5 places to explore on a trip to Ireland

From picturesque countryside to stunning sea views, enticing road trips, exciting cities and the chance to sample delicious local produce – Ireland should be one of your next holiday destinations, to be sure!

Lough Derg Lake, River Shannon

1. Dublin

Taking a trip to Ireland wouldn’t be complete without a stopover in Dublin, Ireland’s capital and cosmopolitan party city. Split by the River Liffey, with the famous Ha’penny Bridge in the middle, Dublin has a wonderful atmosphere and magic about it. Sure, it’s had a tempestuous past but the focus in this city is firmly on the future. Dublin has in no way lost its traditional charm though, with a huge and thriving pub culture playing lively Irish folk music – its famous temple bar area attracts thousands of thirsty visitors all year round – and still with opportunities to delve deep into Irish history, like at the General Post Office on O’Connell Street, Dublin Castle, and The Guinness Storehouse – which are all sites not to be missed. But it’s Dublin’s upmarket hotels, an exciting gastronomy culture, and a flourishing theatre and performing arts scene, that makes it a vibrant and prosperous city you are certain to fall in love with.

Dublin, Ireland – July 20th 2015 taken in 2015

The popular Temple Bar in Dublin’s City Centre

2. Galway

Over on the west coast, you can explore the ‘other side’ of Ireland in the scenic County Galway – with its breathtaking coastline, vast countryside and a bohemian city at the hub. Aside from the beautiful beaches of the coast, Galway city has a cool vibe without being pretentious; cobbled streets run alongside colourfully decorated boutique shops and independent cafes and bars. There’s a big focus on arts in the city culminating in an annual Galway Arts Festival, which takes place mid-July this year, where a plethora of artists, musicians, actors, writers and performers take to the stage at a range of venues across Galway. But for a more relaxed and intimate visit, you can simple take a horse and carriage ride and watch the sunset of Galway Bay, or sit and take in the views of the peaceful River Corrib. Travel further up the county and you come to the delightful Connemara, rich in traditional Irish culture and the largest Gaeltacht in the county.

Galway Bay in front of old Galway Town

3. Cork

Cork, located in the south west of Ireland, is a region full of contrasts – from the university town of Cork to the family fun of North Cork. Pretty hilltops, lush green fields and dark blue waters sit aside the coast with the famous Cork Harbour nestled in between. North east of Cork city is the medieval Blarney Castle set in magnificent grounds and built nearly six hundred years ago by one of Ireland’s greatest chieftans, Cormac MacCarthy. The north is also home to masses of unspoiled beautiful countryside, quaint little villages and with the River Blackwater flowing through it, the scenery is magical. Over in west Cork, there are mini ports, harbours and inlets which make it an exciting place to explore by land and sea – from sailing and island-hopping to road trip routes and hikes, there is plenty for the adventurous to enjoy. Cork is also famous for its calendar of festivals and events including the Midsummer Festival – a ten-day arts festival taking place in June in the city.

Blarney Castle in Cork

4. Upper Lakelands

In Ireland’s northern territory, just south of the border, lie the upper Lakelands where fantastic walks, mountains, historic towns and rolling countryside make up this inland area. You can enjoy the beauty of Ireland’s natural landscape – from lakes, canals and rivers, including the Lough Allen and Lough Key lakes of the River Shannon. With plenty of attractions to experience, from Boyle Abbey in County Roscommon to County Cavan, home to Belturbet, a pretty little town on the River Erne, the restored Great Northern Railway exhibition, and the many more fascinating museums and galleries.

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5. Wild Atlantic Coast

If you are not sure where to go in Ireland, you can experience six regions along the west of the country by embarking on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way journey – a long-distance touring route stretching along the Atlantic coast from Donegal to West Cork. Experience some of the world’s most dramatic landscapes, discovering the Surf Coast of Donegal and Sligo, the Bay Coast of Galway and Mayo, the Cliff Coast of Galway, Clare and Kerry, the Southern Peninsulas, and the Haven coast of County Cork along the way. Marvel at a series of natural features – from seascapes to mountains, glens to trails and pathways – and indulge in activities, adventures and plenty of good food and ‘craic’ as you go. You’ll see nature at its wildest and explore the history of the Gaels. This is one road trip you will be sorry to say goodbye to!

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