It seems savvy travellers are keen to embrace the rugged cliffs and wind-swept moors of the Emerald Isle for their international adventures in 2018. The increased demand of air traffic to Ireland will bring more than 30 new routes to Northern and Southern Ireland in 2018. Promotion by a number of leading travel industry bodies including Travel+Leisure putting Ireland as one of the top places to visit this year, has also ramped up tourism.
So why not take advantage of the authentic local experience, culinary discoveries and boutique accommodation on offer from small group tour specialist Back-Roads Touring, to discover from north to south the best tourist attractions in Ireland. Take 12 days to experience the best of the Emerald Isle and travel with a tour guide who really knows what to do in Ireland, read on to see just some of the highlights and gems that you will be delighted to discover.
Northern and Southern Ireland
Your Irish journey starts in Belfast where you get to see contemporary Ireland with an escorted Black Cab tour of the city’s unique street art. The Back-Roads tour then takes a dramatic step into the past with a trip to Ballyscullion Park, a historic private country house. The tour continues to include the best of Ireland's attractions such as:
History and landscape feature a lot for the rest of the tour with your adventure taking you to the North Irish Coast and to the country’s natural geological wonder and one of top attractions in Ireland – the Giant’s Causeway. These basalt upright pillars look like they have been constructed by a thousand strong workforce rather than by the whimsy of the weather over hundreds of years.
A wonderful inclusion in the itinerary is a visit to the county and city of Galway. It is well worth some time to wander about this energetic town that is full of cobblestone laneways and brightly coloured houses, and also has plenty of great cosy corner pubs to refresh with a quick pint or gin and tonic along the way.
The seaside village of Dingle on the Dingle Peninsula is one of the many highlights on this tour. The Peninsula which stretches into the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland’s south-west coast is stunning, and just the right location for Dingle as the perfect example of a picturesque Irish coastal village. With squat white-washed cottages, cobbled stone streets and lively township, Dingle was recently voted one of Ireland’s top places to visit.
Another incredible tour highlight is the bizarre landscape of the Burren. The landscape of this region of County Clare verges on the alien, with its vast tracks of limestone, caves, fossils, and soaring cliffs. Visitors often feel like what it must be like on the surface of the moon, then suddenly the rock formations dropped away to the Atlantic Sea in the form of the precipitous Cliffs of Moher. Although many will have seen these before as backdrops in a number of films, nothing prepares you for the drama of that 600 foot drop, to the thrashing sea and very threatening rocks below.
Killarney National Park, the oldest national park in Ireland is a wonderful natural wonder included on the tour. The forests of the Park with their dense dark foliage conjure recollections of fairytale stories of Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood. Then there is the region of the Ring of Kerry that has a whole host of historical sites, including the ruins of ancient forts, castles and abbeys to see.
Your tour concludes in the amazing city of Dublin. Be sure to allow for sometime in Ireland’s capital and its largest city. Listed as a global city and ranked among the top thirty cities in the world – Dublin really does have everything from contemporary arts and culture, to plenty of history (go and see the Book of Kells) – to great food and an amazing music scene.
Across the Irish Sea
Back-Roads also offers intrepid travellers some wonderful itineraries to head across the Irish Sea to the windswept moors and picture-perfect fishing villages of Cornwall. Be sure to take advantage of the all-inclusive tours of the West Coast of England on offer to discover maritime heritage, rural beauty and of course, culinary pride.
From the quaint country lanes of Somerset to the heather and gorse-clad tors of Dartmoor National Park to the sheer cliffs of Cornwall’s northern coast – a gourmet feast to tingle your taste buds is definitely in store. For an appetiser, there’s a stroll around Port Isaac, the fishing village made famous by television series, Doc Martin. Next it’s onwards to the main course: a leisurely lunch at ‘The Seafood Restaurant’ – Rick Stein’s flagship restaurant in Padstow.
Take the chance to explore Tregothnan – Cornwall’s largest estate and the historic seat of the Boscawen family. A member of the gardening team will give you a private tour of the grounds and the tea plantation, where you will learn all about tea grown in England.
Classic picturesque English coastline abounds and in this part of the world you will have the chance to visit St Michael’s Mount, a tidal island just off the coast from Penzance. Stepping ashore in the buzzing village, you can witness life through the eyes of the islanders and explore the medieval castle, brimming with treasures and stories from the past.
Your journey takes you along the south Cornish coast, with a stop the picture-perfect fishing village of Polperro before heading to the green hills and golden sandstone cliffs of Dorset, and Lyme Regis where you can walk in the footsteps of Jane Austen’s heroines.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the attractions that you can see. With a selection of many tour packages available to tour UK and Ireland, there is sure to be one to meet your particular sense of adventure. So if you are looking for a great way to do a small group tour of Scotland, England and Ireland, staying in stylish and historic accommodation with great food along the way, look no further, Back-Roads has got it all.