Some of the first things that come to mind when you think of Ireland are music and a pint of Guinness. However, there is so much more that will blow your socks off when you visit the island. From the traditional Irish pub to The Giant’s Causeway and more. Ireland is a place that we know we will revisit again, as there was no way we could see everything. For now, enjoy these 27 photos that will make you want to visit Ireland and Northern Ireland.
We began our trip to Northern Ireland by crossing the Irish Sea from Cairnryan Port in the UK to Belfast. The ferry ride was more amazing than we thought as it had a theater, video games, restaurants, and bars. It was so easy to stay entertained for our 3-hour journey. Our first stop for a house sit was Portadown, which would be our launch point for everything on the North Coast. Here are some of our favorite spots in Northern Ireland.
Downhill Demesne was our first stop on our road trip north. It includes a library building that was modeled after Rome’s Temple of Vesta. It is well preserved, and the views of the surrounding coastline are incredible. The grounds were a former estate dating back to the 18th century. It includes gardens, a farmhouse, ruins, and the Mussenden Temple. The ruins are a beautiful shell of a former building that we enjoyed walking around. There were very few people here, and it was perfect having it to ourselves.
This set of 40,000 basalt columns form an interesting pattern that is unique and fun to walk around. This was a result of an ancient volcanic eruption and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is free to visit, and also very popular with tourists. We were creative in making sure no tourists were in our photos which took a lot of patience.
Castle ruins are some of our favorite places to explore, and Dunluce Castle was one of the best we have seen. The castle was built around the year 1500 and is located along the northern coastline. Imagine what it looked like before it became a ruin.
As it is the oldest licensed distillery in the world, we had to stop in for a tasting. Bushmills has a good atmosphere with some decorative giant barrels and a sampling of various aged Irish Whiskey. The food there was good as well and was an excellent location for a rest stop between epic locations.
Dark Hedges is most famous from Game of Thrones and is also a stunning place to see in person. The hedges are a bit spooky and also enchanting. Definitely get there early to beat the crowds, so you aren’t taking photos of all the other tourists taking selfies.
Derry or Londonderry gave us a worthwhile lesson on the history of Bloody Sunday. This is more than just a hit song from U2; it’s a real-life event that affected so many lives. In 1972, British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians protesting for their civil rights. 14 people died that day while fleeing from the soldiers or helping the wounded. This massacre is well documented in the Museum of Free Derry and also in the visible street art throughout the city. While sad to see, this place holds an important lesson for all of us.
The Clock Tower Guildhall and the Peace Bridge were a couple other highlights of the town.
Republic of Ireland
A true trip to Ireland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Dublin. There are many great places to experience the culture and even see nature with a bus or train ride. We visited castles, explored ruins, walked over bridges, listened to traditional Irish music, and even got to see some stunning coastline. While it is Ireland’s largest city, it doesn’t feel like it. Here are some of our favorite spots.
Darkey Kelly’s Pub
For traditional Irish music and beer, this seems to be one of the top places to enjoy. We went to this pub twice because we loved it so much. The atmosphere was so energetic as the whole crowd was engaged. I look forward to visiting it again.
As the largest enclosed city park in Europe, Phoenix Park is Dublin’s playground. The park holds deer which is a primary reason for it being enclosed. Most of the time you wouldn’t think deer would occupy such a major city, but they have been there since the park was created. We walked all over the park and photographed these lovely beasts. Just don’t get too close; they can be dangerous.
Monkstown Castle and Church
The Monkstown Castle was easy to walk around. The tower was blocked off but we found a way to see the inside by creatively sticking a GoPro through a hole in the door. We walked around the castle grounds and we also stopped by the nearby church.
Located near the coast of Ireland, Howth has many things to see and do. The main attractions are Howth Castle, St. Mary’s Abbey, and Howth Harbour. This was an easy day trip from central Dublin by train. We started our day off exploring the castle grounds and St. Mary’s abbey. We lucked out with the weather as it wasn’t raining, and we were delighted to see the old architecture. After stopping by these two places, we slowly walked around Howth Harbor. Pronounced Hoth, like in Star Wars (use the Guinness, Luke).
Greystones to Bray Hike
One of our favorite hikes of our trips was from Greystones to Bray which is just south of Dublin. The hike is best as a through-hike by taking local transportation. The views were awesome around every corner.
As we ponder a possible second world trip, Ireland is easily on our revisit list. There are so many other cities we didn’t visit including Limerick, Galway, and Cork. It will be nice to see the charm of the smaller cities as well, and we’ve heard the west coast cliffs have some stunning views. We hope that these photos inspire your next trip to Ireland.
What photo makes you want to visit Ireland?
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