Ireland is seen around the world as an enchanting land where legend and reality intertwine. Here are 10 ways to discover the mysteries and charm of the Emerald Isle.
Discover the castles
Haunted, Gothic, majestic or imposing, the castles of Ireland radiate the romanticism of this beautiful country. The castles of Cahir, Kilkenny and Dunguaire all conjure up magical visions of damsels, brave kings and spooky dungeons. Blarney Castle in County Cork is one of the most visited in Ireland.
Famous for its Blarney Stone (legend has it that if you kiss the Blarney Stone you will receive the gift of Eternal Eloquence), visitors literally bend over backwards to plant a kiss on this mythical rock set in the wall of the castle. Amorous acrobatics aside, this 15th century castle offers breathtaking views from the top of its ramparts, dazzling gardens and mysterious subterranean caves.
Visit the Guinness warehouse
Raise a mug, or two, to Ireland’s favorite drink. The Guinness Storehouse and its St. James’s Gate brewery in Dublin welcome more than a million visitors each year to the site of their stout brewery, their famous dark beer. Brewing more than 3 million pints a day, the Guinness Storehouse invites you to take a look behind the scenes of their thirst-quenching business. Witness the brewing process, learn how to fill mugs and taste the final product.
Legendary Guinness Storehouse hospitality offers traditional Irish refreshments or meals at their four restaurants. Or treat yourself to a well-deserved pint while enjoying stunning 360 degree views of Dublin from their very cozy bar, Gravity.
Go on an adventure
Come and see the wild side of Ireland. Discover wild nature and magnificent panoramas during daring and thrilling activities. Become one with nature through surfing, sea kayaking, paragliding, rock climbing, caving, mountain biking and walking. A hike along Ireland’s green hills to the top of its windswept cliffs is highly recommended. National Geographic has declared Ireland’s walks to be the best in the world. Awaken the thrill seeker in you and discover Ireland from a unique angle.
Relive history at every turn
In a country as old and steeped in history as Ireland, visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to sites of historical interest. One such site, Brú na Bóinne in County Meath, is older than Stonehenge in England and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. This Neolithic site made up of circular sanctuaries, menhirs and burial chambers built around 3,200 BC. J.-C. is highlighted by several tombs with long corridors: Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange. Hugely popular all year round, Brú na Bóinne gets extra attention during the winter solstice. In December, a ray of sunlight breaks through a mysterious opening in the Newgrange burial mound and illuminates the burial chamber for a few brief minutes. Consequently, many tourists flock to Newgrange to greet the dawn of each solstice and an annual lottery is held to win the right to enter the tomb’s interior.
Embrace breathtaking landscapes
Pristine and beautiful, Ireland’s landscapes are second to none. West Cork, Dingle, Galway, the Ring of Kerry: the list of postcard-worthy places is endless. One such scenic site is the Rock of Cashel (also known as St. Patrick’s Rock) in County Tipperary. Dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, this formidable fortress boasts a round tower, a cathedral and a chapel containing priceless treasures of Celtic art and medieval architecture. Legend says that this is where in the 5th century St. Patrick converted King Aengus of Munster to Christianity.
Follow the festival route
Do you like to party? Ireland too. Soak up the Irish spirit and join in the collective joy all year round. From the St. Patrick’s Day Festival to the Cork Sailing Festival and the Galway Arts Festival, there are over 400 events on the agenda this year. Music, food, literature, Celtic roots, films and humour: so many reasons to celebrate and be in the mood. Unsurprisingly, the most anticipated and adored holiday is the National Day, St. Patrick’s Day. Parades, expressive costumes, street theater and a lively carnival atmosphere will leave you spellbound.
Cities often get the bad rap of being cold and soulless destinations, but not Dublin . Ireland’s capital is bursting with personality and buzzing with youth. A bustling metropolis brimming with cultural activities, fine museums, stunning architecture and bustling pubs, Dublin has something for everyone. Castles, cathedrals, galleries, parks, shops, restaurants, Dublin delivers. Get yourself a Dublin Pass and get free entry to over 30 top attractions, plus discounts for restaurants, shops, theatres, tours and transport, plus the city guidebook.
Get a taste of pub culture
If you fancy a pint, a witty conversation and a taste of authentic Irish hospitality, look no further than an Irish pub. Best-selling travel guide Lonely Planet raves about Irish pubs and for good reason. Irish pubs have a reputation for delicious lagers and creamy stouts, not to mention friendly bartenders. Several Irish pubs offer live music, traditional or modern, as well as hearty dishes, such as beef and Guinness pie. Some pubs are elevating their menus to new tastes, offering patrons fine dining to accompany their beloved pints.
Revel in Irish folklore
A visit to Ireland is incomplete without traditional Irish folklore. In a land famous for its fairies, goblins and mermaids, the mysterious Giant’s Causeway (Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site) is one of its most cherished legends. The epic tells that these remarkable stones were the work of an Irish giant, Fionn mac Cumhail (Finn McCool). He would have built the causeway to keep his feet dry as he walked towards Scotland. Locals believe the cluster of chimneys (or the organ) along the Causeway is proof that McCool lived here, while geologists believe it was a volcanic eruption, which happened 60 million years ago. , created the 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that still amaze visitors today.
Savor Irish cuisine
If you thought that Irish cuisine was based solely on its famous potato, think again. Gourmets have discovered that Ireland is an unmissable gastronomic destination. Traditional dishes like Irish stew, baking soda bread, farmhouse cheese and colcannon (kale/kale and potatoes) are still on the menu, but the new wave of Irish cuisine is all about fresh ingredients , grown locally and from the catch of the day. Wild Atlantic salmon, meaty oysters, tender scallops and poached lobster will fill you up, not to mention grilled langoustines, sole and swordfish. Ireland’s profusion of seafood is so famous (and delicious) that it has inspired, every September,the annual Galway Oyster and Seafood Festival.