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Month: April 2023



A Destination Guide to Authentic Ireland Beyond Dublin

Covering 32,595 square miles and a population of just over 5 million people, Ireland is a lush, green country dotted with grazing sheep and medieval castles. Historically a very poor country, the Emerald Isle as it’s aptly nicknamed, is rich in culture, folklore and charm. Most visitors want to cover the country of Ireland in a week-long visit, but I’d like to argue that this expansive destination requires a bare minimum of two weeks to cover it all, and four if you cover it well. From Dublin to Waterford, Cork to Killarney, you’ve covered just the bottom portion and have barely made a dent. Take time to see Dingle, Lahinch, Galway and the Aran Islands, and you’re still not quite there. If you want to take a deep dive into Ireland’s history, visit Northern Ireland to Belfast and beyond. In this guide, I’ll take you from Dublin to the West Coast of Ireland and highlight our favorite hotels, things to do, and places to eat in Ireland. If you really want to create your dream Irish vacation, you can start by filling out this form to get started planning.

Perfect For: Honeymooners | Anniversary Trips | Golfers | Couples Trips | Family Vacations | Travel with Teens | Corporate Groups | Incentive Travel

Antique car at Sheen Falls in Ring of Kerry Ireland

Getting to Ireland

Ireland is one of the easiest destinations for travel, with non-stop flights from many hubs in the United States and around the world. With non-stop flights from the East Coast into Dublin being just under 7 hours, it’s an easy overnight trip to start your time in Ireland in the morning. I typically recommend to start in Dublin and fly out of Shannon airport (airport code SNN), as you won’t have to backtrack to Dublin, and you can clear United States customs in Shannon airport. It’s truly the easiest in terms of international travel.

When is the Best Time to Visit Ireland?

From March to May and September to October may be the best time of the year to visit, to avoid the crowds but still enjoy warmer weather. June thru August is peak season, but with the warmer weather comes more crowds. Ireland has a temperate (albeit somewhat rainy) climate year-round, so it makes for a great destination at any time.




Boat Tour in Ring of Kerry Ireland

Ireland Luxury Travel Guide

What to do in Ireland

  • Dublin Highlights

    Trinity College and The Book of Kells is one of Ireland’s greatest treasures.  The sight of the Long Room, one of the world’s oldest libraries, and its collection of books spanning thousands of years, is quite breathtaking and well worth the visit.  When we plan your stay in Ireland, we can pair you with a local historian to guide you through the local’s Dublin and focus on the highlights that are relevant to you.

    If you love your spirits, you’ve come to the right place.  Dublin is home to the Guinness Storehouse, Jameson Distillery, and the Irish Whiskey Museum, so whatever your beverage of choice may be, Dublin has you covered.  We like to avoid the crowds of group touring and pair you with a local to explore one of these well-known establishments, but ends with a local pub crawl to the neighborhood gems that you’d otherwise never stumble upon.

    It wouldn’t be a trip to Ireland without a stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  The Patron Saint of Ireland is well-known around the world, but learning about his life story in this setting is an unforgettable experience.  Did you know that St. Patrick was not actually Irish?


  • Ring of Kerry

  • Cliffs of Moher

    The famous Cliffs of Moher are a must-see while exploring the West coast of Ireland.  You can see the Cliffs by hiking along the trail that runs above their rugged bluffs, taking a group tour with the Doolin Ferry Co, or a private seafari with picnic lunch.  Seeing them from the sea is spectacular and I highly recommend it.  We can also combine the Cliffs of Moher with a visit to the Aran Islands, depending on how much time you have, which by the way, one week in Ireland does not allow you to see it all!

  • Ring of Kerry

    The scenic drive around Southwest Ireland’s County Kerry around the Ring of Kerry is simply stunning.  From Killarney to Kenmare, you’ll pass castles, breathtaking vistas, and plenty of wildlife.  Pro Tip: During the summer months, tour buses are required to drive in a counter-clockwise loop around the Ring, so if you are driving, we suggest starting in Kenmare and doing your day trip in a clockwise circle.  To avoid these crowds altogether, we can arrange for a private helicopter tour around the Ring of Kerry, where you will be able to fly over the Skellig Islands, where Star Wars was filmed.

