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Destination Ireland – Your Essential Vacation Planner

Destination Ireland – Your Essential Vacation Planner

Photo cred: @conorcorbett

From its vibrant capital in Dublin to its majestic coastal landscapes in the west, Ireland offers some of the most epic travel experiences and views in Europe. Golfing fanatics will rejoice over courses that have been virtually untouched for the past year, and in the best shape for your post-COVID golf trips. While most will defer to a summer visit, Ireland truly shines during the early fall and late spring, so now may be an excellent time to plan your trip to the Emerald Isle!

Beginning July 19th, 2021 for non-EU travelers with proof of vaccination, no testing or quarantine are necessary. If a visitor lacks proof of immunization, they will need to do the following: present evidence of a negative PCR test result within seventy-two hours before arrival into the country, self-quarantine and undergo post-arrival testing.

Photo cred: @giahomemadepro

Eastern Ireland: Dublin and Kilkenny


As Ireland’s capital and most populated city, Dublin should be at the top of your list when it comes to Eastern Ireland exploration. This is a city best explored on foot, with cobbled streets and narrow lanes connecting every sight in the city.  Dublin may be well known for attractions such as the Jameson Distillery and the Guinness Storehouse, but there is so much more to discover.


Dublin is a vibrant city with abundant nightlife, festivals, and rich history. A mix of modern and medieval makes this city an excellent place for all travelers visiting Ireland. Finding your own slice of Dublin is part of its charm. 

Are you interested in learning how Irish people have influenced the world around us? Check out the Irish Immigration Museum called EPIC to dive deeper into the Irish influence on innovation and history. 

Is shopping more your speed? Dublin is a haven for off-the-beaten-path shops you won’t find anywhere else. For example, it is home to one of three women in the world who handcraft leather gloves – Paula Rowan who Vogue featured with Madonna sporting her creations on her world tour! 

Photo cred: @westburydublin


Located between Trinity College and St. Stephen’s Green, The Westbury Hotel earned the number one spot for hotels in Ireland by Condé Nast Traveler 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards.  While the decor and architecture alone exude a sense of elegance and sophistication, this hotel is also home to a stunning privately-owned art collection and it’s fine dining spot Wilde

Another top resting place, The Shelbourne, has set the standard for luxury hospitality in Ireland for almost two hundred years. Housed in an 1824 building and perfectly positioned in the city center on the Northside of iconic St. Stephen’s Green, The Shelbourne is well positioned to access all that Dublin has to offer. While you are there, we recommend indulging in the art of afternoon tea at the famed Lord Mayor’s Lounge.

Located about an hour from Dublin, Ballyfin Demesne offers privacy and discretion like no other, with only twenty bedrooms on the expansive 614 acre estate. This five-star luxury retreat is perfect for those who long to embrace the Irish countryside in style. Enjoy the residents-only estate with activities such as archery, horseback riding and falconry or journey through time with a horse-drawn-carriage guided tour that navigates the pathways of the estate. 


Young Couples, History Buffs, Art Lovers, Golfers

Photo cred: @afif.elkhuffash


Southeast Ireland is home to the medieval town of Kilkenny. The city boasts many well-preserved churches and monasteries interwoven with deep religious roots, and rich history. Home to the 12th century Kilkenny Castle and Ireland’s Medieval Mile, Kilkenny should be on your list to get a glimpse at the best of historic Ireland. 


With this city located only an hour and a half from Dublin, Kilkenny is a perfect place to stop and explore as you travel through the Irish countryside and while you are there, you must stop for a stroll around Kilkenny Castle and its fairytale grounds. 


The Mount Juliet Estate is known as Kilkenny’s most acclaimed country Estate, though it was a family home until 1989. The famed thirty-two bedroom Georgian Manor House is known for its luxury as well as the ninety-three bedroom Hunter’s yard. A stay here includes round-the-clock butler services, access to the Jack Nicklaus designed Parkland course, a Michelin Star Restaurant, and outdoor activities like riding and archery.


Golfers, Historians, Romance-Seeking Couples

Photo cred: @shotsbywhatsername

Southern Ireland: Cork & Cobh

The second-largest city in Ireland, Cork,  boasts a vibrant culture and a rivalry with Dublin. Located 30 minutes east of Cork, Cobh is a little town easily reachable by train or car. As a seaside town with one of the largest natural harbors in the world, and home to Ireland’s only dedicated cruise ports, tourism is a significant driver to the area. Although Cobh is quite walkable, be prepared to traverse steep hills!


The shopping scene in Cork includes a mix of modern and local, which is mainly symbolic of the city itself. A bustling metropolis, Cork is a city center much like Dublin, with a unique twist. Do not miss the English Market which draws tourists and locals alike for delicious locally-produced ingredients and the best people watching.  To taste authentic Cork, take the opportunity to sample some local food favorites, such as crubeens, tripe, or drisheen.

Thinking of checking out a museum while in Cork? How about The Butter Museum? Get a look at Cork’s buttery history, and learn about the modern success of Kerrygold butter. 

For the active set, check out Sheep’s Head Way in West Cork where you can pick from one of over twenty-five looping trails. 

In Cobh, one of the city’s most iconic features is The West View which is a collection of colorful houses constructed in 1850. Cobh’s seaside status also makes it a highly renowned area for seafood restaurants. 


Hayfield Manor is within walking distance to attractions like the English Market and St Patrick’s Street and offers incredible five-star luxury. It hosts one of Cork’s finest restaurants – Orchids- which overlooks its beautiful private gardens. Opt for room packages which include a full Irish breakfast and four-course dinner. 

