Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everybody at home here in Ireland and abroad. I know this year is a little different and we dont get to celebrate the way we normally would. Here at OnTheQT, we decided to share with you 15 Unique Irish Experience you should add to your Irish bucket list this year. We are so lucky to call Ireland home and to have such a beautiful country rich in history to explore.
1) Experience life in a Viking House
This is a one of a kind gem located in the Irish National Heritage Park in Wexford. It gives you the chance to stay in a Viking House which was common in Ireland 1000 years ago. The house itself is located on the River Slaney. It has wattle walls, a thatched roof and central health. It was constructed with authentic materials that our ancestors would have used, for example oak and ash trees in the roof, a reed thatch on the roof and stone on the walls.
You can go all out cause this AirBnB gem provides authentic costumes too and allows you to cook on an open fire. A gem that allows you to get the full experience. The house is located in the Irish National Heritage Park and you have full access to the park. For more information click here.
2) Stay in a Castle
This fantastic gem was built in the 15th century and was uninhabited for the past hundred years. It has now been restored to a new life and allows you to stay in a castle. What a fantastic experience. Located just 20 minutes outside of Kilkenny lies Tubbrid Castle. As you drive down country lanes, you will see the castle with rolling mountains as the backdrop. A unique castle stay with a touch of luxury. For more information click here.
3) Explore Spike Island
Spike Island is located off the coast of Cobh in beautiful Cork Harbour. Cobh is just 24 minutes by train or 25 minutes by car from Cork city centre. In the last 1300 years Spike Island has been host to a 6th century Monastery, a 24 acre Fortress, the largest convict depot in the world in Victorian times and centuries of island homes.
The island’s rich history has included monks and monasteries, rioters and redcoats, captains and convicts and sinners and saints. Today the island is dominated by the 200 year old Fort Mitchel which became a prison holding over 2300 prisoners. For more information on our experience at Spike Island click here.
4) Cycle The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is one of the prettiest drives in Ireland around the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. The 179km-circular route has spectacular scenery, rugged landscapes, and a collection of friendly seaside villages. Take your time and enjoy the surroundings. This is a popular cycling route and be sure to stop off at some of the beautiful places along the way such as Ballinskelligs Beach, Derrynane and Portmagee.
5) Explore Doolin Caves
Travel underground to visit the Great Stalactite at the Doolin Caves in Co. Clare. At 7.3 metres (23 feet) is the longest free-hanging stalactite in Europe. The Great Stalactite, suspended from the ceiling like a chandelier, is truly astounding. It is hard to believe that it was formed from a single drop of water over thousands of years. For more information check it out here.
While you are in Clare, be sure to check out the the Corkscrew Road which is a famous winding road between Ballyvaughan and Lisdoonvarna originally designed as a famine relief scheme.
6) Climb Carrauntoohil
Carrauntoohil Mountain in Kerry is definitely one to add to your Irish bucket list. It is around 13km and takes about 6 hours. Carrauntoohil is the highest mountain in Ireland at 1,038.6 metres and is the central peak of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range.
Always remember mountain areas are very changeable places so be sure to check the forecast before you go so you can pick an appropriate route. If you are unfamiliar with an area, be sure to get an experienced guide to go with you.
7) Drive The Wild Atlantic Way
Wild Atlantic Way is the longest coastal tourism route in the world? It is waiting for you to explore it. The Wild Atlantic Way is a road trip on many people’s travel bucket list when they visit Ireland so I think it is time we started to appreciate the beauty that lies on our doorstep.
The Wild Atlantic Way is an enchanting 2,500km route along the West of Ireland’s coastline. The route itself stretches from the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal, to Kinsale in Co. Cork.
Throughout your journey you will find gems which are full of ancient history and has made Ireland what it is today. The Old Head of Kinsale which is the most Southern point along the Wild Atlantic way is a spot that will take your breath away. The Old Head Signal Tower has been restored which now is home to the Lusitania museum. You can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area and sea from the top. On the most Northern point along the Wild Atlantic way is Ireland’s most northerly point, Malin Head. Over the past few years we did an online travel series along the Wild Atlantic Way, you can check out series 1 here and series 2 here for all the details on what to do, where to go etc.
8) Visit Blarney Castle & Gardens
Blarney Castle was built over 600 years ago and has been attracting millions of visitors over the last few 100 years. One of Ireland’s greatest treasures. You can kiss the stone to get the gift of the gab or simply enjoy a walk in the beautiful, mature gardens. The gardens surrounding Blarney Castle are a hidden gem in Cork. Absolutely breathtaking.
9) The Dark Hedges
The famous Dark Hedges located in Armoy, Ballymoney in Antrim are one for the Irish bucket list. This road is one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland and has been voted in the top 5 most beautiful tree tunnels in the world. The trees were planted in the 18th century by the Stuart family and two centuries later, the trees remain a spectacular sight. We can see how it was chosen for a The Game of Thrones… it is a magnificent beauty.
10) Lough Gur
Lough Gur is located in the South East of Ireland within the Ballyhoura region. It aims to promote, preserve and protect the history, archaeology, folklore and environment of the surrounding area. The Heritage Centre located by the lakefront in Lough Gur is home to an exhibition that provides an overview of one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites. It is the only area in the country where you can see visible evidence of every age since Neolithic times.
11) The Skellig Ring
You might know the Skellig rock from the latest Star Wars Movie but trust me, this drive is one for your bucket list. All you need to do it take this detour from the Ring of Kerry. The Skellig Ring drive starts in Cahersiveen or Waterville and is just 18km but it allows you to gather spectacular views of the Skellig Islands.
12) Giants Causeway Coastal Route
The Giant’s Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland is a beautiful experience. The route takes in the breathtaking coastal views, rugged landscape and picturesque scenery. With lots of activities and things to do along the way such as Dunluce Castle, the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
13) Ireland’s Ancient East
Experience Ireland’s Ancient East which allows you to explore history of Ireland. Enjoy memorable food experiences, wander down the cobbled streets of medieval towns and explore the gorgeous gardens of this scenic region. As you explore, you will find the area has over 5,000 years’ worth of Irish history to discover. For more information click here.
14) Wicklow Head Lighthouse
This gem is perfect for someone who wants to escape from the hustle and bustle of life and gain some peace. Experience a stay in an 18th-century lighthouse. Take in the beautiful surroundings of the Irish sea and countryside. The lighthouse has 6 octagonal rooms which are careful constructed in the void that existed within the tower when it was first taken on by Irish Landmark.
You will get to experience that traditional lighthouse with its arched windows set in walls which are a meter or more thick. Enjoy some seal spotting along the coast, explore a secret stony beach with an old limekiln and much more. It may be 109 steps to the kitchen but it will be a truly memorable and unique experience. For more information click here.
15) Chléire Haven
This is a gem nestled away in South West Cork. Cape Clear island, (Oileán Chléire) is the southernmost inhabited part of Ireland. It has a population of just over 100 people, and is an official Gaeltacht area. Chléire Haven campsite overlooks the glittering bay which is truly spectacular. You can simply get the ferry from Baltimore which takes about 45 minutes and the island awaits you.
Enjoy the magical island with one of their Mongolian yurts as your accommodation. Cosy, comfortable and warm which allows for glamping at its best. Just look at that view – what more could you want? For more information click here.