5 Of Ireland’s Most Beautiful Drives

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If there is one thing my home country knows how to do, it’s a mean road trip. For a country so small, it has an incredible amount of diversity and natural beauty that could rival any other destination. While our country roads are often scarily narrow and you might even spot a few patches of grass growing here and there, they also make for some of the most beautiful drives in the world.

From the rugged cliffs of the Wild Atlantic Way and the green fields and mountains in Ireland’s Ancient East, to the beautiful beaches of County Cork, driving through Ireland is an experience you will never forget.

Personally, I think one of the most beautiful drives in Ireland is following the coast road through West Cork, stopping off at the many beautiful fishing villages and coastal towns along the way, and then heading out to any of the hundred carry isles. Then again, being Corkonian, I am bound to be a little biased.

Here’s a look at what some fellow Irish bloggers had to say when asked about their favourite drives by Chill.ie (an Irish travel insurance provider….trust me, you never want to take a road trip without the all important travel insurance!!).

1. The Military Road, County Wicklow

One of the most popular drives in Ireland, thanks to its proximity to Dublin city centre, wild and barren Wicklow is by far one of the most beautiful drives in Ireland. Stopping off at the famous Guinness Lake and the round tower at Glendalough, this drive is a perfect one dat trip from Dublin’s fair city. Swimming in the lake or hiking and mountain biking the Wicklow mountains are optional, but highly recommended for the adventurous at heart!

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2. South mayo Scenic Drive

While much of Mayo is famous for its islands and world-class surfing, there is also an undiscovered side to the county in the form of perfectly formed lakes, rolling hills and rugged mountains. Home to Ireland’s most famous mountain, Croagh Patrick, a days hiking after a long drive is sure to clear the air.

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3. Atlantic Drive, Achill Island

Chill Island has to be one of my favourite places in Ireland. A new addition to this part of Ireland is the Mayo Greenway, something I listed in my top 50 unique things to do in Ireland. The Greenway is an amazing cycle route, allowing tourists to take a break from driving and discover Ireland’s West coast on 2 wheels instead of 4. Once you make in to Achill, be sure to check out Keem Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland.

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4. The Giants Causeway to Belfast

I only did this drive myself for the first time late last year and was blown away my the beauty of the Causeway Coast. We actually took a slight detour and spent one day on Ratlin Island, famous for its Atlantic Puffins and the fact that you can see as far as Scotland on a clear day. Highlights of this drive were walking across the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge and watching the sun set at the Giants Causeway. an experience that will stay with you for years.

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5. Clonakilty to Old Head of Kinsale

This is by far one of my favourite drives in Ireland, if not the world. When a drive starts in a town as picturesque as Clonakility and ends in a town known as the gourmet capital of Ireland, you can’t really go wrong! That said, I would also suggest going a little further West to places like Schull and Baltimore to see the real beauty of West Cork.

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FlightHub’s Guide To Visiting Ireland

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For many people, Ireland represents a scenic getaway that is steeped in tradition and mystery and the experience of visiting Ireland for the first time is a treat for all the senses. As someone who is actually from here and who has explored the architecture and nature of the country from top to bottom, Ireland to me simply feels like home.

To help first time travelers to Ireland, I wanted to write a piece detailing great places for first timers to visit should they make their way to Ireland. To do this I teamed up with FlightHub, an online travel agency, to see what places they recommended for first timers in my beloved home country. As FlightHub reviews destination information in detail all the time as part of their business, I felt they could provide me with more than enough information to put together a list of some of the best places to see when visiting Ireland for the first time. Here’s what they came up with:

Brú na Bóinne

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Comprised of Neolithic mounds, chamber tombs, standing stones, henges, and other ancient structures, Brú na Bóinne predates the Egyptian pyramids and was built a degree of scientific and astronomical skill. The site itself occupies over 1900 acres and contains numerous graves and monuments. The highlight of Brú na Bóinne according to FlightHub is Newgrange, the central mound of the settlement that features an expansive burial chamber. Several of the structures were built with the stars in mind, corresponding with different solstices and equinoxes.

Cliffs Of Moher

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The Cliffs Of Moher are spectacular cliffs that sit on the Atlantic Ocean. Ranging from 390 to just over 700 feet, these cliffs are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland, receiving over 1 million visitors annually. Sitting on the cliffs is OBriens Tower, which was built during the Napoleonic Wars to serve as a lookout point. From this tower you can see much of the surrounding area including the Aran Islands and the Twelve Pins mountain range. Their natural beauty isnt limited to tourists, as these cliffs have been featured in many movies, television shows, and music videos as well according to FlightHub.

Guinness Storehouse

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Home of Irelands most famous beer, the Guinness Storehouse is a living monument to the world famous beer. Built to resemble the famous Guinness pint glass, this facility allows visitors to learn about the brewing process and the breweries founder, Arthur Guinness. Located in Dublin, the Storehouse features a seventh floor lookout that gives you a view of Irelands most famous city. The original building, which has since been modified, was built in 1902 and was the first multi-storey, steel framed building in Ireland.

