Active Ireland12 Days • 5 Cities Active Ireland
Extraordinary destinations, one of the best accents in the world, and more gorgeously green landscapes than you can shake a stick at (they don’t call it the Emerald Isle for nothing). Welcome to Ireland. Get ready to explore more than the expected—challenging you to hike, bike, and walk your way to jaw dropping views. Over the course of 12 days, you’ll see world-famous attractions, visit and explore 5 cities, and in all likelihood, start to wish some of the cozy pubs were in your neighborhood at home. So, go ahead and have yourself a grand time—with the proper amount of shenanigans and pints mixed in of course.
What are the top highlights?
- Hike and bike along some of the most scenic stretches in all of Ireland
- Pose at the base of Torc Waterfall and wish you had that kind of water pressure at home
- Stand speechless at the Cliffs of Moher while trying to come up with some good puns
- Climb to the top of Carrauntoohil, the highest point in Ireland
- Try a variety of pints and drams at a nearly endless array of pubs
- Traverse the appropriately named ‘One Man’s Pass’ along the crest of a mountain
- Check off a huge bucket list goal at The Giant’s Causeway
Your trip includes
- Round-trip flights & airport transfers
- Tour Director & local guides
- Private deluxe motorcoach
- 6 days of hiking and biking Ireland
- 10 nights in hand-picked accommodations
- Welcome Mixer with appetizers & drinks
- Daily breakfast & three-course Farewell Dinner
- One lunch
You’ll stay at accommodations hand-picked by our team of local experts, in rooms only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. Each property is located in a safe, convenient area. You’ll receive your exact accommodations 30 days before your trip departs.
Click here for examples of where you'll stay.
Admit it, booking flights is the worst. Here's why you should let us do it for you:
- Flight costs are included in your monthly payment plan, so you can pay over time
- Airport transfers are included, so we’ll be waiting, sign in hand
- Flights are booked with major airlines
- 24/7 support no matter what time zone you’re in
- One checked bag included on most flights
- Option to make changes to your trip up to 99 days before departure
Booking with a friend? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re on the same flight. Still want to book your own flights? That’s cool, simply select ‘No flights included’ instead of your departure city in the ‘Flights from’ dropdown.
Day 1: Overnight Flight
Board your overnight flight to Shannon. Find your seat, pick a movie, and then try to get a wee bit of shuteye. The majesty and raw beauty of Ireland awaits.
Day 2: Arrive in Shannon & Travel to Limerick
Your first true taste of Ireland is the city of Limerick, which dates all the way back to 150 (that’s over 1,800 years ago, which feels like about the same amount of time it takes to bake a potato). You’ll find old world charm at King John’s Castle and St. Mary’s Cathedral—as well as vibrant nightlife and live music at numerous pubs and clubs throughout the city. Limerick also provides the namesake for a certain type of humorous poem. Hint: There once was a man from Nantucket…
- Meet an EF representative at the airport.
- Transfer to your accommodations and check in.
- Receive the latest schedule from your Tour Director.
- Take a guided walking tour of the city.
In the evening, it’s time for your Welcome Mixer. Enjoy appetizers and drinks with fellow travelers at an authentic local spot. Afterwards, take the party elsewhere.
Day 3: Killarney National Park & Waterfall Walk & Travel to County Kerry
Lace up those hiking boots and charge your phone—today you’ll be exploring the first national park in Ireland, encompassing over 25,000 acres. Keep an eye out for the only herd of red deer on the mainland then stand at the foot of Torc Waterfall—which having been in the same spot forever, makes you wonder why anyone would need to be told not to chase a waterfall in the first place? Looking at you TLC.
Hike Stats: 3 hours TIME 7.75 miles DISTANCE Flat ASCENT Easy DIFFICULTY
- Explore the most extensive native forest remaining in Ireland.
- Cross Old Weir Bridge—after checking for trolls.
- Walk the Trail of Two Lakes.
- Relax in front of Torc Waterfall while being thankful you already used the bathroom.
Moonlight Kayaking(extra cost)
Relax your body and mind as you watch the last of the day slip away in a stunning sunset while floating on a loch. The breeze will bring you fresh salt air, the sounds of seabirds returning to their roosts, and a snippet of the conversation from the kayaks behind you about the merits of fresh Guinness. Then, watch the moonrise (howl at it if you’re up for it since it’ll be dark out and no one will be able to tell for sure that you’re the werewolf) and natural bioluminescence appear before returning to shore.
Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.
