In honor of St. Patty’s day this week, I’m digging back to my bucket list trip to Ireland in 2015. I visited for a long week in the summertime. I must have had some Irish luck because it only started to rain as I departed for the airport to catch my flight back to Houston.
I signed up for the trip through Under 30 Experiences, a unique travel group that leads awesome trips all over the world. This group made it easy to see the best parts of the country, get a real cultural experience, and meet like-minded travelers. I am not sure exactly why I chose Ireland when places like Bali, Peru, and Iceland were some of the other front-runner destinations, but my time spent in Ireland was one of the most incredible journeys to date. If you find yourself on the Emerald Isle, here are some places you won’t want to miss!
A 20 minute ride from the airport is the sleepy coastal town of Howth. This was my first stop after a very delayed international flight and it did not disappoint. There are many coastal paths to hike, pick one and go on an adventure! You’ll be stopping every 5 minutes for photos. Hiking boots were on my feet, but were definitely not necessary for the terrain. If you’re hungry for breakfast, try out The House for a traditional Irish breakfast. If you’re hungry for lunch, walk the town for some Fish and Chips and eat in the grass.
About 90 minutes southwest of Dublin, Kilkenny is a popular country town. Like most towns, there is a castle! Unlike most of my vacations, I got to sleep in a part of the castle at the Butler House. Kilkenny is a great spot to get away from some of the Dublin tourists or at least the tourists that lack access to a tour bus. Go here for an authentic pub experience with Irish locals and live music.
Even further southwest from Dublin/Kilkenny, is the infamous Blarney Castle nestled outside the town of Cork. Walk the gardens and wait in line to kiss the Blarney Stone! Walk away with the gift of eloquence.
An hour south of Dublin is the Glendalough Monastery. Hike around the glacial valley, see waterfalls, the lake, and the tombstones in the Monastery. We embarked on the “Orange Route” and it was great! No real need for hiking boots as it was paved most (if not all) of the way. But there were some uphill parts, so be prepared to work up a sweat. Enjoy some local brews on an outdoor patio when you return back at the local restaurant.
I spent the last weekend of my journey in Dublin and the Guinness Storehouse was awesome! They no longer brew the beer there, but the 7 story building walks you through everything you could want to know about the making and history of Guinness. You’re rewarded at the 7th floor Sky Bar with a complimentary pint and floor to ceiling windows, offering a 360 degree view of Dublin. Travel Tip: Sign-up for tickets ahead of time.
They still make Jameson Whiskey here! Learn the history, tour the distillery, and put your new knowledge to good use with a whiskey tasting at the end of the tour. Your ticket also gets you a whiskey drink of your choice – I recommend a Whiskey, Ginger, Lime. Travel Tip: Sign-up for tickets ahead of time, preferably over a day in advance.
The River Liffey and the Spire
Walk over the bridge of the River Liffey and marvel at the colorful buildings lined up down the river. Stop into a nearby pub for a Guinness and enjoy the view. The Spire is a giant pin shaped, steel monument. It’s a short walk and leads you past cobblestone shopping centers.
Recommended by a friend, I took a break from walking around Dublin to sit in this cute cafe and enjoy a delicious tart with coffee. The place is cozy, so you may have to wait during a peak time. There are two locations, I went to the one on Cork Hill.
While I didn’t get the chance to go here, I’ve seen enough pictures to realize I’ve made a huge mistake! This may be difficult to include in a trip if you’re on a time crunch because it’s over 3 hours away from Dublin and located along the opposite coast line. But if you can swing it, you may never want to leave Ireland.
Green with envy for Ireland? It’s not too late to join a u30x trip this summer. Otherwise, pick up a Guinness at your state-side bar and pretend your celebrating St. Patty’s day with the Irish!