To celebrate our recent launch of Drive Ireland, the new hub that allows you to plan your ultimate driving holiday around Ireland, we’ve asked some of the most loved travel bloggers from Ireland and further afield to share with us their favourite places in Ireland. We’ve asked the guys to share three of their favourite places in Ireland, and as you can see from the list below, there’s very few places featuring more than one, highlighting just how beautiful and welcoming this great country is. With 72 destinations covering 24 of the 32 counties, it’s clear to see that Ireland has so much to offer, whether you’re looking for a short break or an extended holiday.
Check out the list below, and if we’ve missed any of your favourite spots, let us know in the comments section below.
What do travel bloggers love most about Ireland?
1. Kathleen O’Rourke – Squidgy Moments
1. Duckett’s Grove, Carlow
Duckett’s Grove is a Gothic Castle buried in the Carlow country side and it’s the perfect place for an afternoon stroll with your camera! With walled gardens, incredible architecture and an eerie feel, it’s quite an intriguing place and not one that many people know about.
2. Old Bawn Beach, Wexford
We discovered Old Bawn Beach in County Wexford by chance on a road trip one day and it’s literally, one of the best beaches I’ve ever been on. Completely secluded by sand dunes, Old Bawn is an escape to paradise and it’s perfect for a peaceful stroll come rain or shine. It’s located between Courtown and Kilmuckridge and its rivals the beaches of South Carolina in the USA.
3. Japanese Gardens & National Stud, Kildare
Located in County Kildare, the Japanese Gardens & National Stud are perfect for a day out. Stroll through tranquil gardens and discover hidden streams and waterfalls. For your visit, be sure to bring your camera as you will have many perfect opportunities to get some amazing photographs. And if you’re a horse racing fan, the adjacent National Stud is also a must.
2. Brian Barry & Noelle Kelly – Wandering On
1. Climbing Carrauntoohil, Kerry
Standing 1,038 metres tall, Carrauntoohil is Ireland’s highest peak and a place of incredible natural beauty. Sharing the path with stray sheep, passing gushing streams and alongside some of the highest lakes in Ireland, the hike is a truly rewarding experience. With multiple routes to the summit, walkers are treated to some jaw-dropping views of the surrounding Kerry countryside as they make their way to the top of the peak.
As the seasons change, so does the mood of the mountain and depending on what time of year you climb you can be walking through knee deep snow or skip up in short sleeves. We have climbed Carrauntoohil many times and every hike has been completely different. As with any mountain, you should prepare for Carrauntoohil properly to ensure that your climb to the top of Ireland is a day to remember.
2. Visiting Cahir Castle, Tipperary
Cahir Castle in Co. Tipperary is one of Ireland’s largest castles and is steeped in history and stories of times gone by. Often overlooked due to its proximity to the more well-known Rock of Cashel, Cahir Castle should be added to any Tipperary itinerary. Beautifully restored, the castle offers audio-visual shows and tours so visitors can get a real insight into castle life. Set on the banks of the River Suir, the location is spectacular. When we visited Cahir, it was a beautiful, sunny day and after visiting the castle, it’s well worth walking through some of the surrounding woodlands.
3. Brandon Point, Kerry
Brandon Bay is stunning – in fact, it’s still to this day one of our favourite places we have ever been and makes a great addition to any road trip on the Wild Atlantic Way. A short drive from Tralee in Co. Kerry, Brandon Bay is massive, with beautiful sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and Mt. Brandon acts as a wonderful backdrop. Follow the bay around to the Gaeltacht area of Cé Bhréannain (Brandon) and watch as English disappears from the signage and everything changes to Irish. With mind-blowing views of the bay to your right and the mountains to your left, you eventually arrive at Brandon Point. For us, it has a real end of the world feel to it.
3. Carlo and Florence – Next Stop Who Knows
1. Lough Key Forest Park, Roscommon
What is in our opinion one of the most beautiful parks in Ireland, Lough Key’s main attraction is a 19th century castle that’s perched on an island. It also has an activity centre, camping facilities, boating opportunities, Segway’s, hiking trails – Need we say more?!
