On Ireland’s beautiful west coast, good things begin at the ends of the earth.

Across the channel, the Cliffs of Moher plummet into the Atlantic, marking Ireland’s precipitous western edge. Meanwhile, here on Inis Oirr, a gentler landscape unfolds. As you walk country lanes framed by stone walls, you’re enveloped in flower-strewn island greenery, the tranquility broken only by the clippety-clop of an occasional pony and trap. Pleasures in Ireland are simple: exploring a hilltop castle, communing with seals by the harbor, getting local insight from your innkeepers about the day’s walk. Tonight you’ve got other fish to fry: sipping pints, swept up in the joyful strains of fiddles and pipes at a village pub in Doolin. This hiking tour of the west coast is the perfect beginning to your lifelong love affair with Ireland.

Highlights

  • Walk along the spectacularly scenic Cliffs of Moher as the roiling Atlantic surf crashes up to 700 feet below.
  • Explore the lunar-like rockscapes of The Burren National Park, a barren but beautiful expanse of limestone karst stretching some 100 square miles.
  • Ferry to Inisheer, the smallest of the Aran Islands, to spend a day strolling a stunning coast rich in old Gaelic culture.
  • Stay two nights in the fishing village of Doolin, center of Ireland’s trad (traditional) music scene and home to some of its most authentic pubs.
  • Indulge in the luxuries and gourmet cuisine of properties steeped in character, from an 18th-century seaside estate to an 18th-century manor house.
On all Self-Guided Adventures you can count on...
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A local representative available 24/7.
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Detailed maps & route notes featuring turn-by-turn directions and places of interest.
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Delicious meals—many are included.
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Scheduled taxi transfers to bring you to and from each day’s walks.
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Gracious accommodations that are a clean, comfortable home away from home.
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Experts to handle all the details, including moving your luggage between hotels while you’re out exploring.
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Access to a Self-Guided Flight Concierge—ask our knowledgeable team to find flights that sync with your planned trip.

Itinerary

Wed, Apr 14 to Fri, Apr 30 - 2021

Show Itinerary:

Transfer to Lahinch. Optional warm-up walk or kayak tour; 2.4–4.8 miles, easy, 250-ft. elevation gain and loss

Arrive in Shannon and make your way to Lahinch, Ireland’s surfing capital, with an included transfer. The nearby Cliffs of Moher, which you’ll explore tomorrow, help to churn the ocean’s tide into some of the best surfers’ waves in Europe. The town is also a walker’s delight with its seaside promenade and sandy beach tucked between the lashing surf and lovely dunes.

After an orientation meeting, you might take a five-minute taxi ride (at your own expense) to the heart of the town. Its pubs offer up a hearty lunch of Irish cuisine, as well as a healthy dose of craic—a good Irish sense of fun! Peruse the many shops, or join a two-hour kayak tour along the river in Ennistymon (visit www.lahinchadventures.com for additional information and pricing). Or warm up for the days ahead with a walk from Lahinch to Ennistymon, a charming market town beloved for its book shops, galleries, cheese mongers, local crafts, and inviting pubs. Its rich history dates back to medieval times.

This evening, enjoy an included intimate dinner at your hotel’s Orangerie restaurant, a three-course meal tailored to whatever is fresh at the markets and the latest harvest from the property’s gardens. Perhaps Atlantic salmon or Shephard’s Pie will be on the menu, two of the region’s favorites, prepared with the chef’s special touch.

Accommodation: Moy House, Lahinch
Included Meals: Dinner

Hag’s Head to Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience; 3.5 miles, easy to moderate, 800-ft. elevation gain and 500-ft. elevation loss OR Hag’s Head to Doolin via Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience; 8.2 miles, moderate, 1,150-ft. elevation gain and 1,300-ft. elevation loss

After a full Irish breakfast curated from your hotel’s gardens and neighboring farms, your hosts arrange a transfer to the Cliffs of Moher trailhead, about 20 minutes away at the southern end of the cliffs. Walking along this scenic icon of Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way is sure to be a highlight of your trip. This famed wall of sandstone and shale soars up to 700 feet above the Atlantic surf for some five miles and hosts a profusion of seabirds.

Soon after you set out, you make your way out to Hag’s Head, a rocky promontory said to resemble a woman looking out to sea. From here, enjoy dramatic views of the cliffs to the north. But don’t lose notice of the massive sea arch at the tip of the headland, and another as you look a bit farther north. Pause during your exploration to admire the Moher Tower, the remains of a fort that—along with many others along the Atlantic—helped to protect the coast from attack by Napoleon. Today, the tower is occupied by the native chough and other birds.

