Ireland: Castles, Culture, and Hiking

Destination: Ireland

| Activities: Hiking and Culture

Ireland, appropriately known as the Emerald Isle, is a country steeped in history and rugged vistas. We'll encounter these vistas firsthand as we hike to high cliffs, remote islands, coastal areas, and the lunar landscape of the Burren. We'll learn about Ireland's turbulent past, including the Great Famine, and the centuries of conflict between the British and Irish. We'll visit sites including Caherconnell Fort, Bunratty Castle, and the famous Kylemore Abbey. This trip offers a mix of hiking and culture, and of course, plenty of opportunities to enjoy some local Irish music! Maximum group size: 14


  • Touring Kylemore Abbey and several castles, in various states of repair
  • Delving into Ireland's past along the famous Famine Walk on Killary Fjord
  • Walking the Cliffs of Mohr and exploring one of the Aaron islands in the Bay of Galway
  • Hiking in Connemara National Park at the foot of Diamond Hill
  • Learning about and experiencing the food and culture of Ireland
  • Spending time in the lively city of Dublin

Departures and Prices

Notify Me Regarding the Next
Looking for another date?
Click below, and a member of our team will contact you.
Request A Private Tour


  • An AGC guide and a local guide (There will be an AGC guide with 8 or more participants, below 8 there will not be an AGC guide)
  • All transport within Ireland other than the Dublin airport transfer
  • 8 nights double occupancy lodging
  • Meals as noted in the itinerary
  • Entrance to the castles on our itinerary as well as Kylemore Abbey House & Gardens
Not Included: Travel to Shannon and from Dublin, meals excluded from the itinerary, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities, and trip insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Info

This trip is designed for active women in good physical condition who want to combine walking, hiking and sightseeing with immersion in the rich history and culture of Ireland. This trip is rated a 2 with one option for a longer hike. Preparation for this trip will require about 40 minutes of brisk walking 4 times a week (on hills if possible), or some type of aerobic conditioning 3 times a week. Rating: 1[2]3 4 5.

We will combine hiking throughout the trip with visiting some of the many historic and cultural sights, ranging from castles to remote islands. Our Irish guide is a wealth of information about all things Ireland and we will leave with a deeper knowledge of this country and its people.

Our nights will be spent in high quality lodges and/or guesthouses with ensuite bathrooms.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Arrive in Shannon airport by 12 p.m. today where we'll meet our Irish guide and be whisked away to Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher! Along the way, we'll visit Caherconnell Fort. If energy allows, we'll take a short walk to breathe in that wonderful Irish air before checking into our hotel for the evening. Next on the agenda - a delicious Irish dinner, the first of many, and perhaps even a visit to a local Irish bar with a bit of music and a good night's sleep!
Driving: 1 hour. Overnight: County Clare. (D)
We'll spend today in an area of Ireland known for its limestone, the karst limestone landscape of the Burren, one of the largest in Europe. The Burren is truly an amazing place: in these 100 square miles of jagged limestone, Arctic, Mediterranean, and Alpine plants all live side by side. In fact, 70% of all of Ireland's flora can be found here. After a morning hike in the Burren, we'll explore a different part of Ireland, its past, and its culture, with a visit to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. We’ll conclude the evening tasting medieval foods with a four-course meal at the Bunratty Medieval Banquet. The setting will be in an historical castle whilst being entertained by world famous Bunratty Castle Singers. Driving: 1 hour. Hiking: 2 - 3 hours. Overnight: County Clare. (B, D)
Morning brings a fabulous Irish breakfast - black pudding anyone? Our morning stretches ahead of us, filled with ocean breezes and wonderful vistas. We're hiking today from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher. Our trail traverses one of the most outstanding landscapes of Ireland, running along top the cliffs from Doolin to the Cliffs of Mohr visitor center. The path closely follows the edge of the cliffs offering incredible views of both the rocks and surrounding sea.

Once reaching the Visitors Center, we'll take full advantage of their exhibits before boarding our shuttle and finding lunch. Our afternoon adventure offers us a glimpse into one of Ireland's well-known family run businesses: The Burren Perfumery. The Burren Perfumery is a family company that is run on a small scale with local staff. You'll have a chance to visit and enjoy their blending rooms, herb garden and their tearoom and perhaps you'll choose to sample their wonderful organic cakes.
Overnight: County Clare. (B)
After another hearty Irish breakfast, we'll catch a ferry in Doolin to Inis Mor, one of the Aran Islands. These islands are also made of karst limestone where people have eked out a living from fishing and farming their rocky fields for 5000 years. The islands are a Gaeltacht region, where Irish (which is different from Gaelic) is spoken as a first language. The ferry ride over is about 45 minutes and once here you can rent a bike and ride around the island or see the island by foot, walking out to an old shipwreck, a Medieval church ruin, and a three-story tower house built within a Stone Fort. And of course, the local pub offers an Irish welcome of food and drink. After a few hours enjoying the island and relishing the remoteness, we take a highspeed ferry to the town of Rossaveal, where once again we meet up with our Irish guide and vehicle, and anyone who decided not to go to the island. We'll continue to Clifden and if arriving in time can enjoy a pleasant walk around this quaint little village.