2. Sligo’s Magic Road, Ballintrillick, Sligo
This is a local secret that not many tourists know about. Park your car at the bottom of this hill, put it in neutral, let off the brakes and it will roll up the hill all by itself. We’re not kidding.
3. Westport, Mayo
A beautiful town tucked at the south-west corner of Clew Bay, visitors can spend their time climbing Croagh Patrick, taking in the sights of Achill Island or cycling the Great Western Greenway. There’s loads of cool activities to choose from.
4. Coralie Mathieu – Tea Time in Wonderland
1. Blarney Castle, Cork
I have fond memories of walks around Blarney Castle in spring, the daffodils just starting to bloom. If you’re brave enough, head to the very top of the castle and kiss the famous Blarney Stone. You have to lay down on the floor and be brought backwards as it just a little outside the wall. There is no way you can fall but it is quite a thrill! Bonus: it is said to bring the gift of eloquence.
2. Cork City, Cork
Cork is such a pretty city with such a relaxed atmosphere… There are lots of little bars to meet with friends – The Mutton with its dimmed atmosphere, candlelit and electric garland is perfect on a rainy day but do catch a concert (and a pint) at the Crane Lane Theatre too. Look out of street art in the city!
3. Ha’penny Bridge Dublin
Who could resist Dublin? I always walk through the Ha’penny Bridge with its three elegant arches. There are so many love locks attached there. Beautiful view of the city and definitely a happy place!
5. Suzanne Jones – The Travel Bunny
1. Galway City, Galway
Galway is a buzzing harbour city located on Ireland’s West Atlantic coast. It’s the place to go if you’re into festivals, live folk music and traditional Irish pub culture. It’s a vibrant, friendly city buzzing with life, music and street artists and if you’re on the hunt for a taste of Irish craic you won’t have to go far to find it in Galway.
2. Connemara, Galway
Just north of Galway city is home to some of Ireland’s most beautiful beaches, rugged coastlines and epic scenery. On a sunny day rolling green hills sweep down to white sandy beaches rippling with turquoise waters. Drive the Sky Road to look for your perfect secluded picnic spot – it’ll be hard to choose one because there’s a new breath-taking view around every bend.
3. The Cliffs of Moher, Clare
High on the list of any visit to the West Coast of Ireland. Towering up to 214m high and stretching along the coast for 8 kilometres the majestic cliffs and An Branan Mor Sea Stack are home to razorbills, guillemots and a puffin colony. Head up O’Brien’s Tower and check out the views to the Aran Islands and North to Galway Bay and Connemara.
6. Laura & Tanbay – Travelling Weasels
1. Dublin City
Dublin is one of our absolute favourite places to visit in Europe. It’s fun, it’s quirky and everyone is just SO lovely! One of our favourite things to do in Dublin is visit a traditional Irish bar, preferably one with live Irish music. Settle in with some Guinness and oysters and enjoy the evening (or even an afternoon!) 😀
7. Amanda Robson – Glamorous Glutton
1. Grafton Street, Dublin
If fashion and people watching is your thing, then a roof top café on Grafton Street is the perfect venue. High above the heads of the shoppers and buskers below you, but still able to hear the music and feel the buzz of the crowd.
2. Avoca Mill, Wicklow
If you’re hankering for the old fashioned feel of Ireland head off to County Wicklow and the village of Avoca. Only an hour from Dublin, but it feels like you’ve travelled back in time. The charming village of stone houses and a simple church with a fast flowing river which powered the mill that lies at its centre, has been used as the set for several films and TV series, including Ballykissangel. Wander through the village reminiscing about the best bits of the series before heading to Avoca Mill which was built in 1723 to mill corn and was weave fabric for the copper mill workers.
