Planning a trip to the land of leprechauns and ale? Whilst there is no guarantee of an actual sighting of a real life leprechaun, Ireland most definitely promises a vast natural beauty and a hospitable atmosphere to boot. Made up of two parts, Ireland comprises of the Republic of Ireland (which covers the land’s majority) and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. Although sharing a relatively modest and unpredictable climate with Great Britain, Ireland offers a multitude of unique and inspiring activities amidst a picturesque natural setting with a rich cultural heritage. Ireland is bursting with unusual outdoor holiday experiences, and is the perfect destination for those who seek outdoor adventure.
Some perfect ways to soak in some fresh air and breath-taking views are through hikes around Walkabout Wicklow, Skellig Michael and the Mountain View Horse Riding Centre. If the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor escapades, another interesting option would be to opt for one of Ireland’s infamous cooking courses. Some of the more popular cookery schools include; Ballyknocken House and Cookery School in Glenealy, where courses are taught in the beautiful grounds of a Victorian country house; Donnybrook Fair Restaurant, Food Hall and Cookery School, which fuses a restaurant, school and deli in an urban setting, and the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry.
If it’s the eating part that appeals most, rather than slaving away over a stove yourself, then luckily you’ll find a multitude of well-respected eateries that exhibit everything that Irish cuisine has to offer. Typically you’ll find national dishes like hearty Irish stews, boxty (Irish potato pancake), colcannon (mash potato with kale or cabbage), coddle (stewed pork, bacon and potato) and black pudding. You’ll also find an impressive selection of real ales and stouts in one of the many friendly local pubs, where the choices on offer will suit everyone from the selective drinker to the full blown alcohol connoisseur. There are also dozens of recommendable restaurants in Ireland to choose from, with different areas offering various takes on the Irish culinary experience.
Depending on where you decide to stay, the list below covers some critically acclaimed restaurants to sink your teeth into. Some popular Ireland restaurants include; The Huntsman Inn in Galway, The Upper Deck Cafe in New Ross, Fenns Quay Restaurant in Cork, and The Aquarium Restaurant in Offaly. There are also a number of themed eating experiences, from the historic surroundings of Harrigan’s Cafe Bar in Kildare and Kilgraney House in Carlow, to the romantic waterside settings of Aqua Restaurant in Dublin and Gargoyles in Kildare. If you’re unsure about where to anchor your travels, click here for more information on Ireland.
Once you’ve decided on a region, there are plenty of places to stay in Ireland, from high end hotels to characteristic bed and breakfasts. On the hotel front, there’s the highly recommended Old Imperial in Cork, the Wellington Park Hotel in Belfast and the Diamond Coast Hotel in Sligo. If you’re after a more intimate and homely experience, there are plenty of lovely little bed and breakfasts to try out across Ireland. Some particularly noteworthy establishments include the Seaview in Galway, Calhame House in Mayo and Ballyboy House in Tipperary. Whilst hotels and bed and breakfasts are popular accommodation options, they are by no means the only ones; there are also a number of hostels, camp sites and guest houses to choose from. To sample the full extent of Irish hospitality, a great idea would be to plan a combination of a few. If doing this, I’d recommend starting with the camping and ending in a hotel- nothing beats concluding your holiday in luxury!