While the actual island of Ireland (located off the western coast of the United Kingdom) is quite small, it packs an extra-large “to do” list when it comes to sights, activities and culture. Here are a few of our clients’ favorite things to experience when in this charming land:
Cliffs of Moher – This is one of the country’s most awe-inspiring, beautiful destinations. These sea cliffs are located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Claire. We recommend getting away from the crowds and hiking the Doolin to Cliffs of Moher trail and see this amazing region from a new perspective.
Dingle Peninsula – The peninsula is on Ireland’s southwest Atlantic coast and is ringed by sandy beaches and craggy cliffs. Exploring the area makes for a great day trip from anywhere in the southwest (Kilarney, Kerry, etc.). Be sure to visit Inch Beach. If you’re an active traveler, consider renting bikes for your explorations.
Skellig Michael – The Skellig Rocks, Skellig Michael (also known as Great Skellig) and Little Skellig, are towering sea crags rising from the Atlantic Ocean about seven miles west of the Ivereagh Peninsula in County Kerry. Skellig Michael is one of Ireland’s most important sites for breeding seabirds both in terms of size of colonies and diversity of species. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll recognize this beautiful location as Jedi Master Luke Skywalker’s hideaway planet.
Castles and more Castles – You could spend your entire time in Ireland just touring castles. Some of our favorites are those with less visitors such as Glenveagh, Ballynahinch, Rock of Cashel and Dunseverick. Be sure to spend at least one night in a castle for your accommodations.
Croagh Patrick – This “holy mountain” of Ireland is renowned for its Patrician Pilgrimage in honor of Saint Patrick, Ireland's patron saint. It was on the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick fasted for 40 days in 441 AD and the custom has been faithfully handed down from generation to generation. The hike to the top typically takes two hours (and 1-1/2 to descend). It rises 2,500 feet above sea level.
Aran Islands – These rocky isles are a 45-minute ferry ride from Rossaveel (near Galway) and are known for numerous ancient sites. The three different islands have their own distinct character with various flora and fauna. Rent bikes and explore on your own if you make your way out there.
Galway’s Music Scene – If you enjoy live music, this is a scene worth experiencing. Walk down Shop Street for great pubs, restaurants, boutiques and street music.
Dublin – Days could be spent exploring the country’s most popular city. The Kilmainham Gaol is a must for history buffs as it’s one of the most important Irish monuments of the modern period as it relates to the struggle for Irish indepen-dence. Trinity College is a snapshot of beautiful architecture and history, as well as home to the Book of Kells.
Outside of the “must sees” of Ireland, our team at Pique Travel has many hidden gems to share with our travelers. Whether it’s a boutique hotel on the streets of Dublin, a unique hiking trail away from the crowds or a memorable guide to lead you through some of the historic sites on the island, customizing an itinerary allows us to plan an experience specific to you. Want to talk about how you can best explore Ireland? Email Kris Nosworthy at KrisN@PiqueTravel.com.
Watch this video to see more amazing things to visit and experience in Ireland.