Skellig Michael

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Once an ancient monastery, Skellig Michael has the look and feel of an evil lair. This island monastery sits on the larger of the two Skellig Islands and sits just offshore of the Northwest corner of Ireland. Originally built between the sixth and seventh centuries, Skellig Michael was continuously occupied until the island was abandoned sometime in the 12th century. To reach the monastery site you must first climb 600 feet to a plateau. Once there, you can see the remains of six beehive cells, two oratories, and various stone crosses and monuments. Like the Cliffs of Moher, Skellig Michael has cultural significance in film, most recently appearing in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens as the planet Ahch-To. It will also play heavily in the following films in the series according to the nerds at FlightHub.

The Burren

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Featuring a massive amount of genetic diversity and ancient artifacts, The Burren is a region in Ireland steeped in history. Housed within its 250 square kilometre radius lies over 90 megalithic tombs, portal dolmens, celtic crosses, and ring forts. Beyond the artifacts, The Burren features many plants that are native strictly to this small region. In addition, it is home to over three quarters of all of Irelands plant species. This plant life is home to a diverse ecosystem of bugs and small animals that thrive in this region due to its unique climate, which is unusually temperate. While this region is great for hiking and exploring, The Burren is also great for spirited rock climbers and spelunkers looking to explore the regions caves and cliffs.

Editors note: This post was sponsored by Flight Hub and the article is a result of shared ideas between the two of us. Let me know if there are any other great places you feel first timers should visit!

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Flighthub's Guide To Visiting Ireland

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50 Unique Things To Do in Ireland

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Whether you are from Ireland, are living here temporarily or are just visiting, here are 50 unmissable things to do in the Emerald Isle. Sure, some are popular tourist spots, but they are popular for a reason.

Others are places way off the beaten track, that only locals may know about, and might give you a more authentic taste of Ireland.

From staying in castles (check out this post about the Irish castle listed on Airbnb!) and visiting remote islands off the West coast, to night kayaking in West Cork, stargazing and searching for the Northern Lights in Northern Ireland, here are my top 50 unique things to do in Ireland.

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50. Spend a night in a castle

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With so many beautiful castles, no visit to Ireland would be complete without staying at least one night. If money is not an issue, and you want the best of the best, check yourself into Ashford Castle in County Mayo which was voted ‘Best Hotel in the World’ earlier this year. If you’re on a budget you can put on a brave face, pack your sleeping bag, and pitch your tent at any of Ireland’s abandoned castles such as Castlefreak in Co Cork…which also happens to be one of the most haunted places in Ireland.

49. Watch big wave surfers ride Mullaghmore

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Known to be one of the biggest and most powerful waves in the world, watching big wave surfers like Andrew Cotton ride into the cliffs on this monster of a wave is a sight you will never forget. Located just a few miles south of Bundoran, in Co. Donegal, Mullaghmore is a must-see on your Irish bucket list.

48. Cycle the Mayo Greenway from Westport to Achill

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The Mayo Greenway is an incredible 42km long cycling path in the West of Ireland which connects Westport on the mainland with Achill Island. It passes by many picturesque villages and mountains and will allow for breathtaking views of the coast including Clew bay and its many islands.

47.  Go night kayaking on Lough Hyne

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This is one of the most unique things to do in Ireland and is well worth the drive down to West Cork. The night kayaking sessions take place on Lough Hyne, which is a marine both a marine lake and Marine Nature Reserve, home to an enormous variety of plants and animals which are not found anywhere else in Ireland. If you are lucky, every time you move your paddle the water below you will light up with bio luminescent Plankton, an unforgettable experience.

46. Roll your car uphill on a magic road

Imagine driving down to the bottom of a hill, turning off the car  without putting the handbrake on and then watching in disbelief as your car slowly rolls back up the hill? Of course it’s just an optical illusion but an amazing one to witness. There are actually a few strange places in Ireland where you can witness that, which are detailed on this site.

45. Go whale watching in West Cork

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West Cork is a fantastic location for Whale Watching, as this photo taken by Simon Duggan shows. The best time to go is after the summer months, from September to November when you have the best chance of seeing whales and if you are very lucky you might ever see a whale breaching, something you will surely never forget. Boat trips leave from both Baltimore and Union Hall and last for around four hours.

44. Watch the sunrise over Lough Tay

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If even just for one day, get yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn and make your way down to the Wicklow Mountains. If driving from Dublin, you can make it in about 35 minutes and will be rewarded with one of the most beautiful sunrises over Lough Tay in Glendalough National park. It’s easy to do and it’s free, so this should definitely be on the top of your list of things to do in Ireland!

43. Star gazing at Blackrock Observatory

Aina Andreu from Barcelona looking at the stars during the Global star count in Orion at Blackrock Castle Observatory last Saturday as part of Earth Hour event. Pic: Miki Barlok

If you live in Cork or will be visiting during your trip to Ireland, be sure to stop by the Blackrock Observatory where you can star gaze with the experts. Located in a 16th century castle just outside Cork city, Blackrock Observatory is an attraction unique to Ireland and includes and interactive storytelling experience in the castle grounds. Open 7 days a week!

42. Pay a visit to Father Ted’s House in Clare

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For any fans of Father Ted, a visit to Father Ted’s House in County Clare is a must for your Irish Bucket List. The house is known locally as Glanquin House, and is situated in a beautiful valley with Slieve na Glasha to the north and Mullagh Mor and its National Park to the south. Open year round but you must book in advance. And don’t forget to get your classic ‘kicking Bishop Brennan up the ass’ photo.

