During this Active Journey, blend vigorous tramps with insightful cultural visits along Ireland’s west coast—on the Dingle Peninsula, Killarney, the Aran Isles, and Connemara—where the traditional Irish language is still spoken and the music is ever present.

Starting at: $6,895 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question
 Landscape of the Dingle Peninsula  Hiking through breathtaking landscapes in Ireland  The Gap of Dunloe  The 15th-century Ross Castle, outside Killarney  Musicians in a pub. Credit: Tourism Ireland  The village of Dingle  Stone fences along the Dingle Peninsula  Traditional thatched stone cottage  Conor Pass, the Dingle Peninsula. Credit: Tourism Ireland  Connemara's Kylemore Castle, once an abbey and school   Connemara landscape with sheep  Typical landscape in Ireland. Credit: Ireland Tourism  Stone fences on Inishmore at dusk  The ancient stone fort of Dún Aonghusa on the cliffs on Inishmore  Dramatic 300 foot cliffs on the Atlantic coast, Inishmore  Landscape of the fabled Aran Islands  Hiker overlooking the Irish coast  The 12th-century Kilkenny Castle  Kilkenny street scene. Credit: Tourism Ireland

Hiking the Emerald Isle

11 days from $6,895

During this Active Journey, blend vigorous tramps with insightful cultural visits along Ireland’s west coast—on the Dingle Peninsula, Killarney, the Aran Isles, and Connemara—where the traditional Irish language is still spoken and the music is ever present.


Activity Level 3: Moderate/Active 

Expectations:  This trip is part of the Smithsonian Active Journeys collection and features a schedule of physical activities—including walking and hiking—in addition to activities designed to offer cultural or historical context. Walks, hikes, and activities will take place rain or shine. If you are reasonably fit and can walk and hike from 1 up to 7 miles easily you should be comfortable on this Moderate/Active tour (Level 3).

On this trip, daily hikes are taken at a leisurely to active pace over various types of terrain, from well-groomed paths to some more challenging/rocky trails to beaches, forests, and mountain summits. A few longer travel days with early morning departures should be expected. Hiking boots, rain gear, and day packs for daily necessities are a must; some travelers may wish to bring hiking poles. Details on what to pack and expect on this trip will be included in your Pre-Tour documents.

Many of the days will also feature a cultural site associated with the hike, such as a castle or abbey visit, archaeological site, museum visit, or meeting with locales. Hikes are not long enough to require support vehicles so once a hike is begun it is necessary to finish. Sometimes it is feasible to skip a day’s activities and relax at the hotel, if desired. During the tour, leisure time is usually limited to the evenings.

Transportation between hotels will be by a small van or motor coach. Accommodations on this trip feature comfortable city hotels, lodges, and country hotels. The highest elevation on this trip is 3,500 feet.

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, have a strong fitness level, expect a slightly vigorous pace, are comfortable participating in up to four hours of hiking per day, and enjoy challenging themselves physically.


Days 1 & 2 — Depart the U.S. for Dublin, Ireland

Depart the U.S. on your transatlantic flight to Ireland. Arrive at Dublin International Airport and transfer to your hotel, located in the heart of downtown Dublin and close to the shopping of Grafton Street and lush St. Stephen’s Green park. This evening, gather for an overview of the trip ahead followed by a welcome dinner in the hotel. (D)

Day 3 — Kilkenny, River Nore

This morning depart Dublin and travel to Kilkenny, Ireland’s most celebrated medieval city. Visit spectacular Kilkenny Castle, built in 1195, which commands a dramatic position overlooking the River Nore. Spend time exploring the castle and then take an extended hike along the river. Later in the day journey west into County Kerry, Ireland’s most mountainous region and much beloved for centuries by hikers and nature lovers alike. Arrive in Killarney and your hotel, located in the center of the old town. (B,L,D)

Walk/Hike: 7 miles, flat riverside hike on a well-groomed trail, 3 hours.

