With its rocky shores and wild, lush green beauty, the natural poetry of the homeland’s breathtaking landscape is filled with legend and mystery. With an alluring wilderness and a vibrant culture which resonates in every charming village, city, and port alike, it’s no surprise that Ireland is one of the world’s most popular destinations as well as the beloved haunt of generations of Irish families abroad. With a variety of wonderful attractions to discover, a laid-back atmosphere and a historical legacy which dates back thousands of years, visiting Ireland is more attractive than ever – and just a hop, skip and away over the sea.
Finding the Best Deals
With Ireland just a short flight away (or for the more adventurous, a trek to the west coast and a ferry across the legendary sea) Tyneside travellers can experience the Emerald Isle for a short weekend away or lengthy holiday. It’s easy to find excellent flights via travel engines and airline websites which offer reasonable prices and special savings; tracking down off-peak dates and booking times are just a few of the tips and tricks which passengers can apply for the best deals. Using the Euro – as well as the Pound in Northern Ireland – cities and tourist destinations are often expensive. Currency charges can be avoided by purchasing travel money in advance, using travel cards, and finding discount deals for certain attractions – in some cases, a coupon card or booklet can reduce up to 50% of admission fees, and hotel search providers like booking.com showcase some attractive prices.
Mustn’t Miss Attractions
Of all the historic and cultural destinations of Ireland, Dublin is without a doubt a must-visit. Bustling with Celtic flair and exuberant spirit, the setting of one of literature’s most iconic works – James Joyce’s Ulysses – is as distinctive in its modern appeal as it is in history. From the Gaelic Games, National Gallery of Ireland, Abbey Theatre and a myriad of other museums, galleries, concert halls, pubs, restaurants and other attractions to choose from – not to mention an array of traditional architecture – there is something to appeal to everyone.
Just to the south in the province of Munster glistens Cork, Ireland’s second most popular locale and home to some of the most distinct landmarks of the country. It features several fascinating historical sites, like the Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork City Gaol, Old Cork Waterworks, and the famous Blarney Castle where millions have pressed their lips for the gift of the gab. Home to “The World’s Largest Titanic Visitor Attraction”, Belfast of Northern Ireland is brimming with sights and sounds to see and is definitely worth a trip as well.
One of Ireland’s six national parks, the magnificent Connemara National Park of County Galway is a breathtaking portrait of the island’s wild and windswept countryside. Majestic birds of prey sweep over the heathland, often shrouded in an eerie fog – adding mystery to the 4,000 year-old megalithic tombs. For those who crave the irresistible taste of the sea, Ireland is gifted with a treasure trove of beautiful islands and peninsulas perfect for sailing, swimming, sunbathing, and other watersports like:
- The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
- Conor Pass, County Kerry
- Galway Bay, County Galway
- Malin Head, Ireland’s most northerly point
- Beara Peninsula, counties Kerry and Cork
- … and several others
Perhaps the most dramatic of Ireland’s landscapes – as well as the most renowned – is the legendary Giant’s Causeway of County Antrim, NI. The UNESCO World Heritage Site features some of the most unique natural structures in the world, said to be built by the giant Finn MacCool in one of his great exploits. It is also home to several unique fauna and flora and will not fail to enchant no matter the time of year.
Going the Extra Mile
Of course, to experience the very essence of Ireland in each of its distinct and memorable counties, Tyneside tourists and international visitors alike may feel drawn to the romance of the road. There are a myriad of drives to choose from, ranging from the exciting to the serene, the festive to the historical, and everything in between. With so many places to explore which are steeped in a rich cultural and historical legacy, visiting Ireland will be an adventure to last a lifetime – as well as enticing visitors to keep coming back for more.
by Susan Loughran