Fri. Dec 4th, 2020

Note: Some tour providers on this list may have limited or ceased operations due to COVID-19. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.

Whether you want to absorb the sights and sounds of Dublin, taste traditional Irish food and drinks or explore the scenic countryside, the following guided tours have got you covered. The trips, identified by U.S. News as the best using both traveler and expert input, focus on Dublin’s history and heritage with unique twists. Some focus on its biggest attractions, others engage participants with fearsome tales and there’s even a few that explore film locations from popular movies and shows. But all have one thing in common: knowledgeable guides to share the insights of a local.

City Sightseeing – Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

Tour the city at your own pace with this hop-on, hop-off bus tour. Buses, which run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, stop at more than two dozen spots, including some of the leading attractions, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Guinness Storehouse. Some buses feature live guides, while others provide recorded commentary (available in eight languages). Riders find this a great way to see a lot of Dublin in a single day and appreciate the flexibility it affords. Others bemoan the irregular schedule. Tickets cost around $25 for adults; two children ages 4 to 12 ride for free with each paying adult. Passes are available in 24- or 48-hour increments. Each ticketholder is also granted access to a free walking tour of the city, which runs daily at 10:30 a.m.

Irish Day Tours – Titanic & Belfast Daytrip from Dublin

Ideal for travelers interested in exploring Belfast, Northern Ireland, which is an approximately two-hour drive from Dublin, this tour makes a great daytrip. During the Irish Day Tours outing, patrons will visit the Titanic Belfast, a museum dedicated to the Titanic and its fateful journey (the ship was constructed in Belfast). Guides also share information about Northern Island’s political history. The day ends with time to explore Belfast on your own. Buses depart Dublin at 8 a.m. daily and return roughly 12 hours later. Driver/guides are considered highly entertaining and knowledgeable. Travelers enjoy the entire trip, but particularly enjoy the political history portion of the tour. Tickets start at 65 euros (about $76) for adults, with discounts for seniors and children. Note that you’ll need pounds for spending money while in Belfast since it’s part of the U.K. Irish Day Tours conducts daytrips to Blarney Castle and Cork, as well as to the Connemara region, among other excursions.

Explore Dublin’s streets and the Grand Canal Basin via amphibious vehicles with Viking Splash Tours. Along the 75-minute ride, passengers see popular sights, such as Grafton Street, Dublin Castle and Trinity College, as well as U2’s recording studio and writer Oscar Wilde’s birthplace. Outings begin and end at St. Stephen’s Green. Viking hat-wearing guides win praise for their funny and informative storytelling. Tickets cost around 25 euros (or about $29) for adults, with discounts for seniors, students and children ages 2 to 12. Children younger than 2 are not permitted on this tour. Tours take place multiple times a day, every day.

Finn McCools Tours – Giant’s Causeway and Game of Thrones Locations Tour from Dublin

Fans of the “Game of Thrones” TV series will want to book a spot on this daylong journey. Buses depart Dublin’s Parnell Square and head north to visit the settings for famous scenes. Sites visited include the Dark Hedges (an avenue of intermingling beech trees), the ruins of Dunluce Castle and Giant’s Causeway, a group of thousands of basalt columns formed by a volcanic eruption, that stretches from Northern Ireland to Scotland. The excursion also visits some other “Games of Thrones”-related spots as well as Belfast. Guides earn high marks for their knowledge and humor. Travelers recommend the tour and say it’s “worth every penny.” Tours are offered every day starting at 6:45 a.m. and end around 7:30 or 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost around 85 euros (about $100) per person. The company offers several other tours throughout Ireland that depart from Dublin as well as tours with departures from Belfast and Galway.

See Dublin in style during a tour with Vintage Tea Trips that lets you enjoy a traditional tea service on the road.(Courtesy of Vintage Tea Trips)

Vintage Tea Trips – Dublin Afternoon Tea Trip

Enjoy a traditional afternoon tea service while seeing Dublin’s top sights on this 80-minute bus tour. The double-decker buses depart the Temple Bar area and drive past tourist hot spots like Phoenix Park and Christ Church Cathedral. Along the way, you’ll sip tea and eat treats, such as scones and tea sandwiches. Though travelers liked the tea, the food receives mixed reviews. However, patrons find this experience a novel way to see the city and enjoy the guides’ commentary. Tours depart daily at 1:15 and 3:30 p.m.; there’s an additional 11 a.m. start time from Wednesday through Sunday. Adult fares start at 47.50 euros (around $56); tickets for children start at 25 euros (about $29).