8. Ruth Maguire – Welcome To Willow Lane
1. Achill Island, Mayo
Achill Island is where I spent every single summer holiday from the age of 1 – 16 years! My parents took my brother and I on the long five-hour car journey to the rugged, magical Achill every summer to stay at Lavelle’s Seaside House in Dooega. It was a traditional Irish holiday where every hour was spent outside, and after dinner, the evenings were spent in the pub! Achill is full of beautiful beaches and in the morning after a hearty home-cooked Irish fry, we packed up a picnic, put our swimsuits on and would spend the day on the sand and in the water. I never remember being bored and I always remember the sun shining. Achill was like a home from home for my family.
2. Holywood, Down
I love spending a Saturday or Sunday in Holywood. It’s a short drive from my home in Belfast and I can happily wile away the hours shopping in the many boutiques, charity and gift shops on the main street before stopping into the The Bay Tree for some sustenance. You can’t visit The Bay Tree without sampling their award winning cinnamon scone (which I duly smother in butter). During the summer months, my partner and I will take a refreshing walk along the Holywood Seafront, working up an appetite so we can happily scoff the Portavogie scampi and chips at The Dirty Duck Alehouse. Tucking into a big feed whilst overlooking the seafront is just perfection.
3. Belfast Castle & Cave Hill, Antrim
I live in North Belfast and regularly visit Belfast Castle and Cave Hill, located just off the Antrim Road. On a sunny day it’s lovely to walk around the grounds of the castle, and take in the magnificent views of Belfast, better still if you bring a picnic with you! On days when I’m feeling like some vigorous exercise I’ll hike up Cave Hill. But more often than not, I’d rather be enjoying Afternoon Tea in the castle! This place will always have a special place in my heart as my partner took me there for one of our first dates.
9. Stephanie Lynch – On The QT
1. Ardmore, Waterford
Ardmore in Co Waterford has to be my ultimate favourite spot in Ireland. It is the place where my childhood summer memories are based. For a small village, it has so much to offer. I love walking the sandy beaches, exploring the cliff walk, enjoying the spectacular views, shopping in the quaint boutiques and of course indulging in a beautiful banoffee pie at the Whitehorse restaurant on the main street.
2. Ballycastle, Antrim
Ballycastle is a gem I recently stumbled upon while exploring Antrim and I can honestly say I fell in love with it. I have been back time and time again since. I love a walk on the beach on a fresh day in Ballycastle and afterwards enjoying a hot chocolate while walking through the picturesque village. From there, I like driving along the Causeway Coastal Route. As you drive along on a sunny day you realise how beautiful Northern Ireland is. The more you go off the beaten track and along the windy roads, the more you will tend to stumble upon unbelievable new gems.
3. The Road from Inchigeela to Ballingeary, Cork
This is a stunning area in West Cork and a beautiful road for a spin as the whole area is so peaceful. Heading from Inchigeela to Ballingeary, the road has lots of turns and twists. As one leaves Inchigeela there is a nice pull in area for a picnic alongside the lake. The drive continues with the water on your left all the way to Ballingeary. A picturesque drive and a great spot for a cycle or walk. A true hidden gem.
10. Nora Menouni – The Art of Exploring
1. The Cliffs of Moher, Clare
Standing atop the Cliffs of Moher is not a sensation I’m ever likely to forget. That afternoon in September, the fog started rolling out the grassy tops as if the signal had been given for the show to start. The gale force winds kept puffing up my yellow raincoat, I felt like a drenched up balloon beaten up by the elements, but I never felt so alive and in awe of nature. I stood near the edge, hypnotised by the Atlantic charging with relentless waves at these 300-million-year old rock formations.
2. Trim Castle, Meath
There’s no denying that castles are one of the most captivating features of the Irish landscape and among them, Trim Castle stands tall. It is indeed the largest Norman Castle in Ireland. Built in the 12th century, this imposing structure still captures my imagination. It was the backdrop of the epic battles of the film Braveheart. No Mel Gibson in sight nowadays but if you ask me, the real stars of the town are the hee-hawing herd of donkeys grazing in the local fields.
3. The Giant’s Causeway, Antrim
Back in 2012, I road-tripped across Ireland and the last stop on my itinerary was the iconic Giant’s Causeway. It was a fitting finale to my Irish adventures. I had seen many breath-taking landscapes in the space of a few days but nothing prepares you for the weirdness of perfectly hexagonal basalt columns. These geometric steps leading to the tumultuous sea are one of nature’s most fascinating playgrounds.
