Northern Ireland, Up Close and Personal
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Get up close and personal with Northern Ireland on your own privately guided tour. One of top-notch guides will escort you on visits to Belfast and Derry, the Causeway Coast (voted by Lonely Planet as the world’s #1 destination 2018), the iconic Giant’s Causeway and more! This itinerary is just a sample and can be fully customized to fit your personal interests and duration of travel.
- Drink in the views along the Causeway Coastal Route, voted amongst the #1 Destinations for 2018 by Lonely Planet
- Legends come to life where giants once battled, at the stunning Giant’s Causeway
- Explore historic villages, castles, country houses and several Game of Thrones filming locations, like the Dark Hedges
- Explore Ireland's only remaining fully-walled city, Derry/Londonderry
- Visit Slemish Mountain, where a young St. Patrick tended sheep
- Learn about Nobel Laureate for Literature, Seamus Heaney, at Homeplace, the fascinating new museum dedicated to his life and works
- Belfast's history and stories, including the infamous Titanic, come to life on a private tour with a local guide
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On arrival to either of the Belfast airports or the central train station you will be met by your private guide, who will be your escort throughout your tour until you depart. Alternatively, you can be collected from your accommodation, if you’ve opted to stay a night in Belfast before your tour.
Travel through the countryside of County Antrim to Kilmore House, a beautiful country lodge, which will be your home for the next four nights. Freshen up, settle in and enjoy the views.
Set off on a short trip to Laragh Lodge in Glenariff Forest Park and soak in the beauty on a walk to the waterfalls. Then continue on to Glenarm Castle, explore the walled garden before meeting Viscount Dunluce for afternoon tea.
Dinner this evening will be taken at The Londonderry Arms Hotel in Carnlough, with live music as entertainment to finish the evening. The hotel was built in 1848 as a coaching inn by Lady Londonderry and her great-grandson, Sir Winston Churchill, inherited it in 1921. The O’Neill family have owned and managed the hotel since 1946 with its old world charm and reputation for good, locally-sourced food. Return to Kilmore House to retire for the night.
Note: we can arrange for you to spend a night or two in Belfast prior to beginning your tour, to give you time to look around this very interesting city or to get your legs under you if you’re flying in from North America. Please ask us for rates for the various accommodation options.
After breakfast you leave Kilmore House for the day and travel first to Cushendun, a beautiful, little, conservation village. After your visit here carry on to Bon a Margie Friary in Ballycastle, the ancestral burial grounds of the Macdonnells’. Time for lunch at Thyme and Co.
Next up is the iconic site of Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway. You’ll explore this 8th Wonder of the World in depth, and learn about the geology, history and legends of this very unique and special place. The Giant’s Causeway is Ireland’s only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After this fascinating site you’ll continue on to Dunluce Castle, the ancestral home of the clan MacDonnell, and hear stories of the castle’s history and ghost stories of some of her former residents (all true, to be sure!). The next stop is the picturesque Dark Hedges, well known as a filming location for Game of Thrones.
The stories are likely to continue when you have tea at Upstairs at Joe’s in Cushendall and then while enjoying some live Irish music and the best of craic amongst the people of the Glens of Antrim.
Return to Kilmore House for a nightcap and overnight.
Leave Kilmore House after breakfast for another interesting day of touring with your personal guide.
The first stop is Homeplace in Bellaghy, the birthplace of Northern Ireland’s own Nobel prize winner for literature, Seamus Heaney. Enjoy an emotional insight into the poet’s life and inspirations behind his poetry. Enjoy lunch in the centre. You’ll tour South Derry and discover the places that gave Heaney his inspiration and visit the poet’s grave.
Next up is a visit to Mt. Slemish near the lovely town of Broughshane. Slemish was where Saint Patrick was a shepherd as a boy, a place of real religious significance in Ireland. If the weather is fine and you’re game, you can climb up to the top for a spectacular 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside. Even if you don’t do the climb, the view from the car park is beautiful.
Back to Broughshane, known as the “Garden Village of Ulster”. The village was recently named Village of the Year, Great Britain for 2018 and has previously won Ulster in Bloom, Britain in Bloom and Entente Florale (Europe in Bloom), as well as the All Ireland Tidy Town Award. Well worth a visit and a walk along the main street, where you’ll find some quaint little shops. Time for an evening meal at the historic Thatch Inn, a quaint pub and historic, thatched building, originally a planter’s house.
Make a stop at Galboly Hidden village on the way back to Kilmore House, where you’ll spend time this evening in the company of Liz Weir, a traditional Irish story teller.
Today you’ll head out after breakfast to Derry, also known as Londonderry, Ireland’s only remaining walled city. Walk the famous walls, dating back over 400 years, that enclose the city centre with Derry’s best tour guide, Riuara O’Heará, a Derry man with a passion for his city and its history. He will provide a personal insight into this most impressive place that he is proud to call his home. After a coffee stop you’ll visit the People’s Museum and go on a walk around the “Bogside” area, site of the infamous Bloody Sunday fighting, to see the iconic “Free Derry Corner” and the city’s famous murals. You can lunch at The Bishop’s Gate Hotel and then take time for some retail therapy and a visit to Derry’s Craft Village and the Foyleside Shopping Centre.
