Since I’ve managed travel all around Ireland in the 8 month I’ve been living there, I though I would share a bit of the amazing places I’ve been to. I’ve been travelling by car, doing 3 days road-trips every time. It’s amazing how much of Ireland you can actually discover in 3 days, it’s such a small country, yet so interesting.
I’ve decided to organize the locations in a clockwise direction rather than in the order I’ve seen them, which is a bit messy 😉
I haven’t sorted out all my pictures properly yet, so I’ll add some later.
Well, I’m currently living in Dublin, yet I don’t have much to say about it but avoid Temple Bar! What, do you think I’m crazy?
If you think so, that means you haven’t been to temple bar yet, or haven’t tried any other location in Dublin. If you go to temple bar, you’ll notice that there is nigh to no Irishman there. And that’s for a reason, it’s only meant for tourist, and it’s crazy expensive. Sure, there is nice very well know live music everywhere, but you’ll soon notice that it’s only songs very well known abroad!
If you’re reading this post, I’m assuming that you want to visit the real Ireland, and not only the tourist stuff. So please, do me a favor and look around! You’d be amazed at some of the discoveries you might make. I won’t reveal my favorite place on my blog, for fear of it becoming too touristic. But I will tell you that: if you manage to find the place, and get over your fear to ring the shady doorbell, you won’t ever regret it!
If you’re looking for a more traditional kind of music, Cobblestone is usually nice, with good live music.
Other than that, I can only advise to walk around the city. The center is quite small, so it’s easy to see all the main parts of Dublin in a day.
Very close to Dublin, yet very beautiful! The most well known place in Wicklow is Glendalough, which is really nice for a quiet walk around a lake surrounded by nice Cliffs, with turf, woods… Very nice spot, very quiet in the winter, but last time I went close to Wicklow it already looked packed with tourist cars. So be warned, in the summer it might get a bit crowded 😉
There are obviously a lot of other nice spots if you feel adventurous!
Waterford has become quite a ghost city, with nobody in the streets, and looking literally dead. This is probably due to the crazy unemployment rate 22% higher than anywhere else in Ireland (and it’s not about to improve with the expected closure of the Guinness factory there!).
It’s still quite nice, but I wouldn’t stay for long there.
Wexford is more lively, very close to the sea. It’s quite nice, but obviously very small and without much to do in it 😉
I don’t see what all the fuss about Cork is about. When you’re abroad, and you mention Cork, people seem to think it’s really cool and everything. I’ve only been there three days, so my opinion of it might be a bit biased.
From what I’ve seen, Cork is quite big, yet not a lot of it is interesting. You can walk around the city, but you probably won’t find anything spectacular about it.
The English Market is quite nice, but then it’s not that useful to go to a market when you’re travelling, is it?
At night time, it gets a lot more animated, with some nice pubs, pints of Beamish and Murphy’s (which in case you don’t know are beer brewed in Cork). There are some big fancy night club if that’s what you’re into, but don’t expect me to go there ever again!
We stayed at the Sheila’s hotel. The beds are set up very close to one another, as if they were trying to play Tetris with the rooms. And overall, it’s not that clean. It’s still all right for a couple of nights, but don’t expect luxury 😉
- Around Cork, you have one kissing the blarney stone. It is a stone withing a tower in the country side that is rumored to give you the gift of eloqueance. The park surrounding the tower is quite nice.
- There is also the very famous Jameson’s Factory, producing wiskey for millions.
However, the visit of the factory is nothing but a deception. It feels like a huge propaganda on how awesome Jameson is, on how Irish monks did discover whiskey before the scottish.
They keep on insisting showing you videos that are nothing but propaganda!
And on top of it all, you don’t even get to really see much about the production of whiskey, but a mere emptied factory, with a couple of stuff left in place just for the sake of having something to show.
The distillation room is quite impressive, but not worth the price of the visit!
- The jail is quite nice as well. However, the guided tour we had was deplorable! Our guide lamely failed to answer every single simple history question we asked him, and it was obvious that it was merely a poorly learnt script.
