated with him will be a real highlight and for those as yet unfamiliar with his work and times, it will be a fascinating introduction. These sites include Drumcliffe Church, located at the foot of magnificent Ben Bulben and the location of Yeat’s grave, as well as Parkes Castle, a well preserved 17th century fortified Plantation manor house on the shore of lovely Lough Gill.
Enjoy a relaxing drive to the picturesque 18th century town of Westport, in County Mayo, where you will enjoy a rest before heading westward towards Connemara. The west of Ireland is often one of the principle motivations for visiting the country and the Connemara region is considered by many to be ‘the best of the west’. Connemara is much visited, but there are many scenic roads you travel down, such as the spectacular Sky Road overlooking Clifden Bay. You will also visit the award winning Connemara Heritage Centre which offers an insight into the history and heritage of the region. Complete your journey today with a walking tour of the wonderful city of Galway.
There is time to enjoy the freedom of Galway City on a day of “organised independence”. Your guide will offer advise on how to make the most of this small jewel in Ireland’s crown. Galway is a “walking city” so you may enjoy wandering its shopping alleyways, cathedral, waterfront areas and local pubs at your own pace.
Enjoy a seashore walk only five minutes stroll from the city centre. Cross the Wolfe Tome Bridge at the bottom of Quay Street, turn left and walk towards the ocean. You can walk along by the seashore to the end of Salthill Promenade at Blackrock, with views out to Galway bay and back to the city centre. The walk is approx. 1.5 miles/ 2 km.
Walk along high Street in Galway for a pleasurable way to pass an hour or two. Start at Kenny's Bookshop on High Street. The labyrinth is both an art gallery and quality bookshop with second hand and new books. All along the short cobblestoned stretch of the road, known as High street are small, interesting unique shops. Kelly's Crafts has a good range of goods, especially knits and pottery. Three Bags Full will sell you the wool to knit your own sweater or jacket. A left turn at the bottom of High Street brings you to Cross Street and The Silver Lining Gift Shop which sells glassware, China and novelty gift items. Traditions sells Aran knits, and across the road in the Curiousity Corner, the shelves are spilling over with all kinds of lovely, unusual gifts. To the right of High Street, is La Maison, a shop selling quality European made gifts. Opposite is Judy Green's Pottery Workshop selling pretty, handthrown pottery. Large items can be wrapped and posted home to you. Exclusive, very attractive designer knitwear is sold at Margaret Joyce in Quay Street directly opposite is Twice as Nice, where one can find a fine selection of vintage linen, lace and clothes. The Quay Lane Gallery is a small shop at the bottom of Quay Street which sells framed prints, as well as original work. Next door is Cobwebs, widely considered the prettiest shop in Galway with a delightful, seemingly infinite stock of pretty goods on display.
You have a wonderful day planned ahead, with a mix of must-see icons and sights, as well as a range of additional attractions that are not always visited by the tourist masses. Following the coastal road you visit some traditional Galway Bay harbours such as the charming Kinvara and then tour through the lunar-like landscape of the Burren, including a stop at the prehistoric burial site of the Poulnabrone Portal Tomb. In the afternoon you will visit the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s most visited attractions. Over 214m high and eight kilometres long, these majestic cliffs are home to colonies of seabirds.
The stunningly beautiful Dingle Peninsula, once described by National Geographic as the "most beautiful place on earth", is a magnet for visitors attracted by its incredible scenery. This morning you will uncover countless historical sites, ancient churches, stone forts and beautiful beaches before visiting the Blasket Islands Centre. Learn more about the unique community who once lived on the Great Blasket Island and the flora and fauna of the surrounding area.
Enjoy an afternoon at leisure in Dingle.
Just when you thought that the scenery you’ve seen couldn’t be bettered, it does! See the MacGillycuddy’s Reek, home to the highest peak in Ireland, and the Killarney Lakes, which are sure to impress. Then take the mountain road from Killarney to the enchanting town of Kenmare. Nestled at the mouth of Kenmare Bay, Kenmare is one of Ireland’s most idyllic spots. Spend time exploring its colourful shops and stunning scenery.
Leaving Kenmare, journey over the breathtaking Healy Pass, a spectacular drive en route to Bantry Bay where you visit Bantry House, renowned for its magnificent setting among formal gardens overlooking the bay. Then on to Blarney, where you might want to kiss the famous Blarney Stone in the Castle or maybe visit the Blarney Woollen Mills for a little shopping.
The harbour of Kinsale, considered by some to be the prettiest in Ireland, is your first stop of the day. The town is renowned as the gourmet centre of Ireland but it also has a fascinating history, with two forts as well as a tower house. Enjoy a walking tour of Kinsale accompanied by a local guide. Learn about the town’s history and maritime traditions and admire the 800 year old Church of Saint Multose and the unique star-shaped Charles Fort.