From Derry you’ll head back into the countryside for a visit to Downhill Demsene and Mussendem Temple. From this temple high up on the headlands you can see long strands of Benone Beach, the location for some Game of Thrones scenes, as well as across the bay to County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland.
This evening you’ll have a fabulous meal at the Central Wine Bar in Ballycastle, featuring local produce crafted into the most delicious dishes. While there are many wonderful places to eat in Northern Ireland this may well be one of your most memorable meals.
After dinner you’ll head back to Kilmore House for a nightcap and a good night’s sleep after a busy day.
A final breakfast in this beautiful country house before saying your farewells and departing for Belfast.
Check in to the lovely, centrally located Hotel Europa before heading for the Titanic Quarter for a visit to the Titanic Centre, recently voted “The World’s Best Tourist Attraction”. Once you’ve toured through this fabulous attraction you’ll head back to central Belfast for a tour of Northern Ireland’s capital city with Dee Morgan, Belfast’s best tour guide. A child of “the troubles” no one can tell the story of the Capital City better than Dee. She has lived through its darkest days and is inspirational to listen to, as she highlights the future with pride and passion.
Overnight at Belfast’s famous Europa Hotel, with lots of restaurants for dinner options and pubs in the area for a nightcap, should you be in the mood.
After breakfast at the hotel you’ll check out and transfer to one of Belfast’s airports or the train station for your departure.
We can arrange for extra nights of accommodation in Belfast after this tour, to allow you time to further explore this lively and historic city. Accommodation ranges from hostels, B&B/guesthouses, all categories of hotels up to castle stays. Please inquire.
Belfast – arrive a day or two before your tour begins – accommodation and private transfers – prices vary. Please inquire.
Day 1: Kilmore House – on arrival, enjoy a Champagne reception with canapés or Tea and Coffees, scones, cream and jam with fresh strawberries and raspberries.
Days 1-5: Lunch, dinner and tea breaks – there is the option to prepay your meals and tea breaks over the course of your tour. This makes your time while touring run smoother and be stress free for you, as you won’t need to pay for these services as you go. Please inquire for pricing.
Day 2 or 4: Rathlin Island – depending on the weather and ferry schedule it may be possible to go to Rathlin Island to have a look around the unspoiled village. It is also possible to add another full day into your program, giving you the opportunity to do some walking on this peaceful island. Or, you can even opt to add in an overnight stay at the island’s lovely hotel.
Day 5: Belfast – there may be the opportunity to add tickets (dependant on scheduling) to the “Belfast Story”, an evening of music, dance and storytelling that will leave you wanting more! Just another reason to come back to Northern Ireland!
Day 6: Extend your post-tour accommodation in Belfast and book private airport transfers or transportation back to Dublin or onwards by air – prices vary. Please inquire.
Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Approximately 80% of Game of Thrones has been filmed in Northern Ireland, so it’s a fantastic place for fans to visit. We can ensure you visit specific filming locations, the jewelry store where the series’ jewelry was crafted and find at least some of the doors with scenes from different episodes (they located in various pubs around Northern Ireland, so it’s really not a hardship to visit them all!) It’s even possible to do a trip to Castle Ward and Demesne, location of the series’ famous Winterfell. Here you can take part in the Winterfell Game of Thrones Experience, including guides who were extras in the show, wear period costumes actually used in the filming and giving archery a try. Just be forewarned, beheading is the standard punishment for a bad performance on the archery range (although it’s been known for clemency to be granted to visitors)!
- 5 nights of accommodation
- Breakfast daily at accommodation
- Transportation by professional, chauffeur-driven, Mercedes vehicle for 5 days of customized touring
- The services of an experienced, knowledgeable local guide
- Attractions as outlined in itinerary above, unless specified as optional
- Pre-travel documents package
- Airfare or train fare to/from Belfast
- Additional nights of accommodation in Belfast
- Meals not specified
- Optional Tours
- Gratuities to driver and guide
- Travel Insurance
- Items of a personal nature
As this program is totally customized, it can be changed in whatever way is needed for you to visit the sites and areas of interest. Maybe you had ancestors that came from Northern Ireland and want to visit specific villages, towns, farms and grave sites. This can all be built into a program for you. We can arrange time in Belfast at the beginning of the program, followed by the exploration of the countryside. This gives you the chance to visit this fascinating city on arrival and get your land legs under you a bit, especially if you’ve just flown in from overseas and will have a bit of jet lag. It can also be arranged to operate in reverse of the itinerary outlined, or for the days to be re-ordered dependant on scheduling, special events, etc.
You can also do this program as a self-drive (only for confident drivers, not recommended if you’re a nervous driver in the very least). You you will meet your private guide at pre-arranged spots each day and enjoy the full advantages of guided touring, but still have some time on your own to meander and explore as you wish. Pricing on self-drive touring will be lower than the chauffeur-driven option above.
Disclaimer: We do our utmost to ensure that information posted on our website is correct at the time of publication, however trip details are subject to change without notice by the suppliers and operators involved. We update the information as soon as possible when changes are advised to us, however, we cannot assume responsibility for such changes made by the suppliers and operators.