11. Julianne Mooney – JulianneMooney.com
I have visited Donegal over the years and its beauty never fails to take my breath away. Why is it one of my favourites? There are too many reasons, but to give but a few – long stretches of deserted white beaches, the stunning Glenveagh National Park and windswept cliffs of Slieve League. It is also home to some of my favourite places to stay – Rathmullan House, Castle Murray House Hotel and Harvey’s Point. Jump in the car and drive, you find hidden gems throughout the county.
2. Wineport, Lough Ree, Westmeath
We got married in Wineport Lodge, which we love for the friendly staff, beautiful views and stunning food. The day after we got married we took our guests on a boat trip across Lough Ree into Athlone and it is one of my fondest memories of the weekend. The weekend was the best one of my life – all those I hold dear and near, gathered together in one of our favourite spots in Ireland. Bliss.
I would be tempted to say another favourite is Co. Kerry, as it is. However, when I was writing the Time Out Guide to Ireland we toured the whole country. When the book came out I was often asked what was the biggest surprise for me and my answer – Co. Leitrim. I remember the day we drove from Sligo into Leitrim. It was raining, but the sun came out as we drove along Lough Gill. As we reached Parke’s Castle on the eastern edge of the lake (in Co. Leitrim) I caught my first glimpse of the tiny Isle of Innisfree – made famous by one of my favourite poets. W.B Yeats. From there we followed the road to Dromahair where we explored the ruins of Creevelea Abbey and sat by the riverside having a picnic. It was a day full of beautiful surprises.
12. Emily Westbrooks – From China Village
1. Grianan of Aileach, Donegal
An ancient ring fort that was thought to have been built in 1700 BC, this fort provides the most spectacular 360 degree view out over the North Atlantic. There’s no way you can visit and not imagine what it might have been like standing in that same spot so many thousands of years ago.
2. The Views from Howth, Dublin
I can think of at least three places on Howth Peninsula that battle for top view – the top of the Deer Park hike (bonus for going during rhododendron season), the cliff walk overlooking Dublin city, or the pier with Ireland’s Eye and Lambay Island in the distance. Less than 10 miles from Dublin City and yet all three views make you feel miles away from the city.
3. The Winding Stair Restaurant, Dublin
Hands down, my favourite restaurant in Dublin, and the restaurant that I believe showcases Irish food in the most interesting-yet-edible way. It’s a comforting spot with a view out over the Liffey River and the Ha’penny Bridge. It feels equally quintessentially Irish and a little cosmopolitan.
13. Niamh Webb O’Rourke – Love Life Blog Ireland
1. Galway City, Galway
What is not to love about Galway city. I adore the vibe of pure happiness continuously flowing through the city. Be it rain, hail, sleet or snow you can’t help but feel happy roaming the very friendly streets. From the numerous buskers to the endless shopping locations, there is something for everyone. And if the hustle and bustle of the city isn’t your cup of tea then the beach is only a stone throw away.
2. Lusty Beg Island, Fermanagh
It literally is a little bit of heaven on earth. Despite it being a two-minute boat ride from the main land you feel like you’re a million miles away! From boat trips around the island to off road driving through the woods, it is a haven for fun and relaxation all in one. Not to mention the amazing resort on the island that is to die for, from their amazing cuisine to their A+ Spa, I can’t help but leave a little piece of my heart there every time I visit.
3. Bantry Bay, Cork
It is a little piece of West Cork that holds my heart dearly. Nothing beats a fresh morning walk along the pier watching the fishermen leave the bay. From the streets of quaint stores to the joyous voices of the choir at the top of the hill, you can’t help but fall in love with Bantry Bay.
14. Lauren Arthurs – Love Lauren
1. Glenbeigh, Kerry
The stunning mountainous scenery, great local atmosphere in the bars and restaurants and world famous bike tracks make Glenbeigh my favourite place in Ireland.