  • Golf Ireland

  • Irish Castle Tour

  • Golfing in Ireland

    There is no shortage of premiere golf courses in Ireland.  With our partnerships, we can get golfers into the best courses and even helicopter you from one course to the next to make the most of your time on the Emerald Isle.  When the McManus family purchased Adare Manor, they invested a million pounds on each hole on the drainage system alone.  I was particularly impressed with The Padel Club at Adare Manor, where your rainy days will not be ruined with their indoor Sports Simulation Room.

  • Irish Castles

    Everyone wants to see an Irish castle or two when traveling to Ireland, but opportunity abounds to actually stay in Irish castles as well.  What we recommend will be based on how much time you have to spend in Ireland (no, two weeks is not too much), what your budget allows, and the logistical routing of your tour through the Emerald Isle. 

  • The Burren Ireland

  • Fly Fishing in Ireland

  • The Burren

    While there are just so many things to see and do in Ireland, a noteworthy mention is a visit to The Burren.  Recently described to me by my Irish friend as “The Sedona of Ireland,” this vast landscape is a bedrock of cracked glacial-era limestone with fossils, caves, rock formations and archeological sites.  You won’t want to miss a lunch stop at The Burren Perfumery, a boutique outpost that makes the best locally sourced perfumes and cosmetics in perhaps the whole world (and their tomato soup and gluten-free pastries might just be the best I’ve ever had!).

Oil nut bay

Where to Stay in Ireland

There are so many great options in Ireland, but no hotel is a one-size-fits-all.  I love to get to know my clients, the type of hotels they’ve loved in the past, and what they are looking for in order to curate the best stays.  These are just a selection of hotels we love to book for our clients, though there are so many more not mentioned in this guide.

Rosewood Little Dix Bay

The Shelbourne, Dublin

Quite easily the most prestigious hotel in Dublin, The Shelbourne has stood the test of time for nearly 200 years.  Located in the heart of Dublin, it’s always a favorite amongst frequent travelers to the city and boasts 246 rooms with 10 meetings spaces, perfect for corporate groups or business travelers.  When booked with Diego Travel, our clients benefit from their STARS amenities listed below, all while earning their Marriott Bonvoy points.  A win/win for you Marriott loyalists.

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following STARS Amenities:

  • Exclusive Marriott STARS offers
  • Daily full breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
  • Complimentary lunch or dinner for up to two guests per bedroom, once during stay, excluding alcohol, taxes and gratuities (minimum 3-courses & value of $100 USD)
  • Welcome note and amenity
  • Priority Early Check-In/Late Check-Out
  • VIP Status
  • Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using the Travel Planning Service

Diego Travel Recommends The Shelbourne For: Corporate Groups | Destination Weddings | Couples Groups | Multi-Generational Families | Incentive Trips | Golfers

Moskito Island

The Merrion Hotel, Dublin

About half the size of The Shelbourne yet still situated in the city-center, The Merrion Hotel is home to the 2-Michelin Starred restaurant, Patrick Guilbaud, and a favorite home away from home for many of Europe’s elite.  The Merrion Hotel offers intimacy, privacy and a nice indoor pool and spa.  The lobby feels like stepping into someone’s home, as opposed to The Shelbourne which feels more like a traditional hotel.

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following Virtuoso Amenities:

  • Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability
  • Full Irish breakfast buffet or A La Carte breakfast for up to two people per bedroom
  • USD 100 credit – a lunch or dinner for up to 2 people in The Saddle Room restaurant
  • Welcome note and amenity
  • Priority Upgrade if Available
  • Priority Early Check-In/Late Check-Out
  • VIP Status
  • Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using theTravel Planning Service

Diego Travel Recommends The Merrion Hotel For: Romantic Getaways | Anniversary Couples | Those Looking for Privacy | More European Clientele | Spa & Wellness Enthusiasts | Golfers

The Cashel Palace Ireland

Cashel Palace

Meticulously restored with glowing splendor, this Relais & Chateaux manor house dating back to 1732 sits in the heart of Ireland, between Dublin and the west coast.  Perfect for a 1-3 night stay on your way to the Ring of Kerry, this hotel is just perfection.  King Charles stayed at Cashel Palace just days before our stay, and I can attest that this lovely property is well, fit for a king.  From the lovely and caring staff, to the chic interior design, to its gorgeous and inviting spa and indoor/outdoor pool, it’s no wonder that countless celebrities have chosen to stop here to sip coffee while they enjoy views overlooking the iconic Rock of Cashel. 

