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From Our Editors
Few spots in Europe feel as timeless as the Irish countryside. The craggy, untouched coastline and rolling, startlingly green meadows dotted with herds of sheep and the occasional crumbling castle seem to belong to a faraway past, as though the Industrial Revolution never managed to jump the Irish Sea. It's the perfect place to cobble together a romantic country idyll, with days given over to exploring rustic byways and nights to sipping frothy pints in cozy pubs. Authentic Ireland Travel's seven-day, six-night Romantic Ireland Escape Tour provides a taste of all that the Emerald Isle has to offer, as guests follow a flexible itinerary with pre-arranged transportation and accommodations. Click here to see a detailed itinerary of the trip. Days 1?2: Visitors arrive at the Dublin, Cork, or Shannon airport, pick up a rental a car, and escort themselves to Ballyseede Castle in Tralee, a turreted, 16th-century stone castle later converted into a hotel. Later, travelers can explore the Dingle Peninsula by rental car. The circular Slea Head Drive supplies sweeping views of the coast, and the twisting, turning Conor Pass cuts through the highest grouping of mountains in the country. A pint in one of Dingle's brightly painted pubs, many of which feature live music, brings the day to a tasty, tuneful close. Days 3?4: The Fairview Guesthouse in Killarney provides a centrally located home base for visitors to explore the brick footpaths of downtown, with its clustering of quaint pubs and shops located within walking distance of the hotel. A horse-and-carriage ride, included with this tour, supplies a leisurely trip around Killarney's historical sights, including the soaring St. Mary's Cathedral and the 15th-century Ross Castle. A drive along the 110-mile Ring of Kerry passes through sleepy villages and cool forest glades, and travelers to nearby Blarney in County Cork can receive the gift of gab by kissing the Blarney Stone after treating it to a romantic candlelit dinner. Days 5?7: The final leg of the journey includes lodgings at the friendly, family-run Bunratty Manor Hotel in western Ireland's County Clare. Close by, the majestic Bunratty Castle broods over the River Shannon and popular Bunratty Folk Park, a reconstructed village that depicts life in rural Ireland as it was lived 100 years ago. A short drive to Cashel presents the arresting sight of medieval buildings perched dramatically on cliffs overlooking the town. As evening falls back in Bunratty, a medieval four-course banquet dinner is served, complete with wine, mead, and costumed singers. The next day, an included Ancient Paths of Ireland Walking Tour takes hikers on a relaxed, guided trek through the rocky Burren near the coast. Later, a visit to Ailwee Cave lets travelers explore 210 passages, bridged chasms, and giant open caverns. The tour ends on day 7, when travelers depart for home from Shannon Airport in County Clare.