Southern Ireland, or the Republic of Ireland as it is officially known, covers five-sixths of Ireland and is a sovereign country. 

Unlike Northern Ireland, you can’t use British Pounds here so grab some Euros and get ready to experience some of Ireland’s major highlights. Southern Ireland has it all, from three of the country’s best known tourist towns – Killarney, Kilkenny, and Cork – to atmospheric country pubs and rolling hillsides topped with large craggy rocks that look as if they’ve been scattered by giants. It’s the perfect spot to lace up your hiking boots and go for a ramble through the bucolic landscape or explore Bronze and Iron Age ruins with your expert leader. Exploring the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula is also a must do when you visit Southern Ireland. You’ll be charmed by everything this destination has to offer on a Southern Ireland Intrepid tour.

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Highlights of Southern Ireland

Discover the Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry, a circular 179km driving route, takes you through some of the country’s most spectacular scenery and reveals countless unspoiled natural wonders. However, while there is no denying the rolling green hills, crystal clear lakes, and towering cliffs are superb, you’ll be glad your leader is driving. Many of the roads are barely wide enough to fit one car. Along the way, keep a lookout for castles, historic mansions and shepherds tending their flocks. A farm visit and herding demonstration is one of many highlights on this scenic journey.

Ross Castle with blue sky

Visit Killarney

Killarney is a lively tourist town that’s the perfect base for explore nearby Killarney National Park which was the first National Park created in Ireland. The colourful streets are a hive of activity, especially during the summer months, with plenty of cute gift shops and boutiques to explore. Allow time to visit Ross Castle, down on the shores of Lough Leane, a stronghold built by the O’Donoghue clan. The tower house has borne witness to much of Ireland’s history over the centuries. The 15th-century Muckross Abbey is another historic building worth exploring.

Bank of the river in Cork

Explore Cork

Cork might be the largest city in Southern Ireland but it takes just 10 minutes to walk from one end of the city to the other. Cork is famous for its English Market which has been selling the best regional produce since 1788. Wander its stalls and sample traditional fare like drisheen and pigs’ trotters at the market’s Farmgate Café. Other highlights include touring the Cork City Gaol, strolling around Elizabeth Fort, admiring the stained glass at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, and sampling brews at the Franciscan Well Brewery.

Sunset on the Dingle Peninsula

Be charmed by Dingle

Dingle is a cute little town that’s big on country charm. Rub shoulders with the locals at one of the many pubs, where you can listen to songs sung in the traditional Irish language, or take a short drive to Slea Head, Europe’s westernmost point. From here, it’s a short hike along the coast to admire the best of Dingle’s stunning scenery. You’ll stroll along country lanes and past beaches and cliffs where nesting seabirds, seals and even dolphins are a common sight. Don’t miss the Gallarus Oratory, an early Christian Church of unknown age and origin.

Torc Waterfall in Southern Ireland

Visit Torc Waterfall

Torc Waterfall is surrounded by the beauty of Killarney National Park and is one of the most popular stops along the Ring of Kerry. Visiting this waterfall near Killarney is easy as it is only a 200 metre walk from the carpark to the beautiful 20 metre high falls which are at their best when the weather is wet. If you can, time your visit after it rains as you’ll get to see delicate curtains of water tumbling down the falls. For a lovely view over Middle Lake, take the steps that lead up to the second higher viewing point after you’ve enjoyed your first look at the falls.

View of Galway Cathedral

Tap your toes in Galway

Galway is sure to get your toes tapping with traditional live music, either at one of the town’s atmospheric pubs or while you’re walking down the street as the buskers here are incredible. Take a drive to the Cliffs of Moher, one of the most visited spots in Ireland, which are fringed with wild waves and plunge dramatically into the ocean. While you're in Galway, you can also visit the impressive Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas. If you enjoy seafood, the oysters plucked from the nearby ocean shouldn’t be missed.

Southern Ireland Tour Reviews

Southern Ireland FAQs

Everyone travelling on an Intrepid trip must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of carriage. 

All travellers are required to produce: 

  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination
  • All children aged 5 to 17 years old must provide proof of vaccination (if eligible), proof of recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.
  • If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional. 

In all cases, you must be fully inoculated. This means you must receive the full dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine and allow enough time for immunity to take effect. Each COVID-19 vaccine has different dosages and timeframes for inoculation, so please check the relevant medical advice associated with your vaccine.

Learn more about Intrepid's COVID-19 proof of vaccination policy

If you’re travelling by air, the easiest airport to fly into is Dublin Airport. The ferry is a good option if you’re travelling from Scotland or England and want to take your car. If you’re coming from Northern Ireland, you can take the TransLink cross-border train from Belfast Central Station to Dublin. Driving in Southern Ireland is easy provided you don't mind the occasional narrow, winding country road. 

Click to read more about how to get to Southern Ireland

The easiest way to get around Southern Ireland is by car or by joining a group tour. If you have your own bicycle, you can get around Southern Ireland by bike. A limited train service links Dublin to major towns like Belfast in the north but if you want to make the most of Southern Ireland's charming smaller towns, you're out of luck when it comes to train travel. The same goes for bus transport with services available between some major towns but limited (or no) buses available between smaller villages, even the popular tourist spots. 

The weather in Southern Ireland is similar to Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom with mild summers and winters. It is renowned for being changeable so don't be surprised if you experience all four seasons in one day. The weather seldom reaches extremes but it tends to be a bit wetter and chillier than Britain when that sharp wind blows in from the Atlantic. Spring and autumn can be cool, wet and windy, but the days are long and it’s sometimes surprisingly sunny and warm.

Click to read about the best time to visit Southern Ireland

What to pack for your trip to Southern Ireland largely depends on what time of the year you choose to visit and what type of holiday you want to have. If you're going to be doing a lot of hiking or other outdoor activities, it's recommended you pack a sturdy, comfortable pair of boots or shoes, as well as long trousers and a waterproof jacket. If you're travelling in winter remember to pack scarves, beanies, gloves, long shirts, and jumpers. When you head out for a walk in Southern Ireland's countryside, always bring a jumper and wet weather gear. If you are visiting Southern Ireland in summer, you will need to pack clothes suitable for warmer weather such as t-shirts, shorts, dresses, and a light cardigan or jumper for chilly evenings. Wet weather gear is essential, no matter what time of the year you're visiting as the weather in Southern Ireland can be changeable. 

Southern Ireland generally has good internet coverage but you may experience brief periods of time with no signal in remote parts of the countryside. 

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

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