When people think Ireland, they think beer and the most popular city, Dublin. What some don’t realize is the landscape of the country is stunning and steeming with ancient castles. Here are the top 6 destinations to hit on your next adventure through the lovely land of leprechauns.
6. Cliffs of Moher
No trip to Ireland is complete without a journey to the infamous Cliffs of Moher. The unbelievable natural phenomenon is one of the main attractions for a reason, as the rocky black cliffs contrasting against the rough blue waves makes for a life-changing experience. The best option for getting here is to take a tour from Galway, tons of hostels offer them. On the tour, you will spend half a day driving up to the cliffs and stopping at important landmarks along the way. Trails run along the cliffs and some points are extremely exposed, so don’t venture behind the railing as you could easily fall to your death.
A surreal castle sits on the tops of the cliffs, giving the scene an ambiance which is thought of as the stereotypical irish landscape. The visitors center offers free shows which take you through a 3D experience of the area and shows you the area on a rare sunny day. It’s a must have on each bucketlist, so why not head over next time you’re in Ireland and soak in the glory?
5. Dublin Pubs
Pubs in Dublin are booming each night, and even as a non-drinker, I headed out to get a feel for the culture. I found myself surrounded by friendly locals and traditional Irish music, opposite of my expectations of a bar full of obnoxious drunks. I felt completely comfortable and was able to make tons of friends. You’ll find while walking around the Dublin streets where you will find a ton of pubs on each corner, making it impossible to chose which one to go into. It’s essential to visit a pub while you’re there and try the infamous Guinness. Lots of Pub Crawls are organized around the city, so ask around at your hostel or accommodation and get a quota on the prices. Usually they run relatively cheap and you get to make some unforgettable memories and friends.
4. Glendalough National Park
This park is an easy day-trip from Dublin, just an hour after hopping on a bus you have already arrived. At the beginning of the trail lies a cemetery with hundreds of graves and ancient buildings. Tons of tourists walk through the burial grounds to mourn those who have past. Once you continue on one of the paths, you will find yourself surrounded by the natural elements of water and earth. A beautiful lake and park lie between the sides of two humongous mountains, making the dreary setting look picturesque.
Of course, you can find an abundance of the iconic three leaf clovers here. If you want to be extra lucky and snatch a four leaf clover while in the irish town, spend some time laying in the field, looking intentively. The entire region of the park is overflowing with nature’s beauty, where you will find waterfalls at every turn. It’s the perfect destination to head to when you need to take a break from the buildings of the busy city.
3. Killarney National Park
When the weather is splendid and the sun is shining, this park is a real beauty. The first national park in Ireland is huge, covering 25,425 acres (102.89 km squared), and booming with diverse ecology and mountain peaks. Hiking trails wrap along the park, some taking you into the backcountry for days and others for a few hours. The park lies near the town of Killarney, which is quent and exclusive. I wouldn’t recommend coming here in January, as the excessive amount of rain causes the park to flood and become inaccessible. I imagine the summer would be incredible and the perfect time to explore the green wonderland.
2. Dunguaire Castle
This castle is a common stop on the way from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher, where you have time to hop out of the bus and walk around the grounds. I found the castle beautiful, as it was the first irish castle i’d seen, and the architecture looked extra eerie with the gloomy clouds looming in the background. Beware, if it’s rainy, the steps taking you around the perimeter of the building become coated in mud, making it a struggle to walk away without slipping or getting dirty. Nevertheless, it’s a must-see when on the west coast of Ireland.
With a population of around 75,000, this town is significantly smaller than Dublin, but happens to be my favorite in the entire country due to it’s spunk. The town has it’s own laid back style, with tons of street performers and cute little shops. Galway is easy to get to from Dublin, as you can simply access it from a train that comes straight from the capital, and easy to navigate around. You need around a day or two in the town itself to see the beauty, before you move on to the surrounding areas. Trips to the Cliffs of Moher and other natural wonders are located nearby and many tours leave Galway for a cheap price.
No matter where you find yourself in ireland, you’ll be surrounded by kindness and compassion. Irish people are polite and will be willing to answer any questions you have when wandering around their country. Don’t forget to head into a pub, no matter which area you explore.