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Ireland's True North

A 5 day tour of the North of Ireland

True North

Epic Northern Ireland

An incredible 5 day journey into the history, politics, culture and fun of the North and Donegal

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Price Per Person Sharing Only €1,150

Reserve Place with 20% Deposit

Max Tour Sizes: 16 People

Solo supplement of €350 applies to most solo travellers, see FAQs for details

Explore Northern Ireland with us, truly essential!

We at ‘Essential Ireland’ are passionate about including the beautiful and fascinating North of Ireland and Donegal in our tours. We highly recommend you visit!

Our tour-guests are fascinated by the story of Historic Derry, the beauty and legend of the Causeway, modern peaceful Belfast and its troubled past, the characters and the communities of this beautiful part of Ireland that only 25 years ago was a no-go zone for tourists and is now one of Europe’s top attractions.

On our Northern adventures we take pride into introducing you to the fun and endearing locals from both cultures and communities, the indigenous Irish community and Northern Ireland’s ethnic British culture.

We also venture into majestic Donegal, a remote magnificent corner of Ireland that is often overlooked by mainstream tours. Join us for a unique adventure!

Price: Only €1,150 per person

Highlights of our northern tour

Walk the walled city of historic Derry (1613). See its fully intact 17th Century battlements

Enjoy the views from Grianan Aileach, a 3,700 year old ringfort while exploring beautiful Donegal

Experience the majestic Giants Causeway a natural phenomenon and UNESCO world heritage site

Learn of Belfast troubled past and wonderful peaceful present

Brave the famous Carrick a Rede rope bridge 100 ft above the rugged Antrim coast

Visit the world famous titanic experience and step back in time to a period of luxury & elegance

Visit Monasterboice a 5th Centruy Irish monastery and home to Muirdach's High Cross

Newgrange tombs - A 5,000 year old Tomb, a UNESCO world heritage site that is older than the pyramids of Egypt

Whats included in the tour package

All activities are fully covered in the Essential Ireland Tour Package

All Breakfasts are Included. From cooked gourmet feasts of eggs and bacon; and healthy fruit, homemade muesli and porridge

All accommodation costs are covered, you will stay in a range of luxury accommodation outlined below

All tips to guides, drivers, local guides, bar-staff, servers etc ALL covered while on a tour activity or meal

All transport, from luxury coach travel, shuttle buses, taxis etc used for tour activities are paid for.

Unlimited Snacks are provided while aboard our small luxury coach going from destination to destination.

3 picnic lunches are provided - hand-picked artisan Irish cheese board , cold meats, homemade breads and fresh-fruit

1 group meal by private chef serving local produce, this takes the form of a gala banquet.

What type of accommodation will I stay in?

We handpick quality accommodation based on quality, location, and the best customer-service on offer. We like to provide a balance between 5 star luxury hotels and also high-quality Guesthouses, to give a variety of experiences, we also offer one night in a traditional B&B to experience life with an Irish family environment ned world-class quality customer-service.

Our co-founder, Patrick, always like to remind guests that we “dont stay in generic big-brand hotels, we prefer to offer you historic and luxury homes of character, that have housed Hollywood stars and withstood sieges”.

oVERVIEW OF 5 DAY tRUE nORTH iTINERARY

NORTHERN IRELAND & DONEGAL EXPERIENCE

5 DAYS AND 4 NIGHTS ( 2 NIGHTS IN DERRY & 2 IN BELFAST)

Day 1: Dublin to Belfast (2 nights)
Highlights:

  • Welcome Irish-coffee

  • Tour ancient site of Monasterboice

  • Visit St. Peters Cathedral, Drogheda.
    See the head of St. Oliver Plunkett (yes, his head!)

  • Belfast City Tour

Day2: Belfast in-depth
Highlights:

  • Black taxi-tour

  • World famous Titanic Experience

  • Pub tour of Belfasts pubs and drinking saloons.

  • Group dinner in Belfast

Day 3: Belfast to historic Derry (2 nights)
Highlights:

  • Carrick a rede rope-bridge

  • The Giants Causeway UNESCO world heritage site

  • Dunluce Castle

  • Complimentary lunch at the wee cottage 

  • Award-winning Walking Tour of Historic Derry

Day 4: Derry in-depth
Highlights:

  • Visit Derry’s historic guildhall & plantation museum.