In the afternoon, travel to the city of Cork for a panoramic tour of the city before you head to the coastal town of Cobh, where you will find the Jameson Midleton Distillery. Learn about the production of whiskey and taste what is considered by many to be the finest whiskey in Ireland! Return to Blarney, explore the town's many attractions and dine at your leisure.
Start today’s tour with one of Ireland’s most popular icons, The Rock of Cashel, located on a high rocky outcrop overlooking the plains of Tipperary. You can explore the site, which incorporates the ruins of a medieval cathedral, a beautiful Romanesque church and a striking round tower. Next you will travel through rural Tipperary to Kilkenny, Ireland’s “most perfect medieval city” and your base for this evening. There is plenty of time to relax and explore the many sights here, including Kilkenny Castle, St Canice’s Cathedral, Rothe House and Black Abbey.
Before returning to Dublin, you will cross the Wicklow Mountains to Glendalough, one of the best preserved and most beautiful monastic sites in Ireland. The monastery was founded by St Kevin in the 6th century and much survives, despite many raids by both Vikings and the English before its final dissolution during the Reformation.
Leaving Glendalough, drive passing through some of the wilder terrain of the Wicklows, to the Sally Gap. Descend to the Powerscourt Estate with its beautiful formal gardens in a superb setting within view of Sugar Loaf Mountain. From here it is only a short journey to Dublin, where you complete your fascinating Small Group Irish tour.
Your Small group tour will finish at The The Gresham Hotel, 23 Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland at approximately 5:30 pm.
Transfer using a local taxi. Please note that this is not included in trip price and is payable locally.
Meet your driver for an airport transfer in a private vehicle.
Number 31 (5* Guesthouse) is famed for its unique hospitality, excellent service and probably the best breakfast in Ireland. What makes Number 31 a truly unique experience is its situation between a Classical Georgian townhouse and a stunning modernist mews by noted architect Sam Stephenson. Each of the 21 ensuite bedrooms reflects this, through an exciting use of light, color and texture. Every room is fitted with luxurious Hastens beds, pillows and duvets finished off with stunning linens. The kitchen at Number 31 ensures a memorable dining experience. The breakfast table is set with fresh berries, poached pears in vanilla syrup, homemade granola and muesli, artisan yoghurt and cream.
Malone Lodge Hotel in Belfast is a chic Victorian town-house hotel, only minutes from Belfast city centre. Set in the luxurious tree lined avenues of the Queens University Quarter of South Belfast, Malone Lodge is located just off the exclusive Malone Road & fashionable Lisburn Road. The property is surrounded by beautiful parks and gardens, while the luxurious surroundings of the hotel foyer allow you to relax and sink into deep cushioned sofas before deciding on where to dine for the evening. As NI Head Chef of the Year, Taste of Ulster and AA rosette winner, you can enjoy food from the head chef Dean Butler and his team onsite, whose recipe for success is straightforward – “serving simply good food everyday!” With an exceptional reputation for food, their success is built on using the finest local produce to create the perfect dining experience for you.
Please note that your hotel may be the above or a hotel of similar standard and will be confirmed prior to departure.
Welcome to Beech Hill Country House, one of the leading Derry hotels, the elegant rural manor house where the very warmest Irish hospitality is waiting for you. Located just 2-miles outside the historic walls of Londonderry (Derry), the North of Ireland's second city,and next to the Republic of Ireland's rugged and beautiful County Donegal, our Londonderry hotel is famed worldwide for its tranquil atmosphere, its luxurious accommodation and superb 4-star dining at the Ardmore Restaurant.
Markree Castle Hotel (4*) is one of the finest family run castle hotels in Ireland. Home of the Cooper family for more than 350 years it is now run as a small family hotel by Charles and Mary Cooper, 10th generation of the family to live at Markree. Set in a secluded 500 acre estate in County Sligo, peace and relaxation combined with good food, fine wine and old-world charm make a stay at Markree a step back in time.
Park House Hotel Galway (4*) is conveniently located in the heart of Galway's city centre. The hotel blends the warmth and personality of a boutique hotel with the style and luxury of a contemporary 4 Star international hotel. Guest accommodation comprises of 84 rooms divided into superior & deluxe rooms, suites and serviced apartments. The award-winning Park Restaurant is a favourite with locals and guests.
