Note: Some tour providers on this list may be running more limited operations due to COVID-19 or may impose testing or vaccine requirements. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.
Whatever attracts you to Ireland – the verdant landscape, the ancient castles and cathedrals or some of its famous manufactured goods – these tours will help you make the most of your time here. With the help of expert and traveler input, U.S. News determined that these tours in Ireland (and a few in Northern Ireland) are the best on offer. While the tours take differing approaches, ranging from boats and buses to horse-drawn carriages, they all have guides well-versed in local history and lore. Indeed, the guides’ storytelling skills are often cited as highlights of these outings, which may last as little as an hour or as long as an entire day.
Lally Tours – Galway to Connemara and Kylemore Abbey Full Day Tour
Explore the west coast of Ireland, where the Irish language (Irish Gaelic) remains prevalent, on this bus trip. In addition to learning about the various sights, you may acquire a few words of the local lingo from the onboard guides, whom tour-takers find enthusiastic, knowledgeable and entertaining. The route on this approximately eight-hour excursion winds through the photogenic Twelve Bens mountain range. Among the stops are a scenic mountainside village and the extravagant Kylemore Abbey, a 19th-century abbey featuring a Victorian walled garden and a neo-Gothic church. Tickets for the tour start at around 45 euros (about $50) for adults, $35 (about $39) for children 5 to 12 and 25 euros (about $28) for children younger than 5. Discounts are available for seniors and students. The fee includes admission to Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Garden, but does not include lunch. Outings depart Galway daily at 10 a.m. Hotel pickup is available for no additional charge. Lally Tours also offers daylong excursions to the Cliffs of Moher, among other destinations.
Irish Day Tours – Blarney Castle & Cork Tour
Blarney Castle, which dates back to the 1400s, ranks as one of the most popular attractions in Ireland. The medieval stronghold, which stands approximately 5 miles west of Cork, houses the legendary Blarney Stone – purported to bestow the gift of eloquence on those who kiss it. In addition to visiting the famed castle, this tour stops at another highly popular destination, the Rock of Cashel and its cluster of medieval buildings, including Cormac’s Chapel (which contains Romanesque frescoes) and the Hall of Vicars. The trip also includes a visit to Cahir Castle, a 13th-century defensive structure constructed on an island on the River Suir. Those who’ve taken the tour report enjoying the impressive castles, as well as the guides’ amusing commentary. Tours depart daily from Dublin at 6:50 a.m. and return to central Dublin around 7 p.m. Fees start at 65 euros (roughly $71) for adults; 60 euros (about $66) for students, seniors and teens 13 to 17; and 32.50 euros (around $35) for children 5 to 12. No fee is charged for infants 4 and younger. Irish Day Tours offers a variety of daytrips, including excurions to Wicklow, Connemara and more.
Deros Tours – Ring of Kerry Coach Tour
Observe the unique landscape of the Iveragh Peninsula, including Ireland’s highest mountain, on this approximately 6 ½-hour bus ride. Stops include the villages of Glenbeigh, Waterville and Sneem. From March to October, coaches also stop for a demonstration of how dogs are trained to herd sheep. A high point – literally – is a visit to Moll’s Gap, which affords views of MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, including its tallest peak, Carrantuohill, which stands more than 3,400 feet high. Another highlight is the Ladies View (named in honor of Queen Victoria and her retinue) at the Killarney Lakes. Tour-takers sing the praises of the witty guides – who are known to sometimes sing themselves. Buses leave from Killarney at 10:30 a.m. daily and return around 5 p.m. Tickets cost approximately 31.50 euros (around $35) for anyone 13 or older, except students with valid ID, who pay about 22.50 euros (around $25); fares for those younger than 12 start at 18 euros (around $20). Prices exclude the cost of lunch. Deros Tours also runs boat tours in Ireland.
Jameson Distillery Experience Tour
See how world-renowned Jameson whiskey is produced on this tour of the original Midleton distillery, including its maturation warehouse, in County Cork. The approximately 75-minute tours are offered multiple times daily with both morning and afternoon start times. Whiskey enthusiasts typically appreciate the opportunity to observe the distilling process and taste the end result. They also offer high marks to the engaging, well-informed guides. Tickets start at 23 euros (about $25) for adults, 19 euros (about $21) for seniors and students, and 11 euros (about $12) for anyone younger than 18. Prices cover whiskey samples for the adults. Note: Construction at the facility (slated to be complete in 2025) shouldn’t affect your visit, but it might necessitate allowing for extra time to find off-site parking.