Day 4: Hiking Reeks Ridge
Today’s hike is a beaut, so this isn’t the day to skip breakfast. We would recommend the traditional Irish spread of a rasher of bacon, pork sausages, fried tomato, toast, as well as white and black pudding—but it turns out you can’t actually hike while napping. After breakfast, prepare to climb to the top of Carrauntoohil, the highest point in Ireland at over 3,400 feet.
Hike Stats: 9 hours TIME 7.4 miles DISTANCE 5,600 feet ASCENT Hard DIFFICULTY
- Begin your adventure at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, a 150-year-old bar nestled at the entrance to the world-famous Gap of Dunloe.
- Watch for jaunting cars, light, horse-drawn carriages used here due to the narrow, winding roads that are often too difficult for motor vehicles.
- Climb the notorious ‘Ridge of Reeks Traverse’ while trying not to think of Game of Thrones.
- Take in unbelievably long views overlooking the sprawling countryside to the southwest and Dingle Bay.
- Reward yourself for completing the hardest hike of the trip with a taste of something smooth yet fiery to warm your belly.
Day 5: Walk the Cliffs of Moher & Travel to Galway
Now we’re talking. Ireland’s top tourist attraction features over 8.5 miles of stunning view after stunning view. Ruggedly wild and utterly beautiful, the sheer cliffs will make you want to peer over the edge—albeit on your stomach after inching towards them at an absurdly slow pace. And since you won’t be climbing down the cliffs yourself, check out the Moher Visitor Centre to see the underwater caves beneath the cliffs and a bird’s-eye view of the cliffs from above—which is fitting since there are over 60,000 that nest on the cliffs.
Hike Stats: 2 hours TIME 3.75 miles DISTANCE 400 feet ASCENT Medium DIFFICULTY
- Hike along the edge of world-famous cliffs reaching heights of over 700 feet.
- Drop your jaw as you take in the view of a lifetime, drop your jaw a little more—then take a mental picture. Because no photo could ever do a view this magnificent justice.
- Enjoy a scenic drive from the Cliffs of Moher to Galway.
- Stop at The Burren, a dramatically sparse landscape of rocks, caves, and prehistoric sites.
- Meander along the banks of the River Corrib to Galway Bay. Then meander back, since people just don’t meander enough anymore.
Day 6: Hike Connemara National Park
Try not to feel like you’re going in circles as you climb the figure-eight circuit of two looped trails that begin at the National Park visitor center. The lower loop features boardwalk sections that stretch over sections of rich bog land, while the upper loop provides gorgeous views of the Connemara region. As if the trail layout wasn’t confusing enough, the name of the place you’re hiking is Diamond Hill—but it turns out there aren’t any actual diamonds. Sorry lassies and lads.
Hike Stats: 3 hours TIME 3.8 miles DISTANCE 1,266 feet ASCENT Medium DIFFICULTY
- Gaze into the distance at inspiring views of the Twelve Bens, the sharp-peaked summits of a mountain range, while agreeing that 13 would have been too many Bens.
- Discover remnants of the past by looking for the 4,000-year-old megalithic (carved from large stones) tombs found in the park.
- Search the skies for the plethora of meadow pipits, skylarks, and European stonechats, as well as the birds of prey that chase them, that inhabit the area.
- Climb Diamond Hill while wondering what the difference between a hill and a mountain actually is (none officially according to the U.S. Geological Survey—thanks for nothing).
Day 7: Free day in Galway & Optional Gaelic Games
Sleep in and give your hiking boots a break—today you’ll have some free time on your hands. Find yourself a cozy pub (they aren’t hard to find), and wander the historic streets of Galway until you decide it’s about time for more pints at another hilariously named pub.
- Explore Galway on your own until you finally succumb to the irresistible smell of boxty (Irish potato pancakes) like a true Galwegian.
- Find out why Galway is nicknamed ‘City of the Tribes’ as you discover the sheer variety of coats of arms on display.
- Pick up an authentic Aran wool sweater to stay warm for the next hikes—but mostly to wear around your apartment this winter.
- Follow your ears to a venue playing some traditional live music that happens to pair wonderfully with a pint or dram.
Free Time Suggestions
Your prayers are answered: The Galway Cathedral, the youngest of Europe’s grand stone cathedrals, overlooks the River Corrib and features a blend of styles including Renaissance, Romanesque, and Gothic. It is beautiful by day, but even more stunning when lit by spotlights at night.
