By Abigail Borges [Visiting Student Blogger]
Study abroad is meant to be your time to get to know a little more of the world. As typical Trinity students with normal, rigorous workloads, however, the achievement of this ideal sometimes seems at odds with the demands of a university schedule. Fortunately, though, Ireland is ideally sized. Day trips throughout the country have been my way of finding balance between school and travel (especially on Sundays when the library is closed – it’s the most valid excuse), while also taking budget into consideration.
Howth,a Dublin suburb, is a cheap Dart train ride away. The fishing village itself is nice to walk around, and on Sundays there’s a small market with some of the best mini cupcakes I’ve ever had. However, what makes this an all-day affair are the cliff walks; there are several routes around Howth Head that take between 1.5 and over 4 hours, and you can’t go wrong with breathtaking ocean views on all trails.
Cliffs of Moher
You’ve probably heard of them because they are one of Ireland’s west coast gems, but how to get there in a day? I recommend a bus day tour. Before discounting them as tourist traps, you might want to give one a try. You don’t have to worry about getting lost or finding things to do, as the itinerary is full and you’ve transport both ways. The guides make the experience memorable with their humor and facts, and you get to see the Cliffs, which in themselves make any venture west worth it.
Cork is a city like Dublin, but with a bit of a different vibe. A quick Aircoach bus ride can get you there for the day, and after exploring the city (Elizabeth Fort, St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, English Market, etc.), you may have time like me to catch a commuter bus to Blarney Castle and cross kissing the Blarney Stone off your bucket list.
Probably my favorite day trip so far, I took Dublin Coach which drops you right near Kilkenny Castle, which is a must-see. You can pass the rest of your day-long meander through the city walking the medieval mile through the city center and exploring the cathedral and round tower. (insert photo 3)
If you have the means to rent a car, you can drive the Ring of Kerry (map on Google) and have as long as you want taking in the views of the famous scenic route. Otherwise, Paddywagon does a bus day tour that hits several stunning locations in the county. Ireland is naturally spectacular, and this tour was perhaps the best showcase of that fact.
Coming from the US, this came as a bit of a shock, but Europe’s compact nature means even international travel is doable in a day. Belfast and Giant’s Causeway are drivable day trips, but even Ryanair’s dirt cheap flights to places like Glasgow, Edinburgh, and London put these destinations on this list.
So, if you (like me) still need to put an emphasis on ‘study’ in study abroad, that doesn’t mean you have to forego exploration. Discovering that early on has made my time here so much more meaningful, and it’s becoming harder and harder to come to terms with saying ‘slán leat’ to Dublin and this beautiful country in less than a week. So carpe diem (quite literally) and get out there while you can!