Welcome to Ireland
This is a small country with a big heart. Friendly people, incredible landscapes and a lyrical style to go with it - this is the warmth of Ireland.
For an island settled 40,000 years ago, it remains remarkably unspoilt. Beyond the cosmopolitan cities of Dublin and Belfast, the wildness of the countryside is magical and otherworldly, from the rugged beauty of the Ring of Kerry's mountains to the lush greenness of West Cork, where even the beaches have grass growing on them.
The visitor cannot help but hear the whispers of history in the wind at sites such as the huge Stone Age passage tomb of Newgrange in County Meath or the Drombeg stone circle near Skibbereen. Ancient places like these stir a song in the heart, older, yet still akin to the spontaneous musical outbursts you might be lucky enough to witness after pub "lockdown" closing time at a famous Irish hotel. With the locals so friendly they'll grow on you like the grass.
Ireland is renowned for its hospitality and the range of accommodation on offer is extensive. Those on a limited budget will find that campsites, hostels and budget hotels can offer affordable holidays, whilst those with a larger budget can choose from memorable accommodation such as historic estates and sumptuous five-star hotels with attached spas and other excellent facilities.
Top Things about Ireland
Ireland is one of Europe’s most beautiful places with mountains, lakes, forests and a beautiful coastline. The wildness of County Donegal, with its tortuous roads, rugged sea cliffs, stark mountains and craggy peninsulas, charms visitors. On stormy days the coast is battered by the Atlantic Ocean, but on sunny days its beaches rival the best in Europe.
County Cork with its picture-postcard cottages is the Ireland of your imagination. Its quaint pubs are welcoming with the sound of Irish music and its fishing villages provide wonderful fresh produce.
Dublin, Belfast and Cork have fine restaurants, theatres and a great live-music scene as well as historic buildings and churches. Belfast Castle is an imposing structure sitting high above the city on a hill. St Patrick’s Cathedral is one of Dublin’s top attractions, whilst the National Museum of Ireland has an impressive array of exhibits.
Ireland has many natural attractions including the Giant’s Causeway, which is steeped in legend; the Burren National Park, home to alpine and Mediterranean plants; the stunning Killarney National Park which encompasses a mountain, woodland, moorland, waterways, parks and gardens, and Glenveagh National Park with its beautiful lake. The Ring of Kerry takes visitors through some of the most amazing scenery in Ireland.
Best Cities to Visit in Ireland
Dublin has plenty of attractions. Stroll around the beautiful Elizabethan Trinity College or shudder at the grim conditions in Kilmainham Gaol, formerly one of Europe’s most notorious jails and now preserved in working order. The National Gallery has approximately 500 works by major artists including Goya, Picasso, Monet and Degas, as well as Irish artists. St Patrick’s Cathedral is an impressive building and is Ireland’s largest church, whilst Phoenix Park is a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Dublin has several shopping areas which feature fashionable stores, department stores showcasing both local and foreign designers, and indoor markets.
Cork is a confident city and has long rivalled Dublin. Its arts, music and restaurants certainly challenge the supremacy of the capital. The River Lee flows through the city, which combines narrow, cramped 17th century alleys, grand Georgian parades and stunning modern buildings such as Cork Opera House. The Blackrock Observatory is packed with exhibits that can be enjoyed by young and old alike, whilst the Crawford Art Gallery features European and Irish art. Visitors will enjoy a warm welcome in Cork’s traditional snug pubs and the local produce is excellent.
Limerick is the Republic of Ireland’s fourth largest city and whilst it cannot rival Cork or Dublin, new developments along its waterfront, smart new hotels and an emerging café culture are helping to transform the city. Spend some time in the city and you will discover that it boasts an intriguing castle, some good restaurants and pubs, and an interesting museum.
Sport is popular in Ireland, including Gaelic football, hurling, football and rugby union. Each year France, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Wales and England compete in the Six Nations Championship. St Patrick’s Festival is celebrated across Ireland and features street theatre, dance, carnivals and music, the party finally culminating in a St Patrick’s Day Parade. There are also plenty of other festivals throughout the year, such as the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in Kilkenny and the Cork Jazz Festival, one of the world’s top three jazz festivals. Over 1,000 musicians perform in clubs, pubs and concerts across the city. The Belfast Festival at Queens brings the best of international art to the city. Over the years the festival has showcased young talented performers who have gone on to achieve international fame.
In Ireland’s cities you will find cuisines from across the world including Indian, Chinese, Italian and French. However, good Irish food can also be found in many of the restaurants and pubs. Many menus feature new Irish cuisine, which takes good quality traditional ingredients and uses them in new ways, such as black pudding, red onion marmalade and Cashel Blue cheese tart, or crumbly Guinness and pumpkin seed bread with Burren smoked salmon and local cream cheese.
Traditional Irish dishes such as Irish stew and coddle are also enjoying a new popularity. Ireland is famous for brewing stout. Guinness is the most famous of these and dominates the market, but it is also worth sampling some of the smaller craft beers. In Dublin, visitors can tour the Guinness brewery on St James’s Gate.
Ireland is famous for its music and visitors are never far away from a session of foot-stomping music. Pubs are a good place to enjoy traditional Irish music in a snug and welcoming atmosphere. The Fleadh festival, which is held in late August, is a celebration of Irish music, and its impromptu evening sessions, concerts and rowdy sing-a-longs attract crowds of people. The Willie Clancy Summer School in County Clare attracts the best traditional musicians, and visitors can enjoy the informal sessions that start up in the local pubs and often spill out on to the streets.
Irish dancing is also popular and performances can be seen in venues such as the Arlington Hotel in Dublin. Each year in April the All-Ireland Irish Dance Championships are held in which dancers of varying ages compete in special embroidered costumes. Members of the public can watch the competitions.
Ireland Hotels and Accommodation
In the cities such as Dublin there is accommodation to suit all budgets. Those travelling on a budget will find that there are plenty of hostels, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and budget hotels located close to the centre of the city. Hotels range from two-star up to sumptuous five-star with gyms and spas. In the countryside visitors can choose from holiday cottages, apartments, campsites, farmhouses, bed and breakfasts, guest houses and historic estates. For something a bit different choose a pub or even a castle.
Dublin Airport to Dublin: 13 min (10.7 km) via N1
Dublin to Belfast: 1 h 41 min (165.6 km) via M1 and A1
Cork to Dublin: 2 h 36 min (259.4 km) via M8 and M7
Top Scenic Roads and Areas to Stay
Ireland has a network of main roads and motorways of the highest quality. But taking a few excursions down these roads will open up some of Ireland’s most picturesque experiences.
Dublin to Portlaoise via the Wicklow Mountains (138km)
Wexford to Waterford via Hook Head (95km)
Killarney to Cork via the Beara Peninsula (320km)
Galway to Westport via the Doolough Valley (160km)
And lastly: the UNESCO World Heritage listed “The Giant's Causeway” consisting of over 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns formed from cooling lava over 60 million years ago. Belfast to Derry/Londonderry via the Causeway Coast (250km)
Accommodation, driving and car rental
At Cheaperthanhotels and Cheaperthancars we have a wide range of car rental discounts at convenient locations and accommodation to meet all budgets and taste across Ireland. We really do believe that the less you spend, the more you will have to do when you get there.
Your Cheaperthanhotels Team