Ireland & Scotland Group Tours
Dates for 2021 trip TBDs
Last year our travel club returned to explore the vibrant, green lands of Ireland and the adventure sold out in less than a week. Needless to say we'll be going back for round 3 in 2018! This trip has more off the path, unique experiences and phenomenal photo ops throughout! And since we're going to be so close to Irelands "little sister", we've again added our optional, awe inspiring road trip throughout the best of Scotland to make this journey complete! Stunning castles, quaint, sleepy villages, massive coastal cliffs, majestic mountain formations, delicious stouts, and world famous whiskeys; experience what the land of the leprechaun and the Loch Ness Monster is all about!
Please e-mail us for the day by day itinerary (email@example.com):
* 8 night /9 Day Ireland small group tour
* Breakfast everyday
* 1 Lunch & 3 Dinners Included
* Quaint boutique B&Bs & top rated hotels throughout
* Privately guided throughout!
Part 1: Incredible Ireland (8 nights)
"It's a Celtic mystery: how can a country as small as Ireland be packed with so much majestic history, natural beauty, vibrant culture, and, of course, fun? Norman castles overlook wild, empty beaches, Georgian country houses host impromptu traditional music sessions, excited theatergoers spill out into bustling Dublin pubs. Drama and spectacle lie at every turn, with a pint of Guinness to toast it all. But the real Irish secret is the people: their unique blend of warmth, humor, and irreverence will ensure your trip to the Emerald Isle is a true adventure" - Fodor's
* 9 Days throughout the famous gems & hidden treasures of the Republic!
* Full Irish Breakfast everyday
* Welcome & Farewell Dinner Included
* Historic Kilkenny: This charming "city" of 25,000 is indeed the smallest in the country and has been coined the medieval capital of Ireland. Kilkenny Castle and Gardens, Black Abbey, & the original "round tower" of St. Canice's Cathedral (stunning views & photographs from the top!) are just a few highlights to explore here. Kilkenny is the perfect spot to begin our journey on the "sunny" side of the island.
* The Rock of Cashel: On arrival in Dublin our road trip begins by heading south to our first encounter with stunning medieval architecture. The seat of kings and mediaeval bishops for 900 years, this small town flourished until the early 17th century. A must stop for us photo lovers, the place takes its name due to the spectacular group of medieval buildings set on an outcrop of limestone (12th century round tower, High Cross, Romanesque Chapel, 13th century Gothic cathedral, & 15th century castle!)
* Lismore Castle Gardens and Lady Louisa’s Walk: A spectacular drive with photo stops over the Knockmealdown Mountains takes us to the beautiful heritage town of Lismore. Visit the colorful castle gardens, covered in beautiful flowers, plants & trees, arranged over seven acres within the castle’s 17th century defensive walls. Next up is a woodland walk along the banks of the River Blackwater. The gentle stroll offers magnificent views of Lismore Castle among a variety of flora including beech, ash, ferns, spindle trees, holly, ivy, golden saxifrage, and wild garlic.
* Irish Whiskey Tasting & Tour: Jameson expanded their operations to the The Old Midleton Distillery in 1975 providing the space to stretch their whiskey making ambitions. This historic Distillery was fully preserved and is now home to the
Jameson Experience, where the charm and elegance of the distillery buildings reflect the pride in the product that was made here. On arrival we're immersed in the old world atmosphere for the buildings and grounds. A massive cooper vat in the garden and antique barrels & trucks laid out on brilliant green grass create a great start to the experience. We'll learn about the whiskey making process used by Jameson for over 200 years and then head to the old distillery itself. Antique vehicles, water mills, barrels, and casks line the way and after the tour we'll enter a large saloon style bar for a glass of the good stuff! There is the option to have it straight up or with ginger & lime. *For those who do not drink or like whiskey, the tour itself is really the heart of the experience & has fantastic reviews.
* City of Cork: Ireland's third largest city "is first in every important respect – at least according to the locals, who cheerfully refer to it as
the 'real capital of Ireland'. It's a liberal, youthful and cosmopolitan place that was badly hit by economic recession but is now busily reinventing itself with spruced-up streets, revitalised stretches of waterfront, and – seemingly – an artisan coffee bar on every corner. The best of the city is still happily traditional – snug pubs with live-music sessions, restaurants dishing up top-quality local produce, and a genuinely proud welcome from the locals." -Lonely Planet. There will be time in the evening to wander the cobblestone streets before we enjoy the perfect welcome dinner here in a traditional Irish Pub!
