Home of the Guiness stout, Irish Whiskey, writers and artists of many forms, striking vistas, and unpredictable weather. You never know what you might find at the end of the rainbow in this beautiful Northern country.
GETTING THERE AND AROUND Luckily one of Europe’s main discount airlines (Ryanair) is based in Ireland, so finding a cheap flight from Europe or the U.K. is easy and common into Dublin or Cork which are great starting off points. Ferries are also available and adundant coming from the U.K., and the main bus system (Bus Eireann) makes getting around the entire island quite easy.
WHY GO? If you’ve ever been inside an Irish Pub anywhere outside of Ireland, it will only give you a small taste of the hospitality and good time you will find here. From learning the Irish jig, to exploring old castle ruins, or taking in the stunning scenery, you will find as much culture here as you will flowing Guiness and whiskey.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO: If you are starting off in Dublin, after you’ve had your fill of cathedrals, parks, castles and churches, be sure to head over to the Temple Bar area and wander the cobbled streets of this lively neighborhood with bars and restuarants that will stay hopping until the wee hours of the morning. If you want to get a fresh sample of the “black stuff,” head over to the Guiness factory for a tour, or become a certified Irish whiskey taster at the Jameson Distillery (if you miss the chance in Dublin, there is another distillery just outside of Cork.)
Despite it’s turbelent history, the tourism in Belfast is slowly starting to pick back up, and a hop-on-hop off tour here will not only save money from the traditional “Black Car” tours, but will give you a chance to explore all the walls (similar to those in Berlin,) the home of the Titanic, and all the government and parliament buildings. From there, continue heading north to the Kerrick’s Rope Bridge and on to Giant’s Causeway ( a Unesco World Heritiage sight that shouldn’t be missed.)
A visit to Ireland wouldn’t be complete without kissing the famous Blarney stone, which is located on top of the castle just outside of Cork. For the outdoor enthusiast, you will find much to do within Killarney National Park, but be sure to take a drive through the Ring of Kerry as you make your way up the west coast. Tap into true Gaelic culture as you make your way through Connemara, and on to charming city of Galway.
The Cliffs of Moher are one of Irelands top tourist attractions located just outside of Galway. At a dramatic 214 meters high at the highest point, they will be sure to make even the bravest slightly unsteady as you look out to the Atlantic coast, but for a smaller crowd (and just as beautiful scenery) take a ferry out to the Aran islands where you will still see dramatic cliffs and far less people.
NIGHT LIFE From Dublin, to Galway, to even Cork, you will never be in shortage of a great pub anywhere in Ireland. As often as the beer pours, it is surprisingly expensive compared to other cities in Europe, so be sure to fit some extra money into the budget.