Luxury Travel Advisor Kim Floyd fondly remembers her first trip to Ireland, but each subsequent trip has been better than the next. Like Kim, you will quickly see why people fall in love with the Emerald Isle.
Clare is a coastal county brimming with natural charm, iconic towering cliffs, an ancient limestone landscape, and quaint towns. Considered one of the world's best coastal drives, the route along stunning Wild Atlantic Way takes you to dramatic sea cliffs, sand beaches, sweeping hills, and lovely castles.
Recognized as a UNESCO Global Geoparks, the Burren is an enormous rocky pavement dotted with rock formations, caves, fossils, and incredibly diverse plant life. The Burren is one of Ireland's most compelling landscapes. There is also a staggering amount of history in the Burren, with over 2,700 recorded monuments, some dating back over 6,000 years. With its lively music scene, thriving farms, local traditions, and a partnership approach to its management, this is a place that richly deserves its UNESCO Global Geopark Status.
Part of the UNESCO Global Geoparks, the famous Cliffs of Moher are the image travelers have in mind when thinking of Ireland. As seen in films such as Star Wars and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, the cliffs are a favorite visitor experience. At the top of O'Brien's Tower, you can see for miles on a clear day.
County Kerry is renowned for its beautiful scenery, including Ireland's highest mountain Carrantuohill (3,414 feet), the Lakes of Killarney, its beautiful sandy beaches, cliffs, and rocky headlands. No trip to Kerry is complete without including the panoramic Ring of Kerry drive on the Iveragh Peninsula. It stretches southwest from Killarney for 40 miles and takes you through the towns of Kenmare, Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen, Glenbeigh, and Killorglin.
A visit to the Dingle Peninsula is an absolute must for anyone who loves stunning scenery and wants to experience nature at its most pure. Plan to stay overnight as the drive to the Dingle Peninsula takes four to six hours.
Along Conner Pass, marvel at the dramatic and awe-inspiring views. You will notice clusters of curious cone-shaped huts dot the side of a road; these are beehive huts! The exact age of the houses is uncertain, and different theories date them anywhere from the eighth to 12th centuries AD.
Pop into a local Dingle pub for a pint and lively Irish music. Work up an appetite exploring the magnificent coastline, then feast on oysters the size of your fist.
A visit to County Kerry is not complete without a stop at Killarney National Park. Killarney National Park was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 1981 by UNESCO. You’ll need at least two days to experience all the magnificent sites. Take a Jaunting Car tour to visit the most beloved hot spots for added fun.
Waterford, a seaport in southeast Ireland, is the country’s oldest city. Founded by Vikings in 914 AD, parts of its ancient walled core remain. Within Reginald’s Tower, a circa-1003 fortification, the Waterford Museum of Treasures displays local archaeological finds.
The famed glass manufacturer Waterford Crystal began here in 1783. Today, the company’s facility near the historic district offers factory tours.
A visit to the Waterford Crystal factory is a highlight when visiting County Waterford. See the gorgeous crystal trophies made in the factory from world-famous tournaments and matches. Naturally, you will want to purchase a crystal souvenir to bring home.
Renting an entire castle, like Lismore Castle, for a private stay is an exceptional experience. Imagine your own Downton Abbey moment. Lismore castle dates from 1170. You’ll find just how deep the castle is steeped in history as you marvel at the walls marked by Cromwellian cannonballs.
It was once owned by Sir Walter Raleigh, famous for bringing potatoes and tobacco to Ireland. Notable guests include Cecil Beaton, Lucian Freud, Fred Astaire, and JFK. A stay at Lismore Castle is genuinely memorable.
Often sidestepped by visitors who head, instead, to the lumbering mountains of Connemara in Galway, County Mayo is the picture-perfect version of the west of Ireland, with delightful villages and sweeping bays. Mayo’s rugged coastline begs to be explored, a true playground for outdoor enthusiasts. From cycling to world-class deep-sea fishing, you will find plenty of activities to satisfy your adventurous spirit.
As Ireland's first and only Forbes Five Star Hotel and the former home of the Guinness family, Ashford Castle is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Dating back to 1228, Ashford Castle offers guests acclaimed Irish hospitality on a grand scale with 83 spectacular rooms, suites, and the Hideaway Cottage, a wealth of activities, and plenty of thoughtful touches. During your stay, be sure to discover the ancient form of falconry at the oldest established Falconry School in Ireland; flying hawks is an experience of a lifetime!