Learn the stories behind the best landmarks, links, and distilleries with CIE’s privately chauffeured tours.
Imagine rounding the curves of a rugged Irish peninsula, admiring the cliffs, coves, and beaches; or wandering the mossy stones of an ancient ruin. Close your eyes to hear the crackling fireplace in a country house or a fast-paced fiddle playing traditional music in a pub. An Irish road trip mixes history, culture, and dramatic landscapes, where you can drive the Wild Atlantic Way, play a round of golf, visit centuries-old castles, and enjoy a hearty meal – all on the same day.
CIE Tours’ private road trips in Ireland (as well as Britain and Iceland) focus on travelers’ specific interests – whether it be food, castles, or golf, for example. This customizability also leaves space to visit a distillery (or three), explore your family genealogy, or spend an extra night in an eighteenth-century castle. Private tours also add a layer of pandemic safety, traveling in a private car with a flexible itinerary.
Leaving the driving to someone who knows the roads' twists and turns – and is used to driving on the left – allows travelers to soak up the scenery rather than worrying about logistics (or a wandering sheep in the road). CIE’s private drivers plan each day, recommending stops for everything from photos to the best seafood chowder in town. Irish drivers also tend to be very chatty, sharing stories about the history and traditions of each place. Meet some of CIE’s charmingly chatty tour guides.
Head Southwest for Coastal Scenery and Historical Castles
Take in some of Ireland’s most vibrant cities, starting with easily walkable Kilkenny, where you can stroll the Medieval Mile from Saint Canice’s Cathedral to Kilkenny Castle and narrow lanes lined with independent shops. In Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city, marvel at the master glass cutters (and take home some of their work) at the House of Waterford Crystal.
County Kerry in the southwest corner holds some of Ireland’s most beautiful drives, which include the Dingle Peninsula’s rugged coastal scenery and Blasket Island views along Slea Head Drive; or the long golden beaches, mountain peaks, and welcoming villages dotting the 100-mile Ring of Kerry. Farther inland, a landscape of mountains, lakes and forests surround Killarney National Park, where a carriage ride through the park leads to the fifteenth-century Ross Castle. Take a boat trip on Lough Leane to see the grey stone towers against vibrant greens and deep blues of the Irish countryside.
Farther north, the Cliffs of Moher rise 700 feet from the sea and stretch for seven miles along the coast of County Clare, providing a home to many bird colonies. Take a walk along the cliffs, or schedule a stop at the rocky limestone plateaus of the Burren (meaning “rocky place”) to see rare plants and massive stones carefully balanced to mark ancient portal tombs.
Shoot 18 Holes in Dublin and Northern Ireland
Ireland’s golf courses consistently rank among the world’s best. The 7,000-yard Portmarnock course sits on a peninsula of green grass and sand dunes near Dublin city. To the east in County Kildare, K Club houses two 18-hole Arnold Palmer courses – including the popular Ryder Cup course.
Golfing legends such as Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke claim Northern Ireland as their home. Royal County Down’s links spread across the east coast between the Mountains of Mourne and the Irish Sea, while the challenging 18-hole courses at Royal Portrush Golf Club line the northern coast. Spend your time off the greens visiting the capital cities of Dublin and Belfast, driving County Antrim’s Causeway Coast and Glens (valleys), or walking the stones of the Giant’s Causeway.
Sample Irish food from coast to coast.
Ireland has a vibrant food scene with artisan food producers, cheesemongers, oyster farms, and farmers markets. Limerick’s Milk Market buzzes at the weekends with everything from organic fruit and vegetables to fresh fish and cured meats, farmhouse cheeses, fresh-baked breads, and specialty coffee, all under a weatherproof canopy. Food trucks and musicians add to the atmosphere alongside stalls offering vintage fashion and power tools.
In southern Ireland, follow the tiny lanes of Cork’s old medieval quarter to the nearly 235-year-old English Market food hall, where visitors can try meats, cheeses, chocolate, and preserves under a pavilion lined with skylights. Head west to the musical city of Galway to sample cheeses and oysters, or roll up your sleeves to learn some local recipes in a cooking class at Ballyknocken House, Farm, and Cookery School, near the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin.
Of course, Ireland is well known for both Guinness and great whiskey – said to be invented by Irish monks – which deserve plenty of tastings. Explore whiskey’s origins at the Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin before seeing how whiskey is made at a distillery such as Jameson’s in Cork. Plan an extra night or two after your tour to put your new-found expertise to good use at some of Dublin’s classic pubs.
Ready to Explore the World?
We have partnered with SmartFlyer, a full-service travel agency catering to high-end customized itineraries for couples and families worldwide.
Elena Borrero, SmartFlyer Travel Consultant, is a lifelong globetrotter who has visited more than 40 countries. With an initial no fee consultation, Elena’s strengths lie in getting to know her clients and executing detail-oriented, completely customized itineraries for couples and families. She specializes in luxury hotels and resorts, and her extensive industry network allows her to negotiate amenities, upgrades and VIP status for her distinguished client base. Through her decades of testing out hotspots first-hand, her product knowledge of beach destinations, Europe and even African safaris, she is well-versed to take on creating a trip in practically any corner of the world. Learn more about the benefits of working with Elena via website or email: Elena@smartflyer.com.