5 Must-See Spots in Ireland
With castles steeped in history, majestic landscapes, and the freshest pint of Guinness, it’s no wonder the Emerald Isle welcomes millions of tourists each year. Sunny skies and mild temps are an unexpected bonus in this corner of the world but don’t let that discourage you from booking. Just put on some Wellies, throw on a Mac, and follow this guide to uncover all the beauty this coastal country has to offer — rain or shine.
Flying into Dublin Airport is a viable travel option from most parts of the world. This capital city is the perfect starting point for your island adventure. Don’t head out on the road just yet as Dublin offers some of the country’s best attractions. Some of the city’s highlights include strolling through Dublin Castle, visiting The National Museum, and experiencing St. Patrick’s Cathedral. A prized jewel of the city is The Guinness Storehouse. This landmark attraction gives visitors a glimpse into the history of the country’s iconic stout. The tour ends at the rooftop Gravity Bar where visitors can take in panoramic views of the city while being served a proper pint. Just one sip at this brewery and patrons will be forever spoiled by the world’s freshest and most satisfying pint of Irish brew.
After taking in all the sites the capital city has to offer, start heading south toward County Cork. On the way, travelers will pass through Wicklow and Waterford. Waterford is home to the House of Waterford Crystal which is well worth the stop for that memorable souvenir. Once arriving in County Cork, visitors will have a chance to climb the 127 stairs to the top of Blarney Castle. Once atop this landmark, visitors can take part in the traditional Kissing the Blarney Stone. The process is a bit more complicated than merely puckering up. Visitors will need to lean backward over a ledge and kiss the stone upside-down to be awarded the Gift of Gab according to local folklore.
After purchasing the commemorative Kissing the Blarney Stone photo as a souvenir of your adventure, travelers will next head up the coast to County Kerry. Along the way, a few towns worth exploring are Kinsale and Skibereen. The locals in this part of the country possess one of the thickest Irish brogues you’ll encounter on your travels. Odds are they are giving you a warm, hearty welcome — even if you can’t quite understand the dialect.
After arriving in Kerry, visitors can drive The Ring of Kerry providing some of the most picturesque photo opportunities of the trip. The starting point of this epic loop is the town of Killarney. Before setting out on the memorable drive spend some time wandering this charming village to take in the local flavor. Planning for a ride around The Ring of Kerry ignites the decades-old debate of which way to drive it — clockwise or counter-clockwise. Tour buses drive in a counterclockwise direction making it the most popular choice. Either way, the route follows the outskirts of the Iveragh Peninsula providing visitors a chance to uncover some of the best of Ireland’s natural beauty.
After taking in the scenery around The Ring of Kerry, travelers will venture onto the Dingle Peninsula. This portion of the journey possesses some of the most challenging driving of the voyage. With roads so narrow that meeting oncoming traffic often required drivers to back up to enable the other vehicle to pass. It’s not unlikely for travelers to encounter sheep and cattle who are also making their way along the tight passageway. Making the narrow roads even more treacherous are the stone walls and large hedges positioned so close to the side that passengers could reach out and touch them. There’s no sense in getting aggravated at these driving conditions. These roadway obstacles are all part of the charm of traveling in this part of the world.
After delicately making your way through the Dingle Peninsula, the next stop is Galway. Wander the winding cobblestone alleyways, stop in a pub, or browse the colorfully painted shops and boutiques. Galway has an artsy feel that’s best experienced without an itinerary - that’s how the locals do it. Take a day trip to the Aran Islands where each of the three islands possesses its own unique character. Visit the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s most visited tourist attractions. With cliffs rising over 700 feet high, this attraction offers breathtaking views in any direction. From here it’s approximately a three-hour drive back to Dublin for one last Guinness before boarding your flight home with a lifetime of travel memories.
by Lisa Medeiros