For Kiwis traveling to Ireland, Dublin will be on your to-do list, but if you’re wondering where else you could visit I would recommend heading West and seeing how totally beautiful Ireland is – it’s called the Emerald Isle after all!
In October I tacked on a few days to my UK trip to do some sightseeing in Western Ireland. I’d been following an artist, Daire Lynch’s work online and was keen to see for myself the inspiration for his work and explore an area I hadn’t been to before.
Just over 2 hours from Dublin you can find yourself in Galway – a great city to make your base for a few days to explore the beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way. Galway itself is a neat city, with the River Corrib running through its centre. The city is easy to navigate on foot and there are certainly some must have sights including Galway Cathedral, Spanish Arch, Galway City Museum and the shopping/bars/cafes in the city are worth a visit. Galway also has a vibrant arts and music scene.
Self-drive in Ireland is very easy, I rented a car and ventured off to explore County Clare and the sweet villages of Doolin and Milltown (but there are lots of great places to visit), on the way to the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher is around 80kms from Galway, and really is a bucket list spot, the 700ft cliffs in the Burren National Park has a walkway along the cliff edge – bring a coat, or sunscreen! It’s pretty impressive. From the cliffs, and from atop the tower, visitors can see the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, the Maumturks and Twelve Pins mountain ranges to the north in County Galway, and Loop Head.
The Cliffs are a popular attraction so do be prepared to share your experience with others, but I don’t recommend climbing over the barriers (like you’ll see others doing!) to get an Inst-worthy selfie…it’s too dangerous for my blood!
From Galway you can travel 45 minutes north to County Mayo, again an area of gorgeous villages and easy driving. I spent most of my time in Cong where I visited the grounds of the Cong Abbey and surrounding village, and walking through the grounds of the previously Guinness Family owned Ashford Castle, now one of the most luxurious Red Carnation hotels. It’s really one of the most idyllic places I’ve visited.
I would recommend if you have time, then at least 2 weeks in Ireland would give you more time to have an awesome self-drive adventure. Heading up to Northern Ireland is also a big contrast, but I’ve loved visiting there – it’s so interesting and isn’t like anything you’ve seen before.
If you’d prefer to have someone else do the driving and organising we have lots of excellent tour options for Ireland, let me know what’s on your bucket list and I can recommend an itinerary for you!
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