IRELAND Ultimate Travel Guide 2024 | All Towns & Attractions

IRELAND Ultimate Travel Guide 2024 | All Towns & Attractions

There’s no doubt about it: Ireland‘s Wild Atlantic Way is one of the best road trips in the world. A delightful amalgamation of wind-warped cliffs, emerald hillsides, ancient historic sites and quintessentially Irish coastal towns, this 1500-mile journey takes you through many of the island’s superlative destinations.

A small island with a memorable punch, Ireland’s breathtaking landscapes and friendly, welcoming people leave visitors floored. You’ll want to go back for more.

For many visitors, Ireland lives large in the imagination.

There’s a huge weight of expectation for first-time visitors, who are looking for postcard Ireland: the dramatic landscapes, the traffic jams made up of sheep, the friendly pubs resounding with traditional melodies. Locals might scoff, roll their eyes and point to a modern European country with all the trappings of contemporary life, but the truth is that you will find all of those things in Ireland.

Sure, it has top-class attractions, five-star hotels and a sophisticated dining scene, but what makes Ireland a truly special place to visit are those intangible moments that will stay with you long after you’ve gone home. A sunset over ancient ruins after a day of rain. An evening in the company of locals in a small rural pub. A flock of sheep blocking a desolate country road.

Make the most of Dublin’s charm

Ireland’s capital and largest city by some stretch is the main gateway into the country, and it has enough distractions to keep visitors engaged for at least a few days. From world-class museums and entertainment, to superb dining and top-grade hotels, Dublin has all the baubles of a major international metropolis – most within easy walking distance of each other. But the real clincher is Dubliners themselves, a garrulous, amiable and witty bunch who prize being good hosts above most other things and will make you feel welcome with their compelling soul and sociability. And did we mention it’s the home of Guinness?

Local tip: Some pubs – especially those frequented by unsuspecting tourists – raise the price of a pint after 11pm or midnight. Keep an eye on what you’re forking out and perhaps take your business elsewhere.

Dingle

Dive into Dingle Town

Dingle is the quintessential Irish town in all its colourful beauty. The unofficial capital of the picturesque, ruin-strewn peninsula jutting into the Atlantic from County Kerry, Dingle is what visitors assume a quaint Irish town should look like. The brightly painted shopfronts, the pubs that double as grocery stores, the busy port full of boats unloading the freshest of seafood – Dingle just oozes charm. As well as oodles of summer visitors, Dingle is a place that many escape to, so while it might be the epitome of Irish, there’s a strong cosmopolitan and creative bent to the place, too.

Dunluce Castle and Giant's Causeway on Irish Coast NI - zoedawes

Traipse the Causeway Coast

County Antrim’s Causeway Coast is one of Ireland’s scenic highlights, a 53km-stretch between Portstewart and Ballycastle that is home to Ireland’s oldest distillery, a vertigo-inducing rope bridge and the biggest draw of them all, the UNESCO World Heritage Giant’s Causeway. One look at the outsized basalt columns and you’ll understand why the ancients believed they were put there by a mythic giant. Beyond the causeway, the coastline has castle ruins, some world-class golf courses and a superb dining scene that showcases the very best of local produce.

Morrissey's bar

 

Darken the doors of the pub

Even now, in the third decade of the 21st century, the pub remains the alpha and omega of much of Irish social life. In small villages it’s the heart of the community; in bigger towns and cities it’s the place where the Irish gather to celebrate, criticise and commemorate. There are bars of every stripe and hue, but none will match a classic traditional pub – the flagstone floors, the roaring fires, the live music in the corner – for atmosphere. Luckily, you’ll find one in virtually every hamlet you visit, such as Morrissey’s of Abbeyleix, which has been doing its thing since 1775.

Local tip: If you’re lucky enough to fall in with a group of locals, be aware of the rounds system, where everyone in the group stands a round in turn for everyone else. Sure, you might be committing to drinking more than you may have initially planned, but nothing will endear you to the locals more than this time-honoured tradition. And you can always opt for something non-alcoholic halfway through!

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