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The cliffs of Moher.

Hidden Ireland: Loughs and Isles Off the Beaten Path

Example 8 Day Cruise aboard National Geographic Orion
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Circumnavigate “The Emerald Isle” in this comprehensive yet delightfully unexpected voyage along the Irish coast. Hike and Zodiac the Great Saltee Island and the spectacular Skellig Isles for incredible encounters with wildlife and amazing views of the Atlantic; discover an abandoned Celtic Christian village in Inishmurray and explore the rugged cliffs of Slieve League; visit Glenveagh National Park with a naturalist; kayak on Lough Swilly and around Rathlin Island; investigate the gorgeous and fabled geological formation of Giant’s Causeway; delight in the charms of Dingle where you can visit a local whiskey distillery; and enjoy a guided tour of the Dun Aenghus Fortress and a goat cheese farm among many other attractions.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Dublin, Ireland | Embark
Day 2 : Ballycotton | Kinsale
Day 3 : Skellig Michael | Dingle
Day 4 : Aran Islands | Cliffs of Moher
Day 5 : Connemara
Day 6 : Donegal
Day 7 : Northern Ireland
Day 8 : Dublin, Ireland | Disembark


National Geographic Orion

Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

The cliffs of Moher. Sheep walking on the road in the British countryside. Medieval castles line Ireland's coast Skellig Michael boasts some of the most beautiful views in all of Ireland The unique rock formations of Giant's Causeway

Day 1 Dublin, Ireland | Embark

  • Ship
  • 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Arrive in Dublin, Ireland and embark National Geographic Orion. After lunch on deck, explore the Kilmainham Gaol (jail) for great insight into the course of Irish history during the centennial year of the Easter Rising. Sail south from Dublin as you begin your journey.

Day 2 Ballycotton | Kinsale

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Set out for tiny Ballycotton in County Cork this morning for a walk around a working farm. Continue to Kinsale, a picturesque fishing town with a fascinating history: the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 marked the collapse of Gaelic power in Ireland. Take a guided walk with local scholars before free time to wander the quaint streets, galleries, and shops on your own. Tonight you are joined by National Geographic grantee Michelle Cronin, who has studied puffins and gannets in the Skelligs and ‘wrestled’ seals in the Blasket Islands.

Day 3 Skellig Michael | Dingle

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Explore the dramatic Skellig Islands, where monastic ruins dating as far back as the sixth century perch high atop a rocky peak jutting out from the sea. Circle Skellig Michael in Zodiacs if weather permits, or, if you wish, hike to the top to view the beehive shaped stone huts. Spend the rest of the day in delightful Dingle: enjoy a walking tour, explore the archaeology and intriguing history of the area, visit a local distillery, or explore on your own. Shackleton aficionados should visit Tom Crean’s Pub; Crean accompanied “The Boss” on the Endurance in Antarctica.

Dingle is the largest Irish-speaking community in the southwest, and you have a chance to meet them: drop in on artists and craftspeople in their homes, or breathe in the salt air and beachcomb with a seaweed forager!

Day 4 Aran Islands | Cliffs of Moher

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Wake up in the Aran Islands, a hub of Gaelic language and culture. On the main island of Inishmore, see the mystical ring fort of Dun Aengus, poised on steep cliffs above the crashing Atlantic, and pop in to the 18th-century stone Kilmurvey House for scones. Enjoy lunch while sailing to the Cliffs of Moher. If conditions permit, get a spectacular and rare perspective of the cliffs, gliding beneath them in a Zodiac.

Day 5 Connemara

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The tranquil and starkly beautiful region of Connemara is a great place to wander—the ultimate fulfillment of travelers’ romantic dreams of Ireland. Hiking with your naturalists (gentle walks or energetic hikes) or cycling on the quiet back roads—many of which were built to provide employment during the Famine—is probably the best way to get to know the area. Perhaps launch a kayak or even try your hand at fly fishing. Gather for an authentic Irish dinner and a performance of traditional Irish music ashore.

Day 6 Donegal

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Dock at the fishing harbor of Killybegs in County Donegal, a wild, windswept peninsula. Enjoy coastal walks and take in the rural life in this traditional Gaelic-speaking area. This afternoon photograph the spectacular Slieve League cliffs, the highest in Europe, or learn more about the historical heritage of the region at nearby Stone Age and early Christian sites. Or, hit the streets of the lively town of Donegal for some independent exploration.

Cycling is a great way to absorb the landscape. An optional cycling tour of the Glencolmcille region, riding over a high boggy plateau, through remote glens and along Atlantic bays to the colorful village of Ardara, with stops at the homes of traditional hand-knitters, and tweed weavers is available this afternoon.

Day 7 Northern Ireland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Enter Northern Ireland today.  Discover the wonders of County Antrim: visit a clifftop Gaelic castle, see the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge stretching between high seaside bluffs, call at Bushmills, the oldest distillery in the world, and explore the incredible hexagonal basalt columns at Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO site. Meander among the columns as a guide explains the myths and scientific theories behind this intriguing geology.  This afternoon, visit Belfast and explore the Titanic Museum, and cap off the evening with a civic reception in this Northern Ireland capital. 

Day 8 Dublin, Ireland | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
After breakfast, disembark in Dublin and transfer to the airport for flights home.

National Geographic Orion

Per person starting at
National Geographic Orion's Category 1 Cabin.
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Category 1
Main deck with 1 or 2 portholes
National Geographic Orion's Category 1 Cabin.
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Category 1 Single
Main deck with 1 or 2 portholes
National Geographic Orion's Category 2 Cabin.
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Category 2
Main deck with window
National Geographic Orion's Category 3 Cabin.
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Category 3
Main deck with window
National Geographic Orion's Category 3 Cabin.
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Category 3 Single
Main deck with window
National Geographic Orion's Category 4 Cabin.
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Category 4
Upper and veranda decks with window
National Geographic Orion's Category 5 Cabin.
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Category 5
Upper deck with balcony
National Geographic Orion's Category 6 Cabin.
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Category 6
Veranda deck - suite


Single supplement varies by itinerary. A solo traveler matching program may be available but is subject to availability.

Please Note: Flexibility is a hallmark of National Geographic expeditions, and often the day-by-day itinerary will change as you take advantage of rare wildlife sightings or photographers linger ashore through the golden hour of light. Extraordinary adventure is a guarantee.

Included in Cost:
- Accommodations aboard ship
- Meals indicated
- Excursions
- Services of Lindblad Expeditions’ leader historian & naturalist staff and expert guides
- All port charges and service taxes.

Not Included:
- Air transportation
- Extensions
- Passport, visa, immigration fees
- Meals not indicated
- Travel protection plan
- Items of a personal nature such as e-mail, laundry.
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Kassandra Miller
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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
Gale Cantor

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