Holiday inspiration currently loading...
By whichever method you choose to reach Ireland, we’ll be happy to assist in getting you here with the minimum of fuss. There are three main ferry arrival points (and several airports should you wish a fly-drive option) and none is too far from your first base, the cracking city of Cork.
With a historic centre perched on an island between two channels of the River Lee, Ireland’s ‘food city’ is a fabulous spot from which to commence this trip. Corkonians are rightly proud of Cork’s cosmopolitan feel, the city’s ancient university attracting students and visitors from around the world, eager to soak up the buzzy atmosphere on its winding, pedestrian-friendly streets.
Your Accommodation in Cork
Something of an icon near the centre of the city, your accommodation is a Victorian, family-owned hotel delivering that famous Cork welcome with a distinct touch of glamour. Beautifully lined with rich marble and decorated with classic ornate plasterwork, the entrance delivers an immediate ‘wow’, while the bar and restaurants are each individually styled. Rooms are unfussy, with welcome AC, while there’s a rare city spa at your disposal should you wish to soothe away any lingering cares.
After breakfast, set off on a guided history/ food walking tour in the company of a local expert. Your guide will help uncover some of the city’s most fascinating and historical hidden corners, culminating in a visit to the quite wonderful 18th-century English market, giving you the opportunity to try some of the country’s finest produce.
Later, perhaps soak in the rich history of St Fin Barre’s cathedral and it’s quite incredible stained glass, while there’s no end of superb cafés and restaurants here, and there appears to be a welcoming pub every other doorway. In the evening, there’s always live music to be found, whether in a casual pub session, or the more formal setting of the city’s Opera House.
A first great day on the road today, giving you an initial taste of the Wild Atlantic Way. If you’re anything like us, we love a long way round, dithering and dawdling as we go. We’ll make sure you have all the information you need to take in the very best of this route, through classic West Cork locations like Clonakilty and Baltimore, before crossing into Kerry for Kenmare, Sneem and Waterville (Charlie Chaplin’s holiday location of choice) on the way to Cahersiveen on the legendary Ring of Kerry.
Your Accommodation in Cahersiveen
Something a little different for the next two nights, your accommodation in Cahersiveen features a number of beautifully appointed suites, created from the space above one of the town’s best restaurants. A haven of calm isolated from the bustle below, there’s space to spread out here, while breakfast is an appealing, locally-sourced continental affair delivered each morning to your room.
You’re in for quite a treat today. Drive 30 minutes south to the Kerry hamlet of Caherdaniel and board a cruiser for one of Ireland’s most breath-taking boat trips. Setting off from the tiny quay here, your vessel is skippered by a third-generation boatman whose family has ploughed this route for decades. You’re off to Skellig Michael, the arresting twin-peaked crag that was home to a monastic settlement from the 6th century and given a recent lift in profile via its appearance in Star Wars. Europe’s westernmost sacred site is also the terminus of the line of ancient places of European pilgrimage.
On the way back to Cahersiveen, perhaps detour via Valentia Island, taking the car right to the top of Geokaun Mountain for stupendous views of the Skelligs from its summit.
Just a brief meander today, on a 90-minute dawdle to Dingle. With so much time in hand, why not take a tour across the peninsula on the tumbling Conor Pass, perhaps for lunch at a clifftop pub? Then descend towards Dingle, one of Ireland’s most colourful locations. Home to some rare and unique features, each of the town’s classic buildings seems to throb to the sound of traditional music, the vibrancy of local art and delicious aroma of just-caught seafood. Dive in!
Your Accommodation in Dingle
Right at the centre of life in Dingle for many decades, your accommodation here is a traditional independent hotel, presented in pleasingly olde worlde style in the reception and lounging areas, something of an oasis of calm from the doorstep bustle. The popular bar is named for the hotel’s founder, while the restaurant serves a menu of Irish classics. Upstairs, rooms have undergone much recent upgrade, delivering a welcome modern contrast.
There’s a number of things you could do this morning – you might elect to stroll into town and give yourself a day off from driving – though we’d be inclined to set off early and spend the morning exploring stupendous Slea Head Drive. This circular route is relatively short and delivers way above its weight in terms of spectacle. Discover Irish-speaking villages, famous Hollywood movie locations, ancient ‘bee-hive’ huts and reach-out-and-touch views of the enigmatic Blasket Islands.
In the afternoon, wander into town to meet a friendly and engaging local guide, setting off as part of a small group on a food-and-history-focused stroll around Dingle. Combining stories of the town’s origins with visits to several restaurants, watering holes and artisan producers, this is certainly the tastiest way to get under the skin of this legendary location. Bring your appetite!
A day to take it easy, allowing Dingle to seep into the soul. Pick up a trinket or two at any one of the dozens of great shops, perhaps tour the much-acclaimed local distillery or enjoy a leisurely seafood lunch before ice cream and a walk on the shore. In the evening, perhaps find a corner in a cosy pub and enjoy some live traditional Irish music.
