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Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Self-guided fly-drive and walking holiday in Ireland
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Highlights

  • The freedom of the open road combined with stops to enjoy great suggested walks
  • Driving the famed Ring of Kerry and exploring Killarney National Park
  • Following Ireland’s classic national trails—the Wicklow, Kerry and Burren Ways
  • Listening to live music and chatting with the locals in traditional Irish pubs
  • The opportunity to take optional boat trips to Skellig Michael and the Aran Islands
  • Visiting cultural and historic gems—Glendalough, Newgrange, Blarney Castle, Clonmacnoise

Discover the best of Ireland on a rewarding circular drive and hike tour from Dublin through the counties of Wicklow, Cork, Kerry, and Galway. See countless castles and historic highlights, unspoilt lakes and mountains, and meet friendly locals.

With some great suggested walks, there’s time built-in to stretch your legs and explore on foot. This fast-paced itinerary really does offer the chance to take in some of Ireland’s top highlights. Since there is so much to see and do here you’ll need to pick your choices wisely!

As well as Dublin’s extensive delights, you’ll experience iconic Cashel Rock, Blarney Castle, the Ring of Kerry and Cliffs of Moher, with the opportunity to take boat trips out to the magical Skellig and Aran Islands. Plus you’ll be walking along some of the Emerald Isle’s beloved national trails—the Wicklow Way, Kerry Way and Burren Way.

Our Best of Ireland drive & hike tour includes 8 nights hand-picked accommodation in high-quality bed and breakfasts and guesthouses whose hosts always go the extra mile to share their top tips and recommendations. We also include a road map, guide book and walking route notes so you’re all set for your Ireland adventure! Car hire is not included as standard, but just let us know if you’d like us to book it for you as an optional extra (pick-up/drop-off Dublin).

DAY 1: Arrive Dublin

Arrive in Ireland’s much-loved capital—lively Dublin. Take time to explore such classic Irish landmarks as Trinity College and the Book of Kells, Kilmainham Gaol, the Temple Bar area and the Guinness Storehouse.


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Dublin


DAY 2: Drive Dublin to Kilkenny. Fairy Castle Walk on the Wicklow Way

Set out on a lovely, easy drive through the gentle countryside to the charming town of Kilkenny. If you are itching to stretch your legs, then you can opt to walk to the cairn atop Fairy Castle in the Dublin mountains, following the Wicklow Way; a lovely national trail with panoramic views over Dublin Bay and the Wicklow Hills from the Three Stones.


Back behind the wheel, the 6th century Monastic City of Glendalough in the Wicklow mountains is a fascinating stop, and en route to Kilkenny. As well as being Ireland’s smallest, Kilkenny is also known as the ‘Marble City’ thanks to its black polished limestone (‘marble’) that was quarried there. Wander the beautifully-preserved old streets and soak up the mediaeval culture—the city dates back more than 1,500 years.


Walk: 6 miles (3 hrs approx.)


Drive: approx. 150km, 2h30


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Kilkenny


DAY 3: Rock of Cashel & Blarney Castle. Drive to Killarney

After a delicious Irish breakfast courtesy of your friendly B&B hosts, set off to the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary. The Rock dominates the surrounding plains, and was the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster prior to the Norman invasion. This picturesque complex of mediaeval architecture boasts a remarkable collection of Celtic art, making it well-worth a visit.


Continue your drive south west and enter County Cork. Perhaps divert via Blarney Castle for a popular ‘rite of passage’ and kiss the Blarney Stone—said to bestow the gift of eloquence! Head to County Kerry and the charming small town of Killarney with its excellent bars and restaurants; it’s a great place from which to explore Killarney National Park and you’ll spend the next three nights here.


Drive: approx 235km, 3h15


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Killarney


DAY 4: Drive the Ring of Kerry

Today you’ve one of the most famous (and popular) touring routes in Ireland ahead of you—the Ring of Kerry. 179km of narrow, winding roads offer outstanding scenic vistas, including Ladies View and the Gap of Dunloe. Starting from Killarney you’ll explore the beautiful Inveragh peninsula, taking in the remote Black Valley and charming towns and villages of Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen and Glenbeigh. Return to Killarney.


Drive: approx. 190km, 4hrs


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Killarney


DAY 5: Muckross House & Torc Waterfall Walk OR Windy Gap Walk OR Optional Skelligs Boat Trip

You’re spoilt for choice today with two suggested walks or the option to take a boat trip to the Skellig Islands.


