Ireland is more than just a destination – it’s a feeling. It’s the thrill of standing on top of towering sea cliffs and daring yourself to look down. It’s the warmth of a traditional pub session, where the locals pull you up out of your seat to dance. It’s the cool touch of ancient stones and the intoxicating flavors of artisan food exploding in your mouth. There are many ways to tackle exploring Ireland, and we are here to help guide you in your quest for an Irish spin on luxury travel.
Here at Ourisman Travel, we are seeing more and more of our clients looking to take multigenerational trips to Ireland to discover their family roots through genealogy. Even those with no family ties are still looking to visit Ireland, as it has become a can’t-miss destination in Europe. Take a trip with us as we outline our dream itinerary to the Emerald Isle.
Ireland offers three major airports spread across the country, helping you get in and out with ease. Ireland’s largest airport where most roundtrip tickets take you is the at the airport hub in Dublin. Airports in Shannon (Galway) and Belfast also provide international travelers a way to get in/out of the country while avoiding Dublin. When you do arrive in Ireland, we highly recommend renting a car to get around the country with ease.
We recommend starting out your trip in Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK), which has seen a huge spike in tourism in recent years. From Game of Thrones filming locations, to music festivals, to murals and wall art, there’s plenty going on for such a compact city. Without further ado, here are just a few of our favorite things about Northern Ireland’s capital.
Belfast was the birth place of the infamous Titanic, and you will want to check out the new Titanic Museum. Take a step back in time and learn all about how the Titanic was built, the laborers who created the famous ‘unsinkable’ ship, and how its sinking affected the entire city and the ship building industry across the world.
The biggest must-do in Northern Ireland is to hop in a rental car and head up to the Giant’s Causeway. The Causeway is a place where myth and science meet. Here, spectacular basalt columns were formed through the rapid cooling of lava from an underwater volcano, or, as some may say, were created by the legendary mythical Irish giant, Finn McCool. After you visit the Causeway, head over to old Bushmills Whiskey, which is the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world, for lunch and a tasting. If you want the full Northern Ireland experience, be sure to check out Dunluce Castle. This castle is just a few minutes from the Giant’s Causeway and provides some of the most iconic scenery in all of Ireland.
Our top recommend hotel in the Belfast area is the Culloden Estate. This is the most prestigious hotel in Northern Ireland. The house was originally built as the official palace for the Bishops of County Down; today, it boasts a regal atmosphere, brimming with antiques, original artwork and sumptuous accommodations, and the property is just 15 minutes outside of downtown.
Accommodations in downtown Belfast can be a little tricky to navigate, but if you want to be in the heart of Belfast we would recommend the Grand Central Belfast. This hotel property is right next to city hall and has Belfast’s best pub, the Crown Liquor Saloon, right in its back yard.
Dublin is a lively capital city that’s as intimate as a village and as friendly as your local Irish pub. With its seamless blend of classic visitor sights, excellent social scene and the natural playgrounds of Dublin Bay and the Dublin Mountains framing it on all sides, this laidback city is an adventure in itself.
Dublin is a major European city with countless activities and tours. Dublin is world renewed for it pubs and live music. There is no better place in the city to experience this besides the Temple Bar area. This neighborhood is filled with multiple bars on each block, all with some sort of live music on any given night. Of course, a trip to Dublin would not be complete without a trip to the Guinness brewery and storehouse. For any whiskey enthusiast, the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street is only a few blocks away from Guinness.
In terms of accommodations, in the city we have two favorites. The first being the Merrion Hotel.The Merrion, Dublin’s most stylish five-star hotel, is perfectly located in the city center. Housed in four Georgian townhouses and a contemporary Garden Wing, its bedrooms and suites surround two 18th-century-style gardens. Stunningly restored interiors provide the perfect backdrop for one of Ireland’s most impressive private art collections.
We are also quite fond of The Shelbourne. This exceptional luxury property is set in a hundreds-year-old building and is the premier city centre hotel in Dublin. The hotel overlooks St. Stephen’s Green, and is minutes from Dublin’s most famous attractions, including Trinity College, shopping on Grafton Street and the Spire.
To really experience Ireland, you will want to get away from the big cities to explore the quaint small towns and green pastures that have made Ireland famous for its emerald color. The Wild Atlantic Way is a sensational journey of soaring cliffs, buzzing towns, hidden beaches and epic bays. So whether you drive it from end-to-end, or dip into it as the mood strikes, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Sitting on the coast in the middle of the Wild Atlantic Way is Galway. Galway has a reputation for art, creativity and a sense of adventure that’s hard to find anywhere else. From music and horse-racing to literature and oysters, Galway is bursting with festivals and fun. So it’s no wonder Galway has been picked as one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities in the world to visit.
As travel advisors, the number one question we receive when we are planning a trip to Ireland is “How do we stay in a castle?” Well, we have you covered, with some of the most luxurious castle stays in Ireland all around the Galway area. The most famous castle accommodation is Ashford Castle. This 13th-century castle is located 45 minutes from Galway city. Once the Estate of Lord Ardilaun and the Guinness family, Ashford opened as a luxury hotel in 1939. This multi-award-winning property has been voted “Best Hotel in the World” by Virtuoso. Enjoy extraordinary dining experiences and fine Irish cuisine, watch hawks soar at Ireland’s first School of Falconry, and restore inner peace at the state-of-the-art spa. Warm smiles will greet you at every turn from the extraordinary characters of the castle.
Dromoland Castle is another wonderful castle option. It is one of the few castle hotels that can trace its ownership back through history to Gaelic Irish families of royal heritage. The castle offers its guests deluxe accommodations and the experience of living like the gentry, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, absolute luxury and exceptional service. The castle is just 8 miles from Shannon Airport, making it an ideal base from which to explore the exceptional beauty of the Shannon region. The castle is also close to the rugged magnificence of the Burren and the vibrant cities of Limerick and Galway.
A can’t-miss activity on the Wild Atlantic way is seeing the Cliffs of Moher. When you make your pilgrimage to the Cliffs of Moher, you’re coming for one of two things: the staggering height of the rock face, and the even more staggering beauty of the views from the top. Soaring to 214m, the striated stone reaches its long fingers southward to counties Cork and Kerry beyond, with a keen eye from O’Brien’s Tower even able to spot the Aran Islands to the north.
Ireland is a relatively small country but you can easily spend two weeks here and still have more major highlights to see. Here are some additional areas that are worth considering:
- Ring of Kerry
- Dingle Peninsula
- Aran Islands
- Skellig Michael
Here at Ourisman Travel, we work tirelessly to partner with the best hotels and tour providers all over the world, and Ireland is no different. Our close relationships with our preferred vendors allow us to deliver the ultimate VIP experience for you. We elevate your trip experience through communicating all of your details and preferences to the vendors, and we work with our partners to create a little extra magic for you throughout your trip. You’ll see the results of our valued partnerships during travel in both the large and small details – from a surprise gift or itinerary addition to exceptional turndown service at the end of a long day of touring.
When you contact us regarding your Ireland trip, we will design a fully curated travel itinerary, especially for your trip, adding elements that will make your trip to the Emerald Isle a trip you will never forget. Many of our clients opt for our Tailored Luxury service when planning a trip to Ireland to ensure all of their logistics are handled seamlessly and to ensure unique & special experiences. Reach out to team@ourismantravel or fill out a Travel Request Form to get started on your Ireland adventure!