The Emerald Isle: Ireland Travel Guide

If theres one theme throughout this trip, its green! Ireland was by far the greenest place I’ve ever been, as expected. But the deep shades of emerald still shocked us throughout our trip. Whether we had clear skies and sunshine or overcast and rain, the landscapes of this beautiful country were breath taking in every way. While driving along (on the left side, eeck!) it was hard not to get out of the car every few minutes and ponder at the new sights before us.

This is our Ireland Adventure.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Throughout our 10 day trip (July 11-20) we explored so much, indulged in the culture and learned about the history that it was hard to leave this amazing place at the end. Every day was something new and exciting. We started along the western coast of Ireland which is known for encapsulating some of the best and most dramatic aspects of the Irish landscapes like the Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands, Galway City and County Clare. As we made our way through the mid/southern part of Ireland we explored Limerick, County Kerry, The Blarney Castle and Cobh making our last days spent in Dublin.

Below is a list of places we saw, where we ate, tips on what we did and where we stayed during our Ireland trip.

Top 10 Places to See: 

  1. Cliffs of Moher: Known for its awe inspiring sea cliffs, the Cliffs of Moher is a bucket list item to see in Ireland. Once you’ve hiked up the cliffs to see that amazing ocean view you feel as if you’re on top of the world. A lot of people have asked me if its dangerous and I’m here to tell you that it is not, as long as you stay within the limits and boundary walls. You can go over these boundaries at your own risk. *Tip: wear comfortable walking/hiking shoes and if you wish to avoid the crowds come at sunset. The cliffs stay open until 9pm.
  2. Aran Islands: Out of the three Aran Islands (Innishmore, Innisheer, and Innishmaan) we chose to see Innishmore. This 8 mile long island off the coast of Ireland was so much fun! We took a short (30 min) ferry ride over from Rossaveel Terminal and rented bikes to ride on all around this beautiful landscaped island. Along your adventures here, DONT forget to stop by the one & only famous Aran Sweater Market. These hand knitted sweaters are beautiful in design and one of a kind. *Tip: if you do decide to buy an Aran Sweater you can have it shipped back to the states for free when you spend 100 euros or more. 
    Aran Islands

    Innishmore, Aran Islands

  3. Galway City: If you’ve ever sang along to the song “Galway Girl” you know how special this place is to the Irish. This cute coastal town immediately greets you with live music in the streets, colorful buildings and nautical flags hanging from every rooftop. It’s the perfect spot along the coast to grab dinner, go shopping and hang with the locals. Make sure you head down Quay St. which is also known as Galway’s “Latin District” and thats were all the fun is!*Tip: during the summer the sun doesn’t set in Ireland until 10pm. It made our days last longer and we had a chance to see a lot more. 

    Galway City

  4. County Clare: Located in the mid-western region of Ireland, County Clare offers beautiful countryside terrain like the Burren Rocks, ancient churches like the Quin Abbey and 16th century castles like the Craggaunowen Castle. *Tip: prepare for winding roads along this path through County Clare. Just drive slowly (and cautiously) and take in the scenery. 

    The Burren Rocks

  5. Limerick City: We drove through Limerick on our way to our hotel in Adare County (scroll down below to see where we stayed) and we had to stop at the King John’s Castle and explore. At the top of this castle we found the best views of the city! Afterwards we had brunch in the town and walked around. *Tip: This was a perfect pit stop in between our drive to our next destination.
  6. County Kerry Part 1: Aside from Dublin, we probably spent the most time exploring in County Kerry. Theres so much to see in this area due in part to the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is a circular route about 110 miles which takes you in and out of the beautiful countryside of Ireland. Along this route there are a dozen of stops and famous sights/landmarks to see. In the first half of the route, we toured the Muckross House, climbed the Torc-Waterfall (and yes Bobby actually went into the waterfall, see pic), marveled at the beautiful Lakes of Killarney and explored the Muckross Abbey (which reminded me of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, see pics). *Tip: charge your cameras because I think I took over 500 pics on this route haha.
  7. County Kerry Part 2: On the second half of the Ring of Kerry route we made wishes at the Gap of Dunloe (aka the wishing bridge), climbed up the castle ruins of Ballycarbery Castle and took a boat trip to see the Skellig-Michael Islands (where Star Wars: Last Jedi was filmed). The Ring of Kerry is definitely worth seeing! Its so exciting to drive through all the different little towns and see the famous landmarks along the route. *Tip: The Ring of Kerry is also great because a lot of these sites/landmarks are free with the exception of the Skelling-Michael Islands & Muckross House. 
    Ring of Kerry

    Ballycarbery Castle Ruins

  8. The Blarney Castle: If theres one thing you do on your Ireland adventure, you better kiss the Blarney Stone! Legend has it that if you visit the Blarney Castle and make your way to the very top to kiss the Blarney Stone you will receive the gift of eloquence and good luck. So let me ask you, do I sound more eloquent? 😉 haha. It was so exciting to climb to the top and see the amazing views the castle has to offer. *Tip: get there early to beat the crowd, otherwise the line is about a 2-hour wait. 

