We've hand-selected hotels that shine with 5-star luxury, and matched that with an itinerary that shows off Ireland at its best! Start off at the Heritage Resort, a 5-star golf and spa destination that's an easy drive from your arrival at Dublin airport.
Your next two nights are spent at the lovely and so-friendly Glenlo Abbey, located just outside Galway's city center and at the gateway to stunning Connemara. This hotel combines elegant traditions (enjoy a meal in their Pullman car restaurant!) with charming staff who make your comfort their priority.
Traveling south to Killarney you may want to visit the Cliffs of Moher or the Bunratty Folk Park before arriving at your hotel for the next two nights: The Muckross Park Hotel. Set at the entrance of the Killarney National Park, this 5-star hotel marries old-world standards of comfort and luxury with all the amenities modern travelers enjoy. You won't want to leave the sanctuary of the Cloisters Spa or the relaxing fun of Molly Darcy's Pub; but do get out to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds you - the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula or just a quiet stroll in the national park.
Your last night is spent in the utter luxury of the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin. Set in the fashionable Ballsbridge area of Dublin, this hotel is elegant, yet so comfortable (and family friendly, too!) - the perfect end to your Fall tour of Ireland!
What's Included: 6 night package
What's Included: 8 night package
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Escorted vacation packages are per person based on two travelers (unless otherwise specified), and typically include hotel accommodations; transportation with professional driver/guide; sightseeing as listed, some meals, local taxes, hotel service charges and porterage of one (1) suitcase per person, due to limited capacity on motor coaches. Space is limited and prices may be restricted to certain travel dates, length of stay or room type. Driver and guide gratuities are not included, and are at the discretion of the traveler. Terms and conditions apply. Minimum child ages and handicapped traveler restrictions may apply on escorted tours; please call for details.
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Trip Cancellation Waiver (excluding Escorted, Golf, Cruise, Rail and Group Vacations):
The Trip Cancellation Waiver is designed to protect your investment on all featured independent travel reservations. You may cancel your trip up to 72 hours prior to departure for any reason, and you will receive a refund equaling the full amount of all payments made, less any Travel Protection Plan Cost and fees. Passengers who chose to rebook their vacation and originally booked airfare must rebook air on the original air carrier. Coverage goes into effect on the day the premium is received. The cost of this coverage is 9% of your total trip cost and must be purchased at time of booking. Full description of coverage can be found by visiting http://tripmate.com/wpF421W. Pre-departure notice of cancellation must be made during normal business hours by calling 1-800-495-5220, 9AM to 5:30PM, Monday – Friday, and 1-800-896-4600 on Saturday between 10AM – 6PM, EST). Note: Inside 72 hours prior to travel, full cancellation penalties will apply. Plan fees are not refundable at any time. Claims for travel insurance related benefits (post departure benefits) should be made to Trip Mate Inc. 1-800-888-7292 or 9225 Ward Parkway, Suite 200, Kansas City, Missouri 64114 Plan #: F421W
Trip Protection Plan (may apply to Escorted, Golf, Cruise, Rail and/or Group Vacations):
For travelers on offered Escorted Vacations, Golf, Rail and Cruise Vacations, Travel Protection is provided by Trip Mate Inc. This coverage is designed to protect your travel investment with a full cash refund less the cost of the insurance and cancellation fees for covered reasons such as death, sickness, injury or certain other covered reasons. Full description of coverage can be found by visiting http://tripmate.com/wpF421S. The cost of this protection is 9% of the total cost of your trip and must be purchased at time of booking. All claims are to be made to Trip Mate Inc. 1-800-888-7292 or 9225 Ward Parkway, Suite 200, Kansas City, Missouri 64114 Plan #: F421S
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Surrounded by embassies and ivy-covered homes in the prestigious Ballsbridge area of Dublin, The InterContinental Dublin is an elegant, tranquil luxury hotel for travelers looking for historic sophistication, just a short stroll from the heart of Dublin City Center.
Home to immaculate garden views and Dublin's only full-service hotel spa, The InterContinental Dublin is the ideal spot to unwind and discover the perfect balance of warm Irish hospitality and personal service. The 197 luxurious guestrooms are some of Dublin's most spacious, and look out over leafy cityscapes and lush, landscaped greenery. The hotel's intimate lounges and refined restaurants showcase European-inspired menus and Irish ingredients. The pampering spa provides a full range of relaxing massage, skin and body care treatments, as well as salon services. Guests of InterContinental Dublin will also enjoy the state-of-the-art fitness center, 46-foot indoor lap pool and whirlpool, located beside the spa, and naturally lit by windows looking onto an outdoor sunken garden.
