Ethereal Northern Ireland & Donegal

It is little wonder that Northern Ireland is "Game of Thrones" territory with a prolific number of sites and landscapes that inspires and thrills, a unique heritage and underrated whiskeys. To think that this was once a region torn apart civil strife and violence mere decades ago. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Witness astounding landscapes of Northern Ireland & County Donegal

Savour exquisite gastronomy 

Stay in refined boutique hotels 

Enjoy an insightful experience with the local characters

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVE DUBLIN

Arrive Dublin Intl Airport where after immigration clearance and baggage collection, be met by your as we welcome you to Dublin, formerly the second largest city in the British Empire briefly till Ireland’s independence. Dublin welcomes you with a strong and distinctive Georgian heritage that is in-your-face and quite hard to replicate. Enjoy an orientation of the lovely city where we begin with a visit to the iconic St Patrick's Cathedral, founded in 1191 in honor of Ireland's patron saint. Thereafter, visit the Guinness Storehouse which explains the history of Guinness through interactive exhibition areas including ingredients, brewing, transport, cooperage and more. Learn about the iconic stout’s founder and creator, Arthur Guinness and perhaps salute with a glass toasting to a wonderful journey so far. Later, we continue on our tour of Dublin visiting the Trinity College & The Book of Kells - a 9th Century gospel manuscript famous throughout the world, St Mary’s Church and the beautiful Liffey River before checking in into The Westbury

Overnight: The Westbury, Dublin

Meals: NIL

DAY 2: DUBLIN / NEWGRANGE & THE BOYNE VALLEY / BELFAST / UPPERLANDS

Leave Dublin today as we journey north on a short drive into the sacred and mystical Boyne Valley in the heart of the Royal County of Meath. This incredible valley on the banks of the river Boyne is host to some of the worlds most important prehistoric sites including the world famous and UNESCO-listed Newgrange. Standing over 5,000 years old, this site not only predates Stonehenge but also the Great Pyramids of Egypt. 

Next, we continue north crossing the international border and entering into Northern Ireland and past the Mourne Mountains where we then drive to Belfast, capital of Northern Ireland. Here in Belfast you will enjoy the brilliant Titanic Belfast Exhibition and learn all about the heroic shipbuilders of Belfast of the 19th Century. After this you will be taken by a Belfast local for an orientation of the city. This tour will show you the peace wall and murals that are a poignant memorial to Northern Ireland's turbulent recent past. Finally, we head on to the village of Upperlands to arrive at the beautiful and quaint Ardtara Country House Hotel where we spend 2 lovely evenings in the stunning settings, named as one of the "5 Best Places to Stay in Northern Ireland" by The National Geographic Traveler Magazine. 

Overnight: Ardtara Country House, Upperlands

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 3: UPPERLANDS (IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GIANTS & THE GAME OF THRONES)

Today, a spectacular day awaits with excitement as we enjoy an assortment of experiences from nature's spectacular creations to fantastical sites that leaves you breathless. Setting off early this morning to take advantage of the morning filtered lights where our first stop of the day is the Mussenden Temple, incredibly perched on a dramatic 120 feet cliff top high above the Atlantic Ocean offering some of the most spectacular views. Built in 1785 and forms part of the estate of Frederick Augustus Hervey, Bishop of Derry and Earl of Bristol (or the Earl Bishop), the temple was built as a summer library and its architecture was inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, near Rome. Next, a short drive away at the surreal sight of the Dunluce Castle - a "Game of Thrones" filming site and historic remnants of a medieval fortification, built on the dramatic coastal cliffs. Our coastal pursuits do not end here as we then arrive at probably the most incredible and visited sites in all of Ireland & Northern Ireland as we get up close and personal with the UNESCO-listed Giant's Causeway, a sensational geological formation steeped in myths and legends for its spectacular rugged cliffs and surreal basalt columns.

