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Explore The Natural Beauty of Ireland

There’s an Irish saying “May you find what you’re seeking wherever you roam.”  If what you’re seeking is beautiful landscapes, breathtaking vistas, a well poured pint and the friendliest locals then roaming around Ireland is a must for your bucket list.  Planning a visit to the Emerald Isle takes a bit of planning to cover the vast countryside.  I’ve put together a few highlights to help you make the most of your journey. 

Whether you are flying into Dublin or just planning on making your way there, you’ll definitely want to spend a day or two enjoying city center.  Some of the major attractions you’ll find in Dublin would include Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, The National Museum, Christ Church and The Guinness Storehouse.  At the Guinness Storehouse you’ll learn all about Ireland’s famous beer and have a chance to have a proper pint at their rooftop Gravity Bar while taking in the 360 degree views of the city’s skyline.  Be fairly warned that a pint of Guinness enjoyed at the Guinness Storehouse will surely turn you into a bit of a brew snob as no place else could ever duplicate the freshness or pour it as well.  Luckily the Storehouse is on the city’s Hop-on-Hop-Off bus tour, which is good to know should you decide  to stay for another round…or two.

After you’ve enjoyed the sights of the capital city you’ll want to head south towards County Cork.  Along the way you’ll find Wicklow and Waterford.  You may choose to stop at the House of Waterford Crystal for a tour and a souvenir.  County Cork is home to the famous Blarney Castle.  No holiday in Ireland is complete without a trek up the 127 steps in a pilgrimage to kiss the Blarney Stone and be endowed with the gift of gab.  Kissing the Blarney Stone is no easy task and if you suffer from acrophobia you may wish to take a pass on this one as the participant needs to lean over backwards on the parapet’s edge while lying on your back.  There are assistants on hand to hold your legs as you dangle backwards and upside down for the actual kissing of the Blarney Stone.  Rest assured there are wrought-iron protective crossbars to stop you from actually falling through.  If you’ve waited in the queue and the height didn’t scare you away then there is a photographer on site to capture the moment and photos are available for purchase in the gift shop.  Is it a bit of a cheesy touristy trap? Of course it is but c’mon, why not?

From Cork you’ll want to head up towards County Kerry but not before making a stop at Kinsale and Skibereen along the way to enjoy these picturesque towns.  The Irish brogue in this part of the country can be quite thick but as in all of Ireland the local folks are most warm and welcoming even if you only understand part of the conversation.  Once in Kerry you’ll want to drive The Ring of Kerry which follows the outskirts of the Iveragh Peninsula.  Killarney is considered the starting point of  The Ring of Kerry and one of my favorite towns.  You’ll want to spend some time wondering around the streets of Killarney enjoying the local flavor before starting out on your journey.  You’ll take in some of the most beautiful views the country has to offer along this route. 

Next stop would be a visit to the Dingle Peninsula area.  The driving in this area can be quite challenging.  The roads are barely wide enough for one vehicle let alone two and often times you will need to shift into reverse and back up for quite a while in order to let an approaching car make their way through.  Be prepared to share the road with sheep and cattle and it’s not unusual to find stone walls and hedges as a close barrier on the side of the road.  Consider it all part of the Irish countryside charm.  It’s worth mentioning that sunshine and favorable weather are considered a bonus in this corner of the world so pack your Wellies and a mac and don’t let gray skies get in the way of enjoying what will surely be a most memorable holiday.

You can round out your trip along the Irish coastline with a stop in Galway and a visit to Aran Islands before making you way back across the country to Dublin for one final Guinness before heading home. 

View IVHE properties available for home exchange in Ireland and find out more about how to enjoy your holiday in a home away from home. 
Thank you to Lisa Medeiros, @LisaMedeiros_  a passionate traveler and writer.  


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