Welcome to our

Ireland's True North

A 5 day / 4 night tour of the North of Ireland
(a very unique guided tour of Northern Ireland & Donegal)

True North

Epic Northern Ireland

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

Win a once in a lifetime tour of Ireland

Visit our Facebook or Instagram page to enter the competition. All you have to do is like, share and leave a comment as to what you'd most like to see on your visit to Ireland. Enter before February 1st to be in with a chance of winning a place on our April 2019 Wild Atlantic Tour.

Click Here to Enter

Black Friday special Offer

Get €150 off your next  Wild Atlantic or Castles & Classics Essential Ireland Tours with this Black Friday special offer code: Ireland‍ or €115 of the True North Tours with this code: Ireland-North

Limited places so Book Now! Offer valid until 4 December

Price Per Person Sharing from only €1,299 to €1,499

Reserve Place with 20% Deposit

Max Tour Sizes: 16 People

Solo supplement of €400 applies to solo travellers, see FAQs for details. The €1,299 price applies to all our March tours  (€400 discount!)

Check Out our 2024 Dates!

Essential Ireland and Stephen McPhilemy offer a limited number
of very popular tours to Northern Ireland and beautiful Ulster each year, all sell out.
We are one of the few companies to offer a tour exclusively of Northern Ireland and Donegal! 
Stephen McPhilemy has led Rick Steves tours through Northern Ireland for 20 years as part of longer all-Ireland tours and now, due to public demand, offers his own shorter 5 day tours focusing exclusively on the the highlights of  North of Ireland.  Book early to avoid disappointment

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

Click to See Dates

APRIL 2024:
1st April & 19th April

MAY 2024:
13th May & 20th

JUNE 2024:
3rd June

JULY 2024:
20th July -

AUGUST 2024:
26th August -

2nd September -
23rd September - OPEN

October 4th - OPEN
October 22nd - OPEN

Note: Over half of the departures for our 'True North' tours of Northern Ireland and Donegal have already sold out. To book a tour please click here or email Stephen McPhilemy and our team at info@essentialirelandtours.com

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!
Click here to read the detailed and up-to-date itinerary of our famous 'True North' 5 day tour of Northern Ireland and Donegal

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: from Only €1,299 - 1,799 per person

Highlights of our northern tour

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

Explore beautiful Donegal

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

Learn of Belfast troubled past and wonderful peaceful present

Photostop the famous Carrick a Rede rope bridge 100 ft above the rugged Antrim coast (we opt not cross due to the overwhelming crowds an waiting-lines, not an efficient use of your valuable travel-time)

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

The serene beauty of Glenveagh National Park

Whats included in the tour package

All activities are fully covered in the Essential Ireland Tour Package

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

All accommodation costs are covered, you will stay in a centrally located hotel in Belfat an Derry

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.

1 group lunch is provided

1 group meal is provided

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 4 star good-quality 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”.




Day 1: Dublin to Belfast (2 nights)

  • The titanc experience

  • 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

  • Panormic city our, see the famous murals and Peace wall

  • Visit the Ulster Museum

  • Queens University (alma mater of our founder and Chief tour guide Stephen McPhilemy) the Botanic Gardens

  • Free for dinner in Belfast

Day 3: Belfast to historic Derry (2 nights)

  • Photostop at Carrick a rede rope-bridge

  • The Giants Causeway UNESCO world heritage site

  • Dunluce Castle

  • Cross the Derry Peace Bridge

  • Award-winning Walking Tour of Historic Derry

Day 4: Derry in-depth

  • 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

  • Scenic drive through county Tyrone

  • Visit the Cathedral city of Armagh

  • Slane Castle photostop

  • Battle of the Boyne site.


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 

Book now

Contact Us to Find Out More

Any Questions we are happy to help!



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.