Traveling through Europe is on many bucket lists, and if you haven’t added Ireland to yours then grab your pen.
The rolling green landscapes, pubs and incredible history will make you fall in love with the Emerald Isle. When you are traveling in Europe going to the big cities is usually a fantastic idea, but when it comes to Ireland the small cities and towns are your ticket to a beautiful vacation.
We started our trip in New York City by catching a short 6 hour flight to Dublin, Ireland. We traveled on Aer Lingus, which proved to be the most accommodating and cheapest transportation from the states. Dublin was bleak and grey after the big winter storm Emma and almost everything was closed for the first two days of our trip. Luckily, I don’t think anything could shut down the Guinness Factory and we got the chance to tour the historic building— and of course sip on a VERY fresh pint of Guinness.
After two days in Dublin ,we hit the other side of the road in a rental car and traveled to Cork. One of the best parts of traveling throughout Ireland is the scenery, renting a car and driving yourself is a must if you want the true Irish experience.
Cork was a much needed change of pace, the city is bright and colorful and a good mix between suburban and rural. Cork boasts some of the most delicious food offerings in Ireland and the opportunity to take in some history and shopping. Cork was just a stop on our way to the even smaller town of Blarney, which is home to one of the most historic castles in the world. Blarney Castle takes an entire day to visit, don’t forget to check out the poison garden, ice houses, Blarney house and of course kiss that Blarney stone. The stone is supposed to have magical properties and grant you good luck for the year, and you will be in good company as even Winston Churchill kissed the stone!
After our day on the Blarney properties we traveled straight to Killarney, which is my absolute favorite place in Ireland. Killarney is a bright city with a mall, movie theater, Lord of the Rings themed Pub and Hostel and the unbelievable Killarney National Park.
Killarney National Park is the largest National Park in Ireland and the first National Park in the country. It is home to the Muckross House, waterfalls, hiking trails, the tallest mountain in Ireland, three lakes, and the last natural herd of Irish red deer in Ireland. The National Park is enormous so we took part in a horse drawn carriage ride through the park to see the most picturesque spots, after the ride we went on a tour of the Muckross House.
The Muckross house is a Victorian Mansion (where Queen Victoria actually stayed once) that has been professionally curated and well-kept over the centuries. During the summer you can visit the gardens,farms and atrium of Muckross house which have native and tropical plants and animals. After the tour of the Muckross house head down to Killarney Riding Stables for another tour of the park along specially made horse trails. If you are lucky you might get to see all of the native animals of the national park like we did which are the, Irish red deer, red foxes, Irish hares and the famous Kerry cows.
After a few days in Killarney we drove North to the Cliffs Of Moher, which are truly indescribable. The Cliffs were covered in snow and ice but we made our way along about four miles of the trails and each step brought us closer to cliff edge. Pack your walking shoes for this adventure because to take in all of the Cliffs of Moher you will trudge through a 15 mile path—there and back. The cliffs keep you on your toes as water washes up the edge and fish and puffins play miles below the trail. When you head back to the museum grab some lunch in their café, I suggest some Guinness soup you’ve probably earned it if you traversed the entire trail!
Tired out from our stroll along the cliffs we hit the road and traveled two hours south to Limerick. While Limerick feels a lot like your average busy city there are several hidden treasures. Visit some of the historic cathedrals and watch traditional Irish dancers perform. If you have been admiring the Claddagh rings and Keltic designs throughout your trip this is your chance to grab a ring for you and your lover. Limerick is home to Silver Wood Jewelry, which creates modern and traditional versions of the famous crowned heart in hands. Dine on the river at the famous Locke Pub where the beer is cold and Irish dancers and music can be found every night after 8 p.m.
Our last stop on the fair Isle was the westernmost point and quaint beach town called Dingle. Now before you go on a wild goose chase for funny tshirts in the town, be warned they don’t quite get the humor of their city’s name. Dingle is best visited when warm because the local attractions are all on the water.
Dingle is home to a very friendly dolphin named Fungi who can be visited through the many boating companies. After you have waved hello to Fungi take the coastal tour around the Skellig Rock recently famed for appearing in Star Wars the Last Jedi. After the boat tours find a cute restaurant and indulge in some very fresh seafood and Kerry cow ice cream from Murphys Ice Cream. Once you’ve had your fill of the beautiful beaches and seafood take the scenic route back to Dublin by traveling along the wild Atlantic way, ring of Kerry or Sleagh head pass.