A longer day behind the wheel today, heading north away from Dingle on the way to your next base in Co Clare. And what a setting! Spanish Point, so named for the hundreds of souls from the Armada who perished here in storms of 1588, this is a wonderfully wild spot in the ‘right’ weather, and a key touchpoint on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Your Accommodation at Spanish Point
Family-owned and something of an iconic presence in this part of the world, your accommodation at Spanish Point is a richly appealing hotel enjoying a quite superb location. Perched above the broiling Atlantic Ocean, its influence so keenly felt that the hotel employs a full-time window-cleaner, it’s no surprise to find a coastal feel throughout the interior. There’s an in-house coffeeshop, a traditional Irish pub, a casual brasserie and formal restaurant, as well as beautifully presented bedrooms. And the beach is a moment’s stroll away.
Another unforgettable holiday experience today. After breakfast, set off north to the harbour village of Doolin where you board the boat bound for the Aran Island of Inis Mor. Once here, you’ll be met by a wonderful local guide and whisked away in a specially adapted Land Rover, travelling way off the beaten track to get under the skin of this most thrilling island. Along the way, you’ll visit locations for recent film sensation The Banshees of Inisherin as well as ancient monastic sites and areas of prehistoric beauty. You’ll then have time to wander at your own pace before making the return crossing back to Doolin.
No rushing today. Enjoy a slow and leisurely breakfast, taking time to plan – or not to plan – your day ahead. For example, just along the coast you’ll find Milltown Malbay, vibrant lynchpin of Ireland’s traditional music scene, and a little further reach surfer’s paradise Lahinch and its quite superb sandy beach. Turn inland to Ennistimon, famous for its brightly painted main street, then take a detour to the mystical and mysterious landscape of the Burren, one of Europe’s most misunderstood geological features. Along the way, stop for a chowder lunch or even fresh lobster, before returning to your hotel for an evening of music or simple relaxation.
Set off along the coast of Co Clare this morning, following the Wild Atlantic Way around sweeping Galway Bay. Perhaps detour into the buzzing ‘City of Tribes’, Europe’s westernmost city, for lunch or a stroll through the Latin Quarter before carrying on along the coast and into the Gaeltacht of Connemara. This wildest area of Ireland’s west is a vast and often empty landscape of blanket bog, hidden coves, shimmering fjords and fishing villages. You’re headed for the vivid ‘capital’ of Clifden and a classic castle hotel.
Your Hotel in Clifden, Connemara
A short stroll from the energetic centre of Clifden, your accommodation is a romantic castle hotel set on a hillside, with quite staggering gardens tumbling away from the front door. There’s a twinkle to the welcome here, the hotel having been family owned and run for many decades, with local staff and family members always ready to help and offer advice to guests. Classic castle-style rooms, many of which enjoy views over the gardens, are each presented in individual style, while guests are invited to join the hosts every evening for a refreshment and to hear stories of the hotel’s long history.
A relaxing and fun day away from the wheel today. In the centre of Clifden, just a few minutes’ walk from your hotel, collect a state-of-the-art electric bicycle and set off for day’s exploration. Never ridden an e-Bike before? There’s nothing to fear, as it’s exactly like riding a standard bicycle, with no new skills nor new controls to learn, you just have a welcome automatic boost for those trickier uphill sections. Head away from Clifden, perhaps on soaring Sky Road, taking in clifftop views before descending towards Claghaduff for lunch of delicious seafood chowder amidst views of Omey Island.
In the evening, take dinner at your hotel or in one of Clifden’s many great spots, before a pint or two of the black stuff alongside some live traditional Irish music.
Wave goodbye to your castle this morning and get back on the road, following the Wild Atlantic Way northbound. Hugging the coast of Connemara, you’ll enjoy superb views of intimidating mountains and more of those fabulous fjords, the route pitching and twisting as it crosses the border into Co Mayo. The feel of the landscape undergoes a distinct transformation as the route sweeps into this jewel-like little town on the banks of the Carrowbeg River.
Your Accommodation in Westport
Recently created from one of Westport’s classic 19th-century buildings, your accommodation here is a family-owned hotel delivering a modern twist to that famous Irish welcome. There’s something a little different about the mood-lit reception area, the fashionable hardwood floor nudging easily alongside the bright white walls. Bedrooms are similarly presented and there’s a superb restaurant serving the very best of what’s available from the local pantry.
A fun and easy-going few hours in store this morning as you set off on a guided walking tour of the town as part of a small group. Having spent a lifetime here, your guide knows every nook and is a deep mine of information, stories and the history of Mayo’s multi-coloured wonder.
Later, dive further under your own steam, perhaps with a stroll at the revitalised quayside or around the quite staggering eponymous local stately home.
Another of those days during which there’s no need to hurry; your next base on Achill Island is little more than an hour away direct. Take your time over a hearty Westport breakfast and maybe stroll it off with a few steps along the riverbank. Getting on the road again, your route carries you around the shores of curving Clew Bay, littered with islands and islets, by ruined castles and bright villages on the way across Achill Sound by short causeway and on to the island of Achill itself. This largest of all the Irish isles packs a knockout punch with its pristine golden strands, towering sea cliffs and ancient history, and is your welcoming base for the next two nights.
