Travel along the Wild Atlantic Way of south west Ireland, journeying from Cork to the Dingle and Iveragh Peninsulas. Hear tales of Irish history and folklore and explore fascinating deep time geological features that reveal how the present landscape of Ireland was formed.
Take a trip to south west Ireland, enjoying a six-day, five-night journey through its history and culture. Begin your vacation in the city of Cork, then travel to the spectacular Dingle and Iveragh Peninsulas to uncover natural wonders and the stories of their origin.
Take inspiration from the wild landscape, with soaring cliffs, crashing waves, hidden sandy beaches and towering mountains. Gain new insights from expert tour leaders and local guides and unearth the geology behind Ireland’s most famous landmarks.
See how natural and human forces have shaped the Irish landscape, with visits to castles and cliffs, towns, and towers, and more on your journey across Ireland. Take to the sea to get a new perspective on the incredible coastline and hear tales of resilience and determination on remote islands.
Learn how south west Ireland has evolved from deep time to its historical traditions, native language, and music, through folk music sessions, pub visits and tours.
See Ireland’s most spectacular sights, including the famous Ring of Kerry, the eye-catching Dingle Peninsula, the distant Blasket Islands and picture-perfect Inch Beach. Discover scenic mountains and gorges, isolated islands, storm-wracked coastlines, and seaside communities.
Stay in comfort and dine in style at highly rated accommodation across western Ireland, including a country house that has grown from a castle, and a hilltop manor tucked away in County Kerry.
Activity level: Moderate, with optional longer walks and hikes across Ireland’s landscape, including rocky paths, coastal outcrops and beaches. Walks are generally less than 3 miles long (see definitions here). This tour of Ireland also includes boarding and disembarking boats, for those wanting to visit the Blasket Islands.
Transport: Getting around: Luxury minibus; passenger boat to the Blasket Islands.
Accommodation: One night’s stay at Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, County Cork, an award-winning Georgian country house hotel, offering guests ‘farm-to-fork’ menus based on sustainable principles with homegrown or locally sourced ingredients. Two nights’ stay at the Pax Guest House, County Kerry, on the Dingle Peninsula with ‘one of the top ten views in Ireland’. Two nights’ stay at Ard na Sidhe Country House, County Kerry, a welcoming manor house surrounded by 32 acres of gardens.
Weather: June in the west of Ireland is typically mild. Rain is always possible, and guests should be prepared with warm and waterproof clothing.
Meet your Tour Leader and fellow travellers in the evening. Explore Cork before if you have time then enjoy a relaxed introduction to your Ireland vacation.
Your journey begins in Cork, the second-largest city in Ireland and a great introduction to Irish hospitality and history. Among Cork’s attractions are the English Market, a covered food market which has been trading for over 200 years, not one, but two cathedrals, and the old town.
If you’ve arrived early, you could also visit the picturesque harbourside town of Cobh, famous as a departure point for mass emigration to the United States, and the last stop for the Titanic before its fateful voyage across the Atlantic. Both events are commemorated by heritage and experience centres, and the town also holds the tallest cathedral in Ireland, St Colman’s.
After exploring the area, in the late afternoon you’ll meet up with your tour leader, your local tourist guide and your fellow guests at Ballymaloe House, a historic castle-turned-manor house hotel. After an introductory talk, the group will enjoy dinner at the hotel, ahead of your journey to the Wild Atlantic Way the following day.
Travel to the spectacular Dingle Peninsula, see its mountains, explore its coasts and beaches and check into your hotel.
Today we’ll travel from Cork to Dingle, journeying from what can feel like ‘modern’ Ireland back to its traditional past. The scenic Dingle Peninsula juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and features mountains, castles, beaches and a sizable population of native Irish speakers!
On the way we’ll visit historic towns, and Inch Beach, a sweeping, dune-covered spit of sand reaching out into Dingle Bay which boasts excellent views over the water, and of the neighbouring Iveragh Peninsula. We'll also take in views of distant mountains, and much closer, rare Inch conglomerate.
For lunch, we’ll be stopping into the South Pole Inn, a reminder of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration. Opened and once run by local Tom Crean, the Inn is a testament to the bygone age of Antarctic discovery, and Crean’s own exploits on the expeditions of both Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton.
This part of Dingle, and the peninsula as a whole, is a great way to start ‘reading the rocks’ of Ireland’s 485-million-year-old geological history, when this part of the country was south of the equator. Highlights include signs of ancient sand dunes from when the area was a desert, evidence of a deep ocean, and a variety of exposed sediments and tectonic faults on Trabeg Beach.
