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Travel the rugged coasts and quaint villages of Ireland

By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor Profile
The charm of the Emerald Isle is inescapable. From its deepest, rain-battered, wind-torn wilderness to the cosy interiors of its finest public houses, Ireland is infinitely poetic.

Travel guide

A land of enchanting wilderness, wild emerald lakes and captivating history, it would be no exaggeration to say that Ireland has something to offer everyone. Discover its myths and legends, coastal delights, chat with the ever friendly locals and let this country forever take a place in your heart. Travel from picturesque coastlines to buzzing, vibrant and culturally rich cities.

Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry, which runs across the Iveragh Peninsula, is considered by many as one of Ireland's most awe-inspiring circuits. The 179km road offers travellers some of Ireland's finest landscapes as well as a breathtaking array of storm-beaten coast, steep cliffs, emerald fields, silver glacial lakes, medieval ruins and charming villages. If you chose to take the car, then the Ring of Kerry can easily be experienced as a day trip. However we would recommend stretching out your exploration of the route for a bit longer. Cycling is an excellent way to see all of the remarkable sites that line the entire route. For the more adventurous, the Ring of Kerry can be tackled as a hike, although this usually takes around 5 days and is not the best option for inexperienced ramblers.

The Rock

The Rock of Cashel, also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick's Rock, is one of Ireland's most spectacular archaeological sites. The aforementioned "Rock" is a distinct green hill that is banded with limestone offshoots. Rock of Cashel rises from a grassy field on the edge of town and is dotted with ancient fortifications (the word "cashel" is an anglicised version of the Irish word caiseal, which means "fortress"). According to legend the Rock originated in a mountain 30km north of Cashel where St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave, which resulted in the Rock's landing in Cashel. It is also believed to be the site where St. Patrick converted the King of Munster in the 5 century. Today visitors to this site will see sturdy walls which circle an enclosure that contains a complete round tower, a 13 century Gothic cathedral as well as the finest 12th-century Romanesque chapel in Ireland.

Cliffs

Over the course of history, the Atlantic Ocean has defined carefully Ireland's coast, creating a one of a kind shoreline of caves, cliffs and stunning scenery. In fact two of the country's most famous natural sights can be found on its shores. The first are the Cliffs of Moher, rising up 203m in to the sky the completely vertical cliffs will take your breath away, and we aren't even talking about the view! The due-west exposure of the cliffs make sunset the best time to visit. The second are the cliffs of Slieve League, at 600m they are not only higher than the Cliffs of Moher but are also the highest in Europe. As this spot gets a lot less public attention than the Cliffs of Moher, it is far less crowded here, so do not let the fear of crowded tourist buses deter you for a second.

Trinity College

Founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592, Trinity College is Ireland's most prestigious university. Over the years the university has kept up its status by producing some truly remarkable graduates including Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and Samuel Becket. A visit to Trinity College is an excellent way to escape the hustle and bustle of contemporary Dublin, even if just for a couple of hours. And believe us you will not be disappointed, not only is it Dublin's most attractive historic real estate, but it's also home to one of the world's most famous books - Book of Kells. You can wonder the university's grounds for free on your own, although we suggest taking one of the student-led tours which start at the College Green entrance several times a day.

Our Editorial team's advice

Green landscapes, captivating history, the gaiety of the locals and the bracing air of Ireland instantly call out to any traveller. The extremely well preserved Gaelic culture and ancient monuments have an almost magical quality that transports you back through time to the age of St. Patrick.

When visiting Ireland don't try and see the whole country in one trip, instead focus on one or two regions. Ireland can be divided roughly in to four regions: Dublin and the East, the West, the South and, well, the North. For all the history and culture lovers Dublin cannot be missed! Between Trinity College, The Irish History Museum, theatre, shopping, Newgrange passage tombs, and the Boine valley you will struggle to find a minute of free time. The West of the country offers wild landscape dotted with archeological wonders. Here you will find the Burren with the ancient Poulnabrone dolmen as well as the hills and bogs of Connemara and literary trails of such greats as W. B. Yeats.

Visit the South if you wish to experience beautiful coastlines, castles, formal gardens, and Ireland's second largest city - Cork, as well as the medieval city of Wexford, and Kinsale which is renowned for its gourmet restaurants.

The North has the hills of Donegal and the wonderful counties of Northern Ireland. However be advised that Northern Ireland is a completely different country. If you do travel across the border you will find - Fermanagh with its scenic lakes and megalithic monuments, Belfast - a historic, vibrant city, Derry - the only completely walled city in Western Europe, the oldest continually operational distillery in the world - Bushmills, as well as the home of St. Patrick - Armagh.

pros

  • +The wild and well-preserved nature offers truly spectacular scenery.
  • +Sports, festivals, nature: Irish tourism comes in many shapes and forms.

cons

  • -The humidity can make exploration a bit difficult

Traditions

In Ireland the pub takes on a much less derogatory form, this is a place not only for drinking, but for meetings, social gatherings and celebrations. Even the tiniest of villages will have its own pub which the local residents would make as personalized as they would their own homes. If you find yourself in a small village pub do not expect to have a quiet drink and ponder the mysteries of life all on your lonesome, the Irish are extremely welcoming, talkative and affable people, so even if you enter the pub alone you will most likely leave with at least half a dozen new friends.

