The Emerald Isle has always held a certain allure: Guinness, friendly locals, rolling verdant green hills, hearty food, castles, and beautiful sheer cliffs... the list goes on. Dublin is such a lively city with a rich history. Brant and I made a trip to Ireland last September and we absolutely loved it. Our ten day excursion turned into a magical adventure full of wonder, history, and fun. And while we didn't see/do everything, I have put together a list of my favorite spots. We will definitely be back and I simply cannot wait!
Visit Dublin: Most people who visit Ireland spend time in its capital city, Dublin. Dublin is synonymous with fun. Fans of Ireland’s most famous export (Guinness) will find no shortage of pubs that claim to pour the city’s best pint. The Georgian architecture makes for a beautiful backdrop which is both quaint and picturesque. Make sure to stop by the Temple Bar area for live music and perhaps the best wings you will ever eat at Elephant Castle.
Giants Causeway: Cross the border into Northern Ireland to visit the famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Giant’s Causeway. It is open daily from 9am-5pm with some extended hours depending on the month and it costs 10 EUR. And while you are there give the Bushmills Distillery a visit as well to taste one of the best whiskeys Ireland has to offer!
Cliffs of Moher: The Cliffs of Moher stretch along the Atlantic coast and reach a height of over 700 feet! The scenery is beautiful and you won't regret the long trip from Dublin! While you are there make sure to stop along the way by the incredible rocky "Burren" landscape near Galway Bay. Take a stroll or if you are feeling adventurous climb up into the limestone hillsides for the best photos of Galway Bay, Aran Islands, and Connemara. You are also not too far from Doolan Village, which is a quaint Irish town with a school, a church and several great pubs serving seafood, soups, sandwiches and hot meals, all washed down with a Guinness of course. Tip: Check out FitzPatrick's, McGann's and Gus O'Connor's. But that's not all! On your way to the cliffs you will likely experience super views of the Atantic Ocean alongside castles and monastery ruins, which are seeped in Ireland's historic past.
Howth: Below the hills, located at the northern portion of the Dublin Bay lies the small fishing village of Howth. There are so many things to do-- make sure to visit restaurants along the seafront. They will serve up the catch of the day to hungry hikers fresh off the Howth Head walk. Also check out the Howth Market which is home to an array of Irish crafts, delicate handmade jewelry, and vintage antiques. It is a perfect spot to pick up small souvenirs for family and friends!
Trinity College Library: This gorgeous library is home to remarkable treasures of Irish identity. Make sure to check out it's most famous book, an extraordinary illuminated manuscript known as the Book of Kells. Decorated with Celtic and Christian iconography.. Thought to have been created around 800 AD by Christian monks on the Isle of Iona in Scotland, it is composed of the four gospels, hand-transcribed on vellum in a script style. It is thought to be the oldest book in the world.
Powerscourt Townhouse Centre: With over 40 shops & restaurants off Grafton Street, Powerscourt Centre is a gem for those looking to find a perfect something to bring back stateside! The Centre is the ultimate shopping mecca, housed in a stunning Georgian building on South William Street, Dublin.
There you have it... a few tips to get you started as you embark on planning your trip! Trust that these tips simply scratch the surface when it comes to things to do while on vacation in Ireland! When I think back to our trip there was one moment that stands out to me. It was when our plane was about to fly out of the Dublin Airport. Right before I closed my eyes for the long flight home, I took one last glance out the window at Ireland’s rolling green hills and beautiful coastline and my heart began bursting with gratitude for how much positive change this little island had brought to my life. Now, resting my eyes, I allowed the words of this famous Irish blessing to echo through my head...
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
…until we meet again.
And yes... we will definitely meet again. Until next time.