Ireland is the land where all the sceneries from your childhood story books come to life. From the magical Mountains of Mourne down to the mystical haunting Skellig Islands or the tucked away little monastery by two lakes up in the Valley of Glendalough.The Pubs are among the best in the world and here you can experience the warm and welcoming Irish atmosphere.
1. Cliffs of Moher
On the west coast of Claire, just north of Lahinch, you can stand on top of Europe’s highest cliffs and feel really small and humble as you watch the open Atlantic deep below. A truly majestic scenery with boats looking like toys on the waves below. You can easily get the feeling you are standing at the end of the world. The cliffs where once the site for watch towers looking out for invading Vikings.
Tips! Stop and listen to the girl, who play the beautiful Irish harp, on the steps up to the look out tower. Visitor informations
Photo by Josep Moré Arqué Flickr Some rights reserved
Visit the Lake Hotel in Killarney, County Kerry, and have a dinner watching the stunning view of the Killarney mountains and it’s lake system. Must be one of the most romantic settings in the world. Here you can also take a horse and carriage tour. Then take a trip to the Victorian Muckross House situated at the middle lake, visited by Queen Victoria in 1861. More than a century after her visit, much remains the same in this fine Victorian mansion, set in the spectacular scenery of Killarney National Park.
Visitor information Killarney www.killarney.ie
3. Giant’s Causeway
Thousands of perpendicular polygonal basalt columns, hexagonal in shape, tightly packed together in form of a giant pathway disappears out in the sea. At a first glance this remarkable geological formation appears to be man made. It is not hard to understand the birth of the myth, saying it was the giant Finn McCool, who started building this pathway, to cross the sea to deal with a rival giant called Fingal in Scotland.
Visitor Information: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giantscauseway/
4. Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry
For those who seen the film “Ryan’s Daughter” knows about the endless beaches on the Dingle peninsula. There is also a big “pirates cave” on one of the beaches figuring in the film. The film “Far and Away” with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman was also shot on the peninsula. If you make the Slea Head drive around the peninsula you must have a look at the steep zig-zag walk down to the harbour Dunquin, where you can take a boat over to the Blasket islands. The town of Dingle has it’s own celebrity resident dolphin called Fungi, that you are almost guaranteed to se on the guided tours that leaves from the harbour.
5. Skellig Islands
Skellig islands shoot up like two black pyramids circled by birds in the Atlantic ocean. These islands are the blue print for all magic mystical islands, the place you would imagine home for pirates, but in fact a monastic outpost of the Early Christian period. The archaeological value of the islands is as well known as it is well-preserved. To reach them is a one and a half hour boat trip leaving from Valentia during April to late September. The islands are also home for many varying birds species.
6. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Antrim Northern Ireland
23 meters over the Atlantic you cross over a tiny rope bridge, traditionally erected by salmon fishermen. Carrick-a-Rede island is the home of Fulmars, kittywakes, guillemots and razorbills which breed on the islands close to the rope bridge. Be prepared for a vertigo sensation as you look down or out on Rathlin Island and Scotland. A short coastal footpath leads to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. On the way, there are wonderful vantage points to stop and take in the natural beauty.
Visitor information www.nationaltrust.org.uk/carrickarede/
360 view of Carrick-a-rede at Virtualvisit-northernireland.com
Glendalough is a breath taking glacially sculpted green valley with steep mountains coming down to two tranquil lakes. As a true oasis in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, Glendalough is one of the most visited locations in Ireland, within distance from Dublin. The site sports a Round Tower in a monastic settlement, established by St Kevin, a reclusive monk, who for seven years enjoyed a simple and solitary existence, with animals and birds as his only companions. You can clearly understand why he choose to settle down here when you visit. Enjoy one of the many walking trails of varying difficulty round the lakes. Maybe you will catch a glimpse of the Oscar winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis who lives in the Wicklow mountains. Visitor information www.glendalough.ie/
Garnish Island is Located in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, in Southwest Ireland. The island enjoys a warming oceanic influence of the Gulf Stream the climate is in some respect almost subtropical. The island is open to visitors each day from 1st March to 31st October and only accessible by boat through an small archipelago occupied by sunbathing seals. On the Island resides The gardens of Ilnacullin which is a fairytale postcard with the Kerry mountains as a backdrop. Visitor information www.garnishisland.com
9. Croagh Patrick
Challenge the Peak of Croagh Patrick 764 metres over the sea outside Westport in County Mayo. Croagh Patrick has been a site of pilgrimage, since Saint Patrick reputedly fasted on the summit of Croagh Patrick for forty days in the fifth century and built a church there. The walk to the summit might seem easy but be prepared for a two hour climb. On the top you can enjoy a magnificent view over the Clew bay, with its many islands, where John Lennon reputedly once was rumoured to settle down to live a hippie lifestyle away from the hectic music industry.
Visitor information www.croagh-patrick.com
What main tourism yet has to discover is the lesser known pendant of Killarney – Newcastle. Situated at the base of Slieve Donard in the Mountains of Mourne it well rivals the beauty.
Newcastle recently benefited from a multimillion upgrade turning the city into a high quality seaside attraction, including a relaxing sea side prom along the city’s long sandy beach. The city makes a good starting point for hill walkers, cyclists and rock climbers who wants to enjoy the area of outstanding natural beauty in the Mountains of Mourne. More Information about Mourne Mountain Walks & Bikes. Golf players will have a real scenic treat at the Royal County Down, venue for the 2007 Walker Cup.
At the northern end of the city’s long sandy beach thrones the City’s Crown Jewel – the old famous Slieve Donard. The Hotel has seen guests as Charlie Chaplin and the new James Bond, Daniel Craig who starred in the movie “Hotel Splendide”(2000) together with Toni Colette filmed at the Slieve Donard. To have a dinner here listening to the grand piano with Slieve Donard as a back drop, is a real treat. Don’t miss the Hotel’s spa that has a sauna with a panoramic window, letting you watch the waves from the Irish Sea coming in while you’re sweating out the Guinness.
Tollymoore Forrest park close to the city is the brainchild of the 18th century designer Thomas Wright of Durham. Here you find many curiosities, natural and artificial – rocky outcrops, bridges, a barn dressed up to look like a church, stone cones atop gate piers, gothic-style gates, arches grottos and caves along the river Shimna. The park also has giant redwoods and Monterey pines. The oak interior of the Titanic came from here. The original tree of the slow-growing spruce, Picea abies ‘Clanbrassiliana’ originated nearby in about 1750 and is the oldest tree in any arboretum in Ireland.