When someone mentions Ireland, the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind is a shamrock and rightly so, as it is their national symbol. But what you probably won’t know is that Ireland is famous for its state of the art breweries and no trip to is complete without a pint or two of the famous Guinness. Blessed with wondrous natural beauty and home to centuries of historical treasures, it is nothing short of a fairytale land. So buckle up and get ready to tour some of the most amazing road trip destinations of the Emerald isle.
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher
You might remember them from the film “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most recognizable landmarks. They stand tall at 214m from the magnificent Atlantic Ocean and stretch for approximately 8 km. If you are coming from Galway City, you can drive towards the west coast on the breathtaking route of the Wild Atlantic Way, which will take around 1.5 hours. If you are driving from Dublin then it will take 3 hours. During the daytime, you can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay or tour the O’Brien’s and Moher Towers. However, if you ask me, I would suggest you don’t miss the sunset over this gorgeous landmark.
Killarney National Park
One of Killarney’s lakes
Killarney National Park is a nature park that is 26,000 acres big. It’s brimmed with the ecological diversity of the local fauna and flora. You can hike around the park and discover the fantastic wildlife, climb Ireland’s highest range of mountains – MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, canoe around the famous Killarney lakes, or just relax at the Torc waterfall. The only thing you need to remember is to wear comfortable sneakers while visiting, as you’ll be walking a lot.
Whether you are a fan of spirituality or not, a trip to Croagh Patrick or The Reek can surely make you one. Situated near the town of Westport, just outside the Wild Atlantic Way, it is one of the most sacred sites in Ireland. According to the legend, St. Patrick fasted for 40 days on this mountain. As you delve deeper into Croagh Patrick’s history and travel on the same paths as thousands of pilgrims, you will be amazed by how unique this place is . Nevertheless, the question is do you think you have enough stamina to reach the peak? The trail takes 3 to 4 hours on foot and another 1.5 hours to climb down but it is surely an experience that you will never forget.
St. Kevin’s Cathedral
If you love nature, as much as I do, you will definitely enjoy Glendalough and its ancient history. It is called “the valley of two lakes” and is located on the east side of Ireland with picture-perfect driving routes through the Sally Gap and Wicklow Gap. It is the center of a few archaeological sites dating back to the 6th century, with a famous Monastic Site nestled between its two lakes. The Upper Lake is home to St. Kevin’s Cathedral, church, and other ancient structures. If you are not into ancient landmarks, no biggie! You can look forward to the scenic nature trails around the valley and Wicklow Mountains National Park.
The Rock of Cashel
Rock of Cashel
It is impossible to visit Ireland without seeing one of its famous medieval castles. The Rock of Cashel was a silent witness of many invasions, home to the high kings of the 5th century and later on converted into a church in the 12th century. Located in the south of Ireland, about 3 hours drive from Dublin, it stands tall in a majestic way and gives off a “Game of Thrones” vibe, which makes you wonder how iconic and powerful it must have been in its early days. There is a legend that says that it was built on a pile of rocks from a mountain which was bit by the devil and spat out. Other than the main fortress, you can also visit the Vicar’s chapel and Cormac’s chapel.
Ireland is a beautiful country, full of wildlife, picturesque sights and history. The best way to see it all is to go on as many road trips as possible. Staying in one city or town, such as Dublin for example, won’t do the country justice. If you’re planning a vacation on the Emerald Isle, I’d recommend at least a week and a half to two weeks to see the most important trails and landmarks. If you’re lucky enough, you might even spot a dolphin while driving along the coast.