Top reasons to join small group tours in Ireland
To experience Ireland’s beauty and learn about the long and varied history, small group tours are the easiest and most efficient way to tour this quiet and tranquil island of green. From touring rugged mountains to secluded beaches, Driftwood Tours of Ireland should be your first stop when searching for Ireland bus tours. Our group of two couples joined Vagabond Small-Group Tours of Ireland in April on their Driftwood Tour of Ancient Ireland. We had a trip of a lifetime with our party of ten people in a large, comfortable tour vehicle.
Leave the driving to someone else with small group tours
Renting a car in Ireland is very expensive, and driving can be problematic due to the tiny, winding roads and varied weather conditions — not to mention driving on the opposite side of the road/car can be a huge barrier to safe driving if you aren’t used to it. So why not leave the driving to someone else while enjoying the intimacy of a small group.
Beautiful accommodations are provided with Driftwood’s small group tours
The accommodations chosen by Driftwood Tours for small group travel were outstanding in every way. In fact, most accommodations were luxurious. We had comfortable beds, attentive staff, and upscale rooms. The restaurants within the hotels and manor homes served delicious meals and provided excellent service. Our accommodations are linked below:
We stayed our first two nights at a small, luxury country house hotel built in 1830 with extensive gardens and estate. We felt like we had stepped onto the set of Downton Abbey, and I caught my imagination running rampant looking for the bell to call the upstairs maid.
Dunbrody House has an acclaimed fine dining restaurant and very popular Seafood Bar combined with on-site cookery school. There is also a small boutique spa offering a range of holistic therapies, but it was closed on the days we were there. We really had time to get away from it all and relax. Our two nights at Dunbrody House were the wettest days of our trip — but this did not dampen our spirits — and our group practically took over the Seafood Bar for a couple of nights for dinner and drinks.
It stopped raining just long enough for us to explore the trails at the back of the manor filled with bluebells and flowers blooming.
Our stay at the Pembroke Kilkenny Hotel, a modern decor, was a sharp contrast to our Dunbrody manor house stay. This hotel brought us into the current century to enjoy the amenities of the city. Pembroke Kilkenny is a four-star, boutique hotel in the heart of Kilkenny.
Kilkenny is a wonderful city buzzing with history and culture, and this hotel is located right in the center of the city. Offering spacious rooms and a peaceful charm throughout, Pembroke Kilkenny is a welcoming hotel with a comfortable ambiance and friendly staff. The hotel is within walking distance of Kilkenny Castle, which we toured during our visit, and is another site not to miss.
You can enjoy a hearty meal, morning coffee, brunch, lunch, dinner and evening drinks at Statham’s Bar & Restaurant. We thoroughly enjoyed their extensive breakfast menu and their made-to-order options, as well as their buffet.
Pembroke Kilkenny offers live music to entertain guests every weekend. They also have a medispa called “Mint” offering manicures, laser treatments, skin care, or just a spot of pampering with a massage, facial, body treatment, and signature packages. To book Pembroke Kilkenny, click here.
If I had to pick, I’m pretty sure Kinsale would be the one city I would go back to again. Known as the gourmet capital of Ireland, Kinsale offers an array of fine dining and pub options that will satisfy the most adventurous of palates. Traditional Irish music and local bands can be heard nightly in the Blue Haven Hotel and other bars. Music in Ireland is such a treat. The lively sounds of fiddle ring out and make you dance your way to the next stop. I would love to spend more time in Kinsale. So much food and music; so little time! To book Blue Haven, click here.
We enjoyed our stay at Bayview Hotel, a fine manor house nestled on the cliffside of the beautiful fishing village of Ballycotton. It offers luxurious accommodations and stunning ocean views.
There was an exquisite view of the lighthouse from your room. You can hear the waves crashing as you wake up in the morning in this amazing location. Climbing the stairway to and from the beach offered a great morning aerobic workout before boarding our van with our new friends. To book Bayview Hotel, click here.