Built in 1843, this 65-room Victorian mansion house is one of Ireland's leading stately homes. It stands majestically on the lake shore in the Killarney National Park, less than 2 miles to Killarney town. All of southwest Ireland’s attractions including The Gap of Dunloe, The Ring of Kerry - which passes right outside the hotel gates, Dingle Peninsula, Kinsale and Cork City are within easy reach. Take a boat trip to Inisfallen for a unique experience. Killarney with its quaint and colorful streetscapes, is a vibrant town center and a long tradition of late evening shopping, stacked with Ireland’s world-famous linens, wool and crystal.
Muckross Park Hotel provides an outstanding array of gourmet choices, with a menu based on seasonal ingredients from the finest purveyors of Irish food. Choose GB Shaws or award winning Molly Darcys and Monks Bar -all are great options. With its monastic theme, professional therapists, and cutting-edge world renowned products, the luxury Spa is delighted to have been voted "Top Irish Destination Spa" by spa magazine. Guestrooms feature crisp Irish linens, premium bedding, tea and coffee making facilities, standalone bathtub and shower, satellite television, DVD and 24-hour room service.
Glenlo Abbey Hotel is located 2 miles from Galway City Centre on the N59 to Connemara. Situated on its own 138 acre lakeside golf estate, Glenlo Abbey is the perfect base for touring the west of Ireland. The western region of Ireland is famous for its fantastic selection of visitor attractions, historical sites, beautiful buildings, stunning locations and landscaped gardens. Visit Connemara and the islands, see and hear the Irish language in everyday use in the “Gaeltacht” region, discover The Burren or enjoy the lively city of Galway, all at your doorstep.
The 46 guestrooms and suites at the Glenlo Abbey Hotel afford unrivalled views of the dramatic west of Ireland landscape with its ever changing colors. Glenlo Abbey Hotel offers a number of fine dining options including The Pullman Restaurant, a truly unique dining experience “on-board” a luxury train carriage. The River Room, situated in the main hotel, offers superb views of the surrounding countryside, and the more informal Oak Cellar Bar is the perfect location to enjoy a light snack or Irish Coffee. With a golf estate as your playground, the unique Double Green Golf Course offers a challenge to all level of golfers. Archery, clay pigeon shooting & fishing are available on the estate, and nearby activities include horse riding, lake boating, water sports, tennis and the ancient sport of royalty – falconry.
The Heritage Killenard is located in the quaint village of Killenard, one hour southwest of Dublin, and within easy access to all parts of Ireland. Walk one of the many official Glenbarrow walks in The Slieve Bloom Mountains, from a family-friendly 1.5km walk to a more challenging 12km walk. Visit The National Stud and Japanese Gardens or shop till you drop in Kildare Village Outlet Shopping, located within 10 minutes from the resort.
The Heritage Killenard offers luxury accommodation with every air-conditioned guestroom designed using soft muted colors, luxurious bedding and separate soaking tub and shower. Other amenities include hairdryer, tea or coffee tray and internet access. Dining is available at one of the resort's three restaurants - The Arlington Room, Sol Oriens and Greens. The Slieve Bloom Bar is perfect for a night of history and flavor from all the Irish Whiskey Brewers on the Irish Whiskey Trail. This luxury resort also offers Championship Golf, an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms, tennis court, 5km walking track, children's game room, fishing and trim trail.
Founded in 841, Dublin combines the historic delights of an old city with a vibrant contemporary scene. Attractions range from landmarks and monuments dating back hundreds of years to cutting edge museums. Tour a 13th-century castle, study the work of contemporary artists, explore a Viking warship, learn about some of the world's most famous authors, or just sit back and enjoy a pint of Guinness. Bonus: Although 1.6 million people live in Dublin, the city is still small and manageable – most of the main attractions are located in or close to the city center, making it easy to navigate by foot.
What to see:
Christ Church Cathedral
The medieval Christ Church Cathedral is the oldest building in Dublin. Amazingly, the crypt predates the 11th-century cathedral. Catch the choral evensong if you want to really take in the atmosphere of the cathedral (which was updated in the 19th century).
The Spire of Dublin
One of Dublin's newest landmarks, this striking 398-foot needle is made of reflective stainless steel. The tallest work of public art in the world, the spire is an architectural marvel that starts with a base of less than 10 feet. At night, a beacon of light is sent skyward from the top.
