Planning the trip of a lifetime to Ireland? Here are our 5 favourite Irish travel experiences.
Ireland is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world - and it's one of our personal favourites as well! I've traveled to Ireland four times now, in visits ranging from 24 hours to an entire summer, and each time I always discover something new that makes me fall in love with the country all over again.
But I also get frustrated with some traditional images of Ireland. There is so much more to the country than wild parties in Dublin's Temple Bar or jam-packed castle visits! Here are five Irish travel experiences we always look forward to that reflect the real heart and soul of the country.
Appreciate the simple life
In Ireland, simplicity equals beauty. A gorgeous cottage covered in greenery. A colorful door in a Georgian home in Dublin. A white washed wall and a collection of milk pitchers. Enjoying a cup of tea in a cafe - or several pints in an unassuming pub!
n Ireland, you'll find the simple things in life are as appealing and alluring as the more mainstream attractions. The cottages above are from Bunratty Folk Park, which perfectly preserves Irish history without any kitsch. It was one of our favourite Irish travel activity and we still think of it all the time. (Pro tip: Apple pies are sometimes sold at the bakery on site!)
Be brave and taste some Irish whiskey
Be brave, be open minded, and try out some authentic Irish whiskey. Many traditional pubs offer economical "flights"or samplers of different whiskeys. I found the small sizes to be generous enough to share with a friend! My favourite Irish whiskey tasking experience was at Michael Flannerys Pub in Limerick but they can be found in every city and village.
If you really, really don't think Irish whiskey is your thing - and I confess, it's not my favourite flavor served straight up - the Jameson Distillery in Dublin is both a fascinating place to visit. They they offer exquisite whiskey based cocktails that will appeal to every taste bud. (But be warned: some of the cocktails do NOT taste like their is any whiskey in them. But they absolutely do!)
Look beyond the rolling green hills
The landscapes of Ireland are breathtaking but in truth my favourite sites weren't the rolling green hills and lush fields. Instead, I liked walking down the paths and roads and taking a closer look at things. Delicate wildflowers are everywhere in Ireland - and sometimes the deer that love eating them aren't far behind! The best place I've found for both is in the Wicklow Mountains.
If you're talking to your travel agent about Irish vacation packages, be sure to inquire about how many people are on the included bus tours. Even the most respectful of crowds can scare away wildlife and birds so if spending quality time in the Irish countryside is important to you, make sure you're traveling with a small group.
Remember: The weather in Ireland has a wild reputation for good reason. We never travel without a tiny travel umbrella and neither should you!
Hang out in a cemetery. No, really, I mean it.
Ireland's cemeteries are set in some of the most beautiful spots in the countryside. They are the keepers of centuries of history, genealogy, folklore, and Celtic tradition. I've never found a cemetery visit to be spooky or unnerving. In fact, just the opposite - they are places to really reflect and get in touch with the heart of the community.
Glendalough, seen above, is built in the most unlikely of spots and is a moving reminder to the courage and determination of early settlers. Irish holidays just aren't as meaningful without taking a moment to think of the past and previous generations.
Create postcard-perfect memories
Adare has the distinction of being named Ireland's prettiest village and any budding photographer will find plenty to capture their imagination. It's also the location of some of our happiest Irish travel memories, as I indulged in an incredible high tea at Adare Manor, while Ryan had the golf experience of a lifetime next door.
Not being an ocean-side golf course, Adare is more affordable than more of the other courses in the country but is still just as beautiful. Walking around the village (and, you guessed it, stopping in at bakeries and pubs) was a highlight of all our Irish getaways and we would highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Ireland.
Check out OUR Ireland - or better yet, discover your own!
Embrace a side of Ireland not found in the brochures and you'll find a country so unforgettable it will have you coming back for more and more. We've found that we can't help but keep returning every time we're in Europe and I think after just one visit you'll feel the same.
I'd love to know what you loved best about your own Irish holiday experience - I'm always looking to add things to my own bucket list!
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