41. Find love at the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival

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Ireland’s oldest traditional festival, The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival is certainly one of the more unique things to do in Ireland! It is also probably the longest festival in Ireland…lasting the whole month of September and includes midweek specials, dancing and a mini country music festival. You’ll meet Willie Daly, Ireland’s most famous matchmaker, and if you’re lucky you might even meet your future husband or wife!

40. Get muddy at an Irish Music Festival

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Thanks to the shocking Irish summer, and downpours at random moments throughout the day / week /year, you are almost guaranteed mud at any Irish music festival. Slane, Longitude, Oxygen or even Electric Picnic are all wash outs, at least at some stage. As the saying goes “If you can’t beat them, join them”, so be prepared to get absolutely covered in mud and slide down hills and dive into mud pits with your new muddy, drunk friends. Sounds horrible but it’s a once in a lifetime sort of experience, only to be found in rainy Ireland!

39. Wave farewell to a Cruise Ship in Cobh

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Cobh, then called Queenstown, was the last stop The Titanic made before heading off across the Atlantic. You can visit a small Titanic museum there as well as memorial statues to people who died on famine ships that also set sail from here many years ago. The picturesque town just East of Cork city still welcomes large cruise ships and the harbor is known to be one of the deepest in the world. Be sure to check out St Colman’s cathedral and the row of rainbow houses, known as The Deck of Cards, which make for great photo!

38. Drive the Healy Pass in Cork

Ireland as you always imagined it, dreamed it or saw glimpses of in the movies. The winding road that connects Cork with Kerry is known as the Healy pass and is one of the most beautiful parts of the country. It is a popular cycle route, but only if your feeling fit as there are some killer hills to test even the fittest of souls. If you take on the challenge, however, you will be rewarded with scenic views of mountains, lakes and the Beara peninsula.

37. Tell a tale at the Cape Clear Story Telling Festival

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 The Cape Clear Storytelling festival is one of the most authentically Irish events of the calendar year. It’s pretty well known, and attracts a nice crowd, but is still remote enough that it remains a tight knit community of story tellers. To get there you will have to make your way to Baltimore then take a ferry for about 45 minutes, as the festival takes place on Cape Clear island, which is 14km off the Irish mainland. This years festival takes place form the 4th to the 6th of September.

36. Walk along the Slieve League cliffs in Donegal

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To many people, Slieve League is the older, more rugged brother to the Cliffs of Moher. They are certainly less tamed, with no fences, no visitor centre and no tour guides. They are also, in my opinion, a lot more spectacular, when the weather is crap and this sea mist creeps in over the cliffs hiding the sheer drop below. They are also the highest sea cliffs in Europe and and when you get there you will see that Slieve League is more of a mountain by the sea than simply cliffs. Well worth the trek to Donegal.

35. Dress up for a day at the races

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Be in the Galway Races during the summer, Punchestown in the Spring or Leoparstown after Christmas, a day in the races is a brilliant day out for anyone living or visiting Ireland. Apart from trying your hand at betting, and hopefully winning, it also gives you a chance to put on your best suit or dress and parade around sipping Champagne, as if you’re at the Queens annual Garden Party.

34. Take a ride on Ireland’s only cable car

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Did you know that Ireland has a cable car? Just the one, but a very cool one in a very random location it must be said. The cable car on Dursey Island transports up to 6 people at a time across the Dursey sound, where you can often see dolphins jumping through the water below. It is the only cable car in Europe that transports people across open sea water – yet another reason to put it on your Irish bucket list!

33. Watch the sunset at the Baltimore Beacon

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Baltimore is one of my favourite places in Ireland and once you go there you will see why. It is unlike anywhere else, and on a sunny day, you sometimes feel like you are in another world. Watching the sunset behind Sherkin Island, Cape Clear and Schull in the background is an unforgettable site. The whole sky turns orange and the sunset is reflected in the harbour below as fishing boats and ferries back there way back to the mainland,

32. Go mountain biking in the Ballyhoura Mountains

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The Ballyhoura mountains on the Cork Limerick border are one of the best places to go mountain biking in Ireland…so good, in fact, that Kanye West brought Kim Kardashian here on their last visit to Ireland. Turns out they are semi normal people after all! The Ballyhooura Mountain Bike Trails are 92km long in total but there are trails of varying length depending on your skill and fitness level. A great day out!

31. Go kayaking with The Vikings

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Did you know the part of The Vikings TV series was filmed on location in County Wicklow, just South of Blessington? Sometimes when there you can see they in costume sailing around Blessington lake in Vikings ships! Blessington also happens to be an amazing kayaking spot, so why not head down for a day trip and rent kayaks for as little as 15 euro.

30. Jump off the pier at Salthill

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On those rare hot, sunny days in April, August and even late September, the Salthill Promenade in Galway is jam packed with keen swimmers and wannabe cliff jumpers waiting for their turn to show off their back flip skills. Even in Winter, you will find a few brave souls swimming here come rain or shine. A great Irish experience and another one for your bucket list!

