Why Ireland Should Be On Your Bucket List

Photo: Belfast City Hall

When you think of Ireland a few things often come to mind – green landscapes, castles, coastline… Bono perhaps. But the Ireland of today really is a whole lot more than that. It’s a land full of mythological stories & folklore, historic towns & cities as well as modern, quirky places, including great restaurants, bars and visitor attractions. Many come to see the major attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse or the Cliffs of Moher. But while on the Emerald Isle, they discover many other reasons why Ireland was on their bucket list. 

There are three major reasons why people come back time and time again.

Reason 1 - The People

No matter where you go on the island of Ireland, you’ll meet friendly locals along the way with a genuine in interest in hearing your story. They might ask you your last name, where you’re from, what you had for lunch… but they’re not being nosey, they’re honestly interested in connecting with you, in enhancing your experience in Ireland. They’re never shy about giving you a recommendation or two also about what to do either - where you should go, must-see sites, the best pub in their town, for example. Ireland is famous for the ‘Cead Mile Failte’, which translates from Irish Gaelic to ‘one hundred thousand welcomes’. 

Reason 2 - The History

At first sight, Ireland is a tranquil and beautiful land of rolling green hills, charming towns and quiet waters. But dig a little deeper and you'll discover ancient mysteries, millennia-old myths and over 5,000 years of history. There's nothing quite like the feeling you get as you step inside a 5,000-year-old monument. Or the jaw-dropping coastal view from the top of a 13th century lighthouse. Ride the waves across to Spike Island in Cork, known as Ireland's Alcatraz, and once the largest prison in the world. Walk in the footsteps of the Vikings through the narrow streets and medieval treasures of Dublin and Waterford. Or take a moment on top of the mystical Hill of Tara in Co. Meath, dwelling place of the gods. A trip through Ireland brings history to life against a backdrop of unforgettable scenery. 

Photo: Explore historic attractions such as Blarney Castle, Cork

Reason 3 - The Food

For a small island the food scene really is exceptional. As you traverse the island you can understand why. Agriculture is a huge industry, and the small family run farm is still the norm in the more rural area. Restaurants, bars and other eateries pride themselves on sourcing local, fresh ingredients wherever possible. Go into any pub in rural Ireland and chances are you will see many local ingredients on the menu – cheese from down the road, a beer that’s brewed a couple of kilometers away, fish that was bought at the local market that morning. Of course, the weather helps too, which helps make lush green fields for the animals to graze on and creates rich soil for the root vegetables to grow in. Being an island means there is a wide array of seafood and shellfish options too. Smoke salmon & trout. Fresh hake, haddock, cod. For vegetarians and vegans, Ireland is ahead of many other countries in terms of their offering. Long gone are days of a bland pasta or mushroom risotto as the only veggie option. Many meat eaters with often even pick the vegetarian option on the menu. For coeliac’s too, Ireland is well prepared. Restaurant, cafes and pubs will usually have gluten-free breads on the menu (often as good as gluten-full ones), and any decent place will have quality gluten-free dishes. 

What's the best way to travel around Ireland?

There are many ways to explore Ireland. If you’re comfortable driving (they drive on the left in Ireland), this gives you a lot of flexibility. You can go as you please each day, perhaps exploring some walled gardens and manor house in the morning, followed by lunch in a seaside town. If you choose the self-drive option with Royal Irish, your accommodation (including breakfast) and your car rental are included, and then what you do each day is up to you. Of course, your travel advisor and the team at Royal Irish can give you plenty of tips too. But if you like to explore and do your own thing, Ireland is a great country to get off the beaten track in with a driving vacation. There are many great driving routes to explore, including the Causeway Coastal Route and the Wild Atlantic Way. 

If you’re not comfortable driving on the left, you can put your feet up and leave the winding roads to your driver with a chauffeur drive trip. Picture this – you have your own personal driver/ guide with you each day, taking you to places you want to see as well as showing you some hidden gems along the way. All you have to do is tell them your interests, anywhere you really want to go or experiences you want to do, and they’ll take you there. They might even tell you a story or two along the way. 

For many people, leaving the whole itinerary to the experts is a nice option. First class coach tours are a lovely way to see a destination, especially if you only plan to visit it once. With Royal Irish, you will get a great mix of the must-see sights as well as visiting more off the beaten track, lesser-known area. And the big bonus is you have a very knowledgeable tour guide with you to bring each destination to life. 

Photo: Couple walking in Dublin's Fair City

The 15-day, 14-night Shamrock Royal first class coach tour with Royal Irish is one of the most comprehensive you can do in Ireland. In 14 nights, it takes in many of the major attractions such as Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway and the Cliffs of Moher. As well as staying in popular places such as Dublin and Killarney, this tour spends many nights in lovely towns & villages, such as 2-nights in Westport, known for its lively pubs and quirky shops; and 2-nights in the historic city of Kilkenny, which boasts as stunning castle, cathedral and many great shops & museums along the medieval mile. On this tour, all your attraction visits and experiences, accommodation, breakfast, touring and most evening meals are included. So, it’s certainly a hassle-free, relaxing way to enjoy the Emerald Isle. The maximum group size on these tours is 38 guests on a 45-seater coach. 99% of guests on these tours live in Canada.  

Sightseeing tours are another hassle-free way to travel around Ireland. These small group departures (averaging 12 guests) are a great way to experience more off-the-beaten-track places, travelling on smaller, 25 seater coaches. They have a good mix of free time as well as included experiences and are a nice option if you do not have the time to do a 10-day or two weeklong trip. The two most popular sightseeing tours are each 5 days, 4 nights, departing from Dublin city. The Best of the West travels to Galway and Connemara before traversing the Wild Atlantic Way town to the Ring of Kerry. The Causeway & Castles itinerary does a lovely northern loop, with stays in Belfast and Derry/ Londonderry before a final night in a luxury Irish castle!

Blog created by: Royal Irish Tours