Tiny, and with ever-changing scenery, Ireland is an addictive place to explore. Within a few miles one can travel from plunging cliffs to flat pastureland to towering mountains to gloomy peat bog. You can spend the night in ancient castles or state-of-the-art spa hotels, dine on fine Irish cuisine or snack on fish and chips served in a paper bag. The sheer number of sights, little villages, charming pubs, and adorable restaurants and shops is irresistible to all who desire a beautiful travel.
Not only can the Irish talk up a storm, they are also famous in literature, claiming four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Browse books, letters and manuscripts and listen to evocative audio recordings in the Georgian mansion, housing the Dublin Writers Museum. For the ultimate literary experience, visit Dublin on 16 June, when Victorian-garbed masses take to streets for Bloomsday, celebrating James Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses.
Arty, bohemian Galway is renowned for its pleasures. Brightly painted pubs heave with live music, while cafes offer front-row seats for observing street performers, weekend parties run amok, lovers entwined and more. The city buzzes with a contemporary and cultured vibe as students make up a quarter of the population. Remnants of the medieval town walls lie between shops selling Aran sweaters, handcrafted Claddagh rings and stacks of second-hand and new books.
Cliffs of Moher:
Along Ireland's new 2500km-long coastal drive, the entirely vertical Cliffs of Moher in County Clare rise to a dramatic height of 666ft. On a clear day the views are tremendous, with the Aran Islands etched on the waters of Galway Bay. From the edge you can feel the cool Atlantic spray on your cheeks and hear the booming far below as the waves crash and gnaw at the soft shale and sandstone.
The Dingle Peninsula:
County Kerry’s Dingle Peninsula is awash with postcard-worthy vistas of sandy surf beaches and Caribbean-blue stretches of ocean. Its 'capital', the charming fishing village of Dingle, is a tangle of higgledy-piggledy streets teeming with art and craft shops, old-fashioned pubs and sublime seafood restaurants serving the day's catch.
Killarney National Park:
Fanning out from the vibrant town of Killarney in County Kerry, Killarney National Park is a wonderland of mountains, lakes and woodlands. Wildlife in the park's sprawling 10,236 hectares includes Ireland’s only remaining wild herd of native red deer, as well as fish, rare insects and birds like the white-tailed sea eagle. Beyond the park boundary, do not miss the glorious Gap of Dunloe, a majestic mountain pass most entertainingly explored by jaunting car helmed by a charismatic jarvey (driver).
Brú Na Bóinne:
Predating Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, Brú Na Bóinne in County is a mind-boggling testament to the achievements of prehistoric humans. This extraordinary necropolis includes the passage tomb Newgrange, designed during the Stone Age in c 3200 BC with a chamber that floods with sunlight on the winter solstice. Solstice tickets are drawn by lottery but you can catch a re-creation throughout the year.
The Rock of Cashel:
Standing proudly on a green hill rising from County Tipperary's plains, it is a historic treasure trove of ancient religious structures including a 12th-century Romanesque chapel and a 13th-century Gothic cathedral. But its history dates back much further – for more than 1000 years it was a symbol of power and the seat of kings and churchmen who ruled over the region.
This is a UNESCO-listed geological wonder, formed nearly 60 million years ago by cooling lava. Its 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns jut into the sea. Legend has it they were built by giant Finn McCool to fight his rival Benandonner in Scotland.
Trad: Traditional Irish music, aka 'trad', is the heart of Ireland’s pub scene. The small village of Doolin in County Clare is famed as the centre of Irish music, but lively, informal sessions of upbeat jigs and heart-breaking ballads played with bodhráns (hand-held drums), fiddles, tin whistles, accordions and more strike up in pubs throughout the country.