* Boat Trip to Garnish Island: This small island lies in the sheltered harbor of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay. World renowned for its gardens carefully laid out for beautiful walks, and a number of plants and other flora extremely rare for the local climate. Our local guide will point these along the way (great for macro photos!). A short boat ride to the island offers pretty views of the surrounding bay. But wait until we see the numerous, stunning viewpoints scattered around the island great for photos!
* Pretty Little Kenmare: Free time to wander around this beautiful town self proclaimed as a "walkers paradise". Shops, galleries, restaurants, & pubs line the streets making it an excellent spot for a pint!
* Sneem and the Ring of Kerry: The village of Sneem on the spectacular Ring of Kerry is nestled between mountains and the wild, rugged, coast offering some of the best views in the country!
* Kayak Excursion: A unique, expertly guided experience on Kenmare Bay with stable and comfortable kayaks. (*Any participants not interested in motorized kayak trip can have a leisurely morning in the village of Sneem)
* Hamlet of Castlecove Hike: Our local guide will take us over the hills to the neighboring village of Caherdaniel. This outstanding well marked trail has commanding views to the south of the spectacular Beara Peninsula & Kenmare Bay, including the islands of Deenish, Scarriff, and the Bull Rock We'll finish in the small village of Caherdaniel and take a stroll for photographs along the gorgeous beach of Derrynane. (* Any participants not interested in the hike can take a stroll on the spectacular Atlantic beach of Derrynane to meet the rest of the group where the hike ends)
* The Dingle Peninsula: Dingle is magic, its mellow landscape is one of green hills and golden sands culminating in Europe’s most westerly point.
* Coomenoole beach: This small but stunning beach is awesome to photograph. Drastic landscape photo ops to be taken from the top and on the beach itself.
* Slea Head Drive: An epic drive around the most stunning parts of Dingle Peninsula. We'll see and photograph the breathtaking Slea Head point with the "Devil's Horns" jutting out at the end, Ventry Harbour with its crescent blue shaped beach, ancient Fahan Beehive Huts, the Blasket Islands, and so much more!
* Dingle Town: A vibrant fishing port in the heart of the peninsula, this charming fishing village has a picturesque variety of shops, comfy pubs, café’s, and charming B&Bs. Irish traditional music and dance can be seen and heard throughout town and are a fantastic centerpiece in the pubs each evening.
* Connor's Pass: We'll depart Dingle with yet another stunning view along the highest mountain pass in Ireland. The views from the road are breathtaking with dramatic, glacier cut mountains and glacier carved lakes dotting the landscape. It's truly the most dramatic and scenic way to move onto our next adventure!
* Cliffs of Moher & The Burren: Looming over County Clare’s west coast, the cliffs stretch for 5 miles and 700 ft over the Atlantic Ocean. Unchanged for millennia, the landscape of the cliffs has, for centuries, welcomed visitors who come to marvel at their splendor. We'll walk the paths along the 320 million year old cliffs with a variety of vantage points for great photos. Up the road awaits "The Burren", a unique limestone landscape that was shaped beneath ancient seas and then forced high and dry creating this great geographical phenomenon. In the Burren, land and sea seem to merge into one, vast, exhilarating space beneath huge skies.
* Galway: Known as the “City of the Tribes” after a number of prominent merchant families who controlled the political, commercial, and social life of the city, Galway is special, simple as that. Amidst a pulsating knot of winding, cobbled streets, a carnival atmosphere is created every day by enchanting street performers spouting poetry, juggling fire, and beating bodhrans while the sound of fiddles, bagpipes, and harps spill from the open doors of its medieval taverns. Our local guide will show us around the best spots and hidden corners of this great city.
* Prehistoric Wonders of Newgrange Tombs: A fascinating guided tour around and inside one of the mysterious wonders of ancient human history. The tombs of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth were built over 5,000 years ago by stone age farmers! These ancient temples were a place of astrological, spiritual, religious, and ceremonial importance (not to mention a massive grave!) The large kidney shaped mound covers an area over one acre and is retained at the base by 97 curbstones, some richly decorated with megalithic art!
* Dublin: With a glut of boutique hotels, great shopping, mighty bars, and some of the country's most sophisticated restaurants, Dublin is fast becoming the premier city destination in Europe. We'll wander the maze of cobbled streets in Temple Bar, slurp a 'pint of plain' in the Guinness storehouse, & marvel atthe world famous Book of Kells - Dublin will not disappoint.
