Explore the highlights of Ireland's alternative city, Galway, on this six-day cultural and foodie getaway. Learn about the history and traditions of the area and sample some of the local produce both in the city and the surrounding countryside and coast.
Your vacation in Galway starts today as you are met in the airport by your private driver and transferred to your centrally located hotel.
After a quick freshen up, kick off your Galway adventure with a private walking tour of the city. Often referred to as Ireland's alternative city, Galway oozes a cool, bohemian vibe that draws in an artistic crowd of romantics and dramatics. Sauntering the quaint, cobbled streets you will soon be soaking up the infectious joy that the Galwegians are known for. Your tour will take you to sites such as Lynch's Castle, a fortified house that goes back as far as the 14th century, and the Latin Quarter. The Latin Quarter is home to the Spanish Arch, constructed in 1584 and originally an extension of the city's defensive walls. Gaining its name from the Spanish traders who used to use the quays of the city during the early modern period, the arch provides a medieval historical record of Galway. The structure is also conveniently located next to the Galway City Museum, the perfect place to quench your thirst for knowledge. A private tour here can be tailored to your interests and with three floors of engaging and informative exhibitions you will come away as an expert of Galway's archaeology, history and sea science.
We love exploring Galway's past, ranging from the fascination of prehistoric times to the romance of the medieval ages, but our particular favourite thing to see in the museum are the Sea Science galleries. This exhibition gets to the depths of life in the waves of the Wild Atlantic Way, into a world of ocean currents and tidal turns.
After satisfying your curiosity this morning, you will need to blow the cobwebs away and we have just the activity to do it. Take to the waters on a traditional Galway Hooker boat. Distinctive in style and character, these vessels were used for fishing and transportation by the Claddagh Boatmen hundreds of years ago. Seeing, feeling and touching one of these beautifully crafted boats is unforgettable, and as you view the rolling hills and lunar landscapes of the Irish coastline you will undoubtedly feel a sense of calm descending. Indulge in a bespoke gourmet picnic on board, before cruising back into the bay, taking in the iconic Salthill Promenade as the sun sets across the horizon.
In addition to its rich culture, Galway has also become a haven for food lovers. Ranging from traditional cuisine to modern gastronomy that is pushing the boundaries and rules, there is something deliciously exciting for every palette.
This morning you will be taken on a private food tour around the city. As the epicurean jewel of Ireland, you will be taste testing goodies from the best of the city's artisan producers, with handmade cheese, single origin chocolate, hot doughnuts and wildflower honey on the menu.
You might want to give lunch a miss today as you continue the food theme into the afternoon with your own private cooking class from a Michelin-starred chef. This is a hands-on way of learning a whole new world of cookery skills, with a focus on current trends in the industry. After time spend as the student, it's time to turn back to taster with supper, ending your day with a meal to make memories at Galway's first Michelin-starred restaurant.
Today focuses on the traditions of the Irish, a people with a distinct history rich in culture and a charisma that is all their own.
There is a great tradition in Ireland of telling stories, revelling in myths and folklore. Today you will be taken on a private walking tour to step back into the time of the Claddagh community. The Claddagh ring is iconic to Ireland and a symbol of love, loyalty and friendship. The tales of the Claddagh are brought to life on this tour. Located in the original sixth century fishing village that was the inspiration for the internationally famous Claddagh Ring, this is the only place in the world that you can enjoy the romance of the ring's birthplace, as you visit a ring workshop and jeweller and listen to stories of times gone by as you stroll up into the old village of this historic community. To finish off the experience, settle down with a cup of tea and some homemade Irish Guinness brack (bread) to soak in the atmosphere and feel the heritage that is sparked by the flames of the authentic turf fire.
This afternoon we recommend taking a short drive out of town to experience a bit more Gaelic heritage. Visit an award-winning cultural retreat, which will give you the opportunity to revel in the traditions, crafts, music and language that are so integral to society here. In an evocative natural setting, you will be greeted with genuine hospitality and welcomed warmly in. Illuminating fireside tales, insights into the wonders of the wild Atlantic bogland and of course - music, song and dance, because what is Ireland without some revelry?
Galway also has a long and rich heritage of theatre, drama and street festivals. There is a huge variety on offer here and for your last night you will be immersed into the innovative world of one of Galway's most renowned theatre groups. This is a world-class company, whose roots are firmly intertwined in the cultural fabric of Galway
This morning you will be collected by your private driver to head out of town for the first time on your vacation in Galway.
First stop is Dunguaire Castle, a majestic building perched on the water's edge and looking out across Galway Bay. The Castle itself is quite small in size, but this is more than made up for in its distinguished history that bridges an impressive 13 centuries. A visit here is especially interesting for any literature fans, as it was acquired by Oliver St John Gogarty in 1924. Gogarty was a surgeon, poet and author and a contemporary and friend of W.B Yeats and Lady Gregory. He used the castle as a meeting place for literary greats and created a place that now lies at the heart of Ireland's literary revival of the early 20th century.
Nearby is the Burren Nature Sanctuary, which makes an excellent stop to stretch your legs, strolling through ancient ash and hazel woodland, discovering the magic that is held within the landscape of the Burren.
Drive from here to the timeless and buzzy town of Ennistymon, where you will find a treasure trove of unexpected delights. Enjoy lunch at a charming Irish pub before heading across the road to treat yourself to some of Ireland's best cheese and locally roasted coffee. Chat to the shop's owner and you will be regaled with a wealth of information on the history of Irish cheese - a fascinating (if hunger inducing) topic, we can assure you.
This afternoon, if energy allows, take to the waves for a sea kayaking adventure before driving to your stunning 18th century manor house hotel to relax for the rest of the day.
This evening we recommend letting your taste buds do the talking with supper in the hotel's beautiful dining room before making like a local and hunting down a session of traditional Irish music. Sitting in a cosy bar full of happy characters and Irish music is a wonderful experience.
After a light breakfast this morning, meet your driver for a dive into the wild and wonderful world of incredible edibles, learning about the unique flora and fauna that flourishes in this part of the world. With an expert by your side, you'll have the privilege to learn the art and skill involved in foraging on land and along the shore. This method of finding food might be unusual to some, but it is a truly magical way to explore the landscape.
From land to sea, you will be taken to learn about the life of the jewels of the ocean - oysters. Discover their local history and be wowed by the science behind how the tides provide the ideal water for them to thrive. Your host is an experienced marine biologist, so if there is anything that he doesn't know about oysters, you can guarantee that it's not worth knowing. It's essential that you then get to grips with the art of shucking (opening) the oysters before finally settling down to your fill of these creatures of the sea.
This afternoon, your Galway vacation takes a change of pace as you swap the sea for a visit to an artisan perfumery. Drawing inspiration from the other worldly nature of the Burren landscapes, this family-run apothecary hand crafts every single product at the perfumery carefully and in small batches, each with its own individual character and spirit. There is certainly a distinct sense of folklore and fairies here, only added to with a behind the scenes look into the blending and processing that goes into the lotions and potions. The ultimate extravagance is the opportunity to craft your own scent, unique and personal, a fragrance that can be re-ordered again and again, creating memories for life.
After a full day of treating your senses, your private driver will transfer you back to your hotel to spend the rest of the evening at your leisure.
This morning it's time to say slán (goodbye) to Ireland as your vacation in Galway has come to an end. You will be collected from your hotel by your private driver and taken to the airport for your journey home.