Thereafter, we will visit the Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery - the oldest in Ireland & Northern Ireland first established in 1608 by King James I. Enjoy a tour of the facilities to learn about its heritage and production culminating in a tasting of its whiskeys. Next, we are back on the "Game of Thrones" trail as we make a stop at the Ballintoy Harbour where we enjoy some time to soak in the stunning views of this charming hamlet. Later in the mid-afternoon, we then continue to another incredible "Game of Thrones" site - The Dark Hedges - a stunning avenue of beech trees planted by the Stuart family in the 18th Century leading to the entrance of their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House. Take a walk through and enjoy photo opportunities. Finally, we return back to Ardtara Country House Hotel.

Overnight: Ardtara Country House, Upperlands

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 4: UPPERLANDS / LONDONDERRY / THE INISHOWEN PENINSULA / RATHMULLAN

We leave the Ardtara Country House today heading over to the "Walled City" of Londonderry, second-largest city in Northern Ireland. Enjoy a stroll around the walls as you discover the history of this ancient city dating back to 546 AD when St Colmcille founded his first abbey where thereafter, you may consider a visit to the St Columb's Cathedral, built in 1633 after the Reformation. Later, a short drive takes us to the River Foyle as we cross the Foyle Bridge and thereafter, we re-enter into Irish territory as we start our excursion of the less-traveled Inishowen Peninsula, blessed with stunning natural and superb coastlines as we head on to Malin Head - now renowned as the filming site of the recent "The Last Jedi" installment of the Star Wars series. The most northerly point of Ireland thrills with spectacular rugged cliffs and coastal formations where you have the chance to be the rare few (from our part of the world) to experience its magic and its now Star Wars frenzy. Maybe a chance to spot a "Storm Trooper"?

Our next visit will be the Doagh Famine Village, a recreated village designed to tell the story of a Donegal family and community living on the edge of Donegal and surviving from the Famine times in the 1840s right up to present day. We then continue our coverage of the Wild Atlantic Way from here making a brief stop at Mamore Gap, a twisting narrow road that offers some of the most "Lonely Planet" moments with its surreal scenic views. Then the moment we been waiting all day culminates with our visit of the ancient Grianan of Aileach, dating back to 1700 BC. Enjoy a visit of the restored cashel with its 23m diameter sitting lonely atop the Greenan Hill with 360 degrees panorama across Lough Swilly. Finally, we arrive at the Rathmullan House Hotel where we spend the night.

Overnight: Rathmullan House Hotel, Rathmullan

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 5: RATHMULLAN / TIP OF THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY / LOUGH ERNE

Another spectacular day as we leave the Rathmullan House today and continue our journey of the Wild Atlantic Way. First stop of the day is the Great Pollet Sea Arch, a hidden gem with its surreal sea-crafted beauty offering a dramatic photography spot of part of the Wild Atlantic Way. Then nearby, we head over to the Fanad Head Lighthouse - living up to is reputation as one of the most beautiful in the world for its incredible setting. We then cut inland on a scenic drive before eventually arriving at Doe Castle, one of the most photographed castles in Ireland nestled by the Sheephaven Bay. A short drive away then arrives us at the incredible setting of the Glenveagh Castle, a 19th Century castellated mansion that was first built as a hunting lodge in a remote mountain setting inspired by Victorian idyll of a romantic highland retreat. Finally, our journey then arrives at the incredible lake setting of Lough Erne in County Fermanagh back into Northern Irish territory for an experiential stay in a bubble dome under the stars at Finn Lough Resort. 