Dingle Benners Hotel is one of the most luxurious Dingle hotels, offering the best of both worlds - traditional Irish warmth and comfort coupled with the best of modern facilities.Situated in the centre of Dingle Town, in the heart of West Kerry, Dingle Benners is regarded as one of the best located Kerry hotels, an the ideal base for touring the magnificent Dingle Peninsula and surrounding areas. Relax in the traditional atmosphere of Mrs. Benner's bar and sample the best in Irish cuisine. Afterwards retire to the comfort of one of their 52 luxuriously appointed guestrooms boasting luxury Dingle accommodation. With a wide range of top Kerry Restaurants available on your doorstep and plenty of activities and amenities nearby, Dingle Benners hotel in Kerry Ireland is the perfect holiday destination.
A short stroll to the left of Blarney Castle Hotel takes one into the magnificent grounds and gardens of Blarney Castle, where high up in the battlements is the famous Blarney Stone. While a short stroll to the right takes one into the unique Irish shopping experience that is the Blarney Woollen Mills. Their main dining room is The Lemon Tree Restaurant. The bedrooms in the Blarney Castle Hotel have just been rebuilt and renovated to an above three star standard. All are spacious and tastefully appointed, each with individual character. Most overlook the village green.
Welcome to the Kilkenny River Court Hotel, a place of warmth, friendliness and sheer contentment. Nestled in a private courtyard, this four-star Kilkenny city hotel rests serenely on the banks of the River Nore.Secluded from the bustling and winding city streets, the Kilkenny River Court Hotel is overlooked by Kilkenny’s majestic 12th century castle. Kilkenny City itself offers prime shopping and dining experiences throughout its winding and cobbled street ways, all within ten minutes of the Kilkenny River Court Hotel.
Vanessa Oquendo ,
April 21, 2014
"Melissa Field was extremely helpful! She was courteous, professional, knowledgeable, and friendly! She kept me updated on the status of everything and provided timely correspondence. She took ownership for any problems I had and remedied them. I had the most amazing time of my life in Iceland and Paris! I would not have experienced everything without the help of Kensington Tours."
Marilynn Weaver ,
April 21, 2014
"All of our guides were beyond fabulous! Our time in Dublin was much too short, would have loved to stay there at least one more full day. Would recommend extending this package to 15 days for any future visits. The train to Edinburgh was super! Beautiful scenery and great steak pies!"
Ann Saxon ,
November 06, 2013
"Our trip was fantastic!!! I cannot say enough good things. Lianne worked with our exact dates and time frame beautifully.Our drivers were prompt and friendly. The private guides were so knowledgeable. We left with an appreciation of the history, the culture, and the beauty of Andulasia. We were very pleased and will certainly recommend your company to friends and family."
Coby Scherr ,
November 05, 2013
"Everyone involved in our Portugal trip made it terrific. Exactly as advertised. Every event on time and most pleasant. Guides were well-informed, courteous and friendly. Really made for a great journey every time. Each hotel was clean, upgraded and staffed with knowledgeable and friendly folks. Breakfasts were complete -- almost too much to eat. It will always be a wonderful memory thanks to Kensington Tours."
Couples Dellinger & Hubbell ,
November 06, 2013
"We've been raving to everyone about the food, the friendliness of the people and the amazing history and sites in Turkey. Yes, we want to go back."
John Edstrom ,
October 22, 2013
"Overall, our tour in Spain was very enjoyable, and well planned and executed. Our private tour of the Alhambra was excellent. Virginia, tour guide for royal palace ruins outside of Cordoba, was also excellent. In Seville, we went to the Flamenco Show/dinner, and the Flamenco was outstanding!"
Kevin Wilshere ,
October 19, 2013
"Great trip to Spain! Thanks again for all your help, Lianne. The destinations, hotels, guides and everything were all top notch."
Chery Westlund ,
November 07, 2013
"My husband and I took a 3 week vacation to southern Europe and North Africa and had a great time. All the guides were very knowledgeable and bent over backwards to accommodate us. The arrangements made by Kensington went off without a hitch. This is our second trip with Kensington (we went to Peru in 2009) and we will certainly book with them again."
Randy Gramlich ,
October 07, 2013
"Thank you for your follow up, we both loved our time in Croatia. It’s really a beautiful place, especially the coast. Your choice of hotels was great. It was an incredible view from the Bellevue hotel in Dubrovnik and the Vestibule in Split was in the best possible location. We were able to relax in our room listening to the wonderful singers in the courtyard and its central location made it so easy to walk anywhere we wanted to see with ease. "
Jay Steffan ,
September 24, 2013
"We just returned from a 10 day trip to Paris and Normandy. We spent three nights in Paris and then enjoyed a seven night cruise on the Seine to Normandy with AMA Waterways. The time in Paris was well spent and has piqued our interest to return for a more thorough visit. Guide Wafaa Lankey was superb in our visit to Versailles. The Seine cruise was relaxing and beautiful. So many wonderful little towns and we wished we had more time in each one to explore and enjoy.
We traveled to Croatia and Slovenia using Kensington earlier this year which was a fantastic trip."
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