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Knockadoon Watch Tower in Co. Cork, just some of the unique attractions you'll find on a private tour of Ireland. Photo: John Holmes, Getty Images.

Private Tours of Ireland: How to See the Emerald Isle on Your Terms

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Updated June 2022: Do you want to see Ireland on your own terms? Does the idea of a large coach tour put you off?

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Or perhaps you’ve thought about renting a car in Ireland, but you’re not sure you’ll be able to comfortably and safely navigate the roads there.

I totally get it.

These are all legitimate concerns and to be honest, it’s totally up to you which way you want to see Ireland, whether it’s for the first time or even if you’ve been there before.

If you’re hedging toward the idea of a private tour of Ireland, read on to find out more.

If you’re traveling with a group of friends or arranging a family reunion, a private tour is the perfect way to see Ireland and to share that special experience with loved ones.

You can set your own pace and visit the places that you most want to see, not something that’s been added to a large group itinerary.

What’s more, the local knowledge you’ll acquire from a private tour guide is invaluable.

a rock in the ocean County Clare
The beautiful Cliffs of Moher off the coast of Co. Clare. Photo: Mustang_79

Here are 13 tour companies operating in Ireland today that offer the most bang for your buck when it comes to private tours.

Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland

In July 2019, 10 members of the Davidson family took a private 7-day tour of Northern Ireland thanks to Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland.

It would turn out to be one of the most enjoyable vacations they have had.

Scenes like this old, unfinished stone house that sits in a large grassy field near Slieve Binnian in the Mourne Mountains are common around the island of Ireland. Photo: kjwells86

Three generations of the family, aged between 14 and 80, had the opportunity to discover Ireland and their ancestral roots.

The adventures that followed included a hike to Slieve Gullion, where they found the highest passage grave on the island of Ireland, a black taxi tour of West Belfast, and then on to the Coastal Causeway to see the mighty Giant’s Causeway and more.

Vagabond’s private tours typically vary in size and duration, with a 5-day tour costing from €1,129 per person sharing for the shoulder season (April, May, early June, and early October).

All you have to do is to choose one of the company’s regular itineraries and have it customized to your group.

Participants in one of Vagabond's private tours enjoy the beautiful Beara Peninsula. Photo courtesy of Vagabond & Driftwood Small Tours of Ireland.

Expert “VagaGuides” will help you plan every step of the way. The total cost includes transportation, accommodation, and admission to the various attractions along the way.

For more information, email Ciara at [email protected] or call toll-free (833-230-0288) from the U.S.

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My Ireland Tour

Want to immerse yourself in Ireland? Then My Ireland Tour, a small family-run business is the ideal choice for your private tour of Ireland.

The company prides itself on creating private tours that are specifically geared to your wishes and the sites you want to see.

If you’re seriously thinking about seeing Ireland with the help of a private chauffeur, there are a number of sample itineraries that you should take a look at on the My Ireland Tour website.

The familiar brown signs that direct visitors to various points along the Wild Atlantic Way. Photo: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland.

Depending on the length of time you plan on spending in Ireland, there’s a wide variety of itineraries that you can create, everything from a 7-day Best of Ireland tour to a 10-day Wild Atlantic Way tour, as well as more niche tours that appeal to people with varying interests in all things Irish.

My Ireland Tour’s pricing is based on the number of people in your party, which means that a tour costing approximately $2,000 per person for a party of 2 can be reduced to approximately $1,300 for a party of 8.

For more information, email [email protected].

Read More: 7 One-Day Tours in Ireland that are Doable Without Renting a Car

Kennedy & Carr

Whether you’re looking to take a private day tour from Dublin or you’re eager to take a private tour of Ireland for 2, 3, 4, or more days, Kennedy & Carr’s tailor-made excursions are sure to please.

Ballintoy Harbor in Co. Antrim. Photo: Matthew Woodhouse Photography for Tourism Northern Ireland.