Your Accommodation on Achill Island
Something a little different for you on Achill. Owned and run by the very friendliest of families, this superbly restored former coastguard station lies on south-facing Keel Strand, and treats guests to incredible unbroken views across endless golden sand, the majestic Cathedral Cliffs of Minaun, and the islands of Clew bay on the horizon. Inside, what better way to relax than to settle down by the turf fire with a book and a dram, before choosing a local dish from the simple menu for dinner amidst those jaw-dropping views.
Given a recent lift in profile by award-winning film The Banshees of Insherin – whose locations on the island are easily visited – there’s an even more arresting story to be told here. In 1831, young Irish Prophet Edward Nagle came to the West, his task to save the native Irish from various ‘errors’, founding a new Zion in Ireland’s most destitute corner. Today you’ll enjoy a guided tour of the island’s Mission, uncovering this fascinating and largely unknown story.
Later, perhaps take to the strand – perfect in any weather – before an evening in the lively local bar or dinner back at your accommodation.
Further north today to the Irish Republic’s northernmost county. It’s a longer day’s touring today, re-crossing the causeway from Achill on to mainland Mayo and spearing your way through expansive Ballycroy National Park. Tour the coast as the North Atlantic’s relentless pounding accompanies the route alongside prehistoric Ceide Fields and into W.B. Yeats’ beloved Co Sligo. Continue in the midst of shining Benbulben as you head for historic Donegal Town.
Your Accommodation in Donegal Town
Close to the centre of town, your accommodation in Donegal is a hugely appealing property whose classic sandstone heart has been treated to an inviting modern addition. Spotlessly presented bedrooms enjoy blocks of contemporary colour, while the in-house bistro delivers superb Irish breakfast and an enticing menu throughout the day.
The hotel’s location couldn’t be more convenient, with the castle, railway heritage museum, shops, bars and restaurants all within moments’ walk.
A great day out today. Make your way west away from Donegal Town, past evocative place-names like Dunkineely, Killybegs and Drimnafinagle on your way to meet your cheerful local guide at Sliabh Liag visitor centre. From here, you’ll join a small group and take a gentle hike away from the road towards the very edge of Europe. Which is higher? Sliabh Liag or the Cliffs of Moher? The debate rages on, but really doesn’t matter as this is a heartstopping, unforgettable place, brought to life by the skill of a passionate local. Plunging hundreds of feet into the broiling north Atlantic, these are some of the most impressive sea cliffs in Europe and you’ll savour every moment during your visit to the edge.
As the crow flies, it’s only an hour or so to your final base, so if you take our advice, head northwest and join the stunning Donegal coast, completing your odyssey on the Wild Atlantic Way. You’ll discover this most arresting corner of Ireland, including sleepy villages, intimidating coastline and outstretched beaches. Along the way, stop at Malin Head, the northernmost point on the island of Ireland, a place as wild as any here or across the continent. Dropping south from here it’s only a short hop to the revitalised city of Derry-Londonderry.
Your Accommodation in Derry-Londonderry
A stylish and friendly place to round off your trip, your hotel in Derry is in a superb location right in the very heart of the city. Created from an exquisite listed Edwardian building in the Cathedral Quarter, this iconic landmark property has played its own crucial part in Derry’s rebirth. There’s a relaxed feel throughout, though there’s a definite touch of quality to the bedrooms and their well-appointed en-suites. Dine in the in-house restaurant or enjoy a cold glass in the champagne bar after a long day of discovery.
On your final full day, really get under the skin of this most captivating Irish city, with a handy Derry Pass allowing you entry into 11 most popular attractions and to take guided walks on the ancient city walls and through the historic Bogside. Take in both of the cathedrals, marvel at the stunning Guildhall and, last but not least, tour the new Derry Girls Experience. In the evening, perhaps take dinner at the independent brewery, then stroll across the Peace Bridge for a music session in a classic Irish pub.
The Visit Derry Pass is the Official Sightseeing ticket for the Walled City of Derry~Londonderry, valid for one or two days.
Wherever is your final destination, we’ll make sure you get there with a minimum of fuss, via a personal route tailormade to your requirements.
This self-drive holiday takes in stays in Cork City, Cahersiveen and Dingle in Co Kerry, Spanish Point in Co Clare, Clifden in Connemara, Westport and Achill Island in Co Mayo, Donegal Town and Derry-Londonderry.
£3295 per person for April & October, £3425 per person for May, June & September, £3495 per person for July & August.
Prices are based on two sharing ensuite twin or double rooms for 20 nights on a bed and breakfast basis.
The price includes:
Travel to Ireland
We would recommend Dublin or Rosslare as your starting point, although it is also easy to come via Belfast. This holiday is also available in fly-drive format at a supplement – please do just let us know how we can help.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions and recommended routes from your specified starting point, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
All Ireland itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
You are requesting availability for
This holiday is available from April to October
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
Please note: All fields marked * are required
All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.