Ahhh, the Emerald Isles! Ireland is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen, and I felt like we had barely enough time to scratch the surface. Still, enjoy checking out some of my favourite things we saw/did in our short stay!
Glendalough Valley is a glacial valley nestled in the Wicklow mountains south of Dublin. Filled with spectacular hikes and scenery, it’s also home to the Monastic City. The Monastic City is the remains of an early Christian settlement established in the valley n the 6th century. In addition to it being free to enter the Monastic City (always a plus), you can also use the ruin as a starting point for a walk along the lake or into the nearby mountains to get an even better view of the Round Tower. To top it all off, the nearby fields were filled with adorable new lambs when we went! So cute!
Newgrange and Knowth
Nathanael and I both agreed that this was one of the most spectacular sites we had seen yet. Newgrange and Knowth are within the Brú na Bóinne complex, a collection of Neolithic mounds, tombs, and stones in a bend of the River Boyne. Built around 3200 BC, these passage tombs are older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, a pretty impressive feat. Knowth has a lot of interesting things to see, including a huge collection of stones featuring Megalithic art and an array of satellite tombs (some excavated, some not) surrounding the largest mound. While you cannot enter the tombs at Knowth, you can enter the one at Newgrange. Stepping over the decorated entrance stones and moving through the narrow passage takes you into a chamber featuring a corbelled vault roof still intact (and leak-proof!) after 5000 years. A lottery is held every year to give people the chance to enter the site the morning of the Winter Solstice when sunlight travels down the passage and enters the central chamber.
There’s a reason the Giant’s Causeway has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s probably unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Interlocking basalt columns ebb and flow, rising into hills before moving out from the coastline to descend into the sea. There’s a cute legend out there about a giant named Finn McCool, mythologised to be the original “builder” of the causeway.Whatever you believe, it’s an amazing place to spend an afternoon. There are hikes all around to see the beautiful coastline, and the entire site is a lot bigger than you would imagine. You don’t need to pay to enter the Giant’s Causeway site, it’s free! Don’t let the huge Visitor’s Centre fool you.
Small Town Ireland
Check out the pubs and meet the friendly locals! Some of my favourites that we visited include Delgany, Knockbridge, and Greystones. Head off the beaten path to discover gorgeous little main streets and homes with character. There is more history in small places than they are given credit for.
Everyone raves about Dublin, and it deserves all the credit it gets! It has a great energy about it, even if that means it’s insanely crowded all the time. People attending Trinity College must be the envy of students around the world. The campus is lush, the buildings are beautiful, and the college is right in the heart of the thriving city. The National Museum of Ireland is divided into four museums, three of which are in Dublin and within easy walking distance. Lets not forget about grabbing a Guinness in Temple Bar or at the Guinness Storehouse itself!