Piece of work: The Galway City Museum features two main sections. The first focuses on the heritage of Galway, giving you some background on the city you’ve been exploring. The other section focuses on Irish artists from the second half of the 20th century—which makes us wonder where the section about the other half is…
Gaelic Games Experience(extra cost)
Experience an integral part of Irish culture and do as the locals do by visiting one of the Emerald Isle’s 2,200 local Gaelic Clubs. Get unique insight into how sport, music, dance, history and tradition come together for Ireland’s most popular cultural pursuit. After learning the basics, you’ll get the chance to show off your newly acquired hurling skills during some friendly mini-matches with your group. Plus, you’ll get a free pub lunch and Irish dancing lessons to top it all off.
Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.
Day 8: Bike the Great Western Greenway & Travel to Sligo
Trade those hiking boots for, well, sneakers as you ride along this off-road trail. Located in the county Mayo, which is just around the corner from mustard, relish, and ok, you get it—the trail follows the route of a former railway line. Then, trade two wheels for however many a bus has these days and head to Sligo to finish your day—and begin your night.
Hike Stats: 2.5 hours TIME 11.2 miles DISTANCE 270 feet ASCENT Medium DIFFICULTY
- Bike along the Great Western Greenway and fulfill your dream of actually coasting along the coast.
- Pretend you have a cramp, then ‘accidentally’ find that small bottle of whiskey in your bag as you raise a toast to the view.
- Take a guided sightseeing tour of Sligo.
- Try some local oysters from Lissadell and give thanks to the sea gods as you enjoy the bounty of the wild Atlantic.
Day 9: Hike Slieve League
While not nearly as famous as the Cliffs of Moher, what the sea cliffs of Slieve League lack in popularity—they more than make up with height. Reaching nearly 2,000 feet, three times taller than their popular counterparts, you won’t be thinking of anywhere else when looking down from here. Or anything other than maintaining your balance for that matter.
Hike Stats: 4.5 hours TIME 5 miles DISTANCE 2,600 feet ASCENT Medium DIFFICULTY
- Get your heart pumping as you stand atop some of the highest sea cliffs in Ireland.
- Walk single file (just pretend you’re back in elementary school) as you navigate the aptly named One Man’s Pass.
- Take in dramatic views of the cliffs and sea below from Bunglass Viewpoint, the most popular place to take photos.
- Get your adrenaline back in check by unwinding with some of your new friends over a nice dinner on your own.
- Turn it right back up after dinner, since Sligo has a large student population and a vibrant nightlife.
Day 10: Travel to Fermanagh + Walk the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail
Are you ready to walk and roll? Because today you’ll be listening to, no wait, you’ll be walking the ‘stairway to heaven,’ a wooden boardwalk that’s part of the Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail. Built to protect the picturesque landscape around it from erosion, it offers views so scenic that it has garnered its own fair share of fans on social media.
Hike Stats: 3 hours TIME 7.5 miles DISTANCE Flat ASCENT Easy DIFFICULTY
- Hit the ground hiking for your first adventure in Northern Ireland.
- Look to the peak of Cuilcagh mountain (over 2,100 feet) to see both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at the same time as the mountain straddles the border.
- Travel to Belfast by bus while imagining just how much whiskey they could make with all the peat you’re passing.
- Head out on a guided sightseeing tour in Belfast.
- Take advantage of included entry to the Titanic museum—we recommend starting to practice your best ‘Jack!’ now.
Day 11: Giant's Causeway + Farewell Dinner
For your last full day of adventure in Ireland it’s time to go big—really big. Like Giant’s Causeway big. Some (scientists) say this unique geological formation is result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption, others (everyone else) believe that an Irish giant by the name of Finn MacCool built it—so he could fight a Scottish giant. Either way, it’s a stunningly beautiful spot to watch the crashing sea.
- Travel by bus to coast while trying your best to remember what the friendly giant’s name was in The BFG.
- Walk among the nearly 40,000 basalt columns of the Causeway.
- Hang on tight as you cross the almost 100-foot high Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge to a tiny island.
- Put yesterday’s sightseeing tour to good use and find a bar so you can raise your glass to an amazing trip. Sláinte!
Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included farewell dinner with the group.
Day 12: Fly Home
Beannacht mo chairde!
Translation: Goodbye, friends! Your next destination awaits—home. Before you head to the airport, enjoy your last few moments together. Take one more group photo. Grab that final drink. (Fine, maybe a couple of drinks.) But this isn’t goodbye. It’s “See you later.” The only question is, where?
EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS
1. Double the fun
A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.
2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.
Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.
Activities will take place rain or shine, however the hiking routes may change based on local conditions. Any changes are at the discretion of the guide.
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