Game of Thrones Tours – Iron Islands & Giant’s Causeway from Belfast
“Games of Thrones” fans can visit some of the spots where pivotal scenes of the series were filmed on this full-day excursion to the Glens of Antrim. Highlights include the Giant’s Causeway, the Cushendun Caves (where Melisandre births a dark spirit), a beach that served as Dragonstone and the Dark Hedges, an avenue of beech trees where Arya Stark made her escape. Guides who served as extras on the show impart information about the various sights. Reviewers report finding the passionate guides’ commentary insightful. Tours are available on Saturday and Sunday year-round, with additional weekday departures in select months. Tickets start at 50 pounds (about $66), which includes use of costumes and props. Lunch is not included. Buses carrying up to 33 people leave Belfast, Northern Ireland, at 7:30 a.m. and return roughly 10 hours later. Be aware that this tour involves some walking on uneven ground and that children younger than 12 are not permitted. The company also offers tours that depart from Dublin, among other locales.
Yellow Umbrella Tours – North Side Free Tour
Soak up some Dublin history while strolling among sites related to the Irish independence movement on this casual walking tour. Destinations include the Moore Street Market and the General Post Office, both of which figured in the 1916 rebellion, as well as the Garden of Remembrance and the Custom House. Participants frequently praise the guides not only for their historical knowledge, but also for their helpful pub recommendations. Tours start daily at 3:30 p.m. at the Spire on O’Connell Street and conclude approximately two hours later at the Famine Memorial in the Docklands (near Temple Bar). There is no charge for this tour, but tips for guides are encouraged, as are advance reservations to ensure an appropriate number of guides and a manageable group size. Yellow Umbrella Tours also conducts a free walking tour of the city’s south side, in addition to a number of themed tours.
Irish Day Tours – Cliffs of Moher
Travel west from Dublin to marvel at the Cliffs of Moher and enjoy panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean on this full-day bus trip. In addition to the nearly 400-foot cliffs, this tour visits the village of Doolin for lunch and the flower-filled Burren National Park, as well as the city of Galway before returning to Dublin. Tour-takers typically appreciate both the remarkable scenery and the astute and entertaining guides. Trips depart from the statue of Molly Malone on Suffolk Street daily at 6:50 a.m. and return to the city center around 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices start at around 50 euros (about $55) for adults; 45 euros (about $50) for seniors, students or children 13 to 17; and 25 euros (about $28) for children 5 to 12. Children younger than 5 can ride for free. Note: Fees do not include the cost of lunch. Be sure to bring headphones if you want to listen to the commentary on Irish Day Tours’ multilingual mobile app. The company also offers tours to the Giant’s Causeway, Blarney Castle and more.
Belfastology Walking Tours – Eclectic Belfast Walking Tour
Admire Belfast’s architecture and hear about the city’s history on this jaunt around town. Highlights include City Hall, the Cathedral Quarter, Waterfront Hall and the Albert Memorial Clock – one of Belfast’s top landmarks. Reviewers applaud the enthusiastic guides’ well-informed commentary. These approximately 2 ½-hour walks typically happen multiple times a day starting at 10 a.m. and 2 and 6 p.m., though availability can vary; be sure to check the company’s website before your trip. The tours can be tailored to suit groups’ particular interests. Tickets start at around 18 pounds (about $24) for adults, with discounts for teens and children. Belfastology Walking Tours also offers themed tours, such as political murals and street art and music.
Galway Tour Company – The Aran Islands & the Cliffs Cruise
Experience both the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher on this daylong outing. Buses leave Galway at 9 a.m. and travel along the Wild Atlantic Way south to the fishing village of Doolin. From there, tour-takers ride a ferry to the smallest of the three Aran Islands, Inisheer, where – for at least two hours – they can explore cafes, castles, churches, lighthouses, shipwrecks, pubs and other attractions. After lunch, the journey continues by coach to the cliffs. The return trip to Galway includes a stop at the Baby Cliffs in Ballyreen. Travelers generally appreciate the opportunities to explore the various destinations as well as the guides’ amusing and educational commentary. Buses typically return to Galway around 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost approximately 60 euros (about $66) for adults and 55 euros (about $60) for anyone 17 or younger and include admission to the Cliffs of Moher, but not lunch or any optional activities on Inisheer. Note: This tour is available daily from mid-March to mid-October. Galway Tour Company also take visitors to Connemara and the Kylemore Abbey, among other popular destinations.
