Ireland, the Emerald Isle. This small island nation in the North Atlantic known for rugby and golf, Guinness beer, and some of the world's best literature offers a variety of guided travel options for all types of interests.
With some of the most stunning landscapes including the Cliffs of Moher and Killarney National Park, Ireland is ideal for a guided hiking tour. For travelers interested in a slightly less active trip, there are plenty of culture tours, where you will learn about the celtic and gaelic influence, visit the many museums, castles, and theaters, and even enjoy a pint in a classic Irish pub. For golf-lovers, a golf tour of Ireland is a perfect way to see the country and play some of the best courses in the world.
Culture & Heritage Tours
Most travel companies that offer trips to Ireland include many options that are focused on culture and heritage, with variety in length of trip, specific destinations throughout Ireland, and size of the travel group. You'll be able to explore the bigger cities including Dublin, Galway, and Cork as well as the many castles throughout more remote, rural areas, such as Blarney Castle, and the picturesque Cliffs of Moher. During guided tours, you will not only see but also learn about monastic remains and aristocratic houses throughout Ireland, the location in Northern Ireland where the Titanic was built and set sail, and the literary influence of writers such as James Joyce.
If you're seeking a higher level of activity and adventure, there are plenty of guided trips with a focus on hiking, biking, and other adventures. During these tours, it's typical to visit Killarney National Park, a vast landscape of rugged mountains, serene lakes, and lush forests, where you will be able to explore with a tour guide. Another highlight of adventure tours is visiting the Burren, Ireland's famous limestone landscape. You will be able to hike around this natural heritage region and learn about its rare wildlife and ancient monuments.
Bed & Breakfast Tours
A bed & breakfast package is a great way to explore Ireland for a pair that wants to stay in quaint and quiet gems throughout the country. At Ireland's B&Bs, you will discover the warmth, charm, and gracious hospitality of Ireland. From rustic country cottages to mystical seaside retreats and city dwellings, you will have plenty of options and be able to stay at the B&B's of your preference. Many travel companies offer B&B packages in which you can choose the locations you are interested in and the number of nights. Many of the packages will include airfare and breakfast is always included at your B&B stay.
Ireland is a golfer's paradise, known for its challenging courses with stunning landscapes. With over 400 golf clubs, including a third of the world's natural links courses and thousands of visitors flocking to Ireland just for golf every year, if you are a golfer yourself, this is the Irish travel experience for you. Many travel companies offer golf-focused trips, which include guaranteed tee-times at some of Ireland's best courses, travel arrangements throughout the country to get to each course, accommodations, and meals.
Planning Your Trip
As there are so many options of different types of guided travel in Ireland, you'll want to make sure that you are choosing a trip that fits all your needs and interests. It's important to look into the size of the tour group, length of travel, specific destinations within Ireland, and what's included in the trip price, as these factors will vary trip-to-trip. The good news is there are enough options that you will definitely be able to find the trip that's right for you and within your budget.
Best Time to Visit Ireland
Ireland has a mild, temperate climate and you can visit this country anytime of year. However, it does tend to be rainy at particular times of year. The best moths to visit are March-May and September-November, as the weather is most pleasant during these times and it will be less busy with tourists than in July and August.
What to Look for in a Tour to Ireland
When booking your tour of Ireland, you'll want to be sure you know exactly what's included, such as airfare, accommodation, meals, transportation within Ireland, and entry to historical sites, monuments, and museums. You'll also want to make sure your tour covers areas of the country you're most interested in. For example, if you are interested in exploring urban life, you should choose a trip that visits multiple cities, but if you want to explore rural landscapes, you should look for locations such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and Killarney National Park on the itinerary.
Typical Tour Cost
Tour prices vary greatly depending on the travel company you use, the length of your trip, and what is included in the price. They typically range from around $700-$5,000. Some tours include flights, accommodations for the amount of nights of the tour, and some meals, but this is something you'll want to double-check for any particular tour of interest to you.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
There is no need to bring any special gear if your tour includes any activities such as biking or kayaking, as anything you need will be provided by the travel company. If you are going on a hiking tour, you will want to bring clothes that are comfortable for being active and any accessories you may want for hiking, such as a hat or a walking stick. If you are going on a golf tour, you will need to adhere to the dress codes of Irish golf clubs, which are not much different than golf clubs in the US. Jeans, shorts and trainers are frowned upon while some clubs might insist on a jacket and tie for the dining room. For all tours, it's important to bring some waterproof gear, as Ireland is a pretty rainy country.
Other Tips for Travel in Ireland
- Currency: Ireland is on the euro, but Northern Ireland, a part of the UK, is on the pound. This is important to be aware of if your tour happens to take you up north. Most places will accept credit or debit cards, so don't worry too much if you don't have both currencies with you.
- Transportation: Getting around Ireland is very easy in cities and bigger towns, with extensive bus transport and rail networks. In more rural areas, you will have to be more reliant on cars. It's very easy to rent a car in Ireland. Your tour will likely provide transportation to any of these remote areas as well.
- Accommodation: There are plenty of accommodation options in Ireland, including hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, hostels, and campsites. In addition to all the ordinary options, Ireland has some of the most special accommodation options, such as staying in a castle, lighthouse, or even a pub! There is huge range in price of accommodations, so you'll be able to find something as affordable or as lavish as you'd like.
Health & Safety
Modern medical facilities are available throughout Ireland, however, they will not accept American insurance coverage and American patients are expected to pay all costs up-front at the time of treatment and apply for reimbursement from their own travel insurance later. No vaccinations are required to travel to Ireland. Be sure to bring all prescription medications you take with you. Most over-the-counter medications are available in Irish pharmacies, but many U.S. brands are not.
Ireland has a low crime rate and tourists usually visit Ireland without incident. Rental cars have occasionally been the result of a petty crime, so if you happen to be traveling with a rental car, be mindful of parking it in a safe spot and keeping it locked. It's important for tourists to remember that cars drive on the left side of the road in Ireland, as tourists driving on the incorrect side of the road cause several accidents each year. It's also important to be careful when driving on country roads, as they are likely to be narrow, uneven, and winding. Otherwise, it's important to take normal precaution of keeping close track of your belongings, especially when walking throughout busy areas of cities.