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following:

Our personal relationship with the team at Cashel Palace will ensure that your stay is sseamless.

Adare Manor

Adare Manor

This 840-acre estate will have your jaw drop upon arrival.  Adare Manor was awarded the Forbes 5-Star in 2023 and won the Conde Nast Resort of the Year award in 2022, and once you stay here, it’s easy to see why.  No expense was spared in the restoration and reopening of this grand estate and because of the pandemic, they were able to spend even more time on its restoration and perfecting every detail before the world reopened.  It would be easy to spend a full week at this resort alone, which is not uncommon for repeat visitors to Ireland.  Flying in and out of Shannon makes a singular visit to Adare Manor extremely easy and accessible. 

  • Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following Virtuoso Amenities:
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Full Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
  • Complimentary Afternoon Tea for up to two guests per bedroom, once during their stay, served in the Gallery (must have minimum value of $100 USD equivalent)
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using the Travel Planning Service

Diego Travel Recommends Adare Manor For: Golfers and Sports Enthusiasts | Weddings | Honeymoons | To See and Be Seen | Multi-Generational Families | Spa & Wellness Enthusiasts

Dromoland Castle

Dromoland Castle

This 97-room castle located in County Clare is close to the Cliffs of Moher, Limerick, and Galway for day trips.  It recently underwent a renovation and offers a brand new boutique and updated spa.  We loved being greeted by the Scottish bagpiper, and the live music in the bar and by the fireplace each evening.  It’s an easy place to settle in with a cocktail in hand after a day exploring all that Ireland has to offer, or just the grounds of the estate by horse carriage. Only 8-miles from Shannon airport, it makes for the perfect final stop in Ireland before your return home. 

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following Virtuoso Amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Full Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
  • $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit utilized during stay
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using the Travel Planning Service

Diego Travel Recommends Dromoland Castle For: Romantic Getaways | Anniversary Couples | Traditionalists | Golfers | Couples Groups | Smaller Castle than Adare Manor with a Similar Location


Sheen Falls Lodge

Sheen Falls has been a Diego Travel favorite with its prime location to the Ring of Kerry in County Kerry, and their commitment to sustainability.  This 18th century fishing lodge is nestled between a cascading river and Kenmare Bay, where guests can never tire of the quintessential Irish landscape views.  My clients recently described the moment of sitting out on their balcony drinking a glass of red wine and listening to the babbling creek below as a favorite memory from their recent trip.  My favorite memory from my stay at Sheen Falls Lodge was having dinner with Sheila, the sales director, and the general manager, and the way they made me feel like family.  The live music for after-dinner drinks was a special treat too – and the perfect way to end a day after touring the Ring of Kerry! 

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following Virtuoso Amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
  • A tour of Kenmare in the hotel’s 1936 Vintage Buick (must have minimum value of $100 USD equivalent)
  • Complimentary bottle of house wine in room on arrival
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using the Travel Planning Service

Diego Travel Recommends Sheen Falls Lodge For: Romantic Getaways | Anniversary Couples | Base for Ring of Kerry | Riverfront Rooms | Groups | Local and Authentic Experience

BVI Villas

Gregan’s Castle Hotel in The Burren

An 18th century manor house that has been welcoming guests since the 1940s, this boutique hotel is warm and inviting and makes you feel like you’re stepping into someone’s home.  The meal we had here was one of the best, and my daughter and I explored the grounds, creating magical little fairy beds out of leaves for them to come and visit us overnight.

If you’re feeling energetic, meander down the local lanes by bike into the Burren valleys or the nearby towns.. Electric bikes can be provided for a more leisurely ride. You can follow along a guided trail or hire a guide to take you where the locals go and see where the day takes you…don’t be surprised to see more than one new type of Irish wildlife along the way.

