If you’re looking for a luxurious, adventure-filled holiday close to home, then you can’t get much better than the beautiful Emerald Isle.
Ireland is a land of enchantment, charm and mystical delights with breathtaking scenery and some of the finest food in the world. Boasting some of the greatest literary talents, musicians and actors ever, it’s also a land rich in culture. With so much to see and do, from shopping and nightlife in Dublin to exhilarating outdoor activities, and incredible castles to stay in, you can be assured you’ll never be bored.
Ireland is easy to get around. Wherever you are, you’ll never be more than an hour’s drive away from rugged landscapes, lush green pasturelands, ancient castles and unspoiled coastlines.
You can also be guaranteed a warm welcome. Ireland is one of the friendliest nations in the world. No other country has the wit, charm, and warmth of the Irish.
If you want to plan an extra special escape to Ireland and enjoy the very best of what the Emerald Isle has to offer, here are 18 luxurious things you need to do in Ireland.
One of the most stunning and dramatic driving routes in the world, the Wild Atlantic Way runs 2,500kms along the West Coast of Ireland from County Donegal to County Cork. Here you’ll discover some of the most breathtaking scenery nature has to offer. From rugged cliff tops to hidden beaches and sweeping bays, the Wild Atlantic Way passes from north to south through six regions, each with its own character and beauty.
The North Headlands (Malin Head to Donegal Town): This rugged and remote region boasts some of Europe’s highest cliff tops where the Northern Lights can be seen dancing in the sky on clear winter nights.
The Surf Coast (Donegal to Erris): Thanks to the Atlantic swirl, this region of Ireland has some of the best surfing conditions in the world. Bundoran and Mullaghmore Head are meccas for serious surfers. But just watching them battle the unforgiving waves is a sight in itself to behold.
The Bay Coast (Erris to Galway Bay): Here you’ll pass through the beloved splendour of Connemara with its sweeping bays and island inlets. It offers some fantastic outdoor pursuits: kayaking, surfing, diving, trekking on the famous Connemara ponies, hiking up the sacred Croagh Patrick Mountain, cycling the Great Western Greenway, or simply enjoying the spectacular sunsets across the sweeping majesty of Galway Bay.
Cliff Coast (Galway to Ballybunion): Music, tradition, Ice Age landscapes and wildlife are waiting to greet you here. Stop off and enjoy a traditional Irish pub, spot rainbows in the Atlantic spray at Loop Head Drive, and see puffins on the Cliffs of Mohar and bottle-necked dolphins in the Mouth of Shannon.
Southern Peninsulas (Kerry to West Cork): The most western point of Ireland is where mountains meet the ocean. Home to Ireland’s highest mountains and boasting a range of walking tracks with spectacular views, it’s a firm favourite with hikers.
The Haven Coast (Baltimore to Kinsale): The last stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way is a more subdued and gentle landscape with lush green pastures, beautiful gardens, tiny coves and quaint, tranquil harbours. This area of West Cork is famous for its artisan food, crafts and music festivals.
Whether you want to drive the whole route or just experience part of it, then do it in style. Breathe in the invigorating salty sea air and let the wind sweep through your hair by renting a luxury, soft-top convertible car for your journey.
One of the best ways to enjoy the magnificent coastline and wildlife of South West Ireland is by boat. Voted as one of the world’s top sailing destinations, the South West coast is the perfect place to hire a luxury yacht.
Courses and charters are available for all levels of ability. Or simply sit back and relax with your own skippered charter. The sheltered waters are ideal for enjoying famous landmarks such as Fast Net Rock, uninhabited islands, and spotting whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. Have lunch on board or stop off at an anchored destination along the way.
Thanks to the Atlantic, Ireland has a thriving fishing culture. Wherever you go, you can be sure to receive the freshest seafood delivered within hours from boat to table. Favourites include wild Atlantic salmon, scallops black sole, mussels and Dublin Bay prawns.
But you can’t visit Ireland without trying the world famous Galway Flat Oysters. And where better to try them than at one of the finest seafood restaurants in Ireland: Morans Oyster Cottage, Kilcolgan, County Galway.
When in Ireland a taste of the ‘craic’ and a pint of Guinness is a must. And what better way to taste your favourite Irish tipple, than with a tour of the world-famous breweries and distilleries up and down the country including the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, Jameson Distillery in Cork, and Old Bushmills in County Antrim.
And with a tailor-made, luxury chauffeur driven tour you won’t even have to worry about driving.
Indulge your inner chef by taking a cookery class at the world-renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork.
Famous for its tradition of excellence and slow food philosophy, the school is run by founder Darina Allen and famous Irish TV chef and author, Rachel Allen. Short courses ranging from a half day to a week are available, or you can just go along to an afternoon demonstration of fine cuisine cooking.
Horse racing is in the Irish blood, so you can’t experience the ‘real’ Ireland unless you’ve spent a day at the races.
Extend your experience even further with a customised tour which includes luxury transport, a day at the races and a visit to one of Ireland’s top training yards, where you can meet the horses before watching them race.