On a two-day private tour from Dublin to Belfast, you’ll get to experience Titanic Belfast, enjoy the city’s nightlife, stop at the Ballintoy harbor, where scenes for “Game of Thrones” were filmed, visit the world-renowned Giant’s Causeway and so much more.

At the end of the two days, your chauffeur will take you back to Dublin.

An aerial view of Mullaghmore in Co. Sligo along the Wild Atlantic Way. Photo: MNStudio.

A five-day tour will allow you to see more of Northern Ireland in addition to parts of Sligo, Donegal, Mayo, and Galway.

Kennedy & Carr’s private tours typically range from €495 to €795 per day, but like other tour companies, the more people that are in your group, the lower the cost will be for you.

This does not include accommodation, nor does it include admission to the various attractions on your itinerary.

For more information, email [email protected] or call toll-free from the US by dialing 1-888-690-1846.

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Walter's Way Tours

Small group tours are what the folks at Walter's Way Tours specialize in.

While private chauffeur tours start at about €450 a day excluding accommodation, the more economical way to see Ireland with Walter's Way Tours is to sign up for the company's Road n Rails tour.

This particular tour includes 2-3 nights in Dublin, the train to Galway, a private chauffeur-driven tour through Connemara, and then on to Killarney for 2-3 days of private tours where you'll get to see sites like Dingle/Slea Head, The Ring of Kerry, and much more.

a road by the water renting a car in Ireland
The Slea Head Drive in Co. Kerry. Photo courtesy of Failte Ireland.

Owner Walter Ryan-Purcell says customers can be as flexible as they want with their Ireland vacation plans. “We can organize it any way you would like,” he adds.

Custom tours based on a theme like researching your ancestors or a particular interest that you may have in Irish cultures, such as music, song, or dance, or a love of Ireland’s remote island life, its wonderful architecture, farming, horseracing, and more.

For more information, just fill out the inquiry form at the bottom of the home page.

Wolfhound Tours

While Wolfhound Tours is known for its multi-activity adventures around Ireland catering to small groups, the company provides a number of made-to-order special packages as well.

Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage site, a popular movie location in Ireland. Photo: MN Studio.

The option is suitable for family reunions, ancestry research, honeymoon specials, or for small groups of people looking for a more niche tour of Ireland that focuses on any number of areas, including archaeology, photography, movie locations, storytelling, and more.

On its more traditional group tours, participants have oodles of time to explore Ireland’s rich heritage, from its ancient castles, stone circles, and ringforts.

Surfing at Strandhill, Co. Sligo. Photo courtesy of Brian Morrison for Tourism Ireland.

For the more adventurous, there’s always the chance to go kayaking off Ireland’s rugged coastline, horse-riding, or maybe even surf.

All of that is possible when planning a private tour with Wolfhound.

While you’re traveling around Ireland in the company’s Wolfmobile, you’ll have full and free access to WIFI so that you can easily send photos to your friends and family back home.

For more information, email [email protected].

We Drive Private Tours

If you're staying in the Westport area or anywhere really in the West of Ireland, a We Drive chauffeur is ready to take you on a private tour of the region.

The ruins of the Monk's Fishing House on the grounds of Cong Abbey in Co. Mayo. Photo: Stephen Duffy for Failte Ireland.

That includes a number of day trips to the following locations:

Mayo & Sligo: (Jackie Clarke Collection, Ballina; Enniscrone; WB Yeats’s grave at Drumcliff; Mullaghmore; Lissadell House, and Gardens Turlough House, Castlebar).
Westport & Achill Island: (Newport; Mulranny; Achill Island via the Atlantic Drive; Keel-Doogort via the Deserted Village; Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park; and Westport House).
Mayo North: (Turlough House, Castlebar; The Michael Davitt Museum, Straide; the Foxford Woollen Mills; Downpatrick Head; The Ceide Fields; The North Mayo Heritage Centre and Enniscoe Country House).
Cultural Connemara: (Croagh Patrick; Doolough Valley – Ashleigh Falls – Leenane; Connemara National Park; Clifden and the Sky Road Loop; Roundstone, and Kylemore Abbey).
South Mayo Lake District: (Ballintubber Abbey; Cong; Leenane via Clonbur and Finney; Killary Fjord Boat Trip, and Ashleigh Falls).

