Are you starting to plan your summer staycation? While we can’t jet off to far-flung destinations this year, there are still plenty of gorgeous places to explore closer to home.
Ireland might be a small place, but thankfully, we have the most stunning sights and incredible landscapes right on our doorstep. From fascinating culture and history to natural wonders and vibrant cities, this little island has it all.
So, to whet your appetite, we’ve rounded up eight wonderful places that you should consider visiting this year.
The Aran Islands, Galway
There are three islands that make up The Aran Islands - Inis Mór, Inis Meain and Inis Oirr. Each of them is wonderfully unique and well worth a visit.
If you’re short on time, take a day trip from Galway to Inis Mór, the biggest of The Aran Islands and visit Dun Aengus fort. Perched on a jagged cliffside overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it’s one of many prehistoric sites on the west coast of Ireland.
Ring of Kerry experience, Kerry
If you’re looking for a scenic road trip, then look no further. The Ring of Kerry is a 179km long coastal route around the Iveragh Peninsula in southwest Kerry. The route takes about three and a half hours to drive without stopping. However, it’s better to take your time and spend a full day exploring this gorgeous area.
Along the way you’ll see mountains, coastlines, lakes and charming villages. Don’t forget to visit the world-famous Skellig Michael, which was used as a filming location for Star Wars movies in 2015 and 2017.
The Giant’s Causeway, Antrim
The Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO Heritage site and the perfect place to spend a day exploring. This amazing attraction is home to around 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns that descend gently into the sea.
Legend has it, Finn McCool, an Irish giant, created the causeway in order to get to Scotland so he could fight against his enemy Benandonner. However, you can learn more about how this natural phenomenon was actually formed at the excellent Giant’s Causeway visitor centre.
Croagh Patrick, Mayo
Locals call it The Reek, but many know Croagh Patrick as the ‘Holiest Mountain’ in Ireland. Each year on the last Sunday in July, thousands of devotees from all around the world visit the mountain for what is known as Reek Sunday, a day of worship in honour of Saint Patrick.
Croagh Patrick is situated five miles from the beautiful town of Westport and the mountain’s conical shape soars majestically above the surrounding countryside above the villages of Murrisk and Lecanvey.
Cobh is a wonderful harbour town and one of the top places to see in Cork. This small town has a big history as it was the last port of call for the Titanic. 123 passengers boarded in Cobh and you can learn about their stories at the Titanic Experience. There you will find out what happened when they left Ireland on the ‘unsinkable ship’.
For a photo opportunity, visit the Deck of Cards, a row of colourful houses built in the 1850s on a hill with St Colman’s Cathedral in the background.
Cliffs of Moher, Clare
If you want to explore some of the Wild Atlantic Way this summer then make sure that you visit the jaw-dropping Cliffs of Moher, one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Ireland.
The best way to explore this scenic area is to try the Doolin Cliff Walk. The walk takes approximately three hours along a gravel path and finishes at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre. From there you can get public transport back into Doolin and enjoy a pint at one of the many local gastro pubs.
Galway City, Galway
Galway was voted the friendliest city in Europe in the Condé Nast Traveler 2020 survey and it’s not hard to see why. The City of Tribes is known as Ireland’s cultural heart as it’s one of the best places to experience traditional Irish music.
Highlights of Galway include the medieval Spanish Arch, the Latin Quarter and Salthill promenade. We recommend getting an ice cream while taking a stroll and watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.
Blarney Castle, Cork
Another highlight of Cork or the Rebel City is the iconic Blarney Castle, where you will find the Blarney Stone. According to legend, if you kiss the stone you’ll be rewarded with the gift of the gab!
If smooching rocks isn’t your thing, there are 60 acres of land surrounding the medieval castle and you can also explore its beautiful gardens too. It really is the perfect place for a family day out.
Experience Ireland with Travel Department and discover this remarkable island on a guided tour. Plus, up until May 31, 2021 any new bookings made can be changed for free or you can swap your deposit for a voucher that has no expiry date. Book with confidence - flexibility guaranteed.