  • Scenic day tour to rugged Donegal

  • Glenveagh National Park

  • Group lunch at ‘Leo’s’ - Enya’s family pub

Day 5: Derry/Londonderry to Dublin
Highlights:

  • Grianan Aileach, ancient hilltop ring fort

  • Visit the Cathedral city of Armagh

  • Slane Castle & Distillery

  • Battle of the Boyne site.

  • Newgrange tombs - UNESCO world heritage site 

SEE NEXT TAB FOR DETAILED ITINERARY

DETAILED DAILY ITINERARY

NORTHERN IRELAND & DONEGAL EXPERIENCE

5 DAYS AND 4 NIGHTS ( 2 NIGHTS IN DERRY & 2 IN BELFAST)

Day 1: Dublin to Belfast (2 nights)
Highlights:

  • Welcome drink in ‘The Crown’

  • Tour ancient site of Monasterboice

  • Visit St. Peters Cathedral, Drogheda.
    See the head of St. Oliver Plunkett (yes, his head!)

  • Belfast City Tour

[9am] Depart central Dublin.Pick up in one central location City’s south-side and north-side.

[10.30] Our first stop is the historic, and surprisingly - usually unvisited town of Drogheda. Destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in 1649. You’ll be hearing a lot about him on this tour, a lot!Visit the elaborate Cathedral, light a candle to invoke blessing on our travels and see the head of St. Oliver Plunkett (much different to the previous Oliver) who was hung, dread and quartered in London in 1663 and who’s head is preserved in an ornamental glass case beside the altar.

[11am] Coffee on us!

[12 noon] Visit Monasterboice, glorious Monastic ruins deep in the countryside and lush farmland of County Louth. Learn of its majestic Round Tower and its famed Celtic-Christian High Crosses, the finest in Ireland. Your guide will help you recognise the messages and stories contained in the carvings.

[2pm] Arrive in Belfast, the proud Northern capital. Free for lunch.

[3pm] We’ll enjoy a city tour and experience a good introduction to our temporary hometown, including Queens University and the botanic gardens.

[5pm] Check into our downtown hotel.Free for dinner but we have a welcome drink for you in the famous Victorian  ‘Crown Saloon’, maybe the most beautiful bar in the world!

Day 2: Belfast in-depth
Highlights:

  • Black taxi-tour

  • World famous Titanic Experience

  • Pub tour of Belfast's pubs and drinking saloons.

  • Group dinner in Belfast

[10am] After a delicious breakfast (perhaps you’ll try the traditional ‘Ulster Fry’) we will experience one of the most unique Belfast activities - the ‘Black Taxi tour’. Our hand-picked team of local black-cab drivers will bring us into the divided neighbourhoods of West Belfast. Learn of ‘the Troubles’, our 1969-1998 conflict which tore Northern Ireland apart, you’ll see the ‘Peace Wall’, the impactive political art and murals and all areas of political/historic interest.

[12noon]: Enjoy a picnic lunch together at St. Georges Market, Ireland’s largest indoor market.

[2.pm]: The afternoon is devoted to the epic Titanic Museum, voted the #1 visitor attraction in the world. (yes, the world!). You’ll be amazed at this state of the art visitor centre, no expense has been spared to bring to life the story of one of the most famous ships in history, built in Belfast 1912.

[4pm]: Free time for shopping in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Avenue or sightseeing in City Hall, a short stroll from our hotel.

[7pm]: We’ll dine together and afterwards enjoy a fun pub tour experiencing Belfast’s unique nightlife and meeting the lively locals.

Day 3: Belfast to historic Derry (2 nights)
Highlights:

  • Carrick a rede rope-bridge

  • The Giants Causeway UNESCO world heritage site

  • Dunluce Castle

  • Complimentary lunch at the wee cottage 

  • Award-winning Walking Tour of Historic Derry

[9.30am]: After another spectacular breakfast we’ll bid farewell to Belfast and take the scenic drive to the world-famous Antrim Coast, famed in song and story long before it hit the headlines as location for hit TV series ‘Game of Thrones’.

[11.30am]: Visit the masterpiece - the Giants Causeway, a UNESCO world heritage site and beautiful geological marvel. 60,000 Basalt pillars carved into hexagons by violent volcanic eruptions, though we’ll be happy to also share the story of how it was really built by Celtic Giant Finn McCool! Time to hike, enjoy the scenery, and explore the impressive interpretive centre.