Prices for the above tours start at €79 per person.

Owner Keith Mongan says that you can, however, create an itinerary unique to you, with pick-up at the airport and then transportation to various parts of Ireland dependent on what you want to see and do.

Be sure to fill out the contact form on the We Drive website for more information.

Ireland Chauffeur Travel

Don’t let the luxury description of the Ireland Chauffeur Travel service put you off.

Ireland Chauffeur Travel, which is based in Cashel, Co. Tipperary, has been in the business of providing curated experiences for its customers for years.

From Celtic storytelling evenings to private farm and museum visits as well as private whiskey tastings at some of the country’s best-known distilleries, there's a whole lot to choose from at Ireland Chauffeur Travel.

colorful buildings private tours of Ireland
Colorful buildings in the heart of Kinsale, one of the beautiful towns you'll stop in on a private tour of Ireland courtesy of Ireland Chauffeur Travel. Photo: Jenifoto for Getty Images.

Driver guides will be matched to your group's specific interests, essentially serving as a personal concierge as you travel the highways and byways of Ireland.

Some of the delicious fare that is available at the Dingle Food and Wine Festival. PhotoA: Valerie O'Sullivan, Failte Ireland.

Some of the experiences that Ireland Chauffeur Travel offers include private food tours of Ireland, tours that focus on the country's pubs, breweries, and distilleries, its beautiful countryside attractions, and more.

Each tour is jam-packed with things to do and see.

The average cost per day to hire a private chauffeur is approximately €600 per day.

people talking at a table private tours of Ireland
B&B accommodation in Ireland. Photo: Brian Morrison for Tourism Ireland.

The total cost of your private tour with Ireland Chauffeur Travel will include the driver and any accommodation that you choose.

For more information, email [email protected] or call toll-free from the U.S. at 1-800-329-9138.

Read More: Oldest Whiskey Distilleries in Ireland

I Love Irish Tours

If your time in Ireland is short and you want to eliminate the fuss of trying to figure it all out for yourself, the 5-day tours offered by I Love Irish Tours are a great way to start your Ireland adventure.

a cathedral private tours of Ireland
Cobh Cathedral, one of the places you'll see on a private tour of Ireland with I Love Irish Tours. Photo: Chris Hill, Failte Ireland/Tourism Ireland.

For example, a 5-day private escorted trip for two people will cost you approximately €1,575 per person. That includes a tour of Dublin, with additional visits to Cork, Kerry, and Clare.

sausage, rasher, beans and eggs on a plate private tours of Ireland
A full Irish breakfast is a staple at most Irish hotels and B&Bs. Photo: Getty Images.

The price includes accommodation each night of your stay, with a full Irish breakfast, your own personal driver for the duration of the trip, and a discount booklet for the attractions on your itinerary.

Tours can be customized to your particular needs.

For more information, contact Niall Carroll at [email protected]

Classic Ireland Guided Tours

If you’re looking for a tour company that is dedicated to bringing you just about anywhere in Ireland that you desire, then Classic Ireland Guided Tours is a good choice.

Specializing in bespoke private tours of Ireland, the Killarney-based company creates itineraries that are geared to the specific needs of its customers, including help with tracing your family’s roots in Ireland.

If price is a concern, you can easily share your private tour of Ireland with several other members of your family or friends since it caters to groups that range in size from solo travelers to a maximum of 50 people.

cliffs The Wild Atlantic Way
The Dingle Peninsula. Photo: Alana Beer.

