'True North' - Northern Ireland & Donegal, 5 days/4 nights

      Northern Ireland and Donegal

      27 reviews
      Duration: 5 days
      Group size: 6 - 16
      'True North' - Northern Ireland & Donegal, 5 days/4 nights
      Northern Ireland and Donegal

      27 reviews

      Duration: 5 days
      Group size: 6 - 16

      About this trip

      A unique exploration of Ireland's 'True North' in 5 days / 4 nights. One of our most popular tours and one of the few tours to focus exclusively on Northern Ireland and Donegal.

      We at ‘Essential Ireland’ are passionate about including the beautiful and fascinating North of Ireland and Donegal in our tours. We highly recommend you visit!

      Our tour-guests are fascinated by the story of Historic Derry, the beauty and legend of the Causeway, modern peaceful Belfast and its troubled past, the characters and the communities of this beautiful part of Ireland that only 25 years ago was a no-go zone for tourists and is now one of Europe’s top attractions.

      On our Northern adventures we take pride into introducing you to the fun and endearing locals from both cultures and communities, the indigenous Irish community and Northern Ireland’s ethnic British culture.

      We also venture into majestic Donegal, a remote magnificent corner of Ireland that is often overlooked by mainstream tours. Join us for a unique adventure!

      What’s included

      • Accommodation
        Fine 4 star hotels with a warm Northern welcome
      • 2 meals
        1 dinner and 1 lunches
      • Tips to your tour-guide
        Tips to the Tour-Guide are included
      • All transport
        a comfy modern tour-coach with room to spread out
      • Driver tips
        Driver is tipped by Essential Ireland, but you're welcome to give a little extra also if you so wish
      • all activities
        All tour activities including the famous Titanic experience

      What’s not included

      • Drinks
        drinks at dinner are paid by your good self, both alcohol and non-alcohol

      Available Packages

      Double / Twin room
      Available until 4 days before departure

      Price per person sharing a room with one large bed or two beds.

      Deposit: €400
      Solo traveller / single supplement

      One person travelling solo or with others but sleeping solo and not sharing the bedroom. Private room for the entire tour.

      Deposit: €400


      DAY 1:
      Dublin to Belfast (& Titanic Experience)

      [9am] Depart central Dublin. We pick up in one central location (the Leonardo Hotel opposite Christchurch Cathedral)

      [10.30ish] Our first stop is the historic, and usually unvisited, town of Drogheda. Destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in 1649. (You’ll be hearing a lot about him on this tour!)

      Visit the elaborate Church of St. Peter that resembles a grand medieval Cathedral, maybe light a candle to invoke blessing on our travels and gaze in awe at the head of St. Oliver Plunkett (yes, his fully preserved head) who was hung, drawn and quartered in London in the year of Our Lord 1663 and whose head is preserved in an ornamental glass case beside the altar! 

      As a bonus, St. Peter's Church also displays a relic of the True Cross. 

      History buffs will really enjoy this.

      [11am] free-time to maybe find yourself a Coffee and a wee cream-bun.

      [11.30] Visit Monasterboice, ancient and glorious Monastic ruins deep in the serene countryside and lush farmland of County Louth. Learn of its majestic Round Tower and its famed Celtic-Christian High Crosses, the finest in Ireland. Your guide will help you recognise the messages and stories contained in the carvings. 

      This is a truly special archeological site.

      [Early afternoon] Arrive in Belfast, the proud Northern capital. Everyone is free for lunch in the bustling city-centre.

      [2pm] We’ll enjoy a short panoramic city tour and experience a good introduction to our temporary hometown for 2 nights.

      [3pm]: The late afternoon is devoted to the epic Titanic Experience, voted the #1 visitor attraction in the world. (yes, the world!). You’ll be amazed at this state of the art visitor centre, no expense has been spared to bring to life the story of one of the most famous ships in history, built in Belfast 1912. We spend 2 hours at this brilliant attraction.

      [5.30pm] Check into our central Belfast hotel. You'll be free for dinner in one of the many pubs and restaurants around our hotel, your 'Essential Ireland' guide will make plenty of recommendations. 

      Some of us might meet up before dinner in the famous Victorian  ‘Crown Saloon’, just maybe the most beautiful bar in the world!

      Your Organizer

      Essential Ireland Tours & Travel Ltd.
      27 reviews
      Famous for our small-group, VIP-style, Ireland Tours (8-16 guests) 🇮🇪 Created by award-winning Irish Tour-guide Steve McPhilemy (Rick Steves' right-hand man in Ireland for over 20 years) & Irish-American travel-enthusiast Patrick Wade to provide wonderful, fun & value-for-money Irish experiences for our friends, family and international guests.