Driving: 2 hours. Hiking: varied depending on activity choices on island. Overnight: Clifden (B, D)
We're in for a treat today with a visit to Connemara National Park at the foot of Diamond Hill. Connemara is the home of the Twelve Bens, a mountain range of rocky peaks. We will have a few options today but one we love is a walk up Diamond Hill. It has 2 loops so those who want a rewarding challenge can tackle the upper, steeper loop and enjoy the 360-degree views at the top, looking over the ocean to nearby Inishturk and Inishbofin and across the dramatic Connemara landscape to the iconic Twelve Bens. Others can take the shorter, less strenuous lower loop and enjoy the nature walk and the tearoom in the lovely Visitor Center. After our walk followed by a short drive, we will visit Kylemore Abbey, known as one of the most romantic places in all of Ireland. The chapel on the grounds is a miniature replica of Norwich Cathedral and the gardens are immaculately kept.

Driving: 2 hours. Hiking: 3 hours Overnight: Clifden (B, D)
Today, we start the day with a sheepdog herding demonstration on a working sheep farm. These highly intelligent dogs are trained from birth and we'll have a chance to see them in action in a picturesque setting.
Next, we'll delve into the history of this magnificent landscape as we follow the Famine Walk that runs along the shores of Killary Harbour. Part of our walk will be along a famine relief road, constructed by the starving Irish during the great famine of 1845-1849 in return for food. Along the way we'll clearly see the ruins of famine villages and old 'Lazy Beds', an ancient practice of building ridges for planting potato crops. While the potato blight that was the immediate cause of the great famine ravaged crops throughout Europe, its most devastating impact was in Ireland where the impoverished population was heavily dependent on potato crops for survival. The severe economic conditions were inherently interwoven with the policies of British governance at the time and soured the already strained relations between these countries. The magnitude of the famine indelibly changed Ireland and became a rallying cause for the Home Rule movements that eventually led to independence.
We'll end today's memorable walk with a cruise through the Killary Fjord where we'll see dramatic sweep of the landscape, as you pass between the Twelve Bens and the Maam Turk mountains to the South, in County Galway and the Mweelrea mountains to the North in County Mayo. The shelter of the fjord is home to both mussel and salmon farming and toward the mouth of the fjord is a small island where dolphins traditionally like to make an appearance!
Driving: 1.5 hours. Hiking: 2 - 4 hours. Overnight Clifden (B)
Leaving Clifden, we'll make our way to Cong. We will visit Cong abbey and take a walk through the forest on Ashford castle grounds. After our walk group will have time to explore the town and have some lunch in one of the local pubs or cafes.
After lunch, we will continue to Clonmacnoise, an ancient monastic site founded by St Ciaran in the mid-6th century that includes a cathedral and 7 churches. It was a great center of religion and learning, visited by scholars from all over the ancient world. Afterwards, we'll have a bit of free time before meeting back up for dinner.
Driving: 2 hours. Hiking: 1- 2 hours. Overnight: Athlone (B, D)
This is the day everyone dreads, the finish of our trip as we return to Dublin - but before we go, let's do a bit more hiking and sightseeing! Yes, we have to pack up and leave Athlone but one last walk before returning to the city still awaits and our guide will surprise us with her choice! Once arriving in Dublin, our Irish guide will bid us farewell and we'll check into our hotel. The rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy Dublin - your AGC guide will help you figure out what you want to do and get you oriented to the city. We'll meet back at our hotel in the evening and head out for our last dinner together in Ireland.

Driving: 1 hour. Hiking 2 hours. Overnight: Mullingar (B, D)
This morning it's time to say goodbye to Ireland as we depart for the airport or on to our next adventure. You are free to make your return flight arrangements any time for today. Or if you think another day in Dublin is a good idea, there is so much to see and do. (B)


(22 reviews)
4.5 Food
4.5 Lodging
4.7 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

Sort By:
Most Recent

Rachel W.
1 month ago

Lynda B.
1 month ago

I very much enjoyed the areas of Ireland which were visited on this trip. A wonderful selection of geography; all of it was so beautiful! The size of the group is very good and allows you to get to know everyone. The cultural stops were interesting as well. Highpoints for me were the Burren hike, the Cliffs of Moher hike, the Burren Perfumery, Inis Mor, Kylemore Abbey, the Connemara hike and the Famine Walk.

