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Eight nights’ tour of Ireland by train, including Dublin, the west coast, the Aran Islands and Belfast.
A touring holiday by train designed specially to give a flavour of the contrasts of Ireland. Carefully created for those who prefer to use public transport rather than driving, but still wish to visit the highlights of North and South, this trip features impressive Georgian Dublin, fascinating Victorian Belfast complete with the Titanic Experience, and the rural far West around Galway and the Wild Atlantic Way. This eight-night holiday also includes a day taking in the Cliffs of Moher and on the wonderful Aran Islands, where you will step back in time to a land of horse-drawn carriages and craft shops.
Featured in the Sunday Times “Europe’s best ferry holidays” April 2022.
Read about Tom’s car-free break to Ireland on our blog. You can also discover our Tips for UK & Ireland Rail Touring here.
Your first base is the Georgian city of Dublin
Your Accommodation in Dublin
A haven of tranquillity within just a few short steps of some of Dublin’s most famous spots, your accommodation in the capital is a refined aparthotel with friendly staff and a good in-house coffeeshop. The Ha’penny Bridge is on the doorstep, Temple Bar just across the Liffey and St Stephen’s Green 10 minutes’ walk away. Rooms are bright and modern, with lovely en-suites and private facilities.
Time to explore with a guided walking tour of the city including helping you get your bearings and learn some of the histories from a local expert. Once home to literary greats such as James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde, the city boasts an abundance of Georgian architecture as well as cosy bars and lots of great restaurants. Enjoy them all by walking in the area around Merrion Square and St Stephens Green; wander into Trinity College where the famous Book of Kells is on display; head to the Guinness Storehouse to sample this most famous of drinks in its historic homeland or pay a visit to one or both of the city cathedrals. Cross the Liffey on the Ha’penny bridge and visit the GPO -site of the famous 1916 Easter Rising – and take in the Dublin Writers Museum or catch an Irish play at the Abbey Theatre.
Today catch a morning train to the contrasting city of Galway – also known as Ireland’s westernmost city.
Your Accommodation in Galway
Your base is a family-owned, grand Georgian townhouse, featuring a charming tearoom that is open to the public for breakfast, brunch and lunch. Set directly at the dramatic river Corrib salmon weir, many of the house’s five elegantly appointed rooms feature superb views across the water and beyond. Despite the house’s location just a moments’ walk from the city centre, you’ll feel detached from the city bustle in this peaceful pocket of Galway.
Today you’re off to the Aran Island of Inis Mor. The morning ferry departs Galway docks, conveniently placed a short walk from the city centre, the crossing taking 90 minutes.
The three rocky limestone outcrops that make up the Aran Islands are a bastion of traditional language, culture and music, unique in their geology and archaeology and unrivalled in their potent sense of history. Each has its own distinct atmosphere and character, and the dramatic landscapes and endless sea form a backdrop to a labyrinth of meandering stone walls and tiny, tightly packed fields. In between, a network of narrow winding roads and grassy lanes sweep from pristine beaches and craggy shores to the dizzying cliffs that mark the edge of Europe. The islands have lured legions of writers, artists and visitors over the centuries, their enigmatic ancient monuments, early Christian remains, holy wells and historic lighthouses adding to their sense of timelessness and mystery. This serenity makes the islands a precious sanctuary from the rush of modern life and their isolation guarantees their place as a stronghold of traditional culture.
On arrival at Kilronan quay on Inis Mor, you’ll be met by a quite fascinating local guide, a true Gaeltacht man of the island, and whisked off in his specially adapted Land Rover for a tour of Inis Mor as part of a small group. This vehicle reaches the parts others cannot, taking you way off the beaten track to some of the island’s most enthralling locations, while a gentle guided walk to the cliffs and famous Wormhole is an added part of the experience.
Return to Kilronan via Kilmurvey Craft Village, where a sample of island-made ice cream is a must, and where you’ll have the chance to pick up a souvenir or two.
Back at Kilronan, you’ll have time for a late and a browse – you won’t believe the array of knitwear on offer – before boarding the return ferry to Galway.
The ferry-crossing back to Galway detours via the fabulous Cliffs of Moher, some of Europe’s highest, setting you back at Galway in the late afternoon
A day to wander and wend through the ancient streets of this City of Tribes, uncovering its sometimes-alarming history. Perhaps take in the fine museum or the sturdy cathedral, stroll the banks of Corrib and savour a pint in one of the fine traditional pubs. We’ll provide all the information you need to make the most of your time.
Time to return to Dublin then connect to the Enterprise train to Belfast, arriving late afternoon in the capital of Northern Ireland.
Your Accommodation in Belfast
Your hotel is a locally owned guesthouse close to the University area and a mere 10-minute walk from the city centre. This AA four-star rated accommodation is within a few minutes’ walk from a host of restaurants and bars to suit all tastes and budgets. As they say in Belfast “the craic is never far away”.
The city is compact and easy to get around on foot or public transport. Although there has been much new development in the city, there’s still a genuine heritage and a truly warm welcome for visitors. The Cathedral Quarter is the historic cultural heartland of the city, whereas the Titanic Quarter of east Belfast – where the legendary liner was built – is full of reminders of a proud maritime and industrial past. Here the brand new, state of the art, Titanic Visitor Experience is a must-visit destination and a suitable memorial to the tragedy of 100 years ago.
Other must-see destinations range from the grand Victorian City Hall to Stormont, the home of government; from the Ulster Museum – where the Girona exhibition of Spanish Armada Gold is unmissable – to historic pubs such as the Crown Liquor saloon – a rather unique National Trust property. This morning we will arrange a private Black taxi tour where you can learn about the city’s recent turbulent history and its remarkable resurgence and optimism.
Time to return home – from Belfast or onwards to Dublin.
This holiday is part of our ever-growing collection of public transport based holidays, enabling you to reach destinations around Ireland without the need to drive. We feel strongly that true sustainability also means promoting and helping to maintain a way of life in areas where the economic benefit of tourism can make a genuine difference to the local community, which is why we have used locally-owned small accommodation and local guides on this holiday.
Three centres: Dublin, Galway and Belfast. You can start or finish in any of these and we can arrange travel by ferry or plane to either Dublin or Belfast as preferred.
£1255 per person for February, £1360 per person for March, November & December, £1410 per person for April & October, £1455 per person for May and £1525 per person for June to September.
Price is based on two sharing an ensuite double or twin room for eight nights – five on a bed & breakfast basis, with three in Dublin on a room-only basis
The supplement for a single traveller is £725 per holiday.
The holiday includes a walking tour of Dublin; a day trip to the Aran Islands by ferry and tour of Inishmore; a political “black taxi” tour of Belfast; ticket for the Titanic Visitor Experience; return train travel between Dublin and Galway, and Dublin and Belfast.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
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This holiday can be arranged from February to mid-December.
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.
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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.
When I’m exploring a new part of the world car hire is usually one of the first things I book so I know how I’m getting from A to B, espec...
Thank you so much for organising our trip to Ireland. We wouldn't have travelled there without your help.Jenny C, Chichester
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