[1pm]: We’ll break for some light lunch in one of our favourite little cultural gems, Avril’s ‘Wee Cottage’ where we’ll enjoy her classic tea & scones.

[2pm]: Tour Dunluce Castle, ancestral home of the McDonnell clan and one of the most haunting ruins anywhere in Europe. Glorious scenery.

[4.30pm]: Arrive in historic Derry (founded 546 AD by St. Columba), aka Londonderry (1613). A walking tour with local guide around the city walls is the perfect introduction to Ireland’s most historic city.

[6pm] Check into our city-centre hotel and enjoy free time in Historic Derry. 
Evening free for dinner, but we offer an evening of music in Peadar O’Donnells historic pub, which  Tour-Guests enjoy immensely due to our subtle small-group size, a great chance to meet the locals.

Day 4: Derry & Donegal in-depth
Highlights:

  • Visit Derry’s historic guildhall & plantation museum.

  • Scenic day tour to rugged Donegal

  • Glenveagh National Park

  • Group lunch at ‘Leo’s’ - Enya’s family pub

[10am] Our daily offering of brilliant experiences and activities begins with a visit to the Guildhall, Derry’s ornate city hall that resembles a Cathedral, complete with the largest organ in Ireland.

[11am] We’ll depart on the coach for our fun, relaxing day trip to beautiful Donegal. A short drive over the border.

[12noon] Visit Glenveagh National Park. We’ll tour the castle and you’ll have free time to roam its lakeside lush gardens carved from this rugged Irish valley.

[2pm] Enjoy a group lunch in West Donegal Gaeltacht. Our friend Bartley, is brother of grammy winner Enya and runs his family pub ‘Leo’s Tavern’, far off the beaten path, fine food and great fun.

[4pm] A scenic drive through the highlands of Donegal, culminating at the majestic ‘Grianan Aileach’ (temple pf the sun), a Celtic ring-fort and coronation site of the ancient Kings of Ulster. A chance to gaze over all of our Northern adventures from this high vantage point.

[6pm] Evening free in historic Derry.

Day 5: Derry/Londonderry to Dublin
Highlights:

  • Visit the Cathedral city of Armagh

  • Slane Castle & Distillery

  • Battle of the Boyne site.

  • Newgrange tombs - UNESCO world heritage site 

[9am] Farewell to the North-west. We shall drive through the rolling farmland of County Tyrone.

[10.30am] Visit the Cathedral city of Armagh, found by St. Patrick in the 5th century and its 2 Cathedral’s, both named in his honour, are now the HQ for both the Catholic Church and Church of Ireland (Protestant)

[12noon] Visit idyllic Slane Castle on the banks of the River Boyne. We will take a tour of it’s very own Whiskey Distillery and taste their fine offerings. Afterwards learn of the Battle of the Boyne (1690) fought long the Riverbank between Catholic James II and his Protestant nephew (and son-in-law) William of Orange.

[2pm] Picnic lunch at Slane Castle

[2.30pm] Visit Ireland’s #1 archeological blockbuster site, Newgrange. Older than the pyramids and stonehenge! A grand finale to epic adventures in the North of Ireland.

[6pm] Arrive back in Dublins fair city, where we will say our goodbyes and drop you safely back to your hotel (or to Dublin airport).

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat, may the road rise to meet you.

Ireland's true north tour dates 2019

We run a limited number of tours each year, book early to avoid disappointment

July 7th to July 11th - SOLD OUT

September 8th to September 12th

If a particular date does not suit your group please get in touch about organising a private tour

Check Out our 2020 Dates!

Click to See Dates

Sunday 5th April - Thursday 9th April

Sunday 13th September - Thursday 17th September

Book Now

Reserve your space with a 20% deposit 

Contact Us to Find Out More

Any Questions we are happy to help!

ABOUT US

WHO WE ARE

Stephen McPhilemy and Patrick Wade are the co-founders of Essential Ireland Tours. One Irish and one Irish-American, they met 20 years ago while Patrick was backpacking through Ireland and Stephen was his tour-guide.

Two decades later they (and their Irish Wolfhounds) are experienced and respected figures in the Irish tour and hospitality scene with a passion for providing high quality tours. Authentic Irish experiences for unbeatable value.

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