Highlights of Ireland: A Luxurious Vacation Across the Emerald Isle

Get ready to head off on a mythical fairy-tale escape from the bright lights and busy streets of Dublin to the far westerly corners of Ireland where the landscapes simply take your breath away. This luxury 12 night trip round the Emerald Isle will have you falling for Ireland’s charm in no time. For most, Ireland is but a wonder of old folk tales and endless pubs, but here at Black Tomato our experts want to show you a bit more from blockbuster landscapes to ancient ruins and old Celtic traditions. It’s time to get out an explore this wild and magical country staying at a few of our favorite luxury hideaways along the way.

Bright lights and Grand gardens in Dublin

On arriving at Dublin airport you’ll be met by your Black Tomato guide before heading off to the Merrion Hotel, bang in the middle of the bustling city streets of Dublin. Once you’ve settled in, set out on a walking tour with one of our expert guides who will introduce you to the city through the eyes of a local. Make sure you look out for the famous Trinity College and stop by the Guinness Storehouse for a few pints with the locals. For literature lovers, we can arrange for you to take a tour of the city from the perspective of some of Ireland’s best authors, such as Samuel Beckett and James Joyce. On this tour, you’ll walk the streets visiting some of the haunts of Ireland’s greatest literary minds and learn about their influences and works.  The day you’ll wake and explore Dublin at your own pace – if you’ve had enough of walking, hop on one of the free bikes dotted through the city. We’ll give you our top tips on where to grab a hearty Irish stew washed down with a Guinness or two. Filled to the brim with Irish charm and good food but with tired feet head back to the Merrion for a good night’s sleep, as it’s on to the next stop of your magical adventure in the morning.

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Waking up early, your Black Tomato guide will meet you with a car ready to head south to County Wicklow, known as ‘The Garden of Ireland’. Your first stop is the majestic Powerscourt Estate, set on a 400-hectare estate just 12 miles south of Dublin it is home to one of the finest gardens in Europe (designed by Daniel Robertson between 1745 and 1767). After exploring jump back in the car and continue to the famous round tower of Glendalough, an area steeped in history. Head off on one of the many hikes on offer and follow in the footsteps of St Kevin himself – The Spinc trial is a Black Tomato top favorite.  After exploring the East Irish coast head to your home for the night, The Cliff House Hotel to recharge those batteries.

Start your fourth day at a slower pace with a cliff walk starting from the hotel door to stretch out those legs before jumping in the car to carry on the adventure. Your final destination of today is Kenmare, one of Ireland’s most charming small towns. Wander through the picturesque town of Cobh (best known as the last port of call for the Titanic) before going via Cork to witness the home of sing-song cadence, national comedians and Corkonians of course- said to be the most talkative of all the Irish. After a day of local cheer, it’s time to get to Kenmare and the stunning Sheen Falls Lodge, the breath-taking location alone is sure to make you never want to leave.

Starry Adventures in the South West

Wake up to the lapping waters of Kenmare Bay, open the curtains to dramatic valleys that will simply take your breath away. Today is jammed full of adventure; first, get your sea legs and head off to Skellig Micheal (a UNESCO heritage site) just off the Kerry coast. These towering sea crags stand at the western edge of Europe and mark the ascetic monks who settled here in their pursuit of greater union with God.  After marvelling at this place of pilgrimage, pretend you’re in a blockbuster movie and explore this ‘incredible, impossible, mad place’ that was used for filming the latest Star Wars.

Halfway through your trip, it’s time to start heading north again to Ireland’s most westerly point, the Dingle peninsula. Marvel at the intense shifting beauty as the wild Atlantic Ocean crashes along the shores. With breath-taking landscapes, it’s no surprise the nearby Inch Beach was used as a location for ‘Ryan’s Daughter’; whether you’re brave enough go for a dip or just dip your toes in, spend the rest of the afternoon running along the sand and exploring this extraordinary rugged coastline before heading to the Pax House to cozy up by the fire.

The Wild West up to the Native North

In the morning, head across the Shannon Estuary by car ferry and you’re in County Clare, home to the spectacular Cliffs of Moher (Ireland’s top natural attraction and nominated for one of the new Seven Wonders of the World). Watch as the Burren unfolds in front of your eyes – this magical lunar landscape stretches as far as you can see. After rambling through the Wild West, drive through the bustling streets of Galway City before arriving at Ashford Castle (our favorite resting spot of the adventure – just look at the photos to see why) where you will live like royalty. Explore the rugged Connemara regions or master country pursuits – after all, Ashford is home to the first school of falconry.

In the morning it’s time to head North to Country Silgo, nestled between Benbulben Mountain and the ancient Knocknarea; get out and about, breathe in the fresh air and explore before having a go at a spot of pottery. Further North and into County Donegal soak up a traditional charm that will leave you feeling relaxed and ready to get out and spend some of your last days with the locals in the Irish-speaking community of Glencolmcille.

It’s day twelve already and time to finish off your round trip of the Emerald Isle as you head down south towards the world famous hotel, The K Club. Home to the PGA golf tour, practice your swing and play like a pro. Lie back in a soothing bubble bath and reflect on all the adventures of the last twelve days, as in the morning it’s time to go back to Dublin airport and head home. Full of Irish charm and magical stories of this special Isle, you’re bound to make friends green with envy.