5 Best Places to See in Ireland
Ireland is beloved worldwide as an enchanting land where legend and reality mingle. At one point voted by Frommers Guide readers as their favourite holiday destination in the world, it’s now your turn to discover the mystique and charm of the Emerald Isle.
1. Tour the Castles of Ireland
Haunted, gothic, stately, or imposing, Irish castles radiate the romantic feel of this beautiful country. Cahir, Kilkenny and Dunguaire Castles all evoke magical visions of fair maidens, brave kings and frightful dungeons. Blarney Castle in County Cork (shown here) is one of the most visited castles in Ireland. Famous for the Blarney Stone-legend states that if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you’ll receive the gift of eternal eloquence-visitors literally bend over backwards to plant a smooch on this fabled rock set into the castle’s wall. Amorous acrobatics aside, this 15th century castle offers battlement views, vibrant gardens and mysterious underground caves.
2. Tour the Guinness Storehouse
Raise a pint-or two-to Ireland’s favourite tipple. The Guinness Storehouse and its St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin welcomes over 1-million visitors each year to their on-site stout producing plant. Brewing over 3-million pints daily, the Guinness Storehouse gives a behind-the-scenes look into their thirst-quenching enterprise. Witness the brewing process, get hands-on experience pulling pints, and sample the final product. The hospitality extends to light refreshments and traditional Irish meals in four eating establishments. Or satisfy your cravings with a well-earned pint while taking in the stunning 360-degree views of Dublin from the relaxing environs of their Gravity bar.
3. Have an Irish Adventure
Come to Ireland and exercise your inner thrill-seeker! Experience the rugged countryside and gorgeous vistas through adventurous, heart-pounding pursuits. Get up close and personal with nature through surfing, sea kayaking, paragliding, rock climbing, caving, mountain biking and walking. Hiking along Ireland’s evergreen hills and atop its windswept cliffs comes very highly recommended-National Geographic voted Ireland’s walks as the best in the world.
4. Discover History at Every Turn
In a country as ancient and storied as Ireland, visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to historical sites of interest. One such site, Bru na Boinne in County Meath is older than England’s Stonehenge and Egypt’s Giza Pyramids. This Neolithic site of henges, standing stones and burial chambers was built around 3200 B.C., and is highlighted by several large passage tombs: Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange. Immensely popular year round, Brú na Bóinne gets extra attention during the winter solstice. Each December, a beam of sunlight pierces through a mysterious opening in the Newgrange mound and illuminates its chamber for a few brief minutes. So many tourists flock to Newgrange to greet the dawn each solstice that an annual lottery is now held for access inside the chamber.
5. Take In the Breathtaking Scenery
Beautiful and untouched, Ireland’s scenery is beyond compare. West Cork, Dingle, Galway, the Ring of Kerry-the list of postcard-worthy places is endless. One such picturesque site is the Rock of Cashel (also known as St. Patrick’s Rock) in County Tipperary. Dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, this formidable fortress boasts a round tower, cathedral and chapel bearing priceless Celtic art and medieval architecture. Legend has it in the 5th century, St. Patrick converted Aenghus the King of Munster to Christianity at this very spot.