The jewel in the crown of Killarney National Park is Muckross House and Gardens, a magnificent Victorian mansion with a serene lake and nearby pretty Torc waterfall. Perhaps take an optional 6-mile walk around this delightful area. ‘Jaunting cars’ (horse-drawn carriages) also run here from Killarney.


If you’d prefer to stretch your legs somewhere a little more remote, then opt to walk a section of the Kerry Way on the ‘Windy Gap’ hike, starting and ending at pretty Glenbeigh. The path offers wonderful views over Dingle Bay and the Caragh Valley and Lough, framed by Ireland’s highest peak; 3406ft Carantoohil.


Alternatively, depart early and drive 75km/1h15 to Portmagee, from where you can take an optional boat trip to the Skellig Islands (payable locally, seasonal and weather-dependent). Established in the 6th century, the monastery on Skellig Michael was inhabited for around 600 years, and you’ll climb the 600 steep steps to reach it! The Skelligs and surrounding waters are home to Europe’s largest gannet colony, puffins, seals and whales - this is a remarkable place.


Choice of walks: Muckross Lake & Torc Waterfall: approx. 7 miles, moderate grading, 3-4hrs OR Windy Gap: approx. 6 miles, 3 hrs


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Killarney


DAY 6: Cliffs of Moher & the Burren Walk. Drive to Galway

You’ve a long and rewarding day ahead as you bid a fond farewell to County Kerry and make your way towards Limerick and then the coast of County Clare. Reaching the famed Cliffs of Moher you’ll enjoy views across the wild Atlantic Ocean to O’Brien’s Tower. Take time to explore and revel in the superb views along the cliffs to the distant Moher Tower on Hag’s Head. You can now check the Burren Way off your list of national Irish trails to have followed (albeit in part!) as the path by the cliffs follows the original route.


Walk: up to 6 miles


Drive: approx. 270km, 4hrs


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Galway


DAY 7: Connemara: Máméan walk OR Aran Boat Trip

With the freedom of Ireland’s open roads (and footpaths!) the rugged beauty of County Connemara is the backdrop to your adventures today.


If you’re feeling active, then a lovely walk is ‘Máméan’; the Pass of the Birds, which looks onto the Twelve Bens of Connemara and the Inagh Valley. A tiny chapel, altar and cave-like recess called St Patrick’s Bed are to be found at the pass, and many locals believe that St Patrick did indeed forge this pilgrim’s route.


If you’d prefer to take to the water, then the Aran Islands are located in the heart of Galway Bay. A ferry service (seasonal, weather dependent) operates from Ros a’ Mhíl on the mainland (approx. 35km/42 mins drive from Galway City).


Walk: 6 miles, 3-4hrs


Drive: approx. 100km, 1h40 (to/from walk)


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Galway


DAY 8: Drive via Clonmacnoise & Newgrange to Dublin

Cross the width of the country as you set off towards Dublin; this is a day filled with historic landmarks.


Your first highlight is the enchanting ancient monastic settlement of Clonmacnoise. Founded on the banks of the River Shannon in the 6th century by St Ciaran, this early Christian site comprises of multiple ruined towers and a cathedral.


A slight detour to Newgrange is certainly worthwhile; incredibly, these megalithic tombs predate Stonehenge, Mycenae and the Pyramids! It’s not long before you’re then back in the modern world and the bustling city of Dublin.


Drive: approx. 270km, 3h30


Overnight: Guesthouse/Inn, Dublin


DAY 9: Onward Travel

After breakfast your adventure through Ireland is complete and you may arrange for onward travel.

Accommodation

One of the highlights of this tour is the high standard of the accommodation. We specifically choose the B&B’s and guesthouses to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. All offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food.


Accommodation Location


We will always try and accommodate you at the locations detailed in your
itinerary. Occasionally, because of limited availability, we may have
to accommodate you at an alternative location. In the unlikely event
that we have to accommodate you elsewhere we will advise you of this
before confirming your booking.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

We will be happy to accommodate your party with single rooms if requested, and a single supplement applies. This trip is also available to solo walkers, and a supplement is again payable (as some costs are not shared). Please note that singles may not be of the same standard as twins/doubles.


Meals

A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively you can buy lunch at local shops or stop in a café. Dinner is available in pubs or restaurants close to your accommodation.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

We will be happy to accommodate your party with single rooms if requested, and a single supplement applies. This trip is also available to solo walkers, and a supplement is again payable (as some costs are not shared). Please note that singles may not be of the same standard as twins/doubles.


Meals

A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively you can buy lunch at local shops or stop in a café. Dinner is available in pubs or restaurants close to your accommodation.


Grade

This tour is graded easy to moderate and is suitable for fit travellers. The walks are all optional, therefore you can choose how much or little you wish to do each day.


