While the world eyes the 2006 World Cup, pubs are full and countries are happy and jolly. What a time for travel. Although Ireland doesn't have a team in this year's Cup, the pubs are still full and the country is as happy and jolly as usual. After looking at these very inexpensive summer and early fall deals to the land of the leprechaun, you should be, too.
Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) has a six-day/four-night independent package to Dublin starting from $899 per person based on two people traveling together. The package includes round-trip airfare to Dublin from New York, four nights' accommodations at a choice of hotels, daily breakfast and fuel surcharges. The $899 price is good for departures September 6, 13, 20 & 27; and October 4, 11, 18 & 25, 2006. The same trip with July and August departures is based-priced at $1,169 and an August 30 departure begins at $1,179. Walking distance to St. Stephen's Green, the Mespil Hotel is a tourist class hotel overlooking the Grand Canal. With 255 rooms, the hotel has a large lobby, a restaurant, bar and Internet access. Departures from other U.S. gateways are available for additional prices, so be sure to check Gate 1's site for specifics for the airport nearest you. Sightseeing excursions and private airport transfers can be arranged at additional costs. For example, a one-and-a-half-hour tour of Dublin costs $18 per person with a full-day tour of the Wicklow Mountain area costing $39 per person.
Brendan Worldwide Vacations (tel. 800/421-8446; www.brendanvacations.com) has an air and hotel "Irish Jaunt" visiting Dublin and Shannon. Starting at just $766 with airfare out of New York and Boston, $787 out of Chicago, $1,090 out of Los Angeles, and $1,027 out of Dallas, the package has a detailed itinerary with a sightseeing program visiting St. Patrick's Cathedral, Trinity College Library, Blarney Castle, the Ring of Kerry, and the Cliffs of Moher. Of course, those prices are for fall departures from October to January. July or August departures start at $1,250 out of New York and Boston. Included in the tour are round-trip airfare, accommodations, hotel taxes, baggage handling, four full Irish breakfasts, and transportation in a deluxe motor coach, local sightseeing programs, and the service of a professional Irish driver/guide. Brendan Worldwide Vacations also offers self-drive and escorted tours with accommodations at small inns and bed and breakfasts.
Lynott Tours (tel. 800/221-2474; www.lynotttours.com) also offers a variety of trips throughout the Irish countryside. A land-only walking tour of Ireland covers 8 to 13 miles per day and is base-priced from $1,344 for seven nights' accommodations, six guided walks through the Irish countryside, all luggage transfers, seven "hearty" Irish breakfasts, a picnic lunch on each walking day and seven full diners. Airfare can be added this summer for $805 from Boston and New York (it drops to $475 in September) and $1,090 from Chicago (dropping to $598 from September to October 15, 2006). Several different walking tours are available including the Dingle Peninsula through fishing villages and along the coast, the Ring of Kerry through the Irish mountains, and Antrim through Northern Ireland. You can also do self-guided walking tours which cost considerably less money, starting at $744 for a six-day trek.
CIE Tours (tel. 800/243-868; www.cietours.com), a leader in Ireland travel, has an eight-day "Irish Spirit" tour with accommodations at first-class hotels with November departures costing as low as $1,010 for double occupancy. For packages departing this summer, prices begin around $1,726. Highlights of the tour include a party at the Jameson distillery, a visit to the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher, a boat cruise around the Killary Fjord, a pint in the Guinness Storehouse. Cities includes on the tour include Dublin, Shannon, and Connemara. Included in the price of the tour are all accommodations, airfare from the United States, all sightseeing excursions and travel around Ireland on a luxury motor coach, a full Irish breakfast everyday of your trip, five dinners and a guide for your entire trip.
In addition to the escorted tours, CIE has a one-week self-drive tour of Ireland that starts from $312. The rental car and all vouchers for bed and breakfasts and hotels are included in the price of the package, as are daily Irish breakfasts. This is a land-only tour, so please note that airfare will be an additional cost. The vouchers are good at over 200 hotels and 1,700 bed and breakfast and homestay properties across the country. You can upgrade the hotel package to include castle stays. All insurance is also covered, and you get a guide and map. If you travel between July 11 and August 11, 2006, the same package with air costs from $1,118 out of New York and Boston; $1,222 out of Chicago; and $1,366 out of Los Angeles.
For airfare to Ireland, Aer Lingus (tel. 800/223-6537; www.aerlingus.com) has a summer special for $279 one way, or only $558 round-trip before taxes and fees for flights out of New York into Dublin or Shannon. You need to book this fare online by June 22, 2006 for travel originating between August 14 and 31, 2006. From Boston, the fare goes up slightly to $317 with similar restrictions to both destinations. As with all the above deals, security taxes and departure fees are additional. From Chicago, the one-way fare costs $360.
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