      We had a wonderful experience with Essential Ireland. Chris and Stephen were very informative, had a great sense of humor,and were looking out for our best interests - we had a 2 year old in the group:) Killarney National Park was lovely, and we appreciated personal time to hike before starting our day. Ashford Castle, the Burren, the beaches, the peat bog, and the Great Blasket Center were fascinating, but the highlight for us was Dingle and our stay at Milltown. From the moment we were greeted by Seamus and our gracious hosts, we felt at home. The delicious breakfasts, the Irish music and dance presentation, the side trips to town and beyond, and most especially the falconry will leave us with lasting memories.
      By Sue W for Wild Atlantic Way 7 days (Killarney, Dingle & Galway) on Jun 20, 2024
      Many thanks Sue for your kind words and highly positive review of your 'private tour' with Essential Ireland Tours, it was such a pleasure to host you all and tour through our beloved Ireland together. Delighted to read you enjoyed all the Irish activities and cultural highlights and we hope to welcome you again in the near future. Le meas/with respect Stephen Mcphilemy Founder & Chief Tour-Guide Essential Ireland Tours
      Our first trip to Ireland. We absolutely loved the tour from Essential Ireland. The accommodations, the experiences (crystal cutting, falconry, sheepdog demo, whiskey tasting, Blasket Island Center, Jaunting car ride through Killarney National Park, and so much more), the wonderful breakfasts at all places, guide Stephen's terrific driving through the narrow roads along the Wild Atlantic Way and his amazing commentary of the history of Ireland and its people as he drove...this trip more than lived up to our expectations. Only downside was the group was a little larger than advertised (21 instead of cap of 15) - but it did not really hinder our experiences. We loved the amount of time spent in the smaller towns of Killarney, Dingle and Galway. We did the Dingle Sea Safari on our 'free day' and it was the highlight of our trip - but we had amazing weather to experience it, so it's a crap shoot. This trip allowed for lots of free time to shop, eat and experience the local vibes as well - Stephen gave great recommendations for local pubs/live music.
      By JODY B for Wild Atlantic Way 7 days (Killarney, Dingle & Galway) on Jun 20, 2024
      Thank you so much for the lovely positive review Jody, it really helps other travellers decide to tour with us at Essential Ireland Tours. Our tour was such fun and it was a really great group, I loved guiding every minute of it. This particular tour departure had some tour-guests who could not travel on the next open date (which had 12 tour guests) or the previous tour (which only had 6 tour guests on the tour) and trying to make sure they enjoyed an Irish experience on the only possible date, we permitted going over our max on this one occasion, but we have a system in place now to ensure we will always stay at 16 tour-guests or under (our average throughout the year is actually 12 tour-guests. In April 2024 I led this tour with just 2 guests! We have a never-ever-cancel guarantee). But as you kindly pointed out, the group size didn't hinder our experiences and our brand new tour-bus had 30 seats. Still, we wont be going over 16 participants again in future I assure you. Delighted to read you loved the hotels, the experiences and all the great activities we include every day on our Essential Ireland tours. Best wishes from Dingle bay, we hope to tour with you again in the near future. Slainte! Good health! Stephen McPhilemy Founder and chief Tour-Guide Essential Ireland Tours
      Wonderful tour with a small group. The tour leader had an extremely in-depth knowledge, but the group was small enough to adapt for individual preferences, and left enough free time for personal choice. Highest recommendation!!
      By Anne W for Wild Atlantic Way 7 days (Killarney, Dingle & Galway) on Jun 12, 2024
      Thank you sincerely Anne for your kind words, it was a pleasure to guide this tour and introduce our small group of 14 to my beloved Ireland. Im happy to read you enjoyed the relaxed pace of our Essential Ireland Tours and also the way we go in-depth in Irish history and culture. Best wishes to both of you and hope to see you "on the road again" sometime in the near future. Is mise le meas/from me to you with respect Stephen McPhilemy Founder and chief Tour-Guide Essential Ireland Tours
      This trip was exactly what I had hoped for & expected based on the information presented in advance. The small group of 14 people allowed well timed visits, the transmission of information & a congenial association of interested travelers of assorted ages. My two grown daughters accompanied me & were charmed by the whole experience. We especially liked the beautiful surroundings & interaction with animals ( hold the baby lambs, sheep herding, falconry) .Every part of the trip was timed perfectly with lots of free time. Stephen's knowledge of past history as well as the present day political scene gave us a broad background that enhanced the tour. Accommodations were excellent. The small bus was extremely comfortable. Stops were timed to insure individual needs were met. I"d definitely recommend this trip without hesitation.
      By Meryl K for Wild Atlantic Way 7 days (Killarney, Dingle & Galway) on Jun 11, 2024
      Nice group size. Good flexibility. Nice pace to trip - didn't feel rushed anywhere. Comfortable coach. Knowledgeable guide. Perfect way to check off Ireland on my bucket list!
      By Mary F for Wild Atlantic Way 7 days (Killarney, Dingle & Galway) on Jun 11, 2024
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