Margaret D.
1 month ago

Judith B.
1 month ago

Good group. excellent leaders, beautiful country and lucky weather.

Joanna R.
1 month ago

The guides were very good...kind, flexible, thoughtful. The group size was perfect. The travelers were all lovely.

Lori C.
1 month ago

Guides were excellent, itinerary was good mix of hiking and culture

Jennie S.
1 month ago

There was a great mix between walking and seeing historical and cultural sites. The Irish guide (Edel) was very knowledgeable and quite personable. The American guide (Adele) was very supportive and friendly and went out of her way to insure that everyone was well taken care of and having a good time. My daughter said it was the best trip of her life (and no driving on the wrong side of the road).

Peggy R.
1 year ago

Everything was special as this was my very first international trip! Both guides were wonderful.

Leslie W.
1 year ago

Jennifer B.
1 year ago

this was a bucket list trip for me, but I had no idea what Ireland actually looked like, From the very first day I was amazed at what we were seeing, the beauty of the landscape, the friendless of the Irish people. It was refreshing to see a largely unspoiled landscape and the care that people take to keep it that way.

Frances G.
1 year ago

Fantastic guides, wonderful travel companions and beautiful places to explore.

Nancy R.
2 years ago

This trip was a good mix of hiking and site seeing. I liked that we spent the majority of our time in rural areas and small towns. Our Irish guide contributed much to the overall experience.

Mary B.
2 years ago

Outstanding guides and travel companions, exploring a beautiful country I'd never been to before, learning the history and culture of Ireland. Edel, the Irish guide was delightful. Please make sure she is part of future AGC Ireland trips.

Mary H.
2 years ago

This trip was absolutely wonderful in almost every way, and a huge part of the credit goes to our two outstanding guides, Kaitlyn and Edel (sp?). Their ease with each other and with all the participants created such a friendly, close feeling amongst the group that began early and lasted throughout the trip. They were upbeat, completely competant to deal with any situation that arose, and just a joy to be around. I've been on many AGC trips in which guides obviously worked well together and enjoyed each other's company, but this team were on the same page and so compatible, a skyrocket team!--they pulled us all together in every way. We felt we were in great hands without being coddled or micro-managed.

Amanda L.
2 years ago

I really enjoyed the potato famine walk, and the hike up to the Cliffs of Mohr. I also loved the sheep dog demonstration at Fort Caherconell. The food at the Doolin Inn was excellent!

Jodi O.
2 years ago

Edel, our Irish guide, was delightful! She sang, told stories and had endless energy! Our weather cooperated beautifully, and we had great hikes, great tours of castles and other ruins, and great food and fun. As with each AGC tour I've been on, the other women on the tour were excellent company! I also really liked the pace of this level 2 trip compared to the most recent level 3 trip I had taken. I felt like I had an hour or more in the evening to reflect and decompress and we always had time in the morning for breakfast and general preparation for the day. It was helpful that twice we stayed in one hotel for 3 nights which also makes for a calmer approach to things. And Ireland is absolutely gorgeous! Incredible natural beauty!

Linda B.
2 years ago

A wonderful and entertaining Irish guide that made me forget I was a tourist and the chance to meet and talk with local people. At the end of the day, I always called going back to our small and quaint Inns "going home". They truly had the feel of home. The food was over-the-top delicious!

Karen A.
2 years ago

Both guides were awesome! People were so friendly

Laurie L.
2 years ago

Unique landscape with a guide that took routes with hidden gems. Historical information provided gave insight to the meaning of the various sights for both past and present.

Teryl P.
2 years ago

The guides are what made the trip exceptional. All the stories, songs, side trips etc.

Linda M.
2 years ago

Cliffs of Mohr, monastery, hotel K

Sue W.
2 years ago

The itinerary, the beautiful scenery, the hiking, wonderful Irish people, the fantastic group of women on the trip

  1. It looks like you're arriving in Shannon and leaving from Dublin. Isn't that more expensive?

    That used to be true but ticketing has changed and it typically is not more expensive. And it saves a lot of driving time!
  2. Could I combine this trip with the hiking trip?

    Absolutely. You would have a day to relax and wash your clothes between trips. And while both trips include visits to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, the hiking will be different.
  3. Where do we eat?

    Your breakfasts will be buffets at the hotels where you're staying. Dinner is in restaurants with typically a choice of vegetarian or non-vegetarian entree. Lunches are not included in this itinerary, but you'll have wonderful options which may include either picnics or stops in pubs, cafes, or restaurants along the way.
  4. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. Know that Irish cuisine has a big focus on meat and potatoes, and vegetarian options may be somewhat limited. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, options may be limited and we ask that you bring some additional protein bars. If you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  5. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.