After returning to the main trail from the head, continue north, taking in sweeping views as the lashing Atlantic surf provides a soundtrack to your hike. Look out for migrating minke and humpback whales in the autumn. Avid birders will want to have binoculars at the ready for up-close views of the more than 30 species of birds: guillemots, kittiwakes, peregrine falcons, fulmars, and shags among them. Puffins are part-time residents on Goat Island just offshore, appearing between late March and mid-July. More than 30,000 breeding pairs from 20 bird species pass through here annually.

In about three miles, arrive at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, nestled into a hillside. We have included your entrance fee to this fascinating exhibition that chronicles the natural and human history of this captivating and breathtaking region. You’ll want to spend some time here immersing yourself in a full sensory experience. Be sure to visit the Cliffs Exhibition, housed in a huge domed cave at the center of the building, and check out the video and virtual reality features.

After your visit, meet your driver here and transfer to Doolin, once a bustling fishing village and now a center of Ireland’s famed trad (or traditional) music scene. If you prefer, you can call to cancel your pre-arranged transfer and walk to Doolin instead. To do so, continue north about five miles, passing the stone O’Brien’s Tower, built in 1835. Once you arrive at the Doolin Trail, follow it into the village. During your two-night stay here, be sure to take in the raucous strains of fiddle and accordion at a local establishment. A trio of pubs will place you right at the center of Irish culture: McDermott’s, McGann’s, or Gus O’Connor’s.

Accommodation: Hotel Doolin, Doolin
Included Meals: Breakfast

National Loop Walks: Lub Ceathru an Locha; 3.8 miles, easy, 250-ft. elevation gain and loss OR Lub Ceathru an Phoillin; 7.3 miles, easy to moderate, 350-ft. elevation gain and loss

After a leisurely breakfast, hop the 10:00 a.m. ferry for a 20-minute sail to the smallest and most easterly of the Aran Islands, Inis Oírr (Inisheer/East Island). Modern conveniences came late to this enchanting little enclave. It wasn’t until 1997 that electricity was fully connected. It has long subsisted on a farm culture, despite that much of the island has only six inches of topsoil. Today, day trippers come to this classic fishing village for its footpaths and phenomenal views of flower-filled fields and the Cliffs of Moher back on the mainland. Known to many as the last outpost of Irish culture, it is one of Ireland’s last remaining Gaeltacht areas, the name given to places where Irish is still the first language.

Disembarking, you are greeted by a pristine, white-sand beach lapped by crystalline waters. Colorful currachs, or fishing boats, bob in the current, fresh from their morning at sea. You can get right down to walking, choosing from the two “National Loop Walks” that depart from the pier. Each trace neat limestone walled boreens, or little roads, scenic coastal trails and various cracked limestone landscapes that evoke the spirit of The Burren, which you visit tomorrow. As you stroll, you just might come across the clip-clop of a pony and trap, a popular way to get around the island.

Choose your trail based on your desired pace: You’ll want to be back at the pier to catch the 4:45 p.m. ferry back to Doolin.

Lub Ceathru an Phoillin (7.3 miles). Follow beautiful limestone boreens past age-old stone walls, a sandy pathway, and flora-lined road. Rounding the eastern side of the island, you pass some of the island’s most historical buildings; the Plassy shipwreck, thrown onto the island by a 1960 storm; Loch Mór, the only freshwater lake on the island; lush meadows of wild grasses, clovers, and vivid flowers; and the village of An Formna, which offers splendid views of An Loch Mór. Reaching the western shores of the island, detour to St. Enda’s holy well of Tobar Éinne and be on the lookout for the growing colony of grey seals on your way back to the pier. As you explore, have your binoculars ready so you can catch glimpses of birds and other creatures, from the gannet with its black-tipped wings to cattle and horses.

Lub Ceathru an Locha (3.8 miles). Choose this path if you want to soak in the island’s beauty at a more relaxed pace—with ample time to literally stop and smell the roses, or in this case the milkwort, royal-blue gentians, buttercups, orchids, and more of the 400+ flower species. You enjoy much of the same beauty and splendor as on Lub Ceathru an Phoillin, but spend more time on the eastern half of the island, perhaps lingering in the village of An Formna or at the 14th-century O’Brien’s Castle at the island’s highest point.

If you have time after your walk, take some time to explore the tiny shops and pubs of the main village, adjacent to the pier and below the old lighthouse and O’Brien’s fort. Back in Doolin, dinner is on your own tonight.

