I have previously written travel guides for the European cities of Gdansk, Krakow and Szczecin and today I bring to you my personal travel guide for Ireland! You can see my photos throughout my week roadtrip through Ireland in a few different blog posts including Slane, Kilkenny, Wiklow Mountains National Park, Dublin Botanic Gardens & Howth Cliffs. See the travel guide below!
Getting there // I flew from Gdansk to Dublin airport to get to Ireland. It was a fairly short three hour flight (compared to being used to usually taking 14 hour flights anywhere from Australia!) that went by quickly. The majority of airlines fly to Dublin, both from Europe and across the world. You can also catch a ferry from the UK to Ireland.
Getting around // I spent the majority of my time in Ireland exploring the countryside, which I strongly recommend is best/most convenient by car. You have the ease of being able to go wherever, whenever you want, you can stop the side of the road to take photos whenever you see something interesting (which dan and I did way too many times!) and you're more available to going on spontaneous road trips. On our first day in Ireland, we visited Slane and from there decided to take random roads to explore the island and accidentally almost ended up in North Ireland where all the road signs are only in Gaelic. I feel like I should make a note that the highways in Ireland are smooth and spacious but pretty much all the other roads are SO tiny, they seem like one lane but are two way, you have cobblestone fences half a metre away from your car while you're driving through them and most of the time you can't see around the corner because of all the trees and overgrown shrubbery. If you're not up for the idea of driving in a different country or on the narrow winding roads but still want to explore the countryside, there are lots of coach busses that you can book day tours with that will drive you to different country towns.
If you want to spend most of your time in Dublin, then I would suggest to forget about a car completely and just explore the city by foot. There are so many stores, pubs and restaurants crammed next to each other you would miss out on too much driving through the main streets of the city. Everything seems to be walking distance in Dublin. Dan and I spent a day on one side of the river at the botanic gardens and managed to make our way across to the other side and ended up at Dublin castle without an issue.
Where to stay // The Irish countryside is known for its amazing bed and breakfast accommodations. So without a doubt I would say to go online and look for bed and breakfasts to stay at while in Ireland and you probably can't go wrong. While in Slane we stayed at this gorgeous b&b, they had a cute kitty that followed us around while we took pictures in their huge gardens. This place is a very close drive to all the main attractions in Slane. We also got fed an amazing breakfast when we woke up in the morning, we didn't need to eat for the majority of the day!
In Kilkenny we booked a guest house accommodation, and although this wasn't a traditional bed and breakfast, the owners were very welcoming and would bake fresh Irish bread for everyone every morning and provide local jams, honey and organic farm yogurt for breakfast. We grew to love our little but very spacious room in Kilkenny. It was situated in the most perfect and convenient location, if we ever come back I would stay here again in a heartbeat!
What to do // I can only offer advice for things to do that I personally experienced, so I’m going to go through each of the towns I visited while I was in Ireland!
Slane // First stop is the beautiful town of Slane. There are an abundance of things to do in Slane starting from experiencing the historic town itself. Lined with limestone buildings the town of Slane is built alongside the River Boyne. In and close by to the town you can visit Hill of Slane, Slane Castle, Newgrange and Hill of Tara Tombs, plus so many more! Just take a look at TripAdvisor for the endless list of places to visit! It is worth mentioning that something we didn’t know while visiting Slane is that most of the places to visit you need to have an online pre-booked tour or have your bed & breakfast book you a tour the day before. We missed out of seeing a couple of things since we didn’t know this and were sadly in Slane for only a short time.
Kilkenny // Walking through the city of Kilkenny and visiting Kilkenny Castle is an absolute must! The city is huge with a maze of streets filled with cafes, restaurants and pubs. If you make your way to Kilkenny Castle, be sure to walk around the castle grounds and make your way to the Canal Walk by the River Nore. Nearby are the beautiful gardens of Butler House, a hidden gem tucked away on a side street near the city centre. Lyrath Estate Hotel also makes a great late morning or afternoon getaway, a mansion covered in vines just outside of Kilkenny for a perfect brunch or high tea spot.
Dublin // I personally spent the majority of my time in Ireland exploring the towns in the countryside, so I only had half a day to spend in Dublin. During the day, I visited Dublin Botanic Gardens. There is no entry fee to the gardens, only a small 2 Euro parking fee if you are driving. I couldn't recommend the gardens more! There are around 5 greenhouses with varying themes including a Palm garden, Succulent garden and Orchid House. The grounds are huge and you could easily spend a couple of hours walking around through the rose gardens and getting lost within the abundance of Cherry Trees, Cedar Trees, the list goes on!
If you are just visiting Dublin while in Ireland and don’t want to venture too far away from the main city to visit other towns, there are still plenty of things to do! Howth Cliffs is almost an island, connected to Ireland by two main roads and only a half an hour car or train ride from the centre of Dublin. You can easily spend a day in Howth exploring the small town, eating the delicious fish and chips and spending time hiking in various spots around the island. A few of my personally recommended hikes include the main Cliff Walk, Bailey Lighthouse and Red Rock Beach.
One last spot only a 30-60 minute drive from Dublin (depending where you want to go within the park), is Wicklow Mountains National Park. This is definitely a full day trip where you can spend your time driving around the National Park, pulling over in various spots and going for a small hike. There aren’t too many “official” hiking and viewpoint spots within the park, the gist of the park is you drive around and when you see something, you pull over and make your way towards it. We saw SO many cars pulled over in the most random spots throughout the day, with us being no exception. A few of my more memorable stops in the park include Lough Tay Guinness Lake, Powerscourt Waterfall (although this was the only spot that was extremely busy it was still beautiful), Glendalough Monastic Site, Glendalough Lake and many others viewpoints which don’t even have a name on a map!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Ireland Travel Guide and Photo Diary! If you have any more suggestions or things that you absolutely loved experiencing while in Ireland, please share them with me in the comments! I was only in Ireland for a short time and would love to go back one day to explore even more of what this beautiful country has to offer.
all photos edited with my Gdansk Lightroom Preset