Wild Atlantic Way
Venture into the northwest, escape the crowds of tourists, step back in time and experience the unspoiled, rural areas of Ireland.
Rest up in our conveniently located boutique hotels and B&Bs. For the final stop on this tour, relax in the luxury of a 19th century Manor House: enjoy a before dinner drink in the Spanish Armada Bar constructed with the salvaged wood of a Spanish Armada Galleon, dine in the Library Restaurant, and retire to the drawing room complete with an open log fire in the original marble fireplace.
Sail Clew Bay with its 365 islands, one for every day of the year! Check out the thriving seal colony, secluded beaches and breathtaking views of Croagh Patrick while getting lost in stories of the 16th century Pirate Queen, Gráinne ni Mhaille (Grace O'Malley.)
Explore Achill Island with its Blue Flag beaches, majestic mountains and deserted villages that were left behind when their residents died or emigrated.
Revel in the ancient structures of stone walls dating to 4000 BC, megalithic monuments scattered around the countryside, and a 13th century abbey in the middle of Sligo town.
Throughout the tour, tap your feet to the Irish music that is the tapestry of Ireland.
All this and more.
Day 0, Tuesday: Depart North America
Overnight: In Transit
Depart from your North American gateway city for an overnight flight to Ireland
Day 1, Wednesday: Arrive Ireland (Tour Start Date)
Transfer from Dublin Airport or Shannon Airport to Westport (optional)
Drop your bags at your hotel in the city center and explore this Heritage Town on your own. Check out the Georgian town centre or stroll along the tree-lined promenade along the banks of the Carrowbeg River before gathering for a Welcome pint and a group dinner. After dinner, hit the sack early or join your hosts at a local pub for some traditional music.
Day 2, Thursday: Clew Bay
After a delicious Full Irish Breakfast, we will head to the Clew Bay Heritage Centre followed by a cruise on Clew Bay. Enjoy the beautiful sights of Croagh Patrick, the seal colony and stories of Grace O'Malley, the Pirate Queen. The remainder of the day will be on your own to hire a bike (optional) and ride the Great Western Greenway, climb Croagh Patrick (this activity is strenuous), investigate the Westport House or just stroll the streets of Westport. (As sailing times vary from day to day, the timing of this schedule will vary from tour to tour.) Dinner is on your own.
Day 3, Friday: Westport to Achill Island
Overnight: Achill Island
Next we head to Achill Island, the largest of the islands off the coast of Ireland. We will meander on our way to our B&B and see the beautiful coastline of Achill Island as well as some of its pristine beaches. Along the way we'll explore one of the many deserted villages of Achill Island.
We'll finish up the evening with a glass of wine and a group dinner.
Day 4, Saturday: Achill to Sligo
As we go from our beautifully located B&B on Achill Island to our accommodations in Sligo, we will pass through a variety of landscapes and sights. Some of the treats along the way are the Irish Museum of Country Life and the Foxford woolen mills, both providing an insight into the Irish culture and art .... and an opportunity to shop for some of those treasured Irish souvenirs.
Dinner is on your own in Sligo.
Day 5, Sunday: Sligo
Sligo has been described as the hidden jewel of the Northwest of Ireland and day 5 is an opportunity to explore on your own. Choose between Sligo's ancient abbeys, churches, and megalithic tombs, or explore the rich history of culture around the Yeats family that includes the very famous WB Yeats, the Nobel prize winning writer; his brother Jack Yeats, a renowned painter; and his sisters who were a major catalyst for the Arts & Crafts movement in Ireland.
In the evening we will share a group dinner and explore the "old school" pubs where the "snugs" are still very much in use.
Day 6, Monday: Sligo to Ballina
We will use our short trip from Sligo to Ballina to explore the Northwest coast of County Mayo. Some of the highlights include the Ceide Fields (a Stone Age field system) and the enchanted cliffs at DownPatrick Head.
We arrive at Belleek Castle with time to explore the grounds and the village of Ballina. Dinner is on your own.
Day 7, Tuesday: Ballina
Our last day starts with a formal tour of Belleek Castle including the Medieval Banquet Hall, the Spanish Armada Bar and one of Ireland's finest collections of arms, armour, fossils and antiques.
The rest of the day is on your own to relax at the Castle, catch up on your journal, venture into Belleek Woods or continue to explore Ballina for the day.
We will gather together to share a farewell dinner worthy of a Castle and finish up the tour with plenty of good conversation over a few adult beverages.