The Best of Ireland - duration: 9 Days / 8 Nights

Day 1: Dublin

Arrive at Dublin Airport and pick up your car at the car hire desk. Commence your journey to Waterford. Passing through the Curragh Region which is the centre of the horse breeding industry in Ireland, you can visit the Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens just outside the town of Kildare. Continuing further south, visit the medieval city of Kilkenny and visit the 16th century Rothe House, now the museum situated opposite the former County Jail and Kilkenny Castle, in the heart of this historic city. Kilkenny Castle stands on a majestic site beside the river Nore. This magnificent castle, dating from 1172, lies in a beautiful 50-acre park. The Gobelin Tapestries and Great Hall have been restored to reveal their former splendor.

Continue to Waterford, the capital. Check in to Waterford Castle for an overnight. Begin your first evening with a candlelight dinner at the The Fitzgerald Room, in an elegant, comfortable and intimate setting. Overnight.

Day 2: Waterford City - Cork - Kenmare (218 km)

Breakfast. This morning, take a scheduled walking tour of Waterford city, where the guide brings the fascinating history of the city alive. Waterford City was established in Viking times and it has an exciting medieval flavor and riverside bustle. Time permitting, you could visit the world famous House of Waterford Crystal for a crystal factory tour, visitor centre and opulent retail store housing the largest collection of Waterford Crystal in the world. Travelling from Waterford and passing through the seaside towns of Dungarvan and Youghal, arrive at Midleton where you can visit the Old Midleton Distillery. See a video presentation on the story of Irish whisky and follow the old distillery trail through mills, malting, corn stores, still houses, warehouses and kilns. View the largest pot still in the world.

Time permitting, make a short stop in Cork City, which is Ireland's second largest city. Continue to the market town of Kenmare, set in spectacular scenery. Check in to Sheen Falls Lodge for an overnight. Explore the town on your own, it has many eating places. We recommend: Taj Mahal Kenmare for an Indian meal or Mulchays Restaurant for an authentic Irish meal. Overnight.

Day 3: Kenmare - Ring of Kerry (160 km)

Breakfast. Today, tour one of Ireland's loveliest districts, the Ring of Kerry. Poets, painters, writers and musicians have all tried to convey the beauty of this area. Drive along the broad, dramatic coastline of the Iveragh Peninsula and through the charming villages and towns of Killorglin, Cahirciveen, Waterville and Irish-speaking Sneem. Visit Muckross House, a magnificent Victorian mansion and one of Ireland's leading stately homes with beautiful gardens. Return to your hotel in Kenmare for overnight. Enjoy a candlelight dinner at La Cascade Restaurant boasting an elegant, classical dining room at Sheen Falls Lodge Hotel Kenmare. Overnight.

Day 4: Kenmare - Bunratty Folk Park - Cliffs of Moher - Galway - Connemara (385 km)

Breakfast. Commence your journey towards Galway. Passing through the pretty village of Adare and the Medieval City of Limerick, arrive in Bunratty where you can visit the 15th century Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Travel north through Ennis to the Cliffs of Moher. These impressive cliffs rise to a height of 700 feet above the sea and stretch for a distance of about 5 miles along the coast. Time permitting, visit the new Visitor Centre. Drive to Galway for a short sightseeing tour of the city called the "City of the Tribes" after the fourteen most prominent families in this area. Galway long traded with Spain and the Spanish influences are many in the city. Of note is the Spanish Arch and the Spanish Parade promenade. Continue into the wild and rugged Connemara region, famous for the savage beauty of its lake and mountain scenery and on to Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara, in heart of Galway. Overnight.

Day 5: Galway

Breakfast. Spend the day at leisure. Check with your hotel for many activities like walking, pony trekking, hiking, scuba diving, sailing and woodcock shooting. Or take an excursion to the Irish speaking Aran Islands where age old traditions co-exist comfortably with modern living. The islands have a rich history, which can be seen from their ancient monuments, from both prehistoric and Christian times. You may take a 20 minute ferry crossing from Rossaveal on the Connemara coast. Dinner at your hotel's Owenmore Restaurant overlooking Ballynahinch River, perfect for a romantic dinner. Overnight.

Day 6: Galway - Sligo/Donegal Region (235 km)

Breakfast. Travel northwards through Mayo and into Sligo, known as Yeats Country after William Butler Yeats, the poet. Visit the Ceide Fields where beneath the bog-covered hill, lies the most extensive stone-age monument in the world with stone walled fields, dwellings and megalithic tombs of ancestors 5000 years ago. The wild flora in the region are of international importance and are bounded by some of the most spectacular rock formations and cliffs in Ireland. Travel into Sligo and see the many areas featured by Yeats in his poems. Continue to Donegal Town for overnight at Solis Lough Eske Castle. Dinner at Cedars Grill Restaurant with its easy going elegance and a very modern sense of style, is a must. Glass doors open onto a slate terrace - a delightful place to linger and admire the manicured lawns and woodland views that surround Lough Eske Castle. Overnight.

Day 7 – Donegal (225 km)

Breakfast. Travel through the rugged landscapes of County Donegal to Ardara where hand weavers demonstrate their craft and provide an opportunity to purchase excellent hand-woven goods. The Ardara Heritage Centre tells the story of tweed, for which Donegal is famous, from the sheep to the wool and eventually into woven cloth. Continue along the spectacular Atlantic coastline and visit Glenveagh National Park - 10,000 hectares of mountains, lakes, glens and woods with a red deer herd. Visit Glenveagh Castle, a wonderful Scottish Baronial style castle, which was inhabited until the mid 80s and has welcomed many famous guests such as Greta Garbo and Marilyn Monroe. Donegal town has varieties of cuisine to offer, and you can dine tonight at one of the restaurants. Overnight.

Day 8: Donegal - Dublin (308 km)

Breakfast. Travel from Donegal to Dublin city centre. Soak up the atmosphere of this exciting city which includes statue-lined O'Connell Street, with the additional attraction of the "Spire" at its centre and the General Post Office, scene of the 1916 Easter uprising and many elegant Georgian squares. Why not visit some of its many attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse, Book of Kells at Trinity College or Old Jameson Distillery? Overnight at the Merrion Hotel, Dublin.

Day 9: Dublin

Breakfast. Travel to Dublin Airport and drop your car before proceeding for your flight back home.