Transportation is provided in either a luxury car or a large bus, depending on the number of people on any given tour.

Expect to see more than just the sights on a Classic Ireland tour.  Guides are known for their storytelling, focusing not only on the attractions themselves, but giving you a real insight into Irish culture.

The company also offers multi-day tours of Ireland, including its 12-night Wild Atlantic Tour, and its Best of Southwest Ireland Tour, among others, as well as day tours.

Some of its more popular day tours include the Ring of Kerry tour, the Dingle Peninsula tour, and the Cliffs of Moher tour, to name a few.

For more information, email [email protected]

Connect the Dots Tours of Ireland

Self-confessed travel geek Mark Doherty established Connect the Dots Tours of Ireland after having spent years traveling the world himself.

Doherty, who is a National Approved Guide of Ireland, is passionate about showing his customers the real authentic Ireland, whether they’re in a private group or a small-group tour.

If you choose to take a private tour of Ireland with Connect the Dots Tours, the itinerary is totally up to you. As Mark says on his website, “whether it’s a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher or a 12-day tour around Ireland, you get to choose where you go and what you do.”

a group of people posing for a photograph private tours of Ireland
Visitors to Ireland on a Connect the Dots tour. Photo courtesy of Connect the Dots Tours of Ireland Facebook.

But don’t think you’ll be left alone planning. Mark will advise you on the best route to take and the hidden gems in Ireland that you should see.

In a nutshell, a private tour with Connect the Dots Tours of Ireland includes transportation in a luxury mini-coach around Ireland together with a professional licensed driver-guide, in addition to tour guide consultancy from start to finish.

Groups of 5 to 15 people are suitable for such tours, which are still being quoted at 2019 prices.

Accommodation, meals, admission tickets to various attractions, and food are not included in the private tours offered by Connect the Dots Ireland Tours. The average cost of a private tour is €600 per day, which can be divided between you and your friends or family members, making this a more affordable trip than renting a car in Ireland.

Connect the Dots Tours also offers 5-day and 12-day small group tours. Email [email protected] for more information.

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Tenon Tours

The folks at Tenon Tours consider themselves the “custom Europe experts” and that includes helping visitors arrange awesome packaged tours of Ireland, including private tours of the country.

Their tours are perfect for small groups of people to plan that trip of a lifetime that they’ve always wanted to do but didn’t know how to do it.

Tenon Tours offers professional itinerary planning services for groups of all sizes, ages, and interest levels, with tours arranged specifically to the needs of its customers.

large rocks near the ocean 21 attractions in Ireland
See The Giant's Causeway in Co. Antrim on a private Tenon's Tour. Photo: Northern Ireland Tourism.

The company also offers a By Your Side ServiceSM, a personal concierge service, and a mobile app that helps with the planning process.

You can arrange a tour based on your and your group’s interests, be it Irish history, castles, arts and culture, adventure, and much more.  

Its Best of Ireland 11-day tour includes an intro to Ireland by visiting Dublin’s most popular attractions (the Guinness Storehouse, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, the Book of Kells exhibit at Trinity College, and more).

Other areas of the country covered on this tour include the Ring of Kerry, Connemara, the Cliffs of Moher, whiskey distillery tours, and a visit to the renowned Waterford Crystal, just to name a few of the sites you’ll see.

Request a quote and get a 30-minute consultation to find out more about the private tours that this popular tour company offers.

Butlers Tours

All-inclusive private tours and custom private tours of Ireland are the specialty of Butlers Tours, a family-owned business that has been taking visitors around the country since 1967.

On a custom private tour complete with a private driver and luxury minibus, you’ll be taken around Ireland based on a flexible itinerary that you can plan directly with the company. That means you can go when and where you please, with diversions welcome in between!

a man in between two donkeys private tours of Ireland
One of Butlers Tours drivers/guides on the road in Ireland. Photo courtesy of Butlers Private Driver Tours Ireland Facebook.

