A vacation to Ireland is the perfect lead-in to traveling in Europe. You get the best of all worlds: driving a car on the opposite side of the road, taking a rail cross-country, sight-seeing at historic castles, galleries and cathedrals, and exchanging currency, all while staying on a relatively small island.
- The whole island is named Ireland, but colloquially the two separate countries are referred to as the Republic and the North (very important distinctions).
- The Republic takes the Euro and the North takes the Pound (the North is part of the United Kingdom).
A Vacation to Ireland: Road Trip!
If you like road trips Ireland is the place to do it.
Start in Dublin, a UNESCO City of Literature. Founded by Vikings, Dublin is the capital of the Republic. Dublin offers visitors the chance to take a guided tour of the Guinness Storehouse, see the Dublin Castle on the site of a Danish Viking fortress, visit Phoenix Park one of Europe’s largest enclosed city parks, and visit the National Gallery of Ireland (for free!).
Don’t leave the city without following in the footsteps of pilgrims: head over to Christ Church Cathedral with its medieval crypt. And don’t forget about Kilmainham Gaol, which closed in 1924 and is Europe’s largest unoccupied prison and now a museum.
Next, leave Dublin and take a full day drive over to the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher rise to 750 ft at their highest point and run for five miles. They give breathtaking views and on a clear day you can see the Aran Islands in Galway Bay.
Are you an avid golfer? Be sure to stay on the Wild Atlantic Coast for a few nights and book your tee times (plenty of time in advance) at Lahinch, or Doonbeg, or at Dooks. These golf courses sit on the coast and offer the best views while chasing after that little white ball!
Drop your car off in Dublin and take the train up to Belfast! If you can’t get enough of the Titanic, Belfast is home to the Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic visitor attraction. The building stands on the site where Titanic was built and features nine galleries that cover everything from Belfast’s shipbuilding heritage to the discovery of the wreck.
Next, hop on a bus to explore the city. You want to visit the Botanic Gardens, Cave Hill Country Park with walking trails and archaeological sites likes the 19th century Belfast Castle. And if you didn’t get a chance to visit Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin you want to take a paranormal tour of Crumlin Road Gaol (it is said to be one of the most haunted sites in Belfast) with a visit to the execution chamber and the flogging room.
Spend a few days exploring the Giant’s Causeway. The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, and a national nature reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. Giant’s Causeway is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland and is un-like anything else you will see on vacation!
On your final day in Belfast take a trip inland to the Dark Hedges. The Dark Hedges have become world-renowned in the past few years due to the Game of Thrones TV series. No matter which time of year you visit the naturally arranged tunnel of beech trees make for fabulous photos year-round.
Cross Ireland off of your bucket list and let’s start planning your vacation to Ireland! Contact me here to get started!