Accommodation: Hotel Doolin, Doolin
Included Meals: Breakfast

Ballinalacken to Fanore Beach; 6.9 miles, easy to moderate, 500-ft. elevation gain and 800-ft. elevation loss

After breakfast, transfer about 10 minutes to the privately owned 15th-century Ballinalacken Castle, towering above the countryside of County Clare. From here, you walk into The Burren, a massive pasture of limestone karst whose name comes from the Irish word for “stony place.” This is the only place in Europe where alpine and Mediterranean flora grow alongside each other. Its remarkable landscape of steel-gray rock exposed by the last ice age provides a fascinating environment for walking. You set out to follow an especially scenic segment of The Burren Way, a 28-mile footpath that traverses this otherworldly setting of quiet country lanes and creviced limestone floor through which grow colorful splashes of fragile wildflowers.

From Ballinalacken Castle, you climb northward along a quiet rural road lined with stone walls. Take your time to admire the charming houses, farms, and open fields grazed by cattle. You pass the peak of Slieve Elva—the highest point in this area at 1,128 feet—enjoying westward views that stretch out across the Atlantic Ocean to the Aran Islands and eastward vistas across scarred limestone hills. By walk’s end, you descend onto Fanore Beach on the northwest coast of The Burren, where the ocean washes over a karst beach head. This is also where The Burren’s only river—the Caher—empties into the Atlantic. Here, you can rest and relax or perhaps explore the sand dune complex and the oldest archaeological remains in the region. You might even spot some crinoid, brachiopod, and coral fossils in the bedrock! Later, your driver picks you up for a 25-minute transfer to your hotel.

This evening, savor a special final dinner at your hotel, a gracious 18th-century manor house on the outskirts of the charming fishing village of Ballyvaughan. The award-winning restaurant offers a three-course seasonal menu prepared with local ingredients, perhaps Barbecue Irish Beef or Wild Irish Halibut.

Accommodation: Gregans Castle Hotel, Ballyvaughan
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

After a generous breakfast featuring eggs, meats, and pancakes from local sources, transfer to Shannon (about 1 hour, 10 minutes) to make your flight, train, or bus connections. Alternatively, you may spend an extra day in Ballyvaughan to relax and join a guided walk through this magical region with a local Burren expert.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Accommodations

Linger Longer with a Tour Extension

Ireland: Cliffs of Moher, the Burren & Aran Islands 3
Post-Tour
2021

2021 Post-Tour Extension - The Burren

  • Boutique accommodations
  • 1 meal: 1 breakfast
  • Detailed water- and tear-resistant Route Notes, maps
  • Local representative available 24/7
  • Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary: Half-day guide
  • Travel assistance available 24/7 provided by One Call International
  • Access to Self-Guided Flight Concierge—Ask our knowledgeable team to find flights that sync perfectly with your planned trip.

1 Night From $323
per person, double occupancy

Single Supplement: From $198

Get to know The Burren on a more intimate scale when you walk some of its most scenic pathways with Shane Connolly, a well-known guide who is not only a local farmer, but an expert its history, flora, and fauna. You’re sure to learn some myths and legends of this beguiling region, too.

As Shane regales you with fascinating facts and lore, you cover between three and five miles across an isolated landscape. You pass fissured limestone, megalithic structures, and plant life that is unique to this terrain. Shane guides you along paths marked and unmarked, taking you to spots that only a local would know. He may lead you through a pretty meadow up Abbey Hill for stunning views of the mountains of Connemara and sweeping plains of rock. You might also ascend to the cliffs of Black Head, with splendid views of the Aran Islands. Along the way, you might spot Connemara ponies or goats on limestone terraces. You return to your hotel around 2:00 p.m., leaving you the remainder of the day to relax and explore the charms of Ballyvaughan.

Accommodation: Gregans Castle Hotel, Ballyvaughan

After a generous breakfast featuring eggs, meats, and pancakes from local sources, transfer to Shannon (about 1 hour, 10 minutes) to make your flight, train, or bus connections.

Included Meals: Breakfast

What's Included

Tour Only
Boutique accommodations Check
6 meals: 4 breakfasts and 2 dinners Check
Detailed water- and tear-resistant Route Notes and maps Check
Orientation meeting with a Country Walkers representative Check
Local representative available 24/7 Check
Scheduled taxi and luggage transfers (Please note: If unable to walk, it is possible to transfer with your luggage from one accommodation to the next at no additional charge.) Check
Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary: Entrance to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience and return ferry tickets from Doolin to Inis Oírr (Inisheer/East Island). Check
Travel assistance available 24/7 provided by Allianz Global Assistance Check
Access to Self-Guided Flight Concierge—Ask our knowledgeable team to find flights that sync perfectly with your planned trip. Check
Morocco: Marrakesh, Foothills of the High Atlas & Essaouira

Dates & Prices

2021 Dates Number of Travelers
2-3 Single Supplement
Solo Surcharge
Apr 14 - Apr 30 $2,448 $748 $298
May 1 - Sep 24 $2,598 $748 $298
Sep 25 - Sep 30 $2,448 $748 $298
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