Ireland Travel Guide | Attractions & The Best Things To Do In Ireland

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Ah the Emerald Isle, my home. It is safe to say for a such a little country has so much character, charm and things to do. For so long I never appreciated it, I was stuck in my little Dublin bubble not even looking around to appreciate my own city never mind the rest of the country.

After my J1 I really started to look around me and see more of the country, I would spend my weekends and sometimes weekdays when I didn't go to college (sorry mom lol) doing all the touristy things this country had to offer. I had realised that millions of tourists come to Ireland every year and see more of the country that I ever have. I found that unless I made the effort to get up and out, the weeks just go by and you realise you haven't left the city! We talk so much about travelling but never appreciate the country we are in. Wether you're a soon to be tourist to Ireland or you've lived in Longford your whole life, get driving and get stuck into the best of Ireland.

After that ramble and rant, lets talk about the attractions:

Spike Island, Cork.

Hands down one of the most interesting experiences I've had touring the country. Who knew Ireland had it's own Alcatraz? Not nearly as famous but the same concept. Yep, we have our very own former prison off the coast of Cork. You can book a tour online and head over to the island to experience the former prison and got an insight into life for them and the families of the staff who worked there. Wander around the cells and various blocks where thousands of prisoners once lived and worked. Tickets start at €20 for adults but they do discounted rates for students, groups and senior citizens! As well as that, there are art exhibitions, discover the gun park and see the gorgeous Cork Harbour as you sail over. The ferry departs from Cobh, a gorgeous little seaside town with so much history as it was the last port of call of the Titanic before it set sail on the Atlantic Ocean. For more information about Cobh and Spike Island, see the links below.

Book Tickets for Spike Island
Visit Cobh

Loftus Hall, Wexford.

Another little random spot that you may not have heard of or thought about. Loftus Hall is Ireland's most haunted house which serves one of the most entertaining tours that I've done, seriously, the staff are great! This house has a few tours available, we did the regular one during the day but they have a night tour for over 18's which I'd LOVE to go back and do. Basically, it's an old mansion in the middle of nowhere but the tour made the experience exceptional. Basic tickets start at €12, a bargain if you ask me! They explain the history of the home and paranormal things that have happened. It's a hidden gem that deserves more recognition!
Address: Loftus Hall, Hook Head, New Ross, Co. Wexford.
Loftus Hall Website
After Dark Experience

Black Cab Tour, Belfast.

A broad name for several companies who will drive you around the history filled city of Belfast showing you the murals and telling stories of the troubles. Being born in the 1990s, it's fascinating hearing our own tour guide relay stories of the fighting between the Catholics and the Protestants which started in the late 1960's. We booked our tour with Taxi Tours Belfast who were superb! Tickets start at £40 per person, pretty reasonable for a 90 minute private tour around the city. Prices are reduced if there are more than two people and they can also accommodate large groups. Make sure to put it on your list if you're heading to the city.
Book Tickets Here

Bray to Greystones Walk

If you're on a budget and looking for something to fill up a sunny weekend afternoon, put on your waking shoes and hit the cliff walk from Bray to Greystones. The walk one way is 7km and sports gorgeous views of the cliffs and east coast Ireland. Be prepared, it's not a nice smooth path as I once thought! You're probably thinking, DUH Michelle (my bad haha). Bring your walking shoes, get some fresh sea air and treat yourself in one of the quaint Greystones cafe's when you reach the end. You can either walk back, or catch the DART which runs the whole way back along the walk. If you get a nice day, you'll be blown away by the views and definitely get your steps in! We parked at the free car park at Raheen Park, which knocks about a kilometre off the trail but a hidden gem nonetheless!
More Information
Cark Park Address: Raheen Park, Newtown, Bray, Co. Wicklow.

Dun Laoighre

Yes, the little south county Dublin town. Easily accessible by DART, the town has the loveliest atmosphere, restaurants and my guilty pleasure, the ice cream shop Scrumdiddly's (which has more locations but this one will always be the winner in my eyes lol). Admittedly, I'm a little biased. It is my favourite place in Dublin mainly because it calms me, I find more clarity in my thoughts there and again, Scrumdiddly's is there (can you tell I'm a big fan?)! There are Christmas markets over the holidays to enjoy, the 'Fourty Foot' to jump off and enjoy during the summer and Killiney Hill nearby to walk up if you want some exercise.

Blarney Castle & Gardens

During my time in the US if I could count the amount of Americans who told me that they had kissed the Blarney Stone I'd be here all day. If you're from Ireland, have you done it too? The Blarney Castle and Gardens, located in Blarney, Co. Cork is a lovely day out and not too far from Cork City itself. The gardens are lovely for a stroll and the castle boasts lovely countryside views, the experience being well worth the €16 (and even less if you're a student or a senior). Legend goes, if you kiss the Blarney Stone you'll gain the gift of eloquence so what's not to lose? If nothing else you can say yes, you have in fact kissed the stone when asked by an inquisitive tourist who has too!
Book Tickets Here

Jameson Distillery Midleton, Co. Cork.

If you're looking for beautiful buildings, an interesting insight to whiskey and the best Jameson & ginger you've ever tried then the distillery is for you. Admittedly, I haven't been to the one in Dublin (shock horror I know) so I can't comment on it, but I'm sure it is a great alternative. The production of your typical Saturday night drink never really passed my mind until experiencing the tour and hearing about the history of the brand. Nowhere near the scale of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin (a great thing to do too on a rainy afternoon), the laid back tour is a must if you're in Cork.
Address: The Old Distillery, Distillers Walk, Midleton, Co. Cork
Book Tickets Here

I hope you enjoyed my top picks of Ireland, I truly do. I hope it encourages you to get up and out on your days off and enjoy the places around us rather than giving out to no end about where we live. This is just my experience and by no means am I finished exploring. I need to hit the midlands and the west in particular, but all in good time ay? I'll be sure to update this when I do! Let me know your favourite Irish attractions in the comments below & make sure to follow me on Instagram for updates as I'm moving to Australia next week (ahh).


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