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Arrive in Ireland and drive northwards to discover some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in Europe. (Bring your own car by ferry, or arrive by plane and hire one locally – we can arrange this for you if you wish.)
Your first destination is the mighty Causeway Coast, where you will stay in the area’s premiere locally run small hotel. Having three nights here gives you the time to explore the area properly. En route, we highly recommend following the amazing coastal road, through its small tunnels and fishing villages all the way from the town of Larne to the small village of Cushendun. Take a moment here to stop and see the renowned ‘Causeway Goat’ – this goat spends its days leisurely by the side of the river, next to a bronze statue dedicated to it – a strange sort of local celebrity! The best route now turns inland, under an old viaduct and out of the village, following the river and up through Glendun – one of the seven great Glens of Antrim. Here you will pass the splendid ‘Dark Hedges’, featured as the King’s Road in the series of ‘Game of Thrones’.
Centuries of history exude from the old timber beams and rough plaster walls of this landmark inn. At its heart is the gaslit sixteenth century snug, with soot-stained walls and ceilings and a pulley suspended above the fireplace. You could spend hours here over a Guinness or a dram, dreaming up romantic notions of encounters goneby. The snug is encased by a mere two-hundred year old inn, with an even more modern, yet sympathetically designed, outer shell. Guest rooms are spacious and atmospheric, with individual character and attention to detail to keep design in-keeping with the building’s charm. On warmer summer afternoons and evenings, there is no better place to relax than the lovely outdoor courtyard.
On your third day we have organised a trip to the magical Island of Rathlin. This, the largest of the Northern Ireland islands, has an incredible history, closely linked to Scotland and is where the two Celtic cultures can clearly be seen to combine. The ferry crossing takes only about 30 mins and is an experience in itself – watch out for seals and marine birds and even dolphins at the right time of year! Rathlin Island is home to Northern Ireland’s largest seabird sanctuary and a recently refurbished RSPB visitors centre. The island is great for exploring on foot, with many small paths and tracks, looking out over the magnificent coast to the western isles of Scotland or back to Ireland and the most impressive sight of the cliffs of Fairhead. Return at the end of the day to Bushmills. Your guide will accompany you to make sure you get the most from your visit to this unique island.
Take a small stream train, that starts just a couple of hundred metres from your hotel, on the short journey to the Giant’s Causeway, the famous geological formation, with its iconic cliffs made from unique columns of uniform basalt rock. Perhaps take a tour of Bushmills Distillery for a taste of Irish whiskey, or pop off in the car to one of the other fantastic local heritage site such as the Carrick-a-Reid rope bridge or the historic ruins of Dunluce Castle. We’ll provide plenty of recommendations depending on your personal interests.
The Inishowen peninsula is a beautiful part of Ireland, protruding northwards from County Donegal into the Atlantic. On your way along the North Coast, you will pass some of Ireland’s biggest and best beaches, as well as the stunning Mussenden Temple perched at the edge of some magnificent cliffs. To get from Northern Ireland to Inshowen, the easiest route is a small ferry, crossing from Magilligan Point into ‘The South’. Your hotel here is located in Culdaff, a small village with an incredible sandy beach and famous for its warm welcome, good local food and great traditional Irish music.
Close your eyes and imagine the perfect Irish pub/hotel: brightly painted, in a small village surrounded by beautiful countryside and glorious beaches, where you will be welcomed as one of the family, treated to home-cooked food and the perfect pint of Guinness while you chat to passers-by. Chances are there will be music too – perhaps a local jamming session in the bar, or maybe a concert by some famous Irish names in the atmospheric venue just through the back. Well you don’t need to imagine, as we have found it!
Inishowen marks the start of Ireland’s newest but oldest tourist attraction – The Wild Atlantic Way – clearly marked by a distinctive blue squiggle on signposts.
This corner of Donegal is a delight to explore, with many kilometres of scenic driving and some of the best beaches in Ireland. Malin Head, at the tip of the Inishowen peninsula, is the most Northerly point on mainland Ireland (yet it is in the “South” rather than Northern Ireland…). On a clear day, the views stretch across to the Scottish Hebrides and Kintyre peninsula.
There are many Neolithic sites – standing stones and cairns – if you are interested in pre-history, and a must-visit is the Doagh Famine Village, which tells the story of Ireland from 1845 to the present day in a very different style from any other tourist attraction.
Moving onto your final area you have the opportunity to cross Lough Swilly on another small ferry, which brings you almost to the front door of your next hotel.
An impressive building with a distinct country home feel to it, complete with crocquet on the lawn, wooden floors and dark oak panelled walls, plus a fine restaurant in which to dine. The old downstairs cellar has been converted into a warm and cosy bar area, serving a fantastic range of microbrewery real ales (as well as the mandatory ‘Black Stuff’). You can also order exquisite, stone baked pizzas made from fresh, local ingredients, including herbs from the hotel’s own kitchen garden. This is a fun alternative from the restaurant, especially on a warm summer’s evening as you can sit out and enjoy it with a cold drink in hand.
You are now in striking distance of some of Donegal’s most popular attractions. However, this is a place to take your time and appreciate the scenery as you go, maybe journeying to the famous cliffs of Slieve League, which lay claim to being the highest sea cliffs in Europe. If you fancy some couvenit shopping, then head for Donegal Town and it’s fantastic woollen mills. Or if, like us, hopping on and off ferries is a key part of your holiday exploring, then head over to Arranmore Island. The largest inhabited island in Donegal, the short crossing takes you on a great voyage, passing through channels between other, smaller, deserted islands. After a relaxing time soaking up the delights of the island, cross back that day, ready for another comfortable stay in your marvellous country hotel.
On you last day you will travel to Belfast or whichever port or airport you have chosen. Perhaps take in a quick tour of the historic city walls of Derry/Londonderry on your way, providing a fascinating insight into the story of the city over several hundred years, right up to present times. If you wish we can organize a final stop over in a lovely hotel or guesthouse close to where you are departing from, to ensure you leave Ireland fully rested.
This holiday covers three centres covering the Antrim Coast and Donegal.
£775 per person for April, May and October, £815 per person for June, July, August & September.
Prices based on 2 adults sharing a double or twin ensuite room for 7 nights on a bed and breakfast basis. The holiday also includes return ferry travel to Rathlin Island as foot passengers, and a guided tour of the island.
Travel to Ireland
We would be delighted to book your travel to Ireland for this holiday. We would recommend Belfast as your point of entry, although it is also easy to arrive into Dublin or Rosslare.
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 Ireland itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
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.
This holiday can be arranged from March to November.
To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest-houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.
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