This striking cast iron pedestrian bridge crosses the River Liffey, an iconic landmark and one of the most photographed sights in Dublin. Some 27,000 people walk across the bridge on a daily basis. The name comes from the halfpenny toll levied on all users of the bridge up until 1919.
In the heart of historic Dublin is the Dublin Castle, which dates to the 13th century and was built on a site previously settled by the Vikings. The castle has served as a military fortress, a prison, treasury, courts of law and the seat of English Administration in Ireland for 700 years. Where the present garden sits was once the site of the famous Black Pool or 'Dubh Linn,’ from which the city gets its name.
Chester Beatty Library
Consistently winning accolades as one of Dublin's best museums, the Chester Beatty Library contains a diverse array of manuscripts, books, calligraphies, miniatures paintings and more from countries all across the world. Located within the Dublin Castle, highlights of the collection include Egyptian papyrus texts, Buddhist paintings, stunningly elaborate versions of both the Koran and Bible, Chinese dragon robes, and other artistic treasures.
National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology
This branch of the National Museum of Ireland takes visitors on a trip through the country's archaeological history starting way back in 7,000BC. The museum contains several outstanding examples of Celtic metalwork and medieval art, as well as a fascinating exhibition that details the recently found bog bodies that date back to the Iron Age. Besides the main museum, there are three other offshoots around Dublin that center on Natural History, Decorative Arts & History, and County Life.
You simply cannot leave Dublin without stopping by the St James's Gateway brewery, the facility that has been pouring out the black stuff since 1759. The number one visitor attraction in the country, the Guinness Storehouse is located in a former Guinness fermentation plant. After learning everything there is to know about Guinness, visitors receive a complimentary beer in the glass-enclosed Gravity Bar at the top of the building, which offers a magnificent 360-degree view of the city.
Dublin City Hall
Pass through the neoclassical columns of Dublin City Hall and into the old vaults and become immersed in a multimedia exhibition that traces the evolution of Dublin City. In just one hour, interactive displays take visitors through over 1,000 years of history. Besides the exhibition, it is possible to take a tour of City Hall free of charge.
Hugh Lane Gallery
Dublin's reputation as a world-class art city becomes immediately clear inside the Hugh Lane Gallery, home to modern and contemporary works by artists from around the world. The museum also houses the fascinating reconstructed studio of Irish-born figurative painter Francis Bacon.
Dublin Writers Museum
Opened in 1991 to celebrate the Irish literary tradition, the Dublin Writers Museum tells the stories of the lives and works of Dublin's literary celebrities. Portraits, books, letters and other personal items from famous names such as Wilde, Joyce, Swift and more are kept in this splendid 18th-century mansion. It's a must see for any book lover.
Located in the center of the medieval city of Dublin, Dublina is a heritage center that takes visitors on a journey back to medieval and Viking times. A great attraction at any age, visitor walk through both a medieval and Viking street as you learn about crime, punishment, death and disease throughout the ages.
The most visited family attraction in Dublin is this 60-acre zoological park that opened in 1831. Despite its age, this is actually one of the most modern zoos in all of Europe. See lions, tigers, bears and more as you travel through habitats that include the African savanna, the South American rainforest, and the fringes of the Artic.
James Joyce Centre
Housed in a marvelously restored Georgian house, the James Joyce Centre tells about the life and times of one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Although Joyce himself probably never visited the house, it is the former studio of the flamboyant dance instructor immortalized in Joyce's classic, “Ulysses.” Tons of items relating to the life and work of Joyce – including a copy of his death mask – are on display in re-creations of period rooms.
Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, Trinity College was Ireland's first university. Today the campus dominates Dublin's city center, with the magnificent bell tower rising nearly 100-feet tall and the university's most famous landmark. Also notable is the college library, a building that contains over a million books, the main tourist draw being the Book of Kells, a gorgeously illustrated original manuscript from the 9th century.
A tour of this Victorian prison that dates to 1796 not only covers the penal history of the building, but also the heroic and tragic events that led to Ireland's emergence as a modern nation. Leaders of several rebellions were detained and executed here, and the dramatic audio tour is sure to fascinate any visitor (including Ireland history buffs and novices).
Saint Patrick's Cathedral
Built in honor of Ireland's patron saint, the imposing Saint Patrick's Cathedral is the largest church in the country. There are several interesting tombs and memorials to explore, as well as the grave of “Gulliver's Travels” author Jonathan Swift, who was once dean of the cathedral.