29. Cycle or drive the Ring of Kerry

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The Ring of Kerry is one of the most popular, and most spectacular, drives in Ireland if not the world. Often making into onto Top Road Trip Lists by travel journalist around the world, when you drive or cycle around this intensely green, mountainous region you will quickly see why. With lakes, mountains, V shaped valleys and even the stunning Dingle Peninsula, a drive here offers a compact taste of beautiful Ireland.

28. Scream your lungs out at Tayto Park

Since opening some new rides earlier this summer, including Europe’s biggest wooden rollercoaster, Tayto Park has become a popular choice for people looking for a little fun just outside of Dublin. A full day is probably needed if you want to do as many rides as possible and get a free tour of the Tayto factory where you will be offered endless free bags of crisps to take home with you. You can either drive there or take one of the buses from Dublin, which leave in the morning and return late afternoon.

27. Devour a Tayto crisp sandwich

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A Tatyo crips sandwich is an institution in Ireland and no trip here would be complete without making one for yourself. All you need is 2 slices of bread, some butter and a packet of cheese and onion crisps. Some call it ‘survival food’, I call it heaven.

26. Watch in awe at the Cliff Diving Championships

While this competiton is not unique to Ireland, the location where it takes place in Ireland is unlike anywhere else in the world. The Red Bull Cliff Diving championships takes place on Inis Mor island, off the West Coast. Professional divers dive off the top of the cliffs, from dizzying heights, into a saltwater swimming pool below known as ‘the Serpents Lair. It will scare and excite you in equal measures.

25. Visit Fota Wildlife Park

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Ireland’s only wildlife park, Fota Wildlife Park is a very special place. Many animals such as the Kangaroos roam freely within the grounds while larger African wildlife such as Giraffes and Zebras are given such huge enclosures to wander around that they too almost look like they are roaming freely. This really is an amazing thing to do in Ireland, and everyone should go at least once. If you are looking to stay nearby, check out the magnificent Fota Island House and Spa.

26. Walk from Bray to Greystones

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If living in Dublin, or just visiting, the Bray to Greystones walks is one the things to do at the weekend or whenever you have a day off. It is a stunning coastal path along the cliffs, and follows the railway line which connects Dublin with Wicklow and Waterford. Easily accessible form Dublin by hopping on the DART at Connolly station, and a pleasant day out in both Summer and winter! Just wrap up warm!

25. Drive the Wild Atlantic Way

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The Wild Atlantic Way is without a doubt the most spectacular driving route in Ireland. It has been named the longest defined coastal driving route in the world, and stretches the whole way from Donegal in the very North to Cork in the very South. It passes some of Ireland’s most stunning beaches, surf breaks, lakes, waterfalls, mountains and tiny coastal villages. Don’t rush it though…be sure to give your self a few days or even a week to see as much of this region as possible. Ireland may be small, but thanks to our small winding roads, it takes A LOT longer to get places than you might think.

24. People Watch outside Grogans Pub 

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One of Dublin’s most authentic pubs, Grogans is an institution in Dublin. Situated on South William Street, and serving the best pints and toasties for miles, it is the perfect place to pull up a chair outside, sit back and watch as the world passes you by. This pub gets especially busy during the summer, during 12 Pubs of Christmas and often during the Dublin Web Summit when techies from around the world descend on Dublin and want s lice of Irish charm.

23. Dance to 90’s pop music in Copper Face Jacks

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Ahhh Coopers. We hate to love it and we love to hate it, but you can’y live in Dublin and not go along at least once. It’s a great old spot really, a sprawling nightclub full of Gardai and Nurses and Farmers up from the country.  It plays cheesy 90’s pop as well as Irish rebel songs, and gets the crowd dancing til the early morning. I actually know of 2 people who met their future husband and wife in Coppers, so it may not be that bad after all.

22. Swim with Fungi the Dolphin

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Fungi the Dolphin is Ireland’s favourite dolphin, and in a way our pride and joy. He lives on Dingle harbour and is one of the most friendly dolphins you will find anywhere in the world. Take a boat trip out with the locals and be treated to an acrobatics display by Fungi and his friends, just watch out as he sometimes comes VERY close and might scare the living daylights out of you! Wear your waterproofs and protect your camera from all the splashing!

21. Join a ‘Hooley Night’ at Johnnie Foxes Pub

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Johnnie Foxes pub claims to be the ‘Highest Pub in ireland’ and is a seriously fun place to spend any night of the week. open 7 days, they have live music, Irish dancing and entertainment every night, as well as delicious traditional Irish food on offer. You could spend hours just wandering around this pub up in the Dublin mountains, checking out all the old collectables and looking at photographs of all the famous people who have had a pint here, from movie stars to world Presidents,

20. Go Blo Karting in Bundoran

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While Bundoran is known as the surfing capital of Ireland, it also has a wide range of other adventure activities on offer from coasteering to kayaking, SUPing to Blo Karting on the beach. Blo Karting is a very unique adventure sport, involving sitting in a beach buggy with a sail and flying down the wide open beaches of Donegal. Try it out at the TurfnSurf hostel and surf school where you spend the night and wake up to a lovely breakfast overlooking the ocean.

