Escorted Tours Through Ireland
Discover the historic charms and glorious landscapes of the Emerald Isle with Albatross. Our Ireland tours immerse you in the heart and soul of this exquisite and evergreen destination. The delights of Dublin, the sights of scenic peninsulas, the charm of the Irish countryside… enjoy all the wonders of Ireland you’ve dreamt about while discovering others you’ve never imagined. The beauty of our Ireland tours is that we regularly take the road less travelled, allowing you to explore so much more of what this beautiful island has to offer.
The Ireland Connection
Ireland in depth… a unique itinerary, with longer stops packed with wonderful sightseeing, from Temple Bar in Dublin, Killarney and the Wild Atlantic Way, to the Aran Islands, ancient megalithic tombs and the Titanic Experience in Belfast, plus the fascinating story of the mass emigration and deportation of the Irish to Australia.
Ireland Tour Destinations
Province of Leinster
- Dublin – With delightful architecture steeped in history, it’s little wonder that many famous Irishmen made this city their home. Dublin is known particularly for its literary heavyweights, including Oscar Wilde and W. B. Yeats, who were likely enchanted – as you will be – by the city’s magnificent buildings and welcoming atmosphere. Marvel at Merrion Square, explore St Patrick’s Cathedral, and count the vibrantly painted front doors between stops. Are the sights and sounds of Dublin even more memorable with some of the country’s famous Guinness in your belly? We’ll leave it up to you to decide!
- Kildare – This small town southwest of Dublin is home to the Irish National Stud and Gardens. Among other appeals, the Stud boasts gorgeous horses, Ireland’s finest Japanese gardens, and a museum that features a display on Vintage Crop, the first overseas racehorse to claim the Melbourne Cup.
- Newgrange Tombs – Take a step over 5,000 years back into the past with a visit to Newgrange. An ancient temple and passage tomb, this Stone Age monument is much more than a megalithic mound in the ground. Together with its similar-looking neighbours, Knowth and Dowth, Newgrange forms a UNESCO World Heritage site that captivates visitors time and time again.
- Clonoulty – In this quaint village, travellers on Ireland tours are invariably moved by the local Australian convict memorial. Many of the area’s residents immigrated to Australia in the 1800s, particularly to the farming town of Boorowa in NSW.
- Cashel – Another highlight for visitors from Australia, Cashel is home to the well-known Rock of Cashel. From atop this site’s medieval buildings, you can see spectacular scenery in all directions. To experience even more awe, keep in mind that nearly three quarters of Australia’s Irish emigrants came from the land surrounding this iconic landmark.
- Cork – 2005’s European Capital of Culture has gone from strength to strength over the years. The city offers a comprehensive and enjoyable experience for every visitor, with the pedestrian-focused Huguenot Quarter being a key spot for a relaxing stop during any tour of Ireland.
- Cobh – Cobh is a harbour town where many convicts departed, destined for Hobart and Sydney. The town itself provides a lovely and homely experience for travellers, but the Cobh Heritage Centre is a particular highlight. This centre tells many tales about the Titanic – a fitting tribute to a legendary vessel that made its last port call right here in Cobh.
- Blarney Castle – Get your lips nice and ready; a smooch with the famous Blarney Stone will grant you the gift of the gab (or so the legend goes). Before and after the big upside-down kiss, allow yourself to be enchanted by the castle’s plethora of natural and manmade attractions.
- Kinsale – Situated on the country’s south coast and characterised by vibrant streets, Kinsale is a delightful town for a detour. Browse the colourful stores then stop for coffee and cake in one of the cute cafés.
- Gougane Barra – The phrase ‘pretty as a picture’ is perfectly embodied by the scenery of Gougane Barra. The tiny church on a lake-circled island will have you snapping gorgeous photos whether you’re a pro snapper or an amateur shutterbug.
- Killarney – One of Ireland’s most visited towns, Killarney is full of charm and personality. A trip to this town is simply incomplete without experiencing the jaunting cars (essentially horse-drawn carriages). Hitch a ride to the stunning Muckross Lake before returning to explore the wondrous shops of Killarney.
- Dingle – The small village of Dingle provides a dramatic contrast to the grand peninsula with which it shares its name. The scenery of the picturesque Dingle Peninsula has long been one of western Ireland’s most popular drawcards and is a highlight of many Ireland tours.
- Dunquin – Near the tip of the Dingle Peninsula is the village of Dunquin, most well-known for its Blasket Heritage Centre. In this intriguing museum, you can learn all about the Blasket people who lived on the nearby remote islands before being evacuated in the 1950s.
- Ring of Kerry – Perhaps the country’s most glorious destination for natural sightseeing, the Ring of Kerry provides countless breathtaking panoramas. This area is also where you’ll find the home of Daniel O’Connell, Ireland’s Great Liberator, with its restored construction and period furnishings.
County Limerick and County Clare
- Foynes – Foynes is home to the excellent Flying Boat Museum. Locals will also tell you their town is the birthplace of Irish coffee – and when you sample some for yourself, you’ll find this easy to believe.
- Cliffs of Moher – These picturesque cliffs endure an ongoing beating from the wild waves of the Atlantic. This eternal contest between land and ocean has led to the Cliffs of Moher becoming one of the west coast’s most stunningly beautiful sights – not to be missed by anyone embarking on an Ireland tour!
- Galway – Irish cities are known for both their historic roots and warm hospitality; in Galway, you’ll find pint-sized servings of both. Any leisure time here can gladly be spent absorbing the atmosphere of a live-music-filled pub or strolling through lovely shopping streets.
