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Ireland Vacation Castles: Where to Stay and What to Tour
It’s estimated that there are over 30,000 castles in Ireland. Some are parts of ruins, some are homes, some are offices — and some castles in Ireland are available for people from all over the world to visit and stay in during their vacations.
Most of these castles were built before the United States were even colonies. These castles are isolated from cities, opening up the possibility for rest and relaxation. Many of the castles were built on the sides of mountains or in the middle of lakes. This makes your Irish vacation safer from invasions and the landscapes are pretty.
Some of these castles are excellent wedding venues, some are more suited for spa days and relaxation. Some of these Irish vacation castles are closer to different parts of the ocean, others have proximity to the city for day trips — there are a million reasons why staying at one of these vacation castles in Ireland are just so wonderful.
No matter how far into your COVID-19 vaccination process you are, you’ve probably been looking up flights and destinations since the second month of lockdown. While travel to Ireland is currently discouraged, daydreaming is an excellent coping mechanism for combating day-to-day stress and pandemic fatigue . The cost of these trips will vary as things continue to open up and develop, but prior to the pandemic, costs could range from two hundred pounds and up per night or a couple thousand pounds to secure the space for an event like a destination wedding.
With so many Ireland vacation castles to choose from, we compiled a list of some of the standout selections. Since 2020 has put us through enough, we chose not to use any of the castles known to be haunted.
Why Make Ireland Vacation Castles Your Destination?
What makes a castle in Ireland seem like such an amazing vacation home is that it’s both introvert and extrovert friendly. Splitting Ireland vacation castles among a large group of people could make the experience a more affordable one. Castles can go for 34,000 feet or larger, so there is plenty of room to distance oneself if need be. If 2020 has taught us anything, distance can save lives, but the castle’s potential to satisfy the extroverts of all sorts.
Many of the Ireland vacation castles have driver services. This makes the experience feel more authentic in terms of how someone that lives in a castle is treated. It also means you could get more of a down- “irl” feeling before retreating back to your literal fortress — an introvert’s dream come true and a more lowkey way to vacation. Plenty of us will be ready too fatigued for cruises, nightclubs, and other large gatherings.
After a year of isolation, rooms with large square footage surrounded by green hills and, maybe just a smidgeon of Irish cream, vacationing in an Irish castle sounds like just the right vibe. Throw in the opportunity to receive Irish breakfasts in the morning and not needing to clean the dishes and you may not want to return home.
The Top Irish Vacation Castle Hotels
The opportunity to stay in a castle in Ireland could be the perfect excuse to ring up the Ireland trip planner at your local travel agency. Neither the Irish economy nor your local travel agent will be upset about the business so long as you stay current with CDC guidelines.
-* Kilkea Castle was built in the 12th century. In the late 1100s, Hugh de Lucy had the castle constructed for a knight named Walter de Riddlesford. You can rent the entire castle, which sleeps fifty-five, or you can rent one room, perfect for two.. There is a restaurant on the estate in addition to the private dining room. The Ireland vacation castle also has archery, golf, and the opportunity to get fishing, horseback riding, and for falconry. It’s only an hour from Dublin, Ireland’s capital, so its location is more than ideal for maximum adventuring.
* Ballynahinch Castle is a four star resort near Ireland’s western shore. The castle’s name translates to “house on a lake” and was built on an island in a lake, giving “lakefront property” more opulence than one might expect from the term.Just five miles from the Atlantic Ocean, there is a large fishery attached to the property. They provide a full-on Irish bed and breakfast experience, a far tone from the battles once fought near the castle in the 1300s.
* Ashcroft Castle is one of the more popular of these types of hotels. With eighty-three rooms and a five-star experience, it’s easy to see why. The cheapest rooms start at €415 per night, so this is definitely more of a splurge location. In addition to the falconry and shooting that one might expect at an Ireland vacation castle, but there is also a movie theater and billiard room in the castle. It’s close to Galway airport and has a rich decor inside and out.
Ashford Castle Hotel and Country Estate was once home to the Guinness family. If that presence is not enough for you, the Ashford Castle’s self labeling of a “fairytale setting,” “gourmet breaks,” and “wellness escapes” could entice your inner skeptic. You know how castles in the UK are known for having dungeons? This castle turned their former dungeon into a basement restaurant. I wonder if they serve Guinness on tap?
