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TOURING IRELAND
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Even if you are an independent traveler there are times group tours can make sense; for example, a day excursion from a major city or traveling with friends and family, or if you think driving on the left side of the road is going to be too stressful.

Topics I discuss on this page: (Note - I origanlly wrote this page for the Spain bus tours page, it will be a while before I can track down resources for booking Ireland custom tours and chauffeur tours)

The Pros and Cons:
I like to have control of my schedule. I do not like being rushed through major attraction, or when I am ready to leave, having to wait for others. Of course, traveling with family or a friend, means some compromise, traveling with a group requires a little more compromise.

The advantages of bus tours are numerous; Someone else does the navigation and driving, it can be a super way to connect socially with others, and if you will be traveling by yourself, the group provides a feeling of security.

Planning your own Group Tour puts you in control:
Putting together ones own travel group is perhaps one of the most over looked options for bus travel.

Traveling with your friends and/or family can be a much different experience than traveling with a group of strangers. Family Reunions, as part of a tour, not only allow the sharing of old memories but the formation of new-shared experiences. Clubs, such as, Photography Clubs, Sewing Clubs, or trade associations can plan special excursions to address their area of focus.

When putting together your own tour you can also customize it to your preferences. Maybe, you just want a driver to take your group from city to city, or maybe, you will want a guide to inform you about all the sights. Designed properly, planning your own tour can provide you with much of the benefits of independent travel while sharing your travel with others.

Private Chauffeured tours:
Perhaps one of the more expensive options a traveler could select, the Private Chauffeured tour is for the independent traveler that wants someone else to do the driving. Private Chauffeur tours can be for just a few days or weeks. Of course the more people traveling together the more economical this option becomes. Of course, the driver and vehicle can be contracted for just a part of the trip, not all of it. A great way to learn about Ireland, its people and culture.

1/2 day and 1 day excursions
These large group, local tours, only last for a few hours (example: The Coast and Garden Tour visiting Powerscourt Estate), providing ground transportation and a guide. Local bus excursions can be arranged through your hotel on arrival. It is best to make reservations for these tours at least one day in advance (internet booking requires 48 hours notice) but in person, same day reservation, is sometimes possible.
Suggested Booking Resource for day escursions and short term bus tours, Viator

Fixed date tours can be Large or Small:
Large group tours are often the least expensive option. By booking hotel rooms in bulk and packing as many tourists as possible into the tour, Tour Operators are able to lower their cost. As an independent traveler, I am not attracted to this type of travel unless it is just for a day trip excursion. Many people enjoy this type of travel immensely. They like the comfort of being part of the large group and they like having a variety of people to meet. With Large Tours do not expect hotel accommodations of local character. While hotels can be luxurious (even a castle), the hotels used by Large Tour Operators must be massive enough to accommodate the fleets of tourist busses that arrive daily.
Booking Resource, Viator - Five Days "To The Edge of The World"
Four Days "West by North West"

Small group tours are a good balance for tour travel. You are still part of a group but when the guide speaks you might actually be able to hear every thing that is said. Waiting times for almost everything (bus loading, viewing an attraction, entering an attraction, etc) should be less than with a large group tour. The best small group tours use hotels of character.

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Tours out of Dublin
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Waterford Crystal, Kilkenny City and East Coast

Cork, Blarney Castle, The Queenstown Story, Killarney and The Ring of Kerry

The West Coast Explorer including Galway Bay

Rail Tours

The Grand Atlantic Tour

Five Days "To The Edge of The World"

Four Days "West by North West"

The Newgrange Tour

City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off Tour of Kilkenny
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Most of the information on this website was gather during my families July 2004 visit to Ireland