Car Hire

Care hire is not included in your trip however can be added on as an additional extra. Your collection and drop off point is Dublin Airport or Centre. 


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps 

Most of the route and walks are not way marked however we will provide you with detailled maps and route notes meaning you should have no problem following the route each day.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information

The distances and descents / ascents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necesssary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking/ cycling gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.


Getting to/from Dublin

Dublin Airport is easily accessible from the UK with several low-cost airlines covering the route as well as scheduled international carriers. Irish Ferries also operate from Holyhead to Dublin.


There are multiple carriers that fly between North America and Dublin, including: American Airlines—Chicago, San Diego, Dallas, New York, Austin; Aer Lingus—Orlando, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston; Delta—Atlanta; United Airlines- Dallas; Delta—Atlanta, US Airways—Philadelphia, Charlotte,; Air Canada—Toronto.


From the airport there is a good bus service into Dublin city centre.

Getting to/from Dublin

Dublin Airport is easily accessible from the UK with several low-cost airlines covering the route as well as scheduled international carriers. Irish Ferries also operate from Holyhead to Dublin.


There are multiple carriers that fly between North America and Dublin, including: American Airlines—Chicago, San Diego, Dallas, New York, Austin; Aer Lingus—Orlando, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston; Delta—Atlanta; United Airlines- Dallas; Delta—Atlanta, US Airways—Philadelphia, Charlotte,; Air Canada—Toronto.


From the airport there is a good bus service into Dublin city centre.


Travel Insurance

We strongly recommend taking out travel insurance to cover cancellation or curtailment of your trip.

Included

  • 8 Nights bed and breakfast accommodation in en suite rooms wherever possible.
  • A detailed info pack, guide book, road atlas and route notes.
  • 24-7 Emergency telephone support from our office in the event of any issues.

Excluded

  • Travel to/from Dublin.
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Personal Equipment.
  • Taxi transfers or public transport.
  • Car hire (available as optional extra).
  • Entry fees/boat trips/optional excursions.

Extras

  • Single or solo walker supplements (as applicable).
  • Additional nights.
  • Car Hire.

We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful.

Can I book car hire?

Car hire is not automatically included in arrangements and we can provide a quotation for this separately. Alternatively, you are free to make your own arrangements for vehicle rental. 

Should I add extra nights to my tour?

Many of our clients choose to add extra nights along the walk to sample more of the wonderful walking and attractions available. Please contact our team should you wish to add extra nights along the way. Your itinerary includes a variety of suggested activities and attractions each day, and you are free to decide what you would like to see and how long you’d like to spend exploring; but remember—this is a busy itinerary and so is fairly fast-paced! If you’d prefer a more leisurely tour of Ireland, we strongly recommend you talk to us about adding additional nights along the way.

How fit do I need to be?

With up to 7 miles each day of walking this tour is graded easy to moderate, and is suitable for those with a good level of fitness.  All walks are optional of course! We suggest that you might like to start a regular walking programme before you travel, in order to make the most out of your time and walks in Ireland. The suggested walks are not way marked and certain sections may follow indistinct trails across boggy, rough and remote ground. You will be provided with route notes however you should be a competent navigator with map. The route comprises of hill and mountain tracks, minor roads and highland paths. A Road Atlas will be provided so that you can easily find your way on Ireland’s roads and highways.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. Our info packs have a list of all equipment to bring on your walk.  You should also bring your driving license with you (both paper and card/photo ID sections)

Would use MacAdventures again.

4

Well planned itinerary. Directions were somewhat confusing but with GPS we found the sites we wanted to visit. Thank you for your suggestions. The lodging suggestions were great, centrally located so we could walk to areas after registering.

Vernie

USA

Yes

Great everything!

5

We chose to do the two hikes at Killarney rather than spend more time in the car and really enjoyed them both. We had a GPS, which was very helpful for navigating unmarked roads. We enjoyed spending a day in Galway as well, it's a great little city to experience.

C and C

Montana

Yes

Loved this trip

5

We extended the 9 day/8 night off the peg trip to 14 nights and thoroughly enjoyed it all, feeling less pressured with extra days than we might have otherwise. All of the accommodation was very good and the type and style was varied and interesting. The support notes were useful, we used some and added our own ideas to others. Everything worked smoothly; Macs really know their stuff

The two Jays

Solihull

Yes

The Best of Ireland

4.7 3

100.0

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lf you require more information before booking, please contact us on

+44 (0)141 530 5464

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Macs Adventure - Head Office: Skypark 5, 45 Finnieston Street, Glasgow, G3 8JU, UK

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