After exploring the area's cliffs and castles, we’ll round off day two of your Ireland vacation by checking into the Pax Guest House, a free evening to explore Dingle and a look forward to the morning view!
Dive into Ireland’s history, geology and landscapes with a drive and boat trip to its westernmost point.
Yesterday was only a taster of the Dingle Peninsula; today, you’ll be travelling to its very western end, taking in plenty of incredible views along the way.
This leg involves plenty of geological and human history, including Fahan’s curious ‘beehive huts’, striking old red sandstone cliffs and views of the isolated Blasket Islands. Once home to purely Irish speakers, the island populations gradually shrank as residents emigrated to mainland Ireland or elsewhere, eventually leaving them a silent testament to generations of persevering islanders.
We’ll be discovering the island’s lost people and cultures at the heritage centre, and after lunch, catching a boat out to the islands proper to see the abandoned village, Silurian and Lower Devonian rocks and the resident seal colony.
Alternatively, if conditions aren’t right for the boat trip, we’ll take a scenic walk from the heritage centre to a filming site from the Robert Mitchum film Ryan’s Daughter with Silurian fossils, then travel to Clogher Head, to take in volcanic rocks and an excellent panoramic view of the Blasket Islands and Dingle’s neighbouring peninsulas.
Take in views of one of Ireland’s highest mountains, enjoy a scenic, geology rich coastal walk, visit an internationally renowned pottery and check into a countryside hotel.
Your last day on the Dingle Peninsula starts with a trip to the town of Ballyferriter to do a scenic circular walk in the area of Clogher Strand, seeing more evidence of Ireland’s volcanic past. Above the Strand, we’ll visit Louis Mulcahy Pottery, and hear the story of how a competition win led Louis to gamble by moving his entire business across country from Dublin to Dingle.
Other points of interest include the Gallarus Oratory, a well-preserved early-Christian church, and one of the best examples in Ireland.
The afternoon will be free to discover the delights of Dingle town, which holds plenty of art galleries, churches, and craft shops. If you’re up for a walk, you can also head out of town to visit Hussey’s Folly, an ‘artificial ruin’ built during the Great Famine to provide local citizens with employment.
Weather-permitting, we’ll then head up to the Conor Pass, up a winding mountain road, capped with spectacular views of the Owenmore Valley and the Brandon Mountains. The viewing spot is an excellent place to better understand the glacial forces that shaped the incredible landscape into its present day state. Later on, we’ll bid a fond farewell to Dingle and depart for your accommodation for the next two nights, Ard na Sidhe Country House, a secluded, spacious manor house hotel on the shores of Lake Caragh.
Discover a history-packed island in Ireland’s far south west, brilliant coastal views.
From our new starting base on the Iveragh Peninsula, we’ll be heading off after breakfast to explore Valentia Island, one of Ireland’s largest islands. We’ll take a scenic drive down the north coast, visit an Iron Age ring fort then cross the bridge onto Valentia Island proper, passing Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil, before crossing the bridge onto Valentia Island proper.
Valentia is full of history from across the timeline, stretching from the first transatlantic cable being laid in 1865, to hosting Ireland’s oldest slate quarry, to even showing tracks of early vertebrates from 385 million years ago!
Other attractions include the Skellig Experience Centre, which tells the story of the remote Skellig Islands, the larger of which still holds a monastery founded in the 6th century. While we won’t be visiting the islands first-hand, the Skellig Centre does an excellent job of showing what life was like on the isolated, storm-battered islands for their devout residents.
Take in a Victorian mansion and its gardens in ‘Ireland’s Lake District’, then journey back to Cork to bid a fond farewell to the group, and conclude your Ireland vacation.
It’s time to enjoy the final breakfast of your Ireland vacation, but we’ve saved a pair of surprises until last.
First up is a spectacular valley on the way out of County Kerry, the Gap of Dunloe – take your pictures while you can! We’ll then get on the road to Cork, stopping off at Muckross House and Gardens.
Built in the Victorian era, Muckross House is an incredible mansion to behold, with equally pleasing grounds holding a variety of different garden types to explore and enjoy.
After some light refreshments at Muckross, we’ll drive the rest of the way back to Cork, to wrap up this epic tour of Ireland late afternoon.
There is a charge of £425 / $530 for solo travellers.
The activity level is rated as MODERATE, requiring an average level of fitness (see our definitions here). The tour will involve walking in generally easy terrain but will require good walking boots and a moderate level of fitness (please note, some paths may be uneven and loose underfoot). Hikes are 1–3 miles long, Transport will be by comfortable small coach. This tour also involves an optional trip to Blasket Islands, with transport by passenger boat.
