Depart from the U.S. for Ireland. The particulars of your
arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.
Day 2 - Arrive in Shannon / Transfer to Ennis
Upon arrival at the Shannon airport, claim your luggage and
clear customs. (Please note: Also make certain that your VBT luggage tags are
affixed to your bag so your VBT representative can identify you.) As you enter
the arrival hall, look for your VBT representative or driver, who will be
holding a VBT sign. Please wait here while your representative helps make
arrangements for your transfer to your hotel in Ennis (transfer time is
approximately 30 minutes, depending upon traffic).
In Ennis, take the rest of the day to explore the town and
have dinner on your own.
Day 3 - All guests meet in Ennis / Transfer to Lisdoonvarna
VBT No-Air Package guests: After an early lunch on your own,
meet your VBT Trip Leaders at the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis at 12:30 pm
(address: Ennis, County Clare, Republic of Ireland; telephone +353  65 682
8127). To reach the hotel, you can take a taxi from Shannon airport to Ennis
(approximately €50/$65 USD) or travel on Bus Eirean (service number 344) from
Shannon airport to Ennis Town (approximately €7.00/$9.75 USD, departing every 2
hours beginning at 8 am; for more details go to www.buseireann.ie). Your VBT
Trip Leaders will be wearing VBT staff garments and carrying a VBT sign. Please
note: Plan to eat lunch or a snack on your own before meeting your VBT Trip
Leaders, as the next scheduled meal is dinner. If your arrival at Ennis is
scheduled later than 12:30 pm or if you are delayed, you must transfer at your
own expense (approximately €120/$155 USD for a taxi, travel time approximately
45 minutes) to the first hotel in Lisdoonvarna. Please contact your first hotel
to advise of any travel delays or changes so the staff can pass the message on
to your VBT Trip Leaders.
VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: You are free
to relax or explore Ennis after breakfast this morning. If you like, visit its
19th-century cathedral or medieval friary. Plan to eat lunch or a snack on your
own before meeting your VBT Trip Leaders, as the next scheduled meal is
dinner. Meet your VBT Trip Leaders in
the hotel lobby at 12:30 pm. Your leaders will be wearing VBT staff garments
and carrying a VBT sign.
Once the group has gathered, we transfer by private
motorcoach from Ennis to Lisdoonvarna via the famous Cliffs of Moher. Rising up
to 600 feet above the Atlantic Ocean's crashing waves, the Cliffs of Moher are
western Ireland's most dramatic vantage point. Then, continue on to Sheedy's
Country House & Restaurant in Lisdoonvarna (total travel time is
approximately 1½ hours). This historic hotel is truly an Irish institution.
Sheedy's Country House & Restaurant recently was voted one of Ireland's
best-loved small hotels and restaurants. Chef/owner John Sheedy, a
seventh-generation owner, is considered one of Ireland's finest chefs! After
settling in, attend a group safety and bike-fitting session and take a warm-up
ride. Later, get to know your fellow travelers at a welcome reception and
Day 4 - Discover the Burren and County Clare
Today, we begin cycling west along the rocky coastline
toward the ocean, enjoying views of Galway Bay. This region, known as the
Burren (“rocky coast” in Gaelic), is one of the few places on Earth where
arctic, Mediterranean and alpine plants thrive side by side. You might also
spot prehistoric monuments scattered throughout this otherworldly landscape,
whose limestone plateau has been compared to the surface of the moon. We'll
ride around Black Head, a famous angling point.
Later, have lunch on your own in the quaint harbor village
of Ballyvaughan, and continue to admire the rugged beauty of this region.
During the day, meet up with a local expert for a walk and talk on the Burren's
archaeology, agriculture and local history — delivered in a delightful brogue.
After dinner at the hotel, enjoy live music in Lisdoornvarna, a center for
traditional Irish folk music.
Day 5 - Explore ancient and mystical sights in Kilfenora and Carran / Discover
Choose to ride or shuttle by van to Kilfenora, known as the
City of Seven Crosses, and the site of a sixth-century monastery. Then pass
over rolling hills, through green countryside and past old stone walls on your
way to Noughaval, where you may stop to visit medieval churches, Neolithic
tombs and sacred sites. Continue on to Carran, once home to Cistercian monks
who resided at the isolated Corcomroe Abbey. The cross-shaped abbey, now in
ruins, functioned for about 400 years.
From Carran, we take a private motorcoach to Galway, an ancient harbor town that is now a thriving
city. Your Trip Leaders can provide tips on favorite eateries, pubs and shops.
