So you’ve been living in Ireland for a while now. You’re getting to grips with life at Trinity, had at least one Friday night at the Pav and have mastered the 8am rush on Dublin Bus. Hopefully you’re starting to feel comfortable with your new surroundings, but be careful of falling into the ‘trap’ of never leaving Dublin. Ireland is so much more than its capital city. In order to help you figure out your ‘must-see’destinations, here are some top places to visit in Ireland.
A valley in County Wicklow, known primarily for its early monastic settlement its most popular feature is the range of hiking trails and mountain walks that suit everyone from the novice hiker to the most avid mountaineer. For a true taste of Ireland’s untouched rural beauty,Glendalough is a must see.
Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway
An hour-long train journey away this city is famed for its outstanding music scene, troubled history and links to the ill-fated Titanic. There’s also a bus tour which will show you all of the city’s main attractions including the famous Northern Ireland wall murals. A short distance outside of the city is the natural phenomenon, the Giant’s Causeway. Regular tours will take you to this unusual UNESCO heritage site where you can see geological structures such as the hexagonal basalt formations and learn about the Irish myths surrounding them.
The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher
The second most diverse floral landscape in Europe is one of the most stunning geographical places in Ireland. Vast sheets of limestone dominate the surrounding vista. The west coast of Clare and the Cliffs of Moher boast the longest continuous cliff face in Europe, standing at an impressive 120 metres at their highest point. For cave dwellers lovers,the Ailwee Caves are a must see, as is Poulnabrone, a Neolithic portal dolmen which is over 5,000 years old. The entire coastal road is also full of lovely quaint Irish towns, beautiful Irish country lanes, stripy cows and little Irish seaside villages.
Galway and Connemara
Home of the craic. For the best nightlife in the world, and a late night Supermacs (an Irish takeaway), there is no place quite like it. Come on in and share a Guinness with some friends,talk to the locals and listen to some live traditional music in all the pubs, have a scrumptious bite to eat in the Latin Quarter,or walk along the quay beside the beautiful Galway Bay. Galway has it all,and is a must see place in Ireland. Great for a few days or a weekend away, there are a number of cheap hostels and B&Bs in the city, as well as some wonderful hotels. Nearby Connemara is also one of the most beautiful places in the world. With its ancient bogland,wonderful roving hills,and sharp valleys crafted by the glacial melt in the last ice age, Connemara is a site to behold. There are also beautiful beaches, as well as wonderful green fields and sheep galore.
Newgrange and the Boyne Valley
Situated in the heart of the Boyne Valley in County Meath this Stone Age Passage Tomb is over 5,000 years old making it one of the oldest ‘buildings’ in the world –older than Stonehenge in England and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt! Apart from the obvious incredible engineering involved in this monument,the most striking aspect of Newgrange is the remarkable link between this ancient temple and the Winter Solstice, December 21st. On this day each year the rising sun aligns with the entrance to the tomb at such an angle that the morning rays creep along the passage, illuminating the chamber within. As the chamber is so small only a handful of people,the lucky winners of a free annual lottery, are present to witness this incredible event. For those of us who are not lucky enough to be there on December 21st there are tours held daily where the kind guides at Newgrange will re-create the experience for you.
For anyone interested in sports and outdoor activities, Carlingford should be one of your top destinations. Along with its picturesque lough and neighbouring mountains this small town boasts the very popular Carlingford Adventure Centre. Offering a variety of activities that range from rock climbing and abseiling to kayaking to archery,you can be sure that there is something to suit everyone’s interests and abilities.
The Ring of Kerry
From Killarney to Dingle,and Tralee and all the other places in between,Kerry houses some of Ireland’s most stunning scenery, with glorious rolling mountains and lakes,lively pubs,and wonderful food. A wonderful spot.
These are only a few of the places Ireland has to offer! There are so many more places to see so don’t be afraid to go out and see them on your own!
Trinity College Dublin’s international student society organise trips to many of these places and more. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates!
Aoife and Duncan are Student Ambassadors in the Trinity Global Room