With expatriates from Australia to Argentina, Ireland has a worldwide reputation far outweighing its relatively small size. But a trip to the Emerald Isle quickly reveals why: it is a place of beauty, culture and good craic.
In Ireland it seemingly rains in summer, autumn, winter and spring. That said, June is probably the best month for those hoping to avoid a downfall, although again the weather is famously unpredictable. To avoid the crowds, pack a rain jacket and head over in September; at this time, it is still warm enough to be pleasant, and there is still plenty to do.
Dublin – The Irish capital is almost a compulsory visit, especially given most travellers will fly into its airport. Spend a few days enjoying the city, and don’t miss visits to Trinity College, the Guinness Storehouse and Temple Bar.
Galway – Located close to the impressive Cliffs of Moher and scenic Aran Islands, Galway is a good base for exploring the Irish countryside. Nevertheless, the city has much more than just a convenient location going for it – with serious history and a great pub scene, Galway is a good place to stay for several nights. Find a venue with local music and enjoy the craic – an Irish word for fun and enjoyment.
Sligo – Nestled on the North West coast of Ireland, Sligo may not be the tourist hotspot of Dublin or Galway. It nonetheless provides the gateway to a county of incredible landscapes – mountains, beaches and imposing cliffs. Not far from Sligo is the beautiful Rosses Point, and for those into golf, an excellent course overlooking the ocean.
Generator Hostel Dublin – Located in Smithsfield Square, three light rail stops from the main drag, Generator is a modern hostel with plenty of features. The lack of a kitchen is a downside, but with a great supermarket across the square offering delicious rolls and wraps for only a few euros, this is a minor problem.
With family – If, like me, you are one of the vast numbers of Australians with Irish heritage, you may be lucky enough to have family living somewhere in the Emerald Isle. And there is perhaps no better way to see Ireland than with a local, so explore your family tree and start making phone calls!
Possibly the more important question when it comes to a meal is not what to eat, but what to drink. And the clear winner here has to be Guinness. While it is available worldwide, a Guinness poured at a Dublin bar is somehow tastier than any Australian equivalent.
Food is reasonably similar to what one might find at home, and price is usually moderate. If in Galway, search for an excellent small cafe called Mixed Greens, an eco friendly healthy lunch option offering a variety of salads, sandwiches and burgers – great food and good prices. Top tip: Spar supermarkets offer delicious chicken wraps for only three euros!
The Irish train network is a reliable and effective means of getting around, if somewhat Dublin-centric. With no real rail infrastructure on the west coast, any journey from Sligo to Galway, for example, is either taken by bus or via Dublin. Thankfully the buses are excellent, reasonably cheap, and have free wifi on board. Finally, Irish Rail is part of the Eurail network – handy if you are planning an extended trip around Europe.
Prices in Dublin are in line with most major European cities, although the Irish recession has led to a dip in the cost of living. Away from the city and things are a little cheaper, but still comparative with other Western European countries. In short,it isn’t cheap, but thankfully not ludicrously expensive either.
The creator of Guinness, Arthur Guinness, was so confident in his product that he signed a 9,000 year lease for the factory land!