Highlights of Ireland 12 nights

The Highlights of Ireland self-drive 12 night tour is one of our most popular tours and is based on Ireland’s most iconic and world renowned attractions

The Highlights of Ireland Tour, our most sought after vacation, is a 12 night tour that can be started from any Irish Airport and is specifically tailored to include many of the most popular visitor attractions in the country. With attractions such as Trinity College and Kilmainham Gaol in the capital, Powerscourt House, Glendalough, Kilkenny Castle and the Waterford Crystal exhibition in the south east, Cobh heritage centre, Blarney Castle & Kinsale in the south as well as the dingle peninsula, Ring of kerry and Killarney in Kerry. In Clare you'll visit the famous Cliffs of Moher and the Burren landscape. just above Clare is Galway, the Aran islands and Connemara and finally, just 45 minutes north of Dublin, you'll find the ancient Megalithic Tombs at Newgrange, Irelands most visited ancient attraction. Depending on where you fly into, the route taken will change accordingly.

The memories made whilst here will last a lifetime, from the incredible scenery, the culture and the people, this is vacation you'll never forget! 

Speaking of the people, as Irish we pride ourselves on being some of the friendliest and welcoming in the world and although Ireland is not a big country, you'll undoubtedly notice the differences in accents and dialects as you travel across it.

The major advantage of having 12 nights in the southern half of the country is that it alows you time to get to know the locals at a more relaxed pace than that of the shorter duration tours.

Overnights for this tour:

  • County Wicklow for 1 night
  • Waterford or Kilkenny for 2 nights
  • Kinsale, County Cork for 2 nights
  • County Kerry for 2 nights
  • County Clare for 1 night
  • Connemara/Galway for 2 nights
  • Dublin for 2 nights

Included in your price:

  • Free calls to your personal Ireland vacation specialist
  • 12 nights accommodation on a B&B basis 
  • Road map of Ireland
  • Discounted admission to attractions throughout Ireland

Car Rental:

Rental of a economy-size car. Included with your car is all compulsory insurances - Collision Damage Waiver insurance (CDW with an excess/deductible), theft protection insurance, location fee of €30, Road fund tax, sales tax at 13.5%, unlimited free mileage, third party liability insurance, 24 hour peace of mind breakdown cover.

Occupancy:

Prices are per person based on 2 persons in each room with full Irish breakfast and taxes included. A single supplement will apply to rooms and car rental in the case of single occupancy.

Currency:

Please note that we charge in Euros (€). Prices in other currencies are for indication only and subject to fluctuation.

 

Itinerary for the 12 night Highlights of Ireland self-drive tour 
This is a brief summary of the actual itinerary, which will be provided upon booking of the tour.

Day 1: Dublin to County Wicklow

Your journey starts travelling South through County Wicklow, the "Garden of Ireland". Your first stop will be Powerscourt House and Gardens, an 18th Century Palladian House at the base of the Wicklow Mountains. Next up is Glendalough, "the glen of the two lakes", where you will visit an ancient monastic settlement. The striking landscape of the lakes and sheer cliff faces were carved out by glaciers during the ice age. This settlement has been a tourist attraction and pilgrimage location since its founding in the 6th century by St. Kevin. Onwards now to Avondale House, a museum to one of the most significant Irish political figures Charles Stewart Parnell, who was born in the house in 1846. Continuing on, you reach Avoca, home of the world famous Avoca Handweavers factory. While there you can tour the factory, visit the Avoca shop, or just enjoy the pretty little town, which was once used to film the TV show "Ballykissangel".

Day 2: Wicklow to Kilkenny & St.Canice's Cathedral

Today you head south to Wexford, then on to Kilkenny. Your first stop along the way is Enniscorthy, an originally Norman settlement on the bank of the River Slaney. The clear centrepiece of the town, the Norman castle, was completed in 1205 and is now used as the County Wexford Folk museum. Once finished there, it’s down to the eastern corner of Ireland, ancestral home of the Kennedy's, where you can visit the Kennedy Homestead, birthplace of President John F. Kennedy's great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy! Also nearby, the Dunbrody Famine Ship, a Interactive tour give an insightful look at what life was like for those forced to make the long journey to the US or Canada 150 years ago. Onwards now to the Interpretive Centre for Waterford Crystal, which has been open since the closure of the Waterford Crystal factory. Kilkenny is next, known as Irelands medieval capital. The city of Kilkenny was established more than 1500 years ago and is not too big to be explored on foot. It is home to such sights as Kilkenny Castle, dating back to the 12th century and Saint Canice's Cathedral, one of Irelands largest Cathedrals. Its gothic design comes as a result of the rebuild that it underwent in the 13th century. Also worth a visit is the Smithwick's Brewery Tour in the centre of the city.