Diego Travel Recommends Gregan’s Castle Hotel For: Romantic Getaways | Anniversary Couples | Those Looking for Privacy | Bed & Breakfast Style Experience | Reconnecting with Nature

BVI Villas

Ashford Castle

This 13th century Castle is located 45 minutes from Galway city. Once the Estate of Lord Ardilaun and the Guinness family, Ashford opened as a luxury hotel in 1939.  Since then, generations of family members have worked in the hotel, and they take pride in the longevity of their staff.  There is a 32-seat cinema, a library, Spa, Billiard’s room, and cigar terrace to name a few of its features – enough to feel like you’ve been transported into the Irish version of Clue.

Don’t miss the unforgettable Hawk Walk at the Irish School of Falconry or the truly immersive experiences they offer into Irish culture.  And an insider tip: for larger groups with a range of budgets, Ashford Castle offers a number of options that will work for you.  Contact Diego Travel to find out more about this.

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following Virtuoso Amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
  • $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using the Travel Planning Service

Diego Travel Recommends Ashford Castle For: Romantic Getaways | Anniversary Couples | Honeymoons | Multi-Generational Families | Corporate Groups | Weddings

Ireland’s Best Restaurants and Bars

Where to eat in Ireland?

  • RICHMOND RESTAURANTBased in the beautiful Portobello of Dublin, experience contemporary modern cuisine. Richmond Restaurant creates a welcoming atmosphere in the newly renovated building where your tastebuds will be treated to skillfully prepared dishes that would excite anyone’s palate.

    MR. FOXThey serve a seasonal set menu at €70 per person. Vegetarian menus are always available upon request. Reservations are encouraged.

  • Nova on Oil Nut Bay

  • FADE STREET SOCIALCreative dishes from homegrown produce in a stylish, signature chef–run restaurant & bar.

    SOLEOriginal, upmarket venue featuring carefully sourced meat & seafood dishes, plus cocktails & wine.

  • BURREN PERFUMERYWhile this small boutique perfumery is set within the heart of The Burren, what makes this family-owned and operated small business so special is that they source all their ingredients locally and offer the most delectable lunch dishes and pastries in their tiny café.  Well worth a stop!

A Few of My Favorite Things


The People

Arguably one of the nicest countries in the world, the warmth of the Irish is what will make your trip to Ireland that more unforgettable.  I count myself lucky to have several close friends in Ireland, and every time I’ve visited, they drop everything for days to spend time with our family.  To visit Ireland as a tourist is lovely, but to truly experience the real Ireland involves partnering up with a local and spending one-on-one time in conversation, while on a walk or in a pub.  I don’t believe that the tourists who see Ireland in large groups and on tour bus will have this experience, so planning a fully curated and personalized trip that will immerse you into the native language is imperative for a true Irish experience.

Equestrian Experiences

Whether you’re an avid horseback rider or a beginner, Ireland’s passion for all things equine is abundant throughout the country.  From thoroughbred racing to side saddle programs, Ireland offers it all and some of the world’s most beautiful horses.  Cashel Palace even has their own equine concierge, which will arrange tickets to the races, or private lessons in a nearby horseback riding facility for you.  I can’t think of a more breathtaking setting than to ride horses through th emerald hills of Ireland.


While I did not talk about this hotel in my reviews, Ballynahinch Castle is the ideal option for a remote escape for nature-lovers.  Set on 700-acres in Connemara, it is one of the finest fisheries in Ireland, and the Ballynahinch Catchment drains an are of 68 square miles and is a diverse system of interconnected rivers.  The Ballynahinch Estate has sole fishing rights to the river.  Several other options throughout Ireland, and planning with Diego Travel ensures your itinerary is crafted exclusively for you.


While I mentioned a few of our top picks for restaurants, it’s worth it to say that I have never had a bad meal in my multiple trips to Ireland.  The last time I was there, I met with the president of the Ireland tourism board, who told me they worked tirelessly over the last two decades to recruit top talent into their culinary programs.  They really make a focus on using local ingredients, so the farm-to-table plate can really be experienced at nearly every luxury hotel and higher end restaurant in the country.  Many of my clients say they are pleasantly surprised by how well they eat in Ireland, so be sure to carve out enough time to enjoy longer meals at leisure along with a pint or two.

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