A trip to Ireland is a journey of the senses between high cliffs, raging sea, castles, and legends. It has all from the green landscapes, nature, deep blue sea to fantastic food. It has fabulous beer from Murphy to Guinness. And there is a wonderful sky, capable of changing colors all the time. I entered the heart.
Our trip to Ireland began as we landed in what all define the Emerald Isle, and I have renamed my Middle Earth! I had the desire to visit Ireland for a while. Besides the landscapes, culture, and traditions, Ireland is also the home of the U2!
PLANNING THE TRIP TO IRELAND
Our journey last nine days. We plan it in large part with help of the a guide and the official Ireland tourism website. We find the most famous places to visit with relevant and useful information.
To reach Ireland we found a flight at a good price. We went in middle of July. We take advantage of the fact that in summer the days have many more hours of light. The climate is also more favorable. Apart from a couple of days of overcast skies and drizzle, we traveled with the sun.
I found one of the best Bed and Breakfast in my life in Ireland. The b&b have been our reference points for the whole trip. These were clean and with good and plentiful breakfasts. If you want to visit Ireland they are a good and cheap solution to stay.
The first we found in the city of Dublin, thanks to a quick search on the internet, where we booked the first two nights! Today in Dublin there are hundreds of hotels and B&B at reasonable prices. Do a quick search on the various portals!
Among the most beautiful, I remember the one in Spiddal in County Galway. It was straight out of a postcard. Also, in the breakfast tables were beautiful fuchsia flowers. We discovered it later to be the typical flowers of Connemara. Spiddal was a great base to visit Connemara and the Aran Islands.
At Tralee, in the county of Kerry, we chose a small B&B, well placed to visit the Dingle, the Ring of Kerry and Killarney Park. It had a delightful winter garden where we take a nightcap before going to sleep after a long day of traveling.
THE DISCOVERY OF IRELAND BY CAR
To travel to Ireland we decided to rent a car, not booked from home, but we chose to check, after arriving in Dublin. I do not remember the name but I remember that the car rental price was not exorbitant. It was less than what we would have spent by booking online.
Anyway, if you do not want to run risks or even to get an idea of the rental price, do a quick search on the internet. Driving through Ireland was fun and quite easy. The signs, usually were in two languages, English and Gaelic.
9 DAYS IN IRELAND: WHAT I SAW
Having only 9 days available we could not think of visiting entire Ireland. We then decided to take a ride in the south of the country, making Dublin as a starting point and destination.
Day 1 - We arrive in Dublin in the evening. We have dinner and take our first tour of the discovery of the Temple Bar.
Day 2 - Dublin called as Baile Átha Cliath in Gaelic, welcomes us immediately with its atmosphere on a human scale. It has quaint pubs and great beers, the famous Guinness, with its unmissable visit to the factory. I recommend a pit stop at one of the inevitable whiskey distilleries. Visit the Guinness Storehouse, the factory making homonymous beer. Here is set up an interactive museum dedicated to the production of this drink.
An unforgettable experience is to savor a pint, sitting in the charming sky-bar. From plexiglass windows you can enjoy a charming and unique 360 degree view of the city. We then visit the Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Ireland.
Grafton Street reflects the spirit of the city. At the same time it is eager to preserve the traditions. It's a pedestrian street frequented by many street artists. It lead to the Trinity College founded at the end of 1500 by Queen Elizabeth I.
Within the Trinity Gardens is an installation of the Sphere Within Sphere. It is famous because there is the Book of Kells, the most elaborate of the manuscripts. Trinity is a real institution.
In this city, the main churches has green meadows that bring out the gray stone. In St. Patrick's Cathedral there is a door which put an end to a bloody feud between families.
In Christ Church Cathedral it is interesting to see the change between old and new organ. You will see in the basement, robes, silver plates, a curious frame containing a mummified cat and a mouse.
Dublin Castle is a monster of Frankenstein architecture. It is the witness of different historical periods and remains an original tower. In it there is the museum of the Irish police. There is a church in Gothic style, with free admission. There are 18th century apartments, visited with a guided tour. It did not have the appearance of the typical medieval castle. But even Dublin do no have the appearance of typical European capitals.
We then visit the meadows of the central park of St Stephen's Green, Dublin Castle, and the Clarence Hotel. In the maze of narrow cobbled streets of Temple Bar we search the Wall of Fame. The famous eponymous pub is ideal to spend pleasant evenings. There is a cosmopolitan atmosphere, delicious meals, great beer, and great live music.
Dublin was full of nightlife. To the north of the River Liffey we cross the Ha'penny Bridge. O'Connell Street is rich in historic and commercial centers. We recognize it by the futuristic Monument of Light, an elegant steel spire. About halfway lies the statue of James Joyce, deep in thought and dreamy grub air. He did research in the city and its inhabitants.
It was pleasant to walk in its center. But, as always, we prefer open spaces and landscapes where nature reigns supreme.
Another interesting visit is the Old Jameson Distillery. Also included in the Dublin Pass it is a trip back in time, that involves all the senses of smell, to begin with. But for us, the best is always out of town.
Day 3 - We take the car and leave for the city of Galway with a visit to Connemara. Connemara is one of the most fascinating places with narrow, winding streets. It has the typical dry stone walls and a the views of many colors with castles, churches. The ruins of a majestic past seem to peep at each new curve. Some leave us speechless. Others made us dream with mansions of yesteryear in which to spend the night.
They are lots of the locations in Ireland, where you can wake up with a view of unspoiled nature and endless views. The roads that give the most intense emotions are always those along the ocean. The steep streets, cliffs, islands in the distance, birds in the morning and a light varies for great shots.