Wild Atlantic Way Day Tours – Connemara and Connemara National Park Day Tour from Galway
Take in the sights of Connemara on this daytrip from Galway. Traveling both the Wild Atlantic Way and the Sky Road, this bus ride passes through villages like Barna, Furbo, Inverin and Spiddal, and makes stops at locales like the picturesque fishing village of Roundstone and the remote Derrigimlagh Bog. The excursion also includes a three-hour visit to Connemara National Park and a photo stop at Kylemore Abbey. Views of the Atlantic Ocean are often deemed a high point, and guides win praise for their knowledgeable narration. The route winds through the Maumturks and Twelve Bens mountains on the way back to Galway, where the trip usually ends around 6:30 or 7 p.m. Tours depart from the Kinlay Hostel on Merchants Road at 9:30 a.m. They are offered daily year-round and cost approximately 35 euros (around $38) for adults and 30 euros (about $33) for those age 5 to 18. Infants can ride for free, but must sit on adults’ laps. Fees do not include lunch, but do include the entry fee for Connemara National Park. The company also offers tours that depart from Limerick and Ennis.
Wild Rover Tours – Kilkenny, Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough Day Tour from Dublin
Spend a day learning about the history and folklore of eastern Ireland on this combination walking and coach tour. Take a guided stroll through the cobblestone streets of Kilkenny and then explore the city on your own, possibly opting to visit Kilkenny Castle, which dates to the 12th century. Then, traverse the photogenic Wicklow Mountains, where scenes from movies – including “Braveheart” – were filmed. The outing’s visit to Glendalough, known for its glacial valleys and lakes, includes a guided tour of its monastic city, which was built circa A.D. 600. The trip also features a stop at a working sheep farm. Both the scenery and the guides’ expert commentary consistently win praise from travelers. Tours are available daily all year, but the order in which you visit attractions varies seasonally. Pickups from a trio of Dublin locales occur between 8 and 8:30 a.m.; tours conclude back in the city around 6 p.m. Tickets start at around 32 euros (around $35) for adults and 25 euros (about $27) for children 2 to 12. (Infants younger than 2 cannot be accommodated.) Note: Prices do not include lunch or any attractions in Kilkenny. Wild Rover Tours also offer “Game of Thrones”-themed outings, as well as daytrips to the Cliffs of Moher.
LetzGo City Tours – Skip the Line: Guinness Storehouse & Jameson Irish Whiskey Experience Tour
Combine visits to two of Dublin’s top adult beverage-related destinations on this excursion. Start at the Jameson Distillery Bow St. to learn about and, of course, sample some celebrated whiskey. Then head over to the Guinness Storehouse, a seven-story monument to Ireland’s renowned stout, and ascend to its Gravity Bar, a rooftop bar boasting unrivalled views of Phoenix Park, the Wellington Monument, the Wicklow Mountains and more. Along the way, hear about the city’s brewing and distilling history from guides. Reviewers typically find the guides’ stories entertaining, as well as educational. Four-hour skip-the-line tours generally happen daily at 1:45 or 3:15 p.m. Tickets, which include whiskey tastings and both a pint of Guinness and a whiskey drink, start at 89 euros (about $98). The tour is not suited for children 12 and younger. The company also hosts pub and city tours, as well as skip-the-line access to the Book of Kells and Dublin Castle.
McComb’s Coach Travel – Giant’s Causeway Tour
Take a scenic drive to Northern Ireland’s famed Giant’s Causeway, the sole UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland, on this daylong tour. Along with its World Heritage Site status, Giant’s Causeway is also a site of geological significance comprising approximately 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns. Other stops along the Causeway Coastal Route include Carrickfergus Castle, the Dark Hedges and Dunluce Castle, as well as a pub for lunch. Tour-takers generally appreciate the good humor and insights of the drivers/guides. Coaches depart Belfast daily at 8:30 a.m. and return around 6 p.m. Fees begin at around 25 pounds (about $33) for adults and 17.50 pounds (about $23) for children younger than 12. (Prices do not cover lunch.) Note: This outing involves some walking on uneven surfaces. McComb’s Coach Travel offers a variety of other tours, including a “Game of Thrones” tour.
