Belfast > Dingle > Derry > Galway > Cork > Dublin
There is something magical about the Irish isle of Europe. Build upon ancient folklore and mythology, Ireland holds mystical promises to take travelers away. The Celtic history was the beginning of legends of fairies, leprechauns, giants, and changelings. The ancient myths are not all that create the whimsical atmosphere, but also the beautiful untouched landscape. Surrounded by the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the isle is built upon lush greenery and a thriving biodiversity. Step into a whole new world as you learn the fascinating history and unique cultural traditions.
Ireland is a vast country with so much to see and do. At this point, I have traveled many countries all over the world, but Ireland still holds a very special place in my heart and I dream of going back more often than not.
The best way to get around would be to rent a car and travel yourself. If renting is not an option, it is easy enough to get around by train! As well, to get out to these incredible destinations, there are several different tour companies that have full-day or half-day bus tours available. The only problem with this is that you may not get as much time as you would like at certain locations and being with a large crowd of other tourists may take away from the experience. Nonetheless, the sites around Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are absolutely breathtaking.
Top Sites & Activities
Be sure to bring a good pair of hiking boots when traveling the Emerald Isle as the sites require a lot of walking around (on the sometimes unstable ground)! Below I have listed some of my top favorite sites and activities around the area.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher was by far the most awe-inspiring location for me. Located in County Clare, the sea cliffs rise about 120 meters high and stretch across approximately 14 kilometers, overlooking the great Atlantic Ocean. Be sure to go on a clear day for the most epic views and safe conditions for hiking along the coastal trails. If heights aren’t a fear, try hanging your feet over the edge for a thrilling experience!
Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way is a trail that runs along the coast of Ireland. A lot of people drive along the trail for views of the ocean but there are also trails for pedal biking, running, and walking! I biked the Wild Atlantic Way from the city of Galway to the northern regions, stopping over in the small towns along the way. This was a great experience because I found great sites and destinations that I would not have found otherwise. The seaside towns along the way are so quaint and welcoming and the restaurants have great local dishes. I found this adorable, brightly colored seaside village called the ‘Spiddal Craft Village’ where local merchants sold their handmade crafts. I also found some nice, breezy beaches to relax and take in the coast.
The result of a volcanic eruption, the basalt columns date back over 50 million years ago. Located in the County Antrim, the 40,000 interconnected volcanic rock columns have been the grounds for the fascinating legend on the giant Finn McCool.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Also located in the County Antrim in Northern Ireland, there is a rope bridge that connects to the small island of Carrickarede. Not for the faint of heart, the bridge length spans across 20 meters and is approximately 30 meters above the jagged rocks and water below. I went on a windy day which made for quite an exhilarating experience!
Built upon ancient history, you will find castles everywhere you go in the British Isles. Although there is one medieval castle outside of Cork with a very interesting history, The Blarney Castle. Dating back to the 1200s, the castle is home to the Stone of Eloquence. Tourists have the opportunity to hang upside down to kiss the Blarney Stone in hopes of receiving the ‘gift of gab’, also known as the gift of great eloquence. Although the castle and stone are not all that the area has to offer, there is also over 60 acres of green space to explore. The gardens are tranquil and mystical with off the beaten paths and hidden magical spaces.
Irish Trad Music
One event that truly made my trip to Ireland was listening to live traditional Irish music in a local pub. I grabbed a pint of Guinness and a seat at one of the ‘unknown to tourists’ local pubs in Dublin with a few people on a small tour. Right away, a few local people pulled up stools and sat around in a circle together with their instruments. From the moment they began to play, the entire atmosphere in the pub transitioned from quiet to upbeat as excitement and warmth filled the room. Everyone turned their chairs to listen as the drinks began flowing and everyone came together – it was truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
The cities in Ireland each offer something unique and special. Be sure to spend time in the different cities and towns to get a better feel for the traditional Irish culture. My route led me to many of the cities, including the tourist-filled ones as well as extremely local ones. By far, my favorite city along the way was the coastal city of Galway. This lively city is home to cozy cafes and quaint, narrow walking streets. Another one of my favorites was the small harbor town of Dingle in Northern Ireland. Dingle is a great place for walking to see the surrounding untouched, rugged green coastal landscape. The town is also a great place to enjoy a fresh meal of fish & chips from one of the seaside vendors.