A tour of all the major cities in Ireland would take 12 to 14 days, however keep in mind that this is just an overview of the sites. You will find that these itineraries typically spend only one or two nights in the larger cities, and are on the move the rest of the time getting from place to place. This is why many travelers choose to focus on a specific region of Ireland, to ensure they can take everything in.
The larger cities of Galway, Limerick, Killarney, Cork, Belfast and Dublin offer their own unique style with central locations that are perfect for exploring the countryside.
Dublin, which is the capital of Ireland, is a favorite of travelers. Visit pubs, museums, restaurants and shops. Popular sites include St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Malahide Castle, Guinness Storehouse and the Garden of Remembrance. Take time to stroll through Dublin's beautiful Georgian squares. Enjoy entertainment at a theatre, club or pub with traditional Irish music.
Killarney is considered the tourist capital of Ireland due to its natural beauty and the world-renowned Ring of Kerry. Other popular sites are Ross Castle, Dingle and Tralee, Ladies View and the McGillicuddy Reeks. Golfers can enjoy some of the world's best championship golf courses nearby.
Belfast is a thriving city in Northern Ireland, rich in history and culture. It is said to have some of the best nightlife in Ireland. Wonderful restaurants, shops, pubs and old markets offer plenty to do.
The city of Limerick, off of the River Shannon, is ideally located for a visit to the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Village and King John's Castle. Durty Nelly's is one of the most famous pubs in the area. Located in South West Ireland, Cork boasts beautiful scenery of river valleys as well as the sandstone hills of the west. From here you can visit the Blarney Stone, Blarney Castle, Woollen Mills and the affluent town of Kinsale. Walking through Cork, you can see the Opera House, St. Ann Shandon Church, St. Finbarr's Cathedral.
Galway is full of narrow streets and medieval buildings which make you feel like you have gone back in time. See the Spanish Arch, the Church of St. Nicholas and Lynch's castle.
The shorter tours typically allow you to spend at least two nights in each of the major cities, so that you have some free time to venture out on your own. You can always add a few nights before or after your tour begins as well. Tour accommodations range from budget hotels and inns, to five star hotels and overnight castle stays. Of course the better the accomodations, the higher the price. Another thing to consider when selecting a tour is how much sightseeing is included, versus what is going to be offered as optional and cost additional while you are on your trip. Also, how many meals are included, as this can be a considerable savings to you in Europe. Are there any special trips or highlights included? All of these factors can affect the price of a tour, but you may find that spending a little more up front, is a better value in the end to ensure you are getting the most from your visit.
In 8 to 10 days, you can take a Southern Ireland tours and spend time in Dublin, Shannon, Killarney and Waterford, which will include highlights and visits to such places as the Old Jameson Distillery, Bunratty, Ring of Kerry, Kenmare, the Blarney kissing stone and Waterford Crystal Factory.
On an 8 to 10 day trip to Northern Ireland, you would stay in places such as Galway, Derry, Shannon and Dublin. The drive from the west cost over to the east coast incorporates natural beauty as well as historical sites. Visit the Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and the Connemara region. Some of the trip highlights may include Kylemore Abbey, Glenveagh National Park, Giant's Causeway, Trinity College and St. Stephen's Green.
You can take an Ireland tour year round, but the best weather is found May through October. Weather can always get chilly, so pack warm clothing for the evenings. If you don't mind the cold weather, then in the winter there are far less crowds and prices are about 40% lower than traveling during peak season.
You can find great shopping in Ireland for hand-cut crystal, Irish Whiskey, jewelry, handmade sweaters and more.