19. Ride a jaunting car through Killarney

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Killarney National Park is one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions, but it is also loved by locals. It is such a beautiful place to spend the dat,whether doing a tour of Muckross House, a boat trip on the lake or hiking to Torc waterfall. One fun way to get around is by taking a Jaunting Car with the locals who are sure to entertain with their funny stories and folklore.

18. Sip on a pint at Reidys Sweet shop 

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Also found in beautiful Killarney, Reidys Sweet shop and bar is certainly not for tourists, but you would be welcome should you come across it. The bar looks lime an old-fashioned grocery and sweet shop from the front,, but if you walk through the shop to the back rooms (which looks kind of like someones private living room) you will find a small bar with locals sitting on high stools or on a bench sipping on pints or cans of beer from the fridge. A unique experience!

17. Photograph the Puffins on Skellig Michael

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If you can go here at the right time of year, in time to catch the Puffins at their best, and on a gloriously sunny day, the experience you will have is one you will remember forever. Skellig Michael is a rocky island outcrop, a few miles off the coast of Kerry. It is very remote, which makes it difficult to get there and stops most people from ever trying. It is home to a 6th century monastery and was home to some very devout monks for 1000’s of years. It is totally unique to Ireland, and is one of the most incredible things to do on your trip to Ireland.

16. Watch the sunset at the Cliffs of Moher

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The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most photographed pieces of land in Ireland and once you arrive here you will soon understand why. On a clear day you can see for miles, while on a misty day you make the long trip here and may see nothing. That’s all part of the charm, the wickedness of nature and the ever-changing Irish weather. If you do make it here, try and stick around for the sunset, it is one of the most beautiful sights in Ireland and is honestly a photographers dream. Just be careful not to get too near the edge!

15. Scoff a bag of Fish and chips in Howth

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Howth is an easy day trip from Dublin, less than 30 minutes on the DART, and is home to Dublin’s best fish and chip shop, Beshoffs. Do the Howth cliff walk which has spectacular views of Dublin bay and over to Dun Laoghaire, then finish up back in Howth village and treat yourself to a fish and chips and maybe an ice-cream. A perfect day out that won’t break the bank.

14. Visit the wild deer in Phoenix Park

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Did you know Phoenix Park is the biggest city park in Europe? So big, in fact, that it is home to Dublin Zoo, a cafe / tea shop, the house of the President and 100’s of wild deer which roam freely throughout the park. You can get real close to them, and they are best photographed at dawn or at sunset.

13. Spend an afternoon at Powerscourt Estate

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Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow, is another beautiful place to visit that is easily accessible from Dublin. If you are not driving, there is an open top tour bus that stops here throughout the day. Featuring expansive gardens, water features, beautiful pathways, a walled garden and two championship golf courses, Powerscourt is known to be home to the most beautiful gardens in Ireland and one of the most exclusive hotels in the country.

12. Explore the food haven that is the English Market

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The English Market in Cork is one of a kind. Selling locally made produce from fish, to poultry to fruit and veg and Flynns famous sausages, a trip here is a treat for the senses. When the Queen visited Ireland a few years back, she even took a small detour into the English Market to chat to the local producers. There is also a lovely cafe called Farmgate, which is one of the best places to eat lunch in Cork city.

11. Take part in the 12 Pubs of Christmas 

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If you are living in Ireland, or you will be visiting in December, you would be forgiven for becoming overwhelmed by the amount of large drunken groups walking around wearing crappy Christmas Jumpers. It’s a tradition that must be nearly a decade old at this stage, and involves groups of friends getting together before Christmas to do the ’12 Pubs of Christmas’, a festive themed pub crawl involving costumes, rules and way too many drinks.

10. Swim at the Forty Foot

Another Irish festive tradition is the Christmas Day swim. While not unique to Ireland, it is growing in popularity each year and hundreds if not thousands of people can be seen jumping off piers and rocks or running into the cold water on beaches around Ireland every Christmas day. The best place to join the crowd is at the Forty Foot, a popular Dublin bathing spot just South of Dun Laoghaire.

9. Watch a Hurling match at Croke Park

17 August 2014; James Barry, Tipperary, smashes the hurl of Paudie O'Sullivan, Cork. GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final, Cork v Tipperary. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Tomas Greally / SPORTSFILE

Hurling is the fastest ball sport in the world is very unique to Ireland. If you get the chance, scoring s ticket to al All-Ireland final in Croke Park is the most exciting, enthralling and uniquely Irish experience you will have throughout your entire stay. Just be careful which team you decide to support!

8. Join a live music session in Doolin

Doolin in County Clare is the best place in Ireland to watch traditional Irish music sessions. Unlike Temple Bar, where they simply play for the tourists, these music sessions are very real and the music you hear will be miles different from any live music you listen to in Dublin. Just head along to any of the village pubs and feel free to bring your own instrument or just clap and sing along.

7. Watch a Rugby match at Thomond Park

Heineken Cup 8/12/2013 Munster vs Perpignan The Munster team take to the field Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Besides our National sports of Hurling and Football, Rugby is the sport us Irish are most proud of. For such a small nation, we have an incredible National Rugby team and on a smaller level 4 amazing teams that re[resent each of Ireland’s four provinces. The Munster supporters, the Red Army, are known to be some of the loudest, most excitable, loyal and fun to be around which makes watching a match in their home stadium Thomond Park and unforgettable Irish experience. (The fact I myself am from Munster has had no influence on this article what-so-ever. Ahem.)

