Travel beyond the headlines of Northern Ireland’s notorious “Troubles” and discover a land of spectacular natural wonders as you explore the wild Atlantic coast, see the stunning steps of the Giant’s Causeway, go to the battlefields of the Battle of the Boyne, and much more.
Choose from a backpacker’s budget option, staying in shared dormitory style hostel accommodation, or choose an en suite room at a budget hotel or bed and breakfast accommodation if you would prefer a bit more privacy.
Learn about the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 that brought the peace process to an end, and see evidence of the 30-year conflict at the Bloody Sunday Murals in Derry. Take a tour of Belfast, now classed as one of the top 10 cities in the world by Lonely Planet, and meet fun-loving local characters from both the Ulster-Irish and Ulster-British communities along the way.
Day 1: Dublin - Belfast city (overnight Belfast)
Choose from one of two central Dublin collection locations and you'll be on your way. Your first stop this morning is at Monasterboice, a monastic settlement dating back to 501 AD. This ancient monastery is home to the best preserved and most intricately carved Celtic crosses in Ireland. A fully intact stone round tower also keeps watch over the horizon for marauding Vikings.
By late morning you'll arrive in Belfast. Discover why Lonely Planet regards Northern Ireland's capital as one of the top 10 'must- visit' cities on Earth. Your driver will show you highlights including City Hall, Queen's University, Albert's Clock, Botanic Gardens and much more.
With plenty of time at leisure to explore the city, the political “Black Taxi” tour (optional) is strongly recommended to view the Peace Wall and infamous political murals. The drivers are locals and can explain what life was like in Belfast during the conflict of 1969-1998.
This evening you'll stay downtown, in a most lively area with great pubs and restaurants catering to all tastes and budgets. Live music venues are plentiful, and Belfast is well known for its great nightlife.
Day 2: Belfast - Giants Causeway - Letterkenny
A glorious touring day cruising the Beautiful North Coast. You will initially visit the Dark Hedges, famed by Game of Thrones. Then it's the jackpot visit of the day - you will trace the footprints of Celtic Giants, and walk the Giant's Causeway. This is Ulster's #1 attraction since 2 million BC. A UNESCO world heritage site, and the proud location of an estimated 60,000 hexagonal columns of basalt rock formed by cataclysmic violent volcanic eruptions a long long time ago. Your guide will wax lyrical about how the giant warrior hero (Fionn McCool) built it to fight off the pesky Scots. You'll continue to the nearby city of Derry / Londonderry where you'll spend the afternoon. There will be plenty of time at leisure after an excellent in-depth walking tour of Derry's walls with a local guide. Learn why the city is officially known as Londonderry and the story of the long bloody siege here in 1689. Your guide will take you down to the well-known Bogside district, scene of the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972 and inspiration for U2's classic anthem 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday'. Just across the border lie the hills of Donegal. You'll stay overnight in the neat town of Letterkenny for a flavour of rural Ireland.
Day 3: Letterkenny - Galway - Dublin
After breakfast this morning, you'll head down a portion of the west coast's Wild Atlantic Way. Your journey takes you through the poetic heartland of Co. Sligo, W.B. Yeats country. You visit the final resting place of the Nobel laureate in Drumcliff Abbey, and admire beautiful Benbulben mountain referenced in many of his poems. Further along the road lies Ireland's premier surf venue and beach at Strandhill, Co. Sligo, and you will have some leisure time here for refreshments. Your final stop before returning to Dublin is Galway where you have free time to explore. Perhaps you might like to visit some wonderful local seafood eateries, or try a pint in one of the fantastic pubs. You then take a scenic drive back to Dublin, arriving back at approx. 7:00 PM.