Wild Rover Tours – Cliffs of Moher, Atlantic Edge Ocean Walk & Galway City Day Tour from Dublin

Wild Rover Tours’ buses take riders across Ireland to see some of the country’s best natural sights. The first stop is the Cliffs of Moher for views of the Atlantic Ocean and thousands of seabirds. You’ll then see Burren National Park and enjoy views of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands. The final stop is a visit to the city of Galway for a guided walking tour. Tour-takers rave about the stunning views as well as the professional, knowledgeable drivers and guides. The daily tour starts early around 7 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m. Tickets cost approximately 40 euros (or about $47) per person. The tour cannot accommodate anyone younger than 2 years old. The price covers admission to all sites visited. Wild Rover also runs day tours featuring the Giant’s Causeway and Belfast, among other options.

Dublin Traditional Irish Musical Pub Crawl

Described as a “moving concert,” this 2 1/2-hour tour is led by two professional musicians who regale patrons with both tunes and information about traditional Irish music while traveling to several pubs around the city’s Temple Bar area. Revelers rave about the relaxed pace, the music and the storytelling. Tours last from 7:30 to 10 p.m. and are available seven nights a week from April through October and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in November and from January through March. It costs about 16 euros (approximately $18) to participate; alcoholic beverages cost extra.

Collins Day Tours – Glendalough, Wicklow and Kilkenny Full-Day Tour

Highlights of this daylong excursion include Wicklow Mountains National Park, walking tours of the medieval city of Kilkenny and of the sixth-century monastic settlements in Glendalough Valley. There will also be plenty of photo opportunities along the way. Guides regularly win praise not only for their insight, but also for their enthusiasm and warmth. Tourists also find they are given plenty of time at each stop. Buses pick up tour-takers at multiple Dublin hotels between 8:45 and 9:15 a.m. every day and return to the city at 6 p.m. Tickets cost around 35 euros (roughly $41) for adults, 30 euros (about $35) for seniors and students, and 20 euros (approximately $24) for children younger than 12. The price does not cover lunch or entrance to Kilkenny Castle.

“Game of Thrones” fans will enjoy seeing the hit show’s filming locations during a trip with Game of Thrones Tours.(Courtesy of Gary McParland/Game of Thrones Tours)

Game of Thrones Tours – Winterfell Trek from Dublin

“Game of Thrones” fans regularly praise this tour, calling the featured stops and the stories shared by guides incredible. During this daylong outing, you’ll visit the Tollymore forest (the backdrop for many of the first scenes of the series), see Inch Abbey and have lunch at a local pub. The highlight of the tour is a hike through Castle Ward, which served as the filming location of Winterfell. Though you’ll be transported to the different locations via coach, there is a lot of walking involved on the tour; patrons suggest wearing sturdy shoes or hiking boots. Tickets, which start at 65 euros (around $76), include entrance to the castle as well as use of cloaks and other cosplay props. It does not include lunch. Note: Children younger than 12 may not take the tour and children ages 12 to 17 must have a signed parental consent form. Schedules vary by season, but tours typically take place Wednesday through Sunday. Groups gather at 7:45 a.m.; buses return to Dublin around 7:30 p.m. The company also offers this tour with a departure from Belfast.

Dublin Free Walking Tour – Free Tour South Side

Travelers regard guides of this walking tour as extremely knowledgeable about the city and its history. During this 2 1/2-hour stroll of Dublin’s south side, you’ll see top city sights like Trinity College, Temple Bar and Dublin Castle, among others. The tours are offered every day at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. with additional 9:30 a.m. tours on Saturday and Sunday. While the morning walks tend to focus on popular attractions, afternoon outings may stop at more off-the-beaten-path spots. There is no charge for these walks, though guides appreciate tips at the conclusion of the trip. Dublin Free Walking Tours also runs a walking tour of the north side of Dublin.