Eat lunch and dinner on your own in Galway. In
between, walk to Eyre Square
in the center of town to shop for woolens, classic books and other treasures.
Or choose to explore historic sites such as Lynch's Castle, churches and the
Roman Catholic Cathedral.
Day 6 - Cycle or walk the Aran Islands
Eat a full, traditional Irish breakfast before catching the
shuttle and ferry to Inishmore, the largest of the three Aran Islands. Bikes
are supplied today by a local bike hire shop as, due to Health and Safety regulations;
it is not allowed to take bikes across on the ferry. Although a lower quality
than the VBT bikes, we feel they are sufficient for your island stay. After an initial 5 mile ride, some guests
enjoy this as a mainly non-cycling day, choosing instead to walk or hike around
the island. Inhabited for centuries, the remote Aran Islands contain some of
the finest prehistoric monuments in Europe. Today, make an included visit to
Dun Aengus, among the most remarkable Druid sites. This sacred site is at least
2,000 years old. While you're here, wander among some of the other mystic
Celtic stones, monuments and holy wells.
If you choose to explore the eastern end of the island near
Kilronan Harbor, you may opt to visit the Ionad Aran, the island's Heritage and
Interpretive Center. Lodging tonight is in one of the guesthouses on the
island. Please note: Plan to use your daypack for all of your overnight needs.
Your larger luggage will not accompany you to the islands, but will be sent
ahead and will be waiting in your room in Connemara.
Dinner tonight is at our island guesthouse. Enjoy an
authentic taste of the islands over a home-cooked meal.
Day 7 - Ferry to Rossaveel / Shuttle or cycle to Connemara
The ferry takes us to Rossaveel, where we can bike or
shuttle into Connemara, Ireland's “Wild West.” In this
rugged and magical countryside, framed by the Twelve Bens mountain range and
Roundstone Bog, we'll encounter glittering beaches, shimmering lakes and rivers
famous peat bogs.
After time spent touring these picturesque meadowlands and
rocky terrain, we join the locals for conversation, perhaps sprinkled with
Gaelic, and a pub lunch.
Later, we arrive at our inviting hotel, set on the shores of
Lough Inagh. Enjoy time to relax and freshen up before we gather for dinner,
prepared by the hotel chef.
Day 8 - Cycle to Kylemore
Abbey & Renvyle Peninsula
Cycle along Lough Inagh toward Kylemore Abbey — the oldest
Benedictine abbey in Ireland.
Built 350 years ago, today it is home to a community of nuns. Enjoy views of
this iconic structure, and then roll past stunning views of ocean waves, silver
bays and rocky coastlines along the unspoiled, tranquil Renyvle Peninsula.
Perhaps you'll stop and trace your toes in the sand or take a picnic break
along the beach.
Pedal back to the hotel at your own pace, then relax a while
at the hotel before a festive farewell dinner.
Day 9 - Transfer to Dublin
/ Free time / VBT No-Air Package ends
VBT No-Air Package guests: Transfer to the Dublin airport, arriving at approximately
1:00 pm. The tour ends here or you can continue to the Schoolhouse Hotel, Dublin, with the rest of
the group. Important: Departures from Dublin
airport prior to 4:00 pm are not recommended. If you depart earlier, you must
make transfer arrangements at your own expense from the last hotel to the Dublin airport (travel
time is approximately 4 hours; cost is approximately €550 for a taxi; we
recommend Noel King for transfers, email: email@example.com, tel. ++353 87 958
2398). If you have a flight from Shannon
airport, you must make your own arrangements, approximately €315 for a taxi,
travel time approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.
VBT Air Package and Post-Trip Extension guests: Depart at
8:00 am on your coach transfer to the Schoolhouse Hotel, Dublin (approximately 5 hours). There is no
VBT representative on the coach ride. Important: Upon arrival at the hotel,
please reconfirm with the hotel receptionist the time of your transfer to the Dublin airport for your return flight to the U.S. You have
the remainder of the day free to take in a bit of the atmosphere of Dublin and to seek out
one of the city's many restaurants, pubs or outdoor cafés for lunch and dinner
on your own.
VBT provides you with a City Information Packet, which
includes helpful tips and recommendations on what to see and do in Dublin.
Day 10 - Depart for U.S.
After breakfast, transfer to the Dublin airport for your return flight.
Please note: For guests with early-morning departures,
breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the Front Desk
to verify the times that breakfast is served.
VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in
advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay
beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport is at
your own expense.