June weather in the west of Ireland is typically warm, but rain is always possible, so you should bring suitable lightweight warm and waterproof clothing.
If walking is an issue, alternative arrangements can be made during the scheduled longer walks, so please let GeoCultura know in advance. To enjoy the full experience, a good level of fitness is required – please call us to discuss this if you have any concerns.
Our tour leaders are happy to provide suggestions for alternative activities for guests who prefer not to participate in certain parts of the tour walks, visits or group dinners.
Night 1: Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, near Cork
Legendary Irish Country House hotel, founded 60 years ago and still run by the Allen family. A tranquil 33-bedroom countryside retreat with its own farm and extensive kitchen garden, offering its celebrated ‘farm-to-fork’ dining experience.
Nights 2 & 3: Pax House, Dingle
This chic 16-bedroom licensed guest house is a 12-minute ‘downhill’ walk into Dingle and has amazing views over the harbour and Dingle peninsula. Enjoy the large sitting room with its artwork, books and comfortable seating. There are fresh flowers and binoculars in the bedrooms and previous guests report “delicious breakfasts, beautifully presented”. (Photo credit: Barry Murphy and Marie O'Leary)
Nights 4 & 5: Ard na Sidhe Country House, County Kerry.
Located on the shores of Lough Caragh, with extensive grounds, this is a welcoming 18-bedroom traditional hotel with elegant restaurant. No TVs here, but enjoy the peaceful surroundings, the grounds and gardens, and the views.
Note: If required for reasons beyond our control, GeoCultura reserves the right to substitute alternate accommodations of equal or higher quality.
Deposit: A deposit of 10% of the tour price is due upon registration for a tour.
Final payment: Full payment is due 60 days before a tour begins, or upon registration if within the 60-day window.
Cancellation by participant: A participant may cancel a registration after securing a confirmed place on a tour for any reason. The following refund terms will apply:
Cancellation by GeoCultura: GeoCultura reserves the right to cancel any tour due to low enrolment, inability to run the tour or concerns about the safety, health or welfare of participants. If a tour is cancelled before it begins, all monies paid will be refunded (including any deposit).
Please refer to our Terms and Conditions page for additional details.
Originally from Dudley in the West Midlands, Ken lives in near Cork and is ideally positioned to help you discover the natural wonders of Ireland and the Dingle Peninsula.
After graduating with a PhD from the University of Sheffield, Ken worked for the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) in Dublin for 11 years before moving to the Department of Geology at University College Cork, becoming an Associate Professor in 2002.
He established an internationally-recognised research centre on Palynology (the study of microscopic organisms, spores and pollen), that focused on the Devonian and Carboniferous periods, when the first plants spread across the land.
He has over 100 peer reviewed research publications and since his retirement in 2012 has co-authored three books on Irish geology, including the Geology of the Dingle.
In addition to geology, Ken enjoys gardening and athletics. Following retirement he took up running, and since 2019 has represented Ireland at both cross country and track running in international Masters Athletics events.
Having been born into a family of small hoteliers Máirín never moved away from the tourism / travel industries during her entire working career.
Máirín graduated from UCD in 1976 with an honours degree in French and German plus a certificate in Archaeology. These helped her indulge her passion for travelling to faraway lands and learning about different cultures before coming to appreciate the wealth of heritage at home in Ireland.
Starting with inbound Tourism , then Aviation, Máirín’s work included promotions & marketing, familiarisation trips, working with national & overseas travel trade & media. When the opportunity arose to train as a Tourist Guide she embraced it enthusiastically, obtaining her Cork City and Environs guiding qualification in 1999 (blue badge). Following increased demand from overseas for foreign language guides to lead itineraries all over the island of Ireland, Máirín agreed to extend her range of tours in 2012, subsequently going on to obtain the National guiding qualification (white badge).
The Irish spelling of her name (which is pronounced “Maureen”) mirrors her love of Ireland’s unique language and culture which she enjoys sharing with visitors from all over the world.
The rugged and picturesque Dunmore Head looks out over another treasure of South-West Ireland - the Blasket Islands.
Award-winning Ballymaloe House Hotel sources many of its menu items from its walled garden, farm, or sustainable local suppliers.
Located right on the edge of Lake Caragh, Ard na Sidhe Country House offers peace and tranquility in the Irish countryside
Known for its incredible views, the Pax House includes binoculars in its rooms to help you make the most of the surrounding sights. (Photo credit: Barry Murphy and Anne Marie O'Leary)
Your starting point, the city of Cork, has plenty of historic attractions, including 400-year old Blackrock Castle.
The enchanting Dingle Peninsula, which will be thoroughly explored in this tour of Ireland.