6. Climb Croagh Patrick

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One of the most rewarding things to do in Ireland is to climb any of our tallest peaks. One such mountain, Croagh Patrick, named after our Patron Saint, allows for spectacular views over Clew Bay in County Mayo and out over Clare Island. You can either join the annual pilgrimage up the mountain on the last Sunday in July, or go at your own pace any other time of the year. Be warned that conditions can change quickly and it is no easy climb, with loose shale and rocks making the last few hundred meters quite the challenge.

5. Get lost in Connemara

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Connemara in County Galway is one of the most beautiful regions of Ireland. It is also quite special as it is one of the last remaining Gealtacht (Irish speaking) areas of Ireland.Spend a day drive through here and you will be rewarded with lakes that reflect the surrounding countryside like a mirror, small seaside villages, deserted beaches and harbours and the remote Maam Valley. This is one the most unspoiled regions in all of Europe.

4. Soak in a seaweed bath in Strandhill

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Nothing helps you recover faster from a tough days surfing, hiking or sight seeing that soaking in a hot bath full of freshly harvested seaweed. Your skin and hair will feel unbelievably soft and you will leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. I loved the Voya Seaweed Baths on my last visit to Strandhill and would totally recommend their one hour Seaweed bath and steam room package.

3. Go SUPing on Lake Isle, Innisfree

Want to get back to nature? Try hopping on a Stand Up Paddle Board with SUPFORALL and slowly paddling your way around Lake Isle in County Sligo, also known as the ‘Adventure Capital of Ireland’. So confident are they here that they can teach you how to SUP (and not fall into the lake!), that you can leave your clothes on and paddle out onto the lake without having to put on a horrible wetsuit! Kids, adults and even dogs are welcome here year round for one of the best outdoor experiences in Ireland.

2. Treat yourself to Teddy’s in Dun Laoghaire

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Some people might wonder why ‘having an ice-cream’ can be classified as ‘something to do in Ireland’ but when you head out to Teddy’s in Dun Laoghaire, you’ll realise what makes it so special. Join the ever-long queue, then spend an hour strolling around the pier and watching both small sailing boats and larger cruise lines heading our across the harbour. The perfect way to spend an afternoon.

1. Catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights

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Keeping the best for last. Over the past few years, something quite incredible has started happening in Ireland. Photographers have started to capture the Northern Lights dancing in the sky in the Northern parts of the country. There is even a website called Donegal Skies, which has a breathtaking collection of photos taken by Astrophotographer Brendan Alexander of the Northern lighting up the Irish sky. For updates on when the Aurora will next be visible, sign up to Astronomy Ireland.

 

Want to follow my adventures around Ireland and the rest of the world? Follow me on snapchat!

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Wild Atlantic Way Road Trip

West Coast Road Trip 3

Last weekend was amazing. Not only did I get to go on an epic road trip to one of the most beautiful areas of Ireland (and the world!) I also for to do it with an incredible group of people, many of whom are now my friends.

For those of you you don’t know, I have been setting up an adventure travel community in my spare time called ‘The Adventure Pack’. We mainly organize trips away, such as surfing trips to Donegal or kayaking trips to Wicklow, through Facebook, but we also have a Meetup group and our own website. Our small group has grown to close to 1,000 members in 3 short months which is pretty awesome. Our aim is to get people out and active and to see more of Ireland, something I myself am pretty passionate about.

For this particular adventure we hired a bus and headed to Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, the ‘longest defined coastal driving route in the world’. Or so they say. Obviously as we only had 2 days, there was no way we would be covering the entire West coast so we just picked two counties, Sligo and Mayo, and that was long enough!

On Saturday we headed to Mullaghmore to see search for ‘Ireland’s biggest wave’ but thanks to a calm day not a single wave, or surfer, could be seen. We spent some time on Sreedagh stand then headed to Strandhill for some surfing.

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Anne-Laure - West Coast Road Trip (1)

West Coast Road Trip 1

We were greeted by Michael, the owner of SurfNStay, who was nothing short of amazing for the duration of our stay. What a gentleman! (When he heard some of our group was hungry he even offered to drive to the local shop to buy them some rolls!)

While most of the group headed out surfing, 6 of us decided to take the more relaxing option and opted for the Voya Seeweed Baths. I have never had a seaweed bath before but will most definitely be recommending it. It was like soaking in a bath full of Aloe Vera – so good in fact a will be dedicating a whole separate post to that particular experience!

West Coast Road Trip 2

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West Coast Road Trip 5

In the evening we had a great sing-song in the hostel thanks to Silas bringing his guitar and Bianca’s amazing musical talent. We even did a very long, and probably very bad, rendition of ‘The Rattlin Bog’, a popular Irish drinking song!

On Sunday our brilliant driver Ally arrived and set off along the coast road stopping off at Easky beach in Sligo which is popular surfing spot. We didn’t spend too long here, but just enough to snap a few fun jumping photos and to check out the surfers doing their thing!

