I promise I am not working for the Irish tourist board when I say this but … honestly… my favorite place to visit on the planet is Ireland. I do have some Irish blood in me and I think whenever I am there I feel that immediate connection.
There are so many amazing places to visit in Ireland but lets start with Dublin (because you would probably fly into Dublin airport.) Dublin is full of things to do. Some beautiful churches, lovely parks and of course walking along the river to the Ha’penny Bridge. Temple Bar is great spot for first time visitors. It is full of pubs and restaurants and for music lovers you can check out the Rock ‘n’ Roll Experience (that is my son in the hat jamming with some Irish lads) Part of the experience is touring music venues and studios that both Thin Lizzy, U2 and other Irish acts recorded in.
You will need to grab a pint of Guinness when you arrive at the Stag’s Head. It is one of Dublin’s oldest pubs and dates back to 1770. There is a Guinness factory tour you can do as well but to be honest it’s a bit touristy and other than the view from the top of the factory I would say having a pint in a nearby pub is better use of your time. One of the tours I did love if you are fan of history is the Kilmainham Gaol. This is an old jail which is now a museum and tells the story of so many of the uprisings of the past. It really is fascinating (although depressing also). My favorite thing to do in Dublin is head over to the Northside and go to a pub that is not full of tourists but full of locals. It is only here that you will hear some true Irish music. It is unlike any musical experience you can find anywhere else in the world.
So obviously if you visit Ireland you need to get out of Dublin and explore the West coast. – The Cliffs of Moher are breathtaking and grabbing a boat over to the Aran Islands just off of Galway Bay is well worth the trip (see below … this is on the Aran Islands with my lads… a seriously old castle in the back ground). Galway is another town worth a day trip to.
Down a bit further south is the Dingle Peninsula – that is totally worth a visit. Lovely beaches and seaside towns with some delicious food and friendly pubs. Actually it has been my experience that there is level of friendliness in Ireland that I haven’t experienced in other places. So you never have to worry if you get stuck because there will be someone who will help you with a smile that you will probably end up chatting to for a while and eventually sharing a pint.
I could go on and on about the reasons to visit Ireland … but here is a start if you are thinking of visiting the Emerald Isle. Slainte!