2. Kinsale, Cork
The beautiful cafes and restaurants of Kinsale, along with gorgeous scenic views of boats on the pier and plentiful local boutiques and jewellery shops make this a place I enjoy visiting over and over again.
3. Eco Restaurant, Douglas, Cork
A little gem in the heat of Douglas. The most delicious food from a wide selection at fantastic prices!
15. Tara Povey – Where is Tara?
1. Slea Head Drive, Kerry
I have so many memories here from three summers spent in the Gaeltacht! It’s a beautiful drive along the clifftop with some incredible views of the Atlantic. Probably not for those with a fear of heights.
2. Avoca Terrace Cafe, Wicklow
The food here is AMAZING (organic, local and plenty of veggie options). If you can get a table outside, you’ll get a great view of the Powerscourt gardens without having to pay the entrance fee.
3. The Liberty Market, Dublin
This place is a basically a Dublin landmark. The sound of the vendors calling out their prices in the most Dublin of accents is like music to my ears. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it here and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
16. Audrey Bergner – That Backpacker
1. Dublin City
When I think back to some of my favourite places in Ireland, a lot of them have to do with the people I met while I was there. When I walked into a Dublin pub early one Saturday morning, I was looking for breakfast, however, I ended up meeting a group of locals who were surprised to encounter a Canadian and ended up treating me to a pint of Guinness and more jokes than I can recount.
2. Rock of Cashel, Tipperary
When I visited the Rock of Cashel, I met the loveliest woman who took me and my friends under her wing and not only gave us a tour of the site, but then also treated us to tea and scones afterwards!
3. Mussenden Temple, Derry
And when I think back to Mussenden Temple in Northern Ireland I remember how the attendant took pity on a group of wet travellers on a rainy afternoon, and not only let us in for free, but also ended up teaching us about botany.
If I learned anything during my visit to Ireland, it’s that the Irish are a friendly bunch and that if you greet people with a cheery hello and smile, it’ll open the doors to experiences you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
17. Neil Barnes – Backpacks and Bunkbeds
1 Portmagee, Kerry
The most picturesque little fishing village with obvious links to the Ring of Kerry (an awesome road trip) and Star Wars for the geeks among us.
2 Malin Beg, Donegal
The views from Slieve League are stunning and the beach at Silver Strand may not be the warmest I’ve laid out on while traveling, but it is certainly one of the most secluded and awe inspiring.
3 Kilkenny City, Kilkenny
For the history (The Medieval Mile) and the sports mad locals. The nightlife isn’t half bad either, especially if the ‘The Cats’ have just had a good result.
18. Samuel Jeffery – Nomadic Samuel
1. Learning how to play Gaelic Games in Dublin
Having grown up playing lots of sports in Canada it always fascinates me to visit other countries to learn more about the sports that are popular with locals. Not only did I get to watch hurling and Gaelic football (including the All-Ireland Final in Croke Park) but I got to try my hand at both of them with Experience Gaelic Games in Dublin. Considering I’m more or less rubbish at soccer, I felt a bit awkward on the field learning Gaelic Football; however, I felt like a bit of a natural playing hurling where my ice hockey and golf experiences allowed me to score a few goals.
2. Watching Belfast Giants, Belfast
The thing I miss the most when I’m away from Canada is ice hockey. While in Belfast I had the opportunity to attend my first professional league game abroad watching the Belfast Giants. The game was fantastic and the crowd was so enthusiastic and passionate. The biggest surprise came though in the form of spotting one of the star players on the Giants being none other than Kris Beech. I played hockey against Kris several times growing up and to watch him play in Belfast was surreal.
3. Road Trip, Ireland
Whether you’re visiting Ireland or Northern Ireland, a road trip is an absolute must. It is not so much about the final destination as it is about the stops and scenery along the way. We enjoyed taking it easy on the countryside roads and stopping frequently to snap photos. It is an experience I’ll never forget.
