This is undoubtedly the finest way to see Ireland. Indulging with an all-inclusive spread of multi-course dining and live-music accompanied drinks, the country’s finest luxury train links together the country’s city greats and lesser-known gems. It’s all brought to life by an included spread of expert-led excursions. So, alongside Galway’s cobblestone charm and Cork’s colourful idyll, you can expect to pause at remote castles, stately homes and harbour villages, enjoying everything from lough boat rides and sheepdog displays to horse-and-carriage rides and rare whiskey tastings. It’s all bookended by private transfers and a two-night luxury stay in Dublin.
You’ll begin in style with a private chauffeur transfer to the airport, where you’ll enjoy included airport lounge access before your flight to Dublin. On arrival, you’ll again be met by a private driver, who’ll see you to your luxury accommodation – the Westbury.
Voted Ireland’s best hotel in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, its marbled rooms are complemented by custom wool carpets, fine-dining restaurants and a dark-wood cocktail bar. You’ll also be perfectly poised to explore, with everything from medieval castles and cathedrals to traditional pubs and fine museums on your doorstep.
After a private transfer, you’ll be welcomed aboard your luxury train by a champagne reception in the Observation Car followed by afternoon tea, served among the Waterford crystal and warm woodwork of the restaurant carriages. Sweeping southwest through the Irish countryside, you’ll then arrive into Cork for a historian-led walk through the quaint harbour town of Cobh, learning about its links to the Titanic.
You’ll then return for dinner on board; expect everything from turf-smoked salmon to artisan cheeses. Before retiring, be sure to cap it all off with a drink in the open bar car, where you’ll be treated to lively local entertainment.
After a leisurely Irish breakfast, you’ll have a choice of included tours in Cork. The first will see you wander its colourful waterfront and grand Georgian avenues, centring on the vibrant English Market to sample the local delicacies. Alternatively, there’s an exclusive private tour of the Jameson Distillery, where you’ll be treated to a rare whiskey tasting.
Then, re-joining the train for lunch, you’ll sweep on to the rolling greenery of Killarney National Park, where a horse-and-carriage ride will see you to the spectacular, 15th-century Ross Castle. It’s set right on Lough Leane, which you’ll explore on a scenic boat ride before returning to the train for drinks, dinner and entertainment. You’ll also have some time to explore Killarney’s Victorian charm, blessed with independent boutiques and a gorgeous cathedral.
Turning north, you’ll have some time to relax among the gorgeous slate-grey panelling of your private cabin, which comes complete with double or twin duck-down beds. After brunch, you’ll arrive into Galway for a choice of excursions. You might want to head into the hills to a traditional farm and sheepdog display, before afternoon tea sees you onto medieval Dunguaire Castle and back to artsy Galway’s cobblestone charm.
Alternatively, escape to the majestic Cliffs of Moher for inspiring views of the Aran Islands and Twelve Bens Mountains – stunning geography brought to life in the grass-roofed visitor centre. Lastly, an expert-led walking tour of Galway showcases its Latin Quarter, 18th-century squares and eclectic shops. Whatever you choose, it all culminates in a multi-course dinner back on board as the train journeys on towards Athlone.
Today’s included touring begins with a visit to Westport’s National Museum of Ireland – Country Life. Set among the rolling grounds of the 19th-century Turlough Park House, it explores the rural lifestyles of the Irish people over the last two-hundred years. A hearty lunch in a local tavern will then see you on to Westport House – a magnificent stately home whose rich interiors date back over 350 years.
Dotted with cascading waterfalls and ancient oaks, you’ll be treated to a hawk-flying display in its grounds, set to gorgeous views of Clew Bay and Croagh Patrick mountain. Before re-boarding the train for the last of your indulgent dinners, there’s some time to explore picturesque Westport’s river setting and tree-lined promenade.
After a final breakfast, you’ll arrive back into the 19th-century Heuston Station, where you’ll be met by a private driver and brought back to your luxury Dublin hotel. While you might want to celebrate your journey with an afternoon tea, you’ll also have some time to explore this most beguiling of cities.
Whether it’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Castle or the hallowed halls of Trinity College Library, there’s an endless array of options.
After breakfast today, your flight back home will be bookended by private chauffeur transfers, seeing you from the hotel to the airport and the airport to your door.
"While many opt for the shorter sprint between Dublin and Belfast, for me, the Grand Hibernian deserves more attention. The longer route offers the perfect chance to relax and enjoy the train's luxuries, while taking in some of Ireland's more remote (and lesser-visited) gems. The train also just happens to serve the best Irish breakfast I've ever had, and I consider myself an expert."
Year Round from: £6,340 pp
Valid for departures: Jun / Jul and Aug departures