Day 1: Dublin
Arrive at Dublin Airport, where, after picking up your car, you will travel into Dublin and check into your castle hotel. Spend the rest of the day exploring this vibrant capital city with its many historic buildings, Georgian streets and colorful gardens. Spend the night in one of the most romantic hotels, The Clontarf Castle, which dates back to 1172. Start your evening with chilled champagne, handmade chocolates and rose petals in your room. Dinner at the hotel: we recommend Fahrenheit Grill which is regarded as one of the finest restaurants in Dublin. Overnight.
Day 2: Dublin
After an authentic full-Irish breakfast, spend the day exploring some of Dublin's fine Museums and Galleries. Trace its history from early Viking origins, through to the medieval magnificence of St. Patrick's Cathedral. Visit Dublinia at Christchurch, which brings the turbulent history of medieval Dublin vividly to life; 16th Century Trinity College, founded by Elizabeth 1 and now home to the famous illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells. Visit the Guinness Storehouse for a tasting of this world famous 'black stuff'. In the evening, enjoy a candle light dinner at Aqua in the picturesque fishing village of Howith, which is only a 20 minute drive from your hotel. It offers the best local produce available and a selection of world renowned wines. Return to Clontarf Castle for overnight.
Day 3: Dublin - Galway & Clifden (300 km)
After an authentic Irish breakfast, travel across the rich midland pastures. Visit Belvedere House, Gardens and Park. The magnificent early 18th century stately home of Robert Rochfort, Earl of Belvedere, stands in 160 acres of parkland on the shores of Lough Ennell. Belvedere is one of the finest of Ireland's historic houses, with gardens and park.
Before you cross the River Shannon, Ireland's longest river, visit Clonmacnoise, a 6th century Christian site. Drive on to Galway, which has long traded with Spain and the Spanish influences in the city are many. Of note is the Spanish Arch and the Spanish Parade, where wealthy merchants and their families enjoyed a stroll along the promenade. Continue to the wild and rugged Connemara region, famous for the savage beauty of its lake and mountain scenery and to Clifden's wonderful Abbeyglen Castle which has a panoramic view of Clifden and the bay with a backdrop of the Twelve Bens. It is only a 6 minute walk to the bustling village of Clifden, for fantastic shopping, lively little pubs and friendly locals. Dinner on your own at Clifden village. Overnight at your hotel.
Day 4: Clifden - Connemara Region (80 km)
After a full-Irish breakfast, travel through the wild and rugged Connemara region, famous for the savage beauty of its lake and mountain scenery. Visit the Connemara National Park, where Connemara ponies and Irish red deer roam freely through 5,000 acres of scenic mountains, bogs and grassland. You can also visit the magnificent Kylemore Abbey, a beautiful mansion in a lakeside setting against a mountainous backdrop. Irish Benedictine nuns, with a tradition of over 300 years run this unique Abbey overlooking Pollacapul Lake. Take a scenic drive through Leenane for an optional sea cruise by ferry through Killary Fjord to view many hidden coastal and mountain landscapes of Connemara. Enjoy a candlelight dinner at "The Restaurant" of the Castle. If you happen to be there on Tuesday, Tuesday night is Irish night where you enjoy a traditional Irish meal accompanied by a wonderful evening of Irish music and song. Overnight.
Day 5: Clifden - Connemara Region (80 km) - Tralee
Breakfast. Leave Clifden this morning and travel south through Galway and into Clare, known as the "land of castles". Visit Rathbaun Farm and see the animals being tended, or enjoy a traditional tea and scones break. Travel on through the strange lunar landscape of the Burren region or visit the Cliffs of Moher a spectacular 5-mile long cliff, which rises almost 200m above sea level. Stop in the heritage town of Kilrush, before boarding a ferry to Tarbert, in north County Ferry. Arrive in Tarbert and continue through Listowel and on to Tralee to Ballyseede Castle for overnight. Dinner at the castle restaurant called "The O' Connell Restaurant" in an intimate yet elegant and has lovely views of the front lawn and Ballyseede Wood. Overnight.
Day 6: Tralee - The Dingle Peninsula (145 km)
Breakfast. This morning, breathtaking landscapes unfold as you drive around the Dingle Peninsula before arriving in Dunquin, on the westernmost tip of the peninsula, where you can visit the Blasket Islands Heritage Centre. This living history museum explores the dimensions of island-living, from the land, the sea and the language, to the weather and the seasons, as well as the distinctive character of the Blasket Islanders. Weather permitting, you can embark on a 2 to 3 hour boat trip around the nine main Basket Islands. The islands are remote, unspoiled, unpolluted and spectacularly beautiful and are home to an incredible number of breeding seabirds, with the surrounding seas home to dolphins, porpoises, Atlantic seals and even the occasional whale or orca. Return to Ballyseede Castle. Have a candlelight dinner in your room to make your night a special one. Overnight.
Day 7: Medieval Limerick - Rock of Cashel - Kildare (290 km)
Breakfast. This morning, spend an hour or two in the medieval Limerick, either exploring its history and architecture or purchasing some of the splendid crafts on offer. Visit the Hunt Museum, an exhibit of one of Ireland's greatest private collections of art and antiquities. Leave Limerick and travel eastwards towards Straffan in Co. Kildare. En-route, a small detour will bring you to the imposing Rock of Cashel which rises dramatically from the flat countryside. This site has the best set of varied monuments in any Irish site.
The rock is crowned by a group of buildings, both ecclesiastical and royal, including a round tower, a 13th century Romanesque chapel and the beautifully restored Hall of the Vicar Choral. Continue through rich pastures of Ireland's midlands before arriving in Kildare for your overnight in the 13th century Barberstown Castle in the heart of the horse breeding county of Kildare. Treat yourself to dinner in the Victorian, Elizabethan or Castle Dining Rooms. Dining with music, candles, fine wines, open fires, great food is the best way to end your last night in Ireland. Overnight.
Day 8: Kildare - Dublin (38km)
Breakfast. Depart for airport where you can drop your car.