While it would be hard to find a person who does not know what March 17 is, celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Ireland is incomparable to anywhere else. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland who evangelized Ireland in the fifth century (and drove out the snakes). Few countries celebrate their national holiday with as much vigour as the Irish do. During St. Patrick's the streets of Ireland become filled with street shows, parades and the sounds of songs and dance (even more so than regularly). Even the smallest rural village will go all out for the celebration, however if you find yourself in Ireland on this memorable day we strongly recommend you see the parade in Dublin.

Food

It would be too great of an exaggeration to say that traditional Irish cuisine can collectively be described as hearty: virtually all traditional meals involve meat (especially lamb and pork), potatoes, and cabbage. The long cooking times of meals further adds to their comforting powers. Modern Irish cuisine emphasizes fresh local ingredients, simply prepared and presented, and utilizes influences from many countries across the world. If you are in the mood to try something local and feel all your worries be replaced by a comforting feeling of light drowsiness be sure to try Boxty (potato pancakes), or Champ (mashed potatoes with spring onions and a common accompaniment to meat dishes). For the main course there is of course the world famous Irish stew, made with lamb (or mutton) as well as potatoes, onions, parsley and carrots this hearty meal is a perfect end to a day of cultural exploration. If you find yourself in Dublin and wishing to deviate from the traditional Irish stew, be sure to try Coddle (a stew of potatoes, pork sausages and bacon).

Be aware that as a general rule food is expensive in Ireland. The cheapest option for eating out is either fast food or pubs. However do not be discouraged since many pubs offer a carvery lunch consisting of roasted meat, vegetables and potatoes, for excellent value. However if a vegetarian be advised the selection of vegetarian meals can be quite limited, especially in smaller towns. The town Kinsale near Cork has become internationally famous for its many excellent restaurants, especially fish restaurants. In the northwest of the country Donegal Town is fast becoming the seafood capital of Ireland.

Ideal Weather Search

Find weekly weather forecasts for Ireland . Different criteria make it possible to predict with precision the best time of year to go to Ireland . A comprehensive weather score, made up of temperature indicators, bad weather predictions, sunshine levels and wind speeds, will allow you to choose the activities best suited to the weather conditions and therefore make the most of your holiday in Ireland .

April

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Souvenirs

Apart from sampling - and most likely returning with - some of Irelands famous whiskey, why not check out the clothes shops, selling extremely high quality knitwear, including jumpers, scarves, hats, and just about anything else you could think of.

What to see

The plains of the Shannon River, The prairies and Centre lakes., Landscapes, Dublin, Ireland
The prairies and Centre lakes.
The rivers of Connemara, Connemara, Landscapes, Galway, Ireland
Connemara
The Donegal mountains, Ireland, The Donegal mountains., Landscapes, Ireland
The Donegal mountains.
The Kerry Mountains, The red sandstone mountains., Landscapes, Ireland
The red sandstone mountains.
The granite mountains of Wicklow, Ireland, The granitic mountains of Wicklow, Landscapes, Dublin, Ireland
The granitic mountains of Wicklow
The limestone hills of Burren, The Burren limestone desert., Landscapes, Ireland
The Burren limestone desert.
The fjords and cliffs of the west coast , The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland , Ireland
The fjords and cliffs of the west coast
The archipelagos of the Atlantic coast. , The archipelagos of the Atlantic coast , Ireland
The archipelagos of the Atlantic coast.
The beaches of the South coast. , The beaches of the south coast, Ireland , Ireland
The beaches of the South coast.
The ports of the east coast , Eastern Ireland , Ireland
The ports of the east coast
Plant wildlife , The flora in Ireland , Ireland
Plant wildlife
Birds , The puffin, the bird of the Irish cliffs. , Ireland
Birds
Ponies , Irish ponies , Ireland
Ponies
Sheep , Ireland, the sheep , Ireland
Sheep
Peat, The Gaeltachts, Arts and culture, Ireland
The Gaeltachts
Ireland : Explore
The plains of the Shannon River, The prairies and Centre lakes., Landscapes, Dublin, Ireland
The prairies and Centre lakes.
The rivers of Connemara, Connemara, Landscapes, Galway, Ireland
Connemara
The Donegal mountains, Ireland, The Donegal mountains., Landscapes, Ireland
The Donegal mountains.
The Kerry Mountains, The red sandstone mountains., Landscapes, Ireland
The red sandstone mountains.
The granite mountains of Wicklow, Ireland, The granitic mountains of Wicklow, Landscapes, Dublin, Ireland
The granitic mountains of Wicklow
The limestone hills of Burren, The Burren limestone desert., Landscapes, Ireland
The Burren limestone desert.
The fjords and cliffs of the west coast , The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland , Ireland
The fjords and cliffs of the west coast
The archipelagos of the Atlantic coast. , The archipelagos of the Atlantic coast , Ireland
The archipelagos of the Atlantic coast.
The beaches of the South coast. , The beaches of the south coast, Ireland , Ireland
The beaches of the South coast.
The ports of the east coast , Eastern Ireland , Ireland
The ports of the east coast
Plant wildlife , The flora in Ireland , Ireland
Plant wildlife
Birds , The puffin, the bird of the Irish cliffs. , Ireland
Birds
Ponies , Irish ponies , Ireland
Ponies
Sheep , Ireland, the sheep , Ireland
Sheep
Peat, The Gaeltachts, Arts and culture, Ireland
The Gaeltachts