Céad Mile Fáilte! One hundred thousand welcomes! This is a tour that will take you to the very heart of the beauty, history, culture and politics of the six counties of Northern Ireland. Along the way we will visit two UNESCO world heritage sites, explore the turbulent and passionate history of the gritty city of Belfast, marvel at the stunning landscapes of the justly famous Causeway coast, including spectacular Game of Thrones locations, walk in the footsteps of royalty and US Presidents at Hillsborough Castle, sample some of the finest food and drink we have to offer, and visit the pivotal city of Derry. And of course, mighty craic (fun) every day!
Welcome to Ireland, or, in our ancient native language: Céad míle faílte! We’ll gather together at our pick-up point in central Dublin and drive north. We start our tour with the showstopping UNESCO World Heritage site, Newgrange (Brú na Bóinne ), located in the bend of the river Boyne, a stunning collection of three Neolithic passage tombs built some 5000 years ago - older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids!
In the afternoon we cross the border into Northern Ireland and on to Belfast, our base for the next seven days. After checking in to our city centre hotel, we will meet for a welcome drink in the world famous Crown Liquor Saloon before enjoying a group dinner in one of Belfast’s finest restaurants.
Join us on a guided boat trip and, from your unique vantage point on Belfast’s River Lagan, hear the story of the city's rich maritime heritage . Listen to tales of the Titanic and the Harland & Wolff shipyard where she was built, before we visit the award-winning Titanic Belfast (World Visitor Attraction of the Year winner 2016).
After lunch we will enjoy a fascinating drive round Belfast, exploring Belfast’s most iconic sights including the world-famous political murals in West Belfast, the Peace Wall, Queen’s University, Stormont Parliament Buildings, Belfast Castle, St Anne’s Cathedral, City Hall and the Grand Opera House. Discover why Lonely Planet voted our capital city the best place to visit in 2018. Learn about our complex and difficult past and see for yourself the city’s transformation into one of the most dynamic destinations in Europe.
Tonight you are free to explore the city’s ever-growing restaurant and pub scene.
Today we walk in the footsteps of royalty, peacemakers and US Presidents, visiting the stunning Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, the official residence in Northern Ireland of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Famous guests have included Prime Minister Tony Blair, Presidents Benjamin Franklin and George W. Bush, and the Dalai Lama.
In the afternoon we will explore Ireland’s industrial heritage in the award-winning Irish Linen Centre in the city of Lisburn. On our guided tour we will learn why 19th century Belfast was known as Linenopolis ,and we will trace the history of linen production in Ulster, and see live spinning and weaving demonstrations.
Tonight is a free evening back in Belfast to dine at a restaurant of your choice.
Today we drive through the spectacular and majestic Glenshane Mountain Pass, cutting through the Sperrin Mountains, stopping for tea and scones (or a Guinness) in Ireland’s highest pub, en route to the historic city of Derry. Derry, the most intact walled city in Ireland, has played a pivotal role in many key moments of Ireland’s turbulent history, from the 6th century to the outbreak of the Troubles in the 1960s. We will walk the 17th century walls and see their seven gates, and also St Columb’s Cathedral, the Peace Bridge, Tower Museum and the thought-provoking political murals of the Bogside, Free Derry Corner and the Bloody Sunday memorial monument.
Return to Belfast and evening free. Our guide can recommend pubs and restaurants to ensure you make the most of Belfast's buzzing nightlife and music scene.
Today we follow in the footsteps of St Patrick, learning the history and legends of Ireland’s patron saint. We will be fortified by a traditional Irish lunch that we have made ourselves in a traditional Irish farmhouse kitchen on the shores of beautiful Strangford Lough. After a cookery demonstration, we will be donning aprons and making our own breads in fine Irish style, as part of a homemade lunch using ingredients sourced in the cottage garden.
After lunch, we visit the magnificent Down Cathedral and the grave of St Patrick, built on a site steeped in history and prayer where Christians have worshipped for over 1600 years.
A 10-minute ferry crossing takes us on a drive along the coastline of Strangford Lough, so beautiful and dramatic that it’s no surprise that several locations were chosen for Game of Thrones. On our way back to Belfast we will be passing through quaint little villages in the rolling drumlins of County Down, taking in the spectacular 12th century ruins of Grey Abbey, and Scrabo Tower which stands guard over the sparkling lough with the romantic Mourne Mountains in the distance.
Today we go on a stunning road trip along the beautiful north coast. Craggy ruined castles, creamy sandy beaches, jaw-dropping cliffs and swooping valleys make this drive one of the best in the world. You’ll understand why these dramatic landscapes featured so often in Game of Thrones. The blockbuster sight is undoubtedly the Giant’s Causeway, sitting at the centre of an Area of Outstanding Beauty. It is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, steeped in myth and legend, and one of the most remarkable sights in Europe. The 40,000 hexagonal-shaped stepping stones are a portal into our ancient past, dating back to a volcanic age almost 60 million years ago.
Bushmills Whiskey Distillery is the oldest licensed distillery in the world, having been granted its license by King James I in 1608. See how Irish whiskey is made and enjoy a complimentary drink after the tour.
Take the exhilarating rope bridge challenge across to tiny Carrick-a-Rede island and enjoy a truly thrilling experience. First erected by salmon fishermen in 1755, the bridge is suspended almost 100ft above the sea. Afterwards, we will stop by the ruins of the 500-year-old Dunluce Castle, perched dramatically on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the wild Atlantic.
Tonight, as our Irish adventure comes to an end, we will enjoy a beautiful dinner in a top restaurant in Belfast to share stories of our time together and say farewell.
Departure after breakfast and transportation to the airport, or your preferred destination in Dublin