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Why Visit Ireland

Ireland.  An enchanting land filled with rolling green hills, magical castles, lively cities and a long and storied history.  It's easy to see why this charming island is one of themost beloved tourist destinations in Europe.  

Still need a bit more convincing?  Take a look at Our Top 5 reasons to visit the aptly named 'Emerald Isle'.

The Countryside

Travel but a few miles in any direction out of any of Ireland's cities and you'll find yourself in another world. Surrounded by great swathes of verdant greenery that stretch over hills and valleys, punctuated by the occasional stone village or formidable castle, its easy to see how Ireland got its famous nickname. Marvel at natural wonders such as Giant's Causeway, Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry and the Dark Hedges (made famous by Game of Thrones).  The untouched raw beauty of the Irish countryside is surreal -from the lush vegetation to the scruffy coastline - and is truly something that needs to be seen to be believed.

Featured tour:  Giant's Causeway & Ireland's North-West

10-days from $2,555 per person

Lush green countryside of Ireland

The Castles

Blarney Castle

Scattered across the country - from the depths of cities to the rolling countryside - you'll find a myriad of ancient castles.  Build primarily for Clan chiefs or Anglo-Norman settlers, Ireland's castles date back to the early parts of the 11th century and can be characterized by their sturdy grey walls, small windows, crenels and merlons - an iconic look that resembles a medieval fortress.  Arguably, some castles - such as Blarney and Ashford Castle - are more famous than others, but all evoke magical, romantic visions of medieval times.

Featured tour: Enchanting Emerald Isle

10-days from: $2,505 per person

The Traditions

Myths, legends, music, dancing, and of course, whiskey are just a few of the traditions associated with Ireland.  Home to the cunning Leprechaun, Banshees and Fionn MacCurnhaill, Ireland is rich with lores and mythological characters.  Today, traditional music and dance are a living, thriving tradition kept alive by local musicians playing the fiddle, piano and acoustic guitar as well as home-grown instruments such as the Irish bouzoukis, Uilleann pipes and Celtic harp.  Irish step dancing rose in popularity in the 1990s, following the success of Riverdance, but Irish dance comes in many other forms including jigs, reels and ceili dances.  Make time to tour a local whiskey distillery- or maybe just stop in for an Irish whiskey (or two) - then head out to a show to witness the complex rhythms and intricate coordination of Irish step dancing.  

The Celtic Steps

The Cities

Belfast Citiy Hall

What Ireland lacks in size; it makes up for with its many vibrant cities.  While each has its own unique personality, you'll find buzzing streets, friendly locals and beautiful architecture - with a blend of modern and traditional- common across them all.  The lively capital of Dublinis full of culture and history.  Galway's bohemian vibe and up-beat tempo give it a festive atmosphere.  Belfast's shipbuilding history as well as the Titanic Belfast draw visitors to this energic city.  While Cork's rebel-past, quirky ambiance, unusual museums and vibrant art galleries set it apart.  With many other diverse cities to choose from, there is one thing that binds all Irish cities together - friendly, warm, welcoming locals. 

Featured tour: Grand Tour of Ireland

The History

The only way to truly appreciate Ireland's long, twisting and at times tumultuous history is to walk in the footsteps of those who came before you.  Since the island was first settled sometime around 6000 BC, Ireland has had many periods of invasion and change in its civilian population.  Dublin-based museums including the National Museum of Ireland and the Irish Emigration Museum (EPIC) offer a glimpse into the country's background and the outcome of the various civil and socio-economic struggles.

Skellig Michael

Its rich history has shaped Ireland into the diverse and captivating country it is today.  Unlike other parts of Europe, its not uncommon to see artifacts from many different eras in history side-by-side here- which can be a fascinating, not to mention humbling, experience. Visit the Bru Na Boinne tombs in County Meath, which predate both the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge or one of the many castles to learn a bit more about some of the manyclans and kings who have ruled this turbulent country.  Or take a journey to see the 13th Century Skellig Michael, which is set on an island off the coast of county Kerry.  Founded at some point between 700 and 900 AD, not only is this UNESCO World Heritage siteis overflowing with relics of an ancient time, but it also gained notoriety more recently as it was also the location for the filming of the seventh Star Wars film.

Featured tour: The Best of Scotland & Ireland

13-days from $4,095 per person