If you have never toured Ireland you are yet to see natural beauty at its best. It is for sure one destination that will grant you a lifetime experience. The evergreen vegetation, unique rock formations, beautiful coastal strips, marvelous beaches, towering cliffs, enthralling monuments, sights you can’t get enough of.
There are many places you could go, and many things you could do on a trip to Ireland. Written with a first time visitor in mind, this guide is meant to aid you make the best out of your trip.
This guide seeks to help you appreciate certain important aspects about Ireland. Its geographical framework, major cities and what they offer, top attractions, the medieval sites (prehistoric, historic and post historic), climatic conditions and finally accommodation. This information will hopefully help you plan your trip well.
Ireland is an island off the Atlantic Ocean. It is divided into the Republic of Ireland (officially recognized as Ireland) and Northern Ireland, which is a UK territory. Ireland is about 70,000 square kilometers and has a population of approximately six million people. Republic of Ireland is divided into 26 smaller administrative units called counties while Northern Ireland has six counties.
- Dublin. The capital of Ireland. Dublin is your typical commercial hub. That’s not all. It has a lot you will find interesting as a first time visitor. Dublin Castle, Georgian Squares, the National Museum of Ireland and Dublin Zoo, among others, are places you will like.
- Belfast. Capital of Northern Ireland. It grew as an industrial town. Spots to check out in the city include: City Hall, Queen’s University, Waterfront Hall, Titanic Belfast and Ulster Museum.
- Cork. Second after Dublin in size. Unlike Dublin, it is very tranquil and peaceful. Attractive features: River Lee, Cork Opera House and Cork City Hall.
- Galway. Well known for its art and festivals. While there be on the lookout for street festivals. You can also visit the Lynch’s Castle.
- Enviably one of the most endowed towns. It is home to many medieval houses and castles: Muckross House, Ross Castle and St Mary’s Cathedral. It is also the heart of that breathtaking drive, the Ring of Kerry.
You could spend years exploring Ireland’s picturesque attractions and never finish. There is so much to see that often you are spoilt for choice. We will suggest for you attractive sites to include in your itinerary.
In Co Kerry, take the Ring of Kerry drive and enjoy the spectacular view of the Atlantic Coast. You can also tour Garanish Island and Killarney National Park.
When you get to Co Clare, you can visit the great Cliffs of Moher and enjoy the walk on the 800m pathway plus a vistas view of the amazing Atlantic coastal strip and the surrounding lush landscape. Others are the Burren, Ailwee Caves, Aran Island and the Dingle Peninsula.
In Co Antrim, tour the Glens of Antrim. The series of nine valleys over the land is a sight to behold. In Galway tour, get to Connemara. It’s a beautiful flat land with several small lakes. The Twelve Bens and the Maumturk Mountains, two mountain ranges with a valley in between are found here. Glendalough, the two valleys with a lake in between is a must visit in Co Wicklow.
Medieval and historical sites dot the country. Leap Castle, Birr Castle (Co Offaly), Muckross House (Co Kerry), Ross Castle (Co Kerry), Dublin Castle and Derryanne House (Co Kerry). Pre historic sites you can visit are Newgrange and Nowth and Dowth in Co Louth, Hill of Tara, Navan Fort, Aran Island and Grianan of Aileach.
The early historical sites include: Celtic round towers and Rock of Cashel (Co Tipperary). Historical sites that are fairly recent .i.e. 5 to 600 years past so many. The castles of iconic Irish leaders, some of which have been listed above, are good examples of such.
Climatic condition is important as it would determine visiting time. Generally, Ireland is a wet country. It rains a lot. During winter, it rains more and temperatures fall. This may hamper movement hence limit your touring experience. So it’s wise to plan to tour during summer. In case you didn’t know, summer happens in June, July and August and winter January and February.
Accommodation in Ireland in par excellence. There are many hotels, three star, four star and five star, to choose from. If you are inclined towards home stays, there are plenty. And if you desire to take it back and have a traditional setting for your accommodation, some castles offer you just that. Restaurants and eateries are littered all over so no need to carry packed food. Entertainment joints, bars and pubs are also available.