Even some crazy daredevils come out early in the morning if there are the right conditions! Hours and hours admiring their evolutions. Here lobsters and crabs are at every corner, at affordable prices. The mussels, with a thousand farms like this, are not far behind.
The Cliff of Moher is definitely the most visited place of the whole Ireland. Especially if you travel out of season, you must visit it early morning to avoid the hordes of tourists. They flock to this place and thus undermining the atmosphere. After the stone tower that stands like a beacon we get to the cliffs in the midst of a nature. They give the best show of themselves, without the presence of no tourists.
The wind was very strong and the foam produced by the waves down there was actually raised up here. Our tour on the road in Ireland continues among beautiful marinas. Here the wild show always wins.
Celtic crosses, churches, and cemeteries are part of Ireland. A few shots later, they remain in the heart after so long away. If you like the story does not even miss the Dolmen. Do you know what these are? The peat bogs yields peat that is burnt in stoves. The characteristic pungent odor assails us, when we enter in pubs or restaurants.
Up here there are no trees, and you can not burn the wood. This ancient method to warm up is still very popular.
About sunset, even the Giants trail is an attraction. The people here are unfortunately always too much! Even out of season and in all weather conditions. You cannot skip this place! Make a note for the next trip!
The Foreland area is one of the best places to spot lots of seals in a unique natural setting. But for us it's time to head to Belfast. It has experienced in recent years an architectural rebirth.
Day 4 - We have an excursion to Aran Island with the opportunity to visit the largest island, Inishmore. There is the fantastic Dun Aengus, the fort overlooking the sea. To visit the island we rented bikes and it was a real slog!
Day 5 - We leave for the city of Tralee and visit the beautiful peninsula of Dingle. We have dinner in the homonymous capital, Dingle.
Day 6 - We have lunch at Valentia Island in a rustic inn overlooking the cliffs. Here I ate one of the velvety chocolate cakes. We visit the fabulous Killarney Park. And here I thought that JRR Tolkien had visited places like this to imagine the Middle-earth. We see the sunset from the Castle of Killarney with an evening walk to the center of Kerry.
Day 7 - We leave for the former capital of Normandy, Kilkenny. It is home to a famous beer. We visit the Japanese Gardens and Bono's house and stop in Dun Laoghaire for the night. We have an evening in the most genuine Irish pub I have ever seen. But it is also home to a beautiful cathedral and an impressive castle.
Day 8 - Back in Dublin, we visit the Hanover Quay Studios and the foundations of the U2 Tower. In the afternoon we do some shopping at the center of Dublin. Before leaving, a trip to Dublinia, the city's historical museum is a must. With the Dublin Pass, you can skip the payment queue, and immediately enter the museum.
If you want to discover a bit of the medieval city you cannot fail to visit Dublinia. The Vikings founded Dublin in 841. Dublinia does tell us the history of the town from then on for the next 500 years.
It is on different levels. One that most attracts is the ground floor. Here we see life-size scenes of everyday life and the primitive hut of the Middle Ages. The visit is also recommended for children with many interactive activities. You can have even the certificate of Dublinia Mayor made with paper, charcoal, and mold in relief.
Day 9 - After spending the last hours around Dublin we leave for home.
Every country I've visited left me wonderful memories and desire to come back to have a chance to know it better. Ireland even more than others!
The culinary revolution has made the tour of Ireland the tastiest legacy. Burren Lamb meets the plates from Clare to Canberra. The oysters of Galway and Louth are among the most delicious specialties. The cafes have adopted cappuccino as a distant found cousin.
Good food in Ireland is not only about listening to what is tasty. It is that sets the tone. The pastry revolution is a fair return to the roots. In the case of Ireland, this classic is the soda bread. The best bread in Ireland has not become a national institution without reason.
For the food lovers, you cannot miss a day trip to Cork. Here there is also the Butter Museum, the capital of Irish cuisine. A trip that includes Burren and Cliffs of Moher is a unique experience. In Athlone is the oldest pub in Ireland built in the year 900. Cork offers a route for its historic pubs!
The Irish know how to enjoy life, even at the table. You must try the seafood (mussels and oysters) and soup (seafood chowder). Always try the local beer! Every city (or almost) has one! And at least once during the holiday try the Irish breakfast. A shot of energy! In summary, Ireland is tasty.
Ireland Travel Tips
You have heard of the St. Patrick's Well. The cave is on the island of Lough Derg, which still is a pilgrimage destination. The St. Patrick's Day Festival is an opportunity to live a Dublin green dressed like clover color.
Always be aware of where you are, the rain is part of the trip to Ireland!
Ireland has many airports, so it depends on the company with which you want to travel and what you're getting.
The trains generally cost more. We used the train for the half-day trip in Cobh because it offered better schedules than the coach. Tickets can also be got online at a lower price. Otherwise, you can buy at the station or on board.
Ireland has a good hotel network. The ideal for travelers with backpacker rooms is to find a place to sleep near the station. Also, the main bus stations are all in the center or very close.
What to see in Ireland
Much depends on personal taste. Limerick is an almost essential destination for history buffs. About sports, rugby is a religion. The colors of the rugby team, like football, is the green.
The most effective way to start your tour of Dublin and to have a clearer view is to buy a ticket for Hop on - hop off. What is it about? We find them in various European cities and beyond. They are typical red double-decker buses which stop near the major city attractions.
You can get off the bus, dedicate yourself to visit and take a later to continue the tour. There is also the Viking Splash Tour. It is an amphibious vehicle with Viking boat form that allows you to explore the city by land and by water.
For the more romantic, I recommend the Grand Canal. For more than ten kilometers, you can walk hand in hand with your dream woman.
Visit the Museum of Writers, near the Garden of Remembrance. You will also find a copy of incredible and original Dracula of Stoker. Another place for fans of the genre is the James Joyce House.