The East Coast of Ireland is a venue for fans of both history and natural wonders. Here you can explore ancient ruins including the Neolithic sites at Newgrange, stop by such centuries-old towns as Dundalk and Drogheda and spend time exploring the golden beaches and mountains of Wicklow, the “Garden of Ireland,” a favored playground for Dublin’s urbanites.
What to see:
Bealieu House and Gardens (County Louth)
The first unfortified mansion built in Ireland, this country house has been in the same family since 1650. Take a guided tour of the house and explore four acres of a walled garden, as well as a museum that contains a collection of classic race and road cars.
Highlane Gallery (County Louth)
Located in a former Drogheda Franciscan Church, the collection at Droghead's municipal art gallery is mostly a survey of Irish art from the early 20th century. There are also a number of important 18th-century works and the museum’s café features artisan food produced in the region.
Monasterboice (County Louth)
This historic monastic ruins site contains a cemetery, two ancient church ruins, and a round tower. It is most famous for its 10th-century high crosses, included the 18-foot Muiredach's High Cross that is regarded as the finest high cross in the entire country.
St Peter's Roman Catholic Church (County Louth)
Two church buildings share a site here, the first built in 1791 in classical style, and the newer addition built in the Gothic style. But the most notable attraction is the tiny, shriveled head of martyr Saint Oliver Plunkett, which was separated from the rest of him when he was hanged in 1681.
St Laurance's Gate (County Louth)
The finest surviving portion of the city walls of Drogheda, this photogenic 13th-century structure consists of two lofty towers and a connecting curtain wall. The complete walls once encircled about 130 acres.
St Peter's Church of Ireland (County Louth)
This Drogheda church has a storied history. Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentary forces burned the original church in 1649, resulting in the death of 100 people seeking sanctuary inside. Today's replacement was built in 1747 and includes an image on the wall depicting two skeletal figures in shrouds, an homage to the Black Death.
Magdalene Tower (County Louth)
Set on the highest point in the northern part of Drogheda, the Magdalen Tower is all that remains of a once important Dominican Friary. Although the monastery was founded in 1224, the belltower itself is of 14th-century construction. Rumored to be haunted by a nun, visitors can also stand on the site where the earl of Desmond was beheaded in 1468 because of his treasonous connections with the Gaelic Irish.
Mellifont Abbey (County Louth)
The name literally translates "the big abbey," and this was the first Cistercian abbey to be built in Ireland. Founded in 1142 on the banks of the River Mattock, it was the country’s main abbey until it closed in 1539. Now a ruin, the 13th-century lavabo – where monks washed their hands before eating – and some Romanesque arches are pretty much all that remain. An exhibition in the Visitor Center tells about the work of masons in the Middle Ages.
Carlingford Heritage Center (County Louth)
In Carlingford, on the Cooley Peninsula, this heritage center in the former Holy Trinity Church details the village's medieval history. From the center, local guides take visitors on a tour of the town's other attractions: a 13th-century castle, a 15th-century mint, an early 17th-century castle, the last remaining pieces of a 15th-century town wall, a Dominican Friary from the 14th century, and more.
Hill of Tara (County Meath)
The most sacred stretch of land in Ireland since the late Stone Age, the Hill of Tara is so full of folklore and history that historians are still arguing over its importance. Nearly destroyed by a planned highway a few years ago, this was once the seat of the High Kings and now contains several ruins. Guided tours of the site are available.
Battle of the Boyne Site (County Meath)
The Battle of the Boyne Site is one of the most important historical sites in Ireland. This is the spot where the Catholic King James and the Protestant King William clashed in 1688, with the Protestants coming out on top to ensure the continuation of religious supremacy in Ireland. Today, visitors can walk where the battle was fought, watch some original and replica 17th-century weaponry displays, or have a cup of tea on a deck overlooking two lush gardens.
Brú na Bóinne (County Meath)
This complex of Neolithic chamber tombs, standing stones, henges and other prehistoric enclosures has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s the largest megalithic site in Europe. There is no direct access to the monuments, and all tours must be arranged through the visitor's center, where visitors can also view a full-scale replica of some chambers and tombs.
Newgrange (County Meath)
Built during the Neolithic period somewhere between 3100 and 2900 BC, Newgrange is a prehistoric monument that is aligned with the rising sun on the winter solstice, which floods a stone room with light. The entrance was sealed for several millennia, causing several associations in local folklore and mythology to proliferate. Access is by guided tour only from the Brú na Bóinne visitor center.
