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Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Independnet drive & hike holiday in Ireland
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Highlights

  • Incredibly scenic driving on Ireland’s open roads—with the flexibility to stop and explore as you wish!
  • Discovering the Emerald Isle’s mountains, loughs and glens on fantastic walks
  • Driving the famed Ring of Kerry and staying in charming Killarney
  • Visiting Dublin’s many attractions, including Trinity College and the Book of Kells
  • The chance to visit the Bay of Galway and the Aran Islands by boat
  • Wandering around the monastic city of Glendalough, and kissing the Blarney stone!

Explore Ireland’s highlights on this superb week-long drive and hike tour. Classic attractions include Dublin, the Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, Killarney, the Ring of Kerry, Dingle, the Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and Connemara.

Scenic driving combines with some fantastic suggested walks which means you’ll get up close to the Emerald Isle’s natural landscapes. You’ll receive an incredibly warm Gaelic welcome when you stay overnight in hand-picked friendly bed and breakfast accommodation and guesthouses.

Experience the best of Ireland’s charming villages and rural life, the iconic cities of Dublin, Kilkenny and Galway, historic relics and a great choice of walks through idyllic countryside—majestic mountains, shimmering loughs and shady glens. Starting in Ireland’s capital city, head south through Wicklow and then westwards to Co Cork, before reaching Kerry then heading up along the east coast to Galway.

Our Celtic Highlights drive & hike tour includes 7 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 atlas, guide book and suggested walks 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 Dublin/drop-off either Galway city or Shannon Airport).

DAY 1: Arrive Dublin

Your Celtic adventure begins as you arrive in the capital city of Dublin. There’s so much to explore here—visit iconic Trinity College and the Book of Kells, Kilmainham Gaol, the Temple Bar area or stop in for a pint of the ‘black stuff’ at 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 medieval 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 two nights here.


Drive: approx 235km, 3h15


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Killarney


DAY 4: Drive the Ring of Kerry or Muckross House & Torc Waterfall Walk

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.


Alternatively, stretch your legs with a walk around picturesque Muckross House and Gardens, a lovely Victorian gem with the nearby Torc waterfall. Return to Killarney.


Scenic Drive: approx. 190km, 4hrs


Or Walk: Muckross Lake & Torc Waterfall: approx. 7 miles, moderate grading, 3-4hrs


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Killarney


DAY 5: Slea Head Walk, Dingle Peninsula

Continue your drive through the stunning Kerry countryside as you approach the Dingle Peninsula, described by National Geographic Traveller as ‘the most beautiful place on earth’!


Take a walk along the national trail, The Dingle Way, as you enjoy a loop walk from the Great Blasket Island Visitor Centre at Dunquin. As you explore rugged Slea Head on foot, soak in the superb coastal views out to the islands themselves. Here you’ll find numerous stone ‘clochan’ beehive huts.


Continue on foot across the broad, domed summit of Mount Eagle (approx. 500m), blanketed in heather. In clear weather you can see the Three Sisters, Brandon Mountain, MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and other high mountains of the Inveragh Peninsula.


Walk: up to 10 miles, 500m ascent/descent


Drive: approx. 110km, 2h30


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Dingle Town


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 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. 300km, 4h40


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Galway


DAY 7: Connemara National Park 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.


Setting out from Galway City you can drive the Connemara Loop to Letterfrack Village, at the entrance to Connemara National Park. A lovely option is the 2-mile Lower Diamond Hill Walk which can be extended to climb to the summit of Diamond Hill itself (450m ascent/descent approx.). Those who choose to climb to the quartzite ridge will be rewarded with sensational views to the Twelve Bens and over Kylemore Abbey’s gothic turrets. This delightful corner of Ireland offers an ever-changing landscape of brooding mountains, pristine beaches, the wild Atlantic, mist-covered loughs, pre-historic bogs and remote glens.


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: from 2-5 miles


Drive: approx. 210km, 3h30 (to/from Visitors Centre at Letterfrack)


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Galway


DAY 8: Onward Travel

After breakfast your adventure through Ireland is complete and you may arrange for onward travel; Shannon Airport is just a 85km (1h15 drive) away, or take a bus (approx. 1h45) direct to the airport from Galway bus station.

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.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps 

Most of the route and walks are not way marked however you will be provided with detailled maps and route notes so you will 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.


Galway City is just a 85km drive (1h15 approx.) from Shannon Airport. Alternatively, there is a good bus service from Galway bus station to Shannon Airport (approx. 1h45 mins). See Bus Eireann’s website for timetables.


Shannon Airport: Flights are available between Shannon Airport and Dublin with Aer Lingus. Aer Lingus also fly between Shannon and Bristol, Manchester, London Heathrow and Birmingham, as well as Boston and New York JFK. Ryanair fly to Shannon from Liverpool and London Stansted. Air Transat fly from Toronto and US Airways fly from Philadelphia to Shannon.


A bus service is also available between Dublin/Limerick and Shannon Airport—see http://www.jjkavanagh.ie/


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.


Galway City is just a 85km drive (1h15 approx.) from Shannon Airport. Alternatively, there is a good bus service from Galway bus station to Shannon Airport (approx. 1h45 mins). See Bus Eireann’s website for timetables.


Shannon Airport: Flights are available between Shannon Airport and Dublin with Aer Lingus. Aer Lingus also fly between Shannon and Bristol, Manchester, London Heathrow and Birmingham, as well as Boston and New York JFK. Ryanair fly to Shannon from Liverpool and London Stansted. Air Transat fly from Toronto and US Airways fly from Philadelphia to Shannon.


A bus service is also available between Dublin/Limerick and Shannon Airport—see http://www.jjkavanagh.ie/


Travel Insurance

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

Included

  • 7 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 6 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)

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.

Family Trip of a Life Time!

5

Thank you Macs Adventure and Caroline! My dad, brother, and myself had a trip of a life time in Ireland. We couldn't have pictured it to be any more perfect.

Mills

Anchorage

We lucked out on the weather!

5

We had lovely weather which made our trip lovely. The accommodations were delightful and well chosen. The amount of driving between cities was about right, making for a relaxing vacation.

Spring in Ireland

USA

true

Celtic Highlights

5.0 2

100.0

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

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