[Ireland by Roberto Taddeo, on Flickr.]
Breathtaking landscape, cosmopolitan cities, and stunning coastlines are just some of the aspects of Ireland that keep tourists flocking to the emerald isle each year.
The best way to explore Ireland is by car as it gives you the freedom to get around and see as much of the beautiful landscape as you have time for. If travelling from the UK with your car, you can take the ferry which runs up to 7 crossings a day.
If you travel by ferry it will arrive into the small coastal town of Larne which is a short 30 minute drive to Northern Ireland’s buzzing capital of Belfast. The city has a fascinating history which can be explored at places such as the Ulster museum and the Titanic Belfast, or grab a ticket for one of the many hop-on-hop-off double-decker buses to get an overview of the city from a height. If you’re craving some decadence while in Belfast, a visit to The Merchant Hotel is a must. Here you will find art-deco furnishings and a smooth jazz soundtrack will accompany your brunch.
Out of the city, the coastal region heading east from Belfast to Bangor is home to many of the North’s wealthiest residents. Bangor is certainly worth the short drive out of the city to take a walk down the attractive North Down Coastal Path.
If you fancy a 2 hour drive through to the Republic of Ireland, you’ll find another capital city, Dublin! For dinner options the foodie district, named locally as the ‘Hipster Triangle’, is your best option. For those that aren’t doing the driving and are interested in a post-dinner drink, the city has a plethora of fantastic cocktail bars such as Bagots Hutton.
Having explored two cities in one day will most likely leave you feeling ready to hit the hay. A luxurious overnight stay at The Shelbourne Dublin will seem like a very good idea.
No visit to Dublin would be complete without a trip to the wonderful Guinness Storehouse, including a drive by the architecturally stunning Trinity College.
After exploring the city during the day continue your drive south to the Medieval town of Kilkenny which is only an hour and a half from Dublin. There are plenty of scenic detours to take through the stunning valley of the Wicklow mountains and Glendalough where picturesque views greet you at every turn. Stay overnight at the Kilkenny River Court Hotel on the banks of the River Nore and dine at the hotel’s award winning restaurant.
Kilkenny Castle dates back to 12th century and is considered one of Ireland’s most treasured heritage sites- the Long Gallery is the focal point for many visitors. Spend the morning visiting this famous landmark and getting lost among the beautiful cobbled streets of Kilkenny.
Make sure you allow enough time for the drive back to Larne (roughly 3 hours), where you can hop on a late departure back to Cairnryan.
This post was written in association with P&O Ferries.