In 2014, I spent a summer working at a B&B in County Wicklow, Ireland. I tried to explore as much of this beautiful country as I could in free second I had. Ireland is a paradise for nature-lovers!
1.) The Giant´s Causeway, Northern Ireland
This UNESCO Natural Heritage Site is one of the most amazing places I´ve ever been to my hole life. We went there in late afternoon an enjoyed the sun set behind this incredible view. The amazing basalt columns are a real natural wonder and have been the base for countless mysterious legends the Irish made. It´s so much fun taking the audio-guide, listen to the stories and wander around. Of course you have to pay a National Trust Fee and get a ticket before you can enjoy that 😉
2.) Carrick- a – Rede – Ropebridge, Nothern Ireland
Only a fifteen-minute drive from the Giant´s Causeway is already the next famous irish sight, the Carrick-a-Rede-ropebridge, which was hand-made by Fishers hundreds of years ago. Still, you can walk over it today if you´r not afraid of heights. It connects a lovely little island with the mainland and gives you a chance to have a amazing view of the cliffs and the sea, as well as a little adrenaline-kick. They charge you 7€ National Trust fee to do so, though.
3.) Powerscourt Gardens, County Wicklow
One of the most famous gardens of a country which is famous for it´s gardens. So pretty awesome! There´s an asian garden, the traditional, perfectly-cut-english lawn (the Irish are kind of British at this topic), a rose-garden for the princess that lived there once, and of course the highest waterfall in Ireland, which is really small, 121 metres exaclty 😉
4.) Glendalough Monastery, County Wicklow
The famous monastery of the 7th hundreds is surrounded by an unique landscape with two huge lakes which lie in the middle of the Wicklow Mountains. As an Austrian girl I certainly don´t agree with the term “Mountains”, as at home we would call them “Hills” at the most, but it´s the closest thing you´ll find in Ireland 😉
5.) Mount Usher Gardens, County Wicklow
The lovely gardens also happen to have a nice “Avoca Café” which serves the tastiest chocalate cake I´ve ate so far 😉 Both highly recommendable, and if you´re on a budget you could also try having a picnic in the gardens, as they are some of the few ones which allow to do so. Afterwards you can take a stroll to explore the more than 5000 plants from all over the world and sit by the river.
6.) Black Castle Cliffs, County Wicklow
Walking just out of Wicklow Town you can explore the ruins of the old “Black Castle”, which was fought about more often than I remember from the story a local told me. I just sat down in the grass and enjoyed the view and walked to the gravel beach afterwards to hop into the cold water.
7.) Hiking or rinding the Wicklow Mountains
There are countless offers for Wicklow Mountains – hikes, but as a true horse-addict I ignored them all and went on a “Cross-Country-Jump” with a group from the Bel-Air-Riding-Club. As I found out later, people come over even from America anually to do exactly the same, as Bel-Air is one of the best riding centres in Ireland. It took me a fourty-minute-walk from the B&B I worked at, as public transport is horrible in Ireland. But next time, I was already asked to join the locals after the ride-out for Tea&Toast and they then founded the “Adopt-Lydia-Club” to pick me up and drop me off for the Jumping Sessions. So nice 🙂 The 2-hour Cross-Country-Jump costs 40 euros though, but it´s really worth the money.
8.) Killarney National Park, County Kerry
Coming to Killarney, there are lots of horse-drawn-carriges waiting for you by the street. For just 40€ (no matter how large your group is) you get a tour trough Killarney National Park and an extraordinary storyteller as well! Our coachman told about all the legends surrounding the park and was great fun as well 😉 We did a stop at Killarney Castle and loved the natural setting around it.
9.) The Burren, County Clare
It´s said that this rough, stony landscape inspired the British writer John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973), who worked at the University in Galway for some years, to write his famous trilogy “The Lord of the Rings”. Parts of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince were filmed there as well. Being a big fan of both, I had to see that place myself, and it was nothing lesser than my high expectations.
10.) Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
So last, but not least is the most-loved Irish natural site, the Cliffs of Moher. We got there with a day-tour departing from Dublin, because trying to reach this place by public Transport is, as I said, unthinkable. There are loads of tour-companies who do this routes, I loved the “Wild Rover Tours” we did, and it included the Burren and a trip to Galway as well. When we arrived there in deepest fog, we were soooo disappointed. So you definitely have to check the weather or one of the live cams first if you plan a visit. But the Irish Luck was ours and 10 minutes before departure time all the clouds went away and we had a lovely view of the mighty cliffs.
I hope you liked my favourite places and I apologize for them being very “Wicklow-sides”, but as I lived there, I could explore this area best. If there´s any places you loved, please let me know in the comments below 🙂