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How to Make the Best of Your Ireland Getaway

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Dingle Bay (photo: EMersinger)

When it comes to European trip destinations, Ireland is by far one of the most interesting and the most beautiful.

This country is packed full of vibrant culture, an awesome history, and stunning natural beauty.

For travelers to Ireland, no matter what you end up doing, you’re sure to be captivated, surprised, and inspired by every Irish destination you set foot in.

With so much to see and do on this fantastic Celtic island, a trip to Ireland should be on any keen traveler’s European bucket list.

On one side, there are vibrant, bustling cities to explore, each interesting, urban and distinctive.

Cosmopolitan destinations such as Dublin, Galway, and Cork have long been destinations of choice for culture and art enthusiasts, music lovers, foodies, and shoppers.

And on the flip side, Ireland is also an ideal destination for those looking to get a relaxing, peaceful break away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Heading off the beaten path will take you to vast grasslands adorned with glacial lakes, stupendous sea cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and ancient castles of old surrounded by picturesque scenery.

With so much to offer, it’s no surprise that planning an Ireland vacation can be daunting.

If you’re not sure where to get started exploring, check out these things to do and make the most of your Ireland getaway.

Cruise Along the River Shannon

No adventurer should miss out on a boat cruise along the beautiful River Shannon.

The longest river in the island, Shannon snakes down from the slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain, flowing to Limerick City, where it becomes one with the sea.

Limerick to the Lower Lough Erne in Northern Ireland is the most navigable area of the river. And with breathtaking scenes along the 500km of waterway, a boat cruise can easily be the highlight of your trip.

You can rent boats of all sizes, with the most popular route being from Portumna to Carrick.

Dublin Castle (photo: papagnoc, Pixabay)
Dublin Castle (photo: papagnoc)

Explore an Ancient Castle

With countless ancient castles scattered across the country, there’s no better way to go back in time and learn more about the vast and interesting history of Ireland.

Each fortress has its own story to tell. Some castles even open their doors to tourists who want to stay.

The Ashford Castle in County Cong has been around since the good old days of 1228, but today offers a luxurious 5-star suite service.

The most popular place to start your Irish castle adventure is at Dublin Castle, where you can join a guided tour to the State Apartments and Chapel Royal.

Many Ireland tours include castle visits. So, if you’re doing a whistle-stop tour and want to include some ancient history, booking a tour is a great plan.

Kilmainham Gaol prison (photo: Jim McIntosh, Pixabay)
Kilmainham Gaol prison (photo: Jim McIntosh)

Visit Kilmainham Gaol

Although visiting a jail on your vacation might seem a little bit of a morbid excursion, Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin is a must-visit for anybody interested in history.

Now a museum, the former prison is also home to an impressive art gallery, where you can take in an array of paintings and sculptures of once incarcerated prisoners.

It’s no surprise that the prison attracts thousands of visitors every year. Here they learn more about the men who led 1916’s famous Easter Rising and admire the impressive interior of the structure.

If you’re up for it, you can even step inside the very same cells where civil prisoners lived their last moments before facing execution. It’s perhaps a creepy, but very unique way to learn more about this country’s turbulent past.

See the Bend of the Boyne

Bend of the Boyne is a significantly historic location not just for Ireland, but for the entire continent of Europe.

Predating even the Egyptian pyramids, this complex megalithic site’s origins can be traced back to the Neolithic period during 32 BC.

Today it’s listed as a World Heritage Site thanks to its rich history. Many visitors would agree that the way this structure was built is the most striking aspect.

It features an array of chamber stones, henges, standing stones, and grave passes that were constructed from a surprising knowledge of science and astronomy. Many believe people during those times could not have constructed it without divine help or at least support from computers (or aliens).

The construction is unbelievably sophisticated, so certainly pay a visit so you can see it for yourself. It’s certainly worth adding to your list if you are planning a European adventure; follow this link for Triptile – best tool to plan a trip to Europe.

Lake in Killarney (photo: Ciaran O Muirgheasa, Pixabay)
Lake in Killarney (photo: Ciaran O Muirgheasa)

Visit Killarney National Park

If you want a peaceful leisure activity surrounded by beautiful nature, then you should add a trip to Killarney National Park to your Ireland itinerary.

It is well-known as one of the best places to get in touch with nature and the only place in the country where you can see red deer grazing in the wild.

It is also home to over 140 species of bird and if you enjoy fishing, head to the glacial Lough Leane, which is thriving with perch, salmon, and trout.

Walking through the park brings up stunning views of mountainous landscapes in the background, parks, gardens, moorlands, and waterways.

The Ring of Kerry has some of the most beautiful scenes in Europe, with Roos Castle, Stone Pillars, Gap of Dunloe, and Torc Waterfall just some of the many highlights along the route.

Shopping

If you’re planning a city break or a visit to an Irish city, then shopping needs to be on your itinerary.

Whether you enjoy traversing through the local markets or adding travel souvenirs to your collection, you’ll find everything from craft and antique fairs to modern malls.

If you love antiques, head to Dublin’s Francis Street, where you’ll find the annual Antiques and Collectables Fair held in the month of April.

Or explore the several boutique stores lining the streets in Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick, and Galway.

Which of these Irish adventures will you enjoy first?

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This story was brought to you in partnership with Firebird Tours.

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