Now is the perfect time of year for a winter getaway in Ireland. As the autumnal coloured leaves start to fall and the air is fresh and crisp, it’s a wonderful chance to get out and experience some of the delights this beautiful country has to offer. When you’ve had enough of exploring, sample the local produce in a wonderful restaurant or find a pub where you can get cosy in front of a huge, roaring fire.
Let’s take a look at some of the counties that should be on your winter getaway list!
Fondly known as Ireland’s Cultural Heart, Galway is one of the most captivating counties of the West of Ireland. Full of culture, artistry, exceptional food and music, it marks the halfway point on the Wild Atlantic Way. Along with lovely seaside towns with long sandy beaches, Galway City centre has lots to offer with its wonderful cobbled streets, colourful shops, and a great café and bar culture.
To experience Ireland of old, take a trip to Cnoc Suain in Connemara, an enchanting pre-famine hill village of thatched and slated stone cottages dating back to 1691. Or head to the picturesque village of Clarinbridge to savour its signature dish of Oysters, beautifully presented with garlic butter and a zesty lemon dressing. Delicious!
Lying on Ireland’s south coast, Cork is the biggest county in Ireland with over 1000km of coastline. West Cork is one of the most popular tourist areas in Ireland thanks in large part to its rural beauty, but the towns here are beautiful too, particularly those along the coast such as Bantry and Kinsale. Cork City, the second largest city after Dublin, is vibrant and hip. Built on the River Lee, its many bridges give the city a continental feel.
Wander around the English Market in the heart of Cork City, made famous in recent years when Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain dropped by on her first ever state visit to Ireland in 2011. This quirky roofed food market has been trading since 1788 and is one of the world’s oldest municipal markets. As well as marvelling at the vast array of wonderful Artisan produce available, visitors can also enjoy a coffee or lunch at the Farmgate Restaurant.
Only 35 minutes from Cork City by train, is the pretty and historic harbour town of Cobh in East Cork. The last port of call of the Titanic, pay a visit to the Titanic Experience, located in the original White Star Line Ticket office, which was the departure point for the final 123 passengers who boarded the ship. A fascinating experience for all age groups.
With its stunning scenery, mystical landscape, amazing sandy beaches and lakes, Kerry is one of Ireland’s most beautiful counties. The Ring of Kerry is one of the world’s best-known drives, boasting beautiful views of outstanding natural beauty. Well sign posted, it’s easy to follow, visiting a range of sights and landmarks along the way and takes you through the towns of Kenmare, Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen, Glenbeigh, and Killorglin.
No trip to Kerry is complete without a visit to Killarney. Explore the town centre by Jaunting Car (old traditional pony and trap) and visit Muckross House and Gardens, Killarney National Park, Killarney Lakes, Torc Waterfall and Ross Castle.
Dingle is a great town, quirky and cosmopolitan with an arty vibe. There are lots of places to stay and restaurants for all budgets, and plenty of traditional Irish music to be enjoyed. Nearby is the blue flag Inch Strand, great for walking and picnics, the beautiful sand and dunes make for a great day out, whatever the weather.
Filled with Medieval architecture and an impressive castle, Kilkenny is charming city full of artisan boutique shops, restaurants and pubs. With so many things to do, it’s easy to spend a few days in this picturesque spot.
Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile is a trail that links Kilkenny Castle to St. Canice’s Cathedral. This stretch is filled with shops, restaurants, quaint alleyways and tons of history. Explore on your own or consider taking a guided walking tour especially if you’re interested in history.
Pay a visit to the Smithwick Experience and the oldest operating brewery in Ireland. With the help of a holographic monk and animated portraits, visitors can learn about the history and process of brewing Smithwicks. Plus, at the end, you’ll get to sample a pint!
Famous for its golden beaches that stretch for miles along the coast, Wexford is the perfect destination for crisp, winter walks and exploring the wonderful landscape of the south east. With some of the country’s best restaurants and gastro pubs serving fresh local produce, afterwards you’ll be spoilt for choice for places to sate the appetite you’ll have built up!
Situated just a short drive from Wexford Town is one of Ireland’s most famous beaches, Curracloe, an 11km stretch of soft, fine sand and where Steven Spielberg famously filmed the opening scenes from the film Saving Private Ryan. Running parallel to the beach is Curracloe Forest / Raven Wood, which is a 3.5 km long forest filled with pine trees and evergreens. The forest has a walking trail, which makes it accessible to almost everyone.
Visit the Kennedy Homestead Visitor Centre and hear the story of JFK and five generations of the Kennedy dynasty, the most famous Irish American family. Close by on the New Ross quayside is the Dunbrody Famine Ship & Irish Emigrant Experience visitor centre. An authentic reproduction of an 1840’s emigrant vessel, it provides a world class interpretation of the famine emigrant experience.