Day 3: Kilkenny and the Rock of Cashel

If you didn't yesterday, you must make sure to visit the Dunbrody famine ship, Kennedy Homestead and Waterford Crystal Interpretive Centre, alternatively, a day trip to County Tipperary to visit two its major attractions. First up, the Rock of Cashel, once the seat of the king of Munster and the province's Capital. Rising up above the plain, the rock itself has much history behind it. St. Patrick himself was said to have come to this spot to preach, and converted King Aenghus in the 5th century. Next up is Cahir castle, just 10 miles down the road, this was once a significant stronghold of the Butler family and with its keep, tower and much of the defensive structures still intact. it is one of Irelands best preserved castles.

Day 4: Kilkenny to Kinsale, County Cork

On to County Tipperary now, where you can visit the Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle if you haven't already, before heading to County Cork. East of Cork city, you'll find the town of Cobh, home to one of the largest natural Harbours in the world, this was the last port the Titanic docked at, before heading out on its maiden and final voyage. A Visit to the Cobh heritage centre is highly advised also, as its very informative about the Titanic, the sinking of the Lusitania and the history of Irish emigration to America and Australia. Leaving Cobh you head to Kinsale, more than just a pretty little fishing village, it also has an International Museum of Wine and the Charles fort is also nearby.

Day 5: Kinsale and Charles Fort

If you didn't get to visit these attractions yesterday, then you'll see them today! Built in the 1500s, the Desmond Castle and the International museum of wine both have had many uses. It was once used as an Arsenal by Don Juan Aguilla in 1601, when the Spanish occupied the town for a hundred days before the battle of Kinsale. Years later, prisoners of war were kept in the castle, and it became known as the "French Prison" due to the high numbers of french navy kept there. During the American war of independence, many American crews were imprisoned there. As mentioned, a visit to Charles fort is also highly advised. Also nearby is St. Multose church, which was built in 1190 and is well worth a visit.

Day 6: Kinsale to Killarney

There are two routes to choose from on your Journey to Killarney, the longer, more scenic coastal route or the shorter route by Blarney Castle. Taking the longer Route, you'll head to Bantry where you can visit the French Armada Centre and the Bantry House and Gardens, as well as the most southern point in Ireland, Mizen Head. After Bantry, it’s northward to Killarney through the Healy Pass, across the Caha Mountains which divide Cork and Kerry. After this, it's onwards to Kenmare, which has a small heritage centre worth a visit! The alternative, shorter route to Killarney goes by Blarney Castle, where you can climb the ramparts and kiss the famed Blarney stone. Reaching Killarney, there are many options for things to do, Killarney’s incredible Lakes and landscapes have inspired artists for centuries. A must visit is the Killarney national park which has numerous scenic trails and walks. Other options include Ross castle, the gap of Dunloe, or simply just enjoy the atmosphere in one of many traditional Irish pubs!

Day 7: The Ring of Kerry and Muckross House

For todays excursion, there are other options in the full itinerary; however the most prominent and advised would be the Ring of Kerry driving tour. The Journey itself covers some of the country's most impressive scenery around the Iveragh Peninsula. Brilliant Mountains, valleys and coastal views will make this drive one of the most memorable parts of this tour. If a break from all the driving sounds good to you, a bus tour along this route can be organised for you. Along the Peninsula drive you'll arrive at Muckross House, a magnificent Victorian Mansion, which was finished in 1843. Set on the Eastern shore of Muckross lake and overlooked by the daunting Torc and Mangerton mountains, the house has a spectacular location and the walks surrounding it are unmissable. Another popular option for your third day would be a a tour of the Gap of Dunloe by pony and trap, stopping at Lord Brandon’s cottage for a bite to eat, then returning to Killarney by boat through the lakes!

Day 8: Killarney to the West coast of County Clare

Heading along the west coast to Clare, this day is sure to be one of the longest, but perhaps also one of the most rewarding days of your tour of Ireland. First up, Adare, one of Ireland’s prettiest villages and home to thatched cottages, a beautiful ancient church and Castle ruins. After Adare you take the N20 to Limerick City, home to King Johns Castle. Up next is Bunratty  Castle, Originally built in 1425 and restored to its Medieval glory in 1954 which is definitely worth a visit! Continuing along you get to the cliffs of Moher, one of Irelands most Iconic and breath taking views. After that its onwards to Doolin, a little village in Clare, world famous for its food, music and atmosphere. Just north of the cliffs are anther two popular tourist attractins, the Burren Region and Poulnabrone Dolmen tombs.

