Ireland, the Emerald Island, is located in the North Atlantic, and is the third largest isle in Europe. The country is dotted with dramatic landscapes that even Game of Thrones couldn't resist. The utter beauty of it will take your breath away. There are jarring craggy cliffs standing beside the seashores, sun-smashed beaches, endless collection of ancient forts and castles, eerily beautiful roads lined with centuries-old trees, verdant glens, a spectacular array of wildlife and some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. On one end, there are countrysides glowing with leafy greens and on the other end, there is modern architecture combined with fine pubs and boutiques. Believe the hype and plan your Irish adventure.
The Republic of Ireland is divided into various regions housing different counties. Few people are aware, but Northern Ireland is separate from the Republic of Ireland and remains a part of United Kingdom. Depending on the outcome of Brexit, the border may or may not require a passport to cross. At this time the border remains open.
Bestriding the River Shannon, the Midlands is punctuated with multicolored landscapes. As you meander through the winding pathways, you will stumble upon pastoral vistas, pristine lakes with secluded beaches, regal architecture, fine houses, and imperial religious sites. On this leisurely trip, spend a lazy day at County Leitrim and appreciate its wild nature and serene sweeps, go to the sleepy Strokestown, and visit the historically significant Strokestown Park which is dominated with Gothic vibes and immaculate gardens. At County Longford, walk the ancient Iron Age Corlea Trackway constructed with oak planks in 148 BC. Portarlington, bordered by the River Barrow, houses the famous green-vaulted Emo court with its Greek-inspired statues and scenic woodlands.
A few hours away from the Midland is the East where you will find Dublin, the capital of Ireland. While it may not be the most beautiful place, it has its hidden gems. Explore the different layers of the city by visiting the medieval castles and fortresses, strike a conversation with the charming Dubliners to understand the culture and traditions, and be a part of a highly curated pub-scene.
Home to many castles and the Cliffs of Moher, Shannon Region spans over three counties; County Clare, County Limerick, and County Tipperary. County Clare is known for its sheer cliffs, the jagged Atlantic shores, verdant countryside, ancient churches and castles and the Burren, featuring the rocky Karst topography and the Cliffs of Moher, the magnificent range of sea cliffs. County Limerick flanks the River Shannon and its estuary, and harbors some of the best sights in Ireland including the Hunt Museum, the King's Castle, Bishop's Palace, and People's Park. The verdurous County Tipperary is home to Rock Cashel, the famous ancient sight, pretty villages, and the picturesque Lough Derg.
Southwest Ireland is blessed with a beautiful amalgamation of sea views and mountain vistas sprinkled with bays, coves, and fjords. Clad yourself in rain jackets and boots, and ramble about the vibrant towns and villages such as Blarney, Clonakilty, Cork, Killarney, and Mallow. Blarney Castle is one of the most famous sights here where people from all over the world come to kiss the Blarney Stone to gain eloquence. Dingle Peninsula offers breathtaking coastal scenery as well as a trip back in time with its prehistoric relics. Take a tour of English Market inside a Victorian-styled building and satisfy the foodie within you.
The western side of Ireland is home to dramatic coastlines, a cluster of small islands, peninsulas, and ports. Visit the renowned destinations including Galway, Connemara, Aran Islands, Westport, Mayo, Clare and Croagh Patrick. Galway, the City of the Tribes, is a beautiful place with its colorful cafes, cobblestone streets, traditional pubs, boutiques, and art galleries. Approximately two hours from Galway is Westport, a town in County Mayo, where you can explore the popular attractions including pilgrims' destination Croagh Patrick, surfers' point Achill Island and Clew Bay with hundreds of islands.
This part of Ireland spans over County Donegal with its scenic mountain range, rugged coasts and great food, County Caven boasting joyous festivals, watersports opportunities at Erne River, and forested trails, County Leitrim divided by Lough Allen and possessing the most picturesque sights, County Monaghan interspersed with many lakes and mountains and County Sligo small but surprisingly beautiful.
The Sunny Southeast has the best weather - think sundrenched days and pleasant breeze. It has attractive cities thriving with life, secluded beaches and camping opportunities, and historically significant places. County Carlow is famous for its flourishing scenery, active nightlife, and contemporary culture. County Kilkenny is noted for its medieval sites. There is County Waterford boasting pristine beaches and crystals and finally County Wexford, the best place to camp!
Irish cuisine has evolved over centuries and it mostly consists of meat, potatoes, and cabbage. The meals are wholesome, and all your cravings will be satisfied by the end of it. Some of the classic dishes include Boxty, a traditional Irish potato pancake, Coddle, a Dublin specialty stew, soda bread, a popular Irish bread made in every house, and of course, Shepherd's Pie. Eating out in Ireland is fairly expensive but you will find a number of reasonable pubs and cafes. For seafood, Kinsell and Donegal are considered to be the best places in the country.
When it comes to drinking sprees, Ireland can never lose. Afterall, it is the same country that brought us the famed whiskey and Guinness. From villages to big cities, each place has at least one pub. Traditional pubs are common everywhere, particularly in rural areas, which are a combination of a pub and grocery store. All the big cities such as Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Cork and Belfast, and even smaller ones, offer a range of entertaining activities such as music shows, theatre horse racing, Gaelic football and hurling and traditional folklore music.
A wide variety of accommodations are available catering to all sorts of budgets. You can choose to book a luxurious room in a hotel or stay in a cordial and homely bed and breakfast. For youth, independent hostels are a great option Campsites are also available, but you may need a permit to camp in certain wilderness areas.
The high season begins in June and lasts till mid-September during which the weather is most pleasant. It can get pretty crowded and expensive. May and October offer good weather with occasional rains. Low season occurs from November to February , and it is quite cold, wet, and foggy.
Ireland has several major airports that offer international flights to and from UK, Europe, North America, and the Middle East. You can also travel through land via Eurolines that offer ferry and coach services from London, England. To travel via sea, ferry services are available between Ireland and the UK (in particular Scotland) and mainland Europe.
If you are wondering how to explore Ireland, driving around is your best option. It is true that as you drive up and down the winding roads with jaw-dropping cliffs on each side your heart will get racing, but it is the best way. Plenty of rental car options in most major cities. Thanks to its small size, domestic flights are an unnecessary expense. If you don't want to drive, you can travel on the bus.
Ireland's official currency is the euro. You will find ATM's everywhere including villages and small towns. Credit cards are widely accepted, and if you are a traveler from a non-EU country, you are allowed tax free purchases at certain places.
If you decide to go away, book your hotel, flights and activities through our trip concierge for discounts and benefits. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, free hotel credit and VIP gifts at many luxury hotels for the same price as the hotel’s own websites. (Book direct and you don’t get these benefits so why would you?). Our packaged vacation prices tend to be considerably cheaper than flight and hotel prices available online.