With the sun finally shining down upon our northern islands, spending the summer a little closer to home suddenly becomes a far more attractive option. Although there’s always a certain migratory instinct to head due south at the first available opportunity, there’s a great holiday destination sitting directly to the west: Ireland. Located right on the UK’s doorstep, Ireland’s ancient cities, fairytale landscapes and welcoming communities create the setting for a perfect weekend getaway. Here are five of our favourite ways to spend your time there:
Culture in Cork
Dublin may be the birthplace of literary greats like James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and W.B. Yeats, but when it comes to cultural hotspots and thriving festivals, Cork is a strong competitor. Explore the city’s winding waterways and striking gothic streets for an afternoon and you’ll stumble on an endless succession of art galleries, museums and theatres. We’d recommend visiting the historic Lavit gallery before taking in an evening performance at the Cork Opera House Theatre.
Dublin Festival Season
We all know that a smooth pint of Guinness is a duty as well as a pleasure when in Ireland, but there’s more to the country’s brewing heritage than the world-famous stout. Book your trip to coincide with the legendary Beer Festival in September to enjoy a boozy getaway featuring local craft tipples, folk music and artisan food. If you’re more into private parties, just rent a castle in Ireland and set up camp with all your friends. Our Irish Country Castle is just 40 minutes from the capital and has space for 16 guests.
Star-gazing in County Armagh
A little off the beaten track, The Planetarium in County Armagh will take you on an unforgettable journey through our vast planetary system. Lose yourself in an awe-inspiring panoramic projection of the stars, and learn more about the universe we live in through the fantastic Earth to Heaven exhibition.
Active adventure breaks
The soaring MacGillycuddy’s Reeks form the country’s highest mountain range, where you’ll find hiking trails and rock climbing excursions set against the stunning backdrop of these deep green hills. If water sports are more your thing, you can visit diving schools like Adventure Diving in Country Meath, or get mucky with the inexplicable but incredibly enjoyable sport of ‘bog snorkelling’ in County Monaghan.
Romance in Kildare
For an enchanting couple’s getaway, few destinations can beat the tranquil wooded landscape of Ireland’s Kildare. The county has a regal selection of beautiful castles and gentle walks including the Lodge Park Walled Garden, an 18th century gem which could have been plucked from a Jane Austen novel. Top off a romantic weekend with a sophisticated trip to the races – a sport which Kildare is rightfully famous for.