Dream On: 4 More Ireland Vacation Castles
Do you have a favorite castle yet? Is your mind filled with pleasant images of falconry and horseback riding? While every Ireland vacation castle will have physical activities and relaxation, but these next castles will focus on the latter. You might want to put some cucumbers over your eyes after learning about these castles.
Dromoland Castle Hotel and Spa incorporates wellness and relaxation into their packages and hosts seasonal events for the whole family. With different programming for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and summer, you might want to go back to this castle multiple times to get the full experience. Dromoland is not far from Limerick, one of the most popular vacation destinations in Ireland. You can even book longer stays for an apartment experience.
Dunboyne Castle Hotel is a side-effect of Irish history. The original castle was destroyed during the Cromwellian Invasion of Ireland in the 1600s because the Butler family refused to convert to Protestantism. Another location near Dublin, the family packages and spa packages are worth looking into if you’re looking to live like aristocracy at a bourgeoisie rate.
Waterford Castle Hotel and Golf Resort , even the name sounds relaxing. Rooms start at low as €169 per night, but for less than an extra hundred pounds you can add little enhancements like afternoon tea or an evening meal to your stay. The customization options are fabulous and more hotels should follow suit. One side of the castle is covered in ivy, giving it an added Irish texture. Ten minutes from Waterford City, the castle sits at the southeastern shore of the country near St. George’s Channel. Depending on where your room is, you might just see Wales across the water from your window.
Ballygally Castle is up in the northeast corner of Ireland near the shore. It’s closer to Scotland as opposed to Wales. We may have lied to you earlier about not selecting any haunted castles, but with rooms starting as low as €70 for a night, we couldn’t say no. There is a small room in the hotel known as “The Ghost Room,” but the room is no longer in use. Reputed reports of ghost activity in the nights don’t scare you off, this Northern Ireland castle is the perfect hotel for you.
As you traverse the Emerald Isle in your mind, you may be looking for cheap flights or may be ready to daydream your way to another location. You may be ready to go back to work or get on with the next step of your day. Don’t daydream too hard too hard, but do dare to dream. It’s never been safer to live like Irish royalty: the churches are not in conflict, the British are doing their own thing, and this plague? It’s almost over.
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The actual tour itself was good. The tour guide, Laura, was very good. Using the emergency number when there were flight issues was totally unsatisfactory. And once we were back in the US, sending emails to the Collette email which indicates it responds within 48 hours of receiving the email Monday - Friday is not accurate. Our first tour using this tour company is our last .
Sean is an excellent tour guide. He has an excellent personality. He treats us like we are his close friends.
Had an amazing trip!! Was far better than I could have possibly imagined and I would definitely book with Contiki again!!
Me and my girlfriend had an amazing time on this trip! It is packed full of activities and the free time add-on options are awesome and not super expensive. The age restriction makes for a quite a lively group, and the guides will show you where to go out at night. Highly recommend this trip!
Overland Ireland - Small Gr…
Mike was an excellent guide, informative, very knowledgeable and flexible with the itinerary when necessary
Exceeded my expectations. Culture, landscapes, language, history, activities…so much in just a week. Accommodations were very comfortable, food was delicious and plentiful, people were welcoming and generous. Our guide (Pat O’Mara) made the entir3 experience an absolute joy. He was knowledgeable, told stories and histories in a folksy and humorous tone. He was competent, flexible, and inspired with a clear love of his own country that made us love it too.
Wild N' Happy
The tour was exactly as expected and I was never disappointed. The accommodations were excellent with great Irish breakfasts. As much as the sites we visited were interesting and dramatic, the guide made them all the more so with his deep knowledge of Irish history and lore. It is impossible to overstate the difference Mike, the guide, made with his humor, personality and knowledge of what he was showing us. I would never hesitate to follow this company and Mike wherever they decide to travel. Giver yourself a treat and go with Wild and Happy.
