There are a myriad of companies offering tours in Ireland, but these ones, in our opinion, are among the pick of the crop.
Image: Guided tour at Trinity College by xmascarol
We have not been paid to mention any of these providers, in fact we can’t be paid, that’s not how it works!
There may be others just as good, but these are ones that we know well, and that we know to have maintained a high standard over the years and to provide a consistently excellent experience for visitors to Ireland.
If you are just starting your search for the right Irish tour company for you, please read our advice on choosing a tour operator.
It’s a misconception that a private tour, with your own driver, is by definition a very expensive one. If you are traveling in a group of 4 or more, and especially if there are 8 or more of you, it can be work out at not that much more than the standard option.
This is a small family run company who have been in the business for a long time and provide an extremely personalized service – they are always willing to go the extra mile to make a vacation really special.
Expect a high standard of transportation and accommodation, excellent guides and an itinerary tailored to your interests. More importantly, while you are in Ireland everything is flexible, because these are private tours you can make decisions on the fly rather than being hidebound by a predetermined itinerary.
As a watchword for luxury, the one thing you can be sure of with an A&K tour is the best of everything all the way. They are not Irish specialists, more specialists in luxury travel, but they do use knowledgeable and experienced local guides. There are just a couple of Irish tours available, but they are good ones and can be combined with any of their other European tours for those planning a longer vacation.
They are not all private tours however – although you’ll enjoy the best of everything, you may still join a larger group of people. Tend to be very pricey, but if you can afford them these are excellent tours.
A long established US-based company with a great track record of organising tours of Ireland, both land only and inclusive of flights. They use better hotels than the average operator and are an especially good choice if you want to combine time in Ireland with a tour of England or Scotland.
People consistently speak highly of Brendan tour guides, who have a reputation for being both extremely knowledgeable and very friendly.
In addition to coach tours, which is their main business, Brendan also organise self-drive tours.
Irish and UK based company who have been delivering an excellent personal service to visitors to Ireland for many years. They have a really good choice of well thought-out itineraries and are very open to customising their tours if you have a larger group.
Their prices are particularly keen for those able to travel outside the absolute high season of July and August. This is somewhat reflected in the hotels used, which are mainly chain hotels. These are in good location and provide excellent accommodation but perhaps lack a little whin it comes to character.
In addition to escorted tours, Brian Moore have a good handle on family holidays in Ireland, based in a rented house in one or two locations with a self-drive car for touring. The houses offered for these family vacations are top notch.
Just about the only game in town for real rock bottom priced tours of Ireland, the bright green Paddywagon buses are a familiar sight on Irish roads, ferrying happy crowds on anything from 1 day to 10 day tours.
There is no luxury here! Accommodation is in clean but basic hostels, transport in functional but basic buses and and nothing much included except the tour itself – expect little privacy and occasionally perhaps a little too much noise!
BUT – you will see exactly the same things as those paying 10 times as much, often more, as the tours frequently veer from the well worn track. You will meet loads of people, have wild nights out and if you are gregarious and unconcerned about luxurious trimmings you will have a fantastic time!