Overnight: Finn Lough Resort Bubble Dome, Lough Erne

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 6: LOUGH ERNE (EXCURSION TO THE SLIEVE LEAGUE CLIFFS)

Enjoy an excursion day beckons as we begin with a short drive and brief stop at the fishing village of Killybegs, with its natural harbour and the largest fishing port in Ireland where you will see fleets of fishing boats returning with their daily bounty of fresh catches from the Atlantic Ocean. Thereafter, we continue to the incredible Slieve League Cliffs, also known as "Sliabh Liag" to witness Europe's highest sea cliffs, twice as high as the more famous Cliffs of Moher, offering a surreal spectacle of nature's grandeur. Enjoy a walk and time for photos to catch different perspectives of the cliffs before we continue on to the Glencolmcille Folk Village, a cluster of 6 small traditional Irish thatched-roof cottages perched on a hillside overlooking a sandy cove of nearby Glenbay beach. Take time to understand the life of yesteryear while taking in the mesmerizing and photogenic views of the setting.  

Later, our day continues next to the less-visited Assaranca Waterfall, one of the most beautiful falls in Ireland for a photo stop before making our way into the heritage town of Ardara, renowned for its salmon and trouts owing to the town's location close to the Owenea River. Enjoy some time to explore the town on foot and then finally, we return back to Lough Erne. 

Overnight: Finn Lough Resort Bubble Dome, Lough Erne

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 7: LOUGH ERNE / MARBLE ARCH CAVES / TRIM CASTLE / DEPARTURE DUBLIN

We leave today continuing our drive skirting the second-biggest lake system in Northern Ireland in County Fermanagh appreciating its beautiful scenery and its islands before stopping in the pretty town of Enniskillen, an ancient stronghold of the Maguires of Fermanagh and more recently in modern history, its instrumental role as a strategic air base during WWII. Consider a visit to the impressive Enniskillen Castle, situated by the River Erne where you can learn more about its historical evolution and military heritage. Thereafter, our journey continues to the Marble Arch Caves, a UNESCO Global Geopark in the rugged mountainous uplands and the gentle rolling lowlands of Counties Fermanagh and Cavan, stretching from the northern shores of Lower Lough Erne in County Fermanagh to the southern shores of Lough Oughter in County Cavan. Enjoy a tour through a fascinating natural underworld of rivers, waterfalls, winding passages and lofty chambers while stunningly beautiful cave formations glisten all around as you take a relaxing 10 minutes underground boat journey to admire the stunning geology.

In the second half of the day, we will re enter back into Irish territory travelling through the country roads before making a brief visit to the impressive setting of Trim Castle. Such is its stunning and dramatic demeanor that it became the film location for the epic thriller of the movie "Braveheart". In medieval times, Trim Castle was the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland, constructed over a thirty-year period by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter. Finally, we continue on to Dublin Airport for departure or continue your adventures in Ireland and beyond. 

Meals: Breakfast

HOTELS

The Westbury not only surrounds its guests in luxury and style, it places them at the very center of the city’s social and cultural riches. The hotel occupies a prime position between Trinity College and St. Stephen’s Green; perfectly located for exploring the most exciting sides of Dublin. 

The Westbury, Dublin

Welcome to Ardtara Country House hotel, a historic country house offering genuine warmth and hospitality, luxurious accommodation and award winning dining, tucked away in 10 wooded acres amongst rolling fields on the edge of the village of Upperlands. Each of the nine individually designed bedrooms are filled with character and original features, furnished with a mixture of antiques, heirlooms and quirky pieces. 

Ardtara Country House, Upperlands

Rathmullan House is a stunning, four star hotel found on the coast in County Donegal. The historic property was built in 1820 as a summer house for the family of Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Knox. Rathmullan House has 32 ensuite bedrooms, all of which feature individual décor, carefully sourced antiques and comfortable beds. After a day of activities, guests can treat themselves to dinner at the Cook & Gardener Restaurant, which serves award winning food. 

Rathmullan House Hotel, Rathmullan

The Forest Bubble Domes of Finn Lough Resort features 180 degrees transparent walls allowing you to truly immerse yourself within the beauty and tranquility of nature. Escape the noise of the outside world and enjoy stargazing in comfort for the perfect break in Northern Ireland. 

Finn Lough Resort Bubble Dome, Lough Erne

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