* Guinness Storehouse: Guinness is synonymous with Ireland and when in Dublin, no visit is complete without a trip to the Guinness Storehouse. Located in the heart of the legendary St. James’s Gate Brewery, Guinness Storehouse was the former fermentation plant of the brewery , now remodeled into a seven story visitor experience, dedicated to the history of this world famous beer. On the top story awaits the Gravity Bar where we'll enjoy 360 degree panoramic views across Dublin while savoring a complimentary pint of Guinness.
* Trinity College & The Book of Kells: Trinity College is the oldest university in Ireland and walking through its cobbled stones will bring us back to the 18th century, when the magnificent Old Library building was constructed. The library houses The Book of Kells, a 9th-century gospel manuscript world famous for its illustrations and ornamentation which surpass that of any other Insular Gospel books in extravagance and complexity. We'll experience a fascinating exhibition about these treasured books before entering the Long Room, the longest single-chamber library in the world containing 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books!
* St. Patricks Cathedral: The largest and tallest church in Ireland, St. Patricks was built between 1191 and 1270. However, the site's history begins way back in the 5th
century as the first Christian site in Ireland, where St. Patrick baptized converts. The history is fascinating and the gothic revival architecture is stunning.
* Kilmainham Gaol (Prison): Kilmainham Gaol is one of the largest unoccupied gaols, in Europe, covering some of the most heroic and tragic events in Ireland'semergence as a modern nation from the 1780s
to the 1920s. This historic landmark is now a fantastic museum with an exhibition detailing the fascinating political and penal history of the prison and its restoration. *Please note, we are unable to guarantee reservations for our group until a few months prior to the trip due to the extreme popularity of the site. In the event we cannot secure tickets, an alternative activity will be chosen.
* Final Night Irish Dinner, Song, & Dance at the Merry Ploughboy Pub: The only pub in Ireland owned and managed by musicians, its unique 'hands on' approach from the owners make our final night in Ireland one we'll never forget! The excellent food, Irish music & dance show has been awarded "Best Dinner/Entertainment Event in Ireland" and the pub is the current "Music Pub of the Year". *Please note, we are unable to guarantee reservations for our group due to the extreme popularity of this restaurant until a few months prior to our trip. In the event we cannot secure seats, an alternative dinner/dance show will be chosen.
* As always this entire trip will be amazing for photography. (PhotoFly Travel Club adventures are laid back when it comes to photography. They are not workshop style based tours and you do not need to be an avid photographer to join. All are welcome!)
* All Ground & Water Transfers Included
* International airfare not included but we're happy to help you find the best flights as always. (Flying in and out of Dublin (DUB) *Unless continuing onto Scotland with us, see below.. )
* Don't forget to e-mail us for the daily itinerary of our Ireland small group tours at firstname.lastname@example.org
Optional Part 2: Stunning Scotland (5 nights)
An abundance of diversity crammed into a small territory; "North Sea to Irish Sea, Highlands to Lowlands, the landscapes of Scotland—lush woodlands, windswept moors, lochs as deep as the imagination—may take your breath away...Its local products, customs, music, and traditional dress—from tartans and bagpipes to tweeds—travel all over the globe, but there's nothing like experiencing them firsthand." - Fodor's
* 5 nights/6 Days throughout the stunning landscapes of Scotland
* Full Scottish Breakfast everyday
* Farewell Dinner
* Highly rated boutique hotels throughout
* Inter-trip Flight Included! (Dublin, Ireland --> Edinburgh, Scotland)
* Pitlochry & the Queen's View: From Edinburgh Airport we'll make our way north to the Scottish Highlands. A must stop for photographs will be at Queens View, the iconic landscape in Pitlochry. Witness and photograph this remarkable panoramic of Loch Tummel & the iconic 3500 ft Schiehallion Mountain in the distance. Enjoy views fit for a queen showcasing Scotland in all its glory!
* Cairngorms National Park: A road trip en route to the Inverness area takes us through the UK's largest national park in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Vast mountains, rushing rivers, reflecting lochs, majestic wildlife, and charming villages abound making no shortage of photo stops throughout.
* Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve: The Gaelic name of this stunning geological phenomenon means "Ugly Hollow", which makes one wonder what they were thinking since this 2.6 million year old box canyons sheer size and beauty, culminating in the 150 ft Measach falls is ripe for exploration and photographs! We'll check out the best spots along the spectacularly deep, mile long gorge where the River Droma descends towards Loch Broom.
* Achmelvich Beach: Paradise is the only word to describe this off-the-path, white sand beach we'll come upon during a coastal stroll around the gorgeous crescent bay. It will be surreal to explore and photograph the iconic Scottish Highland landscapes earlier in the day and finish at a Caribbean like oasis with clear blue waters just an hour up the road!
