From lush landscapes and watercolour palette shaded skies to majestic castles and the Wild Atlantic Way’s soaring cliffs, hidden beaches and epic bays, Ireland is full of fascinating sights. Strolling through historic towns and markets and stopping for a chat with a friendly local or discovering known sites where the hit show Game of Thrones was filmed are just some of the things visitors on a soul-searching trip can do. Alternatively, moonlight kayaking on Lough Hyne and taking a dip in the freezing Irish Sea are some of the options for those planning to go on an adventure holiday with friends or a partner.
Ireland is also the perfect family destination, especially as Galway has been named European Capital of Culture 2020. The picturesque harbour city is set to host Galway 2020, which will light up the area from 1-8 February. Described by organisers as “most complex cultural event ever undertaken on the island of Ireland,” it will comprise of over 1,900 events that showcase the remarkable culture the city has to offer.
Here are 9 things to add to your travel itinerary:
1- Plunge into the Irish Sea at 40 Foot
If you’re a thrill-seeker who is daring enough to brave the sub-zero temperatures of the Irish Sea, head to the historic bathing pool at the Southern tip of Dublin Bay. The spot locals use as an insanely refreshing wakeup call has been named one of the best places to swim in the world by The New York Times.
2- Take a ‘Game of Thrones’ Tour
Roaming around the Game of Thrones filming locations is a must for fans of the popular hit show. Take an immersive tour of the most iconic Irish settings from the series, such as Winterfell, Robb’s Camp and Giant’s Causeway. The interactive tour includes fun costumes and swords, a group of diehard fans, as well as knowledgeable, enthusiastic guides.
3- Experience moonlight kayaking on Lough Hyne
The unique experience may mean you have to drive down to West Cork, but it’s well worth it. The moonlight kayaking sessions take place on Lough Hyne, a lake and a Marine Nature Reserve, home to an enormous variety of plants and animals, which can’t be seen anywhere else in Ireland. A lucky few can see the water below light up with bioluminescent every time the paddle hits the water, an unforgettable experience.
4- Roam around Dingle
Described as “the most beautiful place on earth” by National Geographic, Dingle is constantly ranked as one of the most aesthetic places in Ireland. Sprinkled with lush greens, deep blues and sights of cotton white sheep, this coastal region is surrounded by scenic beauty, immaculate sandy beaches and magnificent mountains. A trip down to Dingle is always one to remember, whether it’s in a car or via a bespoke helicopter tour.
5- Stop at entrancing Cobh
On the south coast of County Cork lies Cobh, a charming seaport town with rows of candy coloured homes along the water and a cathedral that towers over the harbour. This town is particularly popular with cruise-lovers and about 60 ships stop there every year. Cobh was the final port of call for the RMS Titanic and a commemorate museum stands in the city today.
6- Explore Galway, the European Capital of Culture 2020
A prime location on Ireland’s West Coast, Galway offers and alluring mix of cobblestoned streets, ancient architecture, colourful buildings and swans. Stone-clad cafes, boutiques, art galleries and fabulous street markets line the tangled lanes of the charming and picturesque harbour city that has been bestowed the honour of European Capital of Culture 2020.
7- Take in the Aurora Borealis
A must-see on everyone’s bucket list, Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as ‘the Northern Lights’ is one of the world’s greatest solar phenomena. Lucky sky-watchers can experience this once-in-a-lifetime sight of awe-inspiring shades of pinks and bright greens along the clear skies of the Wild Atlantic Way.
8- Cycle along Waterford’s Greenway
Escape the shackles of urban life on the longest off-road walking and cycling experience in the country. The 46-kilometre traffic-free route is ideal for getting out on a bike and enjoying the idyllic countryside with family.
9- Try Glamping in River Valley Holiday Park
Camp in style at County Wicklow’s River Valley Caravan and Camping Holiday Park, where guests can choose from a variety of accommodation options. Whether you want to relax and unwind in glamour with the family or stay at the Secret Garden section of the park where couples can enjoy a child-free zone, it makes for an unforgettable camping experience.