Day 9: West Coast of Clare to Galway

Galway City beckons today as we head north from clare, make sure to take some time to visit the rugged Burren region and the ancient Poulnabrone Dolmen tombs. Also along the way, Dunguaire Castle, built on the beautiful Galway coast, this castle is nearly 500 years old. Galway itself has been long known as the cultural and festival capital of Ireland and if you have a night out in the Quays area, you'll understand why! Some other historical sights in Galway include the largest Medieval parish church in Ireland, The Collegiate Church of St NIcholas of Myra, which dates back to 1320. Its said that Christopher Colombus himself once prayed in this church in 1477. The Galway Cathedral, the Spanish Arch and Eyre square are all worth a look as well if you have the time!

Day 10: Galway and the Connemara region

Today you step into the incredible beauty of the Connemara region, the furthest western edge of Ireland and Europe. The dramatic landscape of Connemara is made up of lakes,  
mountains, woodlands and rugged coastline. Make sure to visit the Connemara National park, Kylemore abbey, Lough Inagh valley and the well-known Sky road near the town of  
Clifden. If you take a trip to the fishing village of Roundstone, you can see how a traditional Irish drum, a Bodhran, is made! Alternatively you could take a Ferry to the Aran  
Islands, some of the most isolated land in Ireland. Once there, you can take a Horse and trap un to the pre-Christian clifftop fort of Dun Aengus, a truly unbelievable sight. In the evening, we advise checking out the Quays area in Galway for some great Traditional Irish music!

Day 11: Galway to Dublin via Clonmacnoise

On the way to Dublin, you'll take in some of Irelands most historical and famous landmarks. First of these is Clonmacnoise, an Ancient Monastic settlement founded by Saint Ciaran in the 6th Century. Amongst the settlement you'll find Early Christian grave slabs, High crosses, two round towers and the ruins of a cathedral. After that, travel east to one of the great wonders of the ancient world, Newgrange. Older than Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt, Newgrange is a passage tomb and a must see tourist  
attraction. Heading south, next up is Dublin city. There’s a large number of walking tours to choose from in Dublin, some of the most popular being the "literary Pub crawl" and the "historical walking tour". We'd also advise the hop on hop off bus tour which stops at many of Dublin’s major attractions!

Day 12: Dublin City Centre and Trinity College

For your last day in Dublin you will be continuing your sightseeing in Dublin with the chance to visit the Guinness Storehouse, the GPO Museum and Kilmaninham Gaol amongst other locations. Make sure to visit Christ church cathedral, founded in 1030 by  Sitric, the king of Dublin at the time, not to mention the James Joyce Centre and Dublin Writers Museum. You may also want to do some shopping or visit one of many Irish pubs or cafes. the Temple bar area's streets are lined with pubs, restaurants and cafes to suit every taste. It's narrow cobble streets mean there’s always an amazing atmosphere in the area as well! Temple bar is also a great area for nightlife, if you want to have a few pints on your last night!

Day 13: End of Tour

Check out of your Hotel and bid farewell (for now) to Ireland!


 

Accommodation & Car

  B&Bs 3*Hotels 4*Hotels Combination
Jan-Mar & Nov-Dec $1,054 $1,319 $1,693 $1,440
April & October $1,054 $1,519 $1,897 $1,589
May-June $1,189 $1,705 $2,223 $1,754
July & September $1,326 $1,842 $2,360 $1,891
August $1,326 $1,842 $2,360 $1,891
  • Please note prices are per person based on 2 persons in each room with full Irish breakfast and taxes included.
  • The Combination package includes 6 Nights in 3*** Hotels, 3 nights in Luxury Manor House Hotels & 3 Nights in our hand-picked B&B's.
  • Children Sharing with 2 adults (aged 2-11) pay 40% of the Adult option.
  • Children under the age of 2 are free when sharing with 2 Adults.
  • Your Accommodation & Car Rental Package rate includes an Economy class car eg., Opel Corsa or Fiat Punto.
  • Included with your car is all compulsory insurances - Collision Damage Waiver insurance (CDW with an excess/deductible), theft protection insurance, location fee of €30, Road fund tax, sales tax at 13.5%, unlimited free mileage, third party liability insurance, 24 hour peace of mind break down cover.

Get discounts and updates

Sign up now for the official Discovering Ireland Update e-newsletter, designed to keep you up-to-date on what's new and exciting at Discovering Ireland and indeed in Ireland itself! You will also be among the first to know about our great special offers!

Sign Up for News and Offers

Start planning your vacation... Enquire Now

Leave this field empty
JavaScript is required in order fully to use this site. Please enable it now and reload the page.