The Cliffs of Moher
Probably the most iconic landmark in Ireland, I would be surprised if the Cliffs wasn’t on anyone’s must-do list for their adventures in Ireland. The Cliffs of Moher are on the west coast of Ireland and are a dramatic 8.7 miles long (14 km) and 509 ft (155 m) drop to the icy Atlantic Ocean below. There are two different paths you can take on the Cliffs and you will see people on both – a fenced off path and a path beyond the fence that people hop to go right up to edge. Both times I went to the Cliffs I walked on the path beyond the fence on the edge of the Cliffs and they are safe if you are (basically, don’t be that person hanging off the edge or taking unsafe selfies for the gram. Have fun but be safe and responsible because it is dangerous.)
As far as major cities go, Dublin is rather small for a big city making it easy to see almost all of it in a short amount of time. There is so much to do and the city is very accessible by either car or public transportation. If you are on a budget, the Dublin Bus is the way to go from the moment you step off the plane. The Luis is a faster form of transportation in city, but a bit pricier than the buses. And you can always hail a taxi if you are in a rush (there is no Uber or Lyft in Ireland). Another budget friendly option to see as much of the city as possible is one of the free walking tours the city offers or the “Yellow Bus” bus tour that is usually 10 euros in the summer versus other bus tours that range from 20-30 euros per person. Some of the top attractions in the city worth visiting are Molly Malone’s Statue, Ha’Penney Bridge, Guinness Factory Tour and/or Jameson Factory Tour, or Temple Bar.
The third largest city in Ireland and one of my favorites. The city is full of life, pubs, and music making it a highlight for college students – after all, it is known as the college city in Ireland and has the youngest population living in the city. In Galway you can learn the origin story of the Claddagh ring, do walking tours of the city, or pub crawls at night. From Galway, it is an easy day trip to either the Cliffs of Moher or the Aran Islands.
Staying in the west of Ireland where the grass is greener, Connemara is a must if you are seeking that true Irish experience of sheep running wild - or in front of your vehicle while you are driving. Out in Connemara you will find Kylemore Abbey, bogs and mountains, and a coastline full of coves and tiny fishing villages. It is a perfect nature getaway into the heart of Ireland and away from touristy cities.
About a thirty-minute bus ride outside of Cork, is the coastal town of Cobh (it is Irish, so it is pronounced live Cove. The BH in Ireland makes a v-sound, as I learned the hard way). Formally known as Queenstown, Cobh was the last destination for the Titanic on April 11, 1912 before it’s fateful departure for sea. 123 passengers boarded in Cobh and only 44 survived. The town original dock that the passengers used to board small boats to ride out to the Titanic is still standing and is right in front of the Titanic Museum in Cobh. The town is a must visit for any Titanic or history enthusiast, but is an also just a beautiful, small coastal Irish city to visit and get away from larger crowds like in Galway, Cork, and Dublin.
I decided to group all of the destinations in Northern Ireland together and count it as one “destination” because whether you decided to do it on your own or with tour companies, you could do all of the major highlights in a weekend. I initially did not know much about Northern Ireland before going there, but found myself constantly going back because the countryside was beyond beautiful. In the north, Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede are a must for any Ireland tour – and so much so I did them twice. Giant’s Causeway is a crazy formation of hexagon columns formed by a volcanic eruption a LONG time ago. AT Carrrick-a-Rede you hike for about fifteen minutes on a coastal trail out to this massive rope bridge that you can cross to get a better view of Scotland that is about 98 feet high (or 30 meters). Some other top destinations in Northern Ireland that should not be missed are Gracehill House (The Dark Hedges for Game of Thrones Fans), Bushmills and Dunluce Castle, Belfast, and especially the Titanic Museum in Belfast.
Blarney is another iconic and charming place is Ireland. The Blarney Castle is famous for none other than the Blarney Stone and its great myth of the gift of the gab if you kiss the stone. Of course, the family decided the stone was a prized possession and built it into the structure of the roof of the castle in 1446, where it has remained ever since. You can hike up the twisted staircases and tour the medievalrooms to the top (it is a narrow hike so if you get claustrophobic be warned it is very, very tight) and then hang upside down, holding on to a metal bar while a very encouraging staff member holds your legs and you kiss the Blarney Stone.
There are tons of other amazing and noteworthy places in Ireland like Wicklow, Rock of Cashel, Cork, Adare, Dingle, Killarney National Park, Aran Islands, Malahide & Howth, and so many other postcard perfect places.
xx, A Traveler's Bliss | Grace Anne
(hey - hey you. click the bliss above... do it.)