It’s not known as the Emerald Isle for nothing – a tour of Ireland’s lush meadows and wild woodlands will treat you to a natural display of every colour green imaginable. You’ll also discover dramatic coastlines and fantastic local produce that only this pristine environment can provide, all while enjoying the famous Irish hospitality.
A good starting point for your Irish holiday is the capital of Ireland, Dublin. See the beautifully illustrated medieval Book of Kells and walk the hallowed halls of literary giants such as Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde at the oldest university in Ireland, Trinity College. Wonder at the grandeur of St Patrick’s Cathedral, dedicated to Ireland’s patron saint or take a sightseeing tour of Dublin’s architectural gems, the Georgian Squares. After all the fun of a visit to Dublin you’ll be ready to taste a glass of Ireland’s iconic beer, Guinness, at one of the city’s many traditional pubs.
Ireland’s second biggest city, Cork, is a great base from which to see some of the most popular Irish tourist attractions. You won’t have to travel more than ten minutes from the centre of Cork to get to Blarney Castle, a medieval fortress that is home to the Blarney Stone, which is said to give those who kiss it the ‘gift of the gab’. A hike to the top of Blarney Castle’s 90-foot tower will be well worth the effort when you’re enjoying stunning views across lush Irish countryside as far as the eye can see.
Killarney is another popular stop on an Irish vacation for its proximity to picturesque Irish destinations such as the breathtaking Killarney National Park and the adorable village of Adare, known as ‘the prettiest village in Ireland’. Killarney is also the gateway to the Ring of Kerry, a world-renowned scenic drive along the Iveragh Peninsula that takes you past rugged coastal cliffs, pristine lakes and mountain ranges. And you won’t just encounter natural wonders following the Ring of Kerry; you’ll pass intriguing Iron Age forts and medieval monasteries that will give you fascinating insights into Irish history.
Further north is Limerick, Ireland’s third most populous city and home of the stately King John’s Castle on the banks of the Shannon River. Another Limerick sight you won’t want to miss is the city’s oldest surviving building, St Mary’s Cathedral built in the auspicious year of 1111. And your Limerick visit just wouldn’t be complete without a look at the historic Treaty Stone where the siege-ending treaty of 1691 was allegedly signed, bringing peace to the city.
A popular Irish attraction just outside Limerick is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland, Bunratty Castle. Wander through its grand rooms delighting in the impressive collection of medieval furniture and artefacts or explore the adjacent Folk Park where more than 30 buildings showcase 19th century rural life in Ireland.
If you love your scenery wild and dramatic, the Cliffs of Moher will not disappoint. Its not hard to see why this is the number one tourist attraction in Ireland when you stand at the top of the 120 metre (390 foot) cliff face overlooking the raging Atlantic Ocean. There is an eco-friendly Visitor Centre on site where you can visit the Atlantic Edge exhibition to learn more about this awe-inspiring natural Irish landmark.
At the oldest city in Ireland, Waterford, discover the Emerald Isle’s Viking past with a visit to Reginald’s Tower, a genuine Viking stronghold, before checking out the city’s most famous export, Waterford Crystal. A piece of this fine quality craftsmanship would be the ultimate take-home reminder of your enchanting holiday in Ireland.
Don’t forget to soak up some of the rich history of Ireland on your Irish tour by visiting sites of great cultural significance like the Rock of Cashel, where the legendary St Patrick converted the King of Munster to Christianity in the 5th century, or the shrine to John F Kennedy at New Ross that commemorates a 1963 visit to his ancestral home town.
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to food in Ireland. Irish cuisine is becoming increasingly international and you can find a great range of foods to choose from in most towns. However, you can’t let your Irish holiday pass without trying a few traditional dishes such as Bacon and Cabbage Stew, Packet and Tripe or Crubeens, all washed down with a healthy pint of Guinness, of course!
Wherever your vacation in Ireland takes you, you’ll fall in love with this pretty green isle, to be sure to be sure!