Perfect size small group tour to allowed some small deviations due to weather and group vote that highlighted the most picturesque, historical, and thrilling sights of Southwest Ireland. Diarmuid and Michael proved worthy guides who are proud, passionate and knowledgeable about their homeland. My daughters and I truly enjoyed some of the recommended extra excursions (Gaelic Roots show with premium seating, Skellig Islands boat tour, and kayaking) along the way. Bring your rain gear and see Ireland without worrying about driving (these country roads are narrow). Absolutely amazing. Accommodations and breakfasts were nice, though room temp is generally out of your control in Ireland. Our favorites were Mizen Head, the Dingle Peninsula, and Killarney National Park. Will stick with us for life!
Rabbie’s Small Group Tours
All the places we saw were excellent and it just felt a shame to not see them for longer
Great Tour!! This was a last minute booking for us so I didn’t have a lot of time to research. That was not a problem at all. The tour had so many great stops at very interesting and beautiful places. Our guide Marcus was Excellent! The perfect combination of history and humor. Our accommodations were very nice and we really appreciated being in the same location for the last three nights. I think this tour gave a nice mix of the famous spots you expect to see such as the Cliffs of Moher and the Blarney Stone and the out of the way stops like local pubs, Star Wars filming locations and very old whiskey distilleries. The coach we travelled in was comfortable with plenty of room. All around fabulous tour!
I was worried at first because for 5 months Trafalgar was my Tour operator and one day before leaving on tour Brendan takes over, but everything was perfect with M&M.Michael& Michal.Highly recommend this combo.
Our guide Michelle was excellent. The city sightseeing tours on the bus were a waste of time. Our local tour guide in Edinburgh was awful. Why the laughing through most of her talking? Very irritating. The Fish & Chips dinner in the local dumpy restaurant was the worst meal of the trip. Otherwise just what we expected.
Very please with entire tour.
Bonnie Scotland- Don’t Do It! Did not supply transport to airport as promised. Tour bus had no Wi-Fi or USB port as advertised and tour company would not provide another. It was a clunker that rattles your teeth and gives you a sore neck. Hotel has no AC and no electrical outlets by bed for sleep apnea machine. Solution? An electrical cord to cross across the entire room. So dangerous for tripping and falling! I wouldn’t recommend this company to my worst enemy.
Irish Experience Tours
Irish experience tour group was fantastic. Great value for your money and Lee, our tour guide, was amazing. Always going above and beyond and made us feel like family. A beautiful and friendly country that slows down to smells the roses.
Our 10 day Irish Experience Tour was fantastic. We really appreciated the service and extra care our guide/driver Lee gave us throughout the tour. We had a group of 16 people and 2 were on the 7 day itinerary the rest were 10 days. We loved the group dinners that Lee organized for us to get to know the other guests. Lee always made the agenda clear and got us to the places we needed to be on time. His driving was very safe and he was able to tell us about the Irish people and scenery while getting us to the beautiful views and attractions. The accommodations were clean and the breakfast were delicious. Lee always gave us recommendations on restaurants and pubs in each town we stayed. Each town was unique and I was glad we were able to stay in several of them for 2 nights. Lee adjusted the times to maximize the good weather and for the group to get the best experience. I highly recommend the 10 day Irish Experience tour with Lee!
On The Go Tours
We had a great tour guide, Peter Connor, very knowledgable and we also were lucky enough to have a very small group of lovely people from all over.
We enjoyed the tour very much. 3 days is plenty of time for sight seeing. Marcus our driver was very informative and helpful. He went above and beyond to help us sort out our schedule. Thanks again Marcus!
- This operator has no Ireland reviews
Wonderful trip. Saw a great variety of places.
My own research and a referral from a friend led us to book this trip which filled all our expectations and much more. Travel Director, bus driver, hotels and tour stops were outstanding in knowledge, service and location. Definitely will recommend this tour to family, friends, etc.
Royal Irish Tours
Adrian was a great driver, I felt he did a wonderful job navigating the treacherous roads. Gordon, our team guide, was a good sport and tried his best to keep us all on schedule. He was knowledgeable, interesting and entertaining. I am not sure that he liked the driver though. There seemed to be some tension between them. I thought the Dingle peninsula area was spectacular. I loved the sheep dog demo, the farm visits and nature visits throughout. The hotels were all comfortable and clean. The breakfasts were plentiful. The entertainment options were lovely.
Gordon (TM) and Kieran (Driver) were awesome! The tour was great, with an amazing group of travelers. Of course, it would have been nice to spend more time there, but we saw everything (and more) that we wanted to see.
