You don’t always have to travel to a far-flung destination in Eastern Europe to have a good time; a trip to Ireland provides just as much excitement and won’t leave such a dent in your bank balance either! We’ve put together our guide to Ireland to prove you can have just as much fun there as you can anywhere else in Europe.
What better place to start our guide than Ireland’s charming capital, Dublin? Famed for being the home of Ireland’s favourite alcoholic beverage (more on that later), Dublin also serves as the cultural epicentre of the nation. With a variety of free to enter museums, the Long Room library, which is home to a religious manuscript that dates back to 800AD, and the famous Christ Church Cathedral, there’s plenty of culture to soak up.
Once you’ve satisfied your intellectual appetite, you’ll be able to enjoy a number of fantastic restaurants, gastro pubs and live music events in the evening.
Sourcing Ireland’s favourite tipple, Guinness, provides more than enough reason to travel to Ireland alone. Made from water barley, roast malt extract, hops, and brewer’s yeast, the stout is still made in the same place it was founded in 1759. The Guinness Storehouse is situated in St James’s Gate, Ushers in Dublin and brews over 3 million pints daily while it welcomes over 1 million visitors each year.
On a tour, you’ll witness the brewing process, get hands-on experience pulling pints and, of course, get to sample the final product, making this the perfect trip for those that love Guinness.
Fungie The Dolphin
Fungie is a wild Bottlenose Dolphin that lives in Dingle Bay. He was first sighted in 1983 and has resided in the bay ever since. At around 13 feet in length and weighing in at 250kg, Fungie actually seeks out human contact and tends to playfully interact with swimmers, surfers, kayakers and divers in the area. If you’d like to see Fungie yourself, a series of tours are available where you are taken across the bay to see and take pictures of the Dolphin.
The Cliffs Of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher recently earned the title of Global Geopark from UNESCO and when looking at the towering rock face, it’s easy to see why. The cliffs are home to two of Ireland’s most intriguing historical sites, the Ballinalacken and Doonagore Castle ruins, both of which date back to the 15th and 16th century.
Not limited to attractions just for the history buffs amongst you, the cliffs stretch along for 14 kilometres of the coastline and stand at a stunning 509ft. The cliffs are so stunning that tourists often find themselves spending hours ambling along the scenic walk path.
Made famous not just by Ed Sheeran’s folk-pop hit ‘Galway Girl’, the harbour city on Ireland’s west coast is one of the country’s most frequented locations and was recently named as the European Capital of Culture for 2020.
Complete with a vibrant nightlife, remnants of a medieval town and a market that stays open for 12 hours straight, we urge you that during your time in Ireland you pay the diverse city a visit and explore everything it has to offer.
One of the best times to visit Galway is in September, where you’ll get to participate in the annual Galway Oyster Festival, created to honour the town’s roots. Attractions include the oyster opening world championships, a parade and even an Oyster ball.
All of Dublin’s excitement packed into a compact city, Cork is often referred to by locals as the ‘real capital of Ireland’. Mainly due to its reputation for having Ireland’s best food, Cork offers an abundance of high-quality cuisine ranging from local producers to world famous chefs.
We recommend a combination of both and suggest that you visit the centuries-old English Market. Acting as a bustling social hub for the city the market offers a wide selection of Irish delicacies including drisheen (blood sausage), tripe, spiced beef, buttered eggs and battlebord, that are sure to be a treat for your taste buds.
The Kylemore Abbey wouldn’t be misplaced in a fantasy novel, thanks to its fairytale-like structure which was first built in 1920. When you visit you’ll be able to explore the former Benedictine monastery’s fully restored rooms, as well as the six-acre walled garden and the 1000 acre woodland and lakeshore estate grounds. With great options for dining and a quaint souvenir shop, the abbey provides the perfect destination while visiting the Connemara coastline.
This unique park is themed around the Irish crisp brand of the same name – think if Thorpe Park was called Walkers Park!
The Tayto Park is home to a number of amusements, most notable of which is the Cú Chulainn Coaster, Europe’s largest wooden roller coaster. As well as the impressive wooden structure, the park also has a zoo which offers a diverse animal collection including an American Bison, an Amur Tiger, a Squirrel monkey and a species of wild cat called Ocelot.
Giant ’s Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway earnt its name due to the fact the area has over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns which were caused by an ancient volcano erupting. Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage site, the unique rock formation isn’t the only attraction in the area, with the Giant’s Boot also situated nearby.
Myth and legend surround the rock shaped boot, said in some fables to have been left behind by the Scottish giant Benandonner. The boot is estimated to be a size 93 and a half!
Although sandy beaches might not be the first thing you associate with Ireland, Sherkin Island possesses some of the finest shores in the entirety of Europe.
Southwest of County Cork, the remote location has a population of just 111 people according to the 2016 census and only hosts one primary school, two pubs, a hotel and a B&B serving as the perfect peaceful coastal getaway. The entire island measures at just 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide.
Things To Consider:
Will I Need An EHIC card?
The UK and Irish authorities have an agreement in place that permits UK residents do not need to travel with their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provided they are in Ireland for a short stay.
However, if you intend on visiting for a more substantial amount of time, that agreement becomes void and you’ll need to renew your EHIC or face paying a fee for medical treatment if anything happens to you during your travels.
How Will I Travel Across Ireland?
Fortunately, because Ireland is so close, you can take your own car when travelling across the Celtic country, with ferries allowing you to transport to Ireland for as little as £189.
If you’d prefer not to drive, Ireland also has a sophisticated public transport system so you can hop on a bus, coach or train and enjoy the various attractions Ireland has to offer that way.
Where Can I Stay In Ireland?
There are more than 3,500 places to stay in Ireland, with a selection of hostels, campsites, hotels, guest houses and Irish home B&B’s – you’ll be spoilt for choice upon arrival.
If you’d prefer a quirkier residence to hit the hay in, Ireland also hosts an array of innovative accommodation, including fishing lodges, country homes and adventure centres.
Hopefully, this guide has shown you the abundance that Ireland has to offer, and that you’ll consider the Celtic capital of the world next time you travel! For more information on your EHIc, feel free to take a look at our FAQs, or get in touch, today.