Known as the Emerald Isle, Ireland is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, friendly locals, and wealth of attractions to explore. Partiers looking for the craic head straight for the bright lights of Dublin, whilst those looking for something a little more sedate head for the smaller towns and villages that dot the lush green island.
Ireland spans just 84,000 kilometres, with a coastline that spans just under 3,200 kilometres and is renowned for its unspoilt countryside and picturesque landscape. The rolling hills and crashing waves make the country a popular destintion for adventure sports enthusiasts, whilst the legendary Irish hospitality and, of course – the Guinness, ensure that sociable types return here time and time again. It is not for nothing that virtually every city in the world boasts an ‘Irish Pub’ – the friendly atmosphere, good, traditional food and warm welcome of the real thing is a key part of what makes any trip to Ireland so special.
Whilst a warm welcome can always be found in the country’s small, rustic towns and villages, many travellers head here to enjoy the bright lights of the capital, Dublin. An increasingly popular destination for hen and stag weekends, Dublin comes alive with a young, lively crowd at night, and offers plenty by way of daytime attractions as well.
Guinness lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to take a tour of the factory where the famous drink is made! Those of a more cultural nature will not find themselves short of options – the National Museum of Ireland can be visited in Dublin, and there is a wealth of museums in the city – celebrating everything from literature and arts to the history of transport.
The nightlife scene in Dublin is famously lively, and there is a good, centrally located youth hostel offering a low cost base for those wishing to party on a budget. Countless bars and nightclubs line the streets of the city centre, and the city’s dining scene caters for every taste – from simple, hearty traditional Irish cuisine to sophisticated French, Japanese and Italian restauarants, alongside the usual pizza, burger and sandwich joints. The attractive city centre offers excellent shopping and people watching potential – spare a few minutes to check out the buskers that line O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main thorougfare and one of Europe’s widest streets.
Away from the capital, the pace of life in Ireland slows down dramatically, perfect for Cycling. Verdant green fields and rolling hills are dotted with historic castles and ruins, waterfalls and tiny villages. The beautiful scenery makes Ireland a favourite destination for golfers, with the country considered to offer some of the world’s best courses. Some of Ireland’s most celebrated golf courses include those st Ballybunion, Portmarnock and Royal County Down, whilst newcomers such as Mount Juliet, The K Club, and The Old Head of Kinsale already developing excellent reputations amongst the golfing world.
Of course, the weather has a part to play in the enjoyment of any round of golf, so it’s best not to head here during the coldest months of the year if you don’t want your playing hampered by frozen fingers! Even during the summer dry, warm weather is far from guaranteed – so pack a rain mac to prepare for any weather eventuality!
Other popular outdoor activities in Ireland include cycling, horseriding, pony trekking and mountain biking, and the clean waters make watersports a favourite amongst active types. The miles and miles of unspoilt coastline, along with inland lakes and rivers, make sailing, waterskiing and windsurfing key activities in Ireland.
The small size of Ireland means that the Emerald Isle is easy to explore by rail or road, and taking a cycling tour across the island is a great way to see the beautiful countryside that makes Ireland such an enchanting destination. Popular destinations for holidays in Ireland include Galway, Cork, Kilkenny, Donegal and the Dingle Peninsula, all of which offer unrivalled natural beauty, fascinating historical landmarks and a warm Irish welcome. Visitors arrving in Ireland can do so by air or sea, with a wealth of ferry ports along the coast, and plenty of budget flights to Dublin from UK airports.
Holidaymakers are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding somewhere to stay in Ireland – there are countless campsites, usually very family friendly, good youth hostels, wonderful self-catered stone cottages, welcoming B&Bs and hotels to suit all budgets. It’s even possible to stay in an ancient castle, as many of these historic buildings are now privately owned and function as guest houses and hotels.