Once in a lifetime, a dream come true! Pat (tour operator) and Gerdy (driver) were simply perfect!
The 4 corners of Ireland was awesome
The guide, Peter, was absolutely pathetic, we would get to some tourist site and all he would do would sayis 'I meet you back here in an hour,. The only time we received any information on the site we would be at was when we hooked up with another professional guide, as this was not always available there were lots of things that I have no idea about.
Some boutique accommodation. A lot in a short time.
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The trip was wonderful..
The trip was wonderful. My granddaughter and I both enjoyed every minute of it. The driver was amazing and everything you organized for us went as planne...
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Amazing trip all around. Visited the main highlights ...
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This was my second Contiki as well as my first solo travel experience and it exceeded my expectations. Cayce was a phenomenal trip manager and she went above and bey...
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The Ring of Kerry is one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland and doing a walking trip is one of the best ways to see it. This trip gets you well away from the t...
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The Best Tour Companies in Ireland
Ireland . It’s a scenic country full of rolling green hills, photogenic cliffs, impressive castles, cozy Irish pub, friendly locals, and a lot of Irish charm.
I’ve loved every part of my experiences in Ireland .
My first trip was a quick 24-hour visit to Dublin , but, I loved it so much I’ve gone back about four times since. Ireland has a special magic to it that makes every visitor fall in love. (Ok, not everyone, but most people love it here!)
While the cities are incredible and have a lot to offer, Ireland is best seen by car so you can get off-road and visit the small little villages, castles, and parks that dot the country.
However, if you’re like me, and not a fan of driving (especially driving on the left!), the next best thing to driving or just city hopping on buses is going on a tour in Ireland. Given the country’s small size, you can see a lot of it in a little time and a tour can be a good way to pack it all in without the hassle of organizing all the details yourself.
There are lots of tour options here — from walking tours in Dublin to multi-day tours around all of Ireland. Here is a list of my favorite tour companies in Ireland, each of which have something unique to offer:
1. Historical Walking Tours of Dublin
The city of Dublin is such a fascinating place to explore, and it’s full of historical spots that you might just wander past if you’re not with a guide from Historical Walking Tours of Dublin . They’ve been operating tours since 1986 and one of the reasons they’re so good is their guides all have postgrad history qualifications – but also know how to lead a tour with a good Irish sense of humor.
Each walking tour is just over two hours long and they start from the front gate of Trinity College at 11am every day, with an extra tour at 3pm from May to September. They’ll take you to many of the highlights of Dublin like the House of Lords, Temple Bar, Christ Church Cathedral, and Dublin Castle and you’ll end up with a great overview of Irish history. Tickets are 14 EUR.
2. Paddywagon Tours
An Irish born-and-bred tour company that started in 1998, Paddywagon Tours offers both day tours for lots of popular tourist attractions in Ireland as well as multi-day tours ranging from two to nine days long, with accommodation choices ranging between B&Bs and hostels.
If you’re time-pressed and looking for some day trips from Dublin to quickly see a bit more of Ireland, Paddywagon has trips to places like the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, and even up to the Giant’s Causeway and other highlights of Northern Ireland. Costs range from 45 EUR to 65 EUR for these trips. They also run day trips out of other centers like Belfast, Limerick, and Cork.
Paddywagon’s multi-day tours range from 149 EUR for a two-day trip up to 689 EUR for their All Ireland nine-day tour, with backpacker accommodation (or 999 EUR if you want B&B stays). Even though you could easily spend a month in Ireland, given its relatively small size you can actually get a lot out of nine days. If you’re a student they also run some student special trips at even lower costs so keep an eye out for them.
3. Shamrocker Adventures
Shamrocker is a great option for budget travelers looking for multi-day tours of Ireland. Their approach is to try and combine the best of independent travel and group trips. That means they give you choices like different levels of accommodation and you can self-cater when it comes to food. They also have great guides who are passionate Irish storytellers — even their bus drivers have a great sense of humor!
Tours range between three and seven days, with the shorter trips focusing on just one part of Ireland — the south or the west — and costing around 300 EUR per person. Shamrocker’s seven-day trip covers all the main sights like the Giant’s Causeway, Cliffs of Moher, Galway , and Blarney Castle and is 609 EUR for adults and 589 EUR for students.