* Spotting Nessie at Loch Ness: En route to the Isle of Sky we'll travel along the world famous Loch Ness stopping for photos at various viewpoints, and of course, if we spot the giant Loch Ness Monster, Nessie! (Photoshop techniques offered in the rare event we don't spot this iconic creature)
* Eilean Donan Castle: It might be the most photographed castle in Scotland, but that doesn't mean it's not an absolute must-visit for our travel club. Seeing this iconic piece of history in person far surpasses the images found on the internet, and is much larger than it appears in them. Situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by nothing short of majestic landscapes, get your cameras ready to shoot this inhabited castle dating back to 1214!
* Isle of Sky: "The incredible variety of its landscapes—saw-toothed mountains, heathered moorlands, pristine lochs, and white-sand beaches, all contained within a 50-mile-long island—leave the visitor with the impression that the whole of Scotland, or perhaps even the world, has been replicated here in miniature, a fractal vision of the whole." - Travel & Leisure
* The Old Man of Storr: This 2,000 ft high volcanic pinnacle is a true wonder of nature and one we'll take time to explore and photograph from a variety of vantage points via a picturesque hike to its base.
* Kilt Rock: Said to resemble a kilt because of the unique pattern formed from its basalt columns, these 300 ft cliffs are not only stunning in and of themselves, but also because of the dramatic Mealt Waterfall pouring over the edge into the sea!
* Neist Point Lighthouse: At the most westerly tip of the isle, this lighthouse built in 1909 completes an amazing landscape photo for us! We'll walk along cliffs toward the edge and end in front of the lighthouse snapping photos along the way. Keep your eyes peeled because Neist Point is regarded as the "best place on Skye to see whales, dolphins, porpoises, and basking sharks and the sea around the point is teeming with sea-birds including gannets, black guillemots, razorbills and shags." -glendaleskye.com
* The Black Cuillins & Fair Pools of Glenbrittle: An easy hike along the stream through the Glenbrittle Forest takes us to this otherworldly place. With the largest mountain in Sky as a backdrop (Black Cuillins), the crystal clear, blue waters of the fairy pools will enchant our eyes, ears, & cameras! The vivid blues and greens of the water suggest an unnatural origin, making the name "fairy" very fitting. For those brave souls in the group, take a dip in the bone-chillingly cold waters of the most pristine swimming holes in the world!
* Pass of Glen Coe: A pleasant ferry ride takes us back to mainland Scotland to begin our final road trip through endless beauty. We'll drive through the most famous glen (narrow valley) in Scotland and we'll soon see why. The U-shaped, glacier formed glen is 10 miles long but less than half a mile wide on the valley floor, and the narrow pass affords unforgettable views of the enormous mountains steeply sloping down into the valley. Landscape photo ops everywhere we look!
* Doune Castle: This 14th century medieval stronghold was built to impress by Scotland's "uncrowned" king, Robert Stewart, the 1st Duke of Albany and Governor of Scotland. He is described "as a ‘big spender’. No expense was spared on Doune – even in its ruined state, the castle inspires awe in visitors...(We'll) walk in the footsteps of rulers both real and fictional. Doune is a popular filming location and has been featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Game of Thrones, and Outlander." - Historic Environment Scotland
* Edinburgh: The journey is not complete without a panoramic drive around this world class city. “Edinburgh is draped across a series of rocky hills overlooking the sea. It’s a town intimately entwined with its landscape, with buildings and monuments perched atop crags and overshadowed by cliffs. From the Old Town’s picturesque jumble of medieval tenements piled high along the Royal Mile, its turreted skyline strung between the black, bull-nosed Castle Rock and the russet palisade of Salisbury Crags, to the New Town’s neat grid of neoclassical respectability, the city offers a constantly changing perspective. It really is one of the world's most gorgeous cities, and the rocky
hills that it wraps around provide ever-changing panoramic viewpoints – a photographer's paradise.” – Lonely Planet
* Optional Extra Night Edinburgh: Stay an extra night to explore the highlights of the Scottish capital with the On & Off Bus Pass (Highligh stops incled Edinburgh Castle, Palace of Holyrood House, & the Museum of Scotland are just scratching the surface!)
* All Ground & Water Transfers Included
* One way flight Included: Dublin (DUB) --> Edinburgh (EDI)
* International airfare not included but we're happy to help you find the best flights as always. ( Flying into Dublin (DUB) & departing from Edinburgh (EDI) )
*Don't forget to e-mail us for the day by day itinerary of these Ireland & Scotland small group tours! (email@example.com)