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 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, Inch Beach, where you won’t have a problem with overcrowding given it’s 5km length. It’s also a popular location for all types of water sports including surfing, kayaking, windsurfing, kite surfing, and fishing.
Dingle Town is famous for it’s pubs and traditional music sessions but 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 including Slea Head and Dunquin Pier with 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 179km long national waymarked trail brings 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 which starts at St. John’s Church, Tralee and follows the Dingle Way to St. James’s Church in Dingle which 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. Whether it be the shimmering waters of Lough Corrib, a visit to Killary Fjord or the magestic views of the Maumturk Mountains and the Twelve Bens, there is plenty to do inland.
The coast offers even more delights with the pretty fishing village of Roundstone and nearby Dogs Bay Beach topping the list. Ballyconneely and Errislannan bring even more wonderful photo opportunities including the Alcock & Brown Monument in honour of 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 before driving 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 which first brings you from Oughterard along the banks of Lough Corrib to Maam. You then complete the Mám Éan Pilgrim Walk on route to Leenane 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 but the views under the karst landscape are just as impressive with the Aillwee Cave or Doolin Cave providing the best opportunities.
For those who prefer sand to rocks, there is also plenty to choose from with the surfer paradise of Lahinch and lovely nearby beaches of Fanore, Spanish Point, Dunbeg and Kilkee to only name a few. There are also no shortage of pretty villages in the area 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 and 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 and allowing you to explore an exceptional world of rugged mountains and hidden lakes surrounded by a picturesque, rocky seacoast. 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 before visiting the ancient volcanic rock formations of the Giant’s Causeway.
Make sure to also leave time to explore the Titanic Experience in Belfast and visit some of the famous filming locations from Game of Thrones such as 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 which passes 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.