West Coast Road Trip 3

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After our fun in the sun we took the long winding road to Downpatrick Head, near the village of Ballycastle, in Co. Mayo. After an hours drive and a short walk across some fields, and past two MASSIVE blow holes we came across Dun Briste Sea stack (meaning The Broken Fort in English), which was nothing short of spectacular. The sea stack itself became detached form the mainland over 600 years ago and in all that time only a small handful of people have ever stepped foot on the stack.

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Dorottya - West Coast Road Trip

Janet - West Coast Road Trip

We spent a bit too much time on the bus trying to get out to Achill Island, only to be given cloudy weather and low lying mist! That’s the thing with Irish road trips though, you gotta take what you’re given.

Sun or no sun, 3 of us still went swimming and we all admitted it was one of the most stunning beaches we have ever had the pleasure to swim at. The beach was called Keem and it was in a bay totally surrounding my dominating cliffs and mountains. It was unbelievabley beautiful and I will most definitely be back!

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Bianca & Janet - West Coast Road Trip (1)

Bianca - West Coast Road

Here are some photos from our trip, some taken by me and most taken by our awesome photographer Cian Doherty Thanks Cian!

 

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Ireland’s Top Travel Bloggers

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Apart from actually travelling, and writing about my adventures. one of my favourite things to do is to follow the exploits of other travel bloggers around the world. I have seen endless lists of ‘Top Travel Bloggers’ over the last few years written by both Irish and international print publications, and am always baffled why us Irish bloggers are always left out.

I guess there aren’t really a lot of travel bloggers that actually live in Ireland. While I know we like to jet off at any chance we get, I still think there is a huge gap in the market for great Irish travel bloggers. While there is now an annual Irish Blogger Conference and an annual Irish Beauty Blogger Awards,  there are no real opportunities to promote and highlight some of Ireland’s best travel writers. Until now.

I present to you, my list of 14 of Ireland’s top travel bloggers. These are people that will fill you with wanderlust, have you searching for flights abroad (or searching for staycations in Ireland) and will give you that bit of travel inspiration you are looking for.

14. Niall Doherty 

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Niall Doherty has every right to be top of this list of top travel bloggers. Doherty set off from Ireland on September 30, 2011 on a three and half-year trip around the world…without flying! He successfully completed this insane challenge  on May 16, 2015 having visited 37 countries along the way, crossing the Pacific Ocean on a cargo ship, and writing a book! He wrote and vlogged his way around the world so you can check out all his crazy adventure here.

Facebook: Disruping The Rabblement

YouTube: Disrupting The Rabblement

13. Fluent in 3 Months

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Benny Lewis, the ‘Irish Polyglot’ is the man behind ‘Fluent in 3 Months’ While the purpose of his site is mainly language learning, it came about after he consistently moved countries and continents every 3 months to prove to other that it’s possible be become fairly proficient in a totally new language and new culture in just 3 months. Benny is a full-time globe trotter, best-selling author, conference speaker and travel blogger. Oh, and he is fluent in no fewer than SEVEN languages.

Twitter: IrishPolyglot

Facebook: Fluent in 3 Months

YouTube: Fluent in 3 Months

12. Squidgy Moments

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Kathleen O Rourke is the lady behind Squidgy Moments, which is an award winning beauty and lifestyle blog. While she mainly writes about fashion, beauty and her adventures in weight loss, she is also an excellent travel writer. Her photographs from her travels would give anyone wanderlust and I love the way she helps you pack for your holiday listing beach essentials. The real bonus is her Travel Vlogs, which not only really capture the atmosphere of her vacation perfectly, but are also really well edited.

Twitter: SquidgeMundo

Facebook: Squidgy Moments 

11. Next Stop Who Knows 

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6 continents, 38 countries and over 706 days on the road, blogging couple Carlo and Florence must be two of Ireland’s most well-traveled bloggers! The pair left Ireland in 2013 with a one way ticket to Thailand and a plan to build an online business while travelling the world…and haven’t looked back since! Their site is a mixture of brilliant hotel, tour and gadget reviews, interviews with other travel bloggers, tales from their worldly adventures and detailed reports on how to make an income from exotic locations!

Twitter: nxtstopwhoknows

Facebook: Next Stop Who Knows

Instagram: Nxtstopwhoknows

10. THE GAP YEAR GURU

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 Jess Glynn, ‘The Gap Year Guru’, is one of the youngest people on this list. She runs The Gap Year Guru site with her Brazilian boyfriend Arua, and they are doing an incredible job with their newly revamped site. Jess also does Vlogs on her YouTube channel here and runs a very popular Instagram account here. While there has been an evident lack of posts lately, I have high aspirations for this traveling couple and believe the site is only going to get better and better. Watch this space. 

Twitter: TheGapYearGuru

Facebook: The Gay Year Guru

Instagram: Gap Year Guru

9. The Daily Self

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Nadia El Ferdaoussi is the writer behind ‘The Daily Self’, a mixture between food, beauty and travel. Nadia’s travel and beauty writing has been published in many Irish national newspapers and magazine and it’s not hard to see why. She takes photos that are sure to create wanderlust for any reader, with some particularly great shots taken with her GoPro Hero4 camera on a recent sailing trip to Turkey! She writes excellent packing lists for all her trips and I think her blog would be an excellent -go-to- site for your next beach vacay!