    Blarney Castle

  9. Town of Cobh: After we kissed the Blarney Stone, we drove just 30-min out to the coastal town of Cobh (pronounced Cove). Its known for being the Titanic’s last port of call in 1912 before she set out across the Atlantic on her final voyage (check out the Titanic Museum there while you’re at it). This town has colorful buildings called the “Deck of Cards” that line the streets of West View. *Tip: Coolest photo-op in Cobh is getting a picture of the houses with the St. Colman’s Cathedral in the background. Totally worth it! 
    Cobh

    “Deck of Cards” Houses

  10. Dublin: Wow, Dublin! Our last days were spent here and I couldn’t have picked a better place in Ireland to end our journey. On our way into Dublin we first stopped at the Waterford Crystal Factory which is pretty awesome whether you’re a fan of fine crystal or not. There’s even a tour that takes you through the manufacturing steps of how the crystal is made. Among other factories we toured in Dublin were the Guinness Factory and Jameson Whiskey Factory. Both were amazing! Each one is so different yet equally exciting to explore and how cool is it to sip on beer/whiskey throughout your tour. We then went to the Trinity College & Library to see the ancient Book of Kells and marvel at their fascinating library with thousands and thousands of books that line the tall arched walls. Its truly remarkable! We ended our stay in Dublin, bar hopping downtown at the famous Temple Bar and finding the magical umbrella street. *Tip: Since many have messaged me about it, the umbrella street we found is located at the Zozimus Bar just off of Grafton Street. Don’t miss it! Also, get to the Trinity College early or you will be fighting the crowds.  
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    The Umbrella Street, Zozimus Bar, Dublin

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Where we stayed:

  • Ballyseede Castle Hotel: Okay, WOW! You have to stay in a castle at least once during your Ireland adventure. This castle was located just outside of the Ring of Kerry which turned out perfect for us since we spent a lot of time on that route. The Ballyseede Castle made all my dreams come true! I mean if the exterior alone doesn’t make you gasp then maybe the perfectly designed chic suites will. See pics below! Complete with a garden, a restaurant, a pub and tea/sitting room this Castle hotel has it all & my only regret is I wish we stayed longer. Click here to book your stay.
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    Ballyseede Castle Hotel

  • Dunraven Arms Hotel: We stayed here in Adare County, Limerick and it was quite possibly the cutest place! It’s located right in the little town of Adare so its walking distance from all the town shops, pubs and restaurant. We stayed in the luxury suite and it was perfect for us! The canopy style bed and waterfall shower made us feel like we were on cloud nine. Loved staying here! Click here to book your stay. 
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    Dunraven Arms Hotel

  • Cassidy’s Hotel Dublin: While we were in Dublin we stayed at the Cassidy’s Hotel which is located right in the heart of the city. We were able to walk everywhere we wanted to go and not have to worry about a taxi. Click here to book your stay. *Tip: parking is limited since its located in the city, so before you arrive call ahead to reserve your spot!
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    Cassidy’s Hotel, Dublin

  • Seashore Lodge B&B: Throughout the rest of our time in Ireland we stayed in little B&B’s since thats the majority of what you’ll find in the countryside. These B&B’s offered complimentary Irish breakfast and had the coziest rooms. Perfect for on-the-go exploring! Click here to book your stay.*Tip: We also stayed at a Woodlands B&B and the Riverdale Farmhouse B&B. 
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    Seashore Lodge B&B

Pubs and Restaurants we liked:

Top 6 things you should know about Ireland:

  1. Currency = Euros, 1 US dollar is equivalent to 86 cents of a Euro.
  2. Language = mostly English, but also celtic and gaelic.
  3. Roads = drive on the LEFT side. Also, there are a ton of round-abouts instead of traffic lights so start practicing.
  4. Drinking age = 18 years old
  5. No A/C = most hotels in Ireland do not have A/C. As you can imagine it rarely gets hot there so they don’t really need it. Just be prepared or bring a portable fan with you if you get hot at night.
  6. Adapters = you will need wall adapters for your U.S. electronics such as cell phone chargers, hairdryers, laptop chargers etc. 

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In the end, we did so much in 10 days that I honestly feel like I saw everything. It was such an amazing trip and Ireland truly exceeded all my expectations. From beautiful coastlines to gigantic sea cliffs, castle ruins to 15th century abbeys and colorful towns to lively pubs Ireland was a dream!

I hope this travel guide is helpful and informative for you on your adventure. Also, if you have any questions I’d be more than happy to help! Comment below.

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Disclaimer: *All thoughts are my own*

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By |2018-09-28T19:18:43-07:00August 4th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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