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South West Ireland

Culture & history

Our most recommended South West Ireland Culture & History

Cork: Fastnet Rock Lighthouse and Cape Clear Island Tour

1. Cork: Fastnet Rock Lighthouse and Cape Clear Island Tour

Take the ferry from Baltimore or Schull and cross the beautiful waters of Roaring Water Bay. Arrive in the wonderful north harbor on Cape Clear Island and go by shuttle bus to Cape Clear Heritage Centre. There, learn the history of the island and Fastnet Rock. Spend some time exploring the island and its walking trails, stop at the spectacular lookout points and spot the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse in the distance. Be sure to enjoy some fresh island produce during lunch at one of the island’s bars and restaurants. After lunch, re-board the ferry and sit back as the experienced captain takes you further into the real Wild Atlantic Way. You might even catch a glimpse of whales and dolphins in the water. As you circumnavigate the tallest and widest rock lighthouse in Ireland and the UK, learn its history and importance from the onboard audio system. Hear about the “Teardrop” of Ireland, the last glimpse of the country that the immigrant ships saw before they headed over the horizon to the New World - America. Once Fastnet Rock has been circled twice (so that all passengers can get the perfect photo), head for home and enjoy the spectacular scenery until reaching the final port.

Ireland's North Atlantic Coast 5-Day Tour from Dublin

2. Ireland's North Atlantic Coast 5-Day Tour from Dublin

Enjoy a scenic tour of Eire and Northern Ireland’s Atlantic Coast on a 5-day package tour from Dublin. Stay in quaint bed and breakfast accommodation in Portrush, Donegal, and Westport along the way. Go to the edge of Europe at Achill Island, explore the new Titanic Quarter in Belfast to see where the ill-fated ocean liner was built, marvel at the dramatic geology of the Giant’s Causeway, and immerse yourself in Gaelic culture. Day 1: Depart Dublin at 09:00 and travel north towards the border with Northern Ireland. From here it is a short journey to Belfast, famous for its industrial past and turbulent history. After a short tour of some of the city’s key areas, arrive in the newly redeveloped Titanic Quarter, where you will have time for lunch and a visit to the award-winning museum. In the afternoon, experience the contrast between the busy city center and the scenery of the Antrim Coast and Glens. Follow part of the coast from Ballycastle to the world famous Giant's Causeway. Marvel at the stunning coastal scenery, before checking into your overnight accommodation in the holiday town of Portrush. Day 2: Go to the walled city of Derry, designated a UK City of Culture in 2013. Enjoy some free time to explore the old city center, and visit one of the many museums or galleries. Then cross the border to the Republic of Ireland, traveling into one of the most remote and unspoilt areas of the country. Explore County Donegal’s dramatic scenery and Gaelic culture. Pass through Glenveagh National Park and the Errigal Mountains, before following the coast through traditional fishing villages. Stop for nature walks along the way, and soak up the local culture before checking into your overnight accommodation in Donegal. Day 3: Travel south along the coast from Donegal to County Sligo, and see the grave of the famous poet W.B. Yeats. Gaze at the mountain scenery of Ben Bulben, before exploring Sligo Town at Carrowmore, site of the largest collection of megalithic tombs in Ireland. Continue west into County Mayo to discover an area hit hard by the great potato famine, leading many to emigrate to North America. Drive through large areas of farmland, bog, and open moor, enjoying panoramic views of the distant hills. Return to the Atlantic Coast and Achill Island on the edge of Europe. Savor the peace and quiet of the beautiful area, before driving to Westport for your next 2 nights accommodation. Day 4: Today’s itinerary is weather dependent, and your guide will advise the best things to see. Explore the beautiful house and grounds of Kylemore Abbey, or marvel at the wilderness of Connemara National Park. Go to Clifden to see where the first transatlantic flight landed. Other options include the scenic Sky Road and 12 Bens of Connemara. Return to Westport for an evening at leisure, and the chance to sample some local seafood in one of the many excellent restaurants. Day 5: Enjoy a leisurely start to the day, before leaving Westport and going inland through the heart of Connemara. Visit the village of Cong on the shore of Lough Corrib to see where the classic movie “The Quiet Man” was filmed. Explore Cong Abbey, or the Quiet Man Museum, before driving through the Maam Valley to Galway City. Enjoy some free time for lunch, and to explore the vibrant city center. Return to Dublin, stopping at the old whisky distillery of Locke’s Distillery in Kilbeggan to learn about Ireland’s favorite tipple en route.

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What people are saying about South West Ireland

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 2,744 reviews

Really enjoyed the trip to the Fastnet Rock. Well organised. We had plenty of time to view the Fastnet as we went around it twice, nice and slowly. While the highlight of the trip was the Fastnet it was also good to view Cape Clear and Sherkin islands from the sea. We also had great sea views of the famous Baltimore Beacon. An very enjoyable trip which we plan to repeat at some stage.

We had the most beautiful day for travelling out to cape clear and onwards to the the Fastnet. It was well organised and we met very friendly staff on board the boat. On cape clear island we met a very friendly islander who went over and above and gave us a tour of some beauty spots in his jeep. Thank you Pat.

Trip made great by our driver and font of knowledge, Gabriel. There was no end to his skills as story teller and information about places and people here and abroad. Thank you gabriel.

Fantastic trip with excellent commentary. The dolphins we saw en-route were an added bonus. Would highly recommend.

It was a wonderful day! I have been wanting to see the Fastnet for years and it was a thrill. Cape Clear Island was