Self Drive – Northern Ireland, Donegal & Galway

Duration: 14 Days / 13 Nights


Overview

Picturesque coastal towns and villages, green pastoral fields, soaring cliffs, wild barren landscapes, the crash of the ocean, the laugh of a local. Ireland is romantic, authentic, a home away from home where both old and modern seem to cohabit seamlessly on a small island in the middle of the sea. Packed with history and tradition your days are spent exploring the island of Ireland’s famous and of the beaten track sites of natural, cultural and political interest. A world renowned food scene means your evenings are spent dining in style and with the promise of a pub just around the corner, music and laughter are never far away. Your trip to Ireland will surprise and delight you but the people of Ireland will stay with you, long after your journey has taken you home.

Highlights

  • See some of Ireland’s most picturesque and wild coastlines along the Causeway Coast
  • Explore Belfast's history from the Titanic to The Troubles
  • Meet locals as you enjoy some unique experiences

Day by Day

Day 1 - Welcome to Dublin

Arriving in Ireland today, a private transfer will pick you up from the airport and whisk you city to your 4 star hotel in the city centre. Check-in is at 3pm however feel free to leave your bags, freshen up, or have a bite to eat. Head out in the afternoon to enjoy a walking tour with a local private guide through this vibrant capital city, with its mix of 1,000 years of architecture from the mediaeval to Georgian to modern. See the Georgian style Merrion Square, lush St. Stephen’s Green and Fitzwilliam Square, as well as O’Connell Street, the site of the ‘1916 Uprising’ that led to Ireland’s independence in 1922. Your guide is also a historian who will bring the city to life with colourful tales of life in the city in times gone by.

Overnight: Dublin | Ariel House
Room Type: Classic
Meals Included: None

Day 2 - Gaelic Games & Newcastle

Today you will pick up your rental car and take a trip north across the border. En route, embark on an exhilarating journey as you delve into the heart of Irish culture with the unique opportunity to try your hand at Gaelic Games, guided by a knowledgeable local expert. Your day begins with an insightful introductory session on the history and intricacies of Gaelic and Hurling, two sports deeply intertwined with Irish heritage. As you step onto the hallowed turf, you’ll quickly become immersed in the passion and energy that these sports evoke. Whether you’re hurling the sliotar or attempting to score a point, the experience promises to be both challenging and rewarding, fostering a deep appreciation for the cultural significance of these games. Get ready to embrace the Irish spirit and create lasting memories while learning the art of these traditional Irish pastimes. Later on, continue on to the seaside town of Newcastle and check into your boutique accommodation.

Overnight: Belfast | Conlyn House
Room Type: Classic
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 3 - Biking The Mourne Mountains

Today you will meet a local biking expert and cycle an awesome circular route that meanders from the largely undiscovered Mournes coast to the foothills of the high Mournes, offering unique views in every direction. The highest and most dramatic mountain range in the northern part of Ireland, these mountains and hills are riddled with 18th century smuggler’s routes and its peaks capped with dramatic granite tors. This region is diverse in every sense, offering insights into the natural, built and social heritage that makes the ‘Kingdom of Mourne’ what it is today, including the stunning Greencastle Castle dating from as far back as the 13th Century. Today’s cycle will be tailored to your own requirements.

Overnight: Newcastle | Conlyn House
Room Type: Classic
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 4 - Belfast Food Tour & Black Cab

This morning, head further north and into the bustling city of Belfast where you will join a couple of locals on a private food tour. Start in the historic St George’s Market, meeting producers, and tasting yummy local products, before heading around Belfast to visit traditional bars, world-class shops and more, eating and drinking some of the best local food and drink along the way. This evening, you will be introduced to Belfast culture with a unique twist, joining a local Black Cab tour to visit some of the city’s historical and political sites.  Belfast was at the heart of The Troubles for over thirty years and you’ll see firsthand how this shaped the city and its residents.

Overnight: Belfast | Titanic Hotel Belfast
Room Type: Classic
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 5 - Kayaking Strangford Lough

Head out of the city this morning to explore stunning Strangford Lough, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With 115 miles of coastline and an Island to explore for everyday of the year, this is an immersive experience never to be forgotten. On Strangford Lough, you could pass the old oyster farm on Sketrick Island, see the Ballydorn Light Ship up close, paddle through the fast currents at Daft Eddies, or the tidal flows at the Narrows. Watch the wildlife – through the changing seasons look out for seal pups or Brent geese and take time to explore some of the many islands or stop for a bite to eat. Back in the city this evening, take a tour of the Titanic museum before heading out for dinner.