Just outside of Cork you’ll find the Cliff House Hotel –  a thirty-nine room luxury boutique situated in the southeast of Ireland, perched above Ardmore Bay. With an eye to modern Irish design, it merges seamlessly with its gorgeous cliffside scenery. Picturesque views of the Atlantic, coupled with Michelin star restuaurant, a destination spa, The Well, fashion this to be an ideal seaside retreat. 


Foodies, Culture Seekers, Salty Dogs

Photo cred: @cliffhousehotel


Right on the shores of the River Shannon is the third largest city in Ireland,  lovely Limerick. Overlooking the river is the historic King John’s Castle, which has stood watch over the city for over a thousand years. Limerick is an ideal easy-going city to explore the extensive history of Ireland. Try an Irish coffee at the place it first originated!


Embrace the cultural heart of Limerick at one of the oldest markets in Ireland, the Milk Market. The market features vibrant music interwoven with colorful art and artisan foods that make for a perfect Limerick afternoon. Afterward, catch an exciting game of rugby at Thomond Park Stadium. Limerick is also home to a carefully curated art collection at the Hunt Museum featuring works by Picasso, Gaugin, and Renoir. Retire to the paths along the River Shannon and watch the city lights shine off the water at the end of the day.


Located between Southern Ireland and Galway, the lavish Adare Manor is home to Limerick’s first Michelin star restaurant and offers 840 acres of serenity and indulgence. Golfers will thoroughly enjoy the newly renovated golf course that has garnered acclaim from top players and will even host the 2027 Ryder Cup. Additionally, guests are allotted one included estate activity per person, from fishing to archery, paddle tennis to gun dog trials, the options are many.


Historians, Golf Enthusiasts, Mountain Bikers

Photo cred: @theadaremanor


Recently named one of Europe’s Capitals of Culture for 2020, Galway is an essential stop on your Irish journey. Not only is this city a great place to catch some Irish music, but it also boasts some of the best dining in all of Ireland. Galway will capture your heart with its rustic beauty and lively character. And if you are looking to visit the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, or some of Ireland’s expansive national parks, Galway is the perfect waypoint. They host an international oyster festival in September – one of the many excellent reasons to visit Ireland during autumn.

Photo cred: @keith_walsh_agram


Seaside walks on the promenade, castle exploration, and thriving culture will captivate all those who venture through Galway. The Salthill Promenade is the perfect spot to catch the sunset over the bay after a day of city exploration. 

If you are looking to soak up some of Ireland’s panoramic landscape views, the beautiful Aran Islands are a short ferry ride away from Galway. Within the city, you’ll find a variety of shops, entertainment, and architecture. Don’t forget to stop by the Spanish arch for that iconic Galway photo-op.


Hotel Glenlo Abbey perfectly captures the essence of old-world Ireland mixed with modern charm. This lakeside retreat offer amenities that will delight all and is just a five-minute jaunt away from the city center. If you are craving relaxation, enjoy an afternoon picnic or catch a movie in the Abbey movie theater. This hotel is home to a 9 hole Championship golf course and two original carriage cars from the Orient Express that have been restored and converted into a remarkably unique restaurant – The Pullman


Adventurers, Nature Lovers, Gourmands

Photo cred: @glenlo_abbey

Northern Ireland: Belfast and Derry


Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland. It is the birthplace of the famed RMS Titanic and thus, the Titanic Belfast Museum. Due to increasing tourism in recent years, the city has divided itself into several cultural quarters. Belfast is still highly divided among Catholic and Protestant lines, seen throughout the city expressed in street art and flags. During a time of increasing turbulence between the two sides, the ‘Peace walls’ were constructed and are now adorned with cultural symbolism and art.

Fun fact: Northern Ireland is part of the UK which means the pound sterling is the legal currency here while the republic of Ireland (i.e., Dublin) uses Euros.

Photo cred: @gatheredmc


Belfast offers everything from nature to history, culture to education, and exudes an air of authenticity that is often missing in larger tourist cities.  Home to the Linen Hall Library, which houses books as old as the 14th century, literary lovers will rejoice in a visit to this centuries-old library.


At the top of the list for Belfast luxury is the historic Culloden Estate and Spa constructed in 1876. While this beautiful property has cultivated an air of tranquility and seclusion, it has the added advantage of being just ten minutes from the center of Belfast! After a day of exploring the city, relax over a a traditional Afternoon Tea in the Drawing Room, pamper yourself in its Espa Spa and during the summer, or sip a glass of Bollinger champagne on the lawn alongside the ‘Bolly Bus’. 

Photo cred: @cullodenestate


Derry, officially Londonderry, the second-largest city in Northern Ireland, is home to the last wholly intact walled city in Ireland, with walls built between 1613-1619 which vary in height from twelve to up to thirty-five feet high. Derry was also the site of the tragic Bloody Sunday events in 1972.  Fans of the Netflix show Derry Girls will find this city familiar, with filming locations around every corner.


Small yet scenic, Derry is a highly walkable city that offers visitors a place to enjoy Northern Ireland’s extensive history. With walls that form a mile-long loop circling the old town, the promenade on the top of the wall is enjoyed from dawn till dusk and is a popular local hotspot. Twelve murals spanning a three hundred yard stretch memorialize the Bloody Sunday events and are an enduring reminder of the recent history that has come to pass here. Other tourist landmarks not to miss-  St. Columb’s Cathedral, The Guildhall, The Tower Museum, and the iconic Peace Bridge


Perfectly positioned within the historic city walls in the heart of Derry City’s Cathedral Quarter is the exquisite Bishop’s Gate Hotel. Erected in 1899, this thirty-one room luxury boutique hotel which features a champagne bar, library, and ballroom combines classic luxury with contemporary desires.


Photographers, Wanderers, Historians.

Is a getaway to the Emerald Isle in your future? Contact Jen Terra Travels to plan your Irish adventure today!