Ireland travel guide
2 MINUTE SUMMARY
Irish people love to talk about the weather. ‘Ah, you brought the good weather with you’ they will say. Or ‘There’s great heat in that sun’. Or, as was heard once on a Connemara beach on a hot day, ‘Sure you could be in the south of France’. Because weather informs everything here. The Atlantic storms have pummelled the coast into divine coves and cliffs. The rain has fed mountain lakes and streams that tumble into waterfalls and create world famous emerald valleys. The winds have blown in surfers and sailors seeking some of the world’s finest waves. The weather has inspired Irish writers, painters and musicians. And the sun? Well, when that comes out, Irish eyes go from smiling to seventh heaven. But no matter what the skies are doing, Irish people are feisty yet fun, both passionate and compassionate. And will always open their doors to welcome you in from the rain.
Read more in our Ireland travel guide.
the perfect slow travel destination. Walking is the way to go, slow food is supreme, people are chilled and you just want time to slow to a stop.
a place to put off until you retire. Irish responsible tourism is dominated by young people committed to adventure activities, fine local food and contemporary culture.
Ireland map & highlights
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME
When planning a trip to Ireland, there are a few keys things to remember. First, that it is an island. The coast is never far. The capital cities of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Dublin and Belfast, are on the coast. There are hundreds of islands, myriad remote peninsulas, and a cornucopia of coves and cliff walks. Second thing, when it comes to beautiful landscapes, forget that there is a border. None of them stop because of a line on the map. And third, bring your walking boots, raingear, and a wetsuit. The walking trails are superb, and the beaches are bliss. But wetsuits are recommended.
Ireland has hundreds of offshore islands, but the Aran Islands of Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oirr are three of the most accessible. They also have some of the finest archaeology, including world famous Dún Aonghasa fort on Inis Mór. Don’t just do the daytripper thing, but stay overnight. Trust us, you won’t want to leave these car free idylls where cycling and hiking trails transport you into laidback, lore-filled lands.
The Dingle Peninsula & the Dingle Way
County Kerry can be packed with tourist filled coaches negotiating the Ring of Kerry. But Kerry is a place for walking. And the Dingle Peninsula, with long distance walking trail the Dingle Way, 162km of beaches, pubs, coves, pubs, cliffs, pubs and rural villages, with pubs, is hard to beat. Hike it all in nine days, depending on how many pub stops you make. And don’t miss a trip out to the Blasket Islands.
Giant’s Causeway & Antrim Coast
As well as visiting the rightly lauded basalt beauties that make up the UNESCO Site, Giant’s Causeway, escape the crowds and hike along the Causeway Coast Path. One beautiful headland beckons after another, dipping down to sumptuous strands such as White Park Bay, diverting around the magnificent ruins of Dunluce Castle, and diverting out to the bird watching haven of Rathlin Island.
Glens of Antrim
The Antrim Coast attracts crowds, but if you turn your back on the sea for a minute, you can take in some of the nine verdant valleys sweeping down to the coast from the Antrim Plateau. These are the Glens of Antrim. Game of Thrones land for some. Hiking kingdoms for others. Made easier by the fact that the Ulster Way, a 1,000km Northern Irish trail, cuts through them. Nothing ‘stark’ here. Just stunning.
The Kerry Way
There’s the N70, a road that circumnavigates the Ring of Kerry, and then there is the Iveragh Peninsula’s Kerry Way National Walking Trail, 170km of not only emeralds, such as the luscious green Glencar Valley, but also Killarney’s sapphire blue lakes, diamond-like waterfalls, ruby red bog and brush of Macgillycuddy's Reeks at sunrise, and pearl-like sandy coves, one of the top ones being at Caherdaniel.
Tri-cities by train
Forget car hires and take in both of the island’s capital cities, the west coast, plus an island or two, all by train (and quick ferry). Take a guided walking tour in Dublin, the city of literary greats, from Joyce to Wilde. Or in Belfast, to learn about its years of political divide. In contrast, Galway is about traditional music, Irish language, coastal walks and an escape to the nearby Aran Islands.