Ireland seems to be on everyone’s “short list” lately, and with good reason! It is absolutely gorgeous, the people are warm and friendly, our exchange rate is favorable, and there isn’t a language barrier (for us English speaking folks). There is so much available to explore: culture, history, nature and (for my husband) golf! Here is my list of must-see places for when the Mr and I finally get around to taking this trip. They may appeal to you as well!
I will start in Northern Ireland, assuming a flight arriving into Belfast:
- Belfast– There is a major airport here, so it seems as good a place as any to begin. Here, you can find the Titanic Museum, which is an extremely popular new museum, so it will be wise to visit early or late in the day and to buy tickets ahead on-line.
- More to do in Belfast – The City Hall is a grand old building, worth a look. Tours are available for free and take less than an hour.
- Still in Belfast, I would visit the Botanical Gardens, because I always love gardens!
4. From here, you can head a little north to the town of Portrush. You can stay a few nights to explore the area and play a little golf. For golf lovers, the big attractions will be Royal Portrush and the 128 year old Royal County Down course. The Royal Portrush course is the only Irish course to have hosted the British open.
- Near Portrush, there are a few special sights to see, my favorite being the Giant’s Causeway.
- Next, while in the neighborhood, it might be fun to visit the Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery. You can tour the distillery, but the last tour of the day is at 3:30, so be sure to get there early.
- Dunluce Castle is also nearby, and looks like a great place to visit while in the area.
Next, we will head on down to Dublin and spend a few days touring with that as a base.
- While in Dublin, there will surely be some visiting Pubs, and walking around soaking up the vibe, as well as photography opportunities…
- The Kilmainham Gaol held political prisoners back in the day. Tours are available daily.
- Trinity College dates back to 1592 and is Ireland’s most famous college. Short tours are available through the college. The Book of Kells is at Trinity College. This is a 1200 year old bible and draws big crowds. You can get your tickets online in advance to minimize wait times to see this very important manuscript from the dark ages.
- The Guinness Storehouse is hugely popular and worth a visit, for sure. There is a museum and the Gravity Bar to see here.
- The 700 year old Dublin Castle is a popular spot worth a visit as well.
12. The National Gallery, and the adjacent National Museum of Archeology are both supposed to be excellent and would be a good rainy day activity.
13. From Dublin, it might be nice to drive down to Wicklow, a pretty town, and home of the Portmarnock Golf Course. This is where the Irish Open was played in 2015.
The Portmarnock Golf course is known as being extremely difficult, but golfers still seem to love trying it.
14. Next, a drive over to Kilkenny would be nice as we head to the west coast of Southern Ireland. This quaint town has a beautiful cathedral, a castle, and charming colorful streets with lively pubs and friendly people.
15. Heading west, you will find Tipperary and the very famous Rock of Cashel . This is the seat of the ancient kings of Ireland and where St. Patrick baptised King Aengus around the year 400AD. At this site you will find the Castle, the Hall of Vicars Choral, Museum, the Cathedral, Cormac’s chapel, St. Patrick’s Cross, and grounds.
16. I suppose a trip to Ireland must include a visit to the Blarney Castle with the famous Blarney Stone. I am not entirely convinced, but it is en route to Cork and Kinsale, my next points of interest, so it might be worth a look.
17. Kinsale is our next stop on this imaginary voyage. Kinsale is a beautiful town on the southern coast of Ireland. It would be a great place to spend the night, walk around the colorful streets, perhaps with a walking tour. There is the Charles Fort, Desmond Castle, and nearby historic port of Cobh. There is also a ghost walk tour that is supposed to be very fun that leaves from Tap Tavern. As an added bonus for the golf lovers, there is the Old Head Golf Course. This is a newer private course, but access is possible for a price and the course lands on many “best golf in the world” sorts of lists.
18. Next, the Ring of Kerry is on everybody’s list. This is a hugely popular drive that tourists take around the Iveragh Peninsula. I would do it with a tour guide / driver so that we could enjoy all the sights. The drive will take the better part of a day, with stops allowed at the many scenic locations.
19. Then, Kenmare or Dingle would be a lovely place to spend the evening.
20. The Dingle peninsula is supposed to be a wonderful place to explore as well. From here, it would be nice to do the 30 mile drive with either a private driver, or a tour bus, so as not to get lost and to enjoy the views.
21. Next, we can head up to the pretty town of Ennis, from where we can view the last few sights before flying home from the nearby Shannon airport.
22. The Cliffs of Moher will be very near to Ennis, and a must-see destination.
23. Finally, the last sight on my list is the Burren. This is a UNESCO sight, which you can view via a walking tour. It is known for its biodiversity and Limestone outcroppings as well as the castles and forts.
This tour could easily fill two weeks, if you take a leisurely pace. Seems like two weeks wells spent!