4. Wolfhound Adventure Tours
Wolfhound Adventure Tours is a boutique tour company run by Trinity College history-graduate Dave O’Connor. Tour groups have a maximum of 12 travelers and tours include some biking and hiking, which are optional but definitely a big part of the fun.
Tours range between five and ten days — the shorter tours give you an option of going to the north to the Giant’s Causeway or heading west to see the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands, both of which are 985 EUR. Wolfhound trips can include kayaking, horseriding, whale watching, and even surfing lessons and are a great choice for anyone looking to get active!
5. Vagabond Tours
Vagabond Tours is an Irish company and offers two kinds of small group tours, Driftwood Tours if you want to take it easy, and Vagabond Tours which include activities like hiking, sea kayaking, and cycling.
Tours range in length from six to eleven days, and in price from 1,550 EUR to 2,900 EUR per person. They have some of the common itineraries such as a Northern Ireland tour taking in the Giant’s Causeway and Belfast and the Giant Irish tour which circumnavigates the country, but they also have a few specialty trips like a foodie tour, an adventure trip which includes a visit to the Skellig Islands, and a tour for history buffs focusing on castles and kingdoms.
Rob Rankin, co-founder of Vagabond Tours, is a huge advocate of responsible and sustainable tourism and the leader of Ecotourism Ireland, and Vagabond Tours has been eco-tourism gold-certified since 2017.
6. Extreme Ireland
Extreme Ireland offer adventure tours around Ireland, with several Wild Atlantic Way trips available, ranging from six to 12 days long. They take small groups (a maximum of 16 travelers) led by skilled guides who have all the skills necessary to help you have a safe and adventurous tour.
Their 12-day trip will take you all over Ireland — it doesn’t just show you the regular sightseeing highlights!. The tour also includes several bike rides, a stint of stand up paddleboarding, hikes along sea cliffs and wild coastlines, kayaking, and surfing. This one comes in at 2,200 EUR while their shorter tours start at 1,100 EUR.
An Intrepid trip is always a good option — they’re my go-to multi-day tour company no matter where in the world I’m heading. With small groups (a maximum of 12 travelers for Ireland), carefully-hired local guides, and a relaxed pace, Intrepid tours really can’t be beaten. They offer just one trip in Ireland but it covers all the major sights and attractions, an eight-day adventure that spans from Belfast in Northern Ireland to Killarney in the south-west.
Their Ireland tour will take you through Dublin and Galway and includes sightseeing hotspots like the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant’s Causeway, as well a chance to explore the Aran Islands. Accommodation is in a mix of hotels and hostels, with breakfast included. The tour costs 2,300 EUR per person.
From walking tours to help you understand the history and culture of the great city of Dublin to multi-day adventures circumnavigating the whole of the island, taking a tour in Ireland will make sure you get to know lots of interesting locals and learn more about what makes the Irish tick.
Whether it’s the crazy ritual of kissing the Blarney Stone, exploring the incredible landscapes in Northern Ireland Game of Thrones was filmed, or simply knowing which pub in Galway is the best spot for a Guinness, these Ireland tour companies will help make your Irish experience the best it can be!
Book Your Trip to Ireland: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!
Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Ireland? Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Ireland for even more planning tips!
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Adam's Travel Agency
Based on 96 reviews
Generally speaking, this travel agency is a very good advisor. The best part is their app, which updates every day during your travels. Thanks to the app, I could easily reach our hotels and our drivers. The communication between the representatives always was great.We stayed in four different properties during our trip and three of them were just spectacular. The only hotel that did not meet our expectations was the one in Bordeaux. It was very old and not well maintained, and the location was not great either. On top of that, the air conditioning in our room was broken with 95° heat. We didn't sleep all night, but the next morning, the manager sent us a bottle of champagne with a letter of apology.
Neil's Travel Agency
Based on 41 reviews
The trip was wonderful and the support from the travel agency was unstinting. From the first day, they were quickly responsive and continually exceeded our expectations. We had no hiccups along the way, so we didn't need to call on them during the trip, but I am confident they would have sorted any issue that arose. Their reputation was reinforced by our guide in Bath, who said they were a great company to work with and emphasized that anybody who "picked up the phone" would provide the high level of service we'd experienced.
