What more is there to Ireland besides good beer and St-Patrick’s Day? The answer to that is: a-lot! This article could have easily turned into a booklet, but we’ve tried to condense as much information as possible below to describe what awaits you on the Emerald Isle. Read on to discover the best of Ireland!
Ireland is full of awe-inspiring natural wonders and is quite the feast for the senses with its myriad shades of green. Driving up the Wild Atlantic Way is a great way to explore Ireland’s spectacular coast and visit some of the country’s famous natural landmarks. The Ring of Kerry, a 179Km-long route on the southern part of the Wild Atlantic Way, offers breathtaking views of the ocean, wild mountains, and stunning Irish islands. It also takes you on a slight detour to Killarney National Park where you’ll find Ireland’s tallest mountains at the bed of which lays the pristine lake Killarney. North of the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula is where beautiful beaches stretch as far as the eye can see. Finally, if you’re not afraid of heights, a walk along the stunning Cliffs of Moher is a must on your journey. Reaching 200 meters and stretching over 13 Km, these cliffs are one of Ireland’s blockbuster sights and home to Ireland’s largest colony of seabirds.
Although there are many more stops to be made on the Wild Atlantic Way, nature is everywhere on the Emerald Isle. In Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway, a rock formation consisting of 40 000 interlocking basalt rock columns and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an Instagrammer’s heaven. Also located on what is called the Causeway Coastal Route, is Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. For over 250 years, this bridge swaying 30 meters above the ocean has offered stunning views and a great rush for those who enjoy heights. The list is endless, and Ireland has more to offer beyond nature so we must move on!
You can observe them from a distance, visit them and even stay in them if you wish. With over 30 000 castles to choose from, we’ve narrowed it down to the most popular, starting with Blarney Castle and the famous Blarney Stone. Built nearly six hundred years ago, this castle is one of Ireland’s most visited sites. It’s not clear however whether it’s the castle or the stone that attracts more visitors. Located at the top of the tower, the Blarney Stone is said to give the gift of eloquence to those who kiss it.
If legends (or kissing a stone) are not your thing, how about a castle rich in history and located in the heart of Dublin? The Dublin Castle is one of the most important in Irish history. Infamous for being the British seat of administration before Irish Independence, this castle houses two museums filled with paintings, sculptures, clocks, glassware, and tapestries. During your visit, you may also have a stroll in the gardens, sip tea at the Terrace Café, have a peek inside the State Apartments, visit Chapel Royal, as well has the Medieval Tower.
After all this touring, it may be time for a nap. Ashford Castle, a medieval and Victorian castle expanded and turned into a five-star luxury hotel, is just the place for you. It may be hard to believe but yes, you can sleep in this 12th century gem. Ashford castle belonged to a few families before being bought and converted into a hotel. With its beautifully manicured grounds and stunning lake, Ashford castle is the oldest falconry school in Ireland and will have you feeling like royalty if you’re willing to dip a little into your savings.
If you’re the type of tourist who just loves soaking in the culture by roaming the streets of the city, having a drink at the corner bar, and chatting it up with the locals, Ireland will not disappoint you. Let’s begin with the with the medieval city of Dublin soaked in history and vibrating with youthful energy. St-Patrick’s Cathedral, Kilmainham Gaol (jail), the Guinness Storehouse and Trinity College, are just a few examples of famous landmarks you can visit. If you’d rather just take it easy, why not start your day with some shopping on Grafton Street, followed by a walk along River Liffey and end the day with a drink at the Temple Bar District for a drink? We are in Ireland after all!
Galway is next on our list with its beautiful beaches, cobblestone roads and vibrant lifestyle. Located on the western coast of Ireland, Galway is famous for its many festivals and highest rate of Irish speakers in the country. Bursting with personality, it’s no wonder that Lonely Planet ranked it among the world’s top cities for 2020 and describes it as “brilliantly bohemian” and arguably Ireland’s “most engaging city”.
If you’re a foodie, Cork should be the next stop on your list. Spending the day at the English Market will certainly satisfy your tastebuds but if you really want to get into the culinary scene of Cork, you can choose from the many tours available. After a good meal, why not go for a stroll in Fitzgerald Park? If you’re still looking to burn off some calories, Blackrock Castle Walk stretches for 8km and takes 1.5 hours to finish. Locals are friendly and welcoming in Cork and will happily share their favorite eateries with you.
We haven’t even touched on Rugby, U2 nor whiskey yet, but that’ll be for another time.
Until then, travel safely!
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Written by: Nadine Ishak