5 Ways To Explore Ireland This Year

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For a small country, Ireland has a remarkable wealth of dramatic sites, hidden corners and amazing discoveries. The problem is that left to your own devices in a rental car, a GPS and an itinerary on your iPad, you’ll have a great time but you’ll only see a fraction of what the Emerald Isle has to offer. Enter these specialized tour companies, who can transform a week in Ireland into a memorable vacation. With St. Patrick’s Day on the horizon, it may just be time to get your Irish on.

Vagabond Adventure Tours: Epic Ireland Food Tour

Vagabond Adventure Tours has a 6 Day Epic Ireland Food Tour that goes roundtrip from Dublin to Counties Galway, Cork, and Kerry. You can expect to try dillisk (truffle of the sea) and a carrigeen (seaweed) icepop on a trip that combines foraging, tasting and sampling, with time for sea kayaking and hiking. It includes visits to Kinsale, the town at the heart of Ireland’s food renaissance, and a chance to drop by local purveyors such as Burren Smokehouse, St. Tola’s Goat’s Cheese and Wild Irish Sea Vegetables. Your taste buds can look forward to Cashel Blue cheese, smoked and cured Gubbeen bacon and Clonakilty black pudding. Trip dates in 2020 run monthly from May to September. The cost is €1,899 ($2,092), based on double occupancy, as are all trips mentioned here.

Ireland Travel

Wilderness Ireland: Hiking & Island Hopping Ireland’s West Coast

Wilderness Ireland has taken the experience of a hiking trip and then added some well-planned ferry crossings to create Hiking & Island Hopping Ireland’s West Coast. Exploring Connemara and Mayo, this seven-day trip takes you off the beaten path and includes visits to the Aran Islands, Garumna Island, Inisbofin Island, Clare Island and a hike along Killary Fjord. Part of the trip, which starts in Galway city and ends up in the photogenic Westport, is through a Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking region). Running monthly from April through August, the trip is rated 3 out of 9 for difficulty and the cost is €1,870 ($2,060) per person.

Ireland Travel

Backroads: Ireland Bike Tour

With its small roads and lack of traffic in the rural West, Ireland was seemingly made for bike tours. On the other hand, there are indeed hills, which is why Backroads has designated their six-day Ireland Bike Tour a level 2 to 5, which means “easygoing” to “avid,” and offers a range of daily distances. Of course, there’s a shuttle van for those who get tired. The fact that Backroads includes the option of riding a Custom Electric-Assist Bike makes it even easier. The trip focuses on Counties Cork and Kerry, and accommodation is in Premiere Hotels, including the much praised Park Hotel Kenmare. There are multiple departures from May to September and the cost is $4,499 per person.

Ireland Travel

Butterfield & Robinson: Ireland Biking

If you’re looking for the luxe life, Butterfield & Robinson’s Ireland Biking will accommodate you at two of the country’s finest luxury properties in the West, Gregan’s Castle Hotel and Ballynahinch Castle. This two-wheeled trip is a mix of sightseeing and gastronomy, traditional folk music and a chance to see Bronze and Iron Age ruins. There are departures from June through September, on a trip rated “enthusiast.” Priced from $5,795 per person.

Ireland Travel

Butterfield & Robinson: Ireland Biking

If you’re looking for the luxe life, Butterfield & Robinson’s Ireland Biking will accommodate you at two of the country’s finest luxury properties in the West, Gregan’s Castle Hotel and Ballynahinch Castle. This two-wheeled trip is a mix of sightseeing and gastronomy, traditional folk music and a chance to see Bronze and Iron Age ruins. There are departures from June through September, on a trip rated “enthusiast.” Priced from $5,795 per person.

by Everett Potter

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