19. Stephanie Buckley – Eat, Sleep, Chic
1. Clare Island Lighthouse, Cork
Visit the island in Clew Bay by ferry, enjoy the breath-taking views, scenic walks, beautiful beaches, historical sites and island hospitality. Both the island and its inhabitants are full of character and charm. For a truly unforgettable stay, book a room at the amazing, Clare Island Lighthouse, and get lost in island life for a few days.
2. Hidden Valley Holiday Park, Wicklow
I’m not afraid to sleep rough (with a blow up mattress, cosy sleeping bag and a 6-man tent with living area) and embrace the great outdoors. Every summer my family and I pitch our tents in one of the many camping locations across Ireland. This Summer we visited Hidden Valley. The site is located next to the Wicklow Mountains and the Clara Valley National Park, both offering numerous forest walks. With plenty to do on site from crazy golf to archery and movie nights to paddle boat hire, there’s plenty to keep the kids entertained. Campfires are permitted on site too, so don’t forget the marshmallows!
3. The Relax, Sip & Paint Night in Foxford Studio, Mayo
I brought my dad on a surprise painting adventure for his 50th Birthday and it turned out to be the best surprise ever – to this day we still talk about it! Artist, Harry Feeney is in charge of the watercolour painting lesson. As the name of the package suggest, you can enjoy a few drinks as you paint – it’s a BYOB affair! You don’t have to be an experienced painter, the package is ideal for anyone, complete beginners and experienced painters too. You’ll be surprised at how some general guidelines as you go, can help you create a masterpiece!
20. Jody Halstad – Ireland’s Family Vacations
1. Sheep’s Head Peninsula, Cork
For peace and quiet, it has to be Sheep’s Head Peninsula, West Cork. Tour buses can’t fit down this road, and few tourists follow the single car-width track to where the land ends. The hike from An Cupan Tae to the lighthouse is only 3km (as the crow flies) but seems longer as you climb rocky hills and drop into lush valleys. The stunning view is worth every step.
2. Uggol Valley, Mayo
For history visit Uggool Valley, County Mayo. Walking through this area, which is also known as The Lost Valley, truly feels like stepping back in time. Potato ridges furrow the rocky hills and cottages destroyed when lands were being cleared during the famine can still be found in the forested undergrowth. This is not an easy place to get to, but once you’ve visited, it’s a place that will never leave your heart.
3. Ashford Castle, Mayo
For luxury it has to be Ashford Castle in Mayo. No one does luxury like Ashford Castle. Every step of your stay is perfect- from the welcome drink to the final farewell. Sumptuous rooms, delicious meals, and gorgeous grounds make you feel like royalty.
21. Nial and Helen Toner – Pikalily
1. Newcastle, Down
Our home town of Newcastle is our favourite place in Ireland, and we often don’t realise how lucky we are. With the Mourne Mountains as a back garden (quite literally, as it’s straight out the back), and the Irish Sea for a front garden, what’s not to enjoy. With a number of forest park’s on our doorstep, and some great local restaurant’s you’d be hard pushed to find many places that cater for all tastes like Newcastle.
2. The Burren, Clare
We recently stayed in the lovely town of Killaloe and took the opportunity to get out and explore County Clare in more detail. While the Cliffs of Moher drew the crowds (it was a rather unfamiliar cloud-free, blue sky sort of day), it was the winding roads of The Burren that did it for us. This landscape is like nothing else we’ve ever seen in Ireland, and as we travelled down through it, passing Fr Ted’s house on the way, we really did have one of those “this is another planet” kind of moments.
3. Ballintoy Harbour, Antrim
Another one of our favourite destinations is the North Coast of Antrim, driving through the town of Bushmills and along the Causeway Coastal route. While there are many highlights, the quiet surroundings of the quaint Ballintoy Harbour do it for us. The stunning surroundings with its rocky outcrops and pebble beach have become even more famous in recent years thanks to Game of Thrones. An ice-cream and a walk along the harbour with our dog is the perfect way to relax after a long drive along the coast.
