Ireland’s rolling green hills and medieval castles may get most of the attention, but the country’s rich history and spectacular destinations make for an amazing itinerary no matter what cities you visit.
Dublin is a favorite for its mix of old and new — be sure to visit the Guinness Storehouse. It’s a fun, relaxed way to get a feel of a country that puts its heart and soul into having a great time. Tip one back, make new friends, and take in the view. The panorama from the top floor is breathtaking. Grafton Street is a hub for café culture, street performers, and getting a real taste of Ireland’s spirit. Once you’ve had your fill of the sights and sounds, explore the buzzy area around Trinity College and visit the Killarney National Park and Lakes region, which blends verdant hills and the Emerald Isle’s famed Ross Castle.
The Rock of Cashel, the country’s most popular historic site, is a favorite among the royals and commoners, and features a tower that dates back to the 12th century. Near Cork, you’ll find the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle. Come to kiss the rock, stay to explore the area’s gardens, mills, English Market, and annual Gourmet Festival. Going off the beaten path is easy and natural wonders seem to be around every corner. Giant’s Causeway, the Aran Islands, and Galway Bay aren’t just postcard-ready, they’ll earn you bragging rights when they show up on your feed.
The legendary stone, which is said to grant anyone who kisses it good luck, is at Blarney Castle, located 5 mi / 8 km northwest from Cork. Trains leave for Cork on a regular basis and a car ride from Dublin is about three hours long.
Plan ahead and purchase a Skip the Line ticket online. This way, there's no delay to see the seven-story tall Guinness pint glass or the panoramic views at the Gravity Bar. Of course, you'll still have access to the entire experience, including the samples and the pouring lessons.
Ireland has varied climate that lends itself to various experiences. Rain occurs regularly, but the most popular months for visiting are March to May and September to November. The winter can be cold, but has its own draw, such as holiday markets.
Dublin Airport is the country's main hub, but there are additional airports that are also popular with travelers coming from Europe, including Belfast International Airport and Cork Airport.
There's a vast network of trains in Ireland overseen by the Irish Rail. Schedules are posted online and run from major cities. Driving is a great way to see the rolling hills, too, though cars drive on the left-hand side of the street. Be prepared to adjust if it's not something you're used to.