The thought of visiting Ireland is inspirational to many that have never been there. If you grew up in England, perhaps it was never that romantic of a concept. But for anyone raised on stories of a verdant countryside, stark landscapes, friendly people, and abundant Guinness (one of my personal favorites), it is a place that simply must be visited. Here are five of our top recommendations for the perfect Irish experience:
Few capitals have as much personality as Dublin. While it may lack the elegance of other great European cities, it easily makes up for it with the unique spirit of its people. The city also has its share of pleasant parks, art galleries, luxurious neighborhoods, and a lovely seaside area. And yes, the Guinness Storehouse is there, and yes, you should visit it. It’s easy to catch a ferry from Holyhead to Dublin, so this makes a great starting point.
If you came for scenery, this is the place to go. The dramatic coastline of Connemara is an intense spectacle, full of crashing waves and dark clouds. Friendly fishing villages dot the winding roads that follow the shore, offering shelter from the legendary storms and a look into the friendliness of rural Irish culture. On the interior, you can catch spectacular sunsets over the Twelve Bens, or go hiking in the verdant hills. This is a place to be with nature.
The UK City of Culture 2013 Winner is a sure pleaser to any visitor. A highlight may be the pub scene, which is warm, friendly, and full of live music (not to mention a torrent of fine beverages). Beyond that, there is a wealth of historical sites, a pleasant riverside atmosphere, and an overall vibe of cheerfulness and hospitality. Add to that the largest Irish festival in the world, planned for this year, and you have a must-visit locale.
4. Killarney National Park
No, it’s not just about the Blarney Stone (forget that thing, already). Instead, just go for the beautiful scenery, excellent hikes, and calm lakes. Ireland had a wonderful sense of peace and calm, if you’re smart enough to escape the tourist hordes, and this is an excellent place to find it if you’re brave enough to go off the beaten path.
Galway is all about music. Professional or amateur, performed on a street corner or in a pub, this is the best place to get a real show of true Irish music. While the rain may never really stop, that doesn’t keep the local population or the visitors from enjoying wonderful tunes played across the city. On top of that, this is an excellent place to sample unique Irish cuisine, especially the famous oysters from Galway Bay.
A trip to Ireland is sure to be full of adventure. Approach it with good cheer and a lot of optimism, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the wealth of experiences available to you.