22. Johnny Ward – One Step 4 Ward
1. The Giant’s Causeway, Antrim
Ireland as a whole is on a lot of people’s bucket list but few make it all the way to the top of the island, which is a shame because I think Ireland’s greatest site is located there. The Giant’s Causeway is my number 1 thing to see in both Northern and Southern Ireland, and if you catch the weather right (aim for summer, still a lottery though!) then it’ll be one of the most breath-taking sites you’ve literally ever seen. The legend behind Finn McCool fighting with an opposing giant over in Scotland and forming the rocks just adds to this mysterious place, an absolute must see.
2. The Mourne Mountains, Down
While Dublin, Galway and Cork grab all the plaudits for Irish tourism, sleepy County Down is home to Ireland’s most beautiful mountain range, inspiring our very own Seamus Heaney to scribe some beautiful prose to describe it. The mountains sweep down to the see, offering amazing hiking, and also a day at the beach. Newcastle is a particularly great spot to appreciate the mountains, as is Kilkeel, a small fishing village on the coast of Northern Ireland (and my hometown). The hike to the top of Slieve Donard is particularly picturesque.
3. The Titanic Quarter, Belfast, Antrim
If you haven’t heard of the Titanic, then you must have been living under a rock. As the saying goes, “Built by an Irishman, sunk by an Englishman”, a wander around the impressive Belfast harbour to marvel at the epic cranes, Samson and Goliath, whisks you back to the industrial age when thousands of Irishmen pounded the iron daily to earn their keep. Now the Titanic Quarter is a burgeoning area, with cocktail bars, coffee shops and a new Titanic centre. Well worth a day of anyone’s time.
23. Jonny Blair – Don’t Stop Living
1. Bangor, Down
I love the county Down seaside town of Bangor for its beaches and the view of Belfast Lough with the ships coming in. At night the town’s bars are an eclectic lively mix and the Starfish Cafe in Ballyholme is great for coffee with a view over the Lough.
2. Newtownards, Down
Abbreviated to Ards, the area has the small town appeal to take me away from Belfast. Coffee shops like Knott’s and the furniture store Warden’s are local institutions, and I love the non-commercial appeal of the town centre.
3. Cork City, Cork
Cork city is such a relaxing and under rated city. I love how the city centre is on an island connected by bridge and the local people are super friendly in cafes, bars and buses. A truly welcoming Irish city with a vibrant nightlife.
24. Janet Newenham – Journalist on the Run
1. Skellig Michael, Kerry
I have only ever been to Skellig Michael once in my life, and yet it was a trip I will always remember. There were wild Atlantic Puffins absolutely everywhere, the sun was shining and the feat of actually stepping foot on the island (one which is so rich in both history and wildlife) after numerous failed attempts meant my brief time there was so much sweeter.
2. Baltimore, Cork
Next up is Baltimore in west Cork, a place I spent all my summers as a child. Even though I have now travelled all over the world, I still maintain that there is no place I would rather be when the sun shines! Even the thought of sitting outside Bushes Bar, watching the boats come in and the world pass by puts a smile in my face. This small fishing village, tucked away in west Cork, is definitely one of Ireland’s best kept secrets.
3. Grogans Pub, Dublin
Grogans pub on South William street is my first port of call every time I return to Ireland. I feel it’s one of the only pubs in the city which has managed to maintain its original Irish charm. You won’t find any TV or extravagant food menu, just great conversation, a cold pint, a cheese toastie and one of the best spots in Dublin for people watching.
25. Sarah Slattery – The Travel Expert
1. West Cork
I love driving the Beara Peninsula, particularly the colourful towns of Eeries and Allihes. Baltimore is also one of my favourites, sitting outside Bushes Bar on a hot summers day is sublime! I took the boat from Baltimore to Sherkin Island a few times and loved it – so remote, you really feel like you are miles from home. I camped on the beach in Sherkin in my early 20s and it is still one of my favourite memories of holidaying in Ireland.
2. Brittas Bay Beach, Wicklow
Another favourite of mine, it is less than an hour’s drive from my house, yet on a summer’s day you feel like you could be in the Mediterranean. I have a passion for the sea, when on holidays I would always choose the beach over the pool. Brittas Bay is so close to me that I would happily go at any time, regardless of weather, just to enjoy a walk along the beach.
