Get the most, on the coast
Elevating the time-honored road trip.
WORDS BRITTANY HANSON
Get the most, on the coast
Elevating the time-honored Road Trip with an ultimate Ireland tour.
WORDS BRITTANY HANSON
Ireland's coastline is perhaps the ultimate road trip.
Ireland has a few things in abundance: Charm, greenery, stories to tell and… gorgeous coastline. The famously green Emerald Isle possesses one of the great routes for a road trip: endless ocean views contrasting brilliant verdant countryside for a stunning 1,971 miles (if you stick to the coast only, that is.)
While there’s plenty of options to get to know Ireland better, exploring by way of an elevated road trip is just a touch different. At the end of each day’s travels there are quaint towns, bustling cities, friendly locals and even a castle to sleep in.
Each of the regions has its own unique charms, but there are some ultimate road trip details you must get from those in the know.
A Dublin sunset at Sandycove.
Dublin is the starting point on any adventure in Ireland. Vibrant and full of life, the capital city alone is a trip in itself. It’s brimming with sights like the Book of Kells at Trinity College (a national treasure), the EPIC museum dedicated to Irish immigration, the famed Temple Bar and of course the Guinness Storehouse — but also has some treats in consideration for those who don't drink as well.
No introduction required.
There's more to Dublin TBC...
Blarney Castle, County Cork.
Cork and the Southeast
Charming, colorful towns, sparkling souvenirs and an infamous kiss-and-tell stone are upcoming points on the map as you enter Cork and the Southwest region. When you visit Cork, it’s not hard to see where the reputation for being a nation of storytellers comes from.
Bernadette Freyne, Local Host and proprietor of the Ardfield Bed and Breakfast, loves meeting guests on their trips through Ireland.
“This is such a special time,” says Freyne. “[I] want to help them make the most of their time … you want to add to their experiences wherever possible, to give them a real link to your area with the information they need and all the small things they’re not going to be able to read in a book.”
Sparkling Waterford (and its crystal), the Jameson Midleton Distillery and of course Blarney Castle and Gardens are top of list for stopping in this region. The Blarney Stone’s reputation for producing talkers is an amazing part of Irish lore to be sure, and for the bravest, the bold and the ones who don’t mind a Spiderman-style kiss with a rock, you too can be imparted with that gift-o-gab. Worth the moment hanging off the rampants? We think so.
There's more to Cork and the Southeast...
Killarney National Park, the first national park in Ireland.
Killarney and the Southwest
It’s no local secret that Killarney is beautiful.
If you want to get out and seriously stretch your legs – this is the place to do it. Killarney National Park is not only of the largest parks in Ireland, but also home of the famous red deer and the most expansive native forest in the country.
Beyond the hiking, biking, horse riding or jaunting cart exploration of Killarney National Park, there’s always the Dingle Distillery, the 200-years-running Kissane Sheep Farm and we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the muse herself: the glorious green of the Ring of Kerry, a 111 mile loop inland and along the coast.
EXPERIENCE THE COUNTRY ROADS OF IRELAND
There's more to Killarney and the Southwest...
You can walk along the majority of the Cliffs of Moher, which extend for around 9 miles.
You’re absolutely going to want to stop the car in Shannon because there’s cliffs, there's caves and there’s definitely castles.
Diving into the crashing Atlantic Ocean are the dramatically handsome Cliffs of Moher. With a vertical peak 702 feet, the entire stretch is one of the most breathtaking (and photogenic) places in Ireland.
Its namesake river, Shannon, flows through everything, passing alongside castles, villages and countryside alike. But beyond flowing, there’s something flying about in Shannon. Don’t worry, you won’t lose your car. If you stop in at the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, sidle over to the Irish Coffee Lounge. This little spot is where the iconic drink first landed and been served up since 1943.
Although it’s not exactly Foynes, here is a quick tutorial on how you can make the world’s most famous coffee drink yourself.
There's more to Shannon Region...
Ashford Castle, County Galway. Previously owned by the Guinness family.
Galway & the West
Ireland is at every turn in the road a romantic destination (with more than 30,000 castles, how could it not be?) but the greatest evidence of this is in Galway. Offshore is the ancient and beautiful Aran islands, while onshore the seemingly endless stretches countryside and oh yes, castles: elegant Ashford Castle is the historic home of the Guinness family and is now an elegant upgrade of a stay, situated on 350 acres of land on the shore of Lough Corrib. It is also the home of Ireland’s oldest school of falconry, an ancient and sustainable method used to keep pest populations in check.
As well as greeting feathered friends, greet new and old friends at some of the best and oldest pubs anywhere in the world. Galway’s vibrant music scene is well known, but on the rise is its foodie reuptation; one of eclectic flavors and focus on local craft and sustainability.
ICONIC SIGHTS & ULTIMATE LUXURY
There's more to Galway & the West...
Portraits of Irish literary and sporting greats adorn the walls at the Bittles Bar Belfast, including Oscar Wilde, W.B Yeats, George Best and Barry McGuigan.
“I get the opportunity to bring my city alive to our guests,” says Belfast local Dee Morgan. “Whether it's telling them about the history of the city, taking them to see the beautiful buildings or showing them how warm the people of the city actually are.”
Dee is host at DeeTours Ireland, which run tours in a city that has been in sharp focus for much of it's existence, a lively place where days can be lost exploring recent history and diving deep into Belfast's identity. From the fascinating Titanic museum and tours of the city's many beautiful (albeit tragic) art murals, to a 100-year old fish and chip shop, it's easy to be swept away by the sheer force of Belfast's personality.
CURATE YOUR OWN EPIC CELTIC ADVENTURE
The Titanic Museum in Belfast opened in 2012.