WRITTEN BY HEIDI SIEFKAS
With its friendly people and ever-verdant landscape, Ireland rarely disappoints its visitors. From rugged coastlines and castles to Wicklow Mountains and quaint farms, Ireland inspires with its authentic beauty and simplicity. Take a quick trip around the land of saints and scholars with these highlights and travel tips. The Emerald Isle of Ireland awaits.
Stream cascading down into Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains.
Riverboats at sunset.
A flock of sheep is a common sighting in Ireland’s vast and verdant pastures.
The country’s capital of Dublin—nicknamed “The Fair City,” from the popular Irish tune “Molly Malone”—is a perfect starting point for any trip. Rich in Celtic and Viking history, the fodder for many literary stars, and home to a vibrant pub life, Dublin deserves a multiday visit just to scratch the surface of its attractions. Although the world-famous Guinness Storehouse may be the most popular destination in town, don’t stop there. Check out the Library of Trinity College to see the Book of Kells from 800 A.D. Another draw for history buffs? Dublin Castle, erected on a Viking settlement in the thirteenth century. No visit to Dublin is complete without sampling one (or several) pubs with savory food, drinks, and Irish folk (trad) music. For a good taste of local pub life, head to Temple Bar, an area in Central Dublin on the South side of the River Liffey. After a meal of Irish stew or fish and chips, a stroll just might be in order. Choose to walk along either side of the Liffey to the Ha’penny Bridge, which is ideal for all manner of shutterbugs.
Known as the Dubliners’ weekend getaway area, the Wicklow Mountains are an outdoor lover’s cup of tea. Less than twenty miles from Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains National Park has a unique combination of historical significance and natural masterpieces. Glendalough (or Gleann Da Loch, meaning two lakes) is a beautiful valley with numerous walking trails, two lakes, and a sixth-century monastery. There are plenty of places to stay the night in the area from quaint bed-and-breakfast inns to hotels and resorts.
Galway is a coastal town in Western Ireland with a vibrant culinary and arts scene. From Dublin, you can arrive by car, train, or bus in about two-and-a-half-hours. If you are lucky enough to arrive during one of Galway’s many festivals—ranging from film and arts to oysters and more—go ahead and join the party. But no need to schedule your trip around events; you’d be hard-pressed to find a time when there isn’t some craic (fun) going on in Galway’s nightlife. With one of the liveliest pub scenes in all of Ireland, do what Galwegians do: head to Shop or High Street for a pint or two and some live trad music. Plus, Galway is an ideal hub for unforgettable daytrips to some of the most glorious of allnatural Irish highlights: the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and the Aran Islands.
Satisfy your wanderlust by visiting the magical Emerald Isle. Combine your sightseeing adventures with tasty refueling spots. Sample some of best of fish and chips, oysters, stews, and soda bread. Wash down your culinary selections with a pint of Maddens cider or Guinness. But, before you do, it is wise to toast in the Irish way. Sláinte—Cheers to your health!
When to Go:
June to September are the warmest and most popular months. April and October are in Ireland’s shoulder season, which means fewer tourists, but more chance of rain and chilly temperatures.
How to Get There:
From North America, you’ll find numerous nonstop flights. Many domestic air carriers, as well as Aer Lingus, fly to Ireland.
What to Bring:
Passport, raingear, umbrella, and good walking shoes
What to Eat:
Fish and chips: beer-battered fresh cod or haddock, with French fries
Irish stew: traditionally with mutton, potatoes, carrots, and onions
Soda bread: traditional dense, yet soft bread (each family restaurant has a different recipe and most have been passed down for generations)
Colcannon and champ: mashed potato dishes
Oysters: fresh from the sea
What to Drink:
Guinness, Maddens Mellow Cider, Irish Whiskey (Tullamore Dew, Jameson, and Teeling)
Sláinte: health or cheers
Dublin’s streets remind visitors of its rich history.
Trinity College, home to the Book of Kells, is a must-see in Dublin.
A rainbow at the majestic Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.
Photography by liseykina/iStock/Getty Images Plus, Obencem/iStock/Getty Images Plus, MediaProduction/iStock/Getty Images Plus, Alan Currie/iStock/Getty Images Plus, nata_zhekova/iStock/Getty Images Plus, Brittany Graham/iStock/Getty Images Plus.