Ireland, known as the 'Emerald Isle' or the 'Land of the little people', is a fantastic choice for the independent traveller. It is very inexpensive for a developed country, and this also applies to the many hostels available. An English-speaking country, it is easy to travel around using train, coach, or car. But be aware they drive on the left side of the road and all vehicles are right hand drive.
It's compact enough to cover a lot of ground in just a few days. A popular tourist destination, some people want to research their genealogy and experience the land of their ancestors. Some people just come for the 'craic' (an Irish term for enjoying the company of friends). The people tend to be chatty and the weather tends towards raininess. It's a country of contrasts, and offers the choice of a bustling big city or green expanses and stunning cliff top views.
Ireland can be reached by ferry or plane. Dublin is the fast-paced capital city and has a large international airport. There are frequent coaches and buses that go into the city in less than an hour and a half. Dublin is notable for its numerous theatres, concert venues, and plentiful bars. There are over twenty hostels, and a lot of them are in Georgian style buildings, some still with their original features. Most hostels include a good breakfast in the price. The larger dormitories are particularly economical. Some hostels only offer mixed dorms. The hostels tend to be very central, in close proximity to O'Connell Street. It's worth knowing that hostel prices can increase considerably on both Friday and Saturday nights.
Dublin offers free access to some first-rate museums, galleries, and the Botanic Gardens, which is ideal for the economy traveller. There is a charge to enter the famous Guinness storehouse, which has seen famous guests such as Queen Elizabeth and President Obama in the past. Dublin's Phoenix Park is the largest open air park in Europe. It has a zoo but it is not very central to the city.
Dún Laoghaire is a pleasant seaside town, just outside of Dublin and offers parks, piers, and shopping. This is easily reached by the DART railway with a journey which includes splendid views across the bay. Blackrock is another small town in the same area which has a park and a high street where you can pass some time.
Several companies in Dublin offer reasonably-priced day trips to the peaceful Wicklow Mountains. These represent Ireland as the beautiful, verdant place that foreign visitors imagine it to be. They have even been the site of movie locations more than once. There are many walking trails, viewpoints, streams, waterfalls, woods, picnic tables, rock walls, and lots and lots of heather. Particularly popular is the scenic village of Glendalough, where there are a number of ancient church ruins and a round tower. There is no entry fee for these so you can enjoy them at your leisure.
The famous Blarney stone is to the south of the country, outside of Cork. It is located near the top of a castle and there is an entry fee to explore the property and gardens. Cork itself is a small, hilly city with two cathedrals. It has a good number of hostels, most of them in walking distance of Cork Kent train station near to the river.
In the southwest, there is Killarney National Park. The scenery is beautiful and there are wild red deer. It is fantastic for hiking or cycling. But if you want a more relaxing time, there are horse and cart rides or a lake cruise. The park encompasses a huge area including attractions such as Ross Castle and the Torc waterfall. There are three separate farms of varying size, and each has animals, poultry, and traditional farm machinery. There is also an old school house, a labourer's cottage, and a blacksmith's forge. You may want to bear in mind that a lot of the tourist buses come to this area.
Dingle, in the south, is just as attractive and less crowded. It has a lot of hostels for a small town and is surrounded by lush countryside. Tourist attractions include an aquarium, boat rides in the harbour and some good Irish pubs.
In the west of Ireland, along the Atlantic coast of County Clare, sit the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher. There is a small fee to enter the tower here and the walks are bracing as it tends to be very windy. The stunning views make this a very memorable part of Ireland. On a clear day you can see Galway Bay and the Aran Islands.
Galway is a small city with a decent choice of hostels. It doesn't take long to explore on foot. On Shop Street, there is an old medieval townhouse called Lynch's Castle, which is now a bank. The Aran Island Ferries depart from Ros a' Mhíl, which is 23 miles west of Galway City centre. The three Aran islands are worth a visit to see the old forts, go on scenic walks, admire the unusual plants, and listen to real Irish being spoken by the small population. There is a limited choice of hostels on the islands, so it would be wise to book up in advance.
Ireland has much more to offer than has been covered here. It is a safe and interesting place to visit. The many hostels are generally excellent quality for a low price. What are you waiting for?
Hi, I'm Charli,
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I have not only visited Dublin but I've lived there for a year. And all I can say is: It's a great city! Yes, it is a bit more expensive than other European metropolitan areas, but at the same time you won't find nicer people, more fun and better accommodation anywhere else in the world. The Irish are nice folks; …
This is a great city -- small, so it is easy to explore on foot. I rang the Shandon Bells (nice thing to do -- hear your tune played out over the city!). The English Market is cool to wander in and buy lunch -- I ate it in the Peace Park across the way. I like the cafe in the Crawford Art Gallery too, but my best cup …
I think that Ballinskelligs is the most beautiful place that I have seen and the people are so nice and friendly lovely place to have a holiday when you get the weather!
I love Tralee. It is very cute. A lovely, calm, and quiet town.
Dingle is a small village with 52 pubs!
Bundoran is a beautiful area by the beach, but unfortunatly I find it a little dirty sometimes. Overall I think it's a lovely town and most of the people are sweet and kind.
I lived in Ennis for 6 months and I have to say that I really miss that colourfull village. Even it is a small place, there's always something to do. The pubs are an amazing centre of music. Libraries, shops, cinemas... Have I said enough??
I traveled from one end of Ireland to the other this past month and I have to say that my FAVORITE part of the trip was my stay in a little town outside Glengarriff named Adrigole. The most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. Also I would be remiss if I did not mention the most wonderful person we met in …
I lived in Kilkee for three months and I have to say that it's a beautiful place. The town is just charming.
Doolin is a gorgeous place to visit. And a good place to rent bikes and explore.
Apparently the town can be spelled Cahirciveen, Cahersiveen, or Caherciveen. Take your pick.
Kiltyclogher is a beautiful town nestled in between the lovely hills of Leitrim. The Cosy Corner pub has great traditional music and very chatty locals. We had a wonderful time.
Lisdoonvarna is a perfect spot to spend a few days. We stayed three and that was perfect. We visited the Cliffs of Moher and drove to the beach at Lahinch twice. Lisdoonvarna was close to the sites but you don't have to deal with the hassle of Lahinch. This was our third trip to Ireland and our first to Lisdoonvarna …
Killarney's a good base for the Ring of Kerry, however it is the hugest tourist trap I've ever seen. Worse then Disneyworld. I suggest you visit any small town within the country and rub elbows with the farmers to experience the "real" Ireland.
I visited Black Valley on my honeymoon and it is a fantastic place - real magic!!