Ireland is famed for the warmth of its welcome, the rich and varied nature of its landscapes, the longevity of its cultural traditions and its love of a good time. World-class museums and attractions await in Dublin, together with time-honoured pubs and a vibrant nightlife. Or escape to County Kerry and looming mountains, sparkling lakes and rolling green fields. Grab a pair of boots and hike into the bleak beauty of the Wicklow Mountains or hire a bike and cycle County Clare’s coastline.
Things to see and do
Be dazzled by the Book of Kells, more than 1,000 years old and one of the most beautifully illustrated manuscripts in the world, at Trinity College, Dublin. Visit the medieval castle and cathedral and make a date with the boys with the black stuff at the Guinness Storehouse, a shrine to Ireland’s favourite tipple. Explore Celtic and medieval art at the National Museum of Ireland.
Jump in the car and journey the Ring of Kerry, a 179km circuit that takes in medieval ruins, lakes and mountains, pretty villages, pristine beaches and Atlantic breakers, and a spectacular drive. It can be done in day but you may stop for the night somewhere en route. Cruise down the River Liffey, a 45-minute exploration of Dublin, or take a traditional Irish music pub crawl through the capital.
Swim with Fungie, a Bottlenose Dolphin, which began befriending Dingle fishermen in the 1980s. The Dingle Boatmen’s Association runs a daily two-hour boat trip. Try your hand at watersports such as sailing, or surf off Bundoran. And make a splash indoors at the National Aquatic Centre.
Arts and culture
Make a beeline for the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin which holds more than 2,500 paintings including work by Caravaggio, Goya, Rubens and Breughel, among others. Take in a play at one of Dublin’s theatres including the Abbey, Gate and Gaiety. Steep yourself in Dublin’s literary heritage on a pub tour with a difference and walk with the likes of Beckett, Yeats and Joyce.
Eating and drinking
Ireland’s cuisine is centred on first-class, locally sourced fish, meat and dairy produce. Whether you’re looking for good pub grub or international cuisine, Ireland has something to suit every taste and pocket. For something special, dine out at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin. This two-starred Michelin winner offers fine French cooking. Or try Jack’s Coastguard Restaurant housed in a former coastguard station off coastal Killorglin for scrumptious seafood and great sea views.
You’ll find plenty of craic and traditional music at many destinations across the Emerald Isle but Dublin is undoubtedly where the biggest choice of nightlife is. For great pubs try Café en Seine with its 19th-century Parisian in décor, or Zanzibar with its Indian Ocean ambience. For something more traditional, raise a pint at The Cobblestone, a Mecca for traditional, bluegrass and country music.
For nightclubs, sample The Wright Venue, Sahara or The Palace, as seen in The Commitments.
For upmarket shopping head to Westbury Mall, Dublin. Or browse the area around Henry Street and Grafton Street.