Ireland remains a favourite destination for several tourists globally for many good reasons; it is widely acknowledged for its breathtaking natural beauty coupled with the several exciting activities to do on holiday. According to Tourism Ireland, approximately 11.2 million tourists visited Ireland in 2019, generating €5.8 billion for the economy. Are you curious to know what makes Ireland such an attractive place to consider as your next travel destination? Then take a look at these points below.
One of Ireland’s hottest selling tourism niches is its famous castles that attract tourists from far and near. A reported 30,000 castles and castle ruins litter the Irish landscape countrywide. Why so many castles? Well, Ireland has a rich history dating back millennia, steeped in the legendary and infamous Vikings, Celts, and other warrior clans. Safety became a priority as more invaders flocked to Ireland seeking to conquer and plunder it. Therefore, both natives and invaders built several castles for protection and stronghold purposes, each lending their own architectural styles to produce some of the most impressive castles left standing today!
Many seasoned travellers and travel experts alike agree that Ireland presents some of the best medieval architecture the world has to offer today, making it a must-visit destination for you. Therefore, whether you decide to visit the famous Bunratty, Carrickfergus, or any other castles in Ireland, anticipate a fantastic experience where reality and legend collaborate to reward you with an authentic Irish experience.
Exciting outdoor activity checklist
Due to the nature of the Irish countryside, there are many opportunities for great outdoor activities that will appeal to the typical adventurer. Road trips are great in Ireland due to the scenery, with some experts citing summertime as the ideal season to visit the country if you are road trip inclined.
Also, Ireland is a perfect hiking hotspot due to its many beautiful mountains. Whether you want to climb a particular mountain or wander by a waterside, there are numerous options to choose from that will ensure a memorable hiking experience.
Sea kayaking, surfing, mountain biking, and paragliding are other adventurous outdoor activities that you can enjoy in Ireland. So, you should consider the country for many fun-filled outdoor activities perfect for your vacation.
Guinness and whiskey!
Dublin ranks as one of the most iconic locations for beer brewing and drinking worldwide, rivalled strongly by perhaps only Amsterdam, Munich, and Prague. As such, a trip to Ireland should be in your plans if you are a beer and whiskey lover! Guinness is one of the world’s best-selling beers and Ireland’s most famous export. Naturally, this brings many people who want to see where Guinness is made to Dublin’s Guinness storehouse. It is no surprise therefore, that this storehouse was Ireland’s most patronised tourist site in 2015.
A trip to the famous Dublin beer warehouse for a lovely tour ends with a refreshing, customary free pint of probably the best Guinness you will ever taste. Whiskey distilleries are also famous in the country so whether you intend to visit Jamesons, Bushmills or any other distillery in Ireland, you have several quality options to choose from. To crown it all, you can see many local Irish pubs to enjoy a great pint surrounded by several other friendly tourists and locals.
Irish music and festivals
The Emerald Isle has quite a reputation for celebrations and good music, making it an excellent destination for you to experience some exciting and festive culture. These festivals are typically Celtic, literary, musical, film, and comedy festivals, that will undoubtedly interest you. Ireland hosts many festivals and events during the year, allegedly well over 400, meaning you will likely be just in time for a lovely celebration regardless of when you choose to visit.
You can, however, visit during peak season when Dublin’s annual Tradfest festival starts in January to experience Ireland’s largest traditional music festival. Also, another holiday like St. Patrick’s Day with its rich tradition of costumes and street theatre is worth checking out. Other festivals like the Galway Arts Festival and the Cork Sailing festival make for great attractions that should put Ireland at the top of your next travel destination wish-list.
Although food isn’t the first thing you associate with Ireland, several travel experts say the Irish cuisine is worth making the trip for. Ireland is experiencing what many of these experts call a “culinary renaissance” in recent years; new restaurants are steadily popping up in Dublin, Cork, Belfast, etc., gradually transforming the country into a foodie hotspot.
You can visit one of the numerous local markets to try Ireland’s classic farmhouse cheeses along with the traditional soda bread. You also get to experience the full Irish breakfast, complete with sausages, eggs, bacon, beans, mushrooms, and toasts or boxty. Other traditional foods suggested by multiple experts are Irish stew, seafood-based meals, boiled bacon and cabbage, and Irish coffee.
Many people associate Ireland with green rolling hills and vast, rugged countryside, and indeed they aren’t wrong. Ireland is blessed with stunning scenery and a vast area of unspoiled land that make it a strong tourist destination for the scenery lover. From sky-high sea cliffs to tranquil lakes, there are several iconic places to go to for a fantastic tourist experience.
You can find the stunning Slieve League cliffs, one of Europe’s highest marine cliffs that stretch nearly 2000 feet out of the Atlantic Ocean. The famous Cliffs of Moher are another scenic destination you should consider visiting Ireland for. As one of the country’s most popular attractions, it brings a reported 1.5 million visitors annually, having been featured in classic films like The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. Killarney National Park, Skellig Michael, Fanad Head Lighthouse, Achill Island, etc., are but a few examples of other iconic scenery you should visit the Emerald Isle to see.
The Irish people
It isn’t surprising to find the Irish at the top of multiple lists of the friendliest people on Earth, given their outstanding friendliness. Indeed, many travellers to Ireland cite the Irish people and culture as a significant part of their trip’s experience. Therefore, consider visiting Ireland to experience part of a warm and hospitable culture while having a great time.
The locals are quick to engage you in friendly banter and conversations, and you would most likely experience their witty sense of humour too. Some travel experts suggest staying in smaller hotels and bed-and-breakfasts (B&Bs) to get a real feel of the local life. Also, pubs are a social hotspot for the Irish, so you can spend more time there drinking with the locals, listening to traditional music, and tasting original Irish flavours, all of which make for a memorable Irish experience.
Did you know that Ireland is home to the Newgrange passage tomb, a Neolithic monument older than the Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Giza? Consider visiting Newgrange, one of UNESCO’s highly-rated World Heritage Sites for a prehistoric trip down memory lane. Ireland also houses the British Isles oldest monasteries and the Book of Kells, one of the world’s most treasured medieval manuscripts located in Trinity College, Dublin. Indeed, the Emerald Isle is an iconic destination for the heritage and history-inclined traveller, making it a must-visit destination if you are one.
Evidence of human life in Ireland goes back to around 10,500 BC, so you can imagine the number and history of many prehistoric sites that await you on your visit. Additionally, many of Ireland’s heritage towns live up to their name as thriving communities, lacking the artificiality that many heritage towns around the world have. As such, you get to enjoy a genuine experience of true Irish heritage, making for a fantastic vacation experience.