My Guided Tours of Ireland's Hidden Gems are sold out for 2024 but you can find out more about my 2025 Tours at the link below and / or register your interest to receive an Early Bird Discount of €450 per person. 

Guided Tours of Ireland's Hidden Gems 2025

Guided Tours of Scotland's Hidden Gems 2024


There’s a popular slogan in Ireland proclaiming ‘life is local’ which is probably true of where you live too, but if you want to experience living like a local in Ireland, then I highly recommend renting a property from Cottages4you which has a huge selection available nationwide. And while we certainly do have lovely hotels and bed and breakfasts in Ireland, there is a great sense of freedom in just dropping your bags and knowing you are ‘home’ for a couple of days, like I did recently in County Wicklow. I love ‘playing house’ in someone else’s beautiful home, especially where I can indulge my ‘cottage envy’ and pretend to be the accomplished ‘Bean on Tí’ (woman of the house) who has thoughtfully left out fresh milk, a loaf of brown bread and a half dozen, newly laid eggs for my breakfast. How refreshing to have a completely different view (many to die for) with your morning coffee, while contemplating how you are going to spend your day, instead of standing in a queue with 60 other tourists waiting to board a bus tour that’s leaving now!

Eh no, I’d rather wake up slowly, listen to the birds, take a tour of a garden I don’t have to tend, pick myself a juicy red apple and then just go wherever I fancy depending on my mood or the weather? Which could be nowhere at all if it’s raining and a log fire and comfy chair beckons, where I can hole up with a book and cup of tea and maybe a slice of homemade apple tart or a piece of fruit cake from one of the many farmer's markets you will come across on your travels about Ireland. By the way you really do need to hire a rental car to take full advantage of the freedom this kind of vacation offers, just think about it, you can stop up wherever you fancy to take fabulous photos without busloads of tourists photobombing your best scenic shots. You can spend as little or as long as you like visiting somewhere and get off the beaten track to discover the Hidden Gems of Ireland. Like the jewel of a garden I discovered at Huntingbrook with it’s decadently colourful borders and mysterious mossy glen, perfect for al fresco picnics with the fairies! Just over the hill there’s another garden, Jimmy’s sister June Blake’s, where you can help yourself to gourmet coffee and cakes while browsing about this billowing floral paradise...

It never rains for long in Ireland (thank God) and very often the scenery can look even more spectacular after a good shower of rain with the sunlight bouncing off the mountains and rivers. It’s bright until 11pm in the summer in Ireland so there is nothing to stop you taking full advantage of each and every day. I am always advising tourists to go anywhere (but especially the busy sites) in the late afternoon or early morning when you will most likely have them all to yourself and / or a few locals out walking their dogs. There is a world of a difference in strolling around the hauntingly beautiful monastic site of Glendalough, founded by St Kevin in the 6th century by yourself at twilight and being able to soak up the magical mystical atmosphere there, compared to dodging a crowd of anoraks that are more interested in taking selfies while chattering away at hazardous decibels during the day....

Another great advantage of staying put, is that you can retire to the local pub to listen to music or a good yarn while indulging in a pint of Guinness or three? You might even like to try your hand at set dancing, it won't matter a jot that you haven't a clue what is going on, you will pick it up as you go along and have a hell of a lot more fun than traipsing around the touristy pubs in Temple Bar. If you can sing a song or play an instrument you will be away in a hack, you might even get a ‘bualadh bos’ (a clap) at the end of your party piece. And don’t worry or think for a moment that by limiting yourself to just one or two areas that you somehow be missing out on not seeing or doing ‘it all’ trust me, less really is more in Ireland. Every single county has enough scenery, culture, castles, sacred places, pubs, restaurants, gorgeous walks and gardens, to keep you busy for a lifetime never mind a week or a few days!

Cottages4you has a huge selection of cosy cottages for two and / or ultra modern trendy lets all over Ireland, with prices starting from just €250 for a weeks rental it might be worth your while taking a look. Besides, if you like Ireland, you will love living like a local....

Tour Scotland in 2024 with Susan Byron