It’s easy to see how Ireland came to be known as the Emerald Isle, a shimmering, magical green jewel of a country. It’s also a land of castles, glacial lakes, sheer, jagged cliffs and restless seas.
There is, in fact, so much to do in Ireland that you may be having trouble deciding which CIE tour to select. If so, check out the following list, which includes eight top sites of the Emerald Isle to help you see which excite your sense of adventure and help narrow your selection.
Legend has it that if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you’ll be rewarded with the gift of eloquence and great persuasiveness. To kiss the stone, you must do what millions of others have done before you — head to 600-year-old Blarney Castle.
The famous stone is not, however, in the easiest place to kiss. In the past, guests had to be held by their ankles and lowered over the battlements of this castle so that they could reach the stone. But for safety reasons, guests now hold onto iron railings and then lean backwards to give the Blarney Stone a smooch.
Once you’ve accomplished your mission of kissing this famous stone, you’ll want to explore the grounds of this castle, which includes over 60 acres of diverse flora. You’ll even find one garden filled with poisonous plants from around the world.
Words cannot adequately describe the wild beauty of the magnificent Cliffs of Moher. These sheer cliffs — some as tall as 700 feet — plunge into the rolling sea, creating vistas that feel like a scene from Harry Potter.
Once you experience the Cliffs of Moher, you’ll understand why they’re Ireland’s most visited natural attraction. These cliffs are also a big draw for birdwatchers, as they’re home to 29 different bird species, including adorable puffins.
plunging into the rolling sea, creating vistas like a scene from Harry Potter
If you enjoy singing, dancing and a peek into Ireland’s culture, make sure to attend a dinner show while in Ireland. Some feature Irish dancers, while others will entertain you with an evening of Irish storytelling. And, of course, you’ll also get to sample traditional fare, such as Dublin coddle or a beef and Guinness stew while enjoying your show.
If you love dogs, then you’ll definitely want to set aside some time in your itinerary to attend a sheepdog trial. In these contests, man and border collie work together to herd small herds of skittish sheep into a pen as quickly as possible. To witness the bond between owners and their canines is a definite treat and an excellent reason to spend time in Ireland’s beautiful and verdant countryside.
The New York Times recently said that Galway “may be Ireland’s most charming city.” That’s very high praise, indeed, considering that Ireland has many charming towns and cities.
So what does Galway have to offer visitors? How about a Bohemian spirit, brightly painted buildings, a slew of pubs in a town that’s easily walkable. Galway is also home to Ireland’s largest medieval parish church, St. Nicholas’s Collegiate Church. In addition, this city, which is located in the province of Connacht, is also an excellent place to enjoy fresh seafood or to pick up local handicrafts.
Bohemian spirit, brightly painted buildings, a slew of pubs in a town that’s easily walkable
The best way to get to know the historic and picturesque town of Kinsale? On foot, of course. That way you can enjoy its beauty while learning about this port and its historic sites, including the two forts that guard the sea approach to Kinsale — Charles Fort, a 17th-Century star-shaped fort, and James Fort, which was completed in 1607.
There’s even a ghost tour if you want to learn about Kinsale’s spookier side. This town, which has earned the nickname, the Gourmet Capital of Ireland, is also popular with foodies for the seafood and of course Irish drinks.
Ever wonder what Europe’s top tourist attraction is? Well, according to the prestigious World Travel Awards, it’s Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse. At this relatively new attraction, you’ll learn about how this famous beer is brewed as well as its history with plenty of interactive exhibits.
Finish things of by heading upstairs to the Storehouse’s 7th-floor Gravity Bar to savor a pint while enjoying beautiful 360-degree views of Dublin’s pretty skyline.
The small town of Killarney’s setting is gorgeous and the base from which many travelers set out from to explore the surrounding area, including the Killarney National Park, home to the only wild red deer in Ireland.
This town is also one of the destinations that you can find on the famed Ring of Kerry, a roughly 110-mile scenic route, that will give you a chance to visit other idyllic small towns and see some of the most stunning landscapes in all of the Emerald Isles.
The area around Killarney is especially attractive for active travelers who can walk or cycle the 132-mile Kerry Way trail, go kayaking, enjoy a horseback ride through the country, or brave the rough seas and tackle the 600 steps at the tiny Skellig Michael isle where they can then view the ruins of an ancient Christian monastery.