House of Waterford Crystal – Factory Tour
Get a behind-the-scenes look at how world-famous Waterford Crystal is made on this tour, which visits the factory’s blowing, mold-making, cutting, sculpting, engraving and inspection rooms. Visitors consistently find the crystal-making process fascinating and the guides informative. Tours happen year-round multiple times on most days, though there are none on Saturday and Sunday from November through February. Start times are determined upon your arrival at the plant in its namesake city, so be sure to check hours of operation, which vary by season. Tickets for the approximately 50-minute tour start at around 16.50 euros (about $18) for adults and 8.50 euros (about $9.25) for children 5 to 17. Discounts are available for students and seniors. If you like what you see being crafted and want some crystal to take home, you can stop at the factory’s retail store after the tour.
DC Tours – A History of Terror
Learn about some of the most contentious moments in Northern Ireland’s decades-long ethno-nationalist conflict (known as The Troubles) on this walking tour of Belfast. Tours start outside Belfast City Hall daily (barring some holidays) at 10:30 a.m. and conclude on the banks of the River Lagan. Tours last approximately two hours and 15 minutes. Stops along the way include Donegall Place, site of a 1972 bombing; Cathedral Quarter, the city’s cultural district; and the Spirit of Belfast, a sculpture often called “The Onion Rings.” History buffs generally find the passionate and engaging guides’ commentary both informative and entertaining. Tickets start at 18 pounds (about $24) per person. This tour entails walking for about a mile and a half and is not recommended for children younger than 12. Afternoon tours starting at 2 p.m. may be offered at certain times of year. DC Tours also conducts a “Best of Belfast” tour, among other experiences.
Taste & Tour – Belfast Food Tour
Sample the Belfast dining scene on this four-hour stroll in the center of the city. After starting in St George’s Market, the tour proceeds to various area bars and shops, as well as a restaurant in the Cathedral Quarter. Food and drinks sampled along the way should be sufficient for both breakfast and lunch, according to Taste & Tour. Foodies enjoy the ample food and beverage offerings as well as the friendly guides’ culinary wisdom. Tours typically depart from St. George’s Market at 10:15 a.m. on Fridays and 10 and 10:45 a.m. on Saturdays. Ticket prices start at 62 pounds (about $82). The company also offers tours that explore the city’s cocktail and craft beer scene.
DoDublin – Hop-On Hop-Off
Explore multiple Dublin attractions at your own pace on this hop-on, hop-off bus tour – or stay on board and see the sights. The tour’s route includes EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, the Guinness Storehouse, the Little Museum of Dublin, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and much more. Drivers provide running commentary about the city’s sights (and recorded narration in nine languages is available). Tourgoers often enthuse about the drivers’ witty remarks. Buses run hourly every day with the first departing 59 Upper O’Connell Street at 9 a.m. and the last at 5 p.m. DoDublin offers both single- and two-day tickets for its hop-on, hop-off tours. Prices for the former start at around 27 euros (around $30) for adults and 10 euros (about $11) for children. A two-day ticket costs 32 euros (about $35) for adults and 15 euros (around $16.50) for children. For each adult ticket purchased – regardless of duration – a child younger than 15 can ride for free. Moreover, the fees include admission the Little Museum, as well as a walking tour to places coaches can’t go.
Killarney Jaunting Cars – From Park to Castle Tour
On this hourlong horse-and-carriage ride, you’ll travel to both Killarney National Park and Ross Castle, passing sights like St. Mary’s Cathedral and MacGillycuddy’s Reeks along the way. Why a carriage ride? This mode of transportation allows visitors to see parts of the park where motor vehicles are not allowed. Travelers consistently describe the guides as humorous and well-versed in area culture and history. Carriages depart from the Great Southern Killarney hotel several times daily, with the first usually heading out at 9:30 a.m. and the last at 5:15 p.m. Fares start at around 30 euros (about $33) for riders 13 and older and 12.50 euros (about $14) for those younger than 13. Killarney Jaunting Cars also offers a variety of combo tours, in addition to a five-hour tour to the Gap of Dunloe.
Killarney Lake Tours – Killarney Water Bus Tour
See the sights of Killarney from Lough Leane, the area’s largest lake, on this hourlong boat ride. Water buses launch from and return to Ross Castle and pass attractions, such as Innisfallen Island’s monastic ruins and O’Sullivan’s Cascade, as well as the nearby mountains. Trips are available multiple times daily with standard departure times of 11 a.m. and 12:30, 2:30 and 4 p.m.; additional times may be added in the summer. Prices start at around 12 euros (about $13) for adults, 10 euros (about $11) for seniors and 6 euros (about $6.50) for children younger than 12. Tour-takers say this activity is reasonably priced and enjoy the guides’ anecdotes and historical observations. Water bus tours can also be combined with a horse-drawn carriage (aka jaunting car) ride around Killarney.