Overnight: Belfast | Titanic Hotel
Room Type: Classic
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 6 - The Causeway Coastal Route

Today you will follow the stunning causeway coastal route out of Belfast along the northernmost coast to Portrush, Co Antrim. The Causeway Coastal Route is possibly one of the world’s greatest road trips, featuring castles, temples, cliff top walks, caves, Game of Thrones filming sites, remote islands and its most famous attraction, The Giant’s Causeway. En route you will visit the Gobbins Cliff Path, which is a spectacular cliff walk that offers breathtaking views of the Irish Sea. As you embark on the cliff walk, you would be able to witness the sheer natural beauty of the area, including stunning waterfalls, diverse birdlife, and rugged cliffs. Your guesthouse tonight offers breathtaking views as it overlooks the stunning Atlantic Ocean.

Overnight: Portrush | Blackrock House
Room Type: Classic
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 7 - Visit Rathlin Island

Sail along the Causeway Coast today to Rathlin Island – many tales of myth and mystery surround Rathlin Island, though the most famous tells of Robert the Bruce. In 1306, the Scottish King was driven from Scotland by Edward I of England and took refuge on Rathlin where he watched a spider persevering again and again to bridge a gap with its web. Eventually it succeeded. Taking heart from the spider’s efforts, he returned to Scotland and eventually regained his crown. You’ll boat out to the island and explore by foot today, visiting the bird sanctuary and discovering the lighthouses on the island’s east and west coasts. You may even spot the resident island Puffins!

Overnight: Portrush | Blackrock House
Room Type: Classic
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 8 - Derry City

This morning after breakfast, it’s time to head to Derry City, the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of Walled Cities in Europe. Built in the 17th century, the walls, approximately 1.5km in circumference, form a walkway around the inner city and provide a unique promenade with which to view the layout of the original town. You will meet a local who will lead you on a tour of the ancient walls. Visit the Bogside, sometimes referred to as “the cockpit of The Troubles”. Together you will take a stroll through time, from the city’s mediaeval foundation to its central position in “The Troubles” and Northern Ireland’s turbulent recent history.

Overnight: Derry | Bishop's Gate
Room Type: Deluxe
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 9 - Glenveagh National Park

This morning, depart Northern Ireland as you head for the hills of Donegal and the beautiful National Park at Glenveagh where you will visit the castle, learning about its many owners. Glenveagh National Park is a hauntingly beautiful wilderness of craggy mountains, pristine lakes, tumbling waterfalls and enchanted native oak woodland, dominated by Mount Errigal’s glittering quartzite peak. On a hike along the nearby lake shore, keep an eye out for the herd of red deer that roam the hills. Your destination tonight is the quaint Donegal town.

Overnight: Donegal | The Abbey Hotel
Room Type: Classic
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 10 - Glencolmcille & Slieve League Cliffs

Exploring south Donegal today, we will give you many recommendations to introduce you to the region’s history and culture. The folk village at Glencolmcille is an opportunity to step back in time, getting a sense of what life was like in Ireland in the early 20th century, when emigration was a daily reality for many in rural parts. Three times taller than the Cliffs of Moher, the Slieve League Cliffs are some of Europe’s highest sea cliffs and today you will get the chance to stand atop their edge as you hike to the summit.

Overnight: Donegal | The Abbey Hotel
Room Type: Deluxe
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 11 - Foraging Experience En Route To Galway

This morning you have a 2.5 drive ahead of you as you make your way south to Galway. On the way head to Streedagh Beach to meet a beloved Sligo character. A medical doctor with a lifetime of experience of harvesting and cooking with sea vegetables, Prannie will introduce you hands-on to the art of seaweed foraging at her local shore, allowing you to sample some of the delicacies along the way. Continue on, check into your centrally located hotel and you are free to explore Galway this evening – we recommend checking out a trad music session in one of the nearby pubs!

Overnight: Galway | The Hardiman
Room Type: Classic
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 12 - E-Bike in Connemara

This morning, get out of the city and into the wilds of Connemara on a thrilling electric bike ride with some of the most amazing scenery the west of Ireland has to offer. Your expert local guide will pick you up at your accommodation and together you will make your way into the spectacularly rugged landscape. Take to the open road and feel the wind on your face with the great sense of freedom that only cycling can bring. Surrounded by mountains, land, sea and plenty of history, Connemara is the perfect place for a day of adventure. This evening, you’ll be dropped back into Galway just in time to freshen up and head for dinner.

Overnight: Galway | The Hardiman
Room Type: Classic
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 13 - Return to Dublin

After enjoying a relaxing morning at your hotel, it is time to leave the west coast and return to Dublin. We have plenty of recommendations for you to stop at along the way. Once in Dublin, stop by the vibrant Temple Bar area, known for its lively pubs, restaurants, and live music. Have dinner at one of the many traditional Irish pubs and soak up the lively atmosphere.

Overnight: Dublin | Ariel House
Room Type: Classic
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 14 - Depart

This morning, check out of your hotel and head to Dublin airport. We do hope your time in Ireland has been memorable and we once again have the opportunity to welcome to our shores.

Meals Included: Breakfast

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