3. The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin
I got married there and love the hotel. I love the atmosphere in the bar and I go regularly with the kids for Sunday lunch, they love it too. It is one of our iconic landmarks and it is definitely one of my favourite places to go in Dublin.
26. Pól Ó Conghaile – Poloconghaile.com
1. Achill Island, Mayo
When I drive across country to Keem Bay, it always feels like a journey to the ends of the earth. The road runs out, the bay is more beautiful than any Caribbean cove, and there’s some mean snorkelling and sea-kayaking too. I always feel conflicted sharing the secret…
2. Dublin’s Northside
Every year, more people seem to wake up to the wonders hiding north of the River Liffey. It’s not as leafy, ritzy or affluent as the southside, but it’s got grit, soul and discoveries to beat the band. Start on the brilliantly random Capel Street and go from there. You won’t regret it.
3. Lough Ree, Westmeath, Roscommon and Longford
Three off-radar counties intersect around this storied lake – Westmeath, Roscommon and Longford. Between them, they barely get the visitors of a single town in Kerry. But that’s just how I like it… it’s like a Lost World, all to yourself… and the food at Athlone’s Fatted Calf is the icing on the cake.
27. Louise Cooney – Louise Cooney Blog
1. Giants Causeway, Antrim
After living in Ireland for 22 years I finally made it up to the Giants Causeway late last year for the first time and oh my God!!! What a stunning place. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen – particularly at sunset. If you ever want to truly appreciate the beauty of Ireland this is the place to go.
2. Shop Street, Galway
Whether you’re grabbing a drink, catching up with friends or simply people watching, this street has to be my favourite street in Ireland to really sit and soak in the energy. The air in Galway is always filled with laughter, friendliness and general ‘craic’. It’s definitely one of my favourite places to visit for a weekend break.
3. House, Dublin
Being a city girl at heart, I couldn’t talk about my favourite places in Ireland without mentioning where I live – Dublin. I love trying out new cool places and Dublin is filled with them at the moment. My favourite bar has to be House for it’s location, its décor and its amazing cocktails! It’s definitely worth a visit if you are in Dublin.
28. Nadia El Ferdaoussi – The Daily Self
1. Shells Café and Little Shop, Strandhill, Sligo
I actually fell in love with Strandhill at first sight, but this absolute gem of a café really embodies what the whole coastal village is all about. Situated right on the sea front, the cool laid back atmosphere of Shells is apparent the moment you set foot in the door. In fact, you can even just hangout outside with a coffee watching the surfers and meeting the villages many family dogs. The food is colourful, healthy and hearty with some influence from chef and owner Myles who hails from Cape Town, South Africa. Make sure you pick up their Surf Café Cook Book to enjoy back home and browse the many prints, jewellery and tasty treats on sale in The Little Shop.
2. South William St, Dublin
I used to work in an office on South William St and I’ve gone out to bars and restaurants for years but never get bored of it. There are always new spots opening up and it’s home to some of my favourite businesses in Dublin like Tropical Popical, the Benefit Boutique, Dada Moroccan restaurant and Clement & Pekoe coffee shop. Shopping, food, drink, beauty, you name it, you can find it all on South William St. Now if they’d just make it pedestrianised!
3. Ashford Castle, Mayo
One of my favourite hotels in Ireland and this was even before their massive refurbishment! The building itself is incredible, but add in the unbelievable grounds (350 acres) and lake, and the unbeatable staff, it’s no wonder it always appears on lists of the best hotels in the world! They manage to combine luxury with famous traditional Irish hospitality and that’s a tough combination to achieve.
Time to get out and explore Ireland…
So there you have it, 72 destinations in 24 counties that have created great memories for this group of travel bloggers. With countless more destinations that could be added to this list, why not plan your ultimate trip around Ireland today by visiting our Drive Ireland hub with the ultimate Irish road trips today – blog.expedia.ie/drive-ireland.