Day 4 — The Gap of Dunloe, Killarney National Park

Hike through the iconic Gap of Dunloe, a narrow mountain pass formed nearly 25,000 years ago during Ireland’s last Ice Age. Continue along the River Loe, which meanders through the pass, and view picturesque mountain lakes, the remains of ancient stone cottages, and crumbling monuments. At Killarney National Park, the first national park in Ireland, take in wonderful views of this wild landscape. Upon reaching the ruins of Lord Brandon’s Cottage, a 19th-century hunting lodge, step aboard a small boat and travel through the Lakes of Killarney to visit the historic Ross Castle situated on the eastern shore of Lough Leane. Ross Castle is a fine example of a 15th-century stone tower house and was one of the last Gaelic strongholds in Ireland (B,L)

Walk/Hike: 7 miles, approximately. 600 feet of ascent on mostly well-groomed trails, 4 hours.

Day 5 — Dingle Peninsula

Depart Killarney for the drive to the village of Annascaul. Upon arrival walk a winding country road that leads through a valley to Annascaul Lake, in the shadow of the Carrigblather Cliffs. The landscape is dramatic with windswept trees, rocky promontories, and sparkling waterfalls. Continue to the village of Dingle, located on the Atlantic Coast and check in to your hotel.  (B,L,D)

Walk/Hike: 6 miles and approximately 300 feet of ascent, mostly well-groomed trails, 3 hours.

Day 6 — Dingle Way

Hike along a section of the Dingle Way, known as one of the most beautiful walks in the world. Following the breathtaking Atlantic coastline, you'll pass ancient archaeological remains of beehive huts that dot the hillsides. Visit a historic 19th-century working brewhouse for a sample of the local hospitality and spirits, then return to Dingle late in the day for an evening at leisure. (B,L)

Walk/Hike: 3 miles, approximately 200 feet of ascent, rocky and uneven pathways in spots, 3 to 4 hours.

Day 7 — Aran Islands

Set off early this morning on a drive from Dingle to the village Doolin. There, depart on a ferry ride into Galway Bay and on to the Aran Islands, three rocky islands that sit just a few miles off shore. Arrive at Inishmore, the largest of the three islands. During a scenic walk, visit a local goat farm and gather for a demonstration on how this award-winning cheese is made, followed by a tasting. Continue to your 18th-century stone house accommodations, located between the villages of Kilronan and Bun Gowla. This evening relax and enjoy a group dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)

Walk/Hike: 2 miles, approximately 100 feet of ascent, rocky and uneven pathways in spots, 2 hours. 

Day 8 — Dún Aonghusa, Connemara, and Letterfrack

Travel along the Atlantic coastline of Inishmore to explore the ancient circular stone hill fort of Dún Aonghusa. Though the exact date of construction is unknown, original occupation of the fort has now been dated to around 3,000 B.C. The fort consists of three massive drystone defense walls and also a dense band of jagged upright stones, which were constructed as an additional defense from intruders. The fort is perched on a dramatic cliff some 300 feet above the Atlantic.

In the early afternoon, take the ferry back to the mainland and County Galway. Continue  to the small village of Letterfrack and your accommodations, a beautiful manor home converted into a sumptuous hotel, located on the shores of Ballinakill Bay and secluded within a private woodland. (B,L,D)

Walk/Hike: 2 miles, 100 feet of ascent, rocky and uneven pathways, 2 to 3 hours

Day 9 — Kylemore Abbey, Diamond Hill

Kylemore Abbey was built originally as a castle in 1868 and later took on a different role as an abbey. Tour the restored period rooms and spectacular Victorian walled gardens, which are part of this 1,000-acre estate. Later, visit the western edge of Connemara National Park and hike the distinctive quartzite mountain of Diamond Hill. Look for wild mountain goats and native red deer as you hike to the summit for spectacular views of the Connemara wilderness. (B,L,D)

Walk/Hike: 4-5 miles, 1,300 foot ascent, hike to the summit with an option for a less strenuous experience for views, groomed trail, 3 to 4 hours.

Day 10 — Connemara beach hike, Galway

Join a local foraging expert at a secluded beach on the Connemara coastline to learn more about the harvesting of seaweed, used in food, medicines, and beauty products and also look for local marine wildlife. Then hike to the picturesque fishing village of Roundstone Bay. From there travel on to Galway City and your hotel, followed by a festive farewell dinner this evening. (B,L,D)

Walk/Hike: 3 miles, 150 foot ascent along a beach and grassy areas, 2.5 to 3 hours.

Day 11 — Depart for the U.S.

This morning depart Galway City and travel to Dublin International Airport for flights to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)