Twitter: nadia_dailyself

Instagram: nadia_dailyself

8. The Whole World Is A Playground

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 David and Elaine McArdle are the travelling couple behind ‘The Whole World is A Playground’, who have penchant for nice hotels and exotic locations. While most bloggers concentrate on budget travel and backpacking, these guys write about the high end stuff; flights, airport lunges, posh hotels and where to find the world’s best cocktail bars. This blog is such a great resource for anyone planning a trip to the world’s biggest cities like Hong Kong, New York, Kuala Lumpar or Dubai.

Twitter: thewholeworldis

Facebook: The Whole World Is A Playground

Instagram: The Whole World is A Playground

7Steven Sheehy

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Steven Sheehy is on this list for a number of reasons. First off, he is an incredible photographer and his aerial photography equipment (and photographs) are unreal. He is also, however, a fantastic travel blogger and has blogged about Ireland, New York, Dubai, Japan and many more exotic destinations. He also gives great tips for taking photos in Rio De Janeiro or snapping Christmas lights or beautiful winter scenes. One to watch!

Twitter: steveosheehy

Facebook: Steven Sheehy Photography

Instagram: Stevie_stagram

6. Vibrant Ireland 

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 Susan Fitzgerald is the woman behind ‘Vibrant Ireland’, an excellent travel blog dedicated mainly to travel within Ireland but also with a section about overseas travel to some great destinations in Europe. Let’s get back to Ireland though, because that is where this blog is in a class of it’s own. This blog is probably one the best sites to find informaion about your holiday in this lovely green isle, with posts aboout food, events, things to do, where to go and even gardens and plants of Ireland. Susan really is a wealth of information and writes beautifully. Her Instagram is also full of beautiful images and would make anyone want to book a flight to Ireland in seconds.

Twitter: VibrantIreland

Facebook: Vibrant Ireland

Instagram: Susan_VibrantIreland

5. Eat Like a Girl 

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Niamh Shields is probably one of the most well known bloggers on this list, although admiteddly for her writings about food rather than travel. Niamh’s blog, ‘Eat Like a Girl’ has made it on to every Top Blogger list in the UK over the last 5 years, and was even named as one of Britain’s 500 Most Influential People according to The Sunday Times. While I love her food blog, I think it’s the fact that she has essentially been eating her way around the world that I love so much more! With over 30 countries under her belt, including cruises in the Carribean, cooking with grandmothers in Italy, tasting coconut curry in Granada and experiencing shots of Sake in Japan, this girl sure knows how to give the rest if us a major case of itchy feet.

Twitter: eatlikeagirl

Facebook: Eat Like a Girl

4. Tuisligh

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Tuisligh, (an Irish word meaning ‘to trip up’) is a site written by Claire Ni Chanainn, a Cork lady who has been travelling the world for many years as a teacher and a volunteer. She tells some truly wonderful tales of her adventures in India (she has been over 6 times!) and also writes about lesser known destinations such as Kosovo and Bosnia. She also has great tips for people wanting to volunteer overseas and, in my opinion, seems like an excellent example of an ethical traveller. While the posts do seem a bit…out of order, it’s a great site none-the-less.

Twitter: Claire Ni Chanainn

3. Eat Sleep Chic

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Stephanie Buckley from Eat Sleep Chic, gives readers a great mix of fashion, beauty and travel posts. From family trips to Lanzarote and cruises in the Caribbean to tours around Ireland on board a tourist bus, Stephanie certainly offers a great variety of travel posts. She writes regular posts on ‘Things To Do in Ireland’ making her blog an excellent read for anyone planning a tri here but she also gives great trip reviews such as her guide to backpacking in Brazil, so the site is also great for us Irish in the planning stage of our next big backpacking trip. I especially loved her Game Of thrones post, be sure to check it out here.

Twitter: eatsleepchic

Facebook: eatsleepchic

2. The Travel Expert

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Sarah Slattery, ‘The Travel Expert’, has worked as a travel agent for over 24 years, and has travelled all over the world both as a solo traveller and with her husband and children. Sarah writes about a range of topics from top child-family holiday destinations, tips on when is the best time to book package holidays, tips for booking online as well as excellent destination guides. She also keeps her readers up to date with exclusive travel deals that she has found on a regular basis. A great site if you are planning your next package holiday or or just feeling a little wanderlust and want to get some travel ideas.

Twitter: TravelExpert

Facebook: The Travel Expert

1. The Life Of Stuff

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 Last, but certainly not least, is Edwina Elizabeth who writes a great series of travel posts on her site ‘The Life Of Stuff’. I especially love Edwina’s ‘Five Fabulous Reasons To Visit…’ series which details great reasons to visit various destinations from as close as Ireland and as far as India. Most of her posts are about various places in Ireland and this is by no means a bad thing. Her posts are so full of colour, and are accompanied by such great photographs, that reading them makes me want to explore my home country more and more. I mean, how could you NOT want to sail down the River Shannon after reading this post?!

Twitter: DLifeofStuff

Instagram: The Life of Stuff

Facebook: The Life of Stuff

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