If you’re looking for a cultural and historical experience, there’s just so much to see and do. Make things easier by booking a luxury chauffeur driven tour of your preferred choice. A friendly, experienced driver will not only drive you in a luxury vehicle, but will also regale you with a wealth of information and stories to make your trip even more memorable. Examples include tours to Ashford Castle, Waterford, the Blarney Stone and Glendalough. Or you can organise your own itinerary with a driver at your disposal.
Experience the dazzling beauty of the Emerald Isle from the air. Champagne Hot Air Balloon flights are available from a number of stunning locations throughout Ireland including the beautiful Boyne Valley in County Meath, the lowlands of Athlone and the medieval city of Kilkenny.
Enjoy an exhilarating flight experience from the luxury and comfort of an expertly piloted helicopter. For a truly VIP experience book an exclusive day tour which includes a scenic helicopter ride over stunning Connemara, a power boat ride to visit a mussel and oyster farm where you can sample fresh oysters with Guinness, followed by a picnic lunch on a deserted island.
Experience the sights of Ireland from the sumptuous elegance of the Belmond Grand Hibernian train, one of the most luxurious overnight trains in Europe.
A mix of modern luxury and classic Georgian design, the train provides luxury en-suite cabins, a fine dining restaurant featuring the finest ingredients from the regions you travel through, and a relaxing observation car.
Ireland is a golf lover’s paradise and it’s a firm favourite with amateurs and golfing pros alike. It’s also home to some of the most scenic golf courses in the world.
But if you want to put the ‘wow’ factor into your golfing vacation, you need to play a round at the Old Head Golf Links, near Kinsale on the South West coast. Laid out on a narrow headland, the course juts out over two miles into the Atlantic Ocean. The breathtaking cliffs, crashing waves and lighthouse backdrop offer one of the most dramatic and spectacular golfing experiences you’ll ever have.
The mountains and beaches of the magnificent Dingle Peninsula on the South West coast are the perfect setting for an unforgettable trekking experience on horseback.
Take a mountain trek to Mount Brandon and the Conor Pass and marvel at the spectacular views across the Atlantic, or gallop along the long stretch of Muiríoch Beach for a truly exhilarating ride.
Relax and rejuvenate with a natural, therapeutic treatment that’s been popular in Ireland since Edwardian times: a soothing seaweed bath. It’s essentially a bath filled with hot seawater, fresh hand-cut Atlantic seaweed, and natural, silky oils extracted from the seaweed.
Seaweed baths have many therapeutic benefits including soothing sore muscles and flushing out toxins. To get the full benefit, a refreshing dip in the ocean afterwards is highly recommended!
The cosmopolitan city of Dublin offers a range of world-class international fine dining eateries. But for genuine Irish fare with a contemporary twist, you must try Chapter One. Located in the subterranean basement of the Dublin Writers’ Museum, the building was once home to whiskey mogul, John Jameson.
The atmospheric vaulted basement is a real hit with literary lovers. But the real appeal is the Michelin starred menu. It focuses on seasonal, locally sourced produce, offering the very best cuisine that Ireland has to offer such as Clare Island smoked salmon and pigs’ tails stuffed with Irish cured bacon and Atlantic lobster.
Dublin is simply teeming with fabulous boutiques, from quirky to designer label. If you’re going to spend a hard day shopping in the Irish capital, then don’t miss a trip to Grafton Street, the home of the world’s leading jewellery designers Tiffany & Co.
Grafton Street is the location of some of the world’s top designer names including Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Chanel. It’s also the home of the most prestigious department store in Ireland: Brown Thomas.
Ireland offers some of the highest quality artisan products made with a true craftsmanship that you’ll only find on the Emerald Isle. Popular souvenir gifts include warm, naturally dyed blankets and traditional tweeds from Donegal, knitwear from Connemara, and organic seaweed beauty products from Sligo.
Dublin has produced some of the greatest playwrights in literary history including George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and W. B. Yeats. No wonder then that the outdoor pavement cafes and pubs in the city’s theatre district are filled with aspiring playwrights and novelists.
If you love theatre, then be sure to see a show at the Abbey Theatre, the National Theatre of Ireland. The Abbey is famous for producing a variety of Irish and international productions. The aim of the theatre is to nurture and promote new Irish writers and artists.
For the ultimate luxurious trip to Ireland, a stay in a majestic castle is a must. Ashford Castle Hotel provides full service, five-star accommodation including a parkland golf course. But if you want to rent your very own private castle, then Lismore Castle in County Waterford will exceed all your expectations and more. The 12th century castle is still owned by the Duke of Devonshire who has lovingly refurbished it with a mix of modern luxury and historic grandeur and opulence.
The magnificent banqueting hall is perfect for entertaining and guests will receive a warm welcome from the Duke’s personal butler and his team. The castle can accommodate groups from 8 up to 27 and is the ideal Irish destination for special occasions and family gatherings.
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