Driftwood tour guides give site visits a historical context with small group tours
When touring Ireland, the country’s history is can be overwhelming. Our guides, Pat and Mark, regaled us with intriguing stories in great detail about each site we visited. They included the history, the religious context, as well as current day issues related to the area. They were extremely knowledgeable and were always ready to share more when asked. With inhabitants dating back to 7000 or 8000 BC, that’s a lot of history to carry around in your head. We were quite impressed with our guides’ knowledge. They told us all about lambing season in Ireland, and we got a kick out of watching the newborn lambs as we rode in comfort around Ireland.
Stress-free travel planning with small group tours
When joining a tour with Vagabond Tours, there is no need to worry about planning. They do it all: planning the route; booking the rooms and tickets; changing of hotels, if needed; and all the driving and unloading and loading of suitcases. As a travel planner, I appreciate letting someone else take charge of the details for a change. There are no maps to read and no GPS to follow. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the 40 shades of green passing by your window.
Travel in style with small group tours
Our 18-passenger tour vehicle was extra large for our party of ten people. There were large comfortable seats, and a few times there was room for me to stretch out on the long row of seats in the back to take a short nap.
Make new friends with small group tours
When traveling with a group of ten people, there’s plenty of time to converse, join others for a drink before dinner, and enjoy the varying personalities during the tour.
Experience our Irish vacation itinerary below:
DAY 1 – DUBLIN TO KILKENNY
- Visit the 6th century mountain monastery of Glendalough
- Cross the Wicklow Mountains, the heathery home of Ireland’s largest National Park
- Discover Rathgall hill fort, one of Ireland’s largest Bronze Age forts
DAY 2 – KILKENNY TO WATERFORD
- Explore Kilkenny with a morning of elegant castles, medieval townhouses and craft studios
- Enjoy a characterful guided tour at Jerpoint Park’s ruins, including St. Nicolas’ gravesite
- Step onboard the Dunbrody Famine Ship; an exact reproduction of a 19th century Irish emigrant vessel
DAY 3 – WATERFORD/WEXFORD
- Tour the unspoiled Hook Peninsula, home to the world’s oldest operational lighthouse at Hook Head
- Guided tour of 13th century Tintern Abbey, once one of the most powerful Cistercian abbeys in Ireland
DAY 4 – WATERFORD TO BALLYCOTTON
- Wander the streets of Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city; established by Vikings in the 10th century
- Admire the pinnacle of Irish craftwork at the House of Waterford Crystal
- Gaze out at crashing waves, secluded coves and dramatic sea stacks on our ride along the Copper Coast
DAY 5 – BALLYCOTTON TO KINSALE
- Admire the ocean views from your lodgings in the quaint fishing village of Ballycotton
- Explore the picture-perfect town of Kinsale, Ireland’s charming gourmet capital
- Taste the water of life on a guided tour of the 18th century Jameson/Midleton Whiskey Distillery
DAY 6 – KINSALE TO DUBLIN
- Sample the delights of the English Market in Cork city – proud locals call Cork the real capital of Ireland!
- Imagine saints and scholars at the epic Rock of Cashel
- Kiss the Blarney Stone amidst the lush surroundings of Blarney Castle Gardens
Plan your trip to Ireland today
After our six-day tour of Ancient Ireland with our guides, Pat and Mark, I can highly recommend small group tours with Driftwood Tours of Ireland. They have many other itineraries from which to choose. Their service went well beyond what I was expecting, and I would not hesitate to join them on another adventure. I’m thinking of planning a Northern Ireland tour to see the Game of Thrones filming sites! Wouldn’t that be really exciting!
A huge thank you to Vagabond Tours of Ireland for their generous hospitality. I enjoyed some services on this visit as a professional blogger, but as always, all opinions are my own.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission to help fund the Grans On The Go blog. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and we think will add value to our readers.