Perched on the northwest tip of Europe, this is the one place in the world where even time getting lost will be worthwhile. With ancient myths and legends to uncover, amazing landscapes to explore, and locals who will be more than happy to reveal its hidden gems, just go where the island of Ireland takes you. You’ll return home with memories that will last a lifetime.
Belfast is Northern Ireland’s capital. It was the birthplace of the RMS Titanic, which famously struck an iceberg and sunk in 1912. This legacy is recalled in the renovated dockyards’ Titanic Quarter, which includes the Titanic Belfast—an aluminum-clad museum reminiscent of a ship’s hull—as well as shipbuilder Harland & Wolff’s Drawing Offices and the Titanic Slipways, which now host open-air concerts.
City Hall’s copper dome dominates the skyline, and the 19th-century Albert Memorial Clock has a leaning tower. Around St. Anne’s Cathedral, the bohemian Cathedral Quarter has cobblestone streets and arts venues like the Black Box. Victorian St. George’s Market has indoor stalls and music at weekends, while Victoria Square is a modern shopping complex covered by a huge glass dome. The large and colorful murals on the Falls and Shankill roads document the complex history of the city’s Catholic and Protestant populations. This history is detailed at the Ulster Museum, within the city’s Botanic Gardens.
County Donegal is a largely Irish-speaking region bordering the Atlantic Ocean in northwestern Ireland. It’s made up of castles, rugged coastline and mountains such as the quartzite Mount Errigal. Once a private estate, Glenveagh National Park, once a private estate, encompasses forests, lakes, and bogland in the Derryveagh Mountains. Its 1870s manor house, the Scottish Baronial-style Glenveagh Castle, is known for its Victorian gardens.
While its cobblestoned streets still echo with medieval charm, a high-tech boom over the last 20 years has transformed the face of Ireland’s capital city. Today, Dublin is a cosmopolitan hub merging a thousand years of rich and colorful history with world-class theaters, raucous nightlife and, of course, storied old pubs.
Located at the mouth of the River Liffey, Dublin serves as Ireland’s cultural center as well as a modern nucleus of education, administration, economy, industry and the arts. Highly regarded for its commitment to the fields of literature and theater, the city has produced many notable playwrights and authors. In addition to arts and theater venues, Dublin is home to a variety of museums, sports complexes, highly regarded universities, and stunning Georgian architecture.
While taking in everything this scenic city has to offer, don’t overlook perhaps its most enduring quality, the people—a charismatic bunch whose soul and sociability is infectious.
Nestled along Ireland’s western coast, Galway and its surrounding county is known as one of the most beautiful regions of the country. Along with being a popular seaside destination with astonishing beaches and long winding beachfronts, it also has a lively cosmopolitan city center.
With a student population making up about a quarter of the city, Galway has a world-famous arts and entertainment scene. In this relatively small and walkable city, you’ll discover brightly colored cafes and pubs, live music, and performers filling the streets. Today, Galway is also well-known for its annual festivals—including the Galway Arts Festival, which attracts large crowds each year—races, and numerous other events.
From narrow streets buzzing with activity and Irish culture to stunning landscapes and seascapes, Galway just about has it all. A mix of strong history and contemporary elements gives this city a wondrous air.
County Kerry is located in the southwest region Ireland. Known as “the kingdom” to its inhabitants, Kerry is one of the most remarkable places in the country, with rich farmlands in the north of the county and astonishingly beautiful mountains, Atlantic islands, and peninsulas in the south.
With a coastline carved over millennia by a wild ocean, Kerry is the proud owner of Ireland’s 10 highest peaks and vast national park containing the country’s oldest oak forests. It is also home to the legendary Ring of Kerry, a 110-mile touring route that evokes scenes from the Lost World and Lord of the Rings. A paradise for hikers and climbers, Kerry also boasts a plethora of welcoming towns, bed and breakfasts, and pubs.
Kerry’s multi-hued landscape of green hills, golden sand, and blue waters create an iconic backdrop of unforgettable beauty.