Claire's Travel Agency
Based on 22 reviews
Our first trip to Ireland was absolutely amazing. We had the very best driver. What a great guy. He made our first eight days so much fun. I highly recommend him if you want a personal driver who has a wealth of knowledge and loves his beautiful country.Claire at the travel agency did a great job in putting our itinerary together. At the end of our 12-day vacation, we felt we had truly experienced Ireland in the best way. We saw so much beautiful scenery, had two tours via bus, and spent time in Dublin at the end of our stay. The hotels were all so nice, but the hotel rooms in Dublin were quite old and outdated. We loved the hotel in Doolin.
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Paula's Travel Agency
Based on 78 reviews
Our trip to Ireland was absolutely amazing. Paula worked with us to plan the perfect tours and the hotels she selected for us were absolutely incredible. It seemed like each was better than the last. Paula planned a combination of private and public tours, which was perfect and worked well with our budget. All of our drivers were wonderful and very knowledgeable about the places we visited.All of her planning made our trip just perfect. Thank you, Paula, for planning our vacation of a lifetime.
Anne Marie's Travel Agency
Based on 129 reviews
Anne Marie and the team at the travel agency were a joy to work with. They were warm, and knowledgeable, and designed a unique itinerary that matched and in many cases exceeded our expectations for the trip. We found the team extremely organized and communicative, which meant we felt well-supported when unexpected circumstances popped up. Our itinerary included a couple of guided experiences and the team is careful in selecting guides. The guides had nothing but praise about collaborating with Anne Marie and her team. Two standouts included our driver/guide and our Boroughs Market Guide – they were an absolute delight!
Tom's Travel Agency
Based on 130 reviews
Julie at this travel company helped us to plan a wonderful vacation to Ireland and Scotland. She responded quickly in the initial planning process and to any concerns we had during the trip. All of the hotel choices were in perfect locations. The majority were comfortable, sometimes superb, and suited our needs. Julie chose an itinerary which matched our desires. We would happily recommend our travel agency to anyone planning a trip to Ireland and Scotland.
Mario's Travel Agency
Based on 445 reviews
We enjoyed our trip immensely and felt the itinerary was fascinating. Two of our guides, who took us to D-Day beaches and Rouen, were top-notch! However, our guide for St. Michel and Honfleur and Etretat was very, very disappointing. The drivers were excellent and very prompt. Our contact person at the travel agency was very pleasant and easy to deal with before the trip.
Lindsey's Travel Agency
Based on 352 reviews
Cindie from the travel agency planned a marvelous trip to London, England, and Paris, France, for my daughter and me. She found the perfect hotels for us and booked the most amazing tours, with expert guides.Our walking tour in London with our guide was a highlight for us. We felt like we had spent the day with a very knowledgeable friend.In Paris, the highlight was most certainly our evening tour in the iconic 2CV car. We truly felt like celebrities driving through the streets of Paris. Our guide had chosen the perfect French music to play during our tour and planned our arrival at the Tour Eiffel perfectly so that we would arrive in front of it on the hour as the sparkling lights were turned on.
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7 Tour Companies in Ireland to Choose From in 2023
- Post author: colette
- Post published: August 14, 2023
- Post category: Activities / Package Tours / Tour Companies / Tours of Ireland
- Post comments: 1 Comment
Are you considering a guided tour of Ireland or would you rather wing it without the help of an expert tour guide?
For those of you who are hesitant about driving in Ireland and don’t need the added stress that often comes with this, a guided tour is a great alternative.
Guided package tours are also a good way for first-time visitors to get acquainted with the country and see its main tourist attractions.
Here you’ll find information on 7 tour companies to choose from, all of them researched for you by Ireland on a Budget.
In addition to these, Aer Lingus also offers vacation packages that are worth looking into.
The total cost of an Aer Lingus vacation includes airfare, accommodation, meals, and transportation. as well as rental car if you choose a package that includes that.
All other tours mentioned in this post exclude the cost of airfare.
With that in mind, let’s dive in and learn more about the 7 tour companies in Ireland that you should consider when you're planning your vacation to the Emerald Isle.
Table of Contents
1. CIE Tours
CIE Tours, based in Morristown, NJ, has been around since 1932, which means that they have a lot of experience in the industry.
The company offers package tours to Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales, as well as Italy, Iceland, and Central and Eastern Europe.
