With its wild rugged landscapes, ancient castles, thriving cities, fantastic myths and legends, and unforgettable people, Ireland is a destination with something for everyone. If you’re still in the planning stages of your trip to Ireland here are a few tips to help you out.
The best way to enjoy everything Ireland has to offer is to travel slowly, so don’t try to cram everything into a short trip. Plan to spend at least 2 weeks exploring Ireland’s many delights instead of rushing from one location to the next without leaving enough time to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
If you can’t fit everything in during the time you’ve got, either plan to return to Ireland in the future or be very selective about the places you choose to visit. It’s better to cross some places off your itinerary instead of trying to take part in a whirlwind tour.
Seasoned travellers advise that for the best experience in Ireland, you should really allow one week for each quadrant.
Choose Your Dates Carefully
Ireland is a very popular tourist destination, especially during the peak months of July and August when many of the top attractions will be crowded, and the best accommodations booked solid.
While it’s true that these 2 months usually have the mildest weather and the longest hours of daylight (approx. 18 hours), traveling in June, September and early October still affords plenty of daylight and good weather. Planning your trip during these months lets you avoid the crowds and gives you a better chance of securing your preferred places to stay.
One month that you may want to avoid is March, when St Patrick’s Day celebrations are in full swing, although if you love a big party then it could be the perfect time to go!
Push the Boat Out on Your Accommodation
One of the best things about vacationing in Ireland is the wide range of fantastic accommodation on offer. You can book a room in 5 star hotels, or settle in to cosy family run inns, rent cottages or farmhouses, or to make your trip truly special you can stay in palatial manor houses and castles.
As you plan your itinerary around Ireland, seek out unique places to spend a few nights, like Crom Castle in County Fermanagh, Clonalis House in County Roscommon, home to the last High Kings of Ireland, and Dungiven Castle in County Londonderry, seat of the O’Cahan Clan.
Visit Ireland’s Famous Giants Causeway
No trip to Ireland would be complete without a visit to the awe inspiring Giants Causeway. Located on Northern Ireland’s Antrim Coast, the causeway is made of 40,000 basalt columns which rise up from the ocean. Geologists claim that the mighty hexagonal columns formed as a result of volcanic eruptions some 60 million years ago, but the more pleasing folklore gives us the myth of the giant Finn McCool hurling rocks into the sea to build a bridge to Scotland.
The Antrim Coast is one of the prettiest spots in Ireland, and the most relaxing way to take in the scenery is to let someone else do the driving with a guided tour. Allen’s Tours run daily and take you from Belfast, following the picturesque coast all the way to the Causeway, taking in Glenarm Castle, Carnlough Harbour, Ballycastle, and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge (cross if you dare) along the way.
A lovely stop on the tour is Carrickfergus Castle where you can wander around the 12th century walls and ramparts before continuing on with your journey. Game of Thrones fans will be excited to learn that the tour also visits the Larrybane Quarry which was the site of Renly Baratheon’s camp in season two.
Even if you visit at the height of summer, dress for cool weather as it can be very windy at the Causeway. If you wear several layers you can always take your jacket and sweater off if it’s too warm.
Sensible footwear is a must for your visit as the ground is very steep and uneven in places and you’ll have plenty of walking to do as you explore the rugged site.
While access to the Causeway is free all year round, you can pay a small fee to enter the visitor centre run by the National Trust, where you can learn from interactive exhibits and pick up a guided audio tour to help you make the most of your visit.
No matter the season or the length of your stay in Ireland, you’ll find a warm welcome and wide range of adventures waiting for you. If you can, plan to spend several weeks on your vacation so you can enjoy everything that this beautiful part of the world has to offer.