Planning an Ireland staycation this year and need some inspiration? Here are some magical destinations right on your doorstep in Ireland.
Discover The Dingle Peninsula
Where better to visit on an Ireland staycation than the Dingle Peninsula. Tralee, located at the gateway to the peninsula, is a lively town and home to the Kerry County Museum. Other local attractions include the picturesque Blennerville Windmill and Ardfert Cathedral. Ardfert was built on the site of a monastery founded by St. Brendan The Navigator.
Next, you can visit one of the many golden beaches on the peninsula. At Inch Beach, you won’t have a problem with overcrowding given it’s 5km length. It’s also a popular location for water sports including surfing, kayaking, windsurfing, kite surfing, and fishing.
Dingle Town is famous for it’s pubs and traditional music sessions. However, it also has some of the best seafood restaurants in Ireland. A trip to Murphy’s Ice-cream shop is also a must. Around the peninsula, there’s some incredible scenery. This includes Slea Head and Dunquin Pier with their magical views to the Blasket Islands. While all the time, Mount Brandon towers in the background. There’s also lots of interesting historical sights such as the Gallarus Oratory and the Fahan Beehive Huts.
The Dingle Peninsula is also home to one of the most famous hiking trails in Europe, the Dingle Way. This is a 179km long national waymarked trail. It bring you on a loop around the peninsula with overnight stops in the small villages along the way. You can also choose to hike a smaller section of the route such as the Kerry Camino. This route starts at St. John’s Church, Tralee and follows the Dingle Way to St. James’ Church in Dingle. St. James’ was originally built by Spanish merchants and dedicated to St. James of Santiago de Compostela.
Escape To Connemara
Connemara has long been a favourite destination for Irish staycationers and it’s easy to see why. A visit to the shimmering waters of Lough Corrib is always breathtaking. As is a visit to Killary Fjord or the magestic Maumturk Mountains and the Twelve Bens.
The coast offers even more delights including the pretty fishing village of Roundstone. The nearby Dogs Bay Beach often tops the list of best beaches in Ireland. Ballyconneely and Errislannan bring even more wonderful photo opportunities. This includes the Alcock & Brown Monument. This honours the duo who completed the first non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919, crash landing in a nearby bog.
Clifden is the largest town in the region and is often referred to as “the Capital of Connemara”. There’s plenty of great food options to choose from here. Then drive the 16km circular Sky Road route which takes you up among the hills overlooking Clifden Bay and its offshore islands, Inishturk and Turbot. Finally, a stop off at the magical Kylemore Abbey is a must for any trip to Connemara.
For those who love the great outdoors, there’s plenty of great options including a visit to Connemara National Park to scale Diamond Hill. A longer option is a hike on the Western Way. This brings you from Oughterard along the banks of Lough Corrib to Maam. You then complete the Mám Éan Pilgrim Walk on route to Leenane. From there, you head towards Croagh Patrick with Westport providing the ideal finishing point for the trail.
Uncover The Burren
The Burren is often referred to as being the closest thing on earth to the lunar landscape of the moon. The Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark is certainly a truly unique and impressive landscape with an outstanding geological heritage. It’s also a great place for a Irish staycation.
The Cliffs of Moher, Poulnabrone Dolmen and the Flaggy Shore are all most see attractions. Furthermore, the views under the karst landscape are just as impressive with the Aillwee Cave and Doolin Cave. Marvel at the large stalactites and stalagmites in these great attractions.
For those who prefer sand to rocks, there is also plenty to choose from starting with the surfer paradise of Lahinch. There are also lovely beaches at Fanore, Spanish Point, Dunbeg and Kilkee to only name a few. There are no shortage of pretty villages in the area either with Doolin, Ballyvaughan and Corofin.
For those who want to experience the Burren at a slower pace, the Burren Way is a 98km long (116km including the Black Head Loop) walking route which brings you from Lahinch along the entire Cliffs of Moher to Doolin, Fanore and Ballyvaughan before then turning inland to Corofin.
Explore The Beara Peninsula
The Beara Peninsula is often overlooked in favour of the neighboring Iveragh Peninsula which is home to the Ring of Kerry. However, Beara is equally impressive and offers a quieter more untouched experience. As you enter the peninsula, you are greeted by lovely Glengarriff which offers the opportunity to visit Garnish Island. This island, sheltered in Bantry Bay, has an unique micro-climate which has led to it becoming an island garden of rare beauty known to horticulturists around the world.
Next, the 685 meter Hungry Hill comes into view on the way to Castletownbere. From here, there is the opportunity to visit another beautiful coastal destination with Bere Island just a short ferry trip away. Although it only has a population of just over 200 people, this seems quite crowded compared to the 6 permanent residents on Dursey Island at the end of the peninsula. This remote island on the edge of the Atlantic can only be reached by taking a trip on Ireland’s only cable car.
Nearby, Allihies with it’s brightly coloured houses is a perfect spot to recharge your batteries with a sandy beach. There are also scenic views around every corner. Returning to the top of the peninsula, Kenmare provides the facilitates of a larger town with award-winning hotels, restaurants and gallery’s selling local crafts and artwork.
Beara is also a walker’s dream with the Beara Way circling the peninsula. This allows you to explore the exceptional world of rugged mountains and hidden lakes surrounded by a picturesque, rocky seacoast at your own pace. In Kenmare, you also have the opportunity to join the Kerry Way to circle the Iveragh Peninsula for a thorough comparison.
Adventure In Antrim
A staycation is Antrim is like being transported to a foreign land. Apart from the unique local accents, there is also the opportunity to visit some of the most otherworldly attractions you will ever find. Take a walk across the ocean on the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge if you dare. Then visit the ancient volcanic rock formations of the Giant’s Causeway.
Make sure to also leave time to explore the Titanic Experience in Belfast. Another great attractions is visiting some of the famous filming locations from Game of Thrones. These include The Dark Hedges, Fair Head, Murlough Bay and Ballintoy Harbour.
There are also plenty of stunning beaches to explore such as the two mile long Portstewart Strand and Ballycastle Beach. If you fancy a round of golf, there’s an abundance of link courses with Royal Portrush being the most famous.
If you’d like to explore Antrim at a slower pace, you have the option of walking the Causeway Coast Way from Ballycastle to Portstewart. This passes both the Carrick-a-Rede and the Giant’s Causeway on route. There are also trails leading from the beautiful Glens of Antrim and on Rathlin Island, home to tens of thousands of seabirds, including common guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills and the very photogenic puffins.