Rural Tours – Dublin Mountain Pub Tour

After you’ve had your fill of the pubs in central Dublin, check out what the rural pubs have to offer on this five-hour evening tour. You’ll visit three rural pubs, including one of Ireland’s oldest and most highly elevated. Tour-takers find the guides entertaining and hospitable and the beer and music first-rate. Tickets cost around 35 euros (or about $41), which includes transportation from and back to Dublin. Tours take place every night, starting at 7 p.m., from November through February and on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday the rest of the year. They usually end around midnight. Participants must be at least 18 years old to tour. Rural Tours also runs a pub tour in the Wicklow Mountains, among other options.

SANDEMANs New Europe – Dublin Dark Side Tour

The Dublin Dark Side Tour explores the spookier side of Ireland’s folklore and legends. The 2 1/2-hour walk through cemeteries and back alleys (as well as to landmarks like St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Dublin Castle) features tales of serial killers, ghosts and the Gaelic festival that spawned Halloween. Guides are consistently lauded as gifted, humorous storytellers who make the excursions fun rather than frightening (though other tour-takers note some stories are graphic). Tours start in the Temple Bar area at 5 p.m. every day except Monday. Tickets cost about 12 euros (around $14) for anyone 14 and older and are free for anyone 13 or younger (though some of the stories may not be suitable for children). SANDEMANs also operates a free walking tour of the city and a ticketed daytrip to the town of Howth, among other options.

Is Malahide Castle haunted? That’s something you can find out for yourself when you visit this centuries-old structure. Getty Images

Gray Line Dublin – Malahide Castle & Northern Coast from Dublin – AM Tour

With more than 800 years of history and – according to rumor – resident ghosts, Malahide Castle and its impressive gardens are a great daytrip from Dublin. Along this half-day tour from Gray Line, you’ll be driven from Dublin to the castle and have 90 minutes to explore. After visiting the castle, this tour proceeds along the coast to the quaint fishing village of Howth and then to a nearby summit for views of picturesque Dublin Bay. The tour’s driver/guides are widely regarded as friendly, informative and entertaining. Buses depart from the Dublin Visitor Centre daily at 9:30 a.m. and return around 2 p.m. Tickets, which include entrance to the castle and a guided tour of it, cost approximately $36; it does not cover lunch, which is available for purchase separately at the various stops. Gray Line also offers this tour in the afternoon, among other daytrips from Dublin.

Sample a variety of favorite Irish dishes on this leisurely 3- to 3 1/2-hour stroll through Georgian Dublin – a small area in the southern region of the city. The tour includes six stops for samples of Irish breakfast staples, Irish whiskey, ice cream, cheese and a surprise dish. Guides provide commentary on the area’s history and, of course, its cuisine. Foodies find this a satisfying way to learn about the city’s dining and drinking culture, and the guides are regarded as dedicated and accommodating. Tickets start at around 59 euros (or about $69) for adults; an upgraded drinks package that includes two additional alcoholic beverages is available for an additional 13.50 euros (about $16). Children and teenagers can participate at a discounted rate. Tours take place at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day except Sunday, when there’s a single 10:30 a.m. offering. Be aware that this tour cannot accommodate dietary restrictions or substitutions.

DoDublin – Ghostbus Tour

Listen as skilled storytellers recount legends of terrible acts and sinister figures – including the doctor believed to have inspired novelist Bram Stoker’s Dracula character – while being ferried around Dublin to a graveyard, a church and other purportedly haunted sites. Participants say there is a great deal of laughter during these lighthearted explorations of Dublin’s dark side. The Ghostbus Tour lasts approximately two hours and takes place every day except Sunday, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 28 euros (about $30). Tour-takers must be at least 14 years old to participate. For families with small children, the company also runs a Ghostbus Kids Tour.

Dublin Literary Pub Crawl

This walking tour is a kind of roving theatrical performance during which professional actors recount scenes from the city’s storied history and its literary heritage while quoting from its most celebrated authors. During the roughly 2 1/2-hour walks, you’ll visit four historic pubs in the city. Book lovers declare the performers to be extremely entertaining, erudite and memorable. The walks begin at 7:30 p.m. at, appropriately enough, a pub: The Duke Dublin. Outings are offered every evening from April through October and Thursday through Sunday from November to March. It costs about 15 euros (nearly $18) – slightly less for students – to take this tour. Alas, drinks are not included in the price.

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