If renting a car is something you’re not quite comfortable with while vacationing in Ireland, seeing Ireland’s attractions by taking a series of one-day tours is a great alternative.
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Many of them are also affordably priced and packed full of value so you don’t have to worry about spending too much of your hard-earned cash while traveling in Ireland.
Here are 7 of the most popular one-day tours chosen for you by Ireland on a Budget.
1. Galway City to the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher
There’s a reason why the Aran Islands turn up time and time again on tourist itineraries, which is why it's one of the 7 one-day tours of Ireland that I recommend.
The place is magical and in a hurried world like ours, it’s no wonder that people want to simply get away from it all and reconnect with nature and a simpler way of life.
Of course, there’s more to these Co. Galway islands than that. There’s a lot of heritage to be experienced too.
The most popular of the Aran Islands is Inishmore, which is also the largest island off the Irish coast.
If you’re in Galway for a few days, exploring the islands as well as the Cliffs of Moher in neighboring County Clare, couldn’t be easier.
Both can easily be seen aboard the Aran Island Ferries, which offers one-day and overnight tours, departing from the Galway City Docks and from Rossaveal, which is 23 miles (37 km) from the city.
A shuttle service is available to Rossaveal for passengers wishing to travel from that location.
Travel in style aboard the ferry company’s latest vessel, “Saoirse na Farraige,” which made its way from Hong Kong to Galway late last year.
The updated service to the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher was resumed on June 4th.
Roundtrip tour fares from Galway city cost €49 for adults, €44 for students and seniors, and €25 for children ages 5-12. Children under the age of 5 travel free, but you must let the office know ahead of time.
2. Blarney Castle Day Tour from Dublin
No visit to Ireland is complete without kissing the country’s most famous stone.
The Blarney Stone, built into the battlements of the 15th-century Co. Cork Blarney Castle, has been a popular tourist attraction for decades.
An old Irish legend says that whoever kisses the stone will be granted the gift of the gab or the skill of flattery.
The ritual includes leaning backward on the edge of the stone, which thankfully has wrought-iron guard rails and protective crossbars around it so there’s no danger of falling.
The tour even includes a trip to the Rock of Cashel in Co. Tipperary.
Prices are €75 for adults and €69 for students with a proper ID.
3. Game of Thrones Tour from Derry, Dublin, or Belfast
Are you a Game of Thrones fan?
If so, you won’t want to leave Ireland without visiting the iconic locations that were part of this wildly popular series.
If you are staying in either Derry, Dublin, or Belfast, you can grab a Game of Thrones tour from either of those cities.
The popular Game of Thrones tour company offers a number of tours that will take you to various places in Northern Ireland, which served as the backdrop for many GOT scenes.
You’ll dress up like a Stark complete with a cloak and a sword while guides (who served as extras on the show) will give you the behind-the-scenes details of how some of the most difficult scenes were shot.
Other locations on this tour include the enchanting Tollymore Forest and the 12th-century Inch Abbey, where Robb Stark was declared King of the North.
Other tours offered by the company include “Iron Islands, Giant’s Causeway & Rope Bridge” and The Tollymore Forest Trek, both from Belfast.
Rates are around £45/€52. Private tours are also available. Go to the Game of Thrones tour website to book.
4. Glendalough, the Wicklow Mountains, and Kilkenny
You won’t go wrong with Pat Flynn, a tour guide with Collins Day Tours.
This one-day tour takes in an amazing variety of attractions, from the serene environment of Glendalough, the 6th-century monastic site founded by St. Kevin, to the ruggedness of the Wicklow Mountains, a favorite location for international filmmakers, as well as Kilkenny, Ireland’s best-preserved medieval city.
You can catch the bus tour from several locations in Dublin’s city center.
Tickets are €35 for adults, €30 for seniors, and €20 for children under 12. The price does not include admission to Kilkenny Castle or lunch.
Tours are available year-round.
5. Ring of Kerry One-Day Tour
The Ring of Kerry is one of Ireland's most well-known tourist attractions.
Looking through travel brochures or on a website really doesn’t do it justice. You really have to visit yourself.
If you’re without a rental car, no worries. You can take the train to Killarney from Dublin or other cities in Ireland.
The rail journey from Ireland’s east coast to the southwest is probably the most direct and won’t require any switching of trains.
Once you’re in Killarney, a tour guide from Dingle Slea Head Tours will show you around.
Expect to see Killorglin, home to Ireland’s oldest festival, the Puck Fair; Caherciveen, the birthplace of Ireland’s liberator Daniel O’Connell; Valentia Island; views of the famous Skellig Islands, including Skellig Michael; lunch in the seaside town of Portmagee, as well as the town of Waterville, where Charlie Chaplin spent many summers in Ireland.
Groups of up to 5 people can expect to spend about €420/$513 for a tour with Dingle Slea Head Tours. For more information, contact Rory at [email protected].
6. Explore Kylemore Abbey in the Heart of Connemara
Another day tour that you can also take from Galway is the Connemara, Cong, and Kylemore Abbey one-day tour.
On this tour, you’ll get to explore parts of Counties Galway and Mayo. The village of Cong where “The Quiet Man” was filmed is just one of the places you’ll visit.
Cong Woods is also nearby as is the famous Ashford Castle.
The area is also home to Ireland’s only fjord, known as Killary Harbour. It is situated between the two counties.
The tour also includes a stop at Kylemore Abbey, a Benedictine monastery that was once a boarding school for young girls.
The house and walled gardens are a popular tourist attraction and on this tour, you’ll get to spend a couple of hours exploring this Connemara gem.
Tickets for the one-day tour cost €30 for adults, €25 for students and seniors, and €20 for children. The admission to Kylemore Abbey is not included in the tour price.
This tour is also available from Dublin.
7. Explore County Donegal with the Donegal Tour Guide
Donegal might be tucked away in the far northwestern corner of Ireland but it’s definitely a place worth exploring.
Henry Doohan of Donegal Tour Guide is eager to show tourists around his end of the world, including many of Donegal’s most beautiful spots.
Depending on the private tour route you choose, you’ll see sites like Sliabh Liag, the highest cliffs in Ireland; Malin Head, Ireland’s most northerly point where scenes for Star Wars: The Last Jedi were filmed; Glenveagh National Park; the Inishowen Peninsula and much more.
Doohan, a chauffeur and Fáilte Ireland-approved tour guide, can accommodate up to seven people in his Mercedes-Benz V Class minivan and is only happy to do the driving while his guests soak up all that Donegal has to offer.
Rates for groups cost approximately $500, but to get a more accurate figure, it’s best to contact Henry directly.
If you'd prefer to travel to Donegal privately, Henry is available for chauffeur transfers from airports and other counties.
Derry city is only 39 miles (64 km) from the Donegal border.
If you want to explore the city and then experience the mesmerizing Donegal coastline and its many attractions, you can do so with the Donegal Tour Guide.
Read more about Henry and his company in our Tourism Ambassador section.
Have you taken any of the 7 one-day tours in Ireland mentioned above? Let me know in the comments below.