Drivers, who are also experienced tour guides, are with you every step of the way, stopping for Instagram-worthy photos one minute and giving you a fun, running commentary on Irish life the next minute.

On this type of tour, you take care of your own accommodation, but if you upgrade to the all-inclusive private tour, the company will do that for you.

Other vacation packages offered by Butlers Tours include their Custom Self-Drive Tours and their Luxury Chauffeur Tour Ireland, suitable for 1 to 4 passengers.

From the U.S., you can contact Butlers Tours by calling toll-free at 1-800-659-4271 or by emailing [email protected]

Sean Patrick Tours

Sean Patrick O’Rourke, who holds the National Tour Guide qualification, has been bringing visitors throughout the island of Ireland for many years.

a derelict house in the mountains private tours of Ireland
The ruins of what was once a home in the Wicklow National Park, a place that Hilltop Treks takes visitors to. Photo: Rainbow79 for Getty Images.

On an extended private tour of Ireland, expect an insight into the capital city Dublin, a drive through the Wicklow Mountains National Park, a visit to The National Stud & Japanese Gardens in County Kildare, the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary, a tour of the Jameson Distillery in County Cork, and so much more.

You’ll journey through Ireland in one of two vehicles, Sean’s own air-conditioned Mercedes Viano suitable for up to 6 people or for smaller groups of 1-3 people, you can choose the Mercedes E220 saloon.

Accommodation and costs associated with food can be added to the total cost of a private tour. For more information, contact [email protected]

Advantages of Choosing a Private Tour of Ireland

a road along the coast private tours of Ireland
Enjoy the scenery of the Coastal Causeway route in Northern Ireland without having to drive yourself. Photo: Stefan Schnebelt for Tourism Ireland.

Private tours can provide great value. You can relax, enjoy the scenery and let an expert show you around, plus you don’t have to drive!

Here are some of the other advantages:

  • You can choose your own adventure rather than being dependent on a pre-made itinerary that is typical of large group tours.
  • You can set your own pace. If you come across an attraction that seems particularly interesting, you can ask your driver to pull over so you and your family or friends can explore it.
  • In many cases, you have access to local experts – many private tour companies work hand-in-hand with guides across Ireland, which makes for a richer and more enjoyable experience.
  • Get behind-the-scenes access to specific attractions across Ireland.
  • Activities can be tailored to your budget – taking a private tour of Ireland needn’t be overly expensive. When booking your private tour, be sure to discuss your budget with the tour representative.
  • Tour arrangements are flexible – this is particularly true in a post-Covid world. If changes need to be made at the last minute, most tour companies will be happy to work with you.

How to Choose the Right Tour Operator

My advice is to read the various tour operator websites closely focusing on what is included in the final price.

Don’t be afraid to call or email with questions.

a castle private tours of Ireland
Blarney Castle is a favorite destination for many tourists to Ireland. Photo: Pixabay.

In addition, be clear on what you want to see on your private tour of Ireland. Most companies will expect you to ask several questions about your likes and dislikes as well as the attractions that are on your wish list.

In the end, you’ll need to look at the value that the tour provides.

While the cost may seem high at first, the value of booking a private tour of Ireland is priceless and can’t be matched by a larger group tour.

The memories, experiences, and indeed photos that you’ll bring home with you will be worth it.

Have you considered a private tour of Ireland? Let me know in the comments below.

colette

Colette is a County Sligo native who created Ireland on a Budget to provide her readers with money-saving tips on how to get to Ireland and then save even more when they're there. She's a professional copywriter who lives in the New York area with her husband and two children.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Paul Pittman

    Is Susan Byron company, Ireland’s Hidden Gems Tours, Ltd a legitimate company? If so, licensed?

    1. colette

      Paul, it is a legitimate company but I don’t know if it’s licensed. Maybe drop her an email. I think she lists it on her site.

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