GO WHERE IRELAND TAKES YOU
There’s a virtue to visiting Ireland in the off-season. The crowds are gone, the traffic is lighter, airfares are lower, and there are plenty of great activities for visitors. Plus, the Irish themselves aren’t as busy as they are in the summer, and have more time to chat and pass the time.
Like all travel destinations, there are plenty of free things to do in Ireland. You can download a free audio walking guide of Dublin (visitdublin.com), visit a museum (museum.ie), or take a walk around Belfast Castle (belfastcastle.co.uk). You can get free or discounted tickets to over 90 of Ireland’s finest visitor attractions and heritage sites. For a free cultural discount pass, visit cultureheritageireland.com.
Go Where Ireland Takes You (in a Car)You’ve seen the tag line, Go Where Ireland Takes You, and now is your chance to take it literally. Travel blogger Fiona Hilliard of Discover Ireland has come up with four great scenic routes you can take in the off-season. All you need is a car and time enough to stop and enjoy the scenery. Thank you Fiona!
The Burren, County Clare
A Limestone desert of craggy, moonstruck plains of rocks, the Burren is also one of Europe’s most fertile botanical regions, with over 700 types of plants, including 28 different types of butterfly. The 50 mile trail begins in Kilfenora, then you head west to Lisdoonvarna, through the village of Craggah, and the shoreline at Fanore. You’re also in the heart of Ireland’s traditional Irish music country, so be sure to check out Irish music at night.
Causeway Coastal Route, County Antrim
The coastal route between Belfast and Derry in Northern Ireland is considered one of the world’s most scenic routes, with sheer cliffs and raging seas punctuated by tidy seaside villages and beautiful countryside scenes. Among the highlights of the 100 mile trip: the Glens of Antrim, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Dunluce Castle, and the celebrated Giant’s Causeway. Stop in the wonderful seaside resorts Portrush and Portstewart, or visit the famous Bushmill’s Distillery in the town of Bushmill.
Slieve Guillion Forest Park, County Armagh
Sitting 2,000 feet high on an extinct volcano, Slieve Guillion Mountain provides a magnificent view of verdant County Armagh, one of the rich farming counties of Northern Ireland. A ride through Slieve Gullion Forest Park offers a stunning view of the Ring of Gullion, Mourne andCooley mountains and Armagh Drumlins. Get of out the car and take a leisurely walk through the trails at the foot of the mountain, or check out the burial cairn at the summit.
The Sally Gap, County Wicklow
Considered the Garden of Ireland, County Wicklow boasts the Sally Gap, a scenic tour through the Wicklow Mountains into the famousglens of Glendalough, known as the valley of two lakes. Stop at the Wicklow Mountains National Park and check out the round towers used by Irish monks in the 6th century. Travel on through Rathdrum to Avoca, and end up at the holiday resort of Arklow, made famous by Belfast singer Van Morrison.
EVENTS IN IRELAND
January 14, 2012