Ireland is a stunning country made up of rolling green hills and breathtaking coastlines. Although relatively small, the country is full of rich history and bold, vibrant culture. If you want to make the most of your trip to the land of leprechauns, here are some essentials you need to add to your bucket list.
- Make sure you’re in Ireland for St. Parick’s Day (March 17)
St. Patrick’s Day is perhaps the most famous holiday in Ireland, and it is celebrated enthusiastically by Irish ex-pats around the world (also by people who just love any excuse for a pint of Guinness). Every year, March the 17th commemorates the death of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity to the country. The day is spent dressing in green and enjoy the many parades throughout the country, as well as the festivities in almost every pub.
- Visit a distillery
Irish whiskey is world-renowned for its smooth, sweet taste. There are numerous different distilleries across the country that can show you their whiskey-making process, and teach you all about what separates great Irish whiskey from whiskey that is distilled elsewhere. Don’t worry – you definitely get to taste test the final product at the end. If you want to really learn about the science behind Irish whiskey, we recommend a tour of the Royal Oak Distillery in County Carlow. They show guests how they make pot still, malt, and grain whiskey, and they have different tour options to suit different tastes and budgets.
- Visit the oldest bar in the world
If you are quite partial to a drink or two, you might also like to stop in at Sean’s Bar, the oldest bar in the world. Located in Athlone, County Westmeath, this establishment dates back to 900 A.D. Enjoy a pint in their outdoor seating with stunning views of the nearby river, and enjoy the live music that they offer most nights of the week.
- Kiss the Blarney Stone
Located in Cork, this limestone actually built into Blarney Castle is the stuff of legends. Although the origins of the stone are unknown, it is believed that you will be bestowed with the “gift of the gab,” or the ability to speak with eloquence and charm, if you hang upside down and then kiss the stone. Although this tourist attraction is a must-see, it might not be for everyone. You need to climb 127 steps up a traditional spiral staircase, and once you reach the stone, you need to lie on your back and bend backward to kiss the stone. There is definitely a small price to pay for this Irish charm!
- Take a black taxi tour of Belfast
Ireland is a country with a rich history that notably includes a conflict between Unionists and Nationalists, also known as The Troubles. Although the war was about independence from Great Britain, it was essentially seen as a fight between Protestants (people who wanted Ireland to remain part of Great Britain) and Catholics (people who wanted Irish independence). Black Taxi Tours are private cab tours of Belfast, where your driver will take you to locations throughout the city that were significant to the conflict, teaching you more about the struggles that spanned three decades.