CIE Tours also offers multi-destination tours that include Ireland and the country of your choice, be it the Scottish Highlands, England’s Lake District, London, or Iceland.
Its “Taste of Ireland” 5-day, 4-night tour is perfect for people who have never been to Ireland before.
Prices start at $1,215 per person.
The package includes accommodation, transportation by bus, breakfast each day, as well as welcome drinks with your group on the first day of the tour.
This particular guided CIE tour of Ireland begins in Dublin and ends in Shannon, which is where you’ll catch your return flight.
Attractions in between include the Ring of Kerry, the Skellig Experience, a sheepdog demonstration in Killarney, Blarney Castle in Cork, the Cliffs of Moher , and a medieval banquet experience at Bunratty Castle & Folk Park.
Details on other tours can be found on the CIE website.
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2. Vagabond Tours
Vagabond Tours offers two different types of small group tours and is one of the 7 tour companies in Ireland that you should consider.
One of them is called Driftwood Tours , which is a guided tour but with the option to veer off the beaten path every now and again.
Such tours included a tour guide, transportation by coach, a variety of low-key activities, and plenty of free time.
Driftwood Tours can last anywhere from 6 to 11 days.
The 7-day Irish Castles and Kingdoms Tour costs approximately €1,975.50 per person sharing (about $2,163 US/£1,704 Sterling/$2,906 CAD/$3,329 at today's exchange rate).
That includes most daily activities and visits, transportation to all destinations, accommodation, including a night in the 4-star Ballyseede Castle in Tralee, Co. Kerry, a full Irish breakfast each day, and tickets to the various attractions that are included in the tour.
Other meals during the day and accommodation in Dublin are not included. Some optional tours/visits to attractions are also not included in the price.
By contrast, the Vagabond Tours are for those who want the ultimate adventure in Ireland. That includes exploring the sights but also getting involved in activities like kayaking, surfing, hiking, and cycling.
The company’s 7-day Magnetic North Adventure Tour is a great example of a high adventure tour.
This one starts in Dublin and takes in many of the popular attractions in Northern Ireland, including the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, day trips to Derry and Belfast , kayaking around the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal , horse riding on a beach in Co. Sligo and cycling on the Great Western Greenway in Co. Mayo, among other pursuits.
This trip, beginning at €1,678.50 per person (about $1,839 US/£1,449 Sterling/$2,470 CAD/$2,829 AUD) like others offered by Vagabond Tours, offers accommodation, admission for most daily activities and visits, a hearty Irish breakfast each day, transportation, as well as guided tours of both Derry and Belfast.
Some of the places where you’ll stay on this tour include the Londonderry Arms Hotel, once owned by Winston Churchill and located in Carnlough, part of the beautiful Coastal Causeway region; the Bishop's Gate Hotel in Derry ; the Arnolds Hotel in Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal, and Mount Falcon Estate and Hotel outside Ballina , Co. Mayo.
3. Railtours Ireland
Fancy getting around Ireland by train?
RailtoursIreland offers exactly that, providing approximately 40 tours, everything from 1-day tours to 11-day vacations, leaving Dublin’s historic Heuston Station .
While most of your journey on a Railtours vacation will take place on a train, there are times when you’ll need to transfer to a coach bus, provided by Railtours.
The 5-day Royal Atlantic Tour will take you by train to Cork City . From there, you’ll visit Cobh , Blarney Castle and the Ring of Kerry.
Other destinations on this whirlwind trip include the Cliffs of Moher, Connemara, and the Aran Islands .
The price of this tour is approximately $1,246 per person sharing and is one of the more affordable tours that Railtours Ireland offers.
The cost includes train tickets, along with a full Irish breakfast each day, as well as bus travel, admission to the various visitor attractions, and accommodation.
Railtours Ireland also provides day tours to various locations in Ireland.
Customers who book 2 or more full day tours will receive a complimentary 48 hrs Do Dublin Hop On/Hop Off sightseeing tour ticket.
Book any of the company's overnight tours and receive a complimentary 48-hour Do Dublin Hop On/Hop Off sightseeing tour ticket.
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4. Paddywagon Tours
Paddywagon Tours offers economical tours of Ireland that won’t break your budget. That includes many day tours as well as multi-day excursions.