Very nice local town, with a couple of pubs. We only stayed there for a couple of hours, so I can’t say much about it.
We stayed at the Railway Hostel, which is overall quite nice. Very affordable, with breakfast, a small parking in front of the place (only 6 cars), and a huge parking not 500 meters from it.
Ring of Kerry
I only did drive around the ring of Kerry. While some of the spots were very nice (Lady View!), most of the road doesn’t offer a proper view on the ring.
If you plan on going there, you’d much rather take your time, on hike within the huge national park. It will be much more rewarding, and you can always drive around the ring to go to your next destination 😉
Cliffs of Moher
Well, this is a must stop for anyone wishing to visit Ireland! Just pray to whatever god you believe in that the weather is nice, otherwise you’re in for knowing how wet you can get! And that’s without talking about the wind!
But if you’re lucky enough to enjoy a sunny day, it’s absolutely stunning!
Now we’re talking! This is one of the most beautiful and typical places in Ireland!
We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it at sunset, it is absolutely stunning with all its lakes, mountains…
If you want to catch a glimpse of what Ireland really is about, sheeps on the roads, broken roads, nice landscape, Irish-speaking farmers… This is probably the place to go to!
- Kylemore Abbey: Very nice abbey deep in the middle of Connemara. Just for the road leading there, it’s definitely worth it!
- Killarey Harbour is the unique « fjord » of Ireland. It is quite nice, but that’s not because of the Fjord itself, which is quite small that I’m mentioning this, but more because of the magnificent road that leads away from it!
Once in Killarney Harbour, take the R335 towards Westport, you won’t regret it, trust me. Here are a couple of pictures along the way 😉
This, along with Connemara is one of my favorite spots of Ireland! You get beautiful Cliffs, large beaches, and to top it all, a magnificient 360° view of the whole Island. Don’t worry, it’s not a real island, there is a small bridge so that you can drive to it 😉
It’s really beautiful, and you could even spend the afternoon to the beach 😉
And most inhabitants there speak Irish, and some of them won’t even speak to you in English!
The surroundings of Sligo are worth a shot, especially when it’s snowing!
Could be worth the walk up the mountain, don’t you think? I haven’t had time to check it out, but one thing is for sure: you can’t go there by car!
And here are a couple of pictures taken on the way from Drumshanbo to Sligo
Now we’re talking again! Glenveagh national park is absolutely stunning, especially just after snow! Yes it does snow quite a bit in Northern Ireland after all!
Well, it’s not worth talking about it, have a look!
It’s well worth going to Glenveagh Castle, mostly for the view. The castle itself isn’t really worth mentioning.
Well, we’re getting more into the history of Ireland, with traces of the IRA all over the place.
One of the most noteworthy points is obviously the murals. It is very interesting, especially if one of your best friends is studying Irish History. For the others, there is always the option of admiring the artwork 😉
If you’re interested in the history behind the paintings, your best bet is probably to take a « Black cab tour ». The taxi drivers are quite knowledgeable on the subject.
Belfast is a really nice place to feel all the tension between the Catholics and the Protestants. If you are visiting the center of the city, you probably won’t feel it.
You should try going to the wall painting neighborhood, where catholic and protestants both live very close to each other, yet were the separation is still very much there! If you go there, mind your car, kids would break it at the first occasion they get (it nearly happened to me, and I left for like 10 minutes!).
On the way back from Belfast to Dublin, it’s always nice to go through the Mourne Mountains.
It can get quite tricky to find the road up there, there is only a small number of roads going there. You can find a main one around Kilkeel, going up to the lakes, which is really nice 😉
Some other towns on the way to Dublin
Then, there is some other small towns on the way back to Dublin (Dundalk, Drogheda…), where you’ll find a cathedral (or even more than one), a castle. It’s quite nice, but not worth spending a lot of time there.
Hope this is helpful/gives you ideas of where to go and what to do.
I will improve it later, adding more pictures and a more comprehensive description to some of the places. This is merely a travel draft of the most relevant places that I have been to.