Day 1. Dublin - Killarney
Upon arrival at Shannon airport, you will be met by your driver guide and your private vehicle for the next 12 days. Your trip will begin by passing over the legendary river Shannon, through the Viking city of Limerick and on through the quaint thatched village of Adare. Your destination is Killarney, home to Muckross House & landscaped Gardens, where you will gain an insight into the elegant lifestyle of 19th-century landowners. You will have the opportunity to take a traditional horse and carriage ride through Killarney National Park and visiting Torc waterfall before returning to Muckross House.
You will have time to browse the shops in Killarney town before checking into the hospitable, elegant Killarney Park Hotel or the magical Aghadoe Heights Hotel; with views over the Killarney Lakes (massages and spa treatments may be booked at either hotel in advance).
Day 2. Killarney (Ring of Kerry) (B)
Today you will spend the day enjoying one of the most popular drives in Ireland, the Ring of Kerry, which offers 100 miles of unrivalled lake, ocean and mountain views. The Ring of Kerry has attracted visitors for generations due to its unspoilt, spectacular beauty, numerous outdoor pursuits and amazing insight into Ireland's ancient heritage. Along the way you will stop at the Bog village to take in its history and sample their famous Irish coffee, take a stroll along windswept Derrynane beach and visit the beautiful village of Sneem. After a full day of unforgettable sightseeing, your guide will take you back to Killarney where you can enjoy an evening stroll around the town.
Day 3. Killarney (Gap of Dunloe or Dingle Peninsula) (B)
Today you can either choose to visit the Gap of Dunloe or the Dingle Peninsula. If you opt to visit the beautiful valley of the Gap of Dunloe, you day will begin at Kate Karney's Cottage where a traditional horse and carriage will take you through a U-shaped glaciated valley to Lord Brandon's Cottage for lunch. You can then enjoy an unforgettable trip through the three Lakes of Killarney by boat to Ross Castle, before returning to Killarney. If you decide to take the excursion to explore the remote beauty of the Dingle Peninsula, you will be driven south west to Inch Beach where you can take in the fresh Atlantic air and snap photos of the stunning coastline. You will continue through the patchwork-quilt fields of Killarney, stopping to take in the sensational views. Then you will take Slea Head Drive back to Dingle, visiting the 2000 year old Beehive Huts, the Blasket Centre with its audio-visual tour of the Blasket Islands and Gallarus, an eighth century early Christian dwelling. You will have time enough to browse in the shops of Dingle village before returning to Killarney.
Day 4. Killarney - Cork (B)
Leaving behind the beauty of Killarney, your guide will drive you on to historic Cork. En-route you can stop at Kenmare, the Druids Hill at Molly Gallivans and Glengarriff where you can enjoy a short boat trip to the attractive Italian Gardens on Garnish Island. Your route will take you over the Sheehy Mountains to St. Finbar's Island Church in Gougane Barra passing through traditional Gaelic speaking villages on the way.
Your guide will take you to Hayfield Manor; set in 2 acres of mature gardens, the hotel is an oasis of calm within the vibrant city of Cork, where you can enjoy a gourmet dinner at their Orchids restaurant
Day 5. Cork (Blarney Stone) (B)
This morning you will have the chance to kiss the Blarney Stone, said to endow the speaker with extraordinary powers of eloquence. You will have time to browse some traditional Irish craftsmanship at the Blarney Woollen Mills before heading to Cobh where the Titanic docked before its ill-fated journey. You can visit the heritage centre to hear stories of the great migration and learn about the sinking of the Lusitania off Cork harbour in World War I. Your final port of call before returning to Cork will be the Midleton Jameson Distillery, home of one of Ireland's most famous whiskeys, where there will be a few samples on hand for you to try.
Day 6. Cork - Dublin (B)
After breakfast, you will be whisked off to tour the exquisite Waterford Crystal workshop. You will continue your journey to Dublin via a stop at Jerpoint Abbey, an intriguing 12th-century Cistercian abbey.
Your guide will take you to your grand hotel in the heart of the city; the Merrion Hotel offers relaxed grandeur, crackling turf fires and a host of facilities whilst the magnificent Shelbourne Hotel is full of historic charm. This evening perhaps you could take a walk to the nearby"golden mile" of shops and restaurants around St Stephen's Green or visit the Temple bar area to enjoy Dublin's best nightlife.
Day 7. Dublin (Wicklow & Glendalough) (B)
Heading south along the rugged coast, you can visit James Joyce Tower, built to withstand an invasion by Napoleon, and 40 Foot Cove where you are likely to see locals out braving the icy sea. The drive will take you through the Wicklow Mountains, aptly named 'the Garden of Ireland', and scenic Glendalough with its 6th-century church where you can learn about the history of the area. When you are ready, your guide will take you back to the luxury of your Dublin hotel.
Day 8. Dublin (B)
This morning you will travel north of Dublin to the historic, romantic Boyne Valley; you will take time to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Newgrange and the archaeological complex of the Hill of Tara. You will then return to Dublin to enjoy an afternoon guided city tour of Ireland's historic capital including St. Patrick's Cathedral, Trinity College (including the Book of Kells), the Guinness Store House and Duvblina, a medieval exhibition outlining the Viking history in the region. This evening is at your leisure, but perhaps you would like to check out one of the city's excellent restaurants, as recommended by your guide.
Day 9. Dublin - County Mayo (B)
Departing Dublin, you will visit the stunning Athlone Castle built by the Normans in the 13th century and overlooking the River Shannon. Your tour continues through the green heart of Ireland to the West Coast where you can visit the fascinating 6th-century Clonmacnoise monastery, one of Ireland's most ancient monastic sites. En-route to your accommodation, you will stop in the village of Cong for some more modern culture (this was the location used for the classic John Wayne film 'The Quiet Man').
Your guide will take you to sumptuous Ashford Castle which dates back to 1228; set in the spectacular countryside of County Mayo, the estate houses several exceptional restaurants and activities including fishing, golfing and boating.
Day 10. County Mayo (B)
After a leisurely breakfast, your driver will take you on an excursion to experience the rugged beauty and spectacular scenery of Connemara in County Galway. The trip begins with a visit to the coastal town of Clifden, passing the Twelve Bens Mountains on the scenic Sky Road Drive with its sweeping vistas of the wild Atlantic Ocean. After lunch at Letterfrack you will have the opportunity to explore the Benedictine Kylemore Abbey and Gardens with its spectacular views over Lake Pollacappul. When you return to Ashford Castle/Lisloughrey Lodge, you are welcome to enjoy one of the more active options on the estate or can choose a pampering spa treatment before dinner.
Day 11. County Mayo - County Clare (B).
Today you will travel to County Clare, visiting the amazing Burren area, made up of one hundred square miles of limestone rock, the 5000 year old Poulnabrone burial site and the authentic medieval fortress of Bunratty Castle. You can enjoy lunch in a nearby village before visiting the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher; rising up from the Atlantic Ocean, the headland offers wonderful views and is home to a major colony of cliff nesting seabirds.
Your final night's accommodation will be at the distinguished Dromoland Castle, which stands majestically over its 410 acre country estate which houses a renowned golf course, a tranquil spa and a fabulous restaurant with an extensive locally sourced menu.
Day 12. County Clare (B).
Your guide will transfer you to Shannon airport in time to catch your international flight home.