Should you decide to go to Ireland, you probably have some preconceived notions of what sort of trip you are in for, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But there are many different versions to have. For the perfect balance of city and country, modern and quaint we recommend the following itinerary. This will give you the best of natural beauty, history, and good old-fashioned fun.
Dublin is a city that is the perfect mix of old and new world. Started as a Viking settlement along the River Liffey in roughly 841, there are, to this day, both castles and modern architectural marvels to see. Divided in roughly half by the River Liffey, one spot not to miss is the Ha’Penny Bridge which joins the North and South sides of the town. Much of the tourism goings-on and what the town is most known for can be found on or around the north bank. From Grafton Street and O’Connell streets, both renowned for their shopping, to the Temple Bar area, famous for its music, you can spend days walking around here in and out of shops. At the top of Grafton Street is a park called St. Stephens Green, which dates back to the 1800’s, where you can walk aimlessly amongst the swans and greenery. Additionally, just a few steps down Grafton, if you take a right at the statue of Molly Malone you will see Trinity College, home to – among other things – The Book of Kells, an old book of scripture believed to date back to approximately 800AD.
The West Coast
Once you tire of the city, there is no better place to go than out west, around the Ring of Kerry. Explore small towns and beautiful rustic scenery as in every direction. Then a trip north (still in the west) is the way to go. The Cliffs of Moher, a sheer 214 meter (700 ft.) straight drop down into the ocean, is one of the most beautiful things you’ll see on the entire island. After a long day there, you can walk down to the small town of Doolin, a place so small that the word ‘town’ almost feels too big for it. But what the town is known for is a world-class level jam session in the pubs every night; all you have to do is show up with your instrument. And whether you are playing or just a spectator, it is an event not to be missed. If Doolin is too sleepy of a town for you, head up to Galway, 75 Km up the coast, and you will find a town big enough to have plenty to do, and small enough that you can still walk everywhere. You can take a ferry out to the Aran Islands from either Doolin or Galway. Located at the mouth of Galway Bay, the three islands that make up the Aran chain are Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer, all of which offer unspoiled beauty at its best.
While it is actually a separate country, it is worth taking a trip up to Northern Ireland while you are here (after all – it’s the same island, right?). The trip through Belfast is worth it on its own. The Black Taxi tours are the insider thing to do and can be caught in the town center. These taxis will give you well-guided tours through both Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods that you otherwise would not get access too. The history they provide is worth it, including a chance to see the wall that still separates the neighborhoods. If you can, you should make it up to Giants Causeway which, as a last step in this little adventure, is a geological anomaly of roughly 40,000 interlocking basalt columns believed to be the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site and worth your time.
No matter where you go, you will find unspoiled beauty in every direction and have a unique trip impossible to replicate in any other part of the world.
Ireland is waiting for your next adventure. Be sure to kiss the blarney stone.