- Connemara National Park – Covering almost 3,000 hectares of gorgeous and diverse wild lands, Connemara National Park is a dream come true for nature lovers. Expect plenty of flora and fauna, with landscapes including mountains, grasslands, forests and bogs, and animals including peacock butterflies, red deer and Connemara ponies.
- Kylemore Abbey – Enjoy a charming private tour of the fantastically restored historic buildings, which are set amongst beautiful Victorian walled gardens that cover about six acres of land.
- Aran Islands – Every tour in Ireland should feature a visit to these spectacular islands. On Inishmore, the largest of the three landmasses, Christian monuments and Celtic heritage sites compete for attention, each building more fascinating than the last. With clifftop forts, stone walls and beehive huts, the architecture of these islands is just as captivating as the beautiful scenery.
- Belfast – Belfast is truly an old city made new. Must-sees for visitors include the Titanic Experience, which features nine galleries dedicated to the world’s best-known ocean tragedy, and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, which has a wonderful array of cultural exhibits.
- Causeway Coastal Route – This superb route provides travellers with countless awe-inspiring views of Northern Ireland at its scenic finest. A slight detour also gives you the chance to stop at the town of Ballycastle, where you can cross (or just observe!) the famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
- Giant’s Causeway – This one-of-a-kind geological formation is one of Northern Ireland’s most intriguing sites. Formed many millions of years ago, the bafflingly symmetrical pillars that comprise the landscape here will have you marvelling at the curiosities of nature.
- Bushmills Distillery – For a healthy mixture of history and happiness in liquid form, pay a visit to the world’s oldest whiskey distillery. Take a tour of the old building to get a real taste of the effort that goes into making this popular spirit.
Touring Ireland via Coach
Tours of Ireland inevitably leave an indelible impression on all participants. While a standard holiday here can certainly be wonderful, an organised coach tour is the way to go for a proper Irish vacation experience. With less people in our groups and longer stays in each city, a tour with Albatross gives you the time and opportunities to really get the most out of your trip abroad. Working out directions and driving in a foreign land can be stressful enough to hinder any getaway. With an Albatross guided tour, this is one of the many hassles you don’t have to worry about. Transport, bookings and the itinerary are all taken care of for you, leaving you free to actually enjoy your time in Ireland and relax comfortably between stops. Even during leisure time, the rich knowledge of your tour guides enables them to provide fantastic advice on where and how to spend your hours. Whether you venture alone into the lovely Irish towns or spend time bonding with your likeminded fellow travellers, every minute of your journey will be a memorable one.
When to Visit Ireland
Ireland is best enjoyed during its summertime, from late May to September. This time of year is characterised by long hours of daylight – perfect for travellers who want to see as much as they can during their time here. Temperatures in these months are nice and warm in contrast to the bitter cold of Ireland’s winters. Cooling breezes are year-round regular guests to the isle though, so packing an extra layer or two is never a bad idea. Ireland tours will rarely – if ever – make it from start to finish without getting a little wet now and then; rain is an expected part of the package any time of year. However, showers are typically too brief to dampen the mood, particularly when you keep in mind that the regular precipitation is a key contributor to the gorgeously green landscapes you are witnessing.
The Foods You’ll Eat in Ireland
With hearty hospitality and more pubs per person than you might think possible, every eating (and drinking!) experience in Ireland is a thrill. Here’s a look at some of the delicious things you could be consuming during your tour of Ireland:
- Homestyle Grub – You haven’t really enjoyed the full Irish eating experience until you’ve dined with the locals at a down-to-earth countryside pub. Expect generous plate sizes and plenty of cheer in the atmosphere.
- Alluring Alcohol – From iconic glasses of Guinness to stirring servings of whiskey or gin, Ireland offers world-class options for any connoisseur of alcoholic beverages. There are also several microbrews that are becoming more and more popular amongst locals and visitors alike.
- Bread and Butter – While this standard combination might be boring in some instances, this is never the case when you dine on bread and butter in Ireland. Creamy farmhouse butter spread across freshly baked brown bread is a staple of Irish restaurants and well worth a taste.
- Potato Dishes – Whether baked into a standalone meal, mashed to go with a meaty main course, or cut into chips to partner with fish, potatoes are a prominent and time-honoured feature of Ireland’s national menu.
- Terrific Tea – The Irish drink a lot of tea. And while you’re here, perhaps you should too! With plenty of signature blends and tasty accompanying snacks to choose from, any tea drinker can find their perfect match in a cup.
Things You Should Know About Irish Culture
For the most part, Irish culture isn’t wildly different from that of Australia or New Zealand. With that said, there are a couple of points worth keeping in mind as you mingle with locals during your Ireland tour:
- Friendliness – Irish people are well known for their welcoming attitude. Never hesitate to engage in conversation with a local, whether you’re asking for directions, talking about the area or just offering a friendly ‘hello’. Many visitors often cite casual chats with townsfolk as a highlight of their stay in the Emerald Isle, so don’t miss any chances to get friendly with the residents.
- Language – Unlike some European countries, where profanities are typically reserved for outbursts of anger, Ireland is a place where swear words are used loosely for many purposes. Whether they’re embellishing a tale or just expressing emotions, don’t be caught off guard when you overhear foul language. If the facial expression is jovial, it’s unlikely that the phrase has any hostility behind it.
The Money You’ll Use in Ireland
Travellers in Ireland will quickly become familiar with the coins and notes of the euro. Coins come in 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, €1 and €2 denominations, with notes available in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 denominations. You will rarely find businesses unwilling to simply accept a credit or debit card, however, so keeping large amounts of cash on hand shouldn’t be necessary. It’s important to note that Belfast and Northern Ireland use a different currency than the Republic of Ireland. While most cities and towns on a tour or Ireland will trade in euros (€), establishments north of the border will typically expect payments in pound sterling.