For tourists who want to get a quick snapshot of the tourist attractions outside of Dublin, Paddywagon’s day tours are a great way to do that. They range in price from €33 and up.
If you’re interested in taking a multi-day tour with Paddywagon Tours, there are several to choose from, including tours lasting 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9 days.
Tours fall into two categories, Backpacker and Economy, with the chance to stay in a hostel if you're on a tighter budget or in a B&B/guesthouse if you choose the economy rate.
Private tours are also available for families, couples and groups looking for a more customized experience in Ireland through its sister company Elegant Irish Tours .
Its popular 6-day Tour: All Ireland costs an affordable €799 per person for the Backpacker option ($875 US/£689 Sterling/$1,176 CAD/$1,347 AUD), with the economy rate a little costlier at €1,175 per person ($1,347 US/£1,013 Sterling/$1,730 CAD/$1,908 AUD).
It covers a lot of Ireland, including Belfast, the Giant's Causeway, Derry, the Cliffs of Moher, the Dingle Peninsula , The Ring of Kerry, and the magical Blarney Stone, to name a few.
Accommodation, admission to the various attractions, and breakfast each day are all included in the price.
5. Trafalgar Tours
Like CIE Tours, Trafalgar has been in the travel business for a long time – since 1947, in fact. So, you can expect them to deliver top-quality tours around Ireland and across the world.
While Trafalgar Tours are a bit more expensive, there is also a lot of value that you’ll get from booking a tour with this company.
In addition to the daily breakfast that you’ll get on a Trafalgar tour, some packages also include dinner.
Keep that in mind when deciding which tour company to choose for your trip to Ireland.
You can book anywhere from 6 days to a 23-day tour with Trafalgar.
Its Best of Ireland: 10 Day Ireland Tour of Dublin, Ring of Kerry and Galway starts at $2,678 per person (£2,111 Sterling/$3,601 CAD/$4,136 AUD).
It includes 13 cities, 9 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 5 dinners.
Expect to visit Counties Wicklow, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Galway, Mayo, and Sligo.
6. Brendan Vacations
With nearly 50 years in the travel industry, the folks at Brendan Vacations know a thing or two about crafting just the right kind of vacation packages for their customers.
The company offers a number of tours including guided vacations, private chauffeur-led trips, self-drive tours, locally hosted rail trips and lux self-drive tours.
There are plenty of vacation packages to choose from, including its Ireland's Sparkling Gems tour from $1,787 per person (£1,409 Sterling/$2,403 CAD/$2,763 AUD) as well as its Ireland Coast to Coast tour, a self-drive package from $1,498 per person (£1,181 Sterling/$2,014 CAD/$2,315 AUD).
Self-drive packages include car rental, accommodation, sightseeing and full breakfast daily.
The Sparkling Gems tour includes transportation (either by train or private vehicle), accommodation, sightseeing and breakfast daily.
7. Gate 1 Travel
Gate 1 Travel is known for its wide-ranging package tours to destinations around the world, including Ireland.
I've personally taken a number of Gate 1 package tours to other countries and can highly recommend them.
You can find lots more Ireland vacation packages with Gate 1 on the company's website .
Tips for Choosing the Right Vacation Package
- Book with a small group, if possible. If you travel in smaller groups, the chances are you’ll get to experience the more authentic side of Ireland . Plus, the tour company may be able to secure a nicer hotel with a smaller group.
- Try not to book tours where you’re frenetically going from one place to another. Instead, opt for tour companies that give you the chance to stay in one destination for two nights, for example, instead of one.
- Check out the location of the hotel you’ll be staying in. It’s much better if your tour company has you stay in accommodation that is located in the middle of a town or city or at least very close to it so that you can do some exploring by yourself.
- Before you pay, check to see what’s included in the total cost. In addition, ask if that price is set once you make a deposit or pay in full.
- If there are some things that you’ll need to pay extra for, make sure that is detailed upfront so there are no surprises.
- Always read the company’s cancellation policy and other important information that can usually be found on the tour company website.
The tour companies listed above will no doubt answer any questions that you may have.
Go to the contact page on their websites to see how you can reach a customer service agent before you make the final decision.
Have you purchased a package tour? Let me know in the comments section below.
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Hi hello, good job I’m happy to read your blog and it’s very useful information thanks for sharing.
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