Ireland by train. What could be more romantic? Sceptre Tours simplifies the planning for you by offering an Ireland package (tel. 800/221-0924; www.sceptretours.com) that includes airfare and six nights' lodging, from $849 for late fall travel. Spend three nights in Dublin, then spend the remaining three nights in Belfast, Galway, or Killarney.
You may notice that Sceptre is advertising this as a summer deal, and yes, the summer price is a good one (from $1,299). However, the $849 starting price reflects travel in November or early December. Whenever you go, there's no shortage of great activities in any of the cities. You'll spend the first three nights in Dublin at the Ashling Hotel, a four-star property within walking distance of the Guinness Storehouse and the National Museum of Ireland. The Ashling Hotel is also close to two train lines, putting the city center within easy reach.
You'll also get to pair Dublin with your choice of three cities: Belfast, Galway, or Killarney. Regardless of which city you choose, you'll get there via first-class rail from Dublin. Those who want to understand the divide with the north might want to go to Belfast, a thriving city with informative taxi tours. You'll stay at the Europa Hotel, next to the Grand Opera House. Music lovers -- and anyone interested in the authenticity of Irish culture -- should head west to the cobblestone streets of Galway, where you'll stay at the Imperial Hotel right on Eyre Square. Looking for some bucolic respite? Choose Killarney and check in at Scotts Hotel in the city center, within easy reach of the Dingle Peninsula, the Ring of Kerry, and Killarney National Park.
How much can you save? If you booked the Dublin and Galway combo, here's how much everything would cost if booked independently: A Monday flight from New York-JFK in early November starts at $685 with charges and taxes, via Aer Lingus (the airline included in this package). A standard double room at Ashling Hotel in Dublin is priced from €150 per night, or about $213 for two people. Rates in November for Galway's Imperial Hotel start at €187, or about $266 for two. For six days, the total for hotel stays would be $1,437 -- not counting taxes -- or about $718 per person. We haven't even considered the rail tickets either; a one-way, first class rail ticket between Galway and Dublin ranges from €25-€34 ($35-$48), depending on whether you buy them online or purchase in person.
Based on our calculations, booking airfare ($685), six nights' hotel ($718), and round-trip train tickets ($70) would cost at least $1,475 per person. Compare to the $849 package (from $1,029 after taxes), and you can expect to save nearly $450 with this package.
Trip Type: Air-inclusive; independent
What the Quoted Price Gets You: Aer Lingus flights from New York-JFK to Dublin; three nights in Dublin and three nights in Belfast, Galway, or Killarney; round-trip first-class rail tickets from Dublin to Belfast, Galway or Killarney; full Irish breakfast daily; and airline fuel surcharges.
What Else You'll Have to Pay: Up to about $180 in government taxes and fees.
Book By: As soon as possible to ensure availability.
When: Sunday-Thursday departures Nov. 1-Dec. 16, based on availability; Thursday, Friday, and Saturday departures are also possible (add from $25 per person).
Other Details: Although this package's lowest starting price is for late fall travel, the summer and early fall price points are not too far out of reach. Departures from Chicago, Boston and Orlando are listed on the website but 20 other cities are listed in the drop-down menu on the booking page.
All prices are per person and, if lodging is a component of the package, based upon two people traveling together (unless otherwise noted). The prices listed are general starting rates; see "What Else You'll Have to Pay" for details about associated taxes and fees. Base-prices, taxes, and fees can vary based on point of departure and time of travel. Blackout dates may apply. Trip add-ons like sightseeing tours and meal plans may also increase the price. Check with the tour operator for additional gateways and any single supplements, which is the extra cost that a solo traveler would pay to book the deal.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Ireland Travel Forum.