Loughcrew Cairns (County Meath)
The Loughcrew Cairns, also known as the Hills of the Witch, are a group of Neolithic burial chambers that date back to 4000 and make up the largest complex of passage graves in Ireland. During the Equinox (March and September), crowds gather to watch sunlight enter one of the cairn chambers, illuminating the inside and revealing Neolithic art, but it’s fascinating other times of year as well.
Trim Castle (County Meath)
Constructed over a 30-year period, Trim Castle is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland and was featured in the Mel Gibson directed film, Braveheart. An important early medieval ecclesiastical and royal site, the castle overlooks the River Boyne. One of its most unique features is the internal keep, which has a cruciform shape with twenty corners.
Wicklow's Historic Gaol (County Wicklow)
Opened in 1702, and renowned throughout Ireland for the brutality of its keepers and harsh conditions, Wicklow's jail is now an entertaining tourist attraction. Actors play the roles of inmates and wardens, telling tales of vicious beatings and disgusting food. Don’t miss out on the gruesome dungeon.
Killruddery House and Gardens (County Wicklow)
Built in the Elizabethan Revival style, the impressive Killruddery House is stunning in itself, but the well-manicured gardens and magnificent orangery are the main attractions. The gardens have been around since the house was built in 1618, making them some of the oldest in Ireland.
Mout Usher Gardens (County Wicklow)
Set along the banks of the River Vartry, the Mount Usher Gardens are a must-see for anyone interested in horticulture. Voted the “Most Romantic Garden” in Ireland by BBC's Gardener's World Magazine, the gardens are planted in the Robinsonian style, which means everything is laid out in natural harmony instead of creating formal gardens.
Glendalough Monastery (County Wicklow)
This monastery was founded by Saint Kevin in the 6th century, after he spent time living in a cave in the Wicklow Mountains. Today it’s one of the most notable monasteries in all or Ireland. Several original structures remain, including a 110-foot round tower, the original gatehouse entrance, a roofless cathedral, a Celtic cross known as Kevin's cross, and more. The area also has several color-coded walking trails, making it a destination for hikers and bird lovers.
Arklow Maritime Museum (County Wicklow)
This small museum holds a collection of shipbuilders' models, plans and more that have all been donated or loaned by local families. Seafaring fans will enjoy seeing a model of the Titanic, some items that were salvaged from the Lusitania and another ship model made from 10,000 matchsticks.
Dwyer McAllister Cottage (County Wicklow)
This traditional thatched cottage was scene of a famous shootout during Ireland's 1798 Rebellion. Famed rebel Michael Dwyer fought the encircling British troops until he made his escape over the nearby mountains. The cottage was destroyed by fire and lay in ruin for nearly 150 years until it was restored as a monument in the late 1940s. Even if you have no interest in the history of the cottage, the mountaintop views are breathtaking.
Wicklow Mountains National Park (County Wicklow)
Covering an area of nearly 50,000 acres, Wicklow Mountains National Park is a wonderful place to become engrossed in the landscapes and wildlife of Ireland. Visitors can hike on marked trails, climb, fish, swim, or just take in open vistas.
Kilmacurragh (County Wicklow)
Founded during a period of great botanical exploration during the 19th century, the majestic Kilmacurragh is now managed by the National Botanic Gardens. Knowledgeable guides are ready and willing to teach visitors about the flora that flourishes in the unique soil and microclimate of the gardens.
Dalkey Castle and Heritage Center (County Dublin)
This 14th-century castle now stages live theater performances every half hour in which characters vividly demonstrate what life was like at the castle during the 1500s and 1600s. From the castle, visitors can also set off on guided tours of the town of Dalkey to learn the ancient history of the area.
Lusk Heritage Center (County Dublin)
The grounds of the Lusk Heritage Center encapsulate three separate buildings that were constructed over a period of almost a thousand years: a 9th-century round tower, a medieval belfry and a 19th-century church. Learn about the city of Lusk and medieval churches of North County Dublin inside the belfry.
Rathmacknee Castle (County Wexford)
Although this 15th-century castle is typical of those built by families of English origin that dot all of Ireland, the difference is many of the castle's parapets – the jagged, protective wall across the top edge of the castle – are still fully intact. Have a look around inside and you'll see that the corner turrets and double-stepped battlements have also been well preserved.