12 Days of Christmas in Ireland

Create lasting memories as you travel with your private driver through Ireland at Christmastime. You'll explore cities and towns such as Dublin, Galway, Dingle, and Kinsale while seeing famous sites like the Cliffs of Moher and Giants Causeway. This festive trip spans from Christmas into the new year. Below is a sample itinerary of the cities and sites to take in during your twelve days in Ireland. Old Sod Travel can customize this itinerary based on your own travel needs and desires.

Image courtesy of Failte Ireland

Christmas, Temple Bar Pub, Dublin City ©Failte Ireland


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Ireland at Christmas: Itinerary Inspiration

Day 1 - Dublin

Start your trip by enjoying the lovely Christmas buzz around the city centre. Take in the atmosphere by walking down Grafton Street and listening to the street performers and artists.

Spend your day on a private walking tour of the city. The tour takes in the two main shopping areas of the city and will introduce you to some of the more famous statues and monuments including Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Daniel O’Connell, James Larkin, Phil Lynott and of course Molly Malone. You will visit Merrion Square, one of Dublin’s famous Georgian squares, and St Stephen’s Green, Dublin Castle and Trinity College, home of the famous Book of Kells. You will hear about Dublin's life over the centuries, from the founding of the city by the Vikings to invasions and rebellions, fighting for our freedom.

Later in the day visit the Guinness Storehouse (The world's leading tourist attraction!) - what a nice way to ring in Christmas cheer at this iconic establishment. Afterward, you could pop into the Brazen Head, Dublin's oldest pub.

Your hotel is located in a great spot for the next few nights for dining and pubs. You could try Fade St Social,
Market Bar, or Uno Mas for dining and South William Street for bars with a buzz. For a more traditional vibe toy
The Long Hall. Pop into Kehoe's or Davy Byrnes off Grafton Street for a hot whiskey or a pint and soak up the ambiance.

Image courtesy of Failte Ireland

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Day 2 - Dublin

Christmas Eve in Dublin is generally pretty special. The best place to head is Grafton Street to feel the buzz of those last-minute shoppers and watch the street entertainment ring in those Christmas tunes. If you want an escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy Dublin streets, take some time out and pay a visit to St. Teresa's Church. Just off Grafton Street, this beautiful church has the most impressive altar and stained glass windows. The best thing to do on Christmas Eve in Dublin is find a nice cozy bar with food and settle in for the evening. 

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Day 3 - Dublin

Happy Christmas. Needless to say, Christmas Day in Dublin is a unique experience. Enjoy a leisurely Christmas breakfast in your hotel. Take a walk around St. Stephens Green or make your way out to Phoenix Park - one of the largest city parks in Europe. One Christmas tradition in Dublin is to take a dip in the sea on Christmas morning. You could join or just watch as some crazy people take a dip at the forty-foot on Dublin's south side. This is a beautiful area to come for a walk on Christmas morning - walk along the Dun Laoghaire pier and feel refreshed. Return to your hotel for some mince pies and mulled wine before getting ready to enjoy a festive feast. 

Dublin bridge

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Day 4 - Kinsale

This morning, you will meet your driver for the week. Head south to Kinsale which will be the final destination point for the day. If energy levels are good, go via Glendalough and take a beautiful walk around the lower or upper lakes. Continue to Kinsale to your hotel for the night. Keep in mind that the day after Christmas is St. Stephen's Day, so many businesses may not be open.

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Day 5 - Dingle

If you did not get time yesterday take a walk around Kinsale before getting on the road to Dingle. The direct journey to Dingle is nearly 3 hours. Many places will still be closed due to the festive period but a stop at Killarney National Park is a must. Your driver knows all the best locations to bring you to, so sit back and enjoy. Continue to Dingle and spend what time is left of the day in there, don't forget to get a scoop of ice cream in Murphy's and wander the streets (no matter the weather). Enjoy dinner in town at one of Dingle’s many pubs and restaurants, many of which offer traditional Irish music.

Image courtesy of Fionnán Nestor

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Day 6 - Galway

Wake up early this morning to make the most of your day. Drive the Slea Head Drive, a stunning coastal route west of Dingle that is lined with archaeological sites, gorgeous beaches, and dramatic rock formations. Afterwards, you will have nearly a 4-hour drive to Galway stopping at the iconic Cliffs of Moher along the way. Your driver will know how to make the best of your day. Arrive in Galway and check into your hotel, near Eyre Square.

Image courtesy of Chaosheng Zhang

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Day 7 - Connemara

After breakfast, head to Connemara, dubbed by Oscar Wilde as a “savage beauty.” Go via Roundstone and make
sure to take a stroll on Dog's Beach. Continue to Clifden, a cute town with lovely shops. Have lunch at Guy's Snug in Clifden. Take the Sky Road drive out of Clifden and see great views at every turn.

Next up, visit Kylemore Abbey. The Abbey itself is a Benedictine monastery that was founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Abbey, in Connemara. Walk up to the old castle take a leisurely walk up and around the old school and perhaps take the little bus up to the beautiful gardens and have some lunch or a sticky bun and coffee before getting on the road again.

Not far from here is Connemara National Park, where you can take the Lower Diamond Hill hike (3km) for an amazing view of Connemara and its surroundings.

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Day 8 - Irish Countryside

Travel on through, Sligo and Bundoran (surfing capital). In Enniskillen, visit the Buttermarket which has a collection of local craftsmen selling their wares, and then head to Donegal Town.

After Donegal Town veer west to the breathtaking Slieve League Cliffs. The Cliffs are Europe’s tallest sea cliffs,
rising to a height of over 2,000 feet. Remarkably, on the slopes of Slieve League, there are remains of an early
Christian monastic site with chapel and beehive huts.

Take the Glengesh pass to Ardara and try Nancy’s pub for a bite to eat.

On the way, visit Glencolmcille Folk Village, a thatched-roof replica of a traditional Irish rural village. Comprising of several small cottages, called a "clachan,” the village is on a hillside with a commanding sea view over Glen Bay
Beach. Or just gaze over Silver Strand beach if the sun shines.

Image courtesy of Martin Fleming

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Day 9 - Giant's Causeway

Five minutes down the road is a place where, according to legend, an Irish giant named Finn MacCool began his quest to defeat a cocky Scottish giant. An official Unesco World Heritage Site since 1986, the Giant’s Causeway was formed around 50 to 60 million years ago as a result of a volcanic eruption. What emerged from the eruption led to the creation of a corner of the world so wonderfully unique that it has been nicknamed the 8th wonder of the world. You can visit and walk the trails/site for free. 

If you have time, take the cliff walk above the Causeway, it's the perfect spot for some aerial views.

Get back in the car and head to Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, only 15 minutes up the road. The bridge operates a timed system. Take a thrilling walk across the bridge as it swings between the mainland and a small island. For those afraid of heights – and those in search of an adrenaline boost – the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge hangs over 25 feet above the icy waters below. 

Image Courtesy of Christopher Hill

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Day 10 - Belfast

Spend a few hours visiting the Titanic Quarter. Here you can visit The Titanic Museum - RMS Titanic was built in Belfast’s dockyards, by shipbuilders Harland and Wolff. This visitor attraction, which opened in 2012 (100 years after the Titanic sank), is found on the site of the original Harland & Wolff shipyard. Here, both the RMS Titanic and her sister ship, the RMS Olympic were built and launched. The museum, whose four corners are shaped like the prow of a ship, takes you on a fascinating journey into the history of the shipyard, the building of the RMS Titanic itself, the people who worked on her, the first voyage and an overview of the tragic events that resulted in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The museum also covers events up to the current day, including the discovery of the wreck and stories about how popular culture has portrayed the events. Overall, this museum is a fascinating attraction, and well worth two or three hours of your time.

Spend the remainder of your day exploring Belfast.

Image courtesy of Tourism Ireland

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Day 11 - Dublin

Visit the Neolithic ruins at Newgrange, approximately 30 minutes from Dublin. The tombs at Newgrange
and Knowth are 1,000 years older than Stonehenge and are widely considered to be some of the most extraordinary ruins in Europe. 

Afterwards, head straight to Dublin. Visit Kilmainham Gaol on the outskirts of the city if you did not get to see it at the start of your trip. Or, visit Malahide Castle.

Continue to the outskirts of Dublin to your hotel which is located in the beautiful seaside town of Malahide. The town blends chic contemporary shops and restaurants with traditional Irish pubs and an abundance of history. Take a wander around town before dinner and pop into Gibney's or Fowler's for a pint.

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Day 12 - Departure

Give your farewell to Ireland and head to the Dublin airport, which is about a 15-minute drive from your hotel. 

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Who Is Old Sod Travel?

We are a small, independent business specializing in planning luxurious trips to Ireland, Scotland, and England. We work with you to create a tailor-made Ireland tour filled with the amazing scenery, singular experiences and lifelong memories you’ve been dreaming of.

Our focus is solely on highly customized travel to Ireland and the British Isles. This allows us to identify the best hotels and guesthouses, and to know the owners personally. We know the best hiking trails, golf courses and fishing guides. The best restaurants, pubs and scenic vistas.

We know where the good seats are at the Edinburgh Tattoo and how to get tickets for Wimbledon, Premier